Hamilton thanks team after Suzuka pole
LEWIS Hamilton stormed to pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix as his temperamental Mercedes decided to play nice at Suzuka.
The championship leader has a great chance to build on the 34-point gap he holds over closest challenger Sebastian Vettel after a fine showing yesterday. No one could get close to Hamilton as the three-time world champion broke the lap record here on his way to his maiden pole around this circuit.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas came closest but he starts sixth after an unscheduled gearbox change saw him hit with a five-place grid penalty.
That means the Ferrari of Vettel will now start alongside Hamilton — who labelled his car “stubborn” on Thursday as it has only been performing at its best during specific conditions of late.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called this year’s car “capricious” in Malaysia last weekend where Hamilton took pole and finished second despite both Ferrari and Red Bull having better pace than Mercedes.
Hamilton can finally add Suzuka to the growing list of circuits where he has started from the front and he paid tribute to his Mercedes team for helping him achieve his record 71st pole.
“It was definitely a fantastic session,” he added.
“How your team time everything, in terms of what time you go out, positioning, preparation with the mechanics, all that stuff has to work perfectly and the team were so on form, as they always are.”