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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Our qualifying performance will be critical 16 Apr 2010

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in front of the UK Pavilion for the Expo Shanghai 2010.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 15 April 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010

Although it ultimately proved rewarding, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is hoping he doesn’t have to repeat his Malaysian fight through the field at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. And after setting the pace during Friday afternoon’s second practice session, Hamilton is optimistic he can earn a top-five grid slot for the Shanghai race on Saturday…

Q: Lewis, your performance on Friday suggests you could win this race…
Lewis Hamilton:
I don’t think so, really. Of course you never know what the others are doing in the free practice sessions, especially what the Red Bulls have been up to today. Our pace looks pretty similar to theirs on the longer runs, but again, we don’t know what they’ve been doing, whether they’ve been lighter on fuel or not. One thing that is for sure - our car feels good.

Q: How are you finding the big bump on the track?
LH:
Actually there are a few big bumps on the track but they’re not affecting us, which is a good thing.

Q: The track looked pretty dusty all day. Did that affect you in any way?
LH:
No, the day has been pretty good, and thank goodness it is much warmer today compared to yesterday, when it was freezing. The car feels as good as it did in Malaysia, even though we’ve made some smaller changes. I came out of Friday Practice One and Two with a very positive feeling, but of course you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. We have to keep our heads down and try to get a much better qualifying position tomorrow.

Q: Could the McLaren’s straight-line speed advantage help you?
LH:
Everybody is saying that we have a straight-line speed advantage, but that is rubbish. We don’t have. I think the Ferraris are doing exactly the same speed as us at the end of the straight. We might be a little quicker than some of the others, but some of the others have more downforce than us, so the secret lies in the mix they use. They could drop the downforce and match us, but then maybe they wouldn’t be so fast in the mid sector, so it really is about having a good balance. And we do have a good balance, so hopefully that is going to help us in qualifying.

Q: So what will be critical to winning this race?
LH:
Qualifying. You’ve seen our pace in the last two races. It is pretty good, but we’ve been coming from the back to the front. Ideally we want to make it into Q3 and have a top-five starting place on the grid. That will enable us to have a competitive run for the win.

Q: How would you summarise your running?
LH:
Friday Practice One was nice and smooth. I had no issues at all. The car was running smoothly, the engine was pulling great and the balance felt close to perfect. Friday Practice Two was even better. Every time I come to a track this season it feels so much better than the last time I drove it. It’s like night and day, when I compare it to last year, and it feels so rewarding to have a car beneath me that I can push. It’s almost reminiscent of 2008.