After blitzing the competition in twilight qualifying for the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton had every reason to be officially in love with the Yas Marina Circuit.
“Our car works incredibly well around here," he said, after clinching pole position by more than a third of a second over Red Bull's Mark Webber. "Our aero package really suits this track; the set-up was perfect, and everything came together perfectly for qualifying.
"My lap felt really great – I enjoyed it so much. I love this track!" he enthused. "Those extra three-tenths came from my family!"
"Lewis drove brilliantly in qualifying here in Abu Dhabi today ... Pole position was never really in doubt, was it?" said team principal Martin Whitmarsh at the end of the session. “It was the 25th pole of his Formula 1 career – all of them scored in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes cars – and he's now perfectly positioned to drive to victory tomorrow."
But both driver and team principal were careful not to get too ahead of themselves.
"Having said that, you get no points for pole position in F1, so we don't intend to get carried away," said Whitmarsh. "There's a lot of hard work for us to do between now and flag-fall at the end of tomorrow's race, and we never under-estimate our opposition. But we've got a good race car, and Lewis loves this circuit."
"The race tomorrow is going to be tough," agreed Hamilton. "At the start, it's down to the team to make sure the clutch performs perfectly because the getaway will be incredibly important. Our race pace is very strong, but so is Red Bull's – and staying ahead will be tough, particularly with the double DRS zones.
"I really want to finish on a high for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," he added. "I'll give it everything I've got tomorrow."
It was a different story on the other side of the garage with Jenson Button disappointed to only manage sixth place on the grid given how much more pace his team mate had got out of the same package.
“I shouldn't really be starting this far back," said Button. "All weekend, I've been pretty happy with the car, but, for some reason, we just couldn't find the pace in qualifying – and we don't know why.
“Obviously, our car is very quick around here – Lewis put it on pole by quite a margin – so there's some more time to find," he added.
Button said that he hoped the two DRS zones would allow him to race himself back into contention for the podium on Sunday: "Our race pace has looked good all weekend, so I'm still feeling optimistic."
“Jenson is understandably a little disappointed with qualifying, but he's a truly fantastic racer and he can still mount a serious challenge from sixth place on tomorrow's starting grid," said Whitmarsh. "Moreover, his long-run pace was good yesterday – so, like Lewis, he'll certainly be one to watch when the five red lights go out."