Belfast Telegraph

Hamilton in pole position for Schumacher's record

 

By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton insisted Michael Schumacher's pole record was not on his mind despite being just one lap away from levelling with the seven-time champion and engraving his name into Formula One folklore.

Hamilton, a single point adrift of his title rival Sebastian Vettel in this season's topsy-turvy title race, will earn his first shot at matching Schumacher's incredible haul of 68 poles in qualifying for tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix.

In Hamilton's corner will be the now uncustomary sight of his father Anthony after he arrived in the Hungaroring paddock yesterday. Hamilton Snr held three jobs to enable his son to go racing as a child and was key in his rise from the humble surroundings of Stevenage to global superstardom.

But he has become something of a peripheral figure on the Formula One tour in recent years and his surprise appearance in Hungary will mark his first grand prix since he flew to Abu Dhabi on the morning of Hamilton's 2014 title decider with Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton triumphed in the desert that evening to beat Rosberg and win the second of his three championships. The 32-year-old will hope the presence of his father will be something of a lucky charm here, too.

In truth, Hamilton does not need it. The 2.7-mile, twisty and undulating Hungaroring is a circuit where Hamilton has flourished and his winning record is unrivalled. He has won on five occasions, and been on pole there five times, too.

A sixth today would see Hamilton jointly crowned, statistically at least, as the fastest man the sport has ever seen over one lap.

"I can't tell you what it's going to feel like because I'm going to get that pole at some stage," Hamilton said of Schumacher's record. "Honestly I've not thought about it.

"I'm sure it will be an incredible feeling."

Standing in Hamilton's way of equalling Schumacher's record could be the surprise figure of Daniel Ricciardo after the Red Bull driver topped both practice sessions yesterday.

Hamilton was only fifth in the day's second running.

Hamilton could be the only British driver on the grid next year with Jolyon Palmer's future in the balance. The 26-year-old did little to ease the uncertainty surrounding his seat after he lost control of his Renault and crashed out of practice.

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