A relieved Ron Dennis warned that McLaren will be competitive in Sunday’s historic Singapore Grand Prix, despite being outclassed by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in qualifying.
The McLaren team principal could do little more than watch and wait in the second qualifying session as Lewis Hamilton battled to escape elimination after making a mistake on his first flying lap.
“After I ran wide in the second part of qualifying I decided to play it safe on the one remaining run,” explained the British ace, “At the last sector I was really fast, but I still have to improve in the first two sectors; particularly at turn five I lost a bit of time.”
The Briton scraped through into Q3 by a mere tenth of a second where he hustled his McLaren onto the front row of the grid, albeit a full half a second behind Felipe Massa.
“That was a pretty stressful qualifying hour!” exclaimed Ron Dennis after the ordeal was over. “Lewis was hampered by a yellow flag on one of his runs and by traffic on another, which made things a little too close for comfort in the second session, but then did a very good job in the final session.”
Dennis also hinted that McLaren have adopted a competitive fuel strategy with Hamilton: the 61-year-old was quick to point out that Singapore’s long three mile street track carries a hefty fuel weight penalty, and he seemed happy with Hamilton’s performance in light of this.
“It’s all about race strategy,” he said. “Fuel weight is a very significant factor in terms of lap time on this circuit, so let’s just say that we’re looking forward to a close and competitive race tomorrow.”