Both McLaren drivers are optimistic of a good Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow after securing second and third place on the grid in qualifying today.
Jenson Button will start from the front row alongside pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel. After qualifying, the 2009 champion said that there was little he could have done to catch the German, but thinks that McLaren will be closer to the Red Bull pace on race day.
“After Q2, I thought we'd have a shot at pole today, but, looking at Sebastian's final laptime, second place was realistically all we could do,” said Button. “Still, it's great that we got two cars into the top three – we really extracted the maximum from the package today.
“Overnight, we made some improvements to the car; I think there are still areas where we need to improve to challenge Red Bull, but I want to say a big thank-you to the guys in the garage and back at the factory, they've been working really hard and have given us a car that we can really build on over the next couple of races.
“This is my best grid position of the season; the car felt really consistent all afternoon and I got pretty much everything out of it. For tomorrow, I think our race pace will be a little bit closer to Red Bull than our quali pace.
“We can have a good race from this grid position.”
Hamilton congratulated his team-mate on out-qualifying him, revealing that he deliberately saved a set of soft tyres for tomorrow’s race in light of the problems he had last weekend in Malaysia.
“We made some really positive set-up changes on Friday evening and I was much happier with our car today,” said the 2008 champion. “In qualifying, Jenson and I were very close and we're both up there.
“Jenson did a fantastic job to put his car ahead of me, but I sacrificed a bit of my own pace to enable me to have a fresh set of Options for the race. We took the decision to complete just a single run in Q3.
“Of course, that was a compromise, but it means I'll have a fresh set of tyres for one of the stints tomorrow. And last week's race in Malaysia showed us how important it is to have fresh tyres for the race. Today's strategy should increase my chances in the race.
“It's always good to have a fresh set of tyres in the bag, and I wanted to make sure I had options to cover everything. To be able to put on a new tyre at the end of tomorrow's race will be a great positive and will help the longevity of the tyres.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh also thinks that his drivers did a fine job in qualifying, and are well positioned come race day.
“We ran an extremely well-disciplined set of sessions today,” he said. “After failing to extract the maximum from the cars on Friday, we made a significant number of improvements to the cars on Friday evening and quickly established a satisfactory pace in this morning's practice session.
“We were then able to carry that performance over into qualifying – and second and third positions on the grid are a great reward for the effort we invested in getting our cars optimised for this circuit.
“Jenson's lap at the beginning of Q3 was a fantastic effort and he therefore fully deserves his second place on the grid. Lewis drove a considered and intelligent final session, preserving tyres for tomorrow, and he is extremely well prepared for tomorrow's race.”