Hamilton's lap of 1:11.459, the quickest ever around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was not only rewarded with pole but with a race-worn Senna helmet as it drew the Mercedes driver level with his boyhood hero's career tally.
"Montreal's been good to be over the years", he added.
"He (Hamilton) was the better man today but I am not entirely happy", said the German, victor of three of six races so far, compared to Hamilton's two. He was the one who inspired me to be where I am today so to match him and to receive this is the greatest honor.
"But in Q3 when it came to go to getting those last hundreds and thousands of a second, when I was pushing harder, the vehicle became more unstable again, not so easy to predict, so I struggled more with the auto today than Lewis did". So I am honoured to be honoured by that family. With a 25-point lead in the standings, Vettel has less to lose than Hamilton so don't expect him to back out given half a chance. "I can't believe that it came together so well", he said. The Ferrari had looked the quicker auto during final practice, but in qualifying Hamilton improved by over a second to take pole. I think it was the colour of the helmet.
And seeing the yellow helmet brought back memories of his childhood in Britain, where he would pop in videotapes of Senna's races and say, "That's my driver".
"Given that it is the most hard season of my career, racing against these two great drivers and Kimi [Raikkonen], and having us so close - it really pushes all of us to the limit and it requires us to be ideal".
"I sent a message to my guys to say we needed everything to be flawless, right on the point, and they did it today".
The Senna family has now clarified to Autosport that the helmet that will be given to Hamilton is not one that was actually raced.
"It was a sexy lap", he beamed.
"It's a place I love".
"I'm shaking", said the three-time world champion, who is regarded by many as the best driver of his generation and among the best of all time.
To rub salt into the wound for the 18 year old, his Williams teammate Felipe Massa was seventh fastest, with his best qualifying time 1.3 seconds faster than what Stroll could muster. But I lost the vehicle a bit in Turn 2 and was on the back foot already, and knew I had to catch up, but he had enough. The first sector was fantastic, and then just managed to be just a little up on each one. "To equal him. I just can't believe it". "It's not so easy to overtake, if you're that close, no matter where you go, but we'll see it could be a long race tomorrow and that's always nice, so looking forward for tomorrow".
For his part, third-place qualifier Bottas was short and to the point: "The race is tomorrow". But Hamilton went quicker to get the gap bigger, which was needed as Vettel improved slightly to a 1:11.789.