Hamilton ready for one of his toughest drives at 'phenomenal' Mugello

Mugello (Italy) (AFP) –


Lewis Hamilton said he is braced for one of the most demanding races of his career on Sunday when he starts from his seventh pole of the season at the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix.

The runaway series leader and six-time champion warned of the challenge ahead as former racer Mark Webber, now a television commentator, said the spectacular Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit was so fast that the drivers' "necks are going to snap in half – it's so, so quick!"

The Australian may have been jesting, but all of the drivers made clear how physically exhausting the circuit was.

"We are all athletes and we train, but this track is incredibly physical and it is not at all easy to go through that fast section," said Hamilton. "I've found that I am breathing heavier because there is so much focus and there is no room for error.

"The whole body is completely tense and every muscle is fully engaged. We don't get to the end of a lap with a low heart-rate. This track is phenomenal, but it is incredibly challenging, too."

Hamilton beat Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to secure a record-extending 95th pole position.

The drivers will endure high levels of g-force on each lap with everyone enduring 5 g or more in seven of the 15 corners of track hosting its first Formula One grand prix.

Hamilton said he has not learned the circuit as quickly as he expected.

"Normally I tend to think and in my past I always felt that one of my strengths is learning a circuit quite quickly, but for this one we went on the simulator, which I never do, and I don't feel like I benefited.

"So getting here (pole position) was a lot of work. The pressure was incredibly high. Going out there, doing laps, I was struggling to get to the limit, find the limit in certain sectors.

"Valtteri was miles ahead really in some of those areas so the pressure was higher than ever because if I hadn't done the work then I wouldn't have got the result."