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Lewis Hamilton pips Valtteri Bottas to Portuguese pole position

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Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme

Chalk up another pole for Lewis Hamilton's record tally in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

After drawing level with Michael Schumacher's all-time tally in Germany a fortnight ago, Hamilton stands on the brink of sporting history as he sets about converting his 97th pole into a famous 92nd win. I have been digging and digging and digging to find that extra time. "I did my fastest lap time in Q1 and after that I couldn't replicate it, just because I didn't have the same grip".

"It seemed like it was a bit more hard for us to get the tyres in a better window", he said.

With Mercedes unbeaten in F1's pole battle this year, Hamilton leads Bottas 9-3 - but Saturday was the fifth time that the Finn had lost out by less than a tenth and a half. The soft compound wasn't degrading dramatically, but it seems the extra stability offered by the medium allowed the drivers to push harder through the high-speed corners and direction changes that make up a lap of Portimao.

He said: "For me, this T-shirt, on top of calling for everyone to kneel, was too much".

'And the surface is odd - very closed, very smooth, and it doesn't work the tyres the same as Barcelona, for example, so that's made it incredibly challenging to get not only the front tyres dialled in, but getting the rears in.

Bottas struck back with a lap of 1m16.754s, only for Hamilton to respond with 1m16.652s on his second flying lap (Bottas only had one) that sealed pole position.

I chose to run on medium. "Yes, we've got a great vehicle, but you have to drive the nuts off of it to pull out the lap".

"When you are looking at the sky, there are no reference points as to where you should be braking so it really is one of the most challenging circuits I've been to".

"That's really been the strength I guess this year", said Hamilton of his final pole-winning lap.

"So, yes, of course, that is I would say a surprise that they're hiring someone that has those beliefs and is so vocal about things that we're trying to fight against".

Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished third ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen's team mate Alex Albon will line up in sixth place amid reports that he's been given a two-race deadline by Red Bull to prove himself if he wants to retain his seat in 2021.

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