Defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton reached an incredible milestone in qualifying for Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday as he became the first driver in Formula One history to claim 100 pole positions. Speaking following the action, the seven-time world champion said that what a journey as he took pole ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
I was behind the whole way through qualifying and making small tweaks to find pace. I just can’t believe we’re at 100 – it’s down to the women and men back at the factory who are continuously raising the bar and never giving up. It’s a dream to work with them, what a journey! Who would have thought when we started out together at the end of 2012 that we’d be celebrating 100 poles!? I feel so humbled and very grateful for all their work. It feels just like my first! I’ll always remember that one.
Valtteri Bottas will start the race from third place with a time of 01:16.873s and speaking following the action he said:
That was close! It felt like I was there in the battle for the pole but I lost a tenth or so with a snap at Turn 10, and those are the fine margins this year. We’ve got a strong package and we’ll be in the fight tomorrow no doubt – it will be another close one between us and Red Bull. If you can keep the tyres in good condition, you’re going to be more competitive around the pit stops. There’s the possibility to mix the strategy and try a one or a two-stop. We’ll do lots of work tonight and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know our strategy.
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff commented saying:
I’m not one for statistics but 100 pole positions is a pretty impressive milestone! I told Lewis on the radio that it was quite an okay lap, but of course it was a little bit more than that. It looked like Max and Red Bull had a big advantage in Q2, but we kept chipping away at it and in the end, the top three drivers were covered by a tenth of a second; exactly how we want it to be in F1, battling for every thousandth of a second. Both Lewis and Valtteri did a fantastic job in those final laps, and when it’s such tiny margins, every detail makes a difference. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we have the advantage of two cars on the clean side of the grid, and both drivers in the top three; that will provide us a strategic opportunity, and we need to make the most of it for the race.
Chief engineer Andrew Shovlin commented saying:
Well done to Lewis on his 100th pole position – it’s a phenomenal achievement and the whole team is proud of him, and proud to have played a part in him reaching this milestone.
As expected, it was a real scrap for pole and it was good to have both of our cars in the mix today. Having two cars at the front is very also useful from a strategic point of view for the race tomorrow. Tyre choice for the race start was quite straightforward; the hard tyre isn’t working well so everyone in the top 10 opted for the soft and we’d expect most to only use soft and medium tomorrow.
The hot sunny conditions today made it quite difficult to get the tyres to the final sector in good condition, it’s really easy to overheat here and any little slide costs you with a build-up of temperature. Valtteri suffered with this in turn 10 where a snap ultimately dropped him out of the running for pole. The track seemed to peak before the end of the session so the order at the top didn’t change in the final run and, as much as we’d have liked to have taken the front row, having both on the clean side of the grid is not too bad. The race will be interesting tomorrow; we’ll see in the first stint if we have the pace to break away but there are a few options for strategy on the table. We’re expecting it to be a tough fight but one that we are looking forward to.