Lewis Hamilton says his failure to take pole at Suzuka at his seventh attempt is down to having never felt comfortable around Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix venue.
Hamilton has been supreme in qualifying this term, taking pole in 11 of the previous 13 races, but was beaten by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on Saturday.
Of the 2015 F1 tracks Hamilton has previously raced on, Suzuka and Austin are the only venues where he has failed to take pole at some point in his career.
“It’s been a bad track for me,” said Hamilton. “Why? I don’t know, it’s never been a comfortable circuit for me.
“I love the circuit but I have never felt comfortable here.
“The set-up has never really come together I guess.
“I think it’s me, some years I’ve not had the car but generally it is me.
“I come focused and prepared but it’s just not a track I feel comfortable on – it’s a weird sensation.
“But today I felt I had overcome a large part of that – and last year in the wet I did so, too.”
After making a mistake on his first run in Q3, Hamilton said he was on course to improve significantly before the session was red-flagged due to Daniil Kvyat’s crash.
“I was working on the best lap I’ve ever done here but obviously I didn’t get to finish it,” he said.
“I lost a tenth-and-a-half in the chicane on my first lap and then my next lap was pretty quick.
“It was really fast, already by Turn 6 I was up quite a lot but I just didn’t get to finish it unfortunately. I had a lock-up and lost a bit of time.
“It was looking good, really good. It doesn’t really matter anyway but it is a positive feeling for me as I know that tomorrow I will have good pace.”