Lewis Hamilton has predicted that McLaren can 'definitely challenge' for the win tomorrow in Hungary.
Hamilton pushed Sebastian Vettel all the way today in qualifying and in the end it was only a last-grasp effort that denied the Englishman his first pole position of the year, edged out by just 0.163 seconds.
Speaking after the shoot-out, Hamilton conceded that an error on his second run had probably cost him vital tenths, but despite that he remains upbeat. Indeed he is looking forward to the race and trying to replicate his German GP victory from last weekend.
“We were genuinely competitive today,” Hamilton reflected, “and everyone in the team is doing a fantastic job. At one stage during Q3 I was up: I had half a tenth in reserve. But then I went a little bit wide, which triggered a big oversteer moment, and the result was that I lost that crucial bit of time.
“But the points aren't given out for today, and I'm feeling good about tomorrow. I'm very excited about the race, in fact, because we had quite a good long run yesterday and we'll work hard to build on that pace overnight and take it into tomorrow. We're in the fight – and, with a good start, we can definitely challenge for the win.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile had mixed feelings, although he was encouraged to see both Hamilton and Jenson Button right up in the mix. Indeed Button was a very close third – only 0.046 seconds off the sister car.
“When your drivers qualify second and third, inevitably you're a little disappointed that you didn't bag pole position and such is the case today; however, the positive corollary of that statement is that pole position was indubitably within our grasp this afternoon,” Whitmarsh added.
“Lewis ran a little wide in the final turn on his last attempt to take pole position, but his was a good lap all the same and he'll start from the front row tomorrow. Jenson qualified well too, ending up just behind Lewis in P3 – which will put him on the clean side of the grid.
“The team has done a professional and disciplined job both yesterday and today, and we're confident of being able to mount a serious challenge for victory tomorrow.
“Our long runs were good yesterday, our starts have been strong in recent races, and Lewis came through today's qualifying having conserved an extra set of new Option tyres which should give him a small advantage in the race.
“It will only be a small advantage, mind; but, so close is the competition in Formula 1 these days, that a small advantage is sometimes all you need...” Whitmarsh summed-up.