BARCELONA - Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton became the first Formula One driver to take 100 pole positions after lapping fastest in Spanish Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.
The 36-year-old Mercedes driver was already the record holder by a massive margin, with retired Ferrari great and fellow seven-times champion Michael Schumacher second on the list with 68. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified on the front row alongside the championship-leading Briton, who has an eight- point lead over the Dutch driver, with Valtteri Bottas qualifying third for Mercedes. “I feel very humble and very grateful. I’m ecstatic, like it’s my first,” said Hamilton after the session at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen joined the championship-leading Briton, who has an eight-point lead after three races, on the front row with a time 0.036 seconds slower and another wheel-to-wheel duel looming on Sunday. Valtteri Bottas qualified third for Mercedes, a week after the Finn took pole in Portugal.
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Hamilton’s pole continued a remarkable run of Mercedes domination, with the champions taking the top slot in every race at the Spanish circuit since now-retired Nico Rosberg began the sequence in 2013. “I can’t believe we’re at 100 and really it’s down to the men and women back at the factory who are continuously raising the bar and just never giving up,” said Hamilton, who will be chasing a record-extending 98th career win on Sunday.
“The support that I have, it’s been a dream for me to work with these guys, and the journey that we’ve been on has been immense.” Only five constructors in the 71-year history of the sport have racked up 100 poles or more, and Hamilton’s milestone puts him far ahead even of Red Bull, who as a team have so far managed 64.
Hamilton, who took his first pole with McLaren in 2007, had set the fastest time of one minute 16.741 seconds with his first flying lap of the final phase and was unable to improve on it with his second. It had looked like he had been slowed by Mexican Sergio Perez spinning his Red Bull ahead but there were no yellow warning flags.
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