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Belgian GP qualifying reactions: McLaren-Mercedes


Lewis Hamilton – 12th:

“We did the best job we could today. We'd always known the car would struggle in the mid-sector corners: being one second down in the mid-sector shows the true downforce level of our car. We expected that we wouldn't have as good an aero package as some of the others – we just didn't know to what extent. I guess today we found out. But I'm not too disappointed – this year has been a rollercoaster ride for everyone, but I'm enjoying it still and I love driving this track. My plan for tomorrow is a points' finish.”


Heikki Kovalainen – 15th:

“This morning, we started to become a little surprised by the pace of some of the other cars. We were struggling in the high-speed corners a little more than in either Hungary or Valencia, where the circuit configurations are slower. We expected today to be tough and our results show we are still lacking in high-speed efficiency, downforce and straight-line speed. Still, it was very close today; there was quite a bit of traffic in the session and, with just a couple more tenths, we could have made it into Q3. I'll be racing hard tomorrow and I feel confident we can go forwards from here. Nevertheless, we know where we are and we're not down because of this. We've shown progress compared with Silverstone and we'll keep pushing to improve on our issues.”


Martin Whitmarsh - team principal (McLaren-Mercedes):

“First of all, I want to say 'Well done!' to Force India on the occasion of their first ever pole position. But Giancarlo Fisichella's pole wasn't the only unexpected element of today's grid – far from it, in fact – and I think it's fair to say that very few people would have successfully forecast today's top three. As for us, the reality is that we didn't provide our drivers with a quick enough car, and the consequence was a disappointing qualifying result. Having said that, the microclimate here is notoriously unpredictable, and it's a long lap, and form upsets are therefore relatively common. So Lewis and Heikki are both aiming to score points tomorrow.”


Norbert Haug - vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

“Formula 1 is really tough and enormously hard fought these days and creates more and more surprises. Very well done to Giancarlo and Force India for their first pole position on this demanding racetrack. The fact that world champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, as well as the current world championship leader Jenson Button, will respectively start from 12th, 13th and 14th describes how unpredictable this sport is these days and that the slightest problem – even if it costs you only a tenth or two – puts you on the back foot.

“A shame for Lewis and Heikki who could not make it past Q2, Lewis by 0.075 seconds and Heikki by a bit over two tenths. Both drivers suffered in the fast corners in the long middle sector. The times were closer than ever: in Q2, the top 10 was covered by five and a half tenths and the top 15 by seven and a half tenths – on a circuit of more than 7km length! Tomorrow we hopefully can overtake some cars already on the first lap and then build on a good strategy. Even from 12th and 15th, it is not impossible for us to do a decent job in the race and we certainly will try very hard.

“On a different note: it is of course very pleasing to see that all Mercedes-powered teams – championship leaders Brawn GP, Force India and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, have put a car on pole at least once during the first 12 grands prix of the season covering a total number of six pole positions so far.”



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