Lewis Hamilton has admitted to being left in disbelief at taking a 100th career Formula One pole position following a thrilling qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Brit narrowly pipped chief title rival Max Verstappen by just three hundredths of a second to top spot, with his Red Bull rival lining up alongside him on the front row for Sunday’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Speaking in parc ferme following the end of the session, Hamilton revealed his gratitude to his support team back in the Mercedes factory in Brackley, who he joined from McLaren ahead of the 2013 season, having being left thrilled at his 100th pole in the sport.
Lewis Hamilton took his 100th pole position of his Formula One career at the Spanish GP
The Brit battled back from a setup problem to ensure he starts from the front for Sunday’s race
‘Wow, I can’t believe that we are at 100, and it is really down to the men and women that are back at the factory who are continuously raising the bar and are just never giving up,’ Hamilton said.
‘The support I have, it’s been a dream for me to work for these guys. The journey that we have been on has been immense. Who would have thought in 2013 or even in 2012 when we made the decision to partner we would be qualifying at 100? So I feel humble, very grateful and I’m ecstatic like it’s my first.’
Hamilton’s time of a 1:16.741 was particularly impressive given he had struggled throughout the session after making a bad setup call following attempts to make the car quicker after impressing throughout practice.
Hamilton admitted he is grateful to the hard work of his Mercedes colleagues, who he joined from McLaren in 2013, to help him earn his 100 pole positions
Hamilton has been a constant feature near the front of the grid for Mercedes, pictured taking pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in 2014
The Brit was as far back as seven tenths down on Verstappen after the second qualifying session with problems related to understeer but that he was able to adjust the car just in time for his liking heading into the pole position shootout.
‘P3 [practice three] was looking good I think we had been strong all weekend. I had anxiety about the changes that we were potentially going to make for qualifying. You are always trying to make the car better but it’s a bit of a gamble because you have to keep the race in mind.
‘We made the changes and soon as I got out there I was like “this is immediately the wrong one”, and it was my call at the end, but it was really hard,’ he added.
‘That was why I was always behind through qualifying. I was making small tweaks here and there to elevate pace. The first was the best lap [in pole position shootout] that I got through the session which was great. I tried to improve the next lap and I was a tenth and a half up but I couldn’t keep it.
LEWIS HAMILTON’S 100 POLES
2007: Canada, USA, Great Britain, Hungary, Japan, China (6)
2008: Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Japan China (7)
2009: Europe, Italy, Singapore Abu Dhabi (4)
2010: Canada (1)
2011: Korea (1)
2012: Australia, Malaysia, Hungary, Italy, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Brazil (7)
2013: China, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium (5)
2014: Australia, Malaysia, China, Spain, Italy, Singapore, Russia (7)
2015: Australia, Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Monaco, Canada, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, Belgium, Italy (11)
2016: Australia, Bahrain, Spain, Canada, Austria, Great Britain, Italy, Malaysia, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Abu Dhabi (12)
2017: Australia, China, Spain, Canada, Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, USA (11)
2018: Australia, Spain, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, USA, Brazil, Abu Dhabi (11)
2019: Australia, Monaco, France, Germany, Abu Dhabi (5)
2020: Styria, Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Tuscany, Russia, Portugal, Bahrain (10)
2021*: Emilia Romagna, Spain (2)
*Season still ongoing
Just one tenth separated Hamilton (middle) from Verstappen (top) and Valtteri Bottas
Hamilton and Verstappen shake hands following Saturday’s thrilling qualifying session
‘The setup I had, had so much understeer so the car was very lazy and wouldn’t turn around corners like I want. So you are waiting, waiting and waiting. So I was making small adjustments to get the car to turn and that is the combination of many things and then it is just pulling every millisecond together and it was my cleanest lap. I’ll always remember that one.’
Hamilton will be looking to extend his championship lead from eight points over Verstappen having edged out the Dutchman 2-1 in victories across the first three races of the season.
Since joining Mercedes in 2013 and winning his second world title a year later he has won every world championship since bar 2016 and is looking to land an unprecedented eighth world title in 2021.