A masterful display of car control around the shortest lap time-wise on the calendar left viewers in awe as he secured pole by a mammoth 1.2sec over next-best Max Verstappen.
In treacherous conditions Lewis Hamilton averaged 196.091 kph (121.845 mph) on his pole lap
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 11, 2020
Hamilton’s wet weather performance drew comparisons with past moments of qualifying brilliance and spellbinding bravery.
Whether its man and machine in perfect harmony, or a driver pushing a car far beyond its performance level, these exceptional laps have cemented legends and highlighted moments of genius.
Here are some of the very best from 70 years of the Formula 1 World Championship
Nigel Mansell – 1992 British Grand Prix: 1min 18.965sec
The race might be best remembered for the scenes following Nigel Mansell‘s victory as fans invaded the track to be that much closer to their hero, but they were treated to a showing of absolute perfection the day before.
Mansell secured his eighth pole position of the season in what was clearly superior machinery, but it was the manner in which he did so that makes this particular pole lap so special.
The dominance of the Williams FW14B was clear for all to see as Mansell had failed only once prior to start in grid slot number one that season.
Mansell once more stormed to pole at Silverstone, leaving his team-mate and rivals with no hope of even coming close to his effort.
Ayrton Senna – 1988 Monaco Grand Prix: 1min 23.998sec
Ayrton Senna’s affinity for the Monaco Grand Prix only grew in legend in 1988 as the Brazilian put on one of the most stunning qualifying performances in F1 history.
Regarded as one of the finest laps ever driven in an F1 car, Senna threaded his McLaren between the barriers with surgical precision, helped by unparalleled feel in the cockpit.
Senna rated this fabled lap as his greatest in a Formula 1 car.
“I was kind of driving it by instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel,” he said reflecting on his lap.
“I was just going, going – more, and more, and more, and more. I was way over the limit, but still able to find even more.
“Then, suddenly, something just kicked me. I kind of woke up and I realised that I was in a different atmosphere than you normally are. It frightened me because I realised I was well beyond my conscious understanding.”
2018 Singapore Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton: 1min 36.015sec
Mercedes has not been the underdog on many occasions since the hybrid era began in 2014, but its 2018 car, the W09 just did not suit the Marina Bay Circuit.
An Achilles heel in an otherwise dominant package, practice for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix suggested that the team would struggle as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas lagged way behind the Ferrari pace to the tune of half a second heading into qualifying.
Hamilton swept his car around the floodlit streets to take pole position by 0.3sec over Max Verstappen, while Vettel languished 0.6sec down on the pole time in third.
Hamilton had dealt a major blow to Vettel and did so in a car that had no right to be on the front row that weekend.
Jarno Trulli – 2004 Monaco Grand Prix: 1min 13.985sec
Jarno Trulli’s pace around Monaco netted him a front row start for Jordan in 2000 and he improved on that four years later.
With Michael Schumacher on provisional pole, Trulli began the lap looking like he would be another name unable to match the Ferrari driver’s benchmark.
He rounded the Mirabeau hairpin a tenth down on Schumacher’s time in the first sector but from that point on, the lap kept building and building. Renault’s R24 looked consistently the better package through the final two-thirds of the lap.
Pinpoint accuracy through the Nouvelle Chicane, an assertive sweep of the wheel through Tabac and only the lightest feathering of a lift through the swimming pool complex and he had clawed back the lost time.
Committed as ever through the final sector, Trulli recorded his first pole position in Formula 1 with a lap that was, at the time, the fastest ever around the Principality and 0.411sec clear of second-place.
One day later, he took his first and only F1 win.
Sir Stirling Moss – 1961 Monaco Grand Prix: 1min 39.1sec
He used the nimbleness of the car to its full advantage round Monaco. Paired with Moss’s guile, it proved an unbeatable package over a single lap —and the 100 that followed on race day.
Denis Jenkinson described his victory as a “Monte-Carlo masterclass” but his work the previous day was stunning to behold, and was as sensational as it was unlikely versus the power the sharknose 156s possessed.
None of the Ferrari drivers could live with the pace Moss had set, nor could Jim Clark despite looking competitive in practice up until a mistake and crash at Sainte Dévote put pay to his hopes.
Moss held off that threat from behind on race day, winning by 3.6sec from Ritchie Ginther‘s Ferrari in a hard-fought battle.