- Austrian GP - Qualifying
Hamilton takes pole by huge marginLaurence Edmondson in Melbourne March 14, 2015
Lewis Hamilton secured pole position in the opening qualifying round of his title defence, dominating the session and setting a time nearly 0.6s faster than his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
As expected, the two Mercedes drivers were significantly quicker than their rivals, with Felipe Massa's Williams the closest competitor, over 1.3s shy of Hamilton. The reigning champion set a good benchmark on his first run in Q3 but went on to better it on his second attempt despite a scrappy final sector. Rosberg, meanwhile, ran wide at the penultimate corner and ruined his first attempt before a neater second lap was enough for second but not even close to Rosberg.
Behind the Mercedes-dominated front row, it was a much closer contest with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel 0.049s off Massa and 0.032s quicker than his new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Valtteri Bottas was a further 0.3s off in the second Williams, but only after a big slide through the final corner that he did well to keep out of the barriers.
After a weekend of power unit problems for Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo will take some comfort in being just over 0.2s adrift of the slowest Williams, but still the team is a long way from where it wants to be. Carlos Sainz impressed on his F1 debut with the eighth fastest time ahead of the two Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado rounding out the top ten.
Felipe Nasr just missed out on a spot in the top ten with an impressive lap in the Sauber - some reward for a weekend of turmoil at the team. Max Verstappen was 0.25s off his Toro Rosso team-mate Sainz and will start his first grand prix from 12th on the grid. Daniil Kvyat was 13th fastest in the second Red Bull following issues in FP3 and will line up ahead of the Force India's of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, who were also knocked out in Q2.
McLaren's pre-season nightmare emerged into reality in Q1 as both drivers failed to make the grade for Q2. They will line up on the last row of the grid on Sunday, which is a disappointing start to Honda's return to the sport but could get worse if power units reliability gremlins return on Sunday. Jenson Button was 0.046s off Marcus Ericsson, who also failed to make the grade, while Kevin Magnussen was a further 0.6s adrift. Both Manor's failed to run despite a huge effort by the team to get them on track, meaning Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi did not qualify for the race.
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1