Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, as home hero Daniel Ricciardo crashed in the final part of qualifying.
Hamilton held provisional pole with a time of 1:22.496, before improving to 1:22.181 to assert his authority at the front of the field.
Ferrari appeared to be in better shape than they were in Friday practice, with Sebastian Vettel splitting the two Mercedes drivers to secure a spot on the front row of the grid.
Vettel’s best time of 1:22.456 was three hundredths of a second quicker than Valtteri Bottas', with Kimi Raikkonen over half a second adrift in fourth place.
Red Bull proved to be no match to Mercedes or Ferrari with Max Verstappen qualifying no higher than fifth, 1.297s slower than Hamilton’s benchmark.
Verstappen’s teammate Ricciardo unusually crashed during his first run at Turn 14, leaving him 10th on the grid.
Meanwhile, Haas’ Romain Grosjean did a stellar job to qualify in sixth place, 12 months on from his stellar drive at Melbourne.
Felipe Massa was next up in Williams with seventh, but several seconds off the top runners.
Both Toro Rosso drivers made it to the final leg of qualifying, with Carlos Sainz Jr outclassing Daniiil Kvtat marginally for eighth place.
Force India's Sergio Perez was the first driver not to make it into Q3, the Mexican complaining of engine issues behind the near-miss.
Perez’s former teammate Nico Hulkenberg also failed to make the cut after running in Top 10 during Q1, the Renault driver qualifying 12th.
Fernando Alonso qualified 13th in the lead McLaren, ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Force India.
Marcus Ericsson made it to Q2 at the expense of new teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, who got the call to replace Pascal Wehrlein earlier this morning.
Kevin Magnussen qualified a disappointing 17th on his maiden outing for Haas after a costly off-track excursion.
Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t fare better than 18th after fuel pressure issues, while Williams rookie Lance Stroll and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer completed the Top 20.
Stroll will, however, start last on the grid due to a penalty for a change of gearbox following his crash in FP3.
by Rachit Thukral