Lewis Hamilton claimed the first pole position of 2019 as he just pipped Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Australian Grand Prix.
Bottas had been quickest after the opening runs but Hamilton produced the goods to snatch pole away from the Finnish driver.
The challenge of Scuderia Ferrari never came as Sebastian Vettel qualified third but worryingly for the German, he was seven tenths behind the Mercedes duo.
Max Verstappen snatched fourth in the Red Bull Racing but team-mate Pierre Gasly failed to get out of the opening part of qualifying and will line-up down in seventeenth.
Row three at Albert Park will be Charles Leclerc and the Haas F1 Team of Romain Grosjean who outqualified his team-mate Kevin Magnussen. The Dane will start seventh alongside one of the stars of qualifying as Lando Norris on his debut secured eighth on the grid.
Kimi Räikkónen and Sergio Pérez will start ninth and tenth as they started 2019 by reaching the final part of qualifying.
Bottas lay down the first marker in Q3 with almost half a second gap to team-mate Hamilton with the Ferrari’s even further back. Verstappen ran wide in the final sector on his opening run but held off the initial challenge of the two Haas drivers.
The final runs saw Hamilton have the first go at trying to beat Bottas and set a new fastest first sector time and final sector to pip his team-mate by a tenth of a second. Neither Ferrari’s could threaten the silver arrows but a late charge from Verstappen moved Leclerc down to the third row of the grid. The two Haas cars held off the challenge to be the best of the rest.
The second part of qualifying saw Mercedes start to stretch their legs with Hamilton leading Bottas and a half second gap to third fastest Verstappen. Once again it was a frantic final couple of minutes and the big shock this time saw both Renault F1 Team cars miss out on the final part of qualifying. Nico Hülkenberg outqualified new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as the two will line-up eleventh and twelfth on the grid. Alexander Albon on his debut secured thirteenth on the grid, two places ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat who was slowest in the session and will start fifteenth. The Thai driver will start alongside Antonio Giovinazzi who finished fourteenth but once again the track evolution in the final stages created another thrilling ending.
Mercedes continuing their dominance of sessions this weekend with what looked like a one-two in Q1 with Hamilton ahead of Bottas but it was frantic finish to the session as everyone bar the top four on timing sheets were back out trying to avoid an early elimination.
Leclerc on a new set of soft tyres ended up setting the fastest lap of the session but unfortunately for Williams Racing, they couldn’t produce a monumental shock and sneak a driver through as George Russell and Robert Kubica make up the last row of the grid. The big shock of the opening section of qualifying saw the Red Bull of Gasly crash out and he will start his first race for his new team from seventeenth. Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz Jr. also had qualifying debuts to forgot for their new teams as they also were eliminated early on.
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