The pole that was missing in Lewis Hamilton’s collection


Lewis Hamilton earned the 71st pole of his career at the circuit where, unbelievable as it may seem, he had never before managed to start from first position on the grid. The British driver, in addition, did it by shaving more than a second off the record time for the circuit, which Michael Schumacher had held since 2006.

In a qualifying session that began with the accident Romain Grosjean had at the end of Q1, Hamilton showed lethal fortitude. Nobody, not even Sebastian Vettel, came close enough to give him the most minimum of scares. His team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, who is sanctioned this weekend owing to a gear-box change, was unable to touch him either.

Like Bottas, Räikkönen will also be starting further behind on the grid as he had an accident in the third round of free practice that affected his gear box. The one who will most definitely be starting last is Fernando Alonso. The Asturian driver chalked up the 10th-best time in qualifying, but at the last minute he was told that he will have to mount a brand-new Honda power unit, even though the one he was carrying had only clocked up the kilometres run in Sepang last weekend and the lap he did in Singapore. The result: a 35-place punishment.

Carlos Sainz will start at the back alongside Alonso, as he has a 20-place sanction for something similar to Alonso. In his case, he was unable to finish higher that 15th in qualifying.