Hamilton after 90th F1 pole: I just have to pinch myself

By Sports Desk July 18, 2020

Lewis Hamilton called his 90th pole position in Formula One a "crazy" accomplishment and says he now has to pinch himself.

Mercedes dominated qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, a race Hamilton has won seven times before, to lock out the front row.

Hamilton edged out a game Bottas by 0.107 seconds on Saturday, with the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez around one second off the pace in third and fourth spots.

The world champion already holds the F1 record for pole positions and relished his 90th at one of his favourite tracks.

"It is crazy," Hamilton said. "I just have to pinch myself, it doesn't register. 

"It's quite humbling to be honest because I get to work with an incredible group of people, who without I wouldn't have the opportunity to do so. 

"So massively thankful to everyone back home and everyone here who does such an amazing job.

"Valtteri doesn't make it easy for me at all so it requires absolute perfection when doing laps. Qualifying like that is one of the things I enjoy most – it was really nicely hooked up, and not far off the rails."

Hamilton and Bottas are both expecting a tight battle in Sunday's race.

"It is a long run down to turn one, so nothing is a given," added Hamilton.

"I've got to deliver at the start and we don't know what the weather will do but I'll be trying as hard as I can to bring a 1-2 home for the team."

Bottas said: "Lewis did a great job to get the pole, as always, and it's going to be a bit of a drag race into turn one so I am looking forward to that.

"I saw in P3 it was going to be a close battle with Lewis at least and, as a team, we were again on a really strong level and apart from other teams, which is good for us.

"At the end my Q3 lap was really good but in the end I couldn't really go faster."

Racing Point appear to be the best of the rest, especially with Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon qualifying seventh and 13th respectively.

Stroll is therefore eyeing a strong haul, with the team's hopes boosted by getting both drivers through to Q3 on medium tyres, meaning they can start on that compound for the race.

"I'm really pleased with the session," said the Canadian. "We have had the pace all weekend – now our sights set on Sunday and I'll try and grab some big points for the team

"It was a gamble [to stay on mediums in Q2], there is no doubt, but that's going to be put us in a good position. 

"I'm really happy to get through on the mediums and my lap at the end really felt like it was spot on. It always feels great when you put it all together at the end of qualifying."

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    The German competed in the first practice session at Misano but was 1.3 seconds adrift of Fabio Quartararo, who set the pace with a time of one minute and 31.271 seconds.

    Following discussions with Honda, Bradl will sit out the rest of the race weekend.

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    "I came to Misano with the intention of racing because my doctor told me it would be okay to race. But in this situation, I do not feel I can ride safely over a whole race, together with HRC [Honda Racing Corporation] we have decided to take the rest of the week to recover before Barcelona."

    FP2 saw Brad Binder of KTM lead the way with a lap of 1:31.628.

  • MotoGP 2020: Quartararo worries title rival Mir has 'perfect' bike MotoGP 2020: Quartararo worries title rival Mir has 'perfect' bike

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  • MotoGP 2020: Dovizioso leads but Yamaha have Misano momentum MotoGP 2020: Dovizioso leads but Yamaha have Misano momentum

    Andrea Dovizioso enters the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix as the new MotoGP standings leader, but Yamaha are hoping to ensure his stay at the top is a short one.

    Yamaha showed impressive pace in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano last week and riders are returning to the same venue for round seven.

    Fabio Quartararo was unable to take advantage of his manufacturer's speed at the circuit last time around, as team-mate Franco Morbidelli became the fifth different race winner of an unpredictable season with defending champion Marc Marquez out injured.

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    Yamaha dominated qualifying by locking out the first four places on the grid.

    They converted that into three finishes in the top six, with Morbidelli's maiden MotoGP win added to by fourth place for Valentino Rossi and pole-sitter Maverick Vinales coming sixth.

    But Quartararo, who started on the front row, suffered a crash and ultimately retired in a torrid afternoon that saw him lose the championship lead, finishing outside the top six for a fourth straight week.

    There were impressive podiums for Francesco Bagnaia and Joan Mir, while a low-key seventh was enough to move Dovizioso to the top of the pile.

    WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN MISANO

    There is no rider who has recorded more than two podiums in the opening six races, with Quartararo struggling massively since winning the opening two events of 2020 and now looking to avoid back-to-back retirements for the first time in his MotoGP career.

    The next few races in this middle section of the season are likely to determine who out of Dovizioso, Quartararo and the chasing back emerges to become true title contenders ahead of the final run-in, with the current picture still wide open.

    Dovizioso, who will leave Ducati at the end of the season, is arguably the most consistent rider in the championship, but has raised doubts over whether he ultimately has the speed to challenge for the title. If the Italian can end this round still on top before moving on to more favourable circuits that would represent a good result given he has only finished on the podium twice in 13 Misano attempts.

    Riders looking to maintain momentum include Suzuki Ecstar youngster Mir, who is on an impressive run of three consecutive top-four finishes, while the veteran Rossi has recovered nicely from a retirement in week one and sits level on points with factory team-mate Vinales.

    TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

    Good race for Rossi - Aside from Marquez, Rossi is the only active rider to have reached three wins at the Misano circuit in MotoGP. He has finished on the podium in six of his 13 MotoGP races there, though has not done so in his last three outings, so may be due.

    Moto joy for Morbidelli – The rising star has finished on the podium in two of his last four MotoGP races, having not recorded any top-three finishes in his first 37 premier class appearances.

    Pole not leading to wins – Vinales has had pole position in three of his last four appearances at Misano (2017, 2019 and 2020), but did not win in any of them (fourth, third and sixth). Indeed, the last 10 Misano races have seen the pole-sitter fail to win (Dani Pedrosa was the last to win from first on the grid in 2010).

    Strong circuit for Yamaha – The manufacturer's triumph with Morbidelli last week means they have won 13 of the 24 races held at Misano.

    Miller meagre in Italy – The Australian Jack Miller is third in the championship but must improve his record on Italian soil if he is to stay there. Miller has failed to surpass the sixth position in his 10 MotoGP races in Italy, five of them without collecting a single point.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Riders

    1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 76
    2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 70
    3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) 64
    4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 60
    5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 58

    Teams

    1. Petronas Yamaha 127
    2. Monster Energy Yamaha 116
    3. Ducati 101
    4. Suzuki Ecstar 100
    5. Pramac Racing 97

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