Lewis Hamilton may have been celebrating the 71st pole position of his illustrious Formula 1 career on Saturday, but it was a first for the Mercedes driver at Suzuka.
Hamilton is a three-time winner of the Japanese Grand Prix (2007, 2014, 2015), yet has never lined up on pole at Suzuka where the race has been since 2009. He did, however, take pole when the race was at Fuji in 2007.
Suzuka was the final circuit on Hamilton’s hit list, giving him a complete set of scoring pole at all 20 of the circuits currently on the F1 calendar.
“It’s interesting because every single time I’ve struggled here, struggled with finding the right balance, often not starting on the right foot and then just struggling where to find the placement,” Hamilton said.
“Sometimes I’ve started on the right foot and led the car in completely the wrong direction. Yeah, so it’s always been up and down. This is the first time, and I would say definitely the first car that I’ve really felt that it’s been underneath me all weekend. Small tweaks here and there but in the right direction.
“I think fundamentally a better job done globally. Particularly with my engineers. My engineer understanding what I need from the car and vice versa: what I need from my engineers and the car.
It’s worked out better this time. My knowledge of the car is better than it’s been before, which has enabled me then to go out and do the job.
“Ten years or whatever it is, my first pole position here. 10th time lucky, so I’m grateful for that.”
Here’s what Hamilton’s pole record looks like at all 20 of the tracks on the F1 calendar. His perfect record will only last until the start of next season, though, with the return of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard giving him another new circuit to try and tame.
Lewis Hamilton F1 Pole Positions – 2017 Calendar Track-by-Track
Melbourne, Australia – 6
Shanghai, China – 6
Sakhir, Bahrain – 2
Sochi, Russia – 1
Catalunya, Spain – 3
Monaco – 1
Montreal, Canada – 6
Baku, Azerbaijan – 1
Spielberg, Austria – 2
Silverstone, Great Britain – 5
Hungaroring, Hungary – 5
Spa, Belgium – 4
Monza, Italy – 6
Marina Bay, Singapore – 3
Sepang, Malaysia – 5
Suzuka, Japan – 1
Circuit of The Americas, USA – 1
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico – 1
Interlagos, Brazil – 2
Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi – 3