Lewis Hamilton claimed his 69th career pole position to break the Formula One record previously held by his childhood idol, Michael Schumacher. Hamilton set the record in Monza; a circuit on which Schumacher, to date, remains one of the most beloved of sportsperson by the legions of Ferrari fans.
Hamilton established the record in just 201 races, far fewer than Schumacher’s 308 but there’s a long way to go for the British driver. Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins is a mountain too big to climb for the Mercedes driver, although he stands second with 58.
It’s also the fourth straight year that Hamilton will start first in Monza and it was his sixth pole overall on the track, breaking another record held by Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio. However, this one was a hard fought one which makes it even more special.
After a two and a half hour delay, thanks to rain at the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton finished more than a second ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull in difficult, wet conditions. As drivers struggled to find pace and traction, the strategy was down to who gets the tyre combination right. At the end of Q3, though everyone went for the wet tyres instead of the intermediates as the rain poured and drivers started to lose visibility of the track. Both Ferrari drivers failed to find pace and with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstrappen setting the fastest time with just over a minute left for the session to end, all eyes were on Hamilton.
Fresh off his win at the Belgium Grand Prix, Hamilton put in the best lap times in the first and middle sector before finally crossing the line surpassing Verstrappen’s time and clinching pole position. It promises to be a wet race tomorrow and Hamilton certainly has had a great start.