Lewis Hamilton might have qualified ahead of the man he really needs to beat in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in order to keep his F1 2010 title hopes alive – Fernando Alonso – but fourth position on the grid, he conceded, is not really where he would want to be starting at Interlagos.
A driver who habitually excels in the kind of treacherous, changeable conditions that characterised the qualifying session in São Paulo today – with his impressive car control, unstinting commitment and sheer daring coming to the fore – like in Korea a fortnight ago, Hamilton unfortunately found that his wet-weather prowess was not matched by that of his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 on deteriorating rubber, and P4 was the result. Still, as he says, from there he is 'definitely still in the world championship fight'.
“I've started from fourth at this track before, and it's not my favourite spot,” the 2008 F1 World Champion conceded, “but I can't really complain today. On the other hand, on my final lap I got a bit held up in the final corner when someone was backing up ahead of me, which was frustrating.
“The car didn't feel too bad – it wasn't spectacularly good in the wet, but it felt a lot better in the dry at the end of Q3. For tomorrow, I think we've got good race pace and good end-of-straight speed, so yes, I think we're in a good position. We're definitely still in the world championship fight.
“I'm confident that I'll be able to battle my way forwards from fourth position on the grid, because we're all close at the front. We can fight. It's also quite cool to see Nico [Hülkenberg] right up there – well done to him – but my aim for tomorrow is to get ahead of everyone in front of me!”
The praise for Hülkenberg was shared by the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who described the session's unexpected outcome as 'good for the sport' – and despite reflecting that Hamilton was 'unlucky', the Englishman is convinced that the 14-time grand prix-winner can still ascend the top step of the podium in 24 hours' time.
“First of all, I'd like to congratulate Williams on their first pole position in more than five years, and Nico on his first pole position ever,” Whitmarsh stated. “I guess it was a surprising result for everyone – perhaps it was even surprising for Williams and Nico, too! In truth, tricky conditions such as we experienced this afternoon frequently lead to unforeseen outcomes, and that was certainly the case today – but unexpected qualifying results often presage eventful races, so in that context Nico's pole can only be good for the sport.
“Lewis will start tomorrow's race from the second row of the grid, and he was perhaps a little unlucky that his time was pipped at the very end of the session by both Red Bull drivers. The reality is that the track was drying out all the time by that stage of the session – and, since he was at the head of the queue on the track, it was consequently getting grippier and gripper, and therefore faster and faster, all the time behind him. As I say, though, he'll start tomorrow's race from P4, and there's no doubt that he's well-capable of winning from there.”