Lewis Hamilton says he felt a “release” now that the pressure of winning the Formula 1 world championship has lifted as he scored a commanding pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton took his 10th pole of the season under the lights in Bahrain as he finished a comfortable 0.289s clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas having dominated throughout qualifying.

Hamilton’s latest impressive performance came just two weeks after he clinched a seventh world title in Turkey and the Briton admitted he was able to enjoy qualifying and extract more from himself with the pressure eased.

“I really didn’t celebrate to be honest, I was training and trying to make sure I was ready for this, keeping my mind and eye on the ball,” Hamilton explained.

“But this is the continuation of what we’re able to do together as a team. I just continue to be amazed by my guys, naturally that work so hard weekend in weekend out.

“Now they’re away from their families for three weeks and no matter what’s thrown at us, it’s always a really tough year, and I appreciate them. To be out here in Bahrain and be able to put laps like that together.

“You know I came today and I was like, let’s just have fun and enjoy and that’s the most important thing, to enjoy what you’re doing. And with the pressure a little bit off, it’s a bit of a release to go and drive like I just did.”

Hamilton already sat on provisional pole after the first runs of Q3 but found an additional half-a-second improvement on his final flying lap. He admitted his advantage over the field could have been bigger had he taken more risk.

“I am on the ragged edge naturally,” he said. “It’s all about trying to find that perfect balance - You want to take quite a lot on the way in and keep the exit.

“You want to have your cake and eat it, so it’s about just chipping away at it during the lap. I think the lap started off really well. There was probably a little bit of time in Turn 1, just a little bit underperformed I would say to the apex, but after that it was good.

“Turns 4 and 6 was a little bit slower, I probably could have gone better there. So I could talk you through the lap and tell you that there’s always just a little bit here and there, but the next lap I go out, maybe I’ll improve here and there and I’ll lose somewhere else.

“But otherwise it was a very clean lap. I generally stayed around two and a half tenths the whole way through so I was pretty happy with it.”



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