Vettel denies Webber home pole

German starts first at Australian Grand Prix as Hamilton's woes go on in Melbourne.

    Smile for the camera: Webber, left, hides his disappointment as Vettel poses with Alonso [AFP]

    Red Bull charged to a front row sweep with Sebastian Vettel denying disappointed teammate Mark Webber pole position for the Australian's home Grand Prix – as Lewis Hamilton's woes behind a steering wheel continued.

    The 2008 world champion failed to make the third round of qualifying a day after courting trouble with police for larkish driving.

    The Briton had his Mercedes impounded on Friday evening after skidding the back tyres in sight of police at a junction near the circuit.

    He is expected to be charged with "improper" use of a motor vehicle.

    The 25-year-old, whose last trip to Albert Park was the catalyst for the scandal where he was judged to have deliberately misled racing stewards, will be 11th on the grid for Sunday's race.

    Vettel fancied

    German Vettel, still only 22 but heavily fancied for this year's Formula One title, lapped Albert Park's tight street circuit in one minute 23.919 under overcast skies for his second pole in two races.

    Melbourne starting grid

    1 S Vettel (GER) RedBull
    2 M Webber (AUS) RedBull
    3 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari
    4 J Button (GBR) McLaren
    5 F Massa (BRA) Ferrari
    6 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes
    7 M Schumacher (GER) Mercedes
    8 R Barrichello (BRA) Williams
    9 R Kubica (POL) Renault
    10 A Sutil (GER) Force India
    11 L Hamilton (GBR) McLaren
    12 S Buemi (SUI) Toro Rosso
    13 V Liuzzi (ITA) Force India
    14 P de la Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber
    15 N Huelkenberg (GER) Williams
    16 K Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber
    17 J Alguersuari (ESP) Toro Rosso
    18 V Petrov (RUS) Renault
    19 H Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus
    20 J Trulli (ITA) Lotus
    21 T Glock (GER) Virgin
    22 L Di Grassi (BRA) Virgin
    23 B Senna (BRA) HRT
    24 K Chandhok (IND) HRT

    Vettel finished fourth in the Bahrain season-opener after a spark plug failure robbed him of the lead and will be chasing Red Bull's fourth win in five races on Sunday.

    "First of all it was a great result for both of us and the team," the German, who won four races last year and was runner-up in the championship, said on Saturday.

    "I think that's a great achievement – it's better than having two Ferraris up here."

    Webber, bidding to become his country's first home winner, was just over a tenth of a second slower than Vettel and felt disappointed after setting the early pace in the third session.

    "Not really (happy), I would love to be on pole," said the Australian.

    "It's a lot better than my qualifying in Bahrain. In the end I did my best."

    Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, winner on his debut for the Italian team in Bahrain, will line up third on the grid with McLaren's world champion Jenson Button alongside the Spaniard.

    Michael Schumacher, the seven-times world champion who made a comeback to F1 in Bahrain after a three-year absence, qualified seventh, one place behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

    Frustrated

    The German great said he was satisfied but had been frustrated by other cars on the tight Albert Park circuit when pressing for a faster time.

    "We had a reasonable qualifying session today and I am okay with the outcome, even if I was a bit handicapped by traffic, especially on my final quick lap," he said.

    Alonso's Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa will start fifth on the grid in Melbourne, where forecasts of late rain and strong winds may play havoc with tyre selection and strategy for the twilight race.

    "Safety cars, accidents, it could be quite messy. So the main thing is to have a tidy race and bring the car home," Vettel added.

    Lotus performed the best of the three new teams, but joined Virgin and Hispania (HRT) on the sidelines after both their drivers were knocked out after the first round of qualifying.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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