Hamilton spies 'fighting chance' for McLaren win
27 October 2012
"I reckon I got everything out of the car," Lewis Hamilton told reporters after qualifying for the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of India. But it hadn't been enough to break Red Bull's stranglehold on the front row of the grid for the third race in succession.
Even so, Hamilton still felt bullish about his prospects for the race: "I'm very satisfied that I'll be starting tomorrow's race from the second row," he said. "This is one of the best circuits we race on and I definitely think third position gives us a fighting chance to win tomorrow.
"We have the race pace to be able to stay with the Red Bulls, so as I say a win is definitely possible," he added.
Hamilton really felt that he had given it his all in the last part of qualifying, "particularly on my final run in Q3 - the middle and last sectors were particularly strong," he pointed out. "Even if I'd had a perfect qualifying lap, I think I'd only have found another tenth."
Hamilton went on to identify another potential advantage he has over Sebastian Vettel as he heads into the first corner of the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida when the lights go out on Sunday.
“At the start tomorrow, I feel I have a lot less to lose than Sebastian in front of me," he said, indicating that this meant he would be able to push harder than if he was still fixed on the world championship battle. "Seb has more to worry about than I do, and, if I can get up with the two Red Bulls, I'd love to take a win for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."
Hamilton will have the advantage of his team mate Jenson Button starting alongside him, although Button's alternative qualifying strategy hadn't quite paid off at the end of the session.
“We struggled a little to get the options working, particularly on the first lap," explained Button. "So I went for a different strategy from most other drivers, carrying out a three-lap run.
"The longer run really worked out for me in Q2, in fact, but I didn't quite have the right balance in Q3," he continued. "I had a bit more understeer, as the circuit had gripped-up more than we'd anticipated.
As a result, Button's Q3 lap wasn't quite a match for his Q2 effort and as a result Hamilton was able to pip him for third place on the grid.
“Overall, as a team, we should be reasonably happy with what we achieved today," said Button. "We're not far from the Red Bulls and we're ahead of the Ferraris. As a result, I'm very excited about the race tomorrow. Our starts tend to be pretty good, so let's see what we can do from the second row."
"Both our drivers did a superb job in the circumstances," contributed McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "We think we've got a very good race car. Yesterday our long-run pace was very strong, in fact.
"As a result, tomorrow's race may be a bit closer than some pundits are currently prophesying," he added.