Lewis Hamilton admits to being disappointed with his starting position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, but insists that he can still help Mercedes clinch second spot in the constructors' championship.
The Briton revealed earlier in the weekend just how much he had been struggling to get to grips with the W04 in wet conditions, and again proved unable to match team-mate Nico Rosberg as Friday's rain continued throughout Saturday. Although he timed his run in the first phase of qualifying just right – he was the first car on track and his opening salvo remained as fastest time throughout the 20-minute session – the 2008 world champion had to be content with another top five grid position, his 17th time in 19 races this season.
“Naturally, I'm a little disappointed with fifth place as Nico's position shows there was clearly potential for more today,” he said, after watching Rosberg claim a front row position, “Wet sessions haven't been too good for me this year and, although we made some changes going into qualifying, I'm struggling to get to grips with how the car works in these conditions. It's getting better, but there is still so much to learn.”
Team principal Ross Brawn was happy enough with the outcome of qualifying, particularly given the conditions.
“Sessions like that always offer plenty of potential to trip over, and the team did a very good job today,” he insisted, “To have both our cars in the top five is a good overall result after such an unusual afternoon.
“Nico has managed to get the car exactly where he wants it in terms of wet set-up this weekend and was very comfortable out there; Lewis hasn't quite found the same sweet spot but still delivered a strong lap to get into the top five.”
Hamilton ran the same tyre strategy as his team-mate during the three separate parts of qualifying – using a fresh set of intermediates to set the pace in Q1, two sets of the same rubber in Q2, and a combination of Pirelli's extreme wet and another new set of inters as he chased pole – but, with the conditions fluctuating by the minute, timing became a definite factor.
“A wet qualifying session is one where it's far easier to get things wrong than to get them right, so it's pleasing that we managed to get things pretty much right this afternoon,” Mercedes director Toto Wolff insisted, “It was a very tricky session and the team did a good job to deliver second and fifth places. We must analyse why Lewis did not manage to put his second lap together and if, perhaps, we were a little too conservative with our timings, but it's always easy to be smart in hindsight and the important thing is that we will start from strong grid positions tomorrow.”
Although Ferrari's Fernando Alonso managed to produce a lap good enough for third on the grid, Hamilton remains confident that, between himself and Rosberg, there will be enough points on the board to keep Mercedes ahead of the Scuderia in the teams' standings.
“We've got everything to play for in the race, and I hope to have a good fight out there and make some progress forward,” he concluded, “Our aim, of course, is to finish ahead of the Ferraris and, hopefully, score enough points to secure our second place.”
The deciding factor could be the weather, with different forecasts giving different outlooks for race day. Most concur, however, that conditions will be better than over the first two days of the meeting.
“None of us have done any running in dry conditions this weekend so, if it does dry out tomorrow, it will be an interesting experience for all of us,” Brawn added, “That brings the potential for surprises and we will handle them as they come - and seize every opportunity that comes our way.”