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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: We could be faster than the Red Bulls 28 Aug 2010

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010 Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Robert Kubica (POL) Renault, third; Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, second.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010

With typically changeable weather conditions at Spa-Francorchamps for qualifying on Saturday, the timing of a driver’s flying lap was crucial. Although it was Red Bull’s Mark Webber who took pole position, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was next best at getting it right. And if he hadn’t made a slight mistake on his final lap, Hamilton believes he could even have clinched P1…

Q: Lewis, are you surprised to be second on the grid?
Lewis Hamilton:
I was not really surprised. I knew that we were looking very fast, the car felt really great and we have the best engine for this circuit. Fortunately our aerodynamic package suits the circuit very well. It already felt good in Free Practice Three but we made some changes for qualifying and it was even better. My first run was pretty poor as the whole lap was dry except for one part that was damp and I wasn’t sure how much I could push there to optimize my run. When I went out for the second run it started to spit with rain when I left the pit lane and I went a bit wide in Turn One and left some time there - around three tenths. Without that I think we could have even got pole position. I mean it was definitely within reach. That was a shame.

Q: Does it help to be British in these weather conditions?
LH:
(laughs) No, I guess not really. I would say it would be an advantage being Belgian and coming from this area. That would probably help.

Q: How crucial is a good grid position here with rain forecast for the race?
LH:
It is definitely important. I would say that in P2 I am in quite a good position as there is a long straight so it is quite tricky to stay ahead, even if you start from P1. I hope that I get a good start tomorrow and then we will take it from there, as we will see a race where anything can happen.

Q: You are second in the drivers’ championship. Does that mean that you have to score more points than Red Bull here and in Monza as these tracks should suit the McLaren?
LH:
Yes, that’s about it. We need to capitalize on the fact that maybe our package works a little better here and hopefully in Monza because when we get to Singapore and Japan it will be very, very had to compete with them. We need to keep pushing and from where I am starting it looks quite promising.

Q: What are you hoping for from the race? What would be the perfect scenario?
LH:
That’s easy - the perfect scenario for me would be to win from the first corner on.

Q: You have been absent from the front row at the last four races…
LH:
Is that so! The answer is pretty simple - the car worked extremely well and I like to race this track in any conditions. And when these things come together, you have a good grid position.

Q: What will be the key to success on Sunday?
LH:
To stay between the white lines - don’t go off-road - and stay as fast as we are! We have worked very hard to be in this situation.

Q: What is your plan for the race?
LH:
Under the conditions that we will face it is all about trying to keep the brake and tyre temperatures up and settling in for a good level. You can get caught up so easily - it has happened to me many, many times. But I’ve learned from those.

Q: Where would you say the McLaren is compared to the Red Bulls?
LH:
I would say that looking at our pace our car should be the fastest car out there. I don’t know how it is on long runs because nobody has done long runs here. But the fact is in the past we’ve always been better on the long runs so hopefully it will also be the case for this race.

Q: Could that mean a win for you?
LH:
Fingers crossed! It would be great to get another win as it’s been quite a while since we had a win, especially coming back after a DNF in the last race. So if it is not the win then I hope to at least keep the position that we’re in and not go backwards.