Lewis Hamilton edged out a resurgent Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari by two-tenths of a second to pick up his fourth consecutive pole position in Australia. The Briton had that little bit in reserve when it mattered and will be favourite going into the first Formula One race of the season on Sunday (26 March).
Valtteri Bottas got off to a strong start in his first qualifying session with Mercedes with third place, but revealed after that he was unable to get even one clean lap, suggesting he could have joined his teammate on the front row.
Kimi Raikkonen will join his compatriot on the second row reinforcing the belief that Ferrari are Mercedes' strongest challengers at least for the moment. Daniel Ricciardo was well placed to final five, but a crash in the final session of qualifying will ensure the home favourite starts in tenth place.
Max Verstappen will start fifth for Red Bull Racing with the Austrian team looking well off the pace of the front runners. The Dutchman will be joined on the third row by Romain Grosjean, who put in an impressive lap to take the Haas car ahead of the much more fancied Williams. The Toro Rosso cars complete the line up in the top ten with Carlos Sainz out qualifying his teammate Daniil Kvyat.
There was a threat of rain during the qualifying session, but much to Fernando Alonso's disappointment, it remained just that – a threat.
The Spaniard admitted that it was the best lap he could have done when he out the McLaren-Honda car in 12th place, much higher than expected after the pre-season tests.
It is likely to be a one-stop race on Sunday with very minimal tyre degradation experienced by the drivers during their long runs during Friday's second practice session. If Verstappen is to be believed, the spectators are in for a boring race after he suggested that the driver that comes out of Turn 1 in the lead will be the winner. Let's hope the Dutchman is wrong.
Where to Watch Live
The race starts at 6am BST on Sunday, with Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD providing live TV coverage.
Real-time internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Qualifying results from the Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne, Australia:
|5||MAX VERSTAPPEN||RED BULL RACING||1:23.485|
|8||CARLOS SAINZ||TORO ROSSO||1:24.487|
|9||DANIIL KVYAT||TORO ROSSO||1:24.512|
|10||DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING||DNF|