Lewis Hamilton, who starts Sunday’s British Grand Prix from nineteenth on the grid, admits he would have been hard pressed to progress to Q2 even without the red flag that forced him to abandon his run in Q1.
The qualifying hour was brought to a dramatic halt in Q1 when a brake failure pitched Force India’s Adrian Sutil into the barriers at Abbey, bringing out the red flag with just twenty four seconds on the clock remaining.
Sutil climbed out of the cockpit unscathed, but the incident was a huge blow for defending world champion Lewis Hamilton who was forced to abandon his flying lap as he attempted to haul himself into Q2. It is the third time in a row that the McLaren driver has been knocked out of the opening qualifying session.
Hamilton, who dominated the race a year ago in the wet to extend his lead in the world championship, will start the race from nineteenth place on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton: “I did the best I could today. I was pushing as hard as I could but our car is too slow. I gave it my all and there wasn t really much more I could have got from the car.â€
“I was pushing on that final lap but it was nothing special. However, we live to fight another day and anything can happen in the race tomorrow. We ll keep pushing on and hopefully put on a good show for all the fans. The great thing is that I ve had incredible support these past few days from the fans they re the ones who are really helping me to get through it, so a big thank-you to all of them.â€
Heikki Kovalainen, who started the race from pole position last year, also struggled throughout the session, and although he was able to find enough time to progress to Q2 he was unable to supersede the mid-field performance of this year s current McLaren and was forced to settle for thirteenth place.
Heikki Kovalainen: “Today s result is obviously disappointing for the team but, given the circumstances, I m satisfied with my performance: I gave it my all and couldn t have gone any quicker. I didn t make any mistakes and was on the limit all the time. It s a pity that Lewis couldn t improve on his time due to the red flag in the first session as I m sure he would have joined me in Q2 as well.
“We knew this circuit wouldn t suit our car and that it would be difficult to get into Q3, but the balance was quite okay this afternoon. We re all working extremely hard to address the car s lack of downforce. The guys worked hard overnight to make a lot of changes to the car and we worked really well together to get the most from the car during the morning session. The work doesn t stop here, however, and our immediate aim is to maximise our strategy and finish the race.â€
Martin Whitmarsh: “While a starting position of 13th for tomorrow s race might not sound like a spectacular result, I think Heikki can be pleased with his efforts given the circumstances. Lewis was a little unlucky to have his final quick-lap cut short by Sutil s accident.
Today s result is not a surprise, but it demonstrates that we still have work to do to address MP4-24 s weaknesses in high-speed corners. Nonetheless, we re already fully focused on the race tomorrow and mindful that we could still produce a strong result in front of the many thousands of passionate fans who will be cheering us on.â€
Norbert Haug: “Quite painful for Lewis and everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to start from the last row after dominating this race last year. He just drove into his last qualifying lap in Q1 when the track was red-flagged. Otherwise a start from as high as the sixth row could have been possible, albeit unlikely.
“Heikki and his guys did a competent job in extracting what was possible from the car with its deficits in high-speed corners plenty of which you ll find at Silverstone. We ll all stick together through these tough times and everybody will work very hard to come back to where we used to be in the last two years, when Lewis started 21 of his 42 grands prix from the front row. It s time to get back to that place!â€