A notably downbeat Lewis Hamilton on Saturday broke Red Bull’s grip on pole position in 2011.
“I’m sure this will cheer Lewis up,” his boss Martin Whitmarsh told BBC1 television.
But the 2008 world champion was not celebrating his rare defeat of F1’s new double title winner Sebastian Vettel, even causing the official press conference moderator to ask him: “Are you ok?”
A few minutes earlier, Hamilton had refused to respond to his engineer after being told of his pole, and in parc ferme climbed from his McLaren without a cheer, brushing a cameraman with his shoulder as he trudged past.
The 26-year-old is unquestionably struggling amid his dip of form in 2011, but his teammate Jenson Button noted after qualifying: “Lewis has been pretty great all weekend.”
Perhaps he suspects Red Bull are playing the long game, with Vettel securing a front row position whilst conserving “all our prime (soft) tyres” for a race expected to witness extreme degradation.
“I think we are in a good position. Tyre wear will be crucial,” said the German, who told his engineer he is looking forward to the “better tyres” on Sunday.