Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton beats Ferrari drivers to pole

By @saihoops on
Lewis Hamilton, Australian Grand Prix
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - March 24, 2018 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates pole position after qualifying Reuters / Brandon Malone

Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton turned in a stunning binding lap to steal pole position from the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel during Saturday's Australian Grand Prix qualifying. Hamilton's thrilling lap meant the Briton would start at pole position on Sunday during the first race of the 2018 Formula One season at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Hamilton's lap time (1:21.164) was a full second quicker than the previous track record he set during last year's Australian Grand Prix, a race that was won by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. The two Ferrari drivers, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, dominated proceedings through the practice and qualifying sessions until Hamilton's stunning late lap on Saturday.

While Raikkonen (1:21.828) and Vettel (1:21.838) qualified second and third, respectively, the two Red Bull Racing cars of Max Verstappen (1:21.879) and Daniel Ricciardo (1:22.152) were the next fastest. Ricciardo is facing a three-grid penalty due to a careless mistake in Friday's practice session.

Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's partner at Mercedes F1, is facing the likelihood of a gearbox penalty and could start from the pit lane on Sunday due to his devastating crash in Q3 of Saturday's qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton makes history at Melbourne Grand Prix

As expected, Hamilton was thrilled after claiming his seventh pole position Down Under.

"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. Ultimately it's also how I'm able to manage the tyres at the start of the race," Hamilton said during the press conference, via ESPN F1

Vettel, who won last year's Australian Grand Prix, is banking on an error from Hamilton during Sunday's race. "This track is particularly tricky, in that if you don't nail it at first, then there is quite of bit of lap time to be found, and I think we still have much potential to extract. The car is fine; it's not where we want it to be yet, but if we keep on working, it should be ok. I really hope to make a bigger step than the others.''

Melbourne's Albert Park is the stage for the opening race of the 2018 Formula One season. The Australian Grand Prix has traditionally been the first race of the new F1 calendar. Vettel won last year's opening GP and seemed prime to win his fourth F1 world title midway through the season until Hamilton began racking up a string of victories. Stay tuned for the latest buzz from the 2018 Formula One season.