Hamilton ‘just had to send it and hope I stayed on track’ on pole position lap

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said he took a risk at the high-speed turn 11 on his final flying lap in qualifying to beat Max Verstappen to pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver claimed his first pole position for more than a year and a half by just three-thousandths of a second. He said it became clear as qualifying progressed they had the pace to challenge Red Bull, but he had to dig deep to beat them in the quick turn 11 right-hander.

“Once we got to Q2 it was looking quite decent all of a sudden and obviously we were second,” he said. “And then once we got to Q3 we were only a tenth off Max and I knew I had more time I could find in the car. The majority of the time was being lost in turn two and four, and particular four and 11.

“I didn’t know if this guy [Verstappen] is lifting through there, but the car was just not quite up to it on the previous laps. But the last one I just had to send it and hope I stayed on track.

“I think I got closer to them at least in those areas but our last sector was particularly strong. It was epic.”

Hamilton said he was thrilled to end his wait for a pole position, having not started first since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“It was epic and I was just so happy for everyone in the team,” he said. “It’s been a really, really difficult year and a half on a personal level.

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“But then as a team, collectively, there’s so many ideas and trying to find the right path to be on and continue to keep the motivation with everyone and keep everyone driven, that’s been the challenge for all of us. So this is a team effort and the team deserves this today.”

After being told he’d taken pole position, Hamilton screamed himself hoarse on the radio. “It’s been a crazy year and a half so I’ve lost my voice from shouting so much in the car,” he said after qualifying.

“It’s amazing that feeling, I feel so grateful to be up here because the team have worked so hard. We’ve been pushing so hard over this time to finally get the pole, it just feels like the first time.”

Mercedes were only 16th quickest in practice yesterday, though they did not run the soft tyre compound. Hamilton said they “didn’t expect coming today that we would be fighting for pole.”

Under new rules being used for the first time this weekend, drivers were required to use different tyre compounds in each stage of qualifying, finishing with the soft. Hamilton said there was a “big difference in balance” between the three “but all the tyres actually generally felt quite good, and right at the end the soft felt extraordinary.

“It’s just interesting how you have to prep the tyres and for us, finally having a relatively calm balance through the corners, through corner balance is very difficult to get right with these type of cars, and I think we did that today. So hats off to the team, we did a great job.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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One comment on “Hamilton ‘just had to send it and hope I stayed on track’ on pole position lap”

  1. Prashanth Ramadas
    25th July 2023, 0:29

    I like the post race press conferences pattern when Red Bull first dominated.

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