Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for both Heikki Kovalainen and his McLaren-Mercedes team after the Silver Arrows secured their first front row lock-out in 15 races for the Hungarian Grand Prix, insisting that he 'couldn't ask to be in a better position'.
The Formula 1 World Championship leader – looking to extend his advantage over Ferrari rivals Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who will begin the race from third and sixth positions respectively – has been on fine form all weekend, as he continues to ride the crest of a mid-season wave that has seen the 23-year-old storm to utterly dominant triumphs at both Silverstone and Hockenheim in recent weeks.
Hamilton was rarely threatened in qualifying around the Hungaroring either – a track where last year he seamlessly secured a lights-to-flag victory – and McLaren's joy was made complete by newly re-signed team-mate Kovalainen joining him up on the front row of the starting grid at a circuit where it is famously difficult to overtake.
“The team has done a fantastic job of continually improving the car over the past few weeks,” the British star enthused, “so I'm really proud of what we've achieved today. It's great to have locked out the front row with Heikki – we've been threatening to do it for a number of races, so to achieve it at a track where it's tricky to pass is really satisfying.
“There's a great harmony within the team at the moment, and we really deserved this. I couldn't ask to be in a better position. We've both got good strategies for tomorrow and we'll be challenging for the win.”
“It was difficult to choose the right tyre for the final session,” related Kovalainen, “and I felt I could have done a slightly faster lap in Q3, but I was a little cautious in turn two. Still, we've found a great direction with the car and I've got a great opportunity to win the race tomorrow.
“It's fantastic to be starting on the front row alongside Lewis. I hope that starting on the dirty side of the track won't be a disadvantage, and I fully expect us to look out for each other in the first corner tomorrow. This result really repays the team for all of its efforts over the past few months.”
The Woking-based outfit's team principal Ron Dennis and Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug were similarly buoyed by the performance, with the latter describing the outcome of the session as 'a dream' as McLaren endeavour to close down the 19-point gap currently separating them from arch-rivals and championship pace-setters Ferrari in the constructors' standings.
“Today's all McLaren-Mercedes front row is a fitting tribute to the phenomenal amount of hard work carried out by the whole team in the lead-up to the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix,” underlined Dennis. “We brought to Budapest the developments that were originally destined to be incorporated into our Valencia-spec car, and the signs are that it has been an effective move.
“A qualifying one-two is a rare and pleasing achievement, so I want to say a big 'thank you' to all the people who worked so hard to make it possible – and that includes everyone in Woking (McLaren), in Brixworth (Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines) and of course in Stuttgart (Mercedes-Benz). Now we hope to convert our excellent qualifying performance into an equally solid race result.”
“A great performance by Lewis, Heikki and our team,” agreed Haug. “[It's] a dream, and our third pole in a row – one from Heikki, two from Lewis. I hope we will be able to turn our grid positions into a similar result in the race tomorrow.”