Hamilton claims Melbourne pole

Hamilton claims Melbourne pole

Lewis Hamilton smashed the all-time lap record of the Albert Park circuit to put his Mercedes on pole for the Formula 1 season opener.

The Friday pacesetter looked to be under stiff competition from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, with the three drivers split by six-hundredths-of-a-second following the first runs in Q3.

But Hamilton found eight tenths of a second on his second lap to set a 1:21.164, putting him 0.664s clear from his nearest rival which was eventually Kimi Raikkonen, who beat team-mate Vettel to the front row.

Verstappen was fourth, 0.715s off Hamilton’s pole time, but his lap included a wide moment at Turn 13. Both he and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was fifth fastest, set their Q2 laps on the supersoft tyre which they will start the race on.

Ricciardo will start eighth after his 3-place grid penalty is applied, which he picked up on Friday for speeding under red flag conditions.

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