Lewis Hamilton says that he will drive flat out in a bid to challenge Red Bull for victory in the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.
The British driver may well have taken pole position himself, after his final lap saw him set the fastest time in the first in third sector. However, the 2008 world champion struggled to compete with the Red Bull RB6 in the middle part of the lap and therefore was forced to concede pole to Mark Webber by just over a tenth of a second.
Hamilton is also wary of starting from the dirtier side of the grid for tomorrow’s race, but is hopeful that he will still manage a strong finish in tomorrow’s race.
Team-mate Jenson Button will start fourth on the grid in Turkey, after having to abandon his final qualifying lap following Michael Schumacher’s accident. Despite this, the 30-year-old is also hopeful that McLaren can challenge Red Bull in the race.
Lewis Hamilton – 2nd: “In terms of finding a good balance and getting a clear lap, today was one of the best qualifying sessions I’ve had all year. My lap was as close to perfect as I could possibly get it.
“But we’re still nearly four tenths down in the middle sector. Compared with Barcelona, I don’t think we’ve made a huge step, but we’re making small steps forward to close the gap to the front.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to do everything I can to get a sensible start, get round the first corner and then challenge Mark [Webber], if I can. But I’m on the dirtier side of the track, so that may make it a bit harder for me. And the Red Bulls still have a performance advantage over us, even if it doesn’t show from today’s times. But we’re going to catch them – and then, hopefully, you’ll see Jenson and me up there, with the Red Bulls trying to split us.
“We’ve got to keep pushing; the guys back at the factory are doing an incredible job, even though they’re under immense pressure. We all want to win, we’re taking nothing for granted, and we’re edging closer all the time. I really do believe we’re the best team out there, and, once we make that next step, I’m sure we can move ahead of everyone. But until then all we can do is be as close as we can and apply maximum pressure. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing tomorrow.”
Jenson Button – 4th: “Fourth is not too bad, but the final run was a bit frustrating: being the last car on the circuit can be a good thing, because it means you have the cleanest track, but there’s obviously more chance of somebody going off, and that’s what happened with Michael [Schumacher], who was ahead of me on my final lap. And when there’s a yellow flag, you’ve obviously got to back out of it.
“So I just came straight back to the pits, because my final run clearly wasn’t going to be any quicker because of that. The lap wasn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good to be fourth. We’re on the dirty side of the track, but we’ll see what we can do from there.
“The only performance issue I’ve really had all weekend is through Turn Eight I was losing three tenths to Lewis there because we were running the car too low. That was my fault I wanted to run the car low for the rest of the circuit but it’s just a little bit too low through Turn Eight. Obviously, the car will be heavier at the start of the race tomorrow, but we’ll be going slower, so it won’t be pushed onto the track as much. We’ve got to hope that will help.
“Nevertheless, we seem to be closer to the Red Bulls than I expected this weekend, so that’s a positive, and I reckon we can challenge them in the race.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Both our drivers have performed really well so far this weekend, yesterday as well as today. They’ve quietly got on with the job in hand, and today they both drove excellent qualifying laps despite the fact that our cars lacked a little bit of pace in the all-important Turn Eight compared with the Red Bulls.
“Lewis’s lap, which split the Red Bulls to land him a front-row grid slot for tomorrow’s race, was particularly satisfying. But Jenson, too, whose final qualifying run was compromised by the deployment of yellow flags, is also in a very strong position. Both he and Lewis are very combative racers who know how to make up positions, and we think our car will have good race pace tomorrow. As a result, I think the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix could present a very exciting spectacle for the fans.”