Dramatic Hamilton has a hint of Senna - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

Lewis Hamilton's charge to pole position for the British Grand Prix tomorrow provided a real rarity in modern Formula 1 - a qualifying session with drama.

Thanks to an absurd set of regulations we currently have an artificial qualifying system which never allows F1 cars and their drivers to show just how fast they really are.

According to ITV's F1 commentator James Allen, the second qualifying session provided us with an opportunity to see just how fast the F1 cars were - the only time when we saw the cars running at their lightest.

Certainly, the second session of qualifying does see the cars running with minimal fuel and potentially as fast as they will be all weekend. But to suggest, as Allen did, that the point of Q2 is to find the ultimate speed of the cars is to miss the fundamental strategy of the current qualifying system.

The point of Q2 is to decide which are the fastest 10 cars. So the only important part of any team's strategy is to work out how to be quicker than the guy in P11. Nothing else matters.

At no point during the weekend do we get to see just how fast modern F1 cars can be, and that is entirely the fault of a qualifying system which forces the very fastest cars to fight for their grid positions using something vaguely approximating to the fuel load they will start the race with tomorrow.

The result is that a large part of the qualifying 'spectacle' consists of drivers deliberately burning off fuel in the most excessive and wasteful manner possible.

That's dull, and given F1's current efforts to find itself a future which has some relevance to the environmental concerns of the rest of the motor industry, isn't it just a little ridiculous?

But Hamilton's remarkable pole-winning lap for once brushed aside concerns about the qualifying format. That last-gasp lap, where Lewis found a vital couple of tenths apparently from nowhere, had a Senna-esque quality to it.

By just about any measure, Hamilton has had the most successful beginning to a Formula 1 career of any driver - better than Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Lauda, Stewart or anyone else you care to name. It's going to be fascinating to see if he can keep it up.

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