Lewis Hamilton on Portuguese pole in quest to become most victorious F1 driver

Lewis Hamilton continued to dominate in his quest to be crowned Formula One's most victorious driver as he will start from pole position after he edged out Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Hamilton drew level with Michael Schumacher on 91 wins at the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany earlier this month.

And the world champion will now start as the favourite to make history here in the Algarve on Sunday after seeing off Mercedes team-mate Bottas' challenge by just 0.102 seconds with his final lap of a nail-biting session.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen will line up from third, one place ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

The running on F1's first jaunt back to Portugal in 24 years was delayed by 30 minutes following repair work to a dislodged drain cover on the exit of the penultimate corner.

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PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 25: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his record breaking 92nd race win on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain after his record breaking 92nd win at the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, is congratulated by his father Anthony Hamilton after his record breaking 92nd win at the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao. (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain jumps out of his car after his record breaking 92nd win at the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton adjusts his protective face mask in the parc ferme after the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves after winning the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, jubilates after his record breaking 92nd win at the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy, left, and Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France steer their cars during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain holds up the trophy on the podium after his record breaking win during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Fans sit behind a fence as they watch the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Crew cheer on Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain as he crosses the finish line to win the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark, left, steers his car during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy steers his car followed by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Rudy Carezzevoli, Pool via AP)
Mclaren driver Carlos Sainz of Spain is followed by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his car during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center, steers his car during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Red Bull driver Alexander Albon of Thailand, left, steers his car during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car back to the parc ferme after the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Racing Point's Canadian driver Lance Stroll and McLaren's British driver Lando Norris crash during the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 25: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his record breaking 92nd race win in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Portugal at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 25, 2020 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland, left, steers his car during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands at the finish after clocking the third fastest time during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gives the thumbs up after clocking the fastest time during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Hamilton will take pole position for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix which takes place on Sunday. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gets out of his car after clocking the fastest time during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jose Sena Goulao, Pool via AP)
Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France, left, steers his car during qualification for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Jorge Guerrero, Pool via AP)
Stewatds check a manhole on the track during the third free practice session for the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Rafael Marchante, Pool via AP)
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the third practice session prior to the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. The Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, Pool)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates in the parc ferme with his team after taking the pole position after the qualifying session at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 24, 2020 in Portimao ahead of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
McLaren's British driver Lando Norris drives during the qualifying session at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 24, 2020 in Portimao ahead of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by Armando Franca / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ARMANDO FRANCA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Track marshals watch Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel during the third practice session at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 24, 2020 in Portimao ahead of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOSE SENA GOULAO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Alfa Romeo's Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi drives during the third practice session at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on October 24, 2020 in Portimao ahead of the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Track marshals laid down fresh tarmac to keep the loose metal in place, and scoured the 2.89 miles of track for additional ill-fitting drains.

But when the action eventually started, it looked as though it would be Bottas who would carry over his fine practice form to secure his second pole in as many races.

The Finnish driver headed into qualifying with a practice cleansweep under his belt, but Hamilton executed a different strategy in Q3 by completing one extra lap than his team-mate, and taking pole.

"I cannot tell you how hard that was today," said Hamilton after securing his 97th career pole. "We have got a great car but you have to drive the nuts off it to pull out a lap.

"I have just been digging and digging to find that extra time. I did three laps to give me a stab in the final session at beating Valtteri's time.

"He decided to do one and it provided me with an opportunity and it worked. That last lap just got better and better."

George Russell's future has been the source of much speculation here after it emerged that he could be replaced by Sergio Perez at Williams next year.

Williams have recently been acquired by Dorilton and the belief is that they want drivers who bring cash to the British team, putting Russell's 2021 seat in danger.

Here, the 22-year-old Mercedes junior delivered another fine one-lap performance to extend his undefeated qualifying streak over his team-mates – Robert Kubica in 2019 and Nicholas Latifi this year – to 33.

Russell sealed his passage through to Q2, lapping a full second faster than his team-mate, before finishing 14th, one spot ahead of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari.

The sooner Vettel leaves Ferrari the better for both parties. The German, who will head to Aston Martin next season, starts Sunday's race 13th in the championship, a staggering 213 points behind Hamilton.

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