Ron Dennis, a man usually constrained in his lexicon, has hailed Lewis Hamilton’s pole position lap in Japan as “possibly the best of his career”, adding that his protÃ©gÃ©’s performance was “awesome”.
Hamilton hustled his fuel-laden McLaren into pole ahead of the Ferraris with a late lap in Q3 having spent most of the session in the Scuderia’s wake.
Crucially, he will line up for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix ahead of his main championship rival Felipe Massa who dropped to fifth as a result of late efforts from Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso.
McLaren have had no qualms in hinting that Hamilton has adopted a sensible fuel load for Sunday’s race – which he dominated in the wet last year – and his pole position lap has been regarded as particularly special in this context.
“Lewis’s pole lap was awesome in the proper sense of that often-abused adjective,” said Dennis, “in fact I’d go so far as to say that it was possibly the best lap of his career so far.”
Hamilton conceded that although his lap was far from perfect, the result couldn’t have been better given the fuel load.
“Usually, on a heavy fuel load, the car can be quite tough to drive on the limit, but I managed to pull all the sectors together and drove a pretty good lap,” he explained.
“It wasn’t perfect – I made a small mistake in the final corner, where I lost a tenth – but we had a good session.”
“The team has done a phenomenal job all weekend, and Heikki’s and my pace today really underlines that. We think we’ve got a good strategy for tomorrow and we want to finish at the front.”
Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren delivered an equally solid late flying lap to go third quickest, within touching distance of Kimi Raikkonen, and crucially, ahead of Felipe Massa.
“A pretty good session for me – it took a little time to get up to speed in Q1, but I put two good laps together in the final session.”
“We were very quick in Q2 as well – and, while third was really the best I could manage today, I’m still very pleased with the result. We’re still targeting both world championships in these final few races so I’ll be looking for the very best result for myself and the team tomorrow.”