Lewis Hamilton admits he was overwhelmed by the lap he delivered at the start of Q3 that secured pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ferrari finished one-two at the end of FP3, with the Scuderia looking favorites to repeat the front row lock-out of 12 months ago in Singapore. However, Hamilton pulled out a stunning first run in the final part of qualifying that left him 0.3s clear of Max Verstappen and 0.6s ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with neither driver able to respond.
“That lap felt like magic,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know where it came from, but it all came together. I want to say a huge thank you to all the team — everyone is working so hard to pull out extra bits and today, I managed just for that one lap to get it right.
“Next one, I was trying to push a bit more…I’m super overwhelmed, absolutely overwhelmed, My heart is racing — I might have an anxiety attack in a second!
“I don’t think there was a moment in the lap that was wide or any problems, it was just perfectly to the limit. It felt like one of the best laps that I remember feeling.”
Hamilton’s performance was all the more impressive given the pace shown by Ferrari and Red Bull earlier on Saturday, with Kimi Raikkonen quickest from Verstappen in Q2, and leaves him well-placed to extend his 30-point championship lead.
“This track is epic. It’s so difficult, this track. It really is the most challenging circuit for us for the year. It’s Monaco on steroids, really, given that it’s longer and a lot more corners. Yesterday was looking really good for us and we came into today and made some changes and we didn’t have a good session.
“Everyone was starting the hypersofts, they were getting the experience and we started on the soft which was a huge difference compared to the hyper. I was a bit nervous going into qualifying because I didn’t think we had the pace being half a second behind these guys and I was thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m going to find half a second.’ And as we got through the qualifying session again there was a real challenge in Q1 on the ultra.
“Then we obviously got into that last session and it was just about pulling all those bits that you found through practice and try to see if you could put it into a perfect puzzle. 99.9 percent of the time it doesn’t go right but that lap I honestly didn’t have a wheel spin, I didn’t have a snap anywhere — the car was just underneath me and I managed to maximize pretty much every corner. I can’t remember one that I thought that I could do more.
“It’s so physical here, so naturally after the (lap) you’re shaking, your heart’s racing. The second lap I tried to obviously go that little bit more, a half meter braking later and it was too much and the car wasn’t going to have it, so I really do feel like I got everything possible in the first lap and I was definitely nervous when I came in at the end because naturally you want to deliver when you have an opportunity.
“I’m just so grateful — the team has been working so hard. I’m sure everyone’s team has but the guys have been flat out trying to see if we can bring little bits here and there. We knew we would come to this race that the Ferraris particularly but also the Red Bulls would be really hard to beat. This is an incredible moment for us to be on pole here, considering the circumstances.”