Sebastian Vettel will start the season-opening Australian Grand Prix from pole position after a dominant qualifying performance in Melbourne. The reigning world champion set a lap of 1 minute 23.529 seconds to top the timesheets by almost eight tenths ahead of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton.
The Brit produced a last-gasp effort to grab a front-row slot in front of Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, while Jenson Button qualified fourth.
In finishing second and fourth, McLaren confounded pre-season expectations that they would find it difficult to battle it out at the front of the grid.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari completed the top five, while Vitaly Petrov proved the surprise package in the Renault by taking sixth position.
Nico Rosberg was seventh and the rest of the top 10 was completed by the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso.