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Hamilton surprised by margin of pole success

4 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton's joy at clinching pole position for the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi was evident from the minute he climbed out of the cockpit of his McLaren and literally bounced his way into the official FIA weighing point. He was no less enthused when he spoke to the media shortly afterwards.

"Very excited, very excited," he said of the prospect of starting from pole for the first time since Singapore in September. "It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red Bulls, and not to be seeing the tail of them at the start of the race."

Hamilton hadn't been expecting to be such a strong contender for pole position, and still wasn't quite sure just why McLaren's fortunes had turned around so dramatically this weekend after a period of such domination by Red Bull.

"The car's felt beautiful all weekend," he said. "I don't know why the car works so well here. We've not really made any improvements to the car since the last race, so I guess it just suits.

"We're always modifying small, little wings but it does very, very little," he added. "The car's felt great from the get-go this weekend and done some fine tuning and every now and then you're fortunate enough to make the right change and it feels even better."

Hamilton ended up with a formidable 0.348s margin over Mark Webber in Q3, having topped each round of qualifying on Saturday. He said that he was genuinely surprised by just how easy pole position had proved to be at Yas Marina.

"They were slower than I expected but we were faster than I expected as well," he added. "Mark did a great lap as well - what's the margin, it is three tenths? I knew that they were very, very quick but I would never have imagined being this far ahead of them.

"But I did do a really really good lap, very happy with the lap. I thought that we would be a match or slightly slower than them this weekend and it's a blessing in disguise to be ahead of them."

Hamilton is hoping that the McLaren also has the pace in race trim to stay in front and keep out of trouble in the Grand Prix itself: "We did a couple of long runs [in practice] and they seemed to be okay. On one of my long runs I had a lot of traffic, but Jenson had a fairly decent long run, which shows," he said. "We should be quite competitive."

Hamilton admitted that top of his list was to get a better launch off the starting grid, which has been his Achilles Heel in recent weeks.

"For me it's trying to improve the start of the race because these guys are so quick over the first couple of laps," he said. "I've had some very very bad starts but that's down to clutch performance but I will be onto my guys tonight to make sure that that doesn't happen.

"I know it's going to be, as always, very, very tough in the race because they've got great race pace," he added. "But we are strong enough to fight them, the team's done a fantastic job all weekend ... I hope that [it's] a good day for us."


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