Lewis Hamilton was quick to praise his Mercedes team after securing the 40th pole position of his Formula 1 career in today’s qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The defending world champion tamed the wet conditions in Q3 to edge out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the final moments of qualifying, enjoying an advantage of just 0.074 seconds at the checkered flag.
Despite track conditions improving as the session wore on, Hamilton’s fastest time was set with what he thought was his banker lap at the start of Q3.
“I think the first lap was quite good,” Hamilton explained. “It’s always difficult because you go out and none of us had driven this weekend in the wet.
“The first lap is always the unknown. You don’t want to take too many risks so you don’t get the lap, but you need a banker.
“My lap was feeling pretty good. The next one was up at one stage, but I just lost a little bit in the lap. But generally, it’s a fantastic job for the team to get us both up here again.”
Hamilton’s 40th pole position comes on the weekend of his 150th grand prix in Malaysia. He remains fourth in the pole record standings, five behind Vettel and 25 behind his hero, Ayrton Senna.
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.