Lewis Hamilton is staying calm ahead of Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix despite qualifying at the rear of the grid for the second race in a row.
The McLaren driver endured another miserable qualifying hour in Istanbul after his best efforts to wrestle his ill-handling MP4-24 into the second knock-out session failed to produce the lap time he needed, leaving him in sixteenth place for tomorrow’s race.
McLaren had hoped to see both their cars progress to the top ten shoot out after making significant upgrades to the MP4-24 to help it in the high speed corners.
But Hamilton was unable to muster the kind of pace needed to progress to Q2 as he wrestled his car around the undulating circuit, his rear end stepping out at almost every high speed corner.
“Our car seems to have got slower relative to the others as the grip has gone down on the track,â€ Hamilton said afterwards. “I pushed as hard as I could today but I just had no grip out there.”
“We now need to make sure we don t rush into making too many changes to the car for the forthcoming races: we ll take our time, refine things and sort out the problem with our car.”
” This is clearly going to be a challenging year for us, but I have no doubts that we ll bounce back.â€
Teammate Heikki Kovalainen faired better and was able to haul himself into Q2, but that was as much to do with the Finn s affinity with the Istanbul Speed Park as it was the performance of his McLaren.
“Our car doesn t have enough grip for us to attack the fast corners,â€ rued the Finn. “The others seem to gain grip through the weekend and are able to better use the Option tyre while we re using the Prime and losing performance. Braking and acceleration are still very good but we re just losing grip as the track temperature increases.
“The gap to the leaders is still too big so we need to do some more work back at the MTC to move closer to the front. We ll never give up, but tomorrow s race will be difficult.â€
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh conceded that qualifying was always going to be difficult for Hamilton and Kovalainen due to the aerodynamic problems with the MP4-24 this year and the high-speed characteristics of Turkey.
“At the risk of stating the obvious, today’s qualifying session was a pretty disappointing one for us,” said Whitmarsh. “Having said that, we didn’t allow our pace yesterday to cause us to be unduly optimistic about our prospects for today and tomorrow, simply because we d been aware for some time that our car wouldn’t perform particularly well on the Istanbul Park circuit s higher-speed corners.”
“Even so, with hindsight, perhaps we should have run Option tyres for Heikki s second run in Q2 some drivers did so and went faster as a result. On the other hand, other drivers stayed on Primes for their second Q2 runs and posted quick times on them.”
“The fact is that, such is the level of competitiveness all through the field in modern-day Formula 1, it s very difficult to get into Q3 if your car is in any way sub-optimal.â€