Lewis Hamilton ‘drove his nuts off’ in Portuguese GP Quali

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton scored his 97th pole position at the Portuguese Grand Prix Qualifying, followed by Valtteri Bottas. The duo give their first comments.

Bottas was on top in all three free practice session, but in quali Lewis Hamilton managed to snatch pole by 0.102s in his final run. While the Finn completed only two laps (one flying lap) in the closing stages of qualifying, Hamilton chose to do three.

“I can’t tell you how hard that was today,” Hamilton said after qualifying.

“Yes, we’ve got a great car, but you have to drive the nuts off of it to pull out a lap, and Valtteri has been so quick this weekend, you’ve seen he’s topped every session, so I’ve just been digging and digging and digging trying to find that extra time.

“At the end there I chose to do three laps to give me a chance to have a stab at beating his time, and I think he decided to do one, so I thought ‘okay, this provides me with an opportunity and it worked’.

“That last lap, it got better and better as I went through.

“The team communicated really well with us and they gave the option to both of us, so we had the choice of going on to the soft or the medium, we both chose to go on the medium, he chose to do one lap, I chose to do three because we had the time.

“So I got out there nice and early. The tyres are very hard here this weekend because they are the hardest of the compounds, and getting them to work here, believe it or not, is very very difficult.

“So that’s why I wanted to have an extra run just in case the first one wasn’t that great, and it worked perfectly.”

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The Briton added the Portimao circuit is one of the most challenging he’s ever driven on.

“It’s hardcore, it’s a really hardcore circuit,” he said.

“Because there are places where you can’t see where you’re going, you’re looking at the sky for periods of time, so understanding where your braking points are, there are no references when you’re looking at the sky.

“So it really is one of the most challenging circuits that I think I’ve ever been to. And the surface is strange, I’m not sure if the fans know but each surface definitely is different that we go to.

“This is a very closed, very smooth surface and it doesn’t work the tyres the same as Barcelona for example, so that’s made it incredibly challenging to get not only the front tyres in but also the rears in.

“We’ve had times during free practice when the front tyres were working but the rears weren’t, and then we’ve had times when none of the tyres were working, so today has been better.

“But the team have just continued to keep their heads down and do a fantastic job, so a big big thank you to them,” concluded the six-time champion.

Valtteri Bottas, who lost pole in the final moments of qualifying regrets not opting for two flying laps in his last quali run, instead choosing to do a single lap on medium tyres.

“The medium actually felt a tiny bit quicker than the soft, and then it was choosing if we do two timed laps, with a cool down in between, or just one timed lap,” the Finn said.

“Obviously, with one timed lap you can have less fuel in the car, but you might struggle with the tyre warm-up.

“I went for that. It was my decision to go for one timed lap, because it worked in Q2, but apparently it seems like doing two timed laps for Lewis was better.

“It was a decent lap, not perfect. It’s been tricky here to get really clean laps this weekend because of the way the track is, but I mean the lap was good.

“I think ultimately I should have gone for two timed laps as well,” concluded Bottas.

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