Lewis Hamilton made winning his 72nd Formula 1 pole position look easy on Saturday, in qualifying for the 2017 United States Grand Prix.
It’s his second pole in a row in Austin, and his 11th of the 2017 season. The time of 1:33.108s was the fastest lap recorded at the Circuit of the Americas since it opened in 2012.
However, despite appearances, the Mercedes driver insisted that it had been anything but straightforward to come out on top today.
“The track was very difficult today,” he said after the end of the session.
“With the wind picking up you’ve got a head wind into turn 1, a tail wind out of turn 1,” he explained. “Through the fast section, sector 1 you’ve got tail winds, then a head wind into turn 9.”
“It’s shifting the whole way through the lap,” he added. “You’re gauging how hard you can push and how hard you’ve got to lay off.
“That’s why I love this track, man,” he beamed. “It’s such a great, fantastic circuit to drive. I love it. Especially when you’ve got a car you can really drive it.”
- Hamilton stays in charge in Austin with dominant pole
The track was a lot hotter on Saturday than it had been during Friday’s free practice sessions. But the heat hadn’t affected Hamilton nearly as much as the wind.
“It’s always hot in the car, man,” he pointed out. “Just the right temperature today. It’s not too hot, the sun’s out – we can at least enjoy it.”
The conditions should be cooler again for the race on Sunday, but Hamilton still singled out tyre degradation as the biggest challenge the drivers would face.
“It’s going to be a great race tomorrow” he said. “It’s going to be a tough one because looking after the tyres in these conditions is still tough. But I’m as prepared as I can be.”
Mathematically, Hamilton could clinch the title this weekend. He did just that in 2015, the last time he was crowned champion. But he felt that was unlikely to happen again this year, after his chief rival Sebastian Vettel took the shotgun spot for tomorrow’s start.
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“I think it’s highly unlikely that’s going to be the case,” he insisted. “Sebastian did a great job today to bring the Ferrari back up there.
“Sebastian is right there. Unless he makes a silly mistake – which is unlikely, he’s a four-time world champion – then we’re going to be seeing it continue on to other races.
“Ultimately all I can do is the best I can of my abilities,” he concluded. “We’re going to work as best we can to get maximum points.”
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