Lewis Hamilton lead a Mercedes one-two as he posted a new lap record to claim pole position for the Australian Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows arrived in Melbourne for the 2019 curtain-raiser believing they were significantly slower than their title rivals Ferrari following two weeks of winter testing but it was business as usual for the Constructors’ champions in qualifying on Saturday.
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World champion Hamilton secured a sixth consecutive pole position Down Under with a fantastic flying lap in Q3, edging out his team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.112 seconds in the battle for pole. The Brit was 0.704secs quicker than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who will start from third on the grid, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen edging out Charles Leclerc to join the German on the second row.
British rookie Lando Norris also impressed in qualifying by guiding his McLaren into eighth, 10 places better off than his more experienced team mate Carlos Sainz. However, the day belonged to Mercedes with team boss Toto Wolff claiming everyone had been surprised at how well the M09 had performed, while Hamilton was delighted to pick up from where he left off last season.
“I’m shaking it was so close out there,” Hamilton said. “From testing we had no idea where we would be. We were hoping to be where we are. Valtteri did an exceptional job. It was very close.”