World champion Lewis Hamilton scorched to pole position more than half-a-second faster than team-mate Nico Rosberg as he led a Mercedes one-two at Australian Grand Prix qualifying today.
Hamilton’s 39th career pole came from a dominating performance, with a sizzling lap time of one minute 26.327 seconds at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
It was Hamilton’s fourth pole in Australia as he bids to win for the first time in Melbourne since 2008.
Rosberg, who looked as if he would miss out on the front row after taking to the grass, hit back with a flying 1:26.921 final lap, still six-tenths off his fierce rival.
Brazilian Felipe Massa in a Williams was third fastest in 1:27.718, ahead of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel for his new Ferrari team.
Last year Hamilton also started off the pole in Melbourne but was forced out with mechanical problems after just four laps.
“It’s a great start to the weekend. We found a good balance today and it was about trying to push those laps,” Hamilton said.
“Last year showed that even though I didn’t win that first race it wasn’t the end of the world.
“But of course the plan tomorrow is to have a better start to the season and today is the first step in that direction.”
Rosberg, who went on to win last year’s race, is optimistic about his chances even though he was significantly slower than Hamilton’s best lap.
“It’s not because of the pace difference, for sure, Lewis was quick but I didn’t get my laps together today,” the German said.
“So I’m not worried about pace at all to be honest. But races are always a different thing so maybe I can even turn it around tomorrow.”
Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Valtteri Bottas in a Williams and Australian Daniel Ricciardo struggled to keep up, finishing seventh in his Red Bull.