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REPORT: Lewis equals Senna with 65th pole

REPORT: Lewis equals Senna with 65th pole

What. A. Day! Lewis Hamilton delivered one of his very best ‘sexy laps’ to take pole for the Canadian Grand Prix. It is the 65th pole position of Lewis’ career, equalling the tally of his hero Ayrton Senna in second on the all-time pole list.

Lewis: It was a great lap, a sexy lap!

After seeing the pace in Q2, Lewis claimed provisional pole with a scorching 1:11.791s on his opening run in the final shootout. Ferrari’s Sebatian Vettel attempted to fight back, but fell short of Lewis’ time by a mere 0.004s.

Lewis then went even faster on his second flier, clocking a 1:11.459s – the fastest ever lap of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – to seal pole, ahead of Vettel.

“Honestly, I’m so happy,” said Lewis. “Montreal has been very good to me over the years.

“It was such a close battle with the Ferraris - they have been so quick this weekend. I dug down deep… It was a great lap, a sexy lap! I can't quite believe that it all came together so well.

Lewis: I was just shaking when I was presented with Ayrton’s helmet

“After such a tough time in Monaco, we learned from our mistakes. I owe this one to all the team back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth.

In a truly unforgettable moment, Lewis was presented with an original, race-worn Ayrton Senna helmet in front of the fans at Turn 2. A speechless Lewis immediately took the helmet out of its case, and held it aloft in a moment of celebration.

“I was just shaking when I was presented with Ayrton’s helmet,” explained Lewis. “For many of you, Ayrton was your favourite driver. He was mine too. To receive this and match his record is a great honour.”

Valtteri: It’s all about tomorrow

Valtteri will start Sunday’s race from P3, after splitting the two Ferraris in Q3. The Finn was quickest in Q1 and then just fractionally shy of Lewis in Q2, but was edged out by Vettel’s Ferrari in the final shootout.

“Firstly, a big congratulations to Lewis for his 65th pole position today” said Valtteri. “It’s a great achievement to match Senna.

“I was really trying hard, but it was a tricky day for me. I struggled with the balance of the car and wasn’t really happy in FP3. We made some changes and the car was much better in qualifying, but then in Q3 when it came down to getting those last hundredths and tenths, the car became unstable again. I just couldn’t get that lap together.

“The long runs seem okay though, so once again, I’m expecting it to be very close in the race with Ferrari. It’s all about tomorrow.”

Toto: It was very closely matched with Ferrari

Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff was full of praise for the team on an impressive afternoon, but is expecting a big fight with the red cars come Sunday.

“I’m very pleased indeed with how the team has worked this weekend,” said Toto. “We have improved the car from session to session, made good decisions with the set-up and, with a sensational lap from Lewis on top, pole is the reward.

“We spent the first half of qualifying working out which timed lap was the optimum for tyre performance and, in the end, settled on the first timed lap.

“It was all on the line for Lewis in that final run, so to find three tenths was very impressive; it takes him to a very significant milestone in his career, level with Ayrton Senna in terms of pole positions, which I know means a lot to him. For Valtteri, third on the grid is a strong starting position but he wasn’t as comfortable with the car today.

“It was very closely matched with Ferrari and I’m sure we will see more of the same tomorrow. I am always the skeptic when it comes to making predictions – but that’s the mind-set we need to cover all the bases tonight and have a strong race.”

James: The feeling of being on pole is absolutely fantastic

Silver Arrows Technical Director James Allison was buoyant with the team’s fifth pole of 2017, but like Toto, knows that the points and prizes are awarded on Sunday.

“This is another race weekend where we knew that we were right in the fight – but had no idea if we had enough performance to put our car on pole position,” said James.

“What makes it such a sweet feeling is to see two immaculate laps and a really commanding performance from Lewis. Valtteri was unable to improve on his final run, but nevertheless retained a strong P3 which puts us in good stead for the Grand Prix.

“The feeling of being on pole is absolutely fantastic but, of course, we have it all to do again tomorrow.”

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