Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton is out of qualifying for this weeknd's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The McLaren-Mercedes star narrowly crept through into Q2 in 15th place - a performance that he admitted had surprised him given the Woking-based outfit's pre-season struggles - but he was subsequently forced out of contention before Q2 had even got underway, complaining of a 'loss of drive' from his MP4-24.

The Briton will consequently begin the curtain-raising outing on the 2009 calendar from a lowly 15th position on the starting grid - presuming there is no requirement for a gearbox change, in which case he would be forced to start from right at the very back.

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