LEWIS HAMILTON got his Formula One title defence off to the perfect start with pole position in Melbourne. After a winter spent looking up at Ferra
LEWIS HAMILTON got his Formula One title defence off to the perfect start with pole position in Melbourne.
After a winter spent looking up at Ferrari at the top of the timesheets, Hamilton pulled it out of the bag at Albert Park.
It was his 84th pole of his F1 career and his eighth here in Australia; including the last six years in a row.
Hamilton, who starts ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, said: “The second lap was a lot better than the first, which is not always the case.
“The first lap I made a mistake, which is unusual for me but I kept on working away. Coming from testing in Barcelona, we have made some really big steps forward.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to start the year. Valtteri was doing some incredible laps and I needed to pull out something special.”
Latest Formula One news
Sebastian Vettel had to accept third place in his Ferrari, but it was disappointing for the German, who had such high hopes after winter testing.
The Italian team were quietly confident here in Melbourne but they simply had no answer to Mercedes’ pace.
That said, Vettel could still come good in the race as he has won the last two Australian GPs, despite seeing Hamilton start on pole on both occasions.
Max Verstappen will start fourth and Charles Leclerc in fifth while there was an impressive debut from Lando Norris.
The Brit qualified in eighth in his McLaren, although he could find himself promoted if Kevin Magnussen is slapped with a time penalty for an unsafe release in the pitlane.
There was disappointment, however, for local hero Daniel Ricciardo, who failed to reach the Q3 with his new team, Renault.
The Aussie qualified down in 12th place behind his team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg.
And there was also bad news for Williams duo, George Russell and Robert Kubica. After a torrid winter, the two finished in 19th and 20th place respectively but well off the pace.