Lewis Hamilton has vowed to play a conservative game on race day at Interlagos as he eyes Formula 1 World Championship glory in the Brazilian Grand Prix – and insists his 'aim' is no more than to finish in the same position as that in which he will start.
Though he had looked like a solid bet for pole or a front row slot at the least during the fiercely-contested qualifying hour – even forcing Ferrari title rival Felipe Massa to head out for another run in Q1 such was the threat he posed – Hamilton ultimately wound up just fourth, almost half a second adrift of the Brazilian's time following a brace of scrappy efforts in the decisive top ten shoot-out.
Whilst some observers pinned the blame for that failure to challenge on an overly-aggressive driving style on his 'out' laps, the McLaren-Mercedes star himself suggested it was merely the product of carrying more fuel than the three drivers ahead of him.
The 23-year-old urged afterwards that he would not be risking anything 'spectacular' come the grand prix, safe in the knowledge that he needs to finish just fifth to clinch the laurels regardless of Massa's result, and no doubt equally mindful of the fate that befell him in São Paulo this time twelve months ago.
“Congratulations to Felipe for achieving pole position in front of his home crowd,” Hamilton praised. “He did a great job today, but tomorrow I will be focusing on my own race.
“It will be a tough afternoon, but I'm comfortable with the fuel strategy we chose; the guys in front are probably on a different strategy. We're in a good position to finish in the same place as we are today – and that's got to be our aim. We don't need to do anything spectacular.”
The Stevenage-born ace was backed up in the final reckoning by team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, less than a second behind in fifth but another driver who somewhat flattered to deceive in the shoot-out, after the quickest lap time in Q2 had hinted at a strong run for pole position.
“I think we had a straightforward qualifying,” reflected the Finn, who prior to the session had revealed he would like to run with lower fuel levels in Q3 in future [see separate story – click here
]. “My car felt good from the beginning of Q1, and the good balance and performance [were] demonstrated by my overall fastest time in Q2.
“For sure, we'd rather be on the front row; however, we'll have to see what strategy the competition in front of us will have in the race. We feel confident about our strategy and should have a solid baseline for a good race tomorrow.”