McLaren overjoyed with front row lock-out

McLaren scored their first one-two of 2009, locking out the front row in qualifying in Valencia.

Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen were on terrific form for the Woking team, making full use of the ever improving MP4/24 to gain a significant advantage in qualifying.

This weekend marks McLaren’s 250th in partnership with Mercedes-Benz and with KERS at their fingertips, Kovalainen and Hamilton will be hoping to score a dominant win for the team in tomorrow’s race.

Lewis Hamilton – 1st: After winning in Hungary, we came here not knowing if the others would have closed the gap: clearly, we’re still competitive. We haven’t seen this level of performance for a long time: last year, I was able to do only one run in easy qualifying session but, this year, we’ve had to use every second of the sessions to get through.

I managed a couple of very good laps today, so we’ll start the race from a very competitive position but a lot will depend on strategy and how the start goes. Congratulations to Heikki, he did a fantastic job it’s been very close between us all weekend, so this is great to see. We’ve got the front row to ourselves and that’s something we’ve all wanted for a very long time.

Heikki Kovalainen 2nd:
Obviously, I’m pleased that I’ll be starting from the front row tomorrow, but I made a mistake at the end of my quickest lap and could have gone a little faster still.

I knew qualifying would be very close, and I was sure our car would be competitive, so I decided to really go for it today. As a result, I pushed just a little too hard but it was a calculated risk and I lost only one place and, even better, I lost it to Lewis. So we nailed the front row anyway.

The guys back in Woking have done a lot of great work this week, since the end of the summer shutdown, and I want to say thank you to all of them.

Martin Whitmarsh – team principal: A truly brilliant result for the entire team well done, everyone! As for Lewis and Heikki, well, they were both brilliant, too. They made things look relatively easy, but in fact the conditions out there today were very difficult for all the drivers: it was hot and humid, and the circuit is an extremely demanding one. Heikki was totally on it today he really went for it and very nearly pinched pole position at the very end. Lewis did a fantastic job, too, and I’m sure both our drivers will perform very well in tomorrow’s race.

Norbert Haug – vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: A great result nobody had fewer laps over the weekend so far, and nobody was faster than Lewis today. The lap time from his first outing in Q3 was strong enough that he could afford to abort his second attempt after two quicker sector times in order to save fuel for the race a truly great job from Lewis.

Heikki was only a friction 0.034 seconds slower and could have made the top spot as well: he was really strong from lap one on this track. Thanks to everybody in the team who worked so hard after the FOTA summer break. I have the feeling that in the week since even more work was done in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart than in three weeks of flat-out business before the summer break.

Every one of us got the best reward today with this ‘double pole’ and only tomorrow the reward could be even better.

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