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Defending champion Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for the opening round of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship in Australia after an error-strewn Q3 from Nico Rosberg limited his challenge for the top spot.

As expected, Mercedes was the class of the field, with Hamilton's two soft-tyre efforts in Q3 proving markedly quicker than his rivals, the British driver eventually stopping the clock at scintillatingly quick 1m 26.327secs.

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It would place him a full six tenths ahead of Rosberg, who endured a difficult qualifying session as the issues with balance he complained about on Friday re-appeared in qualifying. Locking up and running off track on his first flying lap at the penultimate corner, Rosberg was no match for Hamilton on his second run, leaving him well adrift at the chequered flag.

Even so, such is Mercedes' advantage over the competition, an untidy Rosberg lap was still enough for him to be a full eight tenths faster than third place man Felipe Massa, who nonetheless successfully acquired 'best of the rest' status with his final lap.

His best ever qualifying performance in Australia, the experienced Brazilian's effort was enough to give Williams the edge over the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, though all three would be split by less than a tenth of a second.

Massa's team-mate Valtteri Bottas completes row three, though the Finn may have hoped to be higher had his car not snapped dramatically on the exit of the final corner, losing him time on the run to the line

On a fraught weekend for the Red Bull team so far, Daniel Ricciardo recovered to a respectable seventh on home soil, the Australian doing just enough to prevent himself being out-qualified by leading Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz, the rookie driver impressing to not only crack Q3 but secure a spot on row four in eighth.

Behind him, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado gave Lotus its first double Q3 showing since 2013, the pair locking out row five to confirm its step up in performance over twelve months ago.

Outside the top ten, Felipe Nasr just missed out on reaching Q3 for his F1 debut in 11th after being demoted by a late improvement from Grosjean, while Max Verstappen not only officially became the youngest driver to qualify for an F1 race, but he will also start ahead of Danill Kvyat in the sister Red Bull, the Russian two tenths slower in 13th place.

Having predicted it would struggle for pace over a single lap, Force India nonetheless made it comfortably into Q2, with Nico Hulkenberg beating his team-mate Sergio Perez to 14th by just 0.001secs.

Behind them, Marcus Ericsson failed to replicate his team-mate form by exiting Q1, the Swede proving almost a second slower than Nasr.

More significantly, however, McLaren's first qualifying session proved as much of a struggle as anticipated with both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen being dumped out of Q1 in their Honda powered cars, more than three seconds off the pace despite their soft tyres.

Subsequently, the pair will share the final row of the grid in the absence of Manor, who failed to make it out for qualifying.

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F1 has had dominant teams all the time I've been watching it (nearly 40 years now before sunny accuses me of being a one eyed fanboy who only got into the sport because of Lewis). My love for the sport has never been diminished and whether it's McLaren, Brabham, Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes who's been winning race after race, I still get up at silly o'clock in the morning to watch it.

It really bugs me when people cry about it only when they're team or driver isn't winning.....

GO LEWIS!!!!!

thisiscalin: McLaren MP 4/4 wasn't dominant?
Williams FW14 wasn't dominant?
Ferrari F2002,F2004 wasn't dominant?
RedBull RB7,RB9 wasn't dominant?
History tends to repeat cyclically.
Nothing new.[\blockquote]

My point exactly

ianisme:
zib: Looks like we are in for another boring season! Hope they prove me wrong. [\blockquote]

When was the last time we had an interesting season? Think I'll stick to watching British Superbikes, where they haven't ever had a boring season.[\blockquote]

Where one rider on the best bike wins nearly every weekend and only the stupidity of the 'shootout' keeps everyone else in contention. THAT British Superbikes?