Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says he is “amazed” by how close qualifying at Imola was contested ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The reigning World Champion bagged his 99th career pole position on Saturday, beating Red Bull’s Sergio Perez by 0.035s, while Max Verstappen was 0.087s down on the fastest time.
McLaren’s Lando Norris also set a lap time at the end of the session that would have classified him in third, however it was deleted for a track infringement at Turn 9.
Hamilton admits he was “nervous” after completing his final lap as he awaited news as to the whereabouts of the rival Red Bulls.
“I am just amazed at how close it is and how exciting that is,” Hamilton said. “It really adds to the fire and to the adrenaline rush.
“I didn’t know whether or not these guys had improved on that last lap for quite some time so I was definitely nervous and that’s the excitement of closer racing.
“[I’m] really grateful to the team. We came here, the car was feeling better already from the first lap out and I think that’s probably track dependent.
“Really good steps forward, just one step at a time all weekend and fantastic work from everyone.”
Hamilton’s pole position time was set on his first flying effort of Q3, and although he says he missed out on a “perfect” lap, the 36-year-old was left satisfied by his initial attempt.
“I didn’t honestly know whether we could do it or not but, the first lap for example in Q3, [I] started a tenth up out of Turn 1 and 2 and I knew that I was onto a good lap,” Hamilton reflected.
“I think in the second sector, I lost a little bit in Turn 12. The second time around, I came out of Turn 1 and 2 a tenth down, by the time I got to Turn 9 was a tenth and half down but managed to regain that through the middle and the last sector.
“Having those two together I think would have been the perfect perfect lap but I am honestly so happy with that lap, the first lap was where it counted.”