Montreal - An
emotional Lewis Hamilton admitted he felt lost for words on Saturday
when he was given his hero Ayrton Senna's 1987 race helmet after
equalling the Brazilian's career total of 65 pole positions.
"Wow, I am shaking," said the three-time world champion, who had
broken the lap record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to
securing pole for Mercedes in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
"I am speechless," added the Briton as he was interviewed after receiving the helmet on track.
"Ayrton was my favourite driver. He inspired me to be where I am
today. To receive this is a great honour. Thank-you to the Senna
Hamilton had become the first man to break the 1min 12sec barrier at
the circuit and had to trim his time to 1:11.459 seconds to resist the
challenge of championship leading Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who
The canary yellow helmet was worn by Senna during the 1987 season when he raced for the Lotus-Honda team.
Speaking to reporters, Hamilton said: "I remember getting home from
school and putting on the video tape of Ayrton Senna and I can't believe
I'm here with that many poles. The fact that I have now reached him in
that area - I can't believe it.
"It's the most special thing I have, beyond all the trophies and
everything. I am so honoured to be honoured by that family. As a kid I
thought maybe, one day, I can get to Formula One and emulate Ayrton. To
equal him... I just can't believe it."
Asked where he planned to
keep the helmet, he revealed: "People don't realise this, but all the
stuff that I get... well, I live in an apartment in Monaco and there's
not a lot of space for a lot of trophies, but I definitely will have
space for that one.
"It will be on my table, the centre-piece, in the living room and it will be the first thing you see when you come in."
Hamilton's reaction to his gift took away some of the focus on what
was probably one of the fastest and finest pole laps of his career.
"It was a sexy lap, a great lap," he said, knowing that he had proved
he had rediscovered his raw speed again after a desultory weekend at
last month's Monaco Grand Prix.
"The car was difficult at the beginning of yesterday (Friday) and I
felt already that I was at the limit of the car, but we sat down and
studied it and worked hard to try and squeeze more juice from it.
"I sent a message to my guys to say we needed everything to be perfect, right on the point, and they did it today.
"I went for a banker lap and it was great and then I knew I had fuel
for just one more lap and I worked the tyre hard and it worked
His fastest lap left him 0.330 seconds clear of four-time champion
Vettel, who leads him by 25 points in the championship. Both drivers
clocked sub 1:12 laps.
Hamilton claimed his maiden Formula One victory in Montreal 10 years ago and on Sunday seeks his sixth victory at the circuit.
"Montreal has been good to me over the years and it was a close
battle with the Ferraris today," he said. "They have been very quick."
The starting grid for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday in Montreal:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes)
Kimi Räikkönen (FIN/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams-Mercedes)
Sergio Pérez (MEX/Force India-Mercedes)
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Force India-Mercedes)
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Renault)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso-Renault)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren-Honda)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso-Renault)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas-Ferrari)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren-Honda)
Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari)
Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber-Ferrari)
Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Sauber-Ferrari)