Lewis Hamilton will start on pole for the sixth successive year at Albert Park, where Sebastian Vettel is hoping for a third win in a row.
It was a case of different season, same old story as Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Australian Grand Prix but Sebastian Vettel will be hoping history repeats itself on Sunday.
Hamilton spoke of his shock over how much quicker Mercedes were than Ferrari after the Formula One champion took pole for a sixth consecutive year at Melbourne Park.
Valtteri Bottas ensured the Silver Arrows locked out the front row, with Vettel seven tenths of a second slower than Hamilton in third place.
Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas & Sebastian Vettel react to Australian GP Qualifying
Vettel said the Scuderia have homework to do in order to challenge the Mercedes duo, but the German can take heart from the fact he has won the first race of the season in each of the last two years.
Charles Leclerc will start in fifth spot in his first race for Ferrari after making an early mistake in Q3, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed fourth place.
Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took an encouraging sixth and seventh respectively, with Lando Norris securing eighth in the McLaren rookie’s first experience of F1 qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo will begin his home race – and his Renault debut – in 12th after failing to make it into Q3.
The moment @LewisHamilton…
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 16, 2019
‘SPECIAL’ LAP NEEDED TO BETTER BOTTAS – HAMILTON
Hamilton set a lap record of one minute 20.486 seconds to take his place at the front of the grid.
The Briton knew he would need something special to prevent Bottas from being in front of him.
“It’s a bit difficult when you have a session like that to grasp exactly what just happened, but I’m very proud to be up here and very grateful for everyone who has worked so hard throughout the winter and this couldn’t be a better way to start the year,” said the five-time world champion.
“But Valtteri was doing some incredible laps out there, so I really had to pull something special out at the end to stay ahead of him.”
VETTEL: WE LACK A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
Ferrari set the pace in winter testing, but it has been a different story so far in Melbourne and Vettel gave a frank assessment when asked what the team are lacking.
“I think a little bit of everything. I don’t think the straight line is a problem so I think we are quite competitive down the straights but I think we’re just losing in the corners,” said Vettel.
“There are 16 corners around here and I think it’s a fairly even spread so probably by the looks of it.”
He added: “Tomorrow? I don’t know, I think in the race it could be closer but also the long runs that both of them had yesterday looked very strong and ours looked Okay but not as special as theirs so we will see. I think today the car was better and I expect it to be better also tomorrow so we should be a bit closer.”
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
6. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
7. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
10. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
2018: Sebastian Vettel
2017: Sebastian Vettel
2016: Nico Rosberg
Warm and dry conditions are forecast for race day in Melbourne.