Lewis Hamilton describes his own tally of 100 pole positions as “crazy” after his result in qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix, and recalled of his first pole in Canada back in 2007.
The championship leader had to be at his best to beat Max Verstappen in Barcelona, with the pair separated by just 0.036s after Verstappen had shown Red Bull’s hand in Q2. The pole is Hamilton’s second of the year and makes him the first Formula 1 driver to reach three figures, and he says it’s a tough number to compute.
“Naturally, we’ve only just got out of the car so it’s difficult to assess in the moment but wow,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been racing a long time and the 100-mark is something that I don’t think anybody, and particularly me, thought that I would get to that number. But when I think about it, I just think about all the people that have helped me get there.
“It’s not only the amazing team that I have here but it’s the incredible group of people back at the factories, who just never cease to amaze me and continue to raise the bar. There’s so many people we don’t get to see each other all the time but we’re connected in these great debriefs that we have. But this journey that we’ve been on all these years, it’s been remarkable and so enjoyable.
“It’s crazy that it’s 100 and it felt like one of the first. That for me, is even more special. Because there’s been so many qualifying sessions, so many near-misses, so many mistakes, so many moments of growth and I love how close it is between us all. That’s great for the fans and all of us.
Simply superb 💪
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 8, 2021
Hamilton admits the emotions are similar to his first pole position in Canada some 14 years ago — during his debut season for McLaren — comparing how his fight with Fernando Alonso was a tense one, as it is with Verstappen now.
“I would say very similar. Obviously I can’t remember exactly the feeling in 2007. I think back then it was when we were pushing for equality in terms of fuel load alongside my teammate. It was the first time they had given us the equal fuel load. 10 kilos of fuel is worth over three-tenths of a second, so if you are carrying an extra lap of fuel, which we were back then, then that’s a tenth and a half or so.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 8, 2021
“So that was special and felt amazing that it’s the first. It’s just reassuring that I was able to do what I did back then — and here we are 100 poles later and still feel as young, so I’m good to keep going.
“Max obviously did an amazing job in Q2 and there was no way we could do seven-tenths quicker. Naturally for them, they’ve picked up a lot of pace today with their change of wing. It’s giving them some nice speed on the straight and put them in a lot more contention with us. That last lap was everything because going into qualifying I made a change to the car and as soon as I did the first lap I was like, ‘That was not a good change.’
“It’s crazy that after all these years you are still trying to find all those small improvements and our cars are a little bit different, so I was just trying to see if I could get the maximum out of it because that’s all I got. It was just about enough.”