Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes team had no idea this was going to happen today

is the reigning champion has won four out of the last F1 titles.

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas could only come fifth last season as Hamilton landed the fifth title of his career – putting him two behind legend Michael Schumacher.

But the 34-year-old admitted he was surprised to finish in pole position in Melbourne with Bottas close behind and both drivers enjoying daylight from their nearest challengers.

“I feel so fortunate to be in the position I’m in today,” Hamilton was quoted as saying on the Mercedes website.

“We had no idea that we’d have this gap to the others – we thought we were behind, we thought it was going to be a push, so we gave it absolutely everything and more to arrive here with the best possible package and delivery.

“Valtteri and I have been pushing the car to its absolute limits. We haven’t massively changed the car, it’s almost the same set-up we had in Barcelona [during winter testing], so this gap was really surprising to see.

“This is the first time we’ve unleashed the full potential of the car and I’m so happy to have a car that I can fight with.

“This is a really great start to the new season and it puts us in a good position for the fight tomorrow.”

Bottas added: “I really enjoyed driving today, I was in a good flow and usually when you enjoy driving it shows on the time sheets as well.

“My first lap in Q3 was pretty good and I wanted to improve in my second lap, but I was stuck in traffic on my out lap, so my tyres were just a bit too cold at the start of the lap.

“Lewis did put in a fantastic lap, but I think without the traffic it would have been a close fight for pole today.

“We didn’t expect to be this strong – we’re happy, but frankly quite surprised to see that gap.

“We came here, not knowing where we’d be and actually thought we’d be a bit behind Ferrari. But we shouldn’t underestimate them, they looked very strong in winter testing and have a quick car, even if they struggled today.

“At the same time our team has done a really good job between Barcelona and here, constantly improving the car.

“Today was good fun, we both got some nice laps in, so let’s hope we will have a good Sunday as well. It’s a decent run into Turn 1, so hopefully I can get a good start, build a gap to the cars behind and have a good fight with Lewis.”