Formula One: Lewis Hamilton on pole as McLaren rule but Sebastian Vettel back in sixth

Lewis Hamilton has described his Australian Grand Prix pole as “an incredible feeling” as McLaren locked out the front row of a grid for the first time in two and a half years.

Hamilton clinched the 20th pole of his Formula One career by 0.152sec from team-mate Jenson Button with a lap of one minute 24.992sec around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit ahead of today’s season opener.

As for reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was on the front row in 18 of 19 races last year, the Red Bull star could only qualify sixth, his worst grid position since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix.

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Hamilton, pictured, said: “It’s an incredible feeling to be back here [on pole] and to get off to such a good start. This is mine and Jenson’s first one-two – I believe at least – in qualifying, so it’s fantastic to start the season this way.”

Remarkably, it is an unusual combination on the second row with Romain Grosjean giving Lotus a stunning start to their season as the Frenchman lines up third at the beginning of his second stint in F1, with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher fourth. Contrast that with world champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who failed to even to make it out of the opening 20-minute session and starts 18th.

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As for Ferrari, their day was not far off being a disaster, with Fernando Alonso sliding into the gravel in Q2 to leave him down in 12th, whilst team-mate Felipe Massa lines up 16th, one behind Bathgate’s Paul di Resta in his Force India. “It was quite a difficult session and I never quite got it together,” Di Resta said.