Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton celebrated a “special” personal landmark Saturday after claiming his career 44th pole position for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The two-time champion, who races as number 44, said it felt extra significant for him to secure his 44th pole on one of his favourite tracks and at the circuit where he gained his first pole and victory in 2007.

He said: “I won my first Grand Prix here in 2007 and that was incredibly special for me so to be back here and get another pole, the 44th, that’s very, very special for me.

“I really feel amazing. It wasn’t the easiest of days as FP3 was actually quite tough as I really didn’t get any complete laps, which was mostly my fault

“So, I went into qualifying blind really as to where the set-up would be.”

Hamilton said he had forgotten all about the Mercedes pit stop fiasco at the Monaco Grand Prix and refused to allow two days of erratic practice to affect him.

He progressively built up momentum towards the Q3 session and then delivered a decisive fast lap.

“Yes, the first lap was pretty good, but it could have been better,” he said.

“Then the next lap started off bad, but was good in the middle sector so there was good time in the car. It was definitely tough out there with these tyres, which were pretty hard to switch on for everyone, but I enjoyed it.”

He warned also that Ferrari would be a threat in the race despite the Mercedes team claiming their sixth front row lockout in seven races this year.

“Ferrari have picked up their pace this weekend, but fortunately, collectively as a team we’ve managed to at least maintain the pace that we had or try to improve in some areas, which is good,” said Hamilton.

“Tomorrow is a bit of an unknown and, once again, as I said, it hasn’t been the smoothest of weekends, but I think we can build on the foundation that Nico and I have achieved today.”

Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg made no effort to hide his personal disappointment, but remained defiant, after finishing qualifying in second.

The 29-year-old German, who has reduced the defending champion’s lead to just 10 points with two successive wins, said his bid for pole all went wrong in the final Q3.

Rosberg had outpaced Hamilton on soft tyres in Q1 and was on the pace in Q2 on the ‘super-softs’ when an unexpected problem struck on the changeable track and he began to lose rear-end grip with his car.

He said: “Everything was going really well, I felt comfortable in attacking and then everything went really wrong in Q3.

“I just had less rear grip, the team thinks it knows why, but we need to analyse it. It’s really disappointing for me as I just completely lost it there.

“There wasn’t any major changes [between Q2 and Q3]. We just lost a lot of rear grip.

“The first lap in Q3 was really good, actually, but the lap time was nowhere. It just went wrong, in the end. That sucks.”

He added that he was not giving up on winning the race.

“It is disappointing,” he said. “But fair play to Lewis.

“And, of course, the race is tomorrow so I still have good chances as here you can overtake so it’s not over yet.” – Agence France-Presse

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