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Suzuka success gives Hamilton complete set of poles at every F1 track

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Lewis Hamilton may have been celebrating the 71st pole position of his illustrious Formula 1 career on Saturday, but it was a first for the Mercedes driver at Suzuka.

Hamilton is a three-time winner of the Japanese Grand Prix (2007, 2014, 2015), yet has never lined up on pole at Suzuka where the race has been since 2009. He did, however, take pole when the race was at Fuji in 2007.

Suzuka was the final circuit on Hamilton’s hit list, giving him a complete set of scoring pole at all 20 of the circuits currently on the F1 calendar.

“It’s interesting because every single time I’ve struggled here, struggled with finding the right balance, often not starting on the right foot and then just struggling where to find the placement,” Hamilton said.

“Sometimes I’ve started on the right foot and led the car in completely the wrong direction. Yeah, so it’s always been up and down. This is the first time, and I would say definitely the first car that I’ve really felt that it’s been underneath me all weekend. Small tweaks here and there but in the right direction.

“I think fundamentally a better job done globally. Particularly with my engineers. My engineer understanding what I need from the car and vice versa: what I need from my engineers and the car.

It’s worked out better this time. My knowledge of the car is better than it’s been before, which has enabled me then to go out and do the job.

“Ten years or whatever it is, my first pole position here. 10th time lucky, so I’m grateful for that.”

Here’s what Hamilton’s pole record looks like at all 20 of the tracks on the F1 calendar. His perfect record will only last until the start of next season, though, with the return of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard giving him another new circuit to try and tame.

Lewis Hamilton F1 Pole Positions – 2017 Calendar Track-by-Track

Melbourne, Australia – 6
Shanghai, China – 6
Sakhir, Bahrain – 2
Sochi, Russia – 1
Catalunya, Spain – 3
Monaco – 1
Montreal, Canada – 6
Baku, Azerbaijan – 1
Spielberg, Austria – 2
Silverstone, Great Britain – 5
Hungaroring, Hungary – 5
Spa, Belgium – 4
Monza, Italy – 6
Marina Bay, Singapore – 3
Sepang, Malaysia – 5
Suzuka, Japan – 1
Circuit of The Americas, USA – 1
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico – 1
Interlagos, Brazil – 2
Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi – 3

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.