Hamilton takes Aussie pole

Defending champion Raikkonen suffers car trouble in Qualifying One

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed the perfect start to the 2008 season by clinching pole position for the opening Grand Prix in Australia.

The British driver managed a best time of one minute 26.714 seconds to finish just ahead of BMW's Robert Kubica.

McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen will start from row two on the grid on Sunday alongside Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Defending champion Kimi Raikkonen is way down the field in 16th after he came to a grinding halt in the pit lane during Qualifying One.

Mechanics attempted to help him get going again, earning the Finn a notice from the stewards telling him that he would not be allowed to participate in the second session even if his car was ready to go.

With the new qualifying format seeing the banning of fuel burning in the final segment the drivers were given only ten minutes in which to set a time.

However, that didn't seem to bother Hamilton who crossed the line to beat Kubica by 0.155 seconds in Melbourne.

The 23-year-old, who missed out on the title last year by just one point, has now managed to clinch seven pole positions in just 18 starts.

01. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.714
02. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:26.869
03. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.079
04. Massa Ferrari 1:27.178
05. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:27.236
06. Trulli Toyota 1:28.527
07. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:28.687
08. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:29.041
09. Glock Toyota 1:29.593
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari No time
11. Barrichello Honda 1:26.173
12. Alonso Renault 1:26.188
13. Button Honda 1:26.259
14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:26.413
15. Webber Red Bull-Renault No times
16. Raikkonen Ferrari No time
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:27.207
18. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:27.446
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:27.859
20. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:28.208
21. Piquet Renault 1:28.330
22. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:29.059