Lewis Hamilton is hoping that his Mercedes team can accommodate a late title push in 2013 with the desire to hit the ground running in the new era of F1 next season.
Speaking after claiming a fourth consecutive pole position, pipping Red Bull
rival Sebastian Vettel
with the last lap of qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, the Briton admitted that Mercedes faces a tough task to balance the ongoing development of the current W04 with preparations for 2014.
“I think there's several different people that have different opinions about it, but I feel quite relaxed and comfortable with the people who are at the top who are going to make that decision,” he said in response to questions about Mercedes' director Toto Wolff belief that 2014 should take precedence, “I don't feel that next year is compromised at all - or this year just yet. I think it's trying to find a real fine balance.
“Of course, we want to have the best shot possible next year but, of course, all of a sudden, we're competing as well as we are now, so it's striking a fine balance, but I think they'll do a good job of that.”
Going into the penultimate European round of the 2013 campaign some 48 points behind Vettel in the overall standings, Hamilton did not look like a pole contender as he struggled with the handling of his car through practice, but benefited from the changing conditions to claim top spot on the grid.
“By the grace of God we got through [Q2] and then, at the end, I didn't know that I was going to be one of the last ones across the line,” he admitted, “I just kept pushing and, at the end of the day, it was a good job by the team, particularly when the moment counted.
“The Red Bull
was looking particularly quick, and also the Ferrari
was looking quite quick in the dry conditions, so I'm not necessarily sure that we had the pace to be as fast everyone today. But who knows, it's just a guess.”
Despite his questions about the Mercedes' dry run qualifying pace, Hamilton appeared more confident about his prospects on race day.
“I feel that the long pace is not bad. Last night, we made some decent changes but, going into qualifying, we made some better ones. Qualifying was more about just being there at the right time - you never know when you're going to be in the right position and I just happened to be one of the last ones coming across the line and that's when the track would be at its best. But I think Nico [Rosberg] proved that the long run was good and I think I had a few good laps as well. The Red Bulls are still pretty quick, [so] I think it's going to be close, but I hear it's going to rain pretty heavily tomorrow.”