Hamilton on pole; Raikkonen 16th
McLaren‘s Lewis Hamilton seized pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after world champion Kimi Raikkonen‘s Ferrari suffered an early breakdown.
The 23-year-old Briton pipped Poland’s Robert Kubica, who will be making his first appearance on the front row for BMW Sauber, to line up a perfect start to his second season in Formula One.
Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen, in the second McLaren, qualified in third place with Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa alongside on the second row.
Raikkonen, winner in Melbourne on his Ferrari debut last year, was eliminated after the first phase of qualifying when his car coasted to a halt with a fuel pressure problem. The Finn will start in 16th place.
Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso, now back with Renault after a turbulent year alongside Hamilton at McLaren, failed to reach the final 10-car shootout for pole and will line up 12th on the grid.
Red Bull‘s Mark Webber, the only Australian in Sunday’s race, crashed out in the second session in a big disappointment for local fans.
“It was just a failure on the front right of the car, so it pitched me off,” he said.