The reconstructed technical regulations in 2022 witnessed Toto Wolff-led Mercedes tumble down the pecking order, from the most dominant Formula 1 team to an underwhelming mid-field team. Consequently, the Brackley outfit’s big shot, Lewis Hamilton encountered what was arguably one of the worst spells of his racing career.
Apart from the rare podiums that came his way, there was no major success to celebrate for the seven-time world champion. Pole positions and race victories were completely out of sight for over an entire year. However, just when the hopes of witnessing Hamilton on the top step were disappearing into thin air, the Briton pulled off one of the greatest qualifying heists in the history of Formula 1.
History of Hungarian GP saves Mercedes yet again in 2023
The Hungarian Grand Prix has always been Mercedes’ fortress. In 2021, Hamilton raced all the way from the back of the grid to P3 at the chequered flag. Meanwhile, his teammate, George Russell secured a shocking pole position in 2022 when the odds were evidently lying in favor of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
A similar story is being scripted at the 2023 Hungarian GP as well, with Verstappen setting the benchmark. Only this time, Mercedes were on the back foot right from the start of the weekend. Both Russell and Hamilton were seemingly projecting Mercedes as the 8th fastest team throughout FP1 and FP2. However, then arrived the unexpected twist in the tale.
There was no holding back on those emotions for @LewisHamilton 💜
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 22, 2023
During Q1 and Q2, Hamilton was showing a decent pace, enough to secure a top-5 start for Sunday’s main race. But, with the latest tire regulations, softs were the mandatory choice for Q3, and coincidentally, Wolff had mentioned that Mercedes was quicker than Red Bull on the red-marked tire compound. Hence, the hype was growing and the record-equaling world champion ultimately lived up to it.
Pipping Max Verstappen by a mere 0.003s on the final Q3 run, Hamilton ended his 33-race drought to clinch what was his 104th pole position in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton F1 record: pole positions and wins from the same race weekend
Hamilton currently holds the record for most pole positions converted into race victories. As of the 2023 British Grand Prix, the number stands at a whopping 61, with Michael Schumacher in a distant second place with 40 and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel completing the top-3 with 31.
With 104 pole positions in the bag, Hamilton has converted over 60% of them into race victories, which quite clearly projects the kind of dominance he has embraced over his decade-long career. Despite inching toward the retirement phase, Hamilton is still very much capable of extending this record to greater heights. Therefore, how many more such clinical performances can Hamilton deliver before bidding adieu to motorsport?