Heavy rain delayed qualifying by 46 minutes as the sport waited for a break in the weather, and the varying intensity of the downpour and ever-present standing water on the circuit made the one-hour session a particularly difficult challenge for drivers.
Max Verstappen was the Briton’s closest challenger, the Dutchman seizing an early advantage in the frenetic session, but Hamilton dealt him a series of knockout blows late in Q3 until he held a 0.7s advantage.
With his final lap Verstappen was right on the bubble, setting a purple sector and a personal best, but he lost control in the final sector, spinning at the final turn and surrendering his shot at pole.
Hamilton wasn’t done though, the reigning world champion setting three purple sectors to extend his advantage to 1.216s and claim his 89th pole in emphatic fashion.
“I love these days,” he said. “What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us — a lot of the time you can’t even see where you’re going.
“I think today would’ve been better for us if it had been dry, but I’m grateful for the rain — always.”
Verstappen conceded he’d been beaten, lamenting that his RB16 seemed worse off the wetter the conditions became.
“I think overall it was a good qualifying,” he said. “In Q3 it was raining a lot more — it seemed like we were struggling a bit more in the really wet conditions.
“I think in the dry we can have a good shot at (Mercedes). We’ll see how it’s going to go. I think the car in general is better than last week, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Source: Racer Image: LAT images