Hamilton thanks team for 'fantastic' pole position

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton praised the hard work put in by the Mercedes team over the winter for helping him clinch the first pole position of 2017.

Hamilton was nearly three tenths of a second clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in qualifying in Melbourne on Saturday.

"It's been a fantastic weekend so far," said the three-time world champion.

"It's quite amazing to come here for I think it's the 11th time. It feels like it was only yesterday that I cam in and had my first race here in 2007. Such a great journey.

"I'm just incredibly proud of my team. This rule change has been huge and such a massive challenge for everyone. The guys have just worked so hard to make this car what it is today."

While happy with how qualifying had gone, Hamilton made it clear that what really mattered is how things went on race day.

"Tomorrow is about putting all the work that's gone on over the winter. All the work that's gone through testing and everything, and through this whole weekend, and really put it to work tomorrow.

"I'll make sure I get a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow stronger than ever," he added.

While the margin between himself and the rest of the field looked comfortable, Hamilton predicted a hard-fought Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

"Obviously it's close between us all. As you can see there's going to be a tight race this year I think."

And Hamilton was quick to congratulate his new team mate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn is taking part in his first race weekend for Mercedes since taking over the seat from Nico Rosberg.

"Valtteri did a fantastic job, being that it's his first qualifying session with the team, he's done a great job. It's great for us at Mercedes."

GALLERY: all the pics from Saturday's action

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