Vettel takes pole at Australian GP, Petrov to start from sixth

Defending champ Sebastian Vettel has shown the best time at the qualifiers for the first Grand Prix of the 2011 Formula 1 season in Australia, while Russia’s Vitaly Petrov will start from sixth place, which is the best result of his career.

­Vettel needed 1 minute and 23.529 seconds to conquer the track at Albert Park in Melbourne.

McLaren man Lewis Hamilton will accompany the German in the front row, while Vettel’s Red Bull teammate and home favorite Mark Webber produced the third result.

Lotus Renault driver Vitaly Petrov in his second year in F1 had his best qualifying session so far, 1.718 seconds behind Vettel.

“After all the hard work during a very tough winter for the whole team, it feels great to come here and qualify on the third row. There was a lot of pressure in Q3 because I only had one run, right at the end of the session. So there were no second chances and I’m glad I was able to deliver the lap. The car has felt good right from the start of practice and we’ve improved it constantly during each session. I think we are in a great position for the race and that we can fight for some points tomorrow. I’m not too worried about the tires because they have been working well for us so far and we have not seen the drop off that we saw during winter testing,” Petrov told the Lotus Renault official website.

The Russian’s teammate, Nick Heidfeld, who had replaced Robert Kubica, failed to make it to Q2, placing 18th.

Despite forecasts from skeptics, both drivers from the first ever F1 Marussia Virgin team have complied with the 107 per cent rule, and will take part in the race from the last row. Timo Glock is 21st, with Jérôme d’Ambrosio behind.   

Under the 107 per cent rule, any driver who fails to set a time within 107 per cent of the fastest lap in Q1 will not be permitted to take part in the race.

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