History has been made by Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver claimed a record-equalling eighth pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Much to his surprise.
The five-time world champion admitted he had no idea he had entered the record books after pipping teammate Valtteri Bottas to top Saturday's thrilling qualifying session for the Formula 1 season opener.
Hamilton had dominated all three practice sessions but was made to work for his sixth-straight pole at Albert Park.
He had to set a new track record of one minute 20.48 seconds to eclipse Bottas by a tenth of a second in the dying moments of the one-hour qualifying session.
"I am shaking - that was so close," Hamilton said.
Ferrari's four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, but a worrying 0.70 of a second off the pace.
It was also a disappointing day for crowd favourite, Australia's Renault star Daniel Ricciardo.
He will start from 12th on the 20-strong grid in Sunday's race.
There were no complaints from Hamilton after he joined Michael Schumacher (San Marino GP) and Ayrton Senna (Japanese GP) as the only drivers to claim eight poles at the same Formula 1 track.
"I didn't know about that. It is news to me," Hamilton said, when told about his record-equalling effort.
It was Hamilton's 84th career pole, extending his record mark to 16 clear of the next man on the list, Schumacher (68).
The record wasn't the only shock for Hamilton.
He couldn't believe Mercedes had made such great strides at Melbourne since Ferrari had dominated recent testing in Spain.
"It's a real shock. I really wasn't expecting to see the performance difference," he said.
"But I know Ferrari will be pushing hard tomorrow. They will put up a good fight.
Vettel was also gobsmacked over Mercedes' progress.
"I'm certainly surprised - I think everyone is," he said.
"Mercedes are the clear favourites."
But asked if he could win a third-straight Australian GP, and fourth overall, Vettel said: "Of course - you never know."
Vettel has upstaged Hamilton at the past two Australian GPs.
Hamilton has won at Albert Park twice - most recently in 2015.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified fourth fastest with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc fifth but the bolter was McLaren's Lando Norris.
The 19-year-old rookie qualified in eighth, one place ahead of former world champion Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo.
"I need to make sure I treasure this," Norris said.
High profile Red Bull recruit Pierre Gasly had a shocker to qualify 17th.
Teams wore black arm bands and had "Thank you Charlie" on their helmets and cars to pay tribute to Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting who died on the eve of the new season.
Australian Associated Press