Ayrton Senna

Hamilton receives one of Senna’s helmets after record-tying pole (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton has equalled Ayrton Senna on 65 pole positions with his pole today for the Canadian Grand Prix, but it was what he received after the session that was the greater reward.

The Senna family awarded Hamilton one of Senna’s race-worn helmets from 1987, Senna’s last season with Lotus before switching to McLaren in 1988, at the top three on-track interview at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This particular version awarded today is a replica with a real one set to be delivered later this year, per NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

It’s a remarkable gesture and one that nearly brought Hamilton to tears in the moment, justifiably. Both drivers have three Formula 1 World Championships and are now equal on second place of poles, as Hamilton now sits just three behind all-time leader Michael Schumacher on 68.

“I’m shaken. I’m speechless,” Hamilton told NBCSN’s Will Buxton after having a moment to collect his thoughts.

“Ayrton, I know for many of you, he was your favorite driver, and for me is the same. He was the one who inspired me to be where I am today.

“To match him and receive this is the greatest honor. I have to say a big, big thank you so much to the Senna family. And thank you to everyone here. Bless you all.”

Hamilton’s pole is his sixth in Canada, a record there, and he’ll look for his sixth Canadian Grand Prix victory on Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Hamilton equals Senna on 65 poles with storming lap in Canada

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Lewis Hamilton has delivered a blistering lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, a 1:11.459, to score his fourth pole of the 2017 Formula 1 season and more importantly, the 65th of his illustrious career.

On a track where he took his first Grand Prix victory with McLaren 10 years ago in 2007, Hamilton has now equalled the late Ayrton Senna for second all-time with 65 pole positions, later receiving a helmet from the Senna family. Only Michael Schumacher, with 68 poles – and himself a seven-time race winner in Montreal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – stands ahead on the all-time list.

Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Hamilton now has the best grid position to win his third race of the year and what would be a sixth Canadian Grand Prix, after a tough weekend in Monaco.

Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari came oh so close to eclipsing that, with a 1:11.795 coming up a scant 0.004 of a second shy of Hamilton’s 1:11.791 initial flier to beat him on his second-to-last run. But Hamilton went quicker to get the gap bigger, which was needed as Vettel improved slightly to a 1:11.789.

Valtteri Bottas slots in third in the second Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari.

The Red Bulls slotted in fifth and sixth (Max Verstappen ahead of Daniel Ricciardo), with the two Force Indias eighth and ninth (Sergio Perez ahead of Esteban Ocon). Felipe Massa (Williams) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) will start in seventh and 10th, respectively.

In Q1, Bottas was first into the 1:12s in qualifying with his best lap of the weekend to date in his Mercedes at a 1:12.864. That supplanted the Ferraris and Hamilton’s Mercedes at the top of the charts.

Hamilton beat that mark with a 1:12.692 with just under eight minutes remaining in the session, and Bottas beat it fractionally later at 1:12.685.

The Ferraris ran supersofts only in Q1, saving a set of ultrasofts for later.

The five drivers knocked out in Q1 were Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Williams), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), and the two Sauber drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein brought an early end to the session, as he lost control in Turns 1 and 2 in the final minutes. His Sauber got onto the grass and then lost control at the rear, with his rear end crashing into the wall and knocking off the rear wing. He was able to exit his car.

Q2 saw Daniil Kvyat clout the wall at the exit of Turn 9 in his Toro Rosso, with his right rear tire and rim delaminating as he limped back to the pits.

Kvyat, Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr., Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer were those eliminated from the session.

It set up the stage for a Q3 thriller between the Mercedes and Ferrari teams, with the previous four races having seen each of their four drivers having scored one pole.

But would it be Bottas (Bahrain), Vettel (Russia), Hamilton (Spain) or Raikkonen (Monaco) who’d be the one to break that parity up top and score the next pole?

Hamilton unleashed that 1:11.791 lap on his first lap of the session, which looked poised to stand as the pole time as it was the quickest lap of the weekend by more than seven tenths. Of course, he went quicker himself on his final ultimate lap.

It became a question of whether anyone would beat that mark from there, and no one could, despite Vettel’s best efforts.

Times are below. Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix airs at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Hamilton: ‘Incredible’ to be closing in on Senna’s pole tally

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Lewis Hamilton finds it “incredible” to be closing in on Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna’s tally of pole positions after adding to his haul in Austin, Texas on Saturday.

Hamilton scored the 58th pole of his F1 career in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix after edging out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Q3, recording the fastest ever lap around the Circuit of The Americas.

Hamilton trails only Michael Schumacher (68) and Senna (65) in the list for all-time poles in F1, the latter being an inspiration to the Briton throughout his junior racing days.

“Seven is still a long way to go but to think that I’m within shooting distance is incredible,” Hamilton said after qualifying at COTA.

“But it also just goes to show just how amazing a driver he was. To get as many poles as that in the amount of time that he had, it’s taken me a lot longer to get where I am so it was clearly phenomenal.”

At just 31 years old, Hamilton stands a good chance of becoming F1’s all-time pole position leader, particularly if Mercedes can continue its current domination of the sport over into the 2017 season.

In the running for the FIA Pole Trophy in 2016, Hamilton pulled clear of Rosberg in Austin, the pair previously tied for eight poles heading into the weekend. Daniel Ricciardo is the only other driver to have started a race from pole this year, leading the field away in Monaco.

Hamilton is bidding for his fourth victory at COTA in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET.

Hamilton ‘honored’ to match Senna, Fangio with 5th Monza pole

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Lewis Hamilton felt “honored” after matching Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five pole positions for the Italian Grand Prix during qualifying at Monza on Saturday.

Hamilton dominated all three stages of qualifying to capture his seventh pole position of the season, finishing almost half a second clear of Mercedes teammate and Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg.

The result saw Hamilton move alongside Senna and Fangio in the record books, both of whom claimed five pole positions at Monza through their careers.

“I was only made aware of that record as I came into this weekend, so of course that was in the back of my mind, hoping that it wouldn’t steer me off course,” Hamilton said.

“I feel incredibly proud and honored to be up amongst Senna and Juan Manuel. Incredible drivers and I never in a million years thought my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as them.”

Hamilton’s first effort in Q3 was good enough for pole, but he found yet more time on his second run with a stunning lap that lit up the timesheets.

“Particularly that last lap felt incredible. It’s such a great track, got such a great crowd,” Hamilton said.

“What this team has achieved is just phenomenal. We’re so fortunate to be driving for this team and representing them and driving a car as it was today.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton: Matching Senna’s win tally “doesn’t feel real”

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Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his pride after matching the win tally of three-time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton grew up idolizing Senna, who left an indelible mark on the sport with his on-track antics, especially at Suzuka where he clashed twice with fierce rival Alain Prost.

After missing the opportunity to match Senna’s tally of 41 grand prix victories in Singapore last weekend, Hamilton bounced back at Suzuka by claiming a dominant win.

The Briton jumped Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg off the line before leading the rest of the race, enjoying a buffer of almost 20 seconds at the finish.

Speaking on the podium after the race, Hamilton thanked his Mercedes team for bouncing back from his retirement in Singapore to win so comfortably at Suzuka, but admitted that matching Senna’s number of wins hadn’t really sunk in.

“I’m just so happy right now,” Hamilton said. “The team did a fantastic job this weekend. It’s great to be back up here as a team with a one-two.

“I had a great start. For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive and to match his wins… I can’t really describe it. It doesn’t feel real at the moment.”

Hamilton felt that it was crucial for Mercedes to fight back from its defeat in Singapore and see off the threat of Ferrari in Japan, which it did with relative ease as Nico Rosberg completed a one-two finish.

“It definitely was important for us to strike back,” Hamilton said. “The Ferraris were incredibly quick in the last race. I guess we didn’t bring our A-game, so we really had to take a step back these last few days and make sure we brought it here.

“As I said, couldn’t have done it without this team, remarkable what they’ve done. The car was beautiful to drive today.”

Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship now stands at 48 points with five rounds of the 2015 season remaining.