12 May 2012
Spanish GP - Post-qualifying press conference - Pt. 1
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Lewis, McLaren's 150th F1 pole position today. You really had to manage to the process though, particularly with the tyres. You were in the groove from the start, but what happened at the end when you stopped out on the track?
Well, firstly it was a fantastic qualifying session for me. Really, I'm very happy with the way… I think it's one of the best ones I've ever had. Amazing job by the guys in the garage. Huge thanks to the guys in the factory for bringing us the upgrades, which have worked fantastically. I stopped on the track. I was told to stop. I don't really have any idea why. But the car was feeling great today. It's a great day for the team, I think. I don't know what happened with Jenson, but he's got great strength and pace throughout the race, so I have no doubt that he will make his way up through the grid.
Pastor, a sensational session for you and Williams. Where did you find the speed from?
I think we've been working so hard from the beginning of the year trying to understand these tyres and to develop our car around the tyres and I think we actually did a really good step forward for this race. We need to continue to like that, keep pushing. I think at the moment there is a great atmosphere in the factory, a great atmosphere here in the team, the car looks pretty consistent and fantastic, especially in the race pace, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's a great feeling to be here, it's my first time in the top three, so I'm really happy and hopefully we will continue like that and I would like to say thanks to the whole team.
Fernando, a lot of updates also on the Ferrari. Are you heading in the right direction now?
Yeah, I think so. Obviously for us it was impossible to even dream about being in the top three in the four races, we just had eyes on Q3 with no new set [of tyres] left or anything like that, so definitely it's a step forward. The grid is so compact now that if you improve two or three tenths it makes a huge difference in terms of positions: five or six positions. So we did a step forward. I still doubt how much we did, because I think maybe P3 is a little bit over-performing what we can do at the moment. But I'm extremely happy with the lap; it was perfect. I don't think there is much more to come. I think I could put 100 more sets of tyres on and I could only repeat the lap time probably. It is the way it is. I'm extremely happy for today and hopefully we maximise or capitalise on this good starting position tomorrow with a good result.
Back to you Lewis. Obviously a lot of tyre tactics going on in qualifying today. What about the race tomorrow? What's your read on how things are going to shape up and what kind of shape do you feel you're in to become the fifth different race winner in five races?
Well, we've looked after our prime tyres, which is generally the better tyre for the race, or so it seems at the moment - the longer lasting tyre. Also the option tyres are all in good condition so… I think it's going to be a massively tough race tomorrow. Of course, I've got these two great drivers next to me. I'm really happy to see this guy [Pastor Maldonado] up here and to see Williams up here and also Fernando. It's really great to see my old team-mate up here as well and I'm going to have a great battle with these guys and I really hope we're going to put on a great show for all the fans.
Lewis, congratulations. That was a great lap at the end. You must be so satisfied with it?
I really am. I think every time you go out, every time you qualify you're searching for that perfect lap. You're searching to put the car in just the right sweet spot, where you're gaining all the time you could possibly gain and you're not losing anywhere and I really felt that throughout Q1, Q2 and Q3… after Q1 I was like 'damn, that should have been my Q3 lap' but I was really grateful that I was able to continue that throughout the session and yeah, fantastic feeling really - overwhelmed.
Lewis, you've started third on the grid here for the last three years and you haven't yet won this grand prix, you've been twice second. Do you really want to tick this box, win this grand prix, one of the ones you haven't yet won?
Well I'm very much aware that I have an incredibly tough race tomorrow with these guys who are massively quick - also on their long runs - and just how tricky it is in general. But it would mean a huge amount for me to win here in Spain. It's always been a great place for me, it's beautiful weather all the time and the people are just incredible and the support that I've had continues to grow year by year. And it's become such a pleasure for me to come here. So, to win at one of the circuits where they have one of the biggest fan bases for F1 in general, would be fantastic.
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