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


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).

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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