McLaren are hoping that their good race pace and the overtaking prowess of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will allow them to salvage a good result from the Canadian Grand Prix after the two Brits qualified only fifth and seventh today.
Hamilton will be the lead McLaren going into tomorrow’s race and said that he was happy with his lap in qualifying. The two-times winner in Montreal insists that he is still in with a fighting chance for the victory:
“Personally, I was very happy with my lap: I don't think I've ever driven a car as hard in my life as I did this afternoon,” said Hamilton. “I was right on the ragged edge and I think I even touched the wall at one stage.
“But, even so, I managed only P5; that was all I could do. Nonetheless, I'm still hopeful that we'll bring further improvements to the car soon – it's just a matter of time.
“I hope our race pace will prove to be stronger tomorrow than our qualifying pace was today: we're losing a couple of tenths along the back straight, which hurt us in qualifying. We've got a long seventh gear – a bit too long for qualifying perhaps – but that should be good for overtaking and will be a help when I'm slipstreaming as it means I won't be on the limiter. That should enable me to challenge the guys in front of me, in fact.
“It's going to be a tough afternoon tomorrow, but it's always a long and unpredictable race here and we're definitely not out of the fight.”
Button, in contrast, admitted that he made mistakes on his flying lap, but agrees that McLaren should be in good shape on race day:
“We didn't quite have the pace that we'd hoped for – and that's a little frustrating,” Button said, reflecting on the qualifying session. “My last lap in Q3 was looking really good – but then I overdrove, started locking up and lost a bit of time. I was very close to pipping Nico [Rosberg] at the end, but I suppose starting sixth wouldn't have been a whole lot better than starting seventh. Also, in P7 I'm on the clean side of the grid for the start.
“Our race pace is always better than our qualifying pace, and this is a circuit where you can overtake, so we've got to hope we'll be able to make some progress through the field. Fortunately, our consistency on both the Soft and Supersoft tyres has looked pretty good.
“We'll do the best we can – I'm sure it'll be a fun race.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh conceded that perhaps set-up issues were too blame for the poor race, but also said that both drivers should be well placed if the forecast rain materialises tomorrow.
“Perhaps our cars had a little bit too much downforce for today's qualifying session, which was dry; but, if it rains tomorrow, which is what the weather forecast tells us it will probably do, then we should be in good shape,” he said.
“However, wet or dry, we know that Lewis and Jenson are both fantastic racers – and brilliant overtakers – and we therefore expect them to challenge competitively tomorrow from their respective starting positions of fifth and seventh.
“There have been 47 Canadian Grands Prix in all, and McLaren has won 11 of them. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a great racetrack, and it often produces an eventful race. So let's see what happens tomorrow.”