McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was 'extremely happy' to secure a place on the front row today in qualifying for the F1 2012 European Grand Prix.
Hamilton and McLaren have been off the pace a bit this weekend in Valencia and he freely admitted he has been struggling with the set-up. Despite that though, he put in a great lap in the top-ten shootout, something that left him second overall and 'best of the rest' after pole man, Sebastian Vettel.
“I'm extremely happy to be starting on the front row. To see other teams make big improvements to their cars this weekend, and yet still be starting from P2, is a surprise that I'll happily take,” Hamilton said.
“We'd been struggling a little with set-up and front [wheel] locking from the start of practice yesterday, so I went into qualifying really just focusing on getting a decent result and starting as high up the order as possible.
“So, as I say, managing to bag P2 is very welcome. Nevertheless, it's going to be hard to look after the tyres in the hot conditions we're expecting for the race, so we'll be doing some work tonight to analyse and understand just what I did in the last race to make sure my tyres last as long as possible tomorrow. Overtaking will be very difficult, as always here, but degradation will be a bigger issue for everyone, I think.
“I'll just be looking to score as many points as I can. If I can finish where I've qualified – second – that would consolidate my world title bid. Anything more than that – a win in other words – would, of course, be a bonus.”
Jenson Button meanwhile will line-up in ninth in the sister car and he was disappointed not to have done better, especially as he had been quickest in final practice.
“The team worked really hard overnight to improve the issues we'd had with front [wheel] locking during Friday practice – and, this morning, I felt we'd improved the car a lot, which was really encouraging,” he added. “Somehow, however, my car felt very different on fresh rubber at the end of Q3 than it had felt all day up to then. On my final run in Q3, the balance felt very different – I had too much understeer – and, every time I touched the brakes, I locked the fronts. I don't know whether the circuit had changed, but I just couldn't stop locking my fronts.
“So it's disappointing to be starting ninth, especially as previous races have demonstrated that it's difficult to overtake around here. The key now then will be to make the right calls on strategy.”