Reigning world champion to lead from the off as the Formula 1 campaign begins
Lewis Hamilton set a new track record – and then beat it again – as he took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion clocked a one minute 21.014-second lap in Q2 and went more than half a second faster to claim his 84th career pole and sixth consecutive at Albert Park.
Hamilton is on pole for tomorrow’s race. He will start alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas who went faster than Hamilton with his first flying lap in Q3 but was pipped by 0.112 seconds to complete a Mercedes lockout of the front row.
Hamilton had been top of every practice session going into Saturday’s qualification under blue skies in Melbourne and set a new track record with a tidy lap in the second qualifying session, surpassing it in the top 10 shootout.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified third, 0.704 seconds behind the five-time world champion, and will be joined on the second row by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was 0.130 seconds further behind.
Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc starts fifth ahead of Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, while British rookie Lando Norris clocked a lap of one minute 22.304 seconds and will start eighth.
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There was to be no home luck for Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who failed to make it out of Q2 by 0.038 seconds, while Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly was a shock exit in the first qualifying session and will start Sunday’s race in 18th, ahead of the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica.