Hamilton: Bottas had the ‘upper hand’ going into qualifying

Lewis Hamilton admitted that he’d had to push himself all the way to take pole position for the Tuscan Grand Prix in today’s qualifying session at Mugello.

His Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas had been quickest of anyone throughout all three practice sessions on Friday and into Saturday morning.

The Finn retained the upper hand into the first round of qualifying, in which he beat Hamilton by just under three hundredths of a second.

But when it came to Q2 Hamilton edged in front, and he remained 0.059s ahead after the first run in Q3.

Hamilton wasn’t able to improve his time any further with his final run, while Bottas last opportunity fell foul of local double waved yellows for an incident involving Renault’s Esteban Ocon.

  • Hamilton wins knife-edge Mugello pole over Bottas

It meant that Hamilton narrowly clinched his seventh poel of the season, and his 95th career pole position in total.

“It has been really close this weekend,” Hamilton admitted after the end of the session. “Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and this morning and even in Q1.

“It’s always incredibly hard to beat Valtteri,” he acknowledged. “Straight from the get-go this weekend, Valtteri’s had the upper hand

“It’s been a really, really tough weekend if I’m really honest,” he continued. “It was almost like nothing I did [worked]. I was making all these changes, changed a lot in the set-up.

“I have been working really hard in the background to improve on my lines and set-up, and with the engineers we did such a great job.

“I went out in Q1, and I was still not quick enough. But I love that challenge, and I really enjoyed the battle with Valtteri. Once I got to Q2, I think I got quite a good lap.

“My Q3 run one was a decent lap. I think there was still a little bit of time left on the table so I was hoping to get that for the last one but I think the wind picked up.

“I could really feel it was a little bit more gusty down the straight into Turn 1. The car was sliding around a lot more on that lap so I ended up being a tenth and a bit down.

“This is a really challenging circuit,” he added. “It’s crazy. You go through turns 6, 7, 8 and 9 at 180mph and the G-force is insane. It just gets more and more as you go through 8 and then 9.

“[Turns] 10 and 1 and 2 were the areas where I needed to improve and I managed to pick it up once I got into qualifying.

“But nonetheless I really, really enjoyed qualifying today,” he added. “Valtteri did a great job in pushing me, but I’m really, really happy to be up there.”

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