Date: 26th March 2011 at 8:35am
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Last seasons Formula One World champion Sebastian Vettel may well have looked on a different level to every one else in Australia this morning, but Lewis Hamilton fancies his chances after qualifying second.

Hamilton was in a fighting mood after qualifying on the front row and despite clearly having the slower car, the 2008 F1 World champion believes he can take the race to Vettel.

‘It’s a tribute to everyone in the team that we’ve taken such a massive step this weekend, and the car is feeling fantastic. We have a lot to do still, but it’s very positive, the race is winnable from where I am and I plan on giving him the race of his life.’

The McLaren teams gamble to bring a previously untested re-design of the car?s floor and exhaust system has well and truly paid off.

After the Barcelona test sessions many pundits were ranking McLaren well behind Red Bull and Ferrari and probably behind Mercedes and alongside Renault, Sauber and Williams.

But since the new McLaren has got to Australia, both Hamilton and Button have shown they are more competitive than others gave them credit for, with Hamilton qualifying second and Button fourth, ahead of Ferrari and well clear of Mercedes, Renault and Sauber.

In fact the McLaren boys could be on a race pace par with Red Bull’s Mark Webber, but are well behind Sebastian Vettel on pace.

Despite being in an identical car Webber was 0.866 seconds behind his team-mate.

‘That is a huge gap and Webber will be disappointed, psychologically that will be a big blow.’ Eddie Jordan said on the BBC following qualifying.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle added: ‘That was some kind of dominant performance from the young German and the reigning world champion,’

Sebastian Vettel remained reserved following his pole position time: ‘things are looking good. Today was the base, and it couldn’t be any better.’

If Vettel can come out of turn one in the lead, then it looks likely that the defending World champion will gallop off into the distance in Australia.

Tyre strategy may throw up some unpredictable scenarios further down the field, but Vettel’s dominance looks too strong to suggest that any one else can claim the win this weekend.

 

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