MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel blew away his rivals in a dominant qualifying performance to claim pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix yesterday.
The 23-year-old German set the quickest time in all three sessions and managed a searing best lap of one minute 23.529 seconds, 0.778 seconds quicker than second-placed Briton Lewis Hamilton.
“Although the gap now might appear to be big, it’s a long season and a lot of things can happen,” said a cautious Vettel, who failed to finish the race here last year.
“It’s a good position to be in, and I’m very happy with that (but) we need to keep our feet on the ground.”
Hamilton’s late lap of 1.24.307 in his McLaren knocked Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber (1.24.395) off the front row of the grid, leaving the Australian to line up alongside Jenson Button in the second McLaren (1.24.779).
Ferrari’s twice former world champion Fernando Alonso claimed a spot on the third row in fifth place next to Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, the best ever qualifying position for the Russian