Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s all-time F1 pole position record
PUBLISHED: 21:56 26 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 27 August 2017
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton bids for his third race victory at Spa after claiming pole position in qualifying for the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix with a record-breaking lap.
The 32-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire will start the 200th race of his F1 career from pole position after a blistering lap.
Hamilton claimed his 68th career pole position – equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record – with a new track record at Spa-Francorchamps.
Afterwards he posted on social media: “Michael, I am honoured to have raced alongside you. To equal your pole position record is a dream come true. I pray for you and your family all the time.”
The three-time F1 world champion clocked an astonishing 1m 42.553s in Q3 for his seventh pole of the 2017 season.
He will line-up on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s race with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel alongside him in second place.
Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix from P3 on the grid.
Stevenage-born Lewis said: “I’m really happy and grateful. The past few weeks have been great and I’ve carried the positive energy from my holiday into this weekend.
“Until I crossed the line and got the pole I hadn’t really realised that I had matched Michael’s record.
“It’s crazy to think that in 1996, when I was eleven years old, I came here to watch Michael – and now I’ve equalled his record.
“I’m honoured to be up there with him now and starting the second half of the season this strong is an amazing feeling.”
Hamilton added: “I have not really had any bad laps this weekend. But it’s going to be tight tomorrow.
“Ferrari’s race pace looked good yesterday, so I think it will be a lot closer tomorrow.
“The rundown to Turn 1 is short, but pole is still the best position to start from. I will try to make it work tomorrow.”
Mercedes team supermo Toto Wolff hailed Hamilton’s pole lap as “mighty”.
Wolff said: “That was a mighty lap from Lewis and one worthy of equalling Michael’s pole position record.
“Lewis has been on top form all weekend and it was a very special moment for him to take pole position number 68.
“It puts him in the strongest position for tomorrow’s race – but it’s only the first step.”
Today’s result marks the ninth pole position for the Silver Arrows in 2017.
Both Mercedes drivers completed one run on the SuperSoft compound tyres in Q1, then two UltraSoft runs in Q2 and Q3.
Bottas said: “First of all, congratulations to Lewis for his 68 poles, that’s a mega achievement.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pace to fight for the pole today. I’m not sure about the reasons.
“I’m slightly confused as to why I haven’t been able to get closer. We will need to look for a few more answers in the data.
“The balance in the car felt good, but I was lacking grip, so I was particularly struggling in the high-speed corners of sector two.”
The Finn added: “I felt a lot more comfortable in the car with high fuel, so that’s good for tomorrow.
“Driving the 2017 car around Spa is mega – it’s so quick, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
“We are both starting in the top three, so as a team we will still try to achieve our target and that is a 1-2.”
Wolff said: “On Valtteri’s side, it has been a trickier weekend for him. We made some changes to the car after FP3 and he made a step forward with every run in qualifying, finding more and more time.
“It was looking very close for the front row, then Sebastian got the tow from Kimi [Raikkonen] in the final sector that gave him the advantage.
“But overall, a good pair of starting positions and a good weekend so far, with our new specification engine performing well. But the hardest bit is still to come.”
Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin added: “We knew it would be a tough session with Ferrari very close to us in terms of ultimate performance.
“So it was a question of extracting every last bit of performance from the car in order to take pole position and we managed to do that.
“Congratulations first of all to Lewis, it’s an incredible achievement to equal Michael’s record.
“Lewis has been happy with the car all weekend, feeling very comfortable and progressively building up to that amazing lap in Q3.”
He added: “It hasn’t been so straightforward for Valtteri, who was some way off in the cooler practice conditions this morning.
“But we made some changes to the car and he was finding time in himself throughout qualifying; even so, there is still a gap between the two cars, so we will go through the data to understand where that time is.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s grand prix, Shovlin said: “Ferrari showed very impressive pace on the ultra-soft tyre during Friday’s long runs and we are expecting a close race.
“We have chosen a lighter wing level than them, which will help us both attacking and defending in the first and third sectors, but it will be a close battle – as we can expect for the rest of the year – and we will be fighting as hard as we can.”