SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug 24, 2013 (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton was cautious about his chances of success in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix after grabbing his fourth straight pole position for Mercedes on Saturday.
The beaming 28-year-old Briton - who is fourth in the championship race 44 points off leader Sebastian Vettel - said he owed his stunning performance in the final seconds of a dramatic rain-affected qualifying session to the conditions.
And with rain forecast for Sunday afternoon in the Belgian Ardennes, Hamilton was quick to predict that his 31at career pole and fifth this year was no guarantee of winning the classic 44-laps race.
He is bidding to be the first driver this year to win two races in a row after becoming the first British driver since Damon Hill in 1995 to take four poles in succession.
Hamilton was outside the top 10 in both Friday practice sessions and only 12th in final practice on Saturday morning - and admitted, when asked, that he could not have taken pole in dry conditions.
"I would be guessing and my guess would be probably not," he said.
"Red Bull was looking particularly quick and also Ferrari was looking quite quick in the dry conditions, so I'm not necessarily sure we had the pace to be as fast today.
"I was so surprised when I crossed the line. When I started the lap I saw on the screen I was seventh or eighth and thought 'oh no', and it was raining.
"I then went wide in Turn 1 and my dash display said I was three seconds down, then five seconds and six seconds, but I kept pushing, and could see I was catching Seb... What a blessing, I feel so fortunate."
He added his conviction that Red Bull is fundamentally faster than Mercedes only boosted his elation, particularly given his comfort in mixed conditions.
"I feel Red Bull is ahead of us a little bit in performance which is why today feels even better," he said.
"I think this weekend has shown that they have the pace, but I am hoping that whatever the conditions are, we can push.
"I feel quite comfortable in changing conditions and feel like I am able to find the limits when the conditions are on the edge."
"I haven't had a good feeling all weekend.
"I'm not 100 per cent confident we have the fastest package in the dry, but in these conditions, it's more of a lottery and the driver can make more of a difference.
"Our radar has forecast it's going to rain tomorrow, so it's going to be a tricky race. Trying to choose the right tyre, tyre management and pit stops will be key tomorrow."
The news put on a smile on Hamilton's face after he learned on Thursday that his pet dog Roscoe, a bulldog, was suffering with pneumonia, news that he confirmed with a Tweeted photo.
"He has spent the last four days at the vets... Say a prayer for my little buddy," said Hamilton.
The dog's recovery may be boosted by his owner's form just as Hamilton himself has seemed happier following his widely-reported trip to California in a bid to win back former girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, from whom he split in July.