After trailing Max Verstappen by over 0.6s in final F1 practice, Lewis Hamilton says he needed the ‘perfect lap and more’ to take pole position for Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton hadn’t topped any session in the run-up to Q3, trailing teammate Valtteri Bottas in Q1 and then Sergio Perez in Q2.

The reigning world champion surged to the top of the timesheets with a 1m14.411s on his first timed lap in Q3, which ultimately proved to be enough to take the 99th pole of his F1 career.

Today’s result means Hamilton has taken pole at 30 different F1 circuits - a new record.

Reflecting on his first pole since Bahrain last year, Hamilton knew he needed to be on top form in qualifying after Red Bull showed impressive pace during the earlier practice session.

“Honestly, once we finished P3 for example, we had that gap to the Red Bulls. I couldn’t go six-tenths faster but we just kept our heads down and worked on tweaking the car going into qualifying,” Hamilton said.

“Generally very, very smooth, great strategy in terms of getting us out in clean air on all of our runs. I managed to do my time on the medium and I got to have a practice run on the softs and then I knew going into qualifying, particularly that last lap, was going to take something special really had to be the most perfect lap that I could do, a little bit more in order to beat the Red Bulls. They really have been so fast all weekend.”

Hamilton was unable to improve on his second timed effort in Q3.

Explaining his final laps in more detail, Hamilton added: “I didn’t honestly know whether we could do it or not but, the first lap for example in Q3, started a tenth up out of Turn 1 and 2 and I knew that I was onto a good lap. I think in the second sector, I lost a little bit in Turn 12.

“The second time around, I came out of Turn 1 and 2 a tenth down, by the time I got to Turn 9 was a tenth and half down but managed to regain that through the middle and the last sector. Having those two together I think would have been the perfect-perfect lap but I am honestly so happy with that lap, the first lap was where it counted. Grateful for it.”



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