Lewis Hamilton is targetting a clean start from pole position in tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, and to then stay ahead of the rest of the field while looking after his tyres.
Speaking after secured pole in Budapest – the 150th in McLaren‘s history – Hamilton also described his emotions from dominating today’s qualifying session.
“I'm really happy!” said the 2008 champion.
“It's been a really good weekend so far. After Jenson was able to demonstrate the pace of our car in the last Grand Prix, at Hockenheim, now for us to be able to come to Budapest this weekend and be really 'on it' is just great. It was tough out there this afternoon, though, but I really enjoyed every lap and the crowd support was absolutely phenomenal. So I want to say a big 'thank you' to all the fans.
“Our upgrades are working. Jenson and I always want more speed still – that's natural for any racing driver – but the guys back at Woking, and here in Budapest, have done a brilliant job. Our car now feels fantastic. We've been fine-tuning its setup all weekend. Believe me: as long as we remain fully focused on developing our car, and getting good results, then anything is still possible for us this year.
“My feeling is that the start of tomorrow's race will be extremely important. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to make a clean getaway off the line and then stay ahead while looking after the tyres.
“I'm told that today's pole position is the 150th in McLaren's history. That's a truly fantastic achievement. I'm extremely proud to be able to contribute to the ongoing success of such a great team, especially as I first met Ron [Dennis] when I was just 10 years old. I remember the occasion really well. I told Ron that one day I wanted to be driving for his team. And here we are today.
“I can't wait for tomorrow's race!”
Team-mate Button will start the race from fourth place. Although he wasn’t quite as happy as Hamilton this afternoon, Button was still pleased with the result.
“I was much happier with the car in qualifying today than I'd been in Free Practice this morning and yesterday,” explained the Brit, who won here in Hungary last season.
“I wasn't quite as happy as Lewis obviously – he did a great job today so well done to him for that – but I feel pretty good, all in all.
“It's a pity that I just missed out on P3 at the end of Q3, because the odd-number side of the circuit is quite a bit cleaner than the even-number side. If I'd stayed in P3, it would have made it a bit easier to get a good start tomorrow. But P4 isn't too bad.
“As I said after Free Practice yesterday, being quick here is all about getting the perfect balance. I think today proved that. I didn't quite manage to get that perfect balance here this afternoon, but Lewis clearly did.
“In fact I think Lewis's performance shows how real our car's pace is now.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh praised both drivers for their efforts today, and was clearly particularly impressed with Hamilton’s performance.
“Lewis totally dominated qualifying today – in Q1, in Q2 and in Q3 – which was naturally satisfying for all of us [at McLaren],” he said.
“In truth, to use Lewis's own phrase, he's been 'on it' ever since he arrived here. And his long runs, carrying heavy fuel loads, have been encouraging too.
“Jenson also did an excellent job to qualify in fourth spot, which makes him well positioned to mount a serious challenge for a major placing from the second row of the starting grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix. He hadn't had as straightforward a time of things as Lewis had, either this morning or yesterday, but he showed real mettle, true grit and immense natural ability here this afternoon.
“Overtaking is usually tricky here, although its level of difficulty may be mitigated somewhat tomorrow by the pitstraight DRS zone. From our point of view, let's hope Lewis gets a good start – and that overtaking remains as much of a challenge as ever thereafter!
“Last but far from least, I want to pay tribute to all the men and women who, over the past 40 years, have put so much hard work into securing a grand total of 150 pole positions for McLaren. That's right: today's was our 150th.
“For all you train-spotters out there, our first was scored by Peter Revson, at Mosport Park, in Canada, on September 23rd 1972, in a McLaren M19C, with a lap-time of 1min 13.6sec. Oh, and, by the way, I haven't forgotten the 1968 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, where we also got the pole, but that was a non-championship Formula 1 race!”