Lewis Hamilton sealed 98th F1 pole with superb performance in Bahrain GP qualifying; Hamilton said he was ‘clear-headed’ after claiming seventh world title but that he is continuing his ‘ruthless pursuit of perfection’
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/11/20 4:59pm
Lewis Hamilton says his “spotless” performance in Bahrain GP qualifying was aided by his “ruthless pursuit of perfection”, as the new seven-time world champion closed in on another remarkable Formula 1 milestone.
Hamilton, on the back of clinching the 2020 crown in Turkey, has been dominant for much of the Sakhir weekend and eased to his 98th F1 pole position in Saturday’s shootout – meaning he can reach the century mark before the season finishes in two weeks’ time in Abu Dhabi.
For reference, Michael Schumacher is Hamilton’s closest challenger for F1 poles – and is now 30 behind.
Hamilton, who has often struggled to find his best form after wrapping up the championship in previous seasons, has shown no signs of a lack of motivation, or pace, in Bahrain and stated that a “more relaxing” environment was helping him, while also insisting that he continues to improve.
“I love what I do,” the 35-year-old told Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes. “I can feel myself evolving, constantly.
“It’s that ruthless pursuit of perfection. If you take your foot off the gas, you’re never going to get there.
“The championship is done and it’s a little more relaxing this weekend so I can enjoy racing for the real love of racing, which I try to do during the championship but the pressure is immense.
“Now, even everyone in the garage is just enjoying work.”
Hamilton added: “Nothing’s changed since I won the championship. What I’ve been feeling is the yearning to get back to the UK and see my family, give my mum a big hug, take my niece and nephew to the cinema – but obviously we can’t do that this year. Those are the things that are at the core of me.”
Hamilton on why ‘I’ve got to stay on top’ of 2020 F1 car
While Hamilton was out-paced by Max Verstappen in final practice, he has been on top for the rest of the Bahrain weekend and he secured pole from Valtteri Bottas by 0.289s – his biggest pole advantage since the Russian GP.
“For me in the car today, I can’t really tell you why I was just so clear-minded,” said Hamilton. “I’ve not made any mistakes and [I was] just delivering pretty spotless laps.”
Sky F1’s Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, said he was “running out of superlatives” for Hamilton’s excellence, and the sport’s most successful driver – statistically – admitted he already has his eye on 2021.
There will be few changes to the cars for next season, when Hamilton will be aiming for a record-setting eighth title.
“I love that challenge still, of trying to find and understand these tyres, and the car, and whether we can extract more from it,” said Hamilton. “I’ve got to stay on top of it because, yes the championship is done, but I’ve got three races to discover more if I can.
“Every bit that I learn in these next three races will pay dividends next year and I still want to be fighting with these guys at the front next year.”