Hamilton secures Aussie pole

PUBLISHED: 07:54 15 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:26 26 October 2009

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LEWIS Hamilton will start the opening race of the Formula One season from pole position. The 23-year-old motor racing superstar from Tewin was fastest in qualifying for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne earlier today (Saturday). In the third par

Lewis Hamilton

LEWIS Hamilton will start the opening race of the Formula One season from pole position.

The 23-year-old motor racing superstar from Tewin was fastest in qualifying for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne earlier today (Saturday).

In the third part of qualifying at Albert Park, Hamilton set a time of 1 minute 26.714 seconds.

That was good enough for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver to secure his seventh career pole just one year after his Formula One debut.

Hamilton's new team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen, qualified third fastest with a time of 1 minute 27.079 seconds, which is the Finn's highest ever F1 qualifying position.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica will start on the front row alongside Hamilton, with Ferrari's Felipa Massa fourth on the grid.

Reigning world champion Kimi Räikkönen is back in 16th place after troubles with his Ferrari in the first qualifying stint.

Herts driver Hamilton, who was third in Melbourne last year on his F1 debut, was delighted with how things went in Australia today.

"I couldn't have wished for a better start to the season, and it's great to see Heikki and my friend Robert doing well," said Hamilton.

"The team has done a super job in getting all the necessary parts ready in time.

"During Q1 I was held up in traffic, but everything just came together when it mattered in Q3.

"The track conditions were a bit easier today compared to yesterday as it wasn't as hot."

Looking ahead to Sunday's race, Hamilton said: "I think the start will be interesting tomorrow due to the change in regulations.

"Last year it was relatively easy whereas now it's dependent on the driver, so I want to get that right.

"Fortunately, I am starting from the clean side of the track for once, and hopefully that will help a bit, but it will be a long and tough race."

Hamilton was runner-up overall in last year's championship in his rookie season.

Victory tomorrow (Sunday) would be his fifth grand prix success in just 18 starts.

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