World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he is back to his best in qualifying after accepting he “underperformed” on Saturdays in the 2019 season.
Hamilton claimed 11 victories last season but topped qualifying on only five occasions.
Part of that was down to Ferrari’s one-lap speed, which enabled the team to score nine pole positions, but Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas also took five poles.
This year Hamilton has claimed five pole positions to Bottas’ two, finishing a close runner-up to his team-mate on the occasions where he was second best.
“Last year Valtteri was putting in great laps as he always does but I think I was definitely under-performing in qualifying,” he said.
“That is generally a strength of mine. It was really understanding these tyres and how I utilised it with my driving style.
“For this year I’ve had to make a couple of adjustments and on top of that, with this car, seems to work quite well.
“So now I’m back to being able to produce qualifying laps that I was able to do before last year, and on a more consistent basis.”
Hamilton’s efforts this year means he has now taken 93 career pole positions, putting him 25 clear of Michael Schumacher on the all-time list.
“It’s just work in the background,” he said, further explaining the progress.
“It’s work that we do on the simulator; it’s stuff we do with set-up but getting that right without affecting the race.
“As you saw, last year the races were incredibly strong. It’s the fine line.”
Hamilton holds a 47-point advantage over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the championship.