Hamilton thrilled with perfect start in Melbourne


Lewis Hamilton was thrilled after claiming pole position for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The defending Formula One world champion eclipsed Michael Schumacher's circuit record around Albert Park with a blistering time of one minute, 23.837 seconds on Saturday.

The pole was the Brit's fifth in Melbourne and the 50th of his stellar F1 career as he starts Sunday's race ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who qualified second fastest.

Hamilton praised the Silver Arrows' ability to "raise the bar once more" after topping every session in Australia so far as he searches for a third-straight title, and the fourth of his career. 

"They were some sexy laps," said a jubilant Hamilton. "I really enjoyed driving the car today. The set-up was right and it felt so good. No mistakes and really happy.

"I really have to take my hat off to this team. What they have done to raise the bar once more. It inspires and motivates me.

"I enjoyed driving the car in qualifying, we got the set-up just right. I felt like James Brown at the end of the lap."

However, the new qualifying format was the subject of controversy, with Hamilton barely pushed in the final session.

The restructured format sees drivers eliminated at 90 seconds intervals after a certain point in each session, which was hoped to mix up the grid.

But most drivers in Q3 opted to preserve tyres as time ticked down, including Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg, who opted against a late attempt to take pole.

"I don't have the solution, I haven't seen it so I don't know how boring it was or what worked," Hamilton said.

"What I can say is that we all make mistakes and to improve you have to make mistakes, you can't just improve all the time. 

"This is perhaps a step in the wrong direction, but I wouldn't say go back to the old way because we have had it for years. 

"Let's try and take a step back and figure out another route that is even more exciting."