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Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Sebastian Vettel takes Melbourne pole for Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel's pole lap in Melbourne

By Mike Henson

Sebastian Vettel will start the Australian Grand Prix from pole position after leading a Red Bull one-two in qualifying in Melbourne.

Team-mate Mark Webber was 0.116 seconds behind Vettel, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso third well clear of the rest.

World champion Jenson Button's McLaren was fourth, 0.564secs behind Alonso.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton failed to make the final session complaining of a lack of grip and will start Sunday's race at Albert Park in 11th place.

It was also a disappointing day for Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who was 0.726 seconds off team-mate Alonso in fifth, ahead of the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

Australian GP qualifying top three

Australian GP - qualifying top three

Williams's Rubens Barrichello and Renault's Robert Kubica followed with Force India's Adrian Sutil impressing as he completed the top 10.

"It is a great result for both of us and the team. It is a bit funny, Mark was on pole in Germany last year so a bit of revenge," said Vettel.

"We will have more excitement tomorrow because of the circuit, the teams are a bit closer here than in Bahrain and we do not know what the weather will be at race time.

"We didn't really get the job done in Bahrain so we will try to do it here," Vettel said.

After a dominant performance in qualifying at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Vettel was again in ominous form for the rest of the field, leading at the end of all three sessions.


Despite running wide on the exit of a turn late in his decisive lap, the German's pace ensured he deposed home favourite Webber at the top of the standings.

Gloomy conditions and falling track temperatures made a dramatic late riposte from Webber unlikely and the Australian had to settle with improving on his sixth place in Bahrain qualifying.

"I would love to be on pole, it is good for the team both of us are up there, but there is always a bit where you can get a bit more out of it, overall it would be nice to be one place further up," he said.

"It was a brilliant session, there was always a threat of rain so we brought timings forward for both cars, and both of them did superb laps," added Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

"Mark has the added motivation of it being his home race but they are both driving fantastically well."

Lewis Hamilton

I just wasn't fast enough - Hamilton

The pair proved fastest throughout the day with Alonso and the possibility of rain providing the only threats to their monopoly of the front row.

The Spaniard set an early benchmark in the first qualifying session but was soon surpassed by Vettel as the front-runners struggled to pick their way through the heavy traffic.

Rosberg moved to second on his final lap, but, despite some promising practice sessions on Friday, Renault's Vitaly Petrov could only finish 18th.

The Russian rookie was excluded from the final two sessions, with the day also coming to an early end for the Lotus pair of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli ahead of Virgin Racing and Hispania.

Hamilton was also an absentee from the top-10 shootout after returning to the pits early in the second session and, having slipped to 17th in the meantime, failing to find the pace to dislodge Renault's Robert Kubica in 10th.

As he qualified outside of the top 10, Hamilton can take small consolation from the ability to choose which set of tyres he begins Sunday's race on.

Jenson Button

Button 'getting all he can' out of McLaren

"I was on the edge, pushing the car to the limit, but I didn't feel I had much downforce," he said.

"I was not fast enough. It is unfortunate but I will just have to have a good race tomorrow."

With backmarker Karun Chandhok of Hispania lapping 5.839 seconds slower than Vettel during the first session, the leaders' ability to negotiate stragglers is likely to be a prominent feature of the action.

Schumacher, who will be hoping to improve on his sixth-placed finish in the Middle East a fortnight ago, predicted pit-stop strategies may also play a big part in deciding the race.

"Traffic was quite difficult, a couple of guys didn't use their mirrors well," he said.

"The weather does not help with tyres but it is the same for everybody. It will be a long race, the start and the stop you plan to do are two major factors."

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