Sebastian Vettel Takes Australian GP Pole

World champion Sebastian Vettel started his title retention bid on the right track as he took pole at the Australian GP, Formula 1’s first race of the season.

Vettel of Red Bull clocked in at 1 minute and 23.529 seconds in his third run at Albert Park to snatch the prime spot on the grid from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who had a qualifying time of 1m 24.307s. Home bet Mark Webber settled for third place on the grid after a best time of 1m 24.395s. McLaren driver Jenson Button will start at fourth place while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso rounded out the top five.

Vettel said he was happy with the result of the qualifying. “It’s a good position to be in. It’s the best position, pole position, so I’m very happy with that,” said the 23-year-old German. “But we need to keep our feet on the ground and see how we get on tomorrow.”

Vettel also took pole in Australia last year and was leading the race when he suffered a mechanical problem that forced him to retire in the 20th lap. Button eventually won the race.