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Suzuka (Japan), Oct 7 (IANS) British driver Lewis Hamilton, the current leader of the Formula One World Championship, on Saturday took the pole position in qualifying for the F1 Japanese Grand Prix with a time of 1:27.319, a new record at the Suzuka circuit here.
It is the Mercedes driver’s 10th pole of the season but his first ever at Suzuka, reports Efe news agency.
“It’s been ten years trying to get that pole position and finally got it, so jeez, if you don’t get it at the first try, try harder. I knew it would eventually come so I’m really grateful,” Hamilton said.
The Briton took his 71st pole position after he easily shrugged off Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, and German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari).
Hamilton said he was “super excited” after taking the pole.
“It’s been a really good day, every lap was fantastic,” the Briton reiterated.
Vettel may have been off the pace but will start alongside Hamilton on the front row after Bottas was handed a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change.
“He won’t be more aggressive than I am. I’ve got eight meters, I’ve got to try and keep those eight meters that I have and yeah, starts have generally been strong this year, so I’ll just try to keep with that,” Hamilton said referring to Vettel.
Vettel needs a victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, due to take place on Sunday, to stand any realistic chance of winning the drivers’ championship.
He trails Hamilton by 34 points with five races to go and 125 still available.
Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch Max Verstappen came fourth and fifth respectively.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who finished sixth, was also handed a five-place gearbox penalty, while McLaren’s Spanish Fernando Alonso had a 35-place penalty due to the use of additional power unit components.