Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives around the Albert Park circuit during the Formula One qualifying session in Melbourne on March 24, 2018, ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix. / AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton scored his 73rd Formula 1 Pole Position with a storming lap and will start the 2018 Australian Grand Prix at the front. The Briton reached Pole at Melbourne for the seventh time in his career, which is a record at this race and achieved his fifth consecutive top spot at Albert Park.

Lewis Hamilton On Pole At Melbourne

The Briton’s best lap was a 1:21.164 on the ultrasoft tyres. Hamilton’s lap represents a new record at Albert Park. The Englishman shattered his previous record by 1.024 seconds.

Ferrari‘s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel finished second and third. After a tight first lap in Q3, when Hamilton led but Vettel and Max Verstappen were less than a hundredth behind and the top 5 was very close. Ferrari and Red Bull looked strong and appeared to have a shot at pole position. But Hamilton proved to be untouchable on his second flying lap and led his rivals by more than 0.6 seconds.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo line up fourth and fifth. Kevin Magnussen edged Romain Grosjean to take sixth and relegate the Frenchman to seventh. Although both of them will take advantage of Ricciardo’s grid penalty. Renault‘s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were eighth and ninth in Q3. MercedesValtteri Bottas had a tough start to his season as he crashed out of qualifying in his first flying lap of Q3. The Finn couldn’t register a lap time in the third part of Qualifying and is currently tenth.

Q1: Haas showed their speed, McLaren joined the party

The first part of qualifying seemed to confirm the pecking order one inferred during pre-season testing. Haas and McLaren demonstrated their improvement and had both their respective drivers into Q2. Renault was another team that manifested their competitiveness as Carlos Sainz was sixth and 0.7 seconds behind Hamilton’s time. Fernando Alonso finished seventh and Romain Grosjean eighth, both in front of Bottas’ W09. Brendon Hartley, Marcus Ericsson, Charles Leclerc, Sergey Sirotkin and Pierre Gasly were the first drivers to be eliminated in qualifying in 2018.

Q2: Red Bull’s strategy and McLaren’s fall

As Q2 approached its ends, the track started to get better and favor faster times. Sebastian Vettel moved to the top and established the then-record lap in Albert Park with an astonishing 1:21.944. The first lap under 82 seconds in Melbourne. But the main story in Q2 was Red Bull’s strategy with their two drivers. Verstappen and Ricciardo both started Q2 with the Super Soft tyre and are set to start the race with that compound, assuming Sunday is rain-free.

The second slot of drivers eliminated included McLaren’s Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergio Pérez, WilliamsLance Stroll, and Pérez’s teammate at Force India Esteban Ocon.

Q3: Bottas’ crash and Hamilton’s “party mode”

With the Q3 ready to start and emotions running high, Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes went off the track at the exit of turn 2 and crashed into the wall. The rear of the car was damaged, and caused a red flag. The stoppage lasted around ten minutes until action resumed.

With Bottas out, Mercedes’ hopes were on Hamilton’s shoulders. And the 33-year-old driver delivered a perfect lap to put the Silver Arrows ahead of the competition.

The first race of the year is tomorrow when the Australian Grand Prix will get underway on Sunday. Hamilton enjoys the top spot but Ferrari and Red Bull will put pressure on the reigning World Champion.

Provisional Starting Grid

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m21.164s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m21.828s 0.664s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m21.838s 0.674s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m21.879s 0.715s
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m23.187s 2.023s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m23.339s 2.175s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m23.532s 2.368s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m22.152s 0.988s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m23.577s 2.413s
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m23.692s 2.528s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m23.853s
12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m24.005s
13 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m24.230s
14 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m24.786s
15 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m24.532s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m24.556s
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m24.636s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m24.922s
20 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m25.295s

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