MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Lewis Hamilton produced the quickest lap ever on the Australian Grand Prix to take pole place on the System One season opener for the sixth consecutive 12 months.

The five-time world champion edged Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ main time with seconds remaining to high qualifying Saturday in 1 minute, 20.486 seconds.

Will probably be the eighth time in Hamilton’s profession that he’ll begin in No. 1 place on the grid in Australia, matching Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna’s report for many pole positions at one F1 circuit.

“Oh man. I am shaking it was so shut on the market,” Hamilton stated in a post-session TV interview. “I am so proud. Valtteri did an distinctive job on the market, so shut.”

Bottas was second in 1:20.598 and can begin alongside Hamilton on the entrance row of the grid in Sunday’s Grand Prix. Two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel was third, whereas Purple Bull’s Max Verstappen break up the Ferraris by ending fourth in entrance of Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton’s 84th profession pole place got here as a shock to no person, notably after his 11 GP wins in 2018 and full domination of the tip of final season. He led all three observe classes earlier than topping qualifying, though he stated he hadn’t anticipated his hole over the Ferraris to be as extensive as seven-tenths of a second.

“I felt good that we had an honest bundle to take care of, however we had been conscious we could also be barely behind; that is what we thought after we noticed a abstract of testing,” he stated. “I am actually grateful for the place our automotive is (however) I do know Ferrari goes to be pushing laborious — they will put up a superb struggle.”

Requested concerning the report he now shared with Schumacher (Suzuka) and Senna (Imola), the 34-year-old Hamilton stated: “I did not even know. That is information to me.”

He’ll be targeted extra on the race, having solely been in a position to convert one among his 5 most up-to-date pole begins right here right into a victory — in 2015.

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The very fact the Ferraris have not but been in a position to submit sooner instances than Mercedes is not one thing that bothers Vettel, who has gained right here the final two years regardless of ending behind Hamilton in qualifying.

Requested if Ferrari could make it three in a row in Australia, Vettel stated: “In fact, I believe we are able to. We’ve got a superb race automotive. We’re in good kind.

“Clearly Mercedes are clear favorites, however we’re right here to race.”

Leclerc had the quickest time in Q1 however slipped again to 3rd in Q2 after which fifth.

Haas teammates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen had been sixth and seventh, McLaren recruit Lando Norris was eighth in his first ever F1 qualifying session, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen was ninth for Alpha Romeo Racing and Sergio Perez rounded out the highest 10 for Racing Level.

Each Renault drivers missed out on the final stage of qualifying fully with Nico Hulkenberg 11th after the second run and Daniel Ricciardo 12th in his first qualifying session for his new staff.

Pierre Gasly ended his first qualifying run for Purple Bull within the storage and was among the many 5 drivers who did not progress out of the primary qualifying part.

He was joined by Williams drivers George Russell and Roberta Kubica, who slid off the observe after puncturing a tire and had the slowest time of all 20 autos, in his comeback to F1 following accidents sustained in a critical rallying accident earlier than the beginning of the 2011 season.

The temperature solely reached 23 Celsius (73 Fahrenheit) on clear day at Albert Park on Saturday however is forecast to heat as much as 26 C (79) on race day.

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