Lewis Hamilton claimed a record breaking Australian Grand Prix pole position with a stunning effort that left the opposition firmly in his wake at Albert Park.
The reigning world champion posted a new lap record with an impressive 1:21.164s lap to secure his seventh Australian Grand Prix pole, eclipsing the record pole tally at the event, previously held by Ayrton Senna.
Hamilton had topped two of the three qualifying segments to underpin his dominance.
“You would think that with the results we’ve had these years it would be the norm – but it doesn’t,” said Hamilton.
“It’s still just as intense, like my heart’s racing, I wish you could feel it right now.
“I’m so grateful for the Aussies having us here and mostly the generally good weather, beautiful city and a lot of British flags so I’m grateful for it.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will line up alongside the Brit but was sizeable 0.664s adrift, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was third having been pipped by his opposite number in the final Q3 runs
Max Verstappen was fourth in the Red Bull head of team-mate and local Daniel Ricciardo, but a three-place grid penalty incurred in Practice 2 will see him drop from fifth to eighth.
Haas F1 underlined their strong pace throughout the weekend by securing the third row courtesy of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg will start the race from seventh ahead of Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz (Renault) and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who brought out the red flags after a nasty crash at the start of Q3.
Bottas found the wall at Turn 2 in the opening minute of the session after losing the rear of his car, which resulting in a spin before a heavy impact with the barriers, causing significant damage to the front and rear of his W09.
The Finn climbed out of the cockpit before returning both he and the car returned to the pits.
He will start from 10th on the grid barring any penalties for possible changes to internals.
McLaren will start Sunday’s race from outside the top 10 after Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne fell shy of making it into Q3.
Alonso was only a tenth shy of the top 10 while Vandoorne was and further 0.2s back in 12th spot.
Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were 13th and 15th, sandwiching the Williams of Lance Stroll.
A late effort from Brendon Hartley in Q1 saw the New Zealander narrowly miss out on a spot in Q2 by 0.032s.
The reigning FIA World Endurance Champion will start his maiden Australian Grand Prix from 16th position.
“Definitely a little bit annoyed to be in 16th and not one or two places ahead,” said Hartley.
“It was really tight, the car, I felt good on that last lap.
“A bit frustrating because I can’t help but feel there were a few tenths left on the table from my side – I guess everyone will have a similar story. That battle from tenth to the back is really tight.”
He will share the row with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, while team-mate Charles Leclerc was spot further back.
Fellow rookie Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly completed the grid.
Sunday’s Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is scheduled for a start at 1610 local time/AEDT.
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:23.483||1:22.416||1:21.879||18|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer||1:23.494||1:22.897||1:22.152||17|
|6||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:23.909||1:23.300||1:23.187||17|
|7||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:23.671||1:23.468||1:23.339||17|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||1:23.597||1:23.692||14|
|12||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||1:24.073||1:23.853||14|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:24.344||1:24.005||14|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:24.464||1:24.230||13|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:24.503||1:24.786||16|
|16||28||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:24.532||8|
|17||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:24.556||9|
|18||16||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||1:24.636||9|
|19||35||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||1:24.922||8|
|20||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:25.295||7|