Lewis Hamilton blown away by 'insane' record pole lap

Lewis Hamilton compared driving his Mercedes Formula One car to riding the "craziest roller coaster" after storming to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Campionship leader Hamilton shattered Michael Schumacher's lap record around Suzuka -- set during Q2 in 2006 -- by 1.365s to claim his 71st career pole and his first at the Japanese circuit.

The Briton broke the circuit lap record three times in a dominant qualifying display, as he topped each of the three sessions before setting his fastest lap, a 1:27.319s, on his final flying effort in Q3.

"It's incredible to come here with this car, this car has been one of the greatest, if not the greatest," Hamilton said. "This car is mindblowing. [Suzuka has] always been one of the craziest roller coaster rides, three seconds quicker [than last year]. It is insane being thrown around. It is incredible for me, my first pole position here so 10th time lucky. I am grateful for that."

Hamilton -- who claimed two previous poles in Japan when the race was held at Fuji -- said it was the first time in his F1 career that he felt truly confident in his car at Suzuka.

"Every single time I have struggled here, struggled with finding the right balance, generally not starting on the right foot," he explained. "And if I have started on the right foot, I've gone in the wrong direction. It has always been up and down.

"This is the first car I felt has been underneath me all weekend, small tweaks here and there in the right direction and ultimately a good job done globally. It has worked out better this time and my knowledge of the car is better than it was before, which has enabled me to go out and do the job. It is a real confidence boost to our group."

Mercedes' W08, which has been described as "capricious" and a "diva" by Toto Wolff this year, notably struggled for pace in Monaco, Hungary, Singapore and Malaysia. While Hamilton admitted his car has been a handful at times this season, he said it has tended to be better to drive in qualifying trim, allowing him to rack up 10 poles so far in 2017.

"It has been a great car in qualifying this year. Qualifying for me is probably the most enjoyable part of the weekend so being able to put together laps like today is what you wait for all weekend. Q3 run one and two are really what motorsport is all about.

"It's about ultimate performance from myself and also from the car, so it is definitely great when it comes together on days like this. It's important. We were perhaps on the back foot here, albeit a good position to be in, but let's hope she's not stubborn tomorrow."