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Hamilton: 'Honour and privilege' to make F1 history at Monza

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Italian Grand Prix qualifying
© XPB 

Last week, Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher's all-time record for the number of Formula 1 pole positions. He only had to wait seven days further before breaking the tie and setting his own new record outright.

After clinching pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton now has 69 poles to his name - more than anyone else in the sport's history.

"I can't believe it. 69. I'm so grateful," the Mercedes driver said after the rain-hit qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Saturday.

"It's a real honour and privilege to be in this sport. To have come from where I've come from and be here representing my family and my country. It's amazing.

"I grew up watching Formula 1 as people watching today, and dreaming of being here. I couldn't even fathom all the things that I would eventually achieve.

"But what I did consistently believe was in my ability in what I could do if I just put my mind to it.

"It's very hard to find the words to explain how I feel. I'm trying to figure it all out. It probably won't sink in for a long time. It was an epic day, I feel truly blessed.

"To do this here at such a historic circuit, beautiful country - I'm going to have some pasta tonight to celebrate!" he added.

"Even though it's Ferrari's homeland we got such great support here for Mercedes," he said. "I really appreciate all the love ... Italy, I love you - I'm so happy to be here!"

Even so, pole at Monza certainly didn't come easily. Hamilton had to battle treacherous conditions which saw qualifying rede flagged for two and a half hours. And he was also under serious pressure in the final round from the two Red Bull drivers.

"It was very difficult to see out there, and very easy to make mistakes - as always in the rain," he explained. "The weather has obviously been incredibly tricky for us all.

"What a day to come here in this beautiful country with the English weather and to be massively challenged.

"The second to last lap was ok at the beginning," he recalled. "But then I backed out of it, hoping that I'd get one more lap.

"There was a lot of pressure for that last lap," he continued. "There could have been a red flag, there could have been a yellow flag, there was a lot of risk. But I gave it everything.

"The Red Bulls really made me work hard for the pole today, which I'm grateful for," he added.

"It's great to see the Red Bull up there. They did a fantastic job. I've not seen the list of where everyone is. Honestly, I came across the line and I didn't know if I had it but it felt like a good lap."

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