Heikki Kovalainen has laid down the gauntlet to his pole-sitting team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, after declaring his intentions to win tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Finn, who starts fourth, believes that he will have no problem coping with a heavy fuel load during the race – claiming that his car actually felt better whilst carrying fuel than when running light.
Lewis Hamilton again showed his talent in qualifying with his second pole of the season, the Briton just pipping Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
Lewis Hamilton – 1st: It was a very close session. The car felt very good, and I was able to really put the lap together. I had a single shot at pole – and that’s the most exhilarating and exciting feeling you can have as a racing driver. We didn’t anticipate being this quick before the weekend, but I’m now in the best position to make the most of the start and to get out of the first corner cleanly. It’s fantastic to have Adrian starting alongside me tomorrow and we both want a clean start and to enjoy the grand prix.
Heikki Kovalainen – 4th: Pole position would have been better, but I’m happy with my position. Tomorrow, we’ll see what strategies everybody is running: I think we’re going to be strong. We’re in good shape, have a solid and reliable car and are looking to be very competitive tomorrow. I’ve been quick all weekend and actually felt the car was working better with a heavier fuel load than on lighter tanks, so that’s another positive for the race. Our KERS Hybrid is going to be very helpful – it’s a boost at the start and will be useful throughout the race, particularly for overtaking and pushing out of the corners. My focus for tomorrow is to win this race and I think that’s a realistic target.
Martin Whitmarsh – team principal: It may be a Formula 1 clichÃ©, but it’s true nonetheless: our whole team did a fantastic job today Vodafone, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, everyone. Both our drivers drove excellent laps, aggressive yet controlled, and both of them have good strategies for tomorrow. But, however pleased we are with our overall qualifying performance, the reality is that anything can happen on race day and we never under-estimate our opposition. Nevertheless, we look forward to a great Italian Grand Prix at this majestic circuit, and we confidently expect to be able to play a highly competitive part in it.
Norbert Haug – Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: What a final lap from Lewis and a great position for Heikki on the second row. This is Lewis’s second pole in the last three races and shows that the team is working in the right direction to get back to the top. Thanks to everybody in the team, particularly the engineers it is very easy to get it wrong in terms of qualifying strategy here at Monza, but our guys got it absolutely right. Congratulations also to Adrian Sutil and Force India for their second place on the grid it is amazing what these guys are doing and proof that a technical partnership and a talented, hard-working staff in an independent low-budget team can achieve everything in Formula 1.