Lewis Hamilton now has 100 poles to his name in F1 after another fine performance around Spain's Circuit de Catalunya, but which ones have been his very best?
Hamilton is, undoubtedly, one of the best in the business on a single lap but last year, after one of his best laps in Austria, he conceded he himself struggles to understand why he is on another level.
"It is difficult for an athlete to explain why they are good at something," he said at the time. "I know how good I am and that's a belief we have to have inside of us, all of us.
"It is down to focus, to how you study the track, your innate ability to be dynamic and manage the trickiest of conditions with the pressure on you. That's generally what the best athletes in the world do."
The perfect pole can be defined in many different ways. It could mean beating the field by a massive margin or edging it by the tightest; it could be performing against the odds, under pressure or driving a perfect car to absolute precision.
For that reason, GPFans has not defined an order of one to 10 but instead opted to simply pick out what we consider to be his 10 best, which he has achieved on an astonishing 30 different tracks.
Have fun amongst yourselves and place them in order, and by all means, give us your feedback in the comments section.
Canadian Grand Prix 2007
Pole number: 1
Race result: Winner
This was Hamilton’s first pole and it came in only his sixth F1 race. Okay, his McLaren-Mercedes was one of the top cars, but it was high-pressure stakes as he was up against two-time world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Alonso set the pace in both practice sessions but Hamilton, then aged 22, hit the top spot with his final lap of qualifying. Alonso looked set to better it, but lost precious time in the final sector and missed out by almost half a second.
Speaking afterwards, Hamilton said: “It is not easy when you have a two-time champion hunting you down. I stayed strong and I did it. On the final lap, I went quicker than I have ever been. I almost touched the wall. The car was sweet.”
Korean Grand Prix 2011
Pole number: 19
Race result: Second
Red Bull was the class of the field in 2011, but Hamilton finally put his McLaren back on top with this scintillating lap, ending his rivals’ run of 16 consecutive pole positions.
It had been more than a year since he had qualified at the front, and he cut a forlorn figure after recent races had failed to go his way. But this was one where his steely positive determination shone through.
After leading in Q1 and Q2, Hamilton went first in a tense final shoot-out, hooked it up perfectly and set a benchmark no one could beat. Despite that, due to personal issues at the time, he failed to raise a smile, grumbling it was “one of the first positives I have had for a while.”
Singapore Grand Prix 2012
Pole number: 24
Race result: Retired, gearbox failure lap 1
Hamilton out-performed his car around the streets of Singapore to take his third pole in four races, finishing almost half a second ahead of second-placed Pastor Maldonado and almost a second ahead of title leader Fernando Alonso.
His performance came despite the heavy distraction of negotiating his future, trying to decide whether to gamble on a big-money move to Mercedes while being told by his employer McLaren if he stayed they wanted to cut his pay.
On track, Hamilton was building momentum to chase down Alonso’s lead and this near-perfect lap set a stake in the ground, with team boss Martin Whitmarsh putting it down to him “creating barriers” within his mind.
British Grand Prix 2013
Pole number: 28
Race result: 4th [due to tyre failure]
Hamilton was on home soil for the first time in Mercedes colours and before the race he talked about how home support had always given him a boost. In the early days of the Silver Arrows, every little helped.
Hamilton had to up his game to beat team-mate Nico Rosberg’s best but he did so with what then team boss Ross Brawn described as "a very special lap” to finish more than half a second ahead of the German.
Singapore Grand Prix 2014
Pole number: 37
Race result: Winner
Hamilton described this high-pressure moment as one of the "most exciting” qualifying sessions he had been in, with everything to play for in the hard-fought title battle with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Despite dropping time on his rival in the opening sector, and knowing he had done so, Hamilton pulled it together over the rest of the lap to set a time just seven thousandths of a second faster than his rival. That’s just 33.5cm in distance.
"It’s the most incredible feeling on the last lap, with all the pressure, when the smallest mistake could lose you a lot," Hamilton said. "After the first sequence I was two tenths down, but I said ‘Let’s keep going and see what happens.’
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