With the fastest lap ever at Albert Park, Lewis claimed his 73rd career pole position – his fifth consecutive pole in Australia and seventh in total. Valtteri crashed on his first run in Q3 and will start tomorrow’ s Australian Grand Prix from P15 on the grid owing to a gearbox change. Today’s result marks the 20th front row place in Australia for Mercedes-Benz power. Both drivers completed one run on the UltraSoft compound tyres in Q1 and then two runs in Q2. In Q3, Lewis completed two runs on the UltraSoft tyres.
It’s the greatest feeling when you live up to your potential and you pull out a lap like I was able to. I’m not always able to do that but I was really happy with today’s performance. Up until this point, I haven’t thought at all about the race. So tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll start to put my focus onto that. Last season, Ferrari ultimately did a better job on Sunday. But we generally learn from mistakes and scenarios like that, so I’m hoping we’re better prepared for tomorrow. Ultimately it’s also how I’m able to manage the tyres at the start of the race. I remember Sebastian was really at my tail towards the end of my stint which forced me to come into the pits and then he continued on for several laps and I got stuck behind Verstappen. So I’ll definitely bear that in mind and try my best to make sure that I’m in a better position tomorrow. I know how hard Valtteri has been working and I know the pain he feels right now, but he will recover. He was very quick through practice and he has been putting a lot of effort into growing as a driver and as a member of the team. I have all the confidence in him to pull through again tomorrow.
I think I was just pushing a bit too hard. I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp. I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of Turn 2. It’s very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car. It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race. Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we’l l try everything we can. Maybe it’s a little easier this year with the added DRS zone, we’ll find out tomorrow. We have a good car, so I’ll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it’s really quick, so that’s something positive from today.
That was an unbelievable final lap from Lewis to see him find so much pace. We didn’t change anything on the car from the first run of Q3, it was just a case of Lewis putting all the pieces together and finding the limit on that last lap, with everything on the line; and this is the result, a really impressive pole position to start the new season. But it’s a garage of contrasting emotions today with a really unfortunate end to qualifying for Valtteri. It was a big hit and the boys will have a long job list to get the car ready to race. It’s now about putting the incident behind him and recovering as strongly as possible. We expect a very close race between the top three teams tomorrow; there is still a lot to do if we want to score a strong result in the race.