Smooth start for Hamilton's team

PUBLISHED: 15:02 15 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:36 26 October 2009

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NEW car, new team-mates and new optimism – that was the message coming out of the McLaren paddock after a superb qualifying performance in Australia. After all the trials and tribulations of last year, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team got the 2008 seaso

Motorsports / Formula 1: World Championship 2008, PRESENTATION OF THE VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES MP4-23 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, 22 Lewis Hamilton (GBR, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes), 

23 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes), 
 *** Local Caption *** +++ www.hoch-zwei.net +++ copyright: HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel +++

NEW car, new team-mates and new optimism - that was the message coming out of the McLaren paddock after a superb qualifying performance in Australia.

After all the trials and tribulations of last year, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team got the 2008 season off to a dream start in Melbourne today (Saturday).

Herts hero Lewis Hamilton snatched the seventh pole position of his F1 career and will enter tomorrow's race at Albert Park as favourite.

Heikki Kovalainen, who has replaced Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the Woking-based team, also secured a highest ever qualifying position of third.

Those two performances, coupled with reigning world champion Kimi Räikkönen down in 16th place and fellow Ferrari driver Felipe Massa in fourth, provided a massive fillip for the McLaren team ahead of the first grand prix of the year.

Hamilton said: "We have just turned over a new leaf and as Heikki said Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have done a fantastic job. They have pushed right to the limit.

"Last night we had a couple of problems, but they were ready to do whatever they needed and they were here today and pushed very hard to get the car set up properly and be out there.

"Really, for the start of the season, it couldn't be a better position for both of us."

Hamilton was delighted to see his amiable Finnish colleague challenging for a front row spot.

"It was great to see Heikki, who is new with the team, pushing hard," said the 23-year-old former Stevenage schoolboy.

Victory on Sunday would be Hamilton's fifth of his short F1 career.


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