Despite being 'very happy' after taking pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton remains cautious ahead of the 14th round in the 2012 F1 World Championship, where he will be chasing his second win in succession and his fourth of the year.
Hamilton had to play second fiddle to Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel in final practice and many expected the Englishman to again trail the German in the top-ten shootout. However in the end that was not the case and Hamilton turned the tables, finishing Q3 with a 1 minute 46.326 second lap, putting him almost half a second up on Pastor Maldonado, who surprised by squeezing his Williams in between the McLaren and the Red Bull.
“I'm very happy with pole position. It's been a good weekend so far, but there are no points for today, and it's going to be a long, tough race, so I still need to be cautious,” Hamilton remarked. “I hope we've done the work we need to do to put us in a strong position for tomorrow – the key will just be to stay out of trouble and look after the tyres.”
Hamilton goes into the race looking to close the 37-point gap to championship leader, Fernando Alonso, and with the Spaniard down in fifth on the grid he stands a good chance of making in-roads.
He is also aware just how much McLaren is improving the MP4-27 and how that is bolstering his title hopes: “Our guys at the factory have done an incredible job to bring our upgrades to the track this weekend. In previous years, we've often been playing catch-up on development throughout the season, but, this year, we're right there,” he added.
“I've always believed that if we could start the season strongly, we'd be able to pull ahead. We've been there or thereabouts all season, but now I think we're starting to see the real strength of my team pull through.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile was delighted to see Hamilton give the team its sixth pole of the season – and its' fourth in succession.
“Lewis has been in fantastic form all weekend, and today he showed a tremendous turn of speed to take a superb pole position here in Singapore this evening,” Whitmarsh remarked. “It was Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' fourth consecutive pole position and the 153rd pole position in McLaren's history, and it was achieved one day shy of the 40th anniversary of our very first world championship grand prix pole position, which was notched up by the late Peter Revson at Mosport Park [Canada] on September 23rd 1972.
“Yesterday, too, he looked impressive, showing strong long-run pace in the free practice sessions.
“Lewis will be looking to win now, of course – and, as long as he gets a clean start, there's no reason why he shouldn't do just that.
“We never under-estimate our opposition, and undoubtedly tomorrow's race will be a long and difficult one, but you'd have to say that we're in a pretty good position: firing on all cylinders, in fact!”