Lewis Hamilton’s assault on the Formula 1 record books continues this weekend through qualifying for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, but his immediate focus now shifts to retaining his World Championship crown for a third consecutive season and fourth time overall.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas driver won his 60th career pole position on Saturday, which means he’s only the third driver in F1 history to achieve that plateau. Michael Schumacher has the all-time record with 68 and the late Ayrton Senna has 65.
Meanwhile a win for Hamilton on Sunday would be his 52nd of his career, breaking a tie with Alain Prost at 51, which he equalled with his win two weeks ago in Mexico.
The records are nice but a win is also the only thing that will keep his title hopes alive for 2016. He enters Sunday’s race down 19 points to teammate Nico Rosberg, and if Rosberg wins the race, it’s game over for the title. Rosberg has won in Brazil the last two years.
So Hamilton has to secure his first Brazilian Grand Prix win, and add this circuit to the list of those he’s won on (he’s only not won at Interlagos and Baku among the 21 circuits on the 2016 calendar), to keep his title alive.
Compared to his seemingly laid-back attitude in the American rounds in Austin and Mexico City, Hamilton was very much steely-eyed and laser-focused on the task at hand during the post-qualifying press conference.
“I don’t remember every single qualifying session we’ve had. I felt quite comfortable in qualifying as I have all through the weekend. Nico has been getting quicker, but I’ve had him covered through the weekend,” Hamilton said.
“It’s remarkable when you think about what we’ve done with this team to have as many poles,” he added, noting Mercedes has now achieved its 19th pole in 20 races, a new F1 record for any team.
“It’s a true sign of teamwork. It’s the best possible outcome… only my second pole here, it’s a track I’ve really struggled with, so happy to be at the front.”
Hamilton also said he was “ready for whatever” weather conditions may come. Although he’s not won a race here, he did famously secure his first of his three World Championships here in the rain in 2008.