McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has conceded that he just wasn't fast enough today during qualifying for Sunday's F1 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton will start the 19th and final round in the championship from fourth, but despite securing a place on the second row he wasn't happy. Indeed with team-mate Jenson Button going almost two tenths quicker, he felt he should have got more from his McLaren MP4-26. Despite that though, Lewis remains optimistic McLaren can mount a 'strong challenge' in the race, especially if there is rain.
“Jenson was massively quick today. I ended up a couple of tenths away from him, so clearly I could have gone a bit faster, but the fact is that although I didn't make any mistakes on my best lap I just wasn't quite quick enough on the day,” Hamilton confirmed.
“While that's inevitably a little disappointing for me personally, Jenson's pace is very encouraging for the team. We have reason to be optimistic about tomorrow too: we're both on the second row, and we can definitely mount a strong challenge from there.
“I don't think we're quite there in terms of race pace in the dry, but hopefully we'll be there if it's wet. Whatever happens though, it's going to be a tough, long race; and if the weather is wet or changeable, as predicted, then it's going to be very interesting indeed.
“Interlagos is a place that makes you feel inspired as a racing driver: it's Ayrton Senna's homeground, and the Brazilian fans are unbelievably passionate.
“I've started fourth here a few times before [in 2008 and 2010], so I hope four is a good number for me. Let's hope we can turn it into something even better tomorrow!”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile revealed that the team has set both cars up anticipating rain: “Perhaps we didn't quite get the best out of the Option tyre in Q3 this afternoon – it could have been a tyre pressure issue although we're not yet sure about that – but we still put both our cars on the second row which is a pretty decent result,” he added.
“Lewis delivered a very good lap, just two-tenths shy of Jenson's best. He experimented with driving two flying laps in Q3 – a fast-ish one followed by a really hot one in an attempt to get more out of the Option – but in the event it didn't appear to confer any benefit over the conventional one-flying-lap approach adopted by Jenson.
“Looking forward to tomorrow, it may well rain – and, if it does, the race will surely be incident-packed and therefore unpredictable. We geared both our cars with the probability of a wet race in mind, in fact.
“But, rain or no rain, Jenson and Lewis are both hungry to notch up our seventh victory of the season, and we're confident that both their race cars will be fully competitive.”