Hamilton: I think I made the right choice
14 April 2013
Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix focused heavily on which tyre to choose for the timed run, but that wasn't the choice Lewis Hamilton was talking about when he said that he had got it 'right'.
The Briton has thus far kept his counsel when it comes to comparing the respective form of his current employer, Mercedes, and former team McLaren but, having claimed pole position in Shanghai, conceded that things were looking better for the Brackley-based squad in 2013.
“You can't really answer it in one result but, definitely, bit by bit, the more and more we impress and improve, [the critics] have to stand to be corrected,” he said of those who claimed his off-season switch was a mistake, “Obviously, the team are just doing an incredible job and I'm just grateful, because it could have gone either way.
“Of course, people have an opinion, but I'm just really grateful that I'm here and I'm in the fight. Today, it is such a blessing to be here, because it was such a big change for me - and a big step – [but] I think I made the right choice.”
Having qualified in the top three in Australia, and finished on the podium last time out in Malaysia, Hamilton has made a strong start to his Mercedes career. Along with team-mate Nico Rosberg, he was always towards the top of the timesheets in China, where the German took the team's first win last season, and is looking forward to a strong showing on Sunday.
“I think the knowledge we've had, and the experience [we've gained] from the last two races really is what mostly counts with where we've put the car,” he explained, “I think, obviously, last year they had a very competitive car here but, at least from what I've seen, none of last year has really come into this year. Of course the car is competitive, as it was last year, so that's a big plus for us and I really hope we can maintain the kind of pace that we have today, going into tomorrow.”
The Mercedes team has been among the biggest critics of the current breed of Pirelli F1 tyre, and the compounds chosen for Shanghai only added to the debate that perhaps the levels of wear had become too extreme. With the top ten qualifiers divided over whether to use the soft or medium compound for their flying lap, Hamilton admitted that the race could be even more tactical than ever.
“I think everyone was really saving their tyres for the race,” the polewinner opined, “The [soft] option is the one that we don't really want to use and there was no point in saving options or using a prime considering everyone will probably want to use them tomorrow.
“Making the option tyre last is almost impossible, so it's probably going to be quite a short stint at the start. Everyone has the same [problem] ... except for [Kimi Raikkonen] - he seems to be able to look after them a little bit better than most people. Still, I think we'll have a competitive race.
“I've got really great strategists, I just trust them - if they make a decision, we still stick by it. I think everyone, no matter what strategy you're on, is going to struggle on the option tyre, whether it's high or low fuel.”
Hamilton also played down suggestions that the allergic reaction he laid him low on Thursday could return to play a part in the race.
“Of course, it worries you a little bit, thinking you might not be a hundred per cent, but I've just been getting plenty of rest and this is definitely the best day I've had for a few days now,” he confirmed, “Hopefully, tomorrow, should be even better...”