McLaren's British duo looking for home boost
8 July 2012
McLaren may not have got the starting grid positions they'd been hoping for in a chaotic qualifying on Saturday, but that doesn't mean that they're not hoping for a strong showing by both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the British Grand Prix itself.
"From eighth, everything is to play for," said Hamilton, who will start from the fourth row alongside Williams' Pastor Maldonado. "Either way, it's going to be tough but we will fight to get up as high as possible."
"All I know is it's going to be raining, [so] it's not the end of the world that we're eighth," he added. "Jenson showed in the past coming from right at the back is possible, Fernando showed in the last race coming from quite far back is possible, we'll just have to do the best job we can and see what happens."
Button himself really does have his work cut out for him this week if he's to overcome a 16th place starting grid position, after a disappointing qualifying saw him fail to make it through to Q2 before the rain started to really come down.
"I know I can drive a car in the wet, so it should be okay," said Button, who excelled last year in inclement conditions in Canada. However, he insisted that dry conditions would suit him too.
"We can definitely do something in the dry. Our pace was good [on Saturday] morning on both tyres," Button pointed out. "It will be difficult for everyone, there hasn't been much running and the circuit will be very green. Some people might not have a good handle on the tyres, which I think we do."
"[Jenson] will be looking to make progress through the field towards a points-scoring position by race's end," agreed McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "He's one of the ablest wet-weather racers out there, as we've seen him prove many times before."
Button's one concern is about the weather taking a turn for the even worse, and conditions becoming untenable. The official forecast for race day suggests a 50/50 chance of heavy showers - similar to the forecast ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
"Because it's been raining so much, the ground is soaked, so when it does rain it doesn't soak into the ground, it sits on top," he warned. "That's a big issue. The rivers are forming very quickly even if the circuit isn't that wet, so especially coming out of Becketts onto Hangar Straight. It's very wet there.
"Every time you come round it does seem like the water has moved, but I don't think it has," he added. "It's nothing about the skill of the drivers, it's whether you're driving the car or not, and when it's like that you're not - you're floating."
Everything to play for at Silverstone as far as McLaren are concerned, then - and especially with the massive boost of home support.
"I want to give a shout-out to the fans," said Hamilton. "They've been fantastic, very patient and so supportive. The cheers from the grandstands were spectacular.
"All these fans are coming [Sunday] to try and watch a great race and that's what I'm going to try and give them," he said. "Anything can happen and that's the exciting part of it. You have to go in with your heart and your head and get on with it."
Whitmarsh agreed, and said that the British F1 fans "really are the best in the world, hugely knowledgeable and massively enthusiastic in equal measure.
"So, whatever the weather, for their sakes, here's hoping that [the] Santander British Grand Prix offers them the spectacle and excitement that they've been waiting all year to enjoy."