Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes 'shocked' after thrashing Ferrari in Australia qualifying
Hamilton seven tenths up on Vettel in Melbourne qualifying; "Mercedes smashed them to bits," claimed Sky F1's Martin Brundle; Watch Australian GP on Sky F1 on Sunday, lights out at 5.10am
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 17/03/19 5:02am
Lewis Hamilton says the size of Mercedes' superiority in qualifying for the Australian GP was "a real shock" after the world champions blitzed pre-season favourites Ferrari.
Although Hamilton took pole for the season-opener by just one tenth from team-mate Valtteri Bottas, it was the size of Mercedes' advantage over their rival teams which shocked the paddock.
Sebastian Vettel was over half a second behind as he took third on the grid while Max Verstappen was nearly a full second adrift despite landing fourth place ahead of Charles Leclerc.
When's the Australian GP on Sky?
Race underway at 5.10am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports Main Event. Full schedule here!
"I really wasn't expecting to see the performance difference," said Hamilton. "It is a real shock.
"We really had no idea that we would have this performance. We thought we would be behind."
Vettel admitted: "The gap is a surprise, we didn't expect it coming here.
"I'm certainly surprised. I think everyone is."
The judgement of Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle was even more emphatic.
"Mercedes smashed them to bits," said Brundle. "Mercedes have absolutely thrashed Ferrari and Red Bull."
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Mercedes had claimed during pre-season testing that they believed Ferrari were half a second ahead.
But in the event it was Mercedes who topped the timesheets by over a half second for the first qualifying session of the year.
"We were wary we were behind," said Hamilton. "Honestly. But from then until now, we've understood the car more. We've made some really big step forwards with set-up.
"But l know that Ferrari will put up a good fight tomorrow because they are strong in the races."
A year ago, Hamilton took pole by a similar margin at Albert Park before losing out to his Ferrari rival on race day.
Vettel added: "There's homework for us to do but l still think we have a great car.
"Mercedes are the clear favourites."
Sky Sports F1's Australian GP schedule
Sunday, March 17
3.30am: Australian GP Pitlane Live - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One.
4.15am: Australian GP On The Grid Live - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One.
5.10am: THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX LIVE - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One.
7am: Australian GP Paddock Live - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One.
8am: Full race replay Australian GP - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky One.
11.35am: Full race replay Australian GP - Simulcast on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One.
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