MELBOURNE, Australia — Lewis Hamilton produced the fastest lap ever at the Australian Grand Prix to take pole position at the Formula One season opener for the sixth consecutive year.
The five-time world champion edged Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas' leading time with seconds remaining to top qualifying Saturday in 1 minute, 20.486 seconds.
It will be the eighth time in Hamilton's career that he'll start in No. 1 position on the grid in Australia matching Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna's record for most pole positions at one F1 circuit.
"Oh man. I'm shaking it was so close out there," Hamilton said in a post-session TV interview. "I'm so proud. Valtteri did an exceptional job out there, so close."
Bottas was second in 1:20.598 and will start alongside Hamilton on the front row of the grid in Sunday's Grand Prix. Two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel was third, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen split the Ferraris by finishing fourth in front of Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton's 84th career pole position came as a surprise to nobody, particularly after his 11 GP wins in 2018 and complete domination of the end of last season. He led all three practice sessions before topping qualifying, although he said he hadn't anticipated his gap over the Ferraris to be as wide as seven-tenths of a second.