Former F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted that McLaren-Mercedes' best chance of victory in this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix will be if the heavens open once again as they did in Australia and China – the team's two triumphs of the season to-date – but regardless of the climatic conditions, he concedes that a strong grid position will be crucial.
Qualifying has been far from Hamilton's forté this year, with an off-colour Q2 exit in Melbourne and a misguided weather call in Sepang more often than not leaving the British star with a mountain to climb on race day in 2010.
Whilst the 25-year-old's on-track aggression and overtaking prowess has been alternately lauded by fans and condemned by some of his fellow drivers, should he fail to secure a decent starting spot around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya – a track at which passing is notoriously difficult in the dry – the eleven-time grand prix-winner could find himself facing a long and frustrating Sunday afternoon indeed.
“We've got a couple of fairly significant upgrades coming for this race,” Hamilton reported, “and while it would be naïve to think that these will move us up the pecking order – because almost all the teams produce a major bodywork update for Barcelona – we're optimistic that they will once again help us to bridge the gap to the leading cars.
“We've proved in the past, of course, that we've been both extremely capable and prolific at adding performance to the car across the course of the season, so I'm hopeful that we'll be heading into Barcelona in good shape – though if it's a dry race, realistically I think it's going to be harder for us to be up at the front.
“As we did in China, we'll be putting additional emphasis on qualifying; it will be more important than ever in Barcelona as, traditionally, it's always been a track where overtaking is very difficult. Given that most cars will only be stopping once, we have a less scope for passing, so a good grid position will be vital here.”