5/25/2019 6:47:09 PM

Hamilton dedicates 'beautiful' pole to Lauda

Hamilton dedicates

Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco: Lewis Hamilton said Saturday he wanted to dedicate his "beautiful" pole-clinching lap at the Monaco Grand Prix to Niki Lauda, who died earlier this week.

The emotional defending five-time champion was animated after the session, leaping into catch fencing and shouting on his team radio, before talking to reporters.

Hamilton had set an outright all-time track lap record in one minute and 10.166 seconds to outpace Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

"I had to dig deeper than ever," he said. "I'm so glad I can get that deep. That lap was beautiful. I feel amazing... This is definitely one of the best poles that I can remember.

"Obviously, we've had lots of success over the years, but I can't remember one being like this, especially after a difficult week for the whole team and, personally, a difficult weekend.

"The goal was to get pole. It's amazing we turned up as a team, continuing to take strides together, to get stronger. I'm so proud of everyone."

Lauda had been non-executive chairman of Mercedes.  

"To have a little bit of a cloud over us this weekend and really trying to lift every one up and deliver for Niki.... Valtteri did a sensational job.

"FP1, FP2 was good for me, but today the car didn't feel anywhere near as good as it did Thursday. I was digging deep, throwing the car around, I was struggling to get there on the first lap.

"So, I was throwing the car around and I'm pretty sure I touched the barriers a few times – there's no other way of doing it here.

"I've never quite got that perfect lap here and I think today was as close as I could get to it. So, this one's for Niki..."

Hamilton and Bottas, who delivered a record-equalling 62nd front row lockout for Mercedes, both carried tributes to the three-time world champion Austrian Lauda on their cars, as did many other teams.

Bottas, disappointed not to secure his fourth successive pole of the season for the all-conquering Mercedes team, said he had not given up and would do his utmost to try and out-start Hamilton and beat him in Sunday's race.

"Anything can happen. It would be nice to get pole, but there's no point in giving up after Saturday. I just had traffic and I couldn't get the tyres up to temperature."

Mercedes will be bidding to extend their unprecedented run of five straight season-opening one-two triumphs in the classic contest on the Mediterranean street circuit.

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