Although disappointed, Mclaren were not surprised with their poor performance in today’s Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying. The MP4-24’s aerodynamic defects have been clearly exposed so far this weekend, and not even a spirited drive from reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton could prevent elimination in the second segment. Hamilton’s team mate, Heikki Kovalainen, also suffered a miserable qualifying session after being eliminated in the opening session.
Although both drivers complained of a lack of grip, Mclaren remain adamant that they are improving and hope to be at the sharp end of the grid sooner rather than later.
Lewis Hamilton – 14th: “It wasn’t a bad lap, “but there was still too much understeer through Three and Nine. We did the best we could today My lap was not fantastic but the car was not fast enough either – I didn’t have the grip to go any faster. However, it will be quite a long and tough race for everyone tomorrow and we’ll try and make up as many places as possible and hope to score some points. We’ll learn from this, keep pushing and do better in the future.”
Heikki Kovalainen – 18th: “This was the first time this year that I didn’t reach Q2. Into the last sector, Nick was a little bit ahead of me but I don’t think he lost me a lot of time. It’s been quite a difficult weekend: I just couldn’t find any grip today that’s why the laptime was too slow.”
Martin Whitmarsh team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “We knew in advance that this was going to be a particularly difficult circuit for us and today proved that. Let’s not forget that only eight weeks ago we were more than 2.5s off the pace during qualifying today, Lewis was only three tenths off second place in Q1 and eight tenths off the front in Q2.
“While that’s still disappointing, it’s nonetheless a significant step up from where we were back in early March and at a track that we knew would challenge the deficiencies in our car. However, the first four races have demonstrated that we have two very determined racing drivers in our team: they have battled against the odds in the first four races and we have every faith that they will make the most of tomorrow as well.”
Norbert Haug vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “Lewis in 14th and Heikki in 18th place is obviously a very disappointing result today. On the positive side, we closed the gap to the quickest car from 2.5s per lap at the last test two months ago before the season stared when we were dead last, to a little less than one second today. We knew that the fast corners of this circuit would highlight the shortcomings of MP4-24, which is mainly a lack of overall downforce. It took us two months to cut our deficit in half our aim now has to be to be fighting for race wins within the next two months.”