Mercedes driver chasing his fifth British Grand Prix win, which would equal Jim Clark and Alain Prost’s record
MAYBE Lewis Hamilton was right all along. Boozing it up in Mykonos IS the best preparation for the British Grand Prix.
Hamilton made the in controversial and bewildering decision to take a two-day break before this race to party with pals on the Greek island.
In doing so, he missed the £4.5million London parade to promote the sport – much to the anger of fans and the sport’s new bosses, Liberty Media, who paid for it.
Hamilton was unrepentant this week, insisting he made the right decision – and after blasting his way to pole for the British GP – he was all smiles.
He said: “I love this track as well. The track just feels incredible. We worked very hard and the engineers did a fantastic job to get the setup where I needed it.
“It was a tricky qualifying as always with the overcast, and a bit of rain but that’s the conditions I grew up in, so I felt very much at home.
“And then when it dried up I was really able to utilise the tyres. That final lap felt fantastic.”
Incredibly, Hamilton’s boss at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, took a swipe at his driver’s critics who questioned his preparations for his home race.
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Wolff said: “Questioning whether a three-time world champion that has just broken Ayrton Senna’s pole record and is going to beat Schumacher’s record understands how he should prepare himself is an insult.
“I give him freedom to organise his days in a way he wants. If he feels that staying away from a Formula One environment, being with his friends helps him to overcome what happened in the past and extract performance at Silverstone, then so be it.
“I am perfectly fine with it and always was.”
The three-time world champion has now taken a record-equalling five poles at Silverstone; this this lap, the fastest this track has ever witnessed.
It was the 67th pole of his career and moves him to one within Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Furthermore, the whopping gap of 0.547seconds over second-placed Kimi Raikkonen was also the biggest margin between the top two qualifiers this season.
Hamilton escaped a stewards’ enquiry for blocking Haas’s unhappy Frenchman Romain Grosjean and will take his spot on the front row ahead of Raikkonen and championship leader, Vettel, who qualified third.
The German, who was booed by the British fans in a post-qualifying TV interview, presumably for bashing into Hamilton in Baku, is still confident he can take the fight to him during the race.
He added: “The target is to put him under pressure but they’ve certainly been competitive all weekend.
“Nevertheless, I think it’s been a positive day for us. We improved the car and also tomorrow should be better.”
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was the surprise name at the top of the time sheets in Q1 after a phenomenal lap in his McLaren on a damp track, which drew cheers from the grandstands.
But the Spaniard, who was eliminated in Q2, will also be demoted to the back of the grid after racking up more engine penalties.
He said: “We made the right call at the end of Q1 by switching to slick tyres. We took advantage of a track that was on the limit at that moment – and it was nice to hear people cheering.
“It’s good for the guys in the garage as well: they deserve it as they have been working so hard these past couple of years, and, even if it’s just for one moment, to be up there at the top of the time sheets feels good.”
Meanwhile, Jolyon Palmer, who qualified in 11th in his Renault added: “I’m happy with that result.
“We could maybe have made up one tenth or so, but we’re starting in a much better place than we have done in recent races, so I hope we can make progress and score some points.”
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