Lewis Hamilton turned in a thrilling late lap to take pole position at the Australian Grand Prix by 0.66s from the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
For the second session in a row the 2007 and 2013 Australian GP victor bested his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had to settle for P5, 0.3s behind Raikkonen.
Australia’s big hope Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull was seventh fastest in 1:24.721.
“It wasn’t at all easy, with track conditions changing rapidly through the session as the track cooled off, but we believed that our auto had some good pace – and it was lovely to see that performance emerge over the final lap of Q3”.
Hamilton and Vettel fought each other hard past year before the German’s challenge unravelled in spectacular fashion in the second half of the season.
Lewis Hamilton rewrote the record books by claiming pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. “I’m so happy with that lap, it was such a nice lap and I’m always striving for perfection so that’s as close I can get”.
“Our auto is great. there’s plenty to look forward to”, he said. “It was one of my best, I would say”.
Another team to lookout for this year is McLaren, which famously had a public split with Honda as engine supplier, must come up with the goods this season.
However, they agreed that matching Fangio, whose record of five titles is second only to Michael Schumacher’s seven, was the last thing on their minds. He and Ferrari’s Sebasitan Vettel are both chasing a fifth title.
Vettel will be Ferrari’s threat once again, while Hamilton is leading the attack for Mercedes.
“But it’s a long season”. “You don’t really think about what could be, in the sense of matching others”. Nevertheless, Vettel’s time was still enough to keep Max Verstappen in the Red Bull at bay by 0.041s.
“The more diversity we can get into Formula 1, the better it is”, Wolff said. Yesterday I did not feel the auto but it was coming and coming.
“The last lap I had a moment in Turn 13, tried to brake really late but didn’t work”.
“I think we were similar speeds through the corner but their power mode was definitely quite strong. I missed a lot of the Sunday build-up which was not fun”, he said. “And this in Race 1 is not good for the psychology of the driver, so we’re trying to give him all the support we can”.
“In the end I had a tiny mistake in the last sector”, he added.
“He’s in a great place still with Red Bull”, Hamilton said.
“What goes around comes around”. The Stewards therefore are imposing a lesser penalty than usual, and impose a three grid place penalty and two penalty points’.
“This is the year”, he said.
Bottas emerged unscathed from the 110mph smash, which happened on his very first lap in the battle for pole, but the same could not be said of his vehicle.
“It closed up a little bit in FP2 in terms of the gap between us all, but that’s exciting”.
“In my mind I’m trying to break down new barriers, push the envelope”.