Qualifying proved to be a rather sorrid affair for Mclaren Mercedes as both drivers failed to make the top ten. Lewis Hamilton was a big name casualty early on in the session after being eliminated in Q1. The World Champion will start 16th, two places behind his team mate Heikki Kovalainen who limped into Q2. Both drivers complained of a lack of grip in the fast corners of the Istanbul circuit and have written off their chances for points this weekend.
Mclaren now hope to substantially improve their car as soon as possible.
Heikki Kovalainen – 14th: “Our car doesn’t have enough grip for us to attack the fast corners. 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.”
Lewis Hamilton – 16th: “Our car seems to have got slower relative to the others as the grip has gone down on the track. 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. The team has done a fantastic job though: they really have been working night and day with the same determination and drive as ever. This is clearly going to be a challenging year for us, but I have no doubts that we’ll bounce back.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “At the risk of stating the obvious, today’s qualifying session was a pretty disappointing one for us. 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.”
Norbert Haug – Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “A poor result which reveals our weakness in fast sections. Whilst we are with the frontrunners in the final sector, with its long straight and tight corners, we lost more than a second around the rest of the circuit. It looked better yesterday, but today we have to accept the reality. We all need to work very hard to make sure that our level of competitiveness will improve sooner rather than later and that we come back to where we used to be.”