Mercedes’ pace this weekend has been a surprise. While it should never be a surprise that the team that has won 74-percent of the races since 2014 has speed, this weekend’s pace in their two team cars has even shocked them.
See, in the preseason testing, it appeared that the Ferrari’s had the most speed in the field. The Mercedes duo had some work to do to close the gap. After all the preliminary action so far this weekend, it appears that not only did they close the gap, they passed the Prancing Horse’s.
Lewis Hamilton turned in a late lap in Q3 on Saturday to take his sixth consecutive Australian Grand Prix pole and eighth of his career in Melbourne. It ties the F1 record for most poles at one track with Michael Schumacher winning eight in Suzuka and Ayrton Senna winning eight in Imola.
Hamilton, also shattered his own track record too as he qualified with a time of 1:20.486-seconds in his No. 44 Mercedes. Hamilton, now has 84 career F1 poles and looking for his fifth consecutive top two finish in the annual season opener. The England native was quickest in all three practice sessions this weekend too.
His teammate Valtteri Bottas gave Mercedes a clean sweep of the front row. The Finland native circled the 3.295-mile track with a time of 1:20.598-seconds in his No. 77 Mercedes. Bottas, crashed in qualifying last year and finished eighth in the race as a result. He’s finished in the top five just once in his last four Australian Grand Prix starts.
The two time defending race winner Sebastian Vettel will roll off third in his No. 5 Ferrari. The German qualified with a time of 1:21.190-seconds.
Max Verstappen split the two Ferrari’s as he will start fourth (1:21.320-seconds) in his No. 33 Red Bull Racing Honda. Charles Leclerc rounded out the top five with a time of 1:21.442-seconds.
Verstappen’s new Red Bull teammate of Pierre Gasly messed up big time in Q1 as his team thought his lap was good enough to advance him on. They left him on pit road instead of going back out and he went from being in to falling into the drop zone. He will start a disappointing 17th as a result.
The two Haas car appear to be set as the top midfield team. Everyone expected that in the offseason and here they are starting sixth and seventh respectively and were fourth and fifth respectively in practice on Saturday morning.
Australian Grand Prix Starting Lineup
Row 1: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Row 2: Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen
Row 3: Charles Leclerc, Romain Grosjean
Row 4: Kevin Magnussen, Lando Norris R
Row 5: Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez
Row 6: Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo
Row 7: Alexander Albon R, Antono Giovinazzi R
Row 8: Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll
Row 9: Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz
Row 10: George Russell, Robert Kubica