Lewis Hamilton said he was left feeling honoured and humbled after matching Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 68 Formula One pole positions in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver stormed to the 68th pole of his career with a new lap record around Spa-Francorchamps -- on the 25th anniversary weekend of Schumacher's first-ever F1 victory at the same venue in 1992 -- to tie himself level with Schumacher's long-standing pole record.
Seven-time world champion Schumacher took his first pole position at the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix, with his last coming at the 2006 French Grand Prix. Hamilton, who claimed his first career pole in Canada in 2007, equalled the feat on the eve of his 200th grand prix start.
"It's a special day definitely," he said. "I knew that it was on the horizon and that at some stage I'd be getting that 68th pole but I really hadn't thought about it that much. I didn't apply pressure. It could come soon or it could take a long time but now being there it's very unusual place to be.
"I remember coming here in 1996, my first grand prix, and watching Michael come by out of Turn 1 and the engine just roared. It shook my ribcage, it was incredible. That was when my love for the sport took another step and to think that now I've equalled him on pole positions, it's very surreal.
"It's very much a humbling experience, particularly knowing that Michael is such a legend. It's an incredible feat that he achieved and I'm very proud to be up there with him."
F1 sporting director Ross Brawn relayed a congratulatory message on behalf of the Schumacher family to Hamilton on the grid after the session had concluded, adding that "Michael always said records are there to be beaten".
"I pray for Michael and his family all the time," Hamilton added. "I have had the privilege of racing with him from karting days in Kerpen to on the track [in F1] and always admired him and still do today. I'm just honoured to be up there with him in the poles but he will still be one of the greatest of all time."
I'm honoured to have raced with you. Equaling your pole position record is a dream come true. I pray for you and your family all the time-LH pic.twitter.com/dtopvF5zvZ— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) August 26, 2017