Lewis Hamilton celebrated a record 100th Formula One pole position in Spain on Saturday and former team mate Fernando Alonso expects more to come.
The Spaniard, who partnered Hamilton at McLaren in the Briton’s sensational 2007 debut season that ended with the pair level on points, heaped praise on Mercedes’ seven-times world champion.
“It’s not going to be the last, that number will only go up,” said Alonso, a double champion who is making a comeback with Renault-owned Alpine at the age of 39 and after two years racing elsewhere.
“I think it’s an amazing achievement that shows how good Lewis is, in not only one lap but also in a race situation. We see in the victories, in the podium finishes, in the championships.
“It’s in a way not a surprise. He has dominated the sport for a few years now and he is getting better and better every time.”
There are far more grands prix now than in previous eras, with a record 23 scheduled for this year, but Hamilton’s prowess on a Saturday remains one of the most remarkable amongst his many records.
Ferrari great Michael Schumacher, the only other seven-times world champion, is next on the all time list with 68 poles while Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna, Hamilton’s childhood hero, managed 65.
“Lewis has always been absolutely stunning when it comes to qualifying. From his first race in Formula One until now, it has definitely been a strength of his,” said Jenson Button, the 2009 champion and Hamilton’s McLaren team mate from 2010-12.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton, who is also set to become the first driver to reach 100 wins with 97 to date, said Hamilton continued to push the sport to new heights.
Formula One’s most successful driver has more points, podiums, and laps led than anyone else as well as winning at more circuits.
“Today again the car wasn’t perfect and he just edged the other ones out,” said Wolff.
“(Trackside engineering director) Andrew Shovlin was just saying that if you put all his pole laps together in a video, it would last two hours. That just shows what he’s achieved.”
Hamilton said 100 was a number nobody, not even him, had thought could be reached when he was starting out.
“I can’t remember exactly the feeling in 2007. I think back then it was where I was pushing for equality in terms of fuel load alongside my team mate and the first time they gave us the equal fuel load,” he said of his first pole in Canada that year.
“That was special… and here we are 100 qualifying sessions or whatever it is, 100 poles, and I still feel as young. I’m good. Keep going.”