“My first McLaren
pole as a team member was in 1988, when we took 15 of the 16 poles. As Alain Prost's race engineer, we only scored two of these – at Paul Ricard and Estoril – but the achievement in Portugal was particularly memorable.
“For some reason, Ayrton was perhaps a little off form and Alain set a pretty impressive lap time on Saturday less than halfway through the session. Afterwards, he leapt straight out of the car and disappeared into the truck, emerging five minutes later in his civvies and proceeded to walk across to talk to me on the pitwall.
“All the time, he kept looking directly back into Ayrton's garage, merely adding to the mind games. It was just the sort of situation Ayrton had trouble coping with – and it all boiled over on race day as they ran side by side along the pit straight at the beginning of the race. Those were unforgettable times.”
Principal race engineer
“I'd joined the race team in December 1997, so the opening race of the '98 season was my first race as assistant race engineer, working with Mika Hakkinen in Melbourne.
“After an encouraging series of winter tests, we knew the MP4-13 had good pace, but the margin we held over the others in qualifying was perhaps greater than we'd expected: we were 0.7s faster than Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.
“Mika took the pole from David [Coulthard] and, despite some miscommunication between the drivers, the race was also exceptional. Both our cars lapped the entire field.
“Being my first race, I thought it was easy! However, I've been trying to develop a car with such dominant pace ever since...”
Race engineer, Jenson Button
“The first time a car that I'd directly worked on took pole was at Silverstone in 2008 – and it was Heikki Kovalainen
at the wheel of MP4-23.
“In Q1 he dominated the times, finishing 0.3s ahead of Lewis. In Q2, he continued to push hard and built momentum. As we prepared the car for Q3, we thought we'd possibly have a chance of pole but we expected Lewis – in front of his home crowd – to be exceptionally quick.
“As it happened, with only marginally less fuel onboard than Lewis, Heikki put it on pole by more than 0.5s, finishing fastest in every sector. We could have carried fuel for six more laps and still have been on pole.