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Hamilton on pole in Melbourne, Hartley 16th
25 March 2018, 01:00 | Brenda Erickson
Red Bull straight-line speed will be 'painful' says Verstappen
The four-time world champion knocked out his rivals with a time of 1 minute 21.164 seconds to claim his 73rd career pole.
Hamilton then blew the field away with a phenonmenal lap which was almost ninth tenths quicker than his previous best.
His pace underlines he will be the one to beat, and helped offset a spectacular crash of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas early in the final shootout. "I wish you could feel it right now", the 33-year-old Hamilton said after clambering onto his auto at the finish and pumping his fists.
"What was surprising was to see how quick the Ferraris were".
"I was waiting to put a good lap in and wipe the smile off your face", Hamilton said with a smirk.
"I'm envisaging a quite tight battle with (Ferrari), but I'm not sure at the moment what the delta is to Toto (Wolff's) cars".
"We have to be pretty happy with where we are starting, but there is an very bad lot of work to be done to improve things".
"It was not straightforward with the weather in the morning and the disturbance in Q3".
It was also a dramatic improvement on the Briton's fastest effort in the second session of qualifying, prompting a question on whether his Mercedes W09 had a "party mode" for Q3. It's not the easiest place to overtake but who knows. "I am not too anxious because I know if I get everything right we should be in better shape", the German told reporters.
He was uninjured but the shunt tore the rear wing from the auto and destroyed the right-side suspension, leaving a massive overnight fix job for the Mercedes crew.
Australia's big hope Daniel Ricciardo, who went into qualifying with a three grid place penalty after a red flag infringement in Friday practice, finished fifth in Q1, but will start in 8th on the grid.
Ricciardo's penalty will drop him to eighth in the race starting order, handing Magnussen Haas's best-ever grid slot in fifth. Of course it can always be a little bit better so we just have to look for the future but of course even every track is different.
In another big surprise, Romain Grosjean showed good pace in his Haas vehicle, setting a fastest time of 1:24.648, just ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
"We'll try to make a good race out of it and see where we end up".
Bottas will start in 10th as he failed to set a time.
McLaren weren't so lucky, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne 11th and 12th respectively.
Sauber's Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc, Williams' Sergey Sirotkin and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly were the other drivers to be eliminated. Sergio Perez admitted Force India had a lot of work to do as he exited qualifying with team mate Esteban Ocon, as they ended up 13th and 15th respectively.
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