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Hamilton takes pole for first race of the season; Ferrari second

Briton Lewis Hamilton took pole for Mercedes in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, edging Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel into second on the grid.

Three-times champion Hamilton's new team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start third ahead of fourth-placed Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton's flying lap of one-minute 22.188 seconds set a new lap record at Albert Park and was 0.268 seconds in front of four-times champion Vettel.

The 32-year-old Hamilton grabbed his 62nd pole in Formula One after some furious racing late in the session against Vettel and Bottas, who crossed from Williams after champion Nico Rosberg's retirement.

Hamilton lapped the circuit with his index finger raised but Ferrari were also encouraged by Vettel's performance.

"I lost it a bit in turn one... Anywyay, great job," Vettel said on his team radio.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified fifth but it was a forgettable day for home hope Daniel Ricciardo, who will start 10th after taking a spin at turn 14 and ending up in the gravel early in the final qualifying session.

"I'm alright, sorry guys," he said on the team radio.

Fernando Alonso made it through Q1 but was forced to pit midway through Q2 after complaining of a power problem, continuing the reliability woes that plagued McLaren during the off-season.

His rookie team mate Stoffel Vandoorne also suffered a problem in Q1 and will start 18th.

Williams rookie Lance Stroll was 19th fastest in the first qualifying session but will start last on the grid due to a five-place penalty for needing a new gearbox following a crash during practice earlier on Saturday.

Antonio Giovinazzi, a late replacement for Pascal Wehrlein after the German pulled out of the race with fitness concerns, will start 16th for Sauber after an impressive debut in qualifying, one behind with his team mate Marcus Ericsson.

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