Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position in the Australian Grand Prix, the first of the 2014 season. A slick track due to rain made for a challenging qualifying session.
Hamilton secured his 32nd career pole at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne on Saturday, while his teammate Nico Rosberg came in third. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull maneuvered in between the two Mercedes drivers to secure second place.
"Today was so much harder for everyone in these conditions," Hamilton said. "These cars are a lot harder to drive in the wet and the first time for me driving this car in the rain. To be up here is a great showing for the team."
McLaren F1 debutant Kevin Magnussen, 21, qualified fourth in his very first outing, while Russian teenager Daniil Kvyat also made the top-10 qualifying shootout in his inaugural Toro Rosso qualifying session.
Four-time reigning champion Sebastian Vettel struggled not only with the rain, but also with the handling of his car. The Red Bull driver had complained during practice, but the car's handling appeared to deteriorate during the qualifying. He finished in 12th place after failing to make it to the third part of qualifying.
"There is not much I can do now, but we are disappointed," Vettel said. "I struggled with drivability. We have lost that overnight, so we need to find out why that was."
Nevertheless, Red Bull might be happy overall with its showing in Melbourne so far, especially considering their difficulties in pre-season testing.
Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari hit a wet patch of track and crashed into the wall, ending his qualifying early. The accident also held up Vettel, who had to slow down on his final qualifying lap when passing the accident.
slk/jr (AP, dpa)