Lewis Hamilton was left baffled by his lack of pace in the final segment of Chinese Grand Prix qualifying – after the 2008 champion had dominated for most of the weekend.
Hamilton had looked on course for pole, after setting a blistering pace in the opening segments of the session. However, the pace of the British driver suddenly dropped off in Q3, forcing him to settle for sixth.
Jenson Button was equally frustrated with his fifth place, but unlike Hamilton the reigning world champion suffered his problems in opening two segements. Although Button was able to overcome these issues by Q3, he was no match for the Red Bull drivers at the front.
Despite their issues, both drivers are confident that they will have a good race in tomorrow’s Grand Prix
Jenson Button – 5th: “I was struggling a little with the car in the first two sessions. By Q3, though, it was much better, but it was a little bit too late by then: the car felt quite different, balance-wise, and I had to play around with the diff and the front wing to find a good feeling in the car.
“So it wasn’t a bad lap; it’s just a bit frustrating that it took us that long in qualifying to get the balance right. But fifth is just about okay, and I think we’ll have a good car for the race tomorrow.
“It’s probably going to rain tomorrow anyway, so the set-up we have may well be pretty good in the wet conditions.”
Lewis Hamilton – 6th: “I’m a little disappointed – we wanted to get pole today, and thought we could , and I don’t really know where the time went in Q3.
“The tyres felt fine pretty much exactly the same as in Q1 and Q2, when the car felt great but in Q3 the car started moving around a lot more, and it felt like the front was bottoming.
“We’d been quick all weekend, but sixth was the best I could do in Q3. I think we ought to have been further up the grid but we’ll fight our way as far up the field as we can tomorrow. I’m sure it will be a good race.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Lewis recorded good times in Q1 and Q2, but his Q3 lap was about 0.3s slower than we’d hoped for. We don’t yet know the reason for that it could be a number of things but of course we’ll analyse it. It’s a pity, though, because without that 0.3s deficit he’d have been on the front row for tomorrow’s race.
“As for Jenson, he put in a very good lap in Q3 on used Option tyres but, again, so close were the times of the drivers who qualified between P2 and P8, that a tenth or two would have made a significant difference to his grid slot.
“So fifth and sixth aren’t ideal, but tomorrow the weather may well be more changeable than it was today, and both our drivers have great ability in such conditions.”