Hamilton hails Mercedes tyre choice as Ferrari falter again
Lewis Hamilton revelled in the 80th pole position of his Formula One career, made all the sweeter by Ferrari's poor strategic choices for Sebastian Vettel at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The defending world champion led a Mercedes one-two in qualifying at Suzuka on Saturday, while title rival Vettel - 50 points adrift in the standings - could only manage ninth fastest.
In tricky conditions, Ferrari opted to send Vettel out for Q3 on intermediate tyres in the anticipation of a wet track and further rain, which only arrived with a couple of minutes left in the session.
By that point, Vettel had lost valuable time in switching back to slicks and eventually finished almost four and a half seconds behind Hamilton.
"The team have done an amazing job and the call we made for Q3 was probably the most difficult as we were fumbling around but we managed to grab pole," a jubilant Hamilton said.
"It definitely does [add to his momentum in the championship]. It was an anti-climax since we didn't do a final lap.
"It's my 80th pole, we work so hard to define this car and the strategy, and it's such an honour to race for Mercedes and the guys in the team, so a big thank you to everyone at the factory for helping me get to my 80th pole.
"It's so difficult when the pressure is on to make the right call but that's the big difference between us this year and that's why we're the best and the team deserve it."
Hamilton looks certain to extend his championship lead on Sunday and his Mercedes colleague Valtteri Bottas reflected on a superb qualifying session for the Silver Arrows.
"As a team it is absolutely perfect," the Finn said.
"The team has reacted again with the right decisions. For me, practice three was very difficult. I didn't find the car good at all, we made some changes and built up the confidence. It is not a bad starting position."