Melbourne, March 16: Reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton claimed a record eighth Australian Grand Prix pole after snatching front position from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton has dominated in Melbourne, where the superstar driver has taken every single pole on offer around Albert Park since 2014.
And that run continued on Saturday after Hamilton posted a track-record time of one minute, 20.486 seconds in a thrilling final qualifying session to equal Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher's single-track records.
Bottas looked to have sealed pole position, until Hamilton – who completed a sweep of practice – produced a blistering last run for his sixth successive pole ahead of the season-opening race.
"I'm shaking, it was so close out there," said Hamilton, who also claimed his 84th career pole. "Coming from testing, from winter we had no idea where we would be. The guys back at factory have been working so hard."
Much was expected of Ferrari heading into the weekend but Sebastian Vettel – a three-time champion in Melbourne – could only qualify third fastest, with Mercedes locking out the front of the grid.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fourth, while Lando Norris starred in his first F1 qualifying session to take eighth for McLaren.
It was a disappointing homecoming for Daniel Ricciardo after the Renault recruit bowed out after Q2 in 12th position, along with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.