Lewis Hamilton took the record eighth pole position in Melbourne after defeating team-mate Valtteri Bottas in his last qualifying attempt while Max Verstappen split the Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in fourth place for Red Bull.
Bottas had a terrific first lap in Q3 holding a pole position with almost half a second advantage after Hamilton’s first corner mistake where he lost four tenths, but the world champion was tenth faster than Bottas in his second attempt and secured the record eighth pole position for Australian GP and six consecutive in the last six years.
Vettel was third fastest, but with a huge seven tenths gap behind Hamilton while Verstappen managed to set the fourth fastest time, one tenth behind Vettel, as he managed to put himself in front of Ferrari debutant Leclerc.
Grosjean and Magnussen were the sixth and seventh for Haas who was once again very strong in Australia while debutant Norris beat Sainz in his first F1 appearance and propelled McLaren in Q3 where he finished eighth fastest.
Raikkonen was the ninth fastest for Alfa Romeo, five places ahead of his team-mate Giovinazzi, while Perez managed to beat Stroll, who stuck in Q1, and place his Racing Point RP19 in Q3 where he finished tenth fastest.
Renault had disappointing qualifying in Australia as both Hulkenberg and Ricciardo failed to enter Q3 and finished 11th and 12th fastest with Hulkenberg winning first qualifying duel with Ricciardo, even though he had to drop the last fast lap due to problems with turbine pressure.
Another debutant Albon beat his team-mate Kvyat in their first qualifying clash for 0.138 seconds, but none of Toro Rosso drivers had advanced in Q3, although they both managed to beat Gasly in Red Bull who had stuck in Q1 in 17th place admitting Red Bull opeted for ‘risky’ strategy with only one Q1 run.
Sainz had a disappointing first appearance for McLaren as he finished in 18th place in front of two Williams drivers who were more than a second slower than all others – Russell beat Kubica for 1.7 seconds as Polish driver failed to improve on his best time in the final attempt after he hit the wall at the exit of Turn 10 that punctured his right rear tyre.
The first race of the new 2019 F1 season is scheduled at 06:10 (CET).
2019 AUSTRALIAN GP STARTING GRID
|4||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1:21.320||0.834|
|9||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1:22.314||1.828|
|10||11||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1:22.781||2.295|
|13||23||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1:22.636||2.150|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1:22.774||2.288|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1:23.017||2.531|
|17||10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1:23.020||2.534|