Sports Desk, Jul 18 (efe-epa).- Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) claimed his record 90th career pole Saturday during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
With a first-place finish on Sunday at the Hungaroring, the 35-year-old Briton will become only the second driver in F1 history to win the same event eight times.
Michael Schumacher, the retired seven-time F1 champion, triumphed in the French Grand Prix on eight different occasions.
Hamilton set a new track record in Q1 and then improved on it in Q2, making it around the course in the Budapest suburb of Mogyorod in 1.13:447, just 107 milliseconds faster than teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The two Racing Point drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergio “Checo” Perez, finished third and fourth, respectively, in their RP20 cars, which are very to the W10 model that Mercedes raced last year, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel secured the fifth position on the grid, followed by teammate Charles Leclerc.
The Scuderia has nowhere to go but up after last weekend’s disaster at the Styrian Grand Prix, where a collision between Vettel and Leclerc on the first lap forced both men to retire.
Max Verstappen of Red Bull, seen by many as the driver with the best chance to challenge Mercedes’ domination, will face an uphill struggle Sunday as he starts from the seventh position.
Eighth and ninth went to Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, the McLaren duo, while Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) was the 10th-fastest in qualifying.
In his bid to match Schumacher with seven world titles, Hamilton must first overcome Bottas, as the Finn currently leads the driver standings with 43 points, six ahead of his teammate.
Bottas won the opening race of the pandemic-delayed season, the Austrian Grand Prix, and finished second behind Hamilton in the Styrian event.
Mercedes, with six straight constructor’s championships to go with their six consecutive driver’s crowns (five for Hamilton and one for Nico Rosberg), are poised for another one-two finish on Sunday after locking down the front row.
“It felt great, just in general, qualifying all together felt really solid,” Hamilton said after qualifying. “We were just constantly pushing the bar higher. To get to drive a car like this around here is just awesome.”
“Hungary has always been a good hunting ground for me,” he said.