The specifics of Lewis Hamilton’s staggering 1:11.459 lap to qualify on pole for the Canadian Grand Prix got lost in the emotional and historical aspects, which were intertwined.
His 65th career pole of his Formula 1 career equalled him with the late Ayrton Senna, and for his efforts he was rewarded with one of Senna’s race-worn helmets as a gift from the Senna family after the session was complete.
But the lap itself to get there was a special one, because that 1:11.459 was more than three tenths quicker than what was already the fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:11.791 on his first run.
As it turned out, the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver needed that second lap because Sebastian Vettel found six one-thousandths of a second (1:11.795 to 1:11.789), which would have been enough to beat Hamilton for the pole.
Hamilton described the two laps afterwards to NBCSN’s Will Buxton, who conducted the post-qualifying interviews at Turn 2, in front of throngs of fans at Montreal.
“Today I can’t believe it,” he admitted. “It was a close battle with the Ferraris, they were so quick. I was pushing, and gunning for it. I wanted a good lap and got it.
“It was a sexy lap! It was a great lap. I can’t believe it came together so well. Just managed to be a bit up on each section. We really built up for this race. A big thank you to everyone at the factory.”
The pole comes at an important time for Hamilton, who enters Sunday’s race 25 points behind Vettel for the championship. This is his sixth Canadian Grand Prix pole and he’s in search of his sixth Canadian Grand Prix win.
Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix rolls off at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.