Hamilton on track for 6th consecutive pole at Australian GP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, prepares for the final practice session for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, March 16, 2019. The first race of the year is Sunday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Lewis Hamilton got incrementally faster across three practice sessions in a propitious precursor for qualifying Saturday, where he's aiming to secure pole position for the sixth Australian Grand Prix in succession

MELBOURNE, Australia — Lewis Hamilton got incrementally faster across three practice sessions in a propitious precursor for qualifying Saturday, where he's aiming to secure pole position for the sixth Australian Grand Prix in succession.

The five-time Formula One world champion topped the time sheets in both practice sessions Friday and followed up by recording the quickest lap time of 1 minute, 22.292 seconds in his Mercedes just hours before the qualifying session for the season-opening race.

He was followed by two Ferraris in the third practice, with two-time defending Australian GP champion Sebastian Vettel 0.264 behind in second spot and Charles Leclerc 0.457 back in third.

Haas Racing drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were fourth and fifth, followed by Pierre Gasly in a Red Bull and Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen was 1.189 off the pace in ninth and was one place ahead of his former Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who was 1.403 behind in a Renault.

Hamilton is aiming for a record-extending eighth pole position at the Albert Park circuit, dating back to 2008 when he won from the front row of the grid. He has dominated qualifying here since 2014, but hasn't won the Australian GP since 2015.

The teams and drivers had a two-hour break between the end of the third practice and the start of qualifying.

___

More AP racing: https://www.racing.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

More AP F1 coverage: https://apnews.com/FormulaOne

You may also like these

The Fijian way: The people's team delivers 1st...

Aug 12, 2016

Osea Kolinisau didn't want merely to win Fiji's first ever Olympic gold medal, he was determined to...

Several Olympic swimmers listed with wrong...

Aug 12, 2016

Several swimmers were listed with the wrong qualifying times coming into the Rio Olympics

Britain's defending dressage champion is all...

Aug 11, 2016

Defending dressage champion Charlotte Dujardin of Britain is having the time of her life in Rio

A-Rod told he won't play field Friday in final...

Aug 12, 2016

Alex Rodriguez has been turned down in his request to play the field for his final game with the...

After explosion, Spain basketball gets 1st win of...

Aug 12, 2016

Spain got its first victory of the Olympics, and almost nobody saw the beginning of it

Sign up now!