Hamilton grabs sixth straight Australian GP pole in Mercedes one-two
March 16 2019 11:06 AM
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton

Dpa/Melbourne

World champion Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position in a Mercedes one-two Saturday for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Hamilton clocked 1 minute 20.486 seconds to clinch a record-levelling eighth overall pole and his sixth in a row in Melbourne for Sunday's race at the Albert Park circuit.

The five-time Formula One champion, who won the last of his two Australian GP titles in 2015, was 0.112 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

He now has 84 pole positions and has matched Michael Schumacher (Suzuka) and Ayrton Senna (Imola) for most pole positions at an F1 circuit.

‘I'm shaking, what a beautiful day and thank you to the crowd for a great atmosphere,’ Hamilton said.

‘The team had no idea during testing what we would be up against and they've worked so hard in the factory and here this weekend - the team have worked to perfection.

‘Congratulations to Valtteri also. It's great to see the top six teams top within a second of each, it's great to see.’  Ferrari had appeared faster in pre-season training but Sebastian Vettel was a distant 0.704 seconds off Hamilton's pace in third place.

Vettel remained confident he could overhaul Mercedes, as he did in winning in Melbourne the previous two seasons.

‘The race is over when there's a chequered flag,’ he said. ‘We have a good car and a good strategy. We are here to race so we'll see what happens tomorrow.’  Vettel will line up on the grid alongside Red Bull's Max Verstappen, with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc on the third row.

Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, McLaren's Lando Norris, Kimi Raikkonen in an Alfa Romeo and Racing Point's Sergio Perez completed the leading 10.

The Mercedes performance surprised team principal Toto Wolff after the team had looked second best to Ferrari in pre-season testing in Barcelona.

‘I'm really overwhelmed after testing, it didn't look like this at all - the team have done a great job as we pulled in everything we had,’ he said.

‘It's unbelievable really, but I need to keep both feet on the ground.

‘It's one of Lewis' fave tracks so it was a really great start for him. Reliability laws are always above us and we need to get a good start off line.’  Renault pair Nico Huelkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo missed the cut in Q2 along with Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)  Lance Stroll of Racing Point, Red Bull's Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz in a McLaren and the Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica, who touched a wall and suffered a puncture, went out in Q1.



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