Hamilton breaks 46-year-old British record for most poles

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Lewis Hamilton made history today during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as he claimed his 34th career pole position, and in doing so became the greatest British qualifier in Formula 1 history.

Having claimed pole number 33 in Malaysia, the Briton had been tied with compatriot Jim Clark, but today moved ahead of the two-time world champion who tragically died during an F2 race back in 1968.

Wet conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit opened up the fight for pole position as Red Bull and Ferrari looked to rain on Mercedes’ parade, but ultimately it was yet another pole position for the German marque as Hamilton finished six-tenths of a second clear of Daniel Ricciardo. His pole lap was one to be savored in the wet conditions, and he was in high spirits following the session on Saturday.

“It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it,” Hamilton explained. “It’s definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together.

“The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend. Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we’ll be hoping it’s a dry race to take advantage of the position we’re in.

“We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday. It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I’m hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow.”

When asked about breaking Clark’s record, Hamilton was nonchalant and claimed that he did not know what figure he was on. That said, he used near enough the same line in Malaysia when he drew level with Clark and moved ahead of Nigel Mansell to claim the English record for poles (Clark hailed from Scotland).

Clark claimed his last pole position at the 1968 South African Grand Prix, which he duly converted into his final win in what was his final Formula 1 race. Having spent his entire career with Team Lotus, the Scotsman claimed two world titles and 25 wins despite starting just 72 races. He is widely regarded as being one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time.

This result sees Hamilton move up to fourth place in the all-time list of pole position holders. However, he still has some way to go to match Michael Schumacher (68), Ayrton Senna (65) and current rival Sebastian Vettel (45).

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.