Extra run to secure pole lap was my call - Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton revealed it was his call to take a crucial extra flying lap in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix, a decision that ultimately saw him beat Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas to pole position.
Bottas has been on top in every practice session at Portimão, but Hamilton rolled the dice by going out for his final run early ensuring he had time to warm up his medium tyres and set a time that Bottas could not beat.
"It’s amazing,” he said after the session. “I can't tell you how hard that was. Yes, we have a great car but you have to drive the nuts off it to pull out a lap. Valterri has been top every session, and I’ve been digging to find extra time.
“The team gave us both the option [medium tyre]. I chose to do three laps to give me a chance to have a stab and beat his time. He decided to do one [flying lap], so I thought it could get me an opportunity and it did.”
The new circuit in Portimão has proved challenging for the drivers, as the new asphalt is slippery, while Pirelli brought the hardest three compounds across their range because of a lack of knowledge of the track.
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Both Mercedes were unique in the field by choosing the medium compound to make their final runs, but Hamilton’s decision to take an extra lap proved the crucial factor in achieving his 97th career pole.
“Each surface is different, this is a closed, smooth surface and it doesn’t work the tyre in the same way as some of the other circuits,” said Hamilton. “That has made it really challenging.
“The tyres are really hard here this weekend and getting them to work is very difficult. That’s why I wanted to have an extra run in case the first wasn’t that great and it worked perfectly.”
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