Lewis Hamilton snatched a sixth consecutive Australian Grand Prix pole position, beating Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas who joins him on the front-row for the Formula 1 2019 season-opener.
Bottas had held provisional pole after the first runs in Q3, with Hamilton a full 0.457s adrift after he hit the kerb at Turn 1 and bounced wide on the exit.
On the second and final run, Hamilton recorded a session best sector one time en route to a 1m20.486s benchmark to snatch pole from his team-mate.
Bottas, who failed to improve on his final run, was comfortable in second as the pre-season favourites Ferrari qualified a distant third and fifth.
Sebastian Vettel was 0.704s behind Hamilton in third. The team had to inspect his car prior to his first run in Q3, after he ran wide and through the gravel at the exit of the high-speed Turn 12, but gave his SF90 the all-clear.
Charles Leclerc, who topped the timesheet in Q2 to deny Hamilton a total clean-sweep of each and every qualifying segment to match their sweep of the practice timesheets, was beaten to fourth by Max Verstappen.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was the last driver to cross the line, finding three tenths on his final lap to leapfrog Ferrari’s new recruit.
He was the only Red Bull in Q3 after his team-mate Pierre Gasly dropped out of qualifying in Q1 and will start from 17th on the grid.
Track evolution in the closing stages of the first segment caused times to tumble and Gasly, who only completed one run in the session, was not on track to capitalise and recover when he slipped into the drop zone.
Haas claimed best of the rest honours, with the team matching it’s 2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying result with sixth and seventh. Romain Grosjean beat team-mate Kevin Magnussen by nearly three tenths.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was one of the stars of qualifying, as the rookie propelled his McLaren into eighth place with only one run on new tyres in both Q2 and Q3.
His McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr was a casualty of Q1. Williams’ Robert Kubica hit the wall at Turn 10, triggering a right-rear puncture. On his way back to the pits he was unable to keep his crabbing FW42 out of the way of the oncoming Sainz, blocking the McLaren driver in the final sector on his final lap.
Sainz ended up qualifying 18th, ahead of only the Williams duo. Kubica was outqualified by his rookie team-mate George Russell.
Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez both progressed into the final part of qualifying and will line-up ninth and 10th on the grid.
The two Renaults missed out on Q3 appearances, with Nico Hulkenberg 11th and Daniel Ricciardo losing time in the first sector and ending up just behind in 12th.
Alexander Albon outqualified his team-mate Daniil Kvyat, with the Toro Rosso’s finishing 13th and 15th and were split by Antonio Giovinazzi in his third qualifying session in F1.