Mclaren were generally disappointed at not being able to build on their impressive free practice pace. An uncharacteristic error from Lewis Hamilton, forced the world champion out of qualifying in the first session. He classified sixteenth but will start the race from the back after the team elected to change his gearbox.
Meanwhile Heikki Kovalainen faired significantly better, claiming seventh on the grid, with a seemingly strong strategy for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
Heikki Kovalainen – 7th: “The car definitely felt calmer and more stable over the bumps. It’s a bit easier to control. I’ve felt really comfortable with the car throughout the whole weekend. Obviously, we wanted to be on pole but didn’t manage that – let’s see how the race unfolds and where we’ll be after the first stops. Lewis was very unfortunate this afternoon we are always at the limit around here and a little slip-up can put you into the barriers. I touched the guardrails three times during qualifying and I’m lucky that it didn’t have any negative consequences.”
Lewis Hamilton – 16th: “I made a mistake. I just braked too late it’s unfortunate, but these things happen. It’s not been a good day: I had been going well all weekend and had the possibility of being on the front row. It’s a shame for the team, because they have done such a fantastic job all weekend and the car has felt really strong as Heikki’s grid position shows. Starting 16th is frustrating, but I’ll learn from this, drive my heart out tomorrow and see what happens.”
Martin Whitmarsh team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Heikki has driven with increasing commitment all weekend. Two very strong laps in Q1 and Q2 showed that he was capable of taking the fight to the leaders. And we are confident that his strategy for tomorrow will push him even closer to the front. Lewis’s accident was disappointing he knows he made a mistake but we all know he will not give up. That’s his nature and as a result I feel sure he will approach tomorrow’s race with undiminished commitment.”
Norbert Haug vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “The speed was there to be among the quickest, so it’s a shame what happened to Lewis after he has been among the fastest during all previous practice sessions but such contact with the guardrails can easily happen in Monaco. Heikki was good, put in a solid performance and has a good strategy. Monaco has its own rules so we still can look good tomorrow despite starting seventh and 16th.”