Lewis Hamilton admits he had to 'drove the nuts off' to seal historic Portuguese GP pole as Mercedes dominate again

LEWIS HAMILTON "drove the nuts off" his Mercedes and will start his attempt to become F1's most successful driver from pole position.

The world champion is going in search of his 92nd win in Sunday's Portuguese GP to move clear of the joint-record he holds with Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton left it late, as he gazumped Valtteri Bottas once again – leaving the Finn feeling sick of the sight of his teammate.

Hamilton decided to string together three late flying laps and was 0.102seconds quicker than Bottas, who had until then topped every single session in Portimao.

Hamilton said: "I can't tell you how hard that was. Yes, we've got a great car but you have to drive the nuts off of it to pull out a lap.

"Valtteri's been so quick this weekend, he's topped every session but at the end, I chose to do three laps to give me a chance at beating his time.

"That last lap, it got better and better as I went through it. I don't have anything to hide. I was not holding anything back.

"It is like building a wall. You take one brick and then it is the next one and the next one. It is a lot of hard work and fine tuning to get the perfect setting.

"It doesn't come easy and I have been pushing all weekend and Valtteri had always been at the top, so I just had to continue to did and I knew that eventually I would get there."

As for Bottas, who took pole last out in Germany only to see Hamilton win the race, he says he is fed up with losing out to the six-time world champion.

Yes, we've got a great car but you have to drive the nuts off of it to pull out a lap

He added: "It is annoying, it's very annoying.

"But practice sessions, being at the top, it doesn't matter anyway. Always I try to reset from each session and focus on the coming one.

"Especially after the final practice, you need to reset and take all the learnings you can from the practice to do things even better.

"But knowing that you have the pace, yeah it's annoying but that's how it is and I need to quickly forget that."

The qualifying session was delayed 30 minutes after a drain cover worked loose during final practice, striking Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari.

Marshals and FIA officials needed to inspect the other drain covers to ensure there would not be a repeat of the danger.

The German qualified a lowly 15th while his teammate, Charles Leclerc, will start in P4 behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

And Vettel, who is leaving the team at the end of the season, says Leclerc is "in a different class" to him at the moment.

In an honest assessment, the four-time world champ said: "It's not just a beating, it's like a different class.

"I try everything I can. I think the laps I hit, and I'm satisfied with them, are still too slow. At the moment there is nothing more I can do than to get what I have inside me."

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