Lewis Hamilton on pole, Ricciardo seventh

Mercedes’ reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position in the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was fastest in Saturday’s qualifying at Albert Park in Melbourne and local hope Daniel Ricciardo qualified in seventh.

Ricciardo, who managed just 19 laps over four hours of practice sessions, clocked a best time more than two seconds slower than Hamilton.

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The English pacesetter recorded a best lap time of one minute 26.419 seconds and his teammate Nico Rosberg (1:26.921) was second fastest.

Williams’ Felipe Massa (1:27.718) will start Sunday’s race from third position followed by Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Australia’s Ricciardo recorded a best time of 1:28.329 after earlier striking more troubles on Saturday, a day after missing an entire practice session when needing to have his car’s engine replaced.

During Saturday’s practice, Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing car stopped and marshals had to push it back to pits.

The Perth-born driver returned to the track to finish the practice session.

And in qualifying, Ricciardo made it through the cut-off stages before posting a solid time with his last lap.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were tipped out of qualifying in the first stage along with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

And the Manor team, born from the ashes of Marussia after it went into administration in mid-January, were cut after not being able to send their drivers Will Stevens and Robert Merhi on to the track.

Manor, whose new owners took over the team just two weeks ago, were still working through electrical software and computing issues after being unable to test their cars in the off-season.

After the next 15 minutes of qualifying, a further five drivers were cut: Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing teammate Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Nasr (Sauber), 17-year-old debutant Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) and Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.


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