Hamilton on pole, Ricciardo tumbles to 15th after gearbox penalty

Following his mistake in qualifying that likely cost him six grid places, Daniel Ricciardo has been dealt a further blow with confirmation that the team will need to replace his gearbox for the race demoting him to 15th for the start.

“I felt when I turned in the rear was a little bit light, but it snapped a little bit later," explained Ricciardo.

"I didn’t get the impression it was going to go, and then it was like ‘it’s going’ and then i tried to catch it but it was too late.”

“I had a good look now at the replay and the data. I mean I was pushing but I actually didn’t enter the corner any quicker than what I did in my Q2 lap. I was pushing but I wasn’t over-driving to an extent where I feel like I influenced it more than I should have.”

The top three was largely as expected, with the exception that Sebastian Vettel split the Mercedes drivers with Valtteri Bottas still feeling his way in a new team and the revised performance of the cars.

Hamilton set the fastest ever lap time of Melbourne on way to pole position, and in doing so became the clear favourite for the race victory.

"The laps are never perfect, there are little bits of time here and there," said Hamilton.

"But very, very happy with how it’s gone and it puts us in a great state for tomorrow. So, now it’s really about focussing and making sure we do our homework tonight."

Although most expected Valtteri Bottas to be a couple of tenths behind Hamilton, a less-than perfect qualifying lap, combined with the genuinely threatening pace of Ferrari, means the Finn is already feeling the pressures of joining the reigning constructors' champions.

"I think as a team what we don’t want is to get another car from another team in between us," explained Bottas. "I’m always optimistic, for a little while I can be disappointed."

"I know we can do good things tomorrow and it’s tomorrow that matters. But just my own performance. I set the bar very high; targets very high, I didn’t quite meet those today but a long race ahead of us tomorrow.

Earlier in Q2, Hulkenberg missed out on advancing to Q3 and will line up on the sixth row showing that the car is capable of more than we saw last year, while teammate Jolyon Palmer suffered from a horrible car set-up that was influenced by his crash during practice. Fernando Alonso also performed admirably and wrestled everything he could from the car before retiring with a power issue.

In the first qualifying session, Antonio Giovanazzi made an impressive debut after placing his car with two tenths of a sec of his vastly more experienced teammate after only one hour of preparation.

Gionvanazzi stood in for Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein who had been declared fit by the FIA’s medical officers, and took part in the first day of practice, but could not withstand the stresses of driving after an interrupted pre-season due to a back injury.

“I’m so happy," said Giovinazzi. "Yesterday I was in the Ferrari garage, and now I’m here in the race.”

“I still can’t believe it to be honest!”

Antonio was reported given the good news via text message, but having already gone to bed for the night he didn't realise until the next morning.