Lewis Hamilton has described his final effort in British Grand Prix qualifying as the greatest lap he has ever recorded.
Although the Briton could not challenge for pole position in front of his home fans, the McLaren driver was still able to overcome the problems which had beset his team for most of the weekend to qualify in fourth.
Afterwards the 25-year-old thanked his loyal home support and singled them out as the reason that he was able to find so much extra speed.
Meanwhile, team-mate Jenson Button made a shock exit from qualifying, after being eliminated in Q2.
The reigning world champion, who will start ten places behind the sister MP4-25 in fourteenth, believes that his poor performance may be attributed to an issue with his car.
Lewis Hamilton – 4th: “Fourth position makes me happy like you wouldn’t believe! And I’m so proud of my team. They’ve been pushing so hard all year, but in the last couple of weeks, they’ve pushed longer and harder than ever to get the upgrade package here.
“The new parts are an improvement, but we just weren’t able to get them all to work properly yesterday. And while that meant we had to take most of them off last night, the team still did a remarkable job to get us ready for qualifying this afternoon.
“We knew we were some way off the Red Bulls on sheer pace, so my grid position was really down to getting as good a lap as possible around here.
“And, honestly, I reckon this is the best lap I’ve ever done – and it’s down to all the fans around here: the support around this track is like nowhere else. British race fans are the best by far. I had to nail that lap as if my life depended on it and I don’t know how I managed to get so far up the grid.
“I’m so happy. The guys in front are faster than us, but this race isn’t over.”
Jenson Button – 14th: “This morning the car was really good, so it felt like there was something wrong this afternoon.
“I don’t yet know if there’s an issue, but the car felt very strange. I had to take enormous amounts of front wing out, and I don’t know why. We had a similar problem finding a good balance on Friday.
“We removed the blown diffuser overnight, and I’m comfortable that that was the right decision. It wouldn’t have been right to run it here. But we’ve still got some aero upgrades on the car a new front wing and they’re working really well.
“While it’s true that we didn’t have too much practice with the exhaust system, things were reasonably good in P3, and I still felt like we could do a reasonable job in qualifying this afternoon. So P14 is very disappointing.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “With extremely limited testing opportunities and a big upgrade package to develop, we were always going to be up against it this weekend and so it proved. Nonetheless, I want to pay tribute to the indefatigable work ethic of all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Everyone has made a truly enormous effort and, although we had hoped to qualify rather more impressively than we did here at our home grand prix, everyone did an absolutely fantastic job when you consider that we found ourselves on the back foot this morning with an untried configuration to take into qualifying.
“Moreover, Lewis drove superbly this afternoon to record a seriously impressive second-row grid slot, and will be pushing as hard as ever to convert that starting position into a significant points haul tomorrow afternoon.
“As for Jenson, it’s a pity that we didn’t manage to supply him with a car in which he could feel comfortable today but, like Lewis, he never gives up and on race day he’ll be giving no quarter in his attempts to score as many points as he possibly can.”