Hamil­ton thanks team af­ter Suzuka pole

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RACING -

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.”

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