Lewis Hamilton revived memories of his stunning Formula 1 debut season on Saturday with his first British Grand Prix pole position since 2007.
The 2008 champion said his flying qualifying lap, almost half a second quicker than second placed Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes team mate, gave him an incredible feeling and had been “as close to perfect as I could do”.
“It definitely does feel like it’s up there with the best,” he added on a sunlit afternoon at the old airfield circuit.
“It feels just like it did in 2007. Just to see the crowd here today is fantastic – such a great turnout from everyone. So that was a lap for them.”
Hamilton had started the season with many expecting him to regret the move from McLaren but that is now just so much ancient history.
McLaren are in the doldrums are Mercedes is the rising challenger to champions Red Bull with five pole positions in eight races.
Hamilton has had two of them but is still waiting for the first win with his new employers – something he was unwilling to contemplate on Saturday given the uncertainty over his car’s ability to make the tyres work.
“Sometimes it is like a wild bull, you’re trying to tame it which is very very difficult to do,” he said of the Mercedes, a car he is still adjusting to and does not feel entirely comfortable in.
“But when you do, and you pull out a lap like that, it really felt like 2007. I couldn’t hear anyone still, because the car’s too loud, hopefully I got a good roar today,” he added of the crowd support.
The crowd, with their banners of support and Hamilton flags, had made a huge difference, he suggested.
Hamilton went out to wave to the grandstand from the pit wall before the session and the fans acclaimed him afterwards as one of their own.
He said it was not about psyching himself up for the qualifying session ahead but reacting to their enthusiasm and giving something back.
“The fans sit there for a long long time during the day and don’t really get to see our faces so it’s the one opportunity that I do get to see them and try to extract what I can from them, because the support means a lot,” he said.
“Of course this weekend I come here with an extra boost of energy and just want to pay them back.
“This is the first time since 2008 that I’ve had a car that I’ve really been able to compete with so I’m really, really proud of what the team have done.” (Reuters)
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