Lewis Hamilton has narrowly beaten Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to take pole position for the opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix.
The three times world champion edged out the German by a quarter of a second to take his fifth consecutive pole spanning back to last year’s United States Grand Prix. Hamilton has started this race on pole five times previously.
For Vettel, it’s his first front row start since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver admitted to a mistake under braking for the first corner, while Bottas also lost time to Hamilton when he locked a brake into Turn 3.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was not far off either and starts third, ahead of Vettel’s teammate and fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton said “It has been a fantastic weekend so far. It feels like only yesterday I came here and had my first race here in 2007. Such an incredible journey.”
“I am really proud of my team, the guys have worked so hard to make the car what it is today”
The race could be a close fight with the change in tyres and the tighter rules around clutch to place more emphasis is back on the driver and there is more potential for mistakes off the line. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starts fifth but his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo crashed out.
The Australian lost the rear at Turn Fourteen going across the gravel after he went a little bit wide causing his rear to snap and sending him on a one-way ticket to the barrier. Ricciardo rounded out the top ten after failing to set a time in Q3.
Ricciardo told the media “I’m fine physically – emotionally I’m obviously a little disappointed. It happens. I have to try and have a bit of perspective: at least it didn’t happen in Q1.
“We made a big step in Q2, it was looking alright, but then the [first lap] in Q3 was a little messy and Turn 14 just caught me out, caught me by surprise.”
Romain Grosjean put his Haas into sixth which was an impressive performance to get ahead of the Williams. Felipe Massa will start seventh, ahead of Carlos Sainz who beat his team-mate Daniil Kvyat to eighth.
McLaren’s dire winter was over, Fernando Alonso starts thirteenth but questions remain for the team about reliability. While Stoffel Vandoorne starts eighteenth, the Belgian encountered fuel flow issues limiting his running.
Pascal Wehrlein withdrew from the weekend, which means Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi will start behind of team-mate Marcus Ericsson who was forced to abort his final lap because of a mistake at the penultimate corner.
Sergio Perez missed out on a Q3 by 0.084s in the Force India but beat former teammate Nico Hulkenberg to eleventh by 0.010s.
Lance Stroll out-qualified Jolyon Palmer but will start behind the Renault once his penalty for a gearbox change is applied.