Sunday's Australian Grand Prix is live on the BBC Sport website and on Radio 5 live
Lewis Hamilton propelled his team-mate Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, in pole position at the first Australian GP.
Hamilton was behind the Finn in the final qualifying heats, but was up 0.122 seconds to take his sixth consecutive pole at Albert Park.
Hamilton was 0.704sec quicker than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in third, just ahead of the new Red Bull Max Verstappen.
British rookie Lando Norris took a superb eighth place in his debut for McLaren.
And George Russell, the other British rookie, finished 19th, well ahead of his teammate at Williams, Robert Kubica.
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Hamilton dominated the weekend, the fastest in all practice sessions and in two of the three qualifying sessions. He missed only the first part of qualifying when he did not run second round and that Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, who did it, was the fastest.
"I tremble that it was so tight there," Hamilton said. "After the tests, we had no idea where we would be, we were hoping to be where we are, Valtteri did a great job, it was very tight."
Bottas said: "The first lap was very nice, I really enjoyed it, not enough for the pole unfortunately, but we look forward to tomorrow."
Vettel, whose Ferrari team had seemed faster than Mercedes in pre-season testing, said: "The car feels good, there is nothing wrong."
"Surely surprised (by the way) .I think everyone is, probably himself.Yesterday we did not have a good day.Today, we we felt better, but the gap was similar.We have homework to do to understand.I always think we have a good car. "
Vettel seemed to sound like a no-win, but the margin between him and Hamilton is very similar to that of last year in Australia – and Ferrari won the race after a Mercedes strategy mistake, then to Bahrain two weeks later . the year with a car at least as fast as the Mercedes.
Hamilton said it was "great to see the top six teams so close" in qualifying
Hamilton seemed incredibly fast in the first lap in his first round at the last session, but a flicker made him waste time and Bottas was faster by half a second.
But Hamilton produced a much clearer turn in his second pass and Bottas did not improve, that was enough to turn the tables.
Ferrari should have locked the second line, but Ferrari's Leclerc made a mistake on his last lap, allowing Verstappen to take fourth place.
Leclerc said, "I'm not happy with myself, I did not do the job when I had to do it in Q3, the potential to be top there was there, not the first two. I made a mistake in my last lap and it's life that happens and I'm going to work from there. "
Brit Norris excels in his debut
Norris in qualifying: "I really enjoyed this experience but I was so nervous that it almost ruined our pleasure"
Haas rider Romain Grosjean won the honor of the best of the rest in sixth place ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen, but the star in the midfield was Norris.
The 19-year-old finished eighth in eighth place. Teammate Carlos Sainz dropped to 18th after being held back after Robert Kubica's Williams hit the wall. It was not a flash.
Norris looked good during qualifying and his form demonstrated not only his potential, but also that McLaren had taken a step forward after a difficult period in 2018 that had led to a major restructuring of the team.
Alexander Albon, a London-born Thai, also made his debut in 13th place for Toro Rosso, ahead of his experienced team-mate Daniil Kvyat in 15th.
Russell, having taken his time on the first day of testing, had been good all through Saturday and had achieved an accomplished performance in the tough Williams, which is by far the slowest car.
Kubica, on the other hand, was struggling with lack of grip. He said he found it on his last lap, but overcooked it in a corner, hit the wall and had a puncture.
Russell said, "I think I can be pretty proud of myself – we all know where the car is and my only comparison is Robert – I was pretty happy with myself when the car crossed the line. and I can leave today with my head up.
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