Lewis Hamilton dominates qualifying ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News March 24, 2018 Updated: 2:04 AM PT
MELBOURNE, Australia —Lewis Hamilton kicked off the first qualifying session of the season by taking his 73rd career pole position and his seventh Australian Grand Prix pole.
This also made Hamilton’s fifth Australian Grand Prix pole in a row, adding to the four-time world champion’s ever growing stats. Last year, Hamilton made F1 history after surpassing Formula One legend Micheal Schumacher on the all-time pole positions list.
“It’s the greatest feeling when you live up to your potential and you pull out a lap like I was able to. I’m not always able to do that but I was really happy with today’s performance. Up until this point, I haven’t thought at all about the race. So tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll start to put my focus onto that,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton will have his hands full with the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebsatian Vettel. Raikkonen finished in second and 0.010s ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who finished third.
Optimistic about tomorrow's race Vettel said “Looking forward to tomorrow, we did improve the car today and see what happens tomorrow.”
Max Verstappen finished fourth after making a small mistake that cost him time. Teammate Daniel Ricciardo will start eighth and will have a rough start to his home race after receiving a three spot grid penalty altering the grid for tomorrow's race.
“Obviously starting eighth because of the penalty is frustrating and I thought it was unjust. There are reprimands, fines and other things but to shoot me in the ankle before the season starts, well, I think they could have done better,” said Ricciardo.
This will move Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to fifth and sixth. This will also give Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg a bump to seventh after qualifying eighth. Teammate Carlos Sainz will complete the Renault sandwich in ninth.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was making a charge for the front row when he ran wide coming out of Turn 2 and made contact with the damp grass. This sent his car flying into the barriers triggering a red flag. Bottas will start from tenth, but it is unclear rather his car’s gearbox will need to be replaced. If so, he will have to incur a grid penalty ahead of tomorrow's race.
The McLaren’s of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne found themselves off pace with their new engine supplier Renault. Both McLaren’s failed to make it into the top ten and will start tomorrow's race from 11th and 12th.
Force India also found themselves off to a rough start as both drivers failed to make it into Q3 with Sergio Perez in 13th and teammate Esteban Ocon in 15th. Williams’ Lance Stroll managed to split the Force Indias finishing 14th.
Brendon Hartley finished 16th as Toro Rosso begins the season with their new engine supplier Honda. The Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and rookie Charles Leclerc, who makes his F1 debut tomorrow, finished 17th and 18th.
Sergey Sirotkin, who will also make his rookie debut, finished 19th. Hartley’s teammate Pierre Gasly rounded out the bottom of the grid and finished 20th after taking a small trip into the gravel.
It will be a “battle royale” tomorrow as the three world champions duke it out to take the first of the 2018 Formula One season.