McLaren's Lewis Hamilton reckons he could have qualified on the front row for Sunday's F1 2011 Singapore GP.
Hamilton had what he himself labelled an 'eventful' time in all three parts of qualifying and a refuelling issue in Q3 restricted him to just one run. However despite that he will still line up on the second row, in fourth place, just 0.005 seconds behind Jenson Button in the sister car.
“I had a pretty eventful time in all three qualifying sessions,” Hamilton reflected. “In Q1, I damaged part of the floor on the kerbs and the mechanics did an absolutely fantastic job to get it fixed and the car turned around for the next session. So I want to say a big 'thanks' to the guys for pulling out all the stops.
“I'm still not entirely sure how I picked up the puncture at the end of Q2. I went over a kerb at Turn 10 and the tyre sensors detected a sudden loss of pressure. There are quite a few bolts hanging out of the kerbs, so I guess it could have been one of those, but we don't really know.
“At the end of Q3, we had an issue with the refuelling process – we couldn't get enough fuel into the car quick enough. In the end, we just ran out of time, so I couldn't fit in my final run. But that's racing, and sometimes these things happen.
“Fortunately, my first Q3 run had been very good. I reckon there was still a bit more time to come – I lost some time behind Fernando [Alonso], when I got within a second of his car in the final sector of the lap – so if I'd managed to get another run in Q3 I'd have probably been able to make up some time there.
“But, all in all, fourth place isn't too bad – and, as I say, the most encouraging thing is that we've still got more pace up our sleeve. So, yes, I think the front row could have been possible.
“There's only a short run down to Turn One tomorrow, which means it'll be hard to overtake in the initial run down to the first braking point, so I think the race is going to be less about the start and more about looking after the tyres.”
Button meanwhile was pleased with third, especially given he had a somewhat difficult opening day, missing almost two thirds of FP2 when he locked up at Turn 14.
“We did a lot of work overnight, so the car is now working very well and we should be pretty happy with what we've achieved so far this weekend,” he added. “Qualifying was a bit tricky in terms of getting the car to work in all three sectors. We're putting a lot of heat into the tyres – so if we push hard in the first sector, we lose rear-end grip by the third sector. It's difficult trying to find that balance, but I think we got reasonably close to it this evening.
“It's only a short run down to Turn One, but I'd still like to be at least second into the first corner, so as to be able to challenge Seb [Vettel] from early on.
“Lining up third also means I'll be starting from the clean side of the grid. Tomorrow will be all about looking after the rear tyres: it's a long race – the longest of the season – so it's going to be hard and hot. A lot could happen and I'm looking forward to it.”