Hamilton breaks records to take pole in Melbourne

Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning late lap to clinch pole at the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton claimed a record-breaking seventh pole at the Australian Grand Prix after a lap record in Melbourne on Saturday.

The Mercedes star appeared set for a battle to claim pole at Albert Park, but he produced an incredible lap late in Q3.

Hamilton's time of one minute, 21.164 seconds left his rivals behind, with Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen (+0.664s) and Sebastian Vettel (+0.674s) second and third respectively.

The British world champion now has seven poles in Australia, holding the record outright ahead of Ayrton Senna (six), and five straight.

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Qualifying proved to be dry after it rained for most of the first half of the day in Victoria.

It looked like Ferrari and Red Bull could challenge Hamilton, but the 33-year-old delivered a stunning lap, smashing the record mark of 1:22.188 he set last year.

Max Verstappen qualified fourth fastest, ahead of Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who will start eighth due to his three-place grid penalty for speeding under the red flag during second practice.

Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (Renault) made up the top nine, while Valtteri Bottas will start 10th after crashing in Q3.

Bottas crashed at turn two early in Q3, bringing out the red flag and ending his session early.

McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both missed Q3, qualifying 11th and 12th fastest respectively.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:21.164

2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +0.664s

3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.674s

4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.715s

5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +0.988s

6. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +2.023s

7. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +2.175s

8. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +2.368s

9. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +2.413s

10. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)