After carrying over his impressive practice pace into qualifying, Lewis Hamilton has signalled his intention to fight for a podium place in tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.
The reigning World Champion, making use of an updated Mclaren, battled hard against the changeable weather conditions to line up 5th on the grid. Mclaren’s strong performance was echoed by Heikki Kovalainen, who despite having an off in section 2, qualified 7th.
Lewis Hamilton – 5th: “I’m really happy to be in Q3. It’s a big difference for us this year, and the team has done a fantastic job. The conditions were up and down and they did brilliantly to make sure we were on the track with the right tyres at the right time. Also, the guys back at the factory have all worked extremely hard to get the parts to the track and they have made a big difference. Unfortunately, the track got a bit better after I set my fastest lap, when it was a bit greasy, but for Heikki and me to line up sixth and fifth tomorrow is a great result for us. We’re definitely in a position to fight for a podium, but trying to beat the Brawns and the Red Bulls will be difficult. The car is still a work-in-progress and there’s a way to go – but this is really encouraging. I don’t mind if it rains tomorrow but I’d just like a nice, smooth race!”
Heikki Kovalainen – 6th: “Today worked out better for me than expected: we can be very pleased with that. My tyre strategy worked really well this afternoon and I had the right tyres in Q2 when the conditions were at their trickiest. Thanks to the team for a superb job in a very tight situation. This result is very promising for everyone in the team and my car worked much better here than at previous races. The team has been working incredibly hard to make improvements to our car and, although I didn’t have the same upgrades as Lewis today, it’s really encouraging to see the step forward we’ve taken we’re making excellent progress. Finally, it’s great to be able to produce our strongest qualifying result of the year at the home race of Mercedes-Benz I think they’ve produced the best engine in Formula 1, and I hope they’re proud of their results today.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “First of all, congratulations to Mercedes-Benz for having five of their engines in the top seven what a magnificent result. Obviously, we’ve made a step forward and having both cars on the third row is a fine achievement. Everybody in this team has worked incredibly hard to bring these performance upgrades to the car and it’s hugely gratifying for everyone that we can begin to see the results of all their efforts. Lewis and Heikki did a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances and Heikki’s pace, in particular, was outstanding. While a position on the front row was certainly possible, our cars were not running when the track was at its fastest. Nevertheless, we must be very pleased with today’s result and we look forward to tomorrow, when we feel we have the strategy to achieve another good result.”
Norbert Haug – Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “We had known since yesterday that a good result would be possible at our home race. Lewis and Heikki managed to put their cars on the third row and even more could have been possible. The team and the drivers, including Pedro, have worked extremely hard since our disappointing performance at the last race at Silverstone and we have definitely made a step in the right direction. We should be in good shape for tomorrow’s race and hopefully our KERS hybrid will help us to overtake a couple of cars at the start.”