Relentless Hamilton not letting up with another Bahrain pole

Lewis Hamilton has a spring in his step after breaking the Sakhir track record in 1:27.264. PHOTO: REUTERS
Lewis Hamilton has a spring in his step after breaking the Sakhir track record in 1:27.264. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANAMA • Lewis Hamilton insisted he is still focused despite having already clinched his seventh Formula One world championship, as he took his 98th career pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.

His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was alongside him on the front row, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen qualified third.

The Dutchman's teammate Alex Albon was fourth, just over a second back, in a qualifying session that saw Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel fail to make the top 10 places.

Hamilton, who won his seventh drivers' title in Turkey two weeks ago, posted a track record of 1min 27.264sec. "I didn't really celebrate too much (his seventh title)," said the Briton. "I was training and trying to make sure I was ready for this and keeping my mind and eye on the ball.

"This is a continuation of what we can do as a team. I just continue to be amazed by my guys who work so hard, weekend in, weekend out.

"To be out here, in Bahrain, and be able to put a lap like that together - I came today and said 'Let's just have fun and enjoy it'. That's the most important thing and, with the pressure off, it's a bit of a release to drive like I did."

With two races to go, Hamilton could reach a remarkable total of 100 pole positions at the final race. He is also seeking to increase his total of wins from 10 to a record-equalling 13 triumphs.

Bottas, meanwhile, felt that he did the best he could but just could not catch up with Hamilton.

The Finn said: "It felt good. That's the problem when it feels good and it feels like you are extracting the best from the car and the lap time is not there.

"The last lap there were no mistakes, only small things here and there - at least there is another lockout for us. I am looking forward to tomorrow."

Verstappen was satisfied with third ahead of Albon, who yesterday made a remarkable recovery in a car built with a new chassis overnight following his heavy crash in second practice on Friday.


    1ST ROW

    1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes

    2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes

    2ND ROW

    3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull

    4 Alex Albon (Tha) Red Bull

    3RD ROW

    5 Sergio Perez (Mex)

    Racing Point

    6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault

    4TH ROW

    7 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Renault

    8 Pierre Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri

    5TH ROW

    9 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren

    10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) AlphaTauri


    11 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari

    12 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari

    13 Lance Stroll (Can)

    Racing Point

"My lap was pretty good," said Verstappen. "Just lacking a bit of rear grip in the lower speed corners for my liking. But overall I think it was a decent qualifying - let's see how we go tomorrow.

"I definitely think Mercedes picked up their pace a bit today."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 29, 2020, with the headline Relentless Hamilton not letting up with another Bahrain pole. Subscribe