Lewis Hamilton says he was able to drive “with the pressure a little bit off” during qualifying in Bahrain in the wake of sealing the 2020 Formula 1 title.
Hamilton, who clinched the championship last time out in Turkey, fronted the pack during both Q3 runs at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday evening.
His final effort, a 1:27.264s, left him 0.289s clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes once more finished with a margin over the opposition.
“This is the continuation of what we’re able to do together as a team,” said Hamilton.
“I just continue to be amazed by my guys, naturally that work so hard weekend in weekend out.
“Now they’re away from their families for three weeks and no matter what’s thrown at us, it’s always a really tough year, and I appreciate them.
“To be out here in Bahrain and be able to put laps like that together. You know I came today and I was like, let’s just have fun and enjoy and that’s the most important thing, to enjoy what you’re doing, and with the pressure a little bit off, it’s a bit of a release to go and drive like I just did.”
Discussing the pole position lap, the 98th of his career, Hamilton said: “I think the lap started off really well.
“There was probably a little bit of time in Turn 1, just a little bit underperformed I would say to the apex, but after that it was good. Turn 4, Turn 6 was a little bit slower, I probably could have gone better there.
“I could talk you through the lap and tell you that there’s always just a little bit here and there, but the next lap I go out, maybe I’ll improve here and there and I’ll lose somewhere else.
“But otherwise it was a very clean lap. I generally stayed around two-and-a-half tenths the whole way through so I was pretty happy with it.”