Saturday, Mar 16 08:11pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Lewis Hamilton scores sixth Australian Grand Prix pole

Mercedes have let go of the sandbags to lockout the front row in this year’s Formula 1 season opener at the Australian Grand Prix.


Lewis Hamilton led teammate Valtteri Bottas to pole position. It’s the sixth straight year that Hamilton will start the Grand Prix from the top spot.


Ferrari will no doubt be disappointed after Sebastian Vettel qualified third and seven tenths adrift of Hamilton. Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing split the Ferrari duo to qualify fourth while Charles Leclerc was fifth.


Haas managed to convert their FP3 pace to go sixth and seventh fastest with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.


The 2016 Castrol Toyota Racing Series champion, Lando Norris, qualified a stunning eighth on debut for McLaren while Kimi Räikkönen and Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 for Alfa Romeo and Racing point respectively.


The three-part qualifying session did bring some surprises with Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo not making the final stage. They’ll start 11th and 12th for Renault, who were expected to be the fourth favourite team heading in this season.


Alexander Albon was 13th on debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso and ahead of his teammate Daniil Kvyat who was 15th on his return. They were split by the second Alfa Romeo driven by Antonio Giovinazzi.


Lance Stroll was an average 16th though the biggest shock came from Pierre Gasly who was just 17th well behind teammate Verstappen and the two Toro Rosso entries. Carlos Sainz was a lowly 18th as well.


To no one’s surprise though was George Russell and Robert Kubica who brought up the rear in the two Williams entries. The team were late to pre-season testing and haven’t been quick since they debuted their new car at the beginning of the year.  


Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying 


Pos   Driver Team Lap Diff
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 1'20.486    
2 Finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes 1'20.598 +0.112
3 Germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari 1'21.190 +0.704
4 Netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull 1'21.320 +0.834
5 Monaco Charles Leclerc  Ferrari 1'21.442 +0.956
6 France Romain Grosjean  Haas 1'21.826 +1.340
7 Denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas 1'22.099 +1.613
8 United Kingdom Lando Norris  McLaren 1'22.304 +1.818
9 Finland Kimi Raikkonen  Alfa Romeo 1'22.314 +1.828
10 Mexico Sergio Perez  Racing Point   1'22.781 +2.295
11 Germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault 1'22.562 +2.076
12 Australia Daniel Ricciardo  Renault 1'22.570 +2.084
13 Thailand Alex Albon  Toro Rosso 1'22.636 +2.150
14 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi  Alfa Romeo 1'22.714 +2.228
15 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso 1'22.774 +2.288
16 Canada Lance Stroll  Racing Point 1'23.017 +2.531
17 France Pierre Gasly  Red Bull 1'23.020 +2.534
18 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  McLaren 1'23.084 +2.598
19 United Kingdom George Russell  Williams 1'24.360 +3.874
20 Poland Robert Kubica  Williams 1'26.067 +5.581


Photo: Mercedes-AMG