Webber, Ricciardo in GP first

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Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing drives during day three of Formula One winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on March 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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The local duo of Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo are guaranteed a piece of history in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

But it isn’t likely to be made on the podium.

The appearance of Red Bull’s Webber and Ricciardo, who qualified 10th fastest in a Torro Rosso, makes the season-opener the first home grand prix in which two Australians have raced.

Webber, at 36 a veteran with seven victories, is unlikely to make it eight in Melbourne thanks to a brilliant qualifying effort from McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Hamilton was fastest, just ahead of Button, to make it a double of former world champions on the front row.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean, driving in his first Australian GP, will start his Lotus from third place alongside Germany’s Michael Schumacher, who at 43 and in the final year of his Mercedes contract, is likely to be driving in the race for the last time.

His presence on the second row and that of Sebastian Vettel next to teammate Webber on the third, means each of the first three rows has a current or former world champion.

For Hamilton the 20th pole of his career offers the prospect of a repeat of his 2008 Australian GP win and sets him up for the 18th Formula One win of his career.

Despite being slightly off the pace in qualifying, Webber is optimistic of picking up some championship points.

“I’m not happy where we are on the grid, but they’re not giving out trophies yet,” Webber said.

“It’s a long year, we need to leave here with some points in the bank and massage more out of this car.”

© AAP 2014
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