Lewis Hamilton had to 'dig deeper than ever' for Monaco pole

Lewis Hamilton said he had to “dig deeper than ever” for pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix, and dedicated his lap to the late Niki Lauda.

Hamilton led the way through Thursday’s practice sessions but trailed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas on Saturday, and was behind the Finn after the first Q3 runs.

But Hamilton usurped Bottas on his last Q3 effort with a new track record of 1:10.166 to eclipse his title rival by 0.086s.

It came after a difficult weekend off-track for Mercedes after the passing on Monday of the team’s non-executive Chairman, three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda.

“I had to dig deeper than ever,” said Hamilton. “I’m so glad I can get that deep. That lap was beautiful. I feel amazing.

“This is definitely one of the best poles that I can remember.

“Obviously we’ve had lots of success over the years but I can’t remember one being like this, especially after a difficult week for the whole team, and personally a difficult weekend.

“The goal was to get pole. It’s amazing we turned up as a team, continuing to take strides together, get stronger. I’m so proud of everyone.

“To have a little bit of a cloud over us this weekend, and really trying to lift every one up and deliver for Niki.

“Valtteri did a sensational job. FP1, FP2 was good for me, today the car didn’t feel anywhere near as good as it did Thursday.

“I was digging deep, throwing the car around, I was struggling to get there on the first lap.

“I was throwing the car around, pretty sure I touched the barriers a few times, no other way of doing it here.

“I’ve never quite got that perfect lap here and I think today was as close as I could get to it, this one’s for Niki.”

Hamilton also described his lap was “like wrestling a bull” in the wake of his second pole position around the streets of the Principality.

“We have a great package, what people need to realise, all of us drivers, we take whatever car we have, fast or slow, we take it to limit,” he said.

“When you hit the limit, it’s like wrestling a bull, or whatever you want to say it is, it’s out of control the whole time, so it’s trying to balance it and react at the right times.

“That lap was hard, I had a oversteer moment at Rascasse and I just managed to pull it off.

“I lost a bit in the last corner, but still I was coming across the line hoping that one millisecond, hope it makes a difference. I don’t know what the gap is but I’ll take it. It’s perfect.”