Australian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton stuns Ferraris to take pole

Ricciardo believes Mercedes is still beatable, despite the speed Hamilton displayed in qualifying.

In the second test, the Mercedes drivers completed over 1000 laps ahead of Ferrari and Toro Rosso.

It was the ideal start to a season in which Hamilton will vie for his fifth world title, to equal Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.

Liberty, embarking on their second season in charge of the sport, said the practice of having women in the grid area before races was "clearly at odds with modern day societal norms".

"People say, 'You've won four titles, what keeps you going?'. It was great to watch, I have massive respect", Rosberg said. But the crash was a blow for the Finnish driver, who had finished last season strongly and was looking to push Hamilton at the start of this year. Hamilton, who scooted his way around the paddock on Friday, dines in celebrity circles and lays his life for all to see on social media. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari 1:24.214, 5.

Vettel did not reply to Hamilton's initial jibe, before the incident was re-visited. "That still powers me on through the races".

"I did not race Lewis in karting, but was aware of the name".

"We still have quite a lot of performance in hand - I am not too anxious because I know if I get everything right we should be in better shape".

It could take Red Bull all the way to the top of the podium - a result that couldn't come at a better time for Ricciardo, whose contract with the team expires at the end of 2018.

Vettel admitted afterwards that the gap "is bigger than they wanted it to be".

The early signs are that Vettel will have his work cut out.

Fourth fastest, and quickest of the drivers who stayed on grooved tyres for the whole session, was Red Bull's Max Vestappen. Daniel Riccardo will drop from P5 to P8 because of the 3-place grid penalty he picked up in practice on Friday for speeding in red flag conditions.

Weather may yet be a factor this weekend.

Ahead of the season-opener in Australia on Sunday, live only on Sky Sports F1, we want you to predict how the 20-driver championship will finish at the end of the 21-race season.

Hope perhaps for the rest, but the smart money remains on Hamilton.

The Melbourne pole is 73rd of Hamilton's career, and the 32-year-old stressed that it is one of his best, considering expectations that the field will be closer than ever this season.

The Mercedes executive director, Toto Wolff, also supported Hamilton's call for greater diversity in F1, after the British driver posted a video on Instagram calling for F1 to encourage a greater range of ethnic backgrounds. I reset every year.

The Mercedes driver was the only man to get into the 1m 22s bracket, ending the session a quarter of a second quicker than Raikkonen with Vettel the same margin back in third.

  • Julie Sanders