Monza, Sept. 5: Lewis Hamilton was relieved that significant "set-up changes" ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix paid off, with his post-practice nerves dispelled by a record-breaking run on Saturday.
On the Formula One calendar's quickest track, Monza, Hamilton set a new lap record of one minute, 18.887 seconds, therefore making it the fastest lap time ever posted in F1 history.
That was, of course, enough to secure a sixth pole in eight attempts this season for the Mercedes driver, who tops the championship leaderboard.
The practice sessions had hinted at a potential wobble for Hamilton, as he almost crashed into a queue of cars in FP3, and that led to him making alterations to his set-up.
In turn, that caused some pre-qualification nervousness, but his judgement proved to be on the money.
"I made some big changes coming into qualifying, so I was a little bit nervous going in that it was the right thing to do, but it worked just fine," he said.
There were a few jittery moments across the three qualification stages, with queueing cars almost getting tangled up with each other on several occasions, while a few drivers engaged in race-like behaviour with either aggressive overtaking or blocking manoeuvres on bends.
Hamilton acknowledged such scenarios required careful driving, and he was delighted with his own efforts in that regard.
"Just in terms of timing, when they put us out on track, and yeah, it wasn't the easiest," Hamilton continued. "You saw how close it was between us all.
"I think it demanded a clean lap and I think I got that on both. So, I'm generally really happy with the actual laps I did and Valtteri was very close, pushing."
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's team-mate, pushed the Brit all the way as he came in just 0.069 seconds behind, with Mercedes locking out the front row again.
Despite another impressive drive that sets him up nicely for Sunday, Bottas was ultimately a little rueful of not pipping his colleague to pole.
"It was a pretty close gap," he said. "I was expecting it always to be close and I've been feeling fast this weekend, so obviously a bit disappointed to be second instead of first.
"Ultimately it came to the choice if I'm running first or second. I took the first because from our analysis it shouldn't be much of a difference or maybe even better to be first so you can really focus on the clean lap and not to have any messy out-laps."
McLaren's Carlos Sainz equalled his best-ever qualifying result by securing third, but it was by no means a given.
After solid drives in Q1 and Q2, Sainz dropped off a little in Q3 initially before hitting the later corners impressively - the Spaniard believes he took a risk that ultimately paid off, though he had been "shaking" with nerves.
"I was chipping away. The last lap, I nearly messed up," Sainz recalled. "I had a big moment in Lesmo 1 and I nearly lost it. And since then on I had to drive like this and I am actually shaking a bit.
"I felt like I was nailing Q1 and Q2. Q3 run one, I didn't quite nail it. Waiting for Q3 run two and the lap, it didn't start very well and I was already needing some very strong final corners. I really went for it, I risked a lot and it paid off."