Lewis Hamilton says he is surprised with his fourth place grid slot for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Although the 2008 world champion believes that a podium is possible, he has ruled out challenging for race victory – admitting that McLaren are not as fast as Red Bull or Ferrari.
Jenson Button echoed Hamilton’s comments, as the reigning champion struggled to eighth on the grid. The Brit believes that something broke on his car during Q3 and that this hampered his ability to set a good time.
Lewis Hamilton (4th): “I’m surprised by this afternoon’s result: while we didn’t have the pace of the faster cars, I definitely wasn’t expecting to be fourth quickest. But it’s a good starting point and tomorrow I hope to keep the position or gain at least one more. I don’t think a win is going to be on the cards – but we’ll be giving it the best we can.
“We’ve struggled in the middle sector we’re lacking a bit of downforce but I know the guys back in the factory will be pushing as hard as they can. And this is a much, much better position to start the season in than the one we found ourselves in last year. Managing the tyres tomorrow is going to be very tricky. I don’t think people perhaps understand how tough it is to look after them in these conditions it’s unbelievable how quickly they drop off. We’ll take the race one step at a time.”
Jenson Button (8th): “I really struggled with front locking this afternoon but we cured that problem throughout the sessions. I was getting happier with the car throughout each stint, but in Q3 something didn’t feel quite right. The engineers are looking at the data to see what it was. It’s been a surprise to us to see the pace of the quickest cars. Today, we saw which cars are fast over one lap; tomorrow maybe we’ll see a slightly different picture because these cars work very differently on higher fuel-loads. Besides, your strategy isn’t decided on the Saturday any more we’ll need to see what the others are doing in the race.
“There’ll be a lot of heavy cars going into Turn One tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll pick a nice line and get through cleanly. I’m looking forward to the challenge and it’s going to be a very different one to what everybody has been used to. It’ll be a long race tomorrow.”
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal: “We had a few issues with grip and ride in qualifying today especially in the middle sector of the lap over the bumps. That being the case, both our drivers did a fantastic job and as a result Lewis will start tomorrow’s race from the second row and Jenson from the fourth row. It’ll be a hot and tiring Sunday afternoon for all 24 drivers, but Jenson’s and Lewis’s fitness and determination will benefit them throughout the 49 laps.”