A ‘Stub­born diva’ gets the job done

...and that’s just Hamilton’s F1 car

Sunday Sun - - Motor Sport -

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 morn­ing.

No one could get close to Hamilton as the three-time world cham­pion broke the lap record 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 started along­side Hamilton this morn­ing – who la­belled his car “stub­born” on Thurs­day as it has only been per­form­ing at its best dur­ing spe­cific con­di­tions of late.

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.

Now the 32-year-old wants his car – also likened to a “diva” by Wolff – to stay with him as he looks to in­crease his cham­pi­onship lead.

“Def­i­nitely,” Hamilton replied when asked if his car had paid him back for be­ing un­pre­dictable in re­cent months.

“Qual­i­fy­ing for me is prob­a­bly the most en­joy­able part of the week­end so be­ing able to put to­gether laps like to­day, it is the one you wait for all week­end.

“Q3, run one and two, are re­ally what mo­tor­sport is all about - it is about ultimate per­for­mance from my­self but also the car.

“So it is def­i­nitely great when she comes to­gether on days like that and it is im­por­tant be­cause if we were on the back-foot here it wouldn’t be a great po­si­tion to be in. Let’s hope she’s not stub­born to­mor­row.”

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.”

Af­ter crash­ing out at the first cor­ner in Sin­ga­pore and re­cov­er­ing from last on the grid to fin­ish fourth last week­end in Malaysia, Vet­tel is BRI­TISH For­mula One driver Jolyon Palmer will leave Renault af­ter rac­ing in this morn­ing’s Ja­panese Grand Prix.

The 26-year-old, in his sec­ond sea­son in For­mula One, de­parts to make way for Spa­niard Car­los Sainz who joins from Toro Rosso.

Renault said the de­ci­sion for Palmer to leave the team had been taken “by mu­tual agree­ment”.

Toro Rosso an­nounced Sainz’s seat would be taken by French driver Pierre Gasly in Austin in a fort­night’s time.

Palmer has en­dured a dif­fi­cult sea­son and con­trib­uted just eight points so far, while Ger­man team-mate Nico Hulken­berg has col­lected 34 points to sit 10th in the driv­ers’ stand­ings ahead of the race at Suzuka. ex­pect­ing a close fight on Sun­day.

“I’m pretty happy to be hon­est,” he said.

“It was a pos­i­tive day I think the car should be a bit bet­ter in the race. We will see. I don’t know what sort of pace they (Mercedes) will have, they have been a bit up and down, so far this year has been very close and I ex­pect it to be very close to­mor­row.”

Lewis Hamilton was happy with his tem­per­a­men­tal car

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