Lewis Hamilton says that he will “race his heart out” in tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix as McLaren suffered a disastrous qualifying session.
Prior to qualifying both Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button had held high hopes for this weekend, having shown strong pace throughout practice.
Such optimism soon turned to disappointment, however, as McLaren misjudged the weather conditions in the first segment of qualifying. Like many, the Woking-based team had expected the rain to abate towards the end of the segment and thus decided to hold both of its cars until the end.
However the rain did not subside and track conditions subsequently deteriorated – leaving Button and Hamilton with an uphill struggle to make it through to Q2.
Unfortunately Hamilton could not find enough speed to jump out of the first drop off zone, and after a spin at the final hairpin, he had to settle for twentieth.
Meanwhile Jenson Button did set a time that was good enough to make it through to Q2. However, the reigning world champion aquaplaned off the track, towards the end of the first segment, and therefore could not take part in the remainder of qualifying.
Jenson Button – 17th: “We thought the first rainstorm was it, and there was nothing else coming, so we waited. I guess events proved it was the wrong thing to do.
“My first lap on Inters felt okay. The thing is, you get no real warning; the first sector of the lap was quite dry, then you get to the fast left-right and it’s really wet. I just aquaplaned off and got stuck in the gravel. I couldn’t do anything about it. I just hope I haven’t damaged anything on the car because I was sat in the gravel with the engine running for some time, hoping to get pulled out.
“It was a strange, disappointing session – both Lewis and I went out early. But, even so, I’m in front of three of my world championship rivals on tomorrow’s grid, and I suppose that’s the best way of looking at it.
Lewis Hamilton – 20th: “This was just one of those days. It had been a very good weekend for us up until qualifying started, and the simple fact is that we didn’t expect it to rain any more. We went out at a similar time to the other top teams, and as a result quite a lot of us were all out of luck.
“By the time I got out there, there were lots of yellow flags about, so you just couldn’t nail it and then it started to rain more heavily. You couldn’t feel a thing , it was so, so slippery. It was easy to come off I had a spin on my first lap, in fact but I did the best job I could in the circumstances.
“I’d been fastest all weekend, but what can we do? We’ve just got to shrug it off. And, as I always, say, I’ll never give up. That’s why I’m not only focusing on the fast cars around me, I’m focusing on everyone including those who are quite a few rows in front of me.
“So I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and I’m going to race my heart out.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “To qualify only 17th and 20th with what today’s final practice session had clearly demonstrated was a highly competitive car was of course very disappointing for all concerned.
“So why did it happen? It happened because several teams, having consulted the weather radar, believed that the rain that was falling just prior to the start of Q1 would pass through and that the end of Q1 would be therefore by much drier. As we now know, it didn’t turn out like that. With hindsight it would therefore have been better if we’d sent our cars out at the beginning of Q1, instead of waiting for what the weather radar had told us would be drier and faster conditions.
“Having said all that, we’re now looking forward to a very exciting and hopefully very eventful race in which Jenson and Lewis, who are two of the most determined racers in the sport today, can produce a result for us that’s significantly better than our qualifying performance this afternoon.”