Local teams impress as Hamilton takes pole in season opener

MCBW Mercedes and Force India have been testing their new cars in Jerez this week ahead of the 2014 season

MCBW Mercedes and Force India have been testing their new cars in Jerez this week ahead of the 2014 season

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Lewis Hamilton will be on pole for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix after a thrilling qualifying session in the Melbourne rain this morning.

Hamilton, driving for the Brackley-based Mercedes team, will start on the front row alongside Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – who was at part Bicester-based Toro Rosso last season – with Hamilton’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg, third.

Both Toro Rosso cars made it into the top ten as Jean-Eric Vergne pipped Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg to sixth while 19-year-old Daniil Kvat qualified eighth quickest on his F1 debut.

Thee only local team to have a driver outside the top ten was Silverstone’s Force India, who saw Sergio Perez struggle to 16th.

Hamilton said afterwards: “It’s been an interesting weekend and today has made it so much harder for everyone with the conditions, but I’m really happy for the job the team did.

“These new cars are a lot harder to drive in the wet and it was the first time for me in the wet, as I’m sure it was for a lot of people. It’s great to be up here with Nico.”