Lewis Hamilton stuns Jenson Button as Mercedes ace elated

Formula One preview: A lap of the Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton’s reaction after qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix shocked Jenson Button as Mercedes returned to form. Hamilton was beaming from ear-to-ear just minutes after the session despite losing out to team-mate George Russell.

The former Williams driver has now outqualified his more experienced team-mate at all three races this season. However, Button feels Hamilton is still “pleasantly surprised” at Mercedes’ performance as they exceeded their earlier expectations.

Hamilton will start the race from P3 with Russell lining up on the front row alongside Max Verstappen. The 2009 F1 world champion told Sky Sports F1: “I was surprised how close the Mercedes drivers were to Max.

“It was a great job by them. For Lewis to be that happy and be behind his team-mate shows how pleasantly surprised they are to be where they are. Lewis will start on a nice side of the grid.

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“Mercedes are a great team at understanding strategy in a difficult situation and that was today. I think they did the best job out there.” On Friday, Russell predicted Mercedes were only aiming for the third row of the grid.

The Silver Arrows failed to impress throughout the weekend with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin consistently quicker. However, they saved their best runs until when it mattered on Saturday with Russell just two-tenths slower than Verstappen.

After the chequered flag, Hamilton had renewed optimism that Mercedes could battle with the Dutchman on Sunday. In a dramatic turn, the seven-times champion told his fans he was ready to target the top step of the podium after the “unexpected” result.

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He explained: “George did an amazing job there today so for us to be up on the front two rows is honestly a dream for us. We are all working as hard as we can to get right back up to the front so to be this close to Red Bull is incredible.

“Hopefully tomorrow we can give them a run for their money and we hope the weather is good. I am super grateful for this position and I am just going to work as hard as I can tomorrow. (My goal) is to get to first.

“We have to accept that they’re going to be a quarter of a second, half a second quicker than us, but maybe in the tow, we can just about hold on. The fact that there’s two of us and one Red Bull, with strategy, maybe we can apply some pressure to them, so we’ll see.”

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