Lewis Hamilton described the feeling behind the wheel of his Mercedes Formula 1 car as “insane” after taking his first Suzuka pole position in Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.
The world championship leader broke Michael Schumacher’s qualifying lap record, set during Q2 in 2006, by 1.365s to take his 71st F1 pole and first in 10 attempts at this circuit.
Hamilton was particularly impressed by the feeling created by the increased downforce levels allowed by the 2017 regulations.
“It’s incredible to come here with this car, this car has been one of the greatest, if not the greatest,” said Hamilton.
“This car is mindblowing. [Suzuka has] always been one of the craziest roller-coaster rides, three seconds quicker [than 2016].
“It is insane being thrown around. It is incredible for me, my first pole position here so 10th time lucky. I am grateful for that.”
Having struggled to find balance at Suzuka in the past, Hamilton said this was the first time he felt completely confident in his car here.
This has played a part in him never taking a Suzuka pole, although it is his third Japanese GP pole position having twice topped qualifying when the race was held at Fuji.
“Every single time I have struggled here, struggled with finding the right balance, generally not starting on the right foot,” said Hamilton.
“And if I have started on the right foot, I’ve gone in the wrong direction. It has always been up and down.
“This is the first car I felt has been underneath me all weekend, small tweaks here and there in the right direction and ultimately a good job done globally.
“It has worked out better this time and my knowledge of the car is better than it was before, which has enabled me to go out and do the job.
“It is a real confidence boost to our group.”
Hamilton added that while the Mercedes has been tricky to get the best out of at times during the 2017 season, the car has generally been good to drive in qualifying.
“It has been a great car in qualifying this year, and qualifying for me is the most enjoyable part of the weekend,” he said.
“Being able to put together laps like today is the one you wait for all weekend, Q1, Q2, Q3 – motorsport is about ultimate performance from myself and the car.
“It is great when it comes together on days like this. If we were on back foot here it wouldn’t be great position to be in, let’s hope she is not stubborn tomorrow.