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Australian GP: Raikkonen knocked out in first qualifying

Associated Press
Mar 17, 2012 at 03:00pm IST

Melbourne: Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, returning to Formula One after two years away, failed to get through the first phase of qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Finn, who won from pole position for Ferrari at Albert Park in 2007, lost control of his Lotus on a corner on his final flying lap and the detour onto the trackside grass cost him a place in the last-17 to contest the second round of qualifying.

ALSO SEE Hamilton leads McLaren one-two in Australian GP qualifying

Despite the promising pace shown by the Lotus in pre-season testing, Raikkonen will line up in 18th place on the ninth row of the grid for Sunday's race, barring any penalties for other drivers.

Aus GP: Raikkonen knocked out in first qualifying

Raikkonen will line up in 18th place on the ninth row of the grid for Sunday's race.

The 32-year-old former Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari driver, who won the world title in 2007, also suffered the ignomy of being outqualified by his inexperienced French teammate Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean sprung the biggest surprise by steering his Lotus to the third fastest lap, and he will line up alongside the Mercedes of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher on the second row. Grosjean has never raced at Albert Park and will be starting his eighth race on Sunday.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took pole position ahead of teammate Jenson Button as world champion Sebastian Vettel was banished to the third row of the grid.

The Briton's best lap of one minute 24.922 seconds put him just ahead of compatriot and fellow former world champion Button, who was second quickest in 1.25.074 and will make up an all-McLaren front row for the first time since 2009.

Vettel, who claimed a record 15 pole positions last season including on his way to victory at Albert Park, was sixth fastest, just behind his Red Bull teammate and Australia's great hope Mark Webber in fifth.

It was a major setback for a team that took 18 poles in 19 races last year and Sunday will mark the first time they will not have a driver on the front row since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

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