Hamilton takes pole for dominant Mercedes

Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:03am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World champion Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg as the Silver Arrows continued to underline their dominance in Formula One.

The Briton recorded a fastest lap of one minute 26.327 seconds, trouncing Rosberg by nearly six-tenths of a second while leaving the Williams of Felipe Massa well adrift in third.

Hamilton set the early running in the final session before roaring home to capture his 39th pole on a windy afternoon at Albert Park.

"It's been a great start to the weekend," Hamilton told reporters after capturing his first pole since the Russian Grand Prix last October.

"A big rush and a huge effort from all the guys back at the factory to enable us to come here and have this performance so I feel incredibly blessed to have this car."

The two-time world champion's pole was Mercedes' 12th in succession and victory in Sunday's race would appear a formality for the team that raffled 16 of last year's 19 race wins.

Rosberg led Hamilton in two of the three practice sessions but locked up and spun into the grass in the final qualifying phase after complaining of an engine cut-out in the second.

However, last year's championship runner-up blamed himself for being off Hamilton's pace.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the second practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 13, 2015.    REUTERS/Mark Dadswell