MARINA BAY, Singapore — Lewis Hamilton says his stunning qualifying lap which saw him secure pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix felt like “magic” and that it was one he could not fault.
Hamilton was given little chance of challenging Ferrari and even Red Bull around the Marina Bay circuit — a track Mercedes has had its fair share of struggles at over the years — but the four-time world champion turned in a flawless lap in Q3 to deny Max Verstappen and title-rival Sebastian Vettel.
His time of 1:36.015 on the hyper-soft tyre was 0.319s quicker than second-placed Verstappen and over half a second quicker than Vettel’s best effort and Hamilton says it was one of those laps where everything worked perfectly.
“That lap felt like magic,” Hamilton said after jumping out of the cockpit. “I really do feel like I got absolutely everything possible in that first lap. It felt like one of the best laps that I remember feeling.
“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 and 99.9 percent of the time it doesn’t go right but that lap I didn’t have wheel spin, I didn’t have 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.”
Despite claiming his 79th career pole position by a comfortable margin, it was far from a smooth session for Hamilton. In Q1 he was almost eliminated after Mercedes sent him and teammate Valtteri Bottas out on the ultra-soft compound.
Hamilton explained the reasoning behind the decision and admitted to feeling the nerves as time on the clock expired.
“We were aware that we came here with the wrong tyre strategy in the sense that others had more hypers than us,” Hamilton said. “So already from practice we weren’t best prepared and we definitely lost some running because you can see there’s two or three seconds between the tyres.
“When we got into qualifying we had to start on the [ultra-soft] tyre in order to give ourselves hyper-softs in Q2 and Q3. We definitely didn’t expect to be at the pace we were but the delta between the tyres was even bigger once we got into qualifying and I couldn’t go quicker. Yeah, I was definitely a bit concerned.”