Lewis Hamilton responds to Valtteri Bottas message after Australian GP battle

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Hamilton was left “shaking” after a stunning qualifying display in Melbourne that saw him steal top spot from Bottas.

The Mercedes driver set a new track record in Melbourne – and then beat it again – as stormed ahead of the field.

Lewis Hamilton will start in pole for the first race of the season proper tomorrow, with Bottas second.

And the Mercedes pair are relishing their battle already this season.

Bottas posted a picture on Instagram of the pair embracing along with the caption: “Close battle for the pole with Lewis Hamilton. I enjoyed it.

“He had the upper hand in the end, today 😉

“As a team blown away for the performance we had.

“Can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Hamilton then re-posted Bottas’ picture, adding: “Awesome job man! This will be a fun battle.”

While Hamilton and Bottas enjoy their clash at the top, Sebastian Vettel will hope to muscle in after finishing third.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is fourth, while Ferrari new boy and team-mate of Vettel 21-year-old Charles Leclerc is fifth.

Hamilton was fastest in all practice sessions and was buzzing to be back in action.

“I’m shaking it was so close out there,” he said.

“From testing we had no idea where we would be. We were hoping to be where we are. Valtteri did an exceptional job. It was very close.”

Bottas said: “The first lap was very nice, I really enjoyed that. Not quite enough for pole unfortunately, but look forward to tomorrow.”

Vettel, whose Ferrari team had appeared to be quicker than Mercedes in the pre-season testing, said: “The car feels all right. There is not anything wrong.”

“Certainly surprised (by the gap). I think everybody is, probably themselves. Yesterday we did not have a good day, today felt better but the gap was similar.

“There is some homework we need to do to understand. I still think we have a great car.”

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