Lewis Hamilton was the star of the Indian Grand Prix qualifying session for McLaren today after finishing the session in second place, but will actually start tomorrow’s race from fifth, one place behind team-mate Jenson Button.
The 2008 world champion earned himself a penalty yesterday morning in the first free practice session after failing to slow down for yellow flags.
“To be able to split the Red Bulls on qualifying pace is something that everybody in the team should feel proud about,” said Hamilton. “In fact, I've been really happy with my qualifying performance throughout the whole year – it's been getting more and more consistent. On my last run, I was only a tenth down going into the penultimate corner, but I chose to abort the lap and save the tyres for tomorrow as it's going to be a long race.
“It's a little bit unfortunate to have a grid penalty, but that's life. I think we've got good pace, but it's going to be a long race. Still, with the long, wide straights and two DRS zones, overtaking should be easier here than it is at some of the other circuits, so I'm optimistic about what we can do around here tomorrow.”
Button was not particularly happy with his car during the qualifying hour, and also had to slow down on his final flying lap after Felipe Massa‘s Ferrari slid into a trackside barrier.
“The car felt great this morning but I couldn't find any grip this afternoon, particularly on the Prime tyre,” said Button. “So we need to work out why we can't find that balance because I want to try to improve things for tomorrow.
“I struggled with traffic all afternoon – it was difficult to find a clear lap, and, when I did, I'd taken too much out of my tyres already. On my final run, I saw Felipe [Massa] heading into the gravel as I came up to him. I definitely would have been quicker on that run, but I got into the yellow flag zone, saw his car, spotted the smoke and backed out of it a little bit. I definitely lost time in the sector – the data showed that I was 14km/h down in fact.
“I hope I can take the car I had yesterday, as opposed to the car I had this afternoon, into the race. It felt stronger on high-fuel during Friday running, so hopefully we can find that again tomorrow.”