Hamilton pips Ricciardo for AGP pole
Lewis Hamilton denied Daniel Ricciardo pole position for the Rolex Australian Grand Prix in a drama filled qualifying session at Albert Park.
Ricciardo looked set to start his first race for Red Bull from pole until Hamilton produced a last gasp 1.44.23s effort to claim the top spot by 0.3s in tricky wet conditions.
Nico Rosberg will start from third alongside the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen with Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in fifth.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will start from 12th position after failing to make it through into Q3.
The last time the German missed out on the final part of qualifying was at China in 2012.
Williams, which had been highly impressive in free practice, saw its cars back in ninth and tenth with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas respectively.
However, a gearbox change for Bottas will see him docked five places, elevating McLaren’s Jenson Button, who failed to qualify for Q3, into the top 10.
The first qualifying session began in the dry before rain swept the circuit for the second and third part of qualifying.
With rain continuing to fall, Q3 was held in extremely slippery conditions putting the form book from the previous sessions out of the window.
It came down to a battle between three drivers. Rosberg set the pace initially after the first run before Hamilton eclipsed the German’s time.
With five minutes remaining, Ricciardo, lying in fifth, pitted for intermediates along with the majority of the runners, but it was Hamilton, sticking with wet rubber, who moved him to the head of the times.
The final minutes proved to be frantic as Ricciardo appeared to have scored pole only for Hamilton to pip the Red Bull rookie on home soil with the final timed lap of the session.
Rosberg came home in third ahead of F1 debutant Magnussen and Ferrari’s Alonso.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was sixth ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in seventh.
Teenage rookie Danill Kvyat, also on his F1 debut, was an impressive eighth ensuring both Toro Rosso’s will start in the top 10.
The Russian blotted his copybook late in Q3, however, tagging the wall at the entry to Turn 11.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen hit the wall at the very end of Q2, which ended his hopes of progressing to Q3.
Kamui Kobayashi gave Caterham reason to cheer after progressing to Q2. The Japanese driver will start from 14th position.
Lotus will fill the back row as Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado continued to battle with the E22.
QUALIFYING: Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:30.775||1:42.295||1:44.548||20|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:33.893||1:43.658||1:46.030||20|
|13||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:31.931||1:44.668||13|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.141||1:47.293||13|
|22||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time||3|