WATCH LIVE: Mercedes gunning for pole in Australian GP qualifying

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Qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix is set to get underway at 2am ET LIVE on NBCSN and Live Extra. CLICK HERE to tune in via live stream.

Having dominated much of winter testing, it came as little surprise that Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both set the pace during practice. The German driver closed out the final session fastest on Saturday afternoon, putting him in good stead to take the fight for pole to his teammate later on today.

However, the Silver Arrows have not had it all their own way. On Friday, Hamilton’s W05 stopped out on track after just five minutes of the session due to an oil pressure sensor issue. Although the team is confident that the problem won’t recur during qualifying or the race, the reliability of the car could stunt any hopes of a front-row lock-out on Saturday.

Should Mercedes falter, the likes of Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and the resurgent Red Bull could be waiting in the wings to capitalize and claim pole position at Albert Park.

Remember, qualifying begins at 2am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra. CLICK HERE to watch the live stream.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”