Lewis Hamilton says his pole position at the British Grand Prix was one of the most intense of his career after edging a tight battle with Sebastian Vettel by just 0.044s.
Having been quickest in final practice, Hamilton found himself less than 0.1s adrift of Vettel after the first runs in Q3 as the championship leader held provisional pole position. On his final attempt, the Briton improved slightly and Vettel couldn’t lower his time.
Hamilton admits the nature of the pole position made it one of the most satisfying in front of his home crowd.
“It’s such a technical circuit and it’s about car placement and you’ve got to have the package,” Hamilton said. “Our downforce level, I think, has been good but you see how close it is between us. This has been a strong circuit for me for years, as you can see and my job is try to make the difference.
“I didn’t leave anything on the table today. The lap was just intense. I left the pit lane, I think the first lap was OK, it was pretty good, and then I saw that I’d dropped to second. Obviously, that naturally just adds a little bit more pressure. Because you know that he’s going to improve again, so I’ve got to improve the same and a bit more.
“So, to push over the limit just a little bit more, without losing it is one of the toughest positions to put the car. And this is the fastest track in the world, this is. We’re flat-out through Turn 1, we’re flat-out through Copse, it’s insane, to turn in there at 300-and-whatever-it-is kilometeres we’re doing. It’s flat-out into Maggotts and Becketts, all the way to 11, 12…
“I don’t know all the names but you’re flat-out all the way into it. You have a small lift, then you have a full lift, then you’re back on the gas again. Also, Stowe is just… with the headwind that we have there, it’s incredible how fast it is. I think on the TV it doesn’t look like we’re lifting – but we are.
“I got to the end of the lap, I think I was up 0.17s, and I came around that last corner and it started to diminish a little bit. I think I came across the line 0.90 better than my previous lap, and you’re just praying that’s enough – that little bit… because you’re gaining and losing throughout the lap. So, yeah, I can’t tell you how happy I am, happy for the fans, and I hope that I can deliver for them tomorrow.”
And Hamilton ranks the lap as one of his best, having been visibly emotional after climbing out of his car on the grid after qualifying.
“I think it’s, for me, with the whole build-up, with the whole intensity, with the whole spur-of-the-moment thing, knowing how close we were, for me it feels like one of the best laps that I’ve been able to produce.
“I would say it felt like the most pressurized lap that I’ve ever had. And then afterwards I was just… I can’t tell you how… I was shaking through the emotion, through the adrenaline rush [that] was way above the limit that I had experienced before, which is kind of crazy for my 76th. But the 76th is so special.
“I’m so, so happy, and, as I said, the team have just been doing a great job and I’m really happy I have been able to deliver for them as well.”