Lewis Hamilton celebrates record 69th pole position
PUBLISHED: 19:58 02 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:37 03 September 2017
Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG
Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position in qualifying for the 2017 Italian Grand Prix with a sensational lap at a wet Monza circuit to break Michael Schumacher’s all-time Formula One record.
The 32-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire claimed the all-time record today with the 69th pole of his F1 career.
He clocked a stunning Q3 lap time of 1m 35.554s, which was 1.148 seconds quicker than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second place.
It was Hamilton’s sixth pole at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and eighth of the 2017 season.
After pulling clear of the legendary Schumacher in the all-time standings, Hamilton said: “It’s very hard to find the words to explain how I feel, I’m trying to figure it all out.
“It probably won’t sink in for a long time. It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed.”
Hamilton’s main title rival Sebastian Vettel could only manage eighth in qualifying, but the Ferrari driver will start from sixth place as a result of grid penalties for both Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who was third in the provisional standings.
With the two Red Bulls dropping down the start grid, Lance Stroll, who was fourth quickest in qualifying for Williams, will start on the front row alongside Hamilton, with Frenchman Esteban Ocon lining up third for Force India.
Owing to heavy rain, Q1 was interrupted at 2.04pm and qualifying restarted at 4.40pm in Italy.
Hamilton said: “The Red Bulls really made me work hard for the pole today, which I’m grateful for.
“The weather has obviously been incredibly tricky for us all. What a day to come here in this beautiful country with the English weather and to be massively challenged.
“It was very difficult to see out there, and very easy to make mistakes – as always in the rain.
“The second to last lap was OK at the beginning, but then I backed out of it, hoping that I’d get one more lap.
“There was a lot of pressure for that last lap – there could have been a red flag, there could have been a yellow flag.
“There was a lot of risk, but I gave it everything.”
He added: “A big thank you to my team for making it all possible, the guys here, the guys back at the factory for continuing to support me.
“We’ve got a lot of the sponsors here from Mercedes-Benz and Petronas who have been sponsoring and supporting me for a long, long time, so I’m really grateful for that.”
Hamilton’s Silver Arrows team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix from P4 on the Monza grid.
Both Mercedes drivers completed two runs on the Wet tyres and one on the Intermediates in Q1, two Intermediate runs in Q2 and then one Intermediate and one Wet run in Q3.
Bottas said: “Today was a tough day. In the end, I just couldn’t get the Wet tyre to work.
“We stopped for a new set, tried to go for one more lap, but I just didn’t find any grip.
“Initially, in some parts of the qualifying, we got everything working well, but it was really on a knife edge with the temperatures of the tyres.
“With more rain, I could not get the tyres hot enough.
“However, with the grid penalties for the Red Bulls, I’ll be starting fourth, which is not too bad.
“And it is for sure good to be ahead of the Ferraris with both cars.
“We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow; luckily it’s supposed to be dry.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was delighted to see Hamilton claimed yet another pole position.
“These tricky conditions are the times when you can do many more things wrong than right, so we can be pleased with our result,” said Wolff.
“After such a long time waiting in the rain, I think the racing fans got their money’s worth from the dominant lap Lewis produced right at the end – even if they were probably cheering a bit more for the cars in red than for us.
“It was a brilliant lap, after a session where he was the quickest man throughout, and it was undoubtedly a performance worthy of claiming the all-time pole position record.”
Wolff added: “Valtteri performed strongly, too, until he ran on at the second chicane on his final timed lap.
“But grid penalties for cars in front of him will work in his favour tomorrow in terms of the starting position.
“The key point to take away from this afternoon is that we will start the race with both cars ahead of our direct competition, and we will be aiming to keep it that way to the flag.
“Conditions are predicted to be warm and dry, though, so it will be no easy walk to the finish.
“We will do our homework tonight, prepare for every scenario and aim to deliver a strong performance in the race. Ferrari will be competitive, so we need to cover our bases.”
Silver Arrows technical director James Allison added: “It wasn’t quite a perfect conclusion but we enjoyed a very strong session and have every prospect of a good race tomorrow.
“Lewis was in imperious form throughout the rather elongated session, and Valtteri too although things didn’t go as well for him in Q3.
“But he will have a strong race tomorrow. It was a terrific job from the strategists and race team to put the drivers out on the right piece of track, and the right tyres, during each part of qualifying.
“Overall, a very good all-round team performance on a day that required maximum concentration.”
After claiming pole position, Hamilton is red-hot favourite with the bookies for victory in Italy.
William Hill make him their 1/4 favourite to win the Italian Grand Prix. His big rival Sebastian Vettel is 7/1, with Valtteri Bottas offered at 11/2.
Lance Stroll, who starts on the front row with Hamilton, is 40/1, as is Esteban Ocon.
“Lewis is going to be very hard to beat as Vettel is some way back,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.