Hamilton storms to pole in Melbourne as Vettel qualifies third

Lewis Hamilton smashed the lap record and scored his 7th pole position with a blistering lap in Qualifying at Melbourne.

Hamilton improved by eight tenths of a second on his last lap to leave Red Bull and Ferrari trailing over half a second behind.

Kimi Raikkonen will line up alongside Hamilton on the front row with Vettel third and Max Verstappen fourth for Red Bull.

However it was not a totally successful first season qualifying for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas binned his car into the wall on the exit of turn one and bringing out a red flag.

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Neither McLaren driver made it through to the top ten with Alonso 11th and Vandoorne 12th.

But both Renault and Haas cars reached the top ten in a bid to start the season on a positive.

Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin was second-last and eliminated in the first segment of Qualy alongside both Toro Rosso-Hondas and Saubers.

Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel then exchanged sharp comments in the post-session press conference with the Mercedes driver telling his Ferrari rival he wanted to “wipe the smile off your face”.

Round one of the 2018 championship will be one to watch.

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