Lewis Hamilton made no secret of his delight after securing the first pole position for a Formula 1 grand prix in Russia on Saturday, but revealed that he struggled to hook up a quick lap during the final part of qualifying.
The British driver finished two-tenths of a second clear of teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg on Saturday in Sochi, and has given himself a great chance of extending his lead in the drivers’ standings tomorrow from pole position.
Hamilton becomes the first driver to have secured pole position for the Russian Grand Prix, with the race joining the calendar in 2014 as a new event.
“Pole is a great place to start,” Hamilton said in the post-session press conference. “Firstly, an amazing job done by the team, constantly improving and moving forwards this year. Thanks to them, we’re able to be on the front row quite often.
“It’s great to come here, it’s a beautiful place and the weather has been amazing. Really enjoying driving this track.
“It wasn’t the easiest of sessions, obviously these guys were looking quite strong and just hooking up a good lap for some reason wasn’t the same as practice, but I’m really grateful that I got the pole for the first time here.”
Hamilton will face a stiff challenge in the race on Sunday from Rosberg and third-placed Valtteri Bottas, who very nearly upset the Mercedes drivers to steal pole before fading in the final sector.
“It’s going to be tough tomorrow as there’s a long lead down to turn one,” Hamilton said. “We’ll find out how that works out.”
Hamilton is gunning for his fourth straight victory tomorrow, with his winning streak extending back to the Italian Grand Prix at the beginning of September.
Although it may not compare to Sebastian Vettel’s dominant run of nine consecutive wins in 2013, it could be crucial in deciding the F1 drivers’ championship come the final round in Abu Dhabi.