Lewis Hamilton put in a record-breaking lap of the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit to secure pole position for the 2018 Australian Grand Prix.
- Rain showers earlier in the day produced a wet-to-dry FP3 session, with qualifying taking place in dry and warm conditions.
- Saturday began with the 60-minute FP3 session. Valtteri Bottas finished P7, ahead of Lewis in P8 - both setting their best times on the Intermediate tyre.
- In Qualifying, Lewis easily progressed through to Q3 and stormed to a stunning pole position with a 1:21.164 on the UltraSoft tyre - over six tenths clear of his nearest rival, Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen.
- His final Q3 run set a new lap record and is his fifth consecutive pole in Melbourne, his seventh in total - the most of any driver in Australian GP history.
- Valtteri made it to the final segment of Qualifying but crashed out on his first timed lap, hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 2.
- The Finn was unharmed in the crash, but failed to set a time and will start from P15 on the grid following a gearbox change.
What Did We Learn?
Qualifying may have been a session of mixed fortunes for our two drivers, but it did prove the short-run pace of the W09 is good and Lewis was able to extract the maximum from the car to clinch pole.
"While we are hugely disappointed for Valtteri, who wasn't able to show what he could do in the heat of battle in Q3, we are delighted in equal measure to see Lewis take pole position by a decisive margin," said Technical Director James Allison.
"It wasn't at all easy, with track conditions changing rapidly through the session as the track cooled off, but we believed that our car had some good pace - and it was lovely to see that performance emerge over the final lap of Q3.
"It's a first small milestone in our season, which reflects the hard work of our teams back at base in Brixworth and Brackley; but there is much still to be done if we wish to transform that pace into a decisive race result tomorrow."
What We're Saying
Lewis: "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.
"Last season, Ferrari ultimately did a better job on Sunday. But we generally learn from mistakes and scenarios like that, so I'm hoping we're better prepared for tomorrow.
"Ultimately it's also how I'm able to manage the tyres at the start of the race. I remember Sebastian was really at my tail towards the end of my stint which forced me to come into the pits and then he continued on for several laps and I got stuck behind Verstappen.
"So I'll definitely bear that in mind and try my best to make sure that I'm in a better position tomorrow."
Valtteri: "I think I was just pushing a bit too hard. I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp. I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of Turn 2.
"It's very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car. It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race.
"Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we'll try everything we can. Maybe it's a little easier this year with the added DRS zone, we'll find out tomorrow.
"We have a good car, so I'll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it's really quick, so that's something positive from today."
Toto: "That was an unbelievable final lap from Lewis to see him find so much pace. We didn't change anything on the car from the first run of Q3, it was just a case of Lewis putting all the pieces together and finding the limit on that last lap, with everything on the line; and this is the result, a really impressive pole position to start the new season.
"But it's a garage of contrasting emotions today with a really unfortunate end to qualifying for Valtteri. It was a big hit and the boys will have a long job list to get the car ready to race.
"It's now about putting the incident behind him and recovering as strongly as possible. We expect a very close race between the top three teams tomorrow; there is still a lot to do if we want to score a strong result in the race."