Despite claiming his second pole position of the 2013 F1 season at his home grand prix, Lewis Hamilton admits that he has still to get on top of the Mercedes W04.
The Briton produced a scintillating lap to destroy team-mate Nico Rosberg's target time, claiming pole by fully four-tenths of a second to the delight of the Silverstone crowd.
As has been the case in the majority of races where Mercedes has qualified at the top of the tree in 2013, however, there are still concerns that neither driver will be able to make their tyres last long enough to fend off the teams behind, notably Red Bull, which fills row two with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Only at Monaco, where Rosberg led from start to finish, has the Three Pointed Star converted pole into victory, and Hamilton admits that he is not expecting an easy ride at home, particularly after struggling on the opening day of the British round.
“I definitely haven't got it sussed,” he conceded, “This weekend's been a tough weekend. Every weekend is tough - even if you are used to a car, it's tough, but I really have been struggling with the car, trying to tune it, trying to get it to behave the way I want it to, and then drive it and extract what I want from it.
“Out of all the cars I've driven, it's one of the hardest cars to drive so, when you pull it together, it's a great car and obviously very quick. Each weekend, I'm working as hard as I can and, each weekend, it does feel like it's improving a little bit. We made another improvement on the brakes this weekend, which is another step in the right direction, so I hope we can continue going forwards.
“With an F1 car, you're always trying to balance it on a knife-edge. It's just that, for some reason with this car, I'm struggling to do that. We made a change going into qualifying which helped, [but] I think, undoubtedly, it's going to be tough for us to keep Sebastian behind, but our long run pace wasn't as bad as we've seen in the past, so I'm hoping, with the temperatures and a bit of care, we can nurture the tyres to get a good result.”
Although he admits that he couldn't hear it over the noise of his engine, Hamilton acknowledged the effect the support of the home crowd had on his performance, and vowed to repay the faithful with his best effort on race day.
“I'm going to be pushing, giving it my all tomorrow,” he insisted, “The crowd make a huge difference. After seeing them turn up in their thousands, and seeing all the flags waving, I come here with an extra boost of energy and just want to pay them back. This is the first time since 2008 that I've had a car that I've really been able to compete with - I'm really, really proud of what the team have done and I hope the fans can bring us some good luck tomorrow.”
Hamilton began the qualifying session not in his car, but on the pit-wall, waving to the packed grandstands lining the new home straight. He denies, however, that it was an attempt to fire himself up for the task ahead.
“Not really - it's not about psyching myself up because I'm always mad for it, I'm always on the limit, I'm always on the edge,” he explained, “I always have the determination and the will, but it's just trying to get my car to where I want it to be.
“The fans sit there for a long, long time during the day and don't really get to see our faces, so it's the one opportunity that I do get to see them and try to extract what I can from them, because the support means a lot. I couldn't hear anyone [on the pole lap], because the car's too loud but, hopefully, I got a good roar today.”