Lewis Hamilton insisted he was happy with his qualifying lap for the Canadian Grand Prix, despite the fact that the McLaren man was only able to secure fifth on the grid in Montreal.
Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button was tipped to challenge Red Bull at the head of the field at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but instead found themselves out-qualified by both Red Bulls and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
Despite being on the third row of the grid, Hamilton insisted he was happy with his lap in qualifying and was confident that the team would be closer to the outright pace in the race itself
“Personally, I was very happy with my lap: I don't think I've ever driven a car as hard in my life as I did this afternoon,” he said. “I was right on the ragged edge and I think I even touched the wall at one stage. But, even so, I managed only P5; that was all I could do. Nonetheless, I'm still hopeful that we'll bring further improvements to the car soon – it's just a matter of time.
“I hope our race pace will prove to be stronger tomorrow than our qualifying pace was today: we're losing a couple of tenths along the back straight, which hurt us in qualifying. We've got a long seventh gear – a bit too long for qualifying perhaps – but that should be good for overtaking and will be a help when I'm slipstreaming as it means I won't be on the limiter. That should enable me to challenge the guys in front of me, in fact.
“It's going to be a tough afternoon tomorrow, but it's always a long and unpredictable race here and we're definitely not out of the fight.”
Button starts two places further back in seventh place and admitted that was partly his own fault for overdriving in Q3 as he attempted to secure a place towards the head of the field.
“We didn't quite have the pace that we'd hoped for – and that's a little frustrating,” he said. “My last lap in Q3 was looking really good – but then I overdrove, started locking up and lost a bit of time. I was very close to pipping Nico [Rosberg] at the end, but I suppose starting sixth wouldn't have been a whole lot better than starting seventh. Also, in P7 I'm on the clean side of the grid for the start.
“Our race pace is always better than our qualifying pace, and this is a circuit where you can overtake, so we've got to hope we'll be able to make some progress through the field. Fortunately, our consistency on both the Soft and Supersoft tyres has looked pretty good.
“We'll do the best we can – I'm sure it'll be a fun race.”