FIRST POLE OF 2016: Lewis Hamilton grabs the first pole position of the 2016 F1 season. Image: AP / Rob Griffith
Melbourne, Australia - Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg on Saturday, as F1's new qualifying format proved to be anti-climactic.
Hamilton's time of 1min23.837 at the Albert Park circuit was three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg, with third and fourth place filled by the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
The new qualifying format of rolling eliminations every 90 seconds failed to produce an intended shake-up in the grid order, and in the third and final qualifying session, many drivers chose to save tires for the race rather than try to better the times of the cars ahead.
As it happened: 2016 Australian GP Qualifying
Fans were streaming out of the grandstands and the leading drivers were out of their cars with minutes left in the session.
Qualifying results for the Australian GP in Melbourne on Saturday (Q denotes qualified for next stage): Qualifying Q3: 1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:23.837 2. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:24.197 3. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 1:24.675 4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:25.033 5. Max Verstappen (NED/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:25.434 6. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:25.458 7. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:25.582
8. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 1:25.589
Eliminated in Q2: 9. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes) 1:25.753 10. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India-Mercedes) 1:25.865 11. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Mercedes) 12. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Honda) 13. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Honda) 14. Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault) 15. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Renault) Eliminated in Q1: 16. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari) 17. Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber-Ferrari) 18. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 19. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas) 20. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Haas) 21. Rio Haryanto (INA/Manor-Mercedes) 22. Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Manor-Mercedes)