Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton raced to his seventh Australian GP pole Saturday, March 23.SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
  • Sunday's race at Albert Park will start at 4:10pm local, 10:40pm IST, 5:10am GMT.
  • Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton raced to pole Saturday with a record-breaking lap.

Hamilton broke idol Ayrton Senna's record of six poles when he raced his seventh at the Australian Grand Prix 2018 on Saturday, March 23.

The defending and four-time world driver's champion set the pace in Q3 with a record-breaking timing of 1:21.164s as he set his fifth straight pole in the season-opening Grand Prix. He was 0.664s faster than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who will start Sunday's race at the Albert Park from the front row of the grid.

Raikkonen unqualified his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel by 0.010s. Red Bull's Max Verstappen will join the latter in the second row after finishing fourth while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth Saturday.

Valtteri Bottas suffers crash

However, there was bad news for Mercedes, who are eyeing a fifth straight constructors' championship, as Valtteri Bottas suffered a crash at the beginning of the final qualifying. He was taken for a medical check after the accident, which has left Hamilton without any backup against the Ferrari drivers for Sunday's race.

Bottas will start in 10th as he failed to set a time. It certainly is not the ideal start for the Finn, whose contract with the Silver Arrows runs out at the end of the 21-race season. Notably, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff cut a dejected figure in the team garage after the crash.

It was one of my best: Hamilton

Hamilton said the record-breaking Albert Park lap was "one of the best" of his career. However, he maintained it was not as easy as it looked from the stands.

"It was one [of] my best. With the results we've had, you would think it's the norm, but it's just as intense," Hamilton said Saturday, as quoted by F1's official website.

"I'm always driving for perfection and that was as close as I could get. I was focused on hooking up tyres and getting right temperature and then getting the lap together."

Vettel conceded that the gap between Ferrari and Hamilton's Mercedes was greater than expected but said he is hoping for a good start Sunday. The German driver and his teammate Raikkonen can take confidence from the fact that their Silver Arrows rival has converted only one of his six poles to win in Albert Park.

Meanwhile, Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were impressive as they finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

On the other hand, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, who are eyeing better results with new Renault engines, disappointed as they shut out of the final qualifying session.

Qualifying results from Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2018 (Top 6)

  1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes - 1:21.164s
  2. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari - 1:21.828s
  3. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari - 1:21.838s
  4. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull - 1:21.879s
  5. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull - 1:22.152s
  6. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas - 1:23.187s

F1 Australian GP 2018 — TV listings and live stream

India: TV - Star Sports Select 2/HD; Live stream - Hotstar

UK: TV - Sky Sports Main Event; Live Stream - Sky Go

US: TV - NBCSN. Live Stream - NBC Sports Live.

Australia: TV - Ten, Fox Sports 5. Live Streaming - Ten Play.