REPORT: Lewis Beats Schumacher’s All-time Pole Record

REPORT: Lewis Beats Schumacher’s All-time Pole Record

We had to wait for it... but Lewis Hamilton claimed a record 69th Formula 1 pole in a washed out Italian Grand Prix qualifying.

'It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed'

The session was delayed for more than two and a half hours after heavy rain hit the Monza circuit, but the wet weather couldn't stop Lewis' charge to his 69th pole position - which moved him to the number one spot on the all-time pole list.

"It's very hard to find the words to explain how I feel... I'm trying to figure it all out," said Lewis. "It probably won't sink in for a long time. It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed. The Red Bulls really made me work hard for the pole today, which I'm grateful for. The weather has obviously been incredibly tricky for us all.

"What a day to come here in this beautiful country with the English weather and to be massively challenged. It was very difficult to see out there, and very easy to make mistakes - as always in the rain.

"The second to last lap was ok at the beginning, but then I backed out of it, hoping that I'd get one more lap. There was a lot of pressure for that last lap - there could have been a red flag, there could have been a yellow flag. There was a lot of risk, but I gave it everything.

"A big thank you to my team for making it all possible, the guys here, the guys back at the factory for continuing to support me. We've got a lot of the sponsors here from Mercedes-Benz and Petronas who have been sponsoring and supporting me for a long, long time, so I'm really grateful for that."

'Today was a tough day'

Valtteri Bottas set the pace in Q1 in the sister Silver Arrows, but the Finn had to abort his final flying lap in the final shootout, leaving him just sixth. But, with both Red Bulls set to take grid penalties, Valtteri moves up to P4 on Sunday's grid.

"Today was a tough day," said Valtteri. "In the end, I just couldn't get the Wet tyre to work. We stopped for a new set, tried to go for one more lap, but I just didn't find any grip.

"Initially, in some parts of the qualifying we got everything working well, but it was really on a knife edge with the temperatures of the tyres. With more rain, I could not get the tyres hot enough.

"However, with the grid penalties for the Red Bulls, I'll be starting fourth, which is not too bad. And it is good to be ahead of the Ferraris with both cars. We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow; luckily it's supposed to be dry."

'It was a brilliant lap'

On the day Lewis moved on the top of the all-time pole list, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff congratulated the three-time World Champion for a mighty lap worthy of a special record.

"These tricky conditions are the times when you can do many more things wrong than right, so we can be pleased with our result," said Toto.

"After such a long time waiting in the rain, I think the racing fans got their money's worth from the dominant lap Lewis produced right at the end - even if they were probably cheering a bit more for the cars in red than for us.

"It was a brilliant lap, after a session where he was the quickest man throughout, and it was undoubtedly a performance worthy of claiming the all-time pole position record.

'Ferrari will be competitive, so we need to cover our bases'

"Valtteri performed strongly, too, until he ran on at the second chicane on his final timed lap. But grid penalties for cars in front of him will work in his favour tomorrow in terms of the starting position.

"The key point to take away from this afternoon is that we will start the race with both cars ahead of our direct competition, and we will be aiming to keep it that way to the flag.

"Conditions are predicted to be warm and dry, though, so it will be no easy walk to the finish. We will do our homework tonight, prepare for every scenario and aim to deliver a strong performance in the race. Ferrari will be competitive, so we need to cover our bases."

'Lewis was in imperious form'

Silver Arrows Technical Director James Allison was full of praise for the team on an extremely high-pressured day.

"It wasn't quite a perfect conclusion but we enjoyed a very strong session and have every prospect of a good race tomorrow," said James.

"Lewis was in imperious form throughout the rather elongated session, and Valtteri too although things didn't go as well for him in Q3. But he will have a strong race tomorrow.

"It was a terrific job from the strategists and race team to put the drivers out on the right piece of track, and the right tyres, during each part of qualifying. Overall, a very good all-round team performance on a day that required maximum concentration."

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