Lewis Hamilton took his seventieth pole position by just 0.045 seconds at the Sepang International Circuit, and explained that even he wasn’t sure where he found the unexpected pace to take fastest lap.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team had been struggling through the free practice sessions, and were looking like they might be bested by Scuderia Ferrari – especially after yesterday’s apparent lack of speed compared to the Italian team. Although Hamilton was able to overcome the deficit by a tiny margin, the Brit admitted that it did play on his mind overnight.
“We had such a difficult day yesterday; it was difficult to know where we stood,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t sleep very well last night, just like all my engineers, because we didn’t know whether we were going to fix the issue or not.
“But today we arrived and the car was much better. The Q3 laps, particularly the first one, were very well put together.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know where it came from.
“So it’s a bit of a surprise to be on pole, but I’m very grateful. It’s always a special thing when you’re able to extract a little bit more out of the car. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed since my dad would say that my first go-kart was fifth hand.”
Hamilton will be joined on the front row of the grid by one of the red cars, though it’s perhaps not the one everyone was expecting. Kimi Raikkonen will line up second on the grid whilst the man fighting Hamilton for the Driver’s Championship, Sebastian Vettel, starts at the very back of the grid following a car failure.
Whilst this is great news for the Brit, he’s cautious over a race that he himself experienced car failure at just one year ago.
“I don’t really know what happened to Sebastian. It’s very unfortunate for him, but of course we have to try to maximise on every opportunity that we get.
“We still have a very tough race ahead of us, so we will keep our heads down. Today, every time I left the garage or came back in I could see the crowd and all those flags opposite my garage – I’m incredibly grateful for that and get a lot of energy from it.”