Hamilton’s hundred – Mercedes ace on pole for Spanish Grand Prix

The amazing Lewis Hamilton continues to set records and seems to have no intention of slowing down, the Mercedes driver making it an incredible 100 poles in Formula One after qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who also grabbed pole in Imola, dialled in a characteristically late cracker of a lap to edge out major rival Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Charles Leclerc continued Ferrari’s resurgence by setting the fourth fastest lap from the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, teammate Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo as Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten.

“Oh wow, I can’t believe we are at one hundred and really it’s down to the men and women back at the factory who are continuously raising the bar and just never giving up. The support that I have has been a dream for me to work for these guys and the journey we have been on has been immense.

“Who would have thought in 2013 or end of 2012 that we made the decision to partner that we would be qualifying at 100. So I feel very humbled, very grateful and I’m ecstatic like it’s my first.”

In achieving a scarcely believable 100 pole positions, Hamilton is already 32 ahead of second placed Michael Schumacher in that illustrious list and 35 poles ahead of his idol, Ayrton Senna. For Hamilton, however, these records do not come easy and the Englishman is constantly striving for perfection just like those fellow greats before him.

“P3 was looking really good, they (Red Bull) have been strong all weekend. I made some changes, and I had a bit of anxiety about the changes we were potentially going to make for qualifying. You are always trying to make the car better but it’s a bit of a gamble because you have to keep the race in mind also.

“Anyways, we made the change and as soon as I got out, I was like ‘this is immediately the wrong way’ and it was my call. It was really harsh but that’s why I was behind the whole way through qualifying and I was making small tweaks here and there to try and elevate pace wise. But the first lap was the best lap I got through the whole session, which was great to improve the next lap. I think I was a tenth and a half up but then we couldn’t keep it.

“The set up I made I had so much understeer, the car was very lazy, wouldn’t turn around the corners the way I want. So you are waiting and waiting and waiting and I was making small adjustments in order to get the car to turn and that’s a combination of many things. Then it’s just pulling every millisecond together and it was my cleanest lap. I will always remember that one.”

Who knows how many more records Hamilton will go on to break and when he does finally decide to hang up his race helmet, many see fellow Brit George Russell as heir apparent. And it was another fine qualifying performance from the Williams Racing driver as he made it to Q2 for the fourth successive race.

“I think getting into Q2 today was the maximum,” said Russell. “We knew the car has never really worked perfectly around this circuit, relative to our performance elsewhere. We struggled a bit in FP2, but the conditions calmed down today. The car was in a much better window and we managed to out qualify cars like Tsunoda and Räikkönen, so overall, we really maximised today.

“It will be an interesting race with the warm conditions, and there is a bit of rain in the area tomorrow. I don’t know if it will come before or after the race but fingers it arrives and spices things up a little.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.