Japanese Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton heaped praise on the Mercedes team after storming to pole position in Suzuka.
The championship leader broke the lap record at Suzuka en route to securing his 71st Formula One pole position, setting a time over three tenths of a second faster than team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Despite his performance, the Briton admitted that he was relieved to have taken his first pole position in Suzuka.
“It’s been a really good day, every lap was fantastic, I never really got a great balance in the past, so I never did great qualifying.”
“So to finally get the balance with the great work of my engineers behind me, and the great timing from all the mechanics, I finally got on track and did the time. And the car is crazy here.”
Despite saying that the Mercedes W08 generally performs better in qualifying, he added that he was cautiously optimistic for tomorrow’s race.
“I think our car is generally very strong in qualifying trim and then generally when we get to the race we are maybe a step back,” he stated. “It’s hard but not impossible to overtake here, so in P1 I’m in the best position for tomorrow. I’m hoping that our car works well – it felt good on the soft tyre, perhaps less so on the supersoft.”
With Bottas penalised for a gearbox change, championship rival Sebastian Vettel will start on the front row of the grid. When asked about Vettel’s start line tactics, Hamilton responded:
“He won’t be more aggressive than I am! I’ve got eight metres, I’ve got to try and keep those eight metres that I have and yeah, starts have generally been strong this year, so I’ll just try to keep with that.”
Hamilton currently holds a 34-point lead over Vettel in the drivers’ championship.