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Lewis Hamilton "On Cloud 9 and dancing in the rain happy" as he breaks F1 all time qualifying record

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Lewis Hamilton "On Cloud 9 and dancing in the rain happy" as he breaks F1 all time qualifying record
Sep 2, 2017, 7:43 PM

When you follow the likes of Senna and Schumacher in F1 history, most of any F1 driver's career is spent trying to catch up to their records.

When you follow the likes of Senna and Schumacher in F1 history, most of any F1 driver's career is spent trying to catch up to their records.

Now everyone else will have to catch up to Lewis Hamilton's pole record, which today stands at 69 and is likely to stretch well beyond that.

Hamilton's record breaking pole came in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, his record sixth pole at Monza and initially he was short of words to describe it.

Afterwards, speaking to him in the TV pen, he had collected his thoughts sufficiently to express how it felt to have his own piece of F1 history,

"It's just supercool. I'm so happy, " he said.

"It's a different kind of happy compared to after the last race; it's a Cloud Nine, dancing in the rain kind of happy.

"I feel on top of the world and incredibly grateful, it's a humbling experience because you think of all the greats that have gone before and the pressure that builds up from race to race.

"Today this was definitely the trickiest qualifying session of the season and you see that many great drivers behind me didn't get it right today. To get it right and not put a foot wrong is epic. It consistently solidifies your belief and the team's belief and the bosses'; they are all here today so that's great. The support I have from Mercedes is amazing.

"I had to dig deep to find that focus (today). In the rain it is so tricky, it's so easy to make a mistake at any of these points on the lap particularly on a final lap, where you know that it's all or nothing. That's the one that even I can't explain how I can do it. It's something I have inside, it's a feeling. And it's a feeling that's never failed me.

The list of people who have held the F1 pole record is short: Farina, Fangio, Ascari in the 1950s, then Clark in 1967, whose total of 33 was not beaten until Senna came along. His total of 65, established in 1994 lasted until Michael Schumacher moved it on, setting a new target of 68 a full 12 years later.

Of course there are more races today than there were in the old days and Hamilton has had a great car for the last few years with Mercedes. But he's been remarkably consistent over his career, having started 75% of his 200 Grands Prix from the front two rows of the grid.

"It was a brilliant lap, after a session where he was the quickest man throughout, and it was undoubtedly a performance worthy of claiming the all-time pole position record," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

What kind of race will we have in Monza?

Tomorrow's race is well set up for Hamilton to take the championship lead if he makes a break at the front as the grid suggests he will and Sebastian Vettel cannot make it through to second place. Vettel has Bottas between himself and Hamilton, but both have the unexpected prospect of having to deal with Lance Stroll and Estaban Ocon, who will start second and third on the grid, after engine penalties for Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Both youngsters did an outstanding job (as did another, Verstappen), but Stroll was especially impressive as he was one of the front runners throughout qualifying in both intermediate and full wet conditions, setting the fifth fastest time in both Q1 and Q2 and then the fourth fastest in the full wet tyre Q3.

He will become the youngest ever front row starter tomorrow.

"We learned the kid can really drive in the wet today," opined one of the Williams bosses. Wet tyre testing has not been part of Stroll's programme of familiarisation that he's been undertaking with the 2014 Williams car, as there are no wet tyres available for that kind of work.

The forecast is for sunshine and 26 degrees on race day. But the forecast has been wrong for most of this weekend so far !

In Friday practice the Mercedes had stronger race pace on the supersoft tyre than the Ferrari, so there's no question it's Hamilton's race to lose, but Vettel will have to work hard to clear Bottas. Strategy is unlikely to be much help as Monza is a one stop race all day long and the only question is what lap to switch from supersoft to soft tyres.

It's likely to be between Lap 24 and 27, depending on the temperatures; there was some blistering on the supersofts on Friday. For the likes of the two Red Bull drivers, starting 15th and 18th, a possible strategy could be to start on the soft tyre, with a sprint finish on supersofts, to attack in the closing laps.

It will depend on whether Stroll and Ocon can keep the faster cars behind them for a while and close the pack up.

Ocon had significantly faster long run pace than Stroll on Friday in practice and not that much slower than the Red Bulls, so it's not a given that they will catch him. Force India also had lower tyre degradation on Friday compared to the Red Bulls - 0.08s per lap, as opposed to 0.12s per lap. So fifth is possible for Ocon in a dry race.

He also has the distinction of having made up 16 places in total on the opening laps of the 12 races so far.

What did you think of today's delayed qualifying session and of Hamilton's pole position record? Leave your comments in the section below
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Series Formula 1
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