Lewis Hamilton Q&A: Red Bull have advantage, but not for long 09 Apr 2011
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel may have taken pole in Malaysia, but McLarens Lewis Hamilton was next best at getting it right and will line up alongside the reigning world champion on the Sepang grid on Sunday. Hamilton reviews his qualifying performance...
Q: It was very close - did you think you had pole position in the bag?
Lewis Hamilton: I never think that I have it in the bag! From when I was racing at eight years-old there has never been a moment when I thought that I had it in the bag. Yes, my laps felt good, everything felt very competitive and I was pushing to the maximum. It was very, very close! I have to admit that it was almost a perfect lap - I lost a tenth-and-a-half in Turn 14. We need to improve our car further, but we are much closer than we had anticipated this weekend, which is very positive for us. I am satisfied about how it went today, but I am also keen to improve further.
Q: It may rain during the race
LH: Well, first of all weve been very fortunate that so far it hasnt rained while weve been on track. And tomorrow Im told a big cloud is on its way, so we will have to wait and see. I am on the front row and that will definitely help should it rain.
Q: Could you have done anything differently to clinch pole position?
LH: I always give everything, but today I probably extracted even more from the car. As I just said, I think I lost a tenth-and-a-half in the last two corners. I am happy about where I am because it gives me the chance to compete at the first corner and over the first couple of laps to try to overtake. Hopefully this time I will have a much better start.
Q: You will start on the option tyres. How will the tyres perform?
LH: The options didnt work too badly on Friday on the longer runs. It might rain tomorrow and nobody really knows what the conditions will be. It can be tricky either way and my guess is that it is looking like a three-stop strategy for all of us. My impression is that you can get only ten laps out of the options.
Q: How close are you in reality to the Red Bulls? Were you surprised today with your pace - and their pace?
LH: Weve come here with an upgrade package that didnt quite deliver what we had hoped, so we took it off as we thought that it would take us one step backwards. We realised that the Australian package worked just as well. I dont know why they are slow here. I have some idea but I will not say anything. I am happy that we are strong and able to compete. I want to deliver a strong race and score points, because that - and consistency - is what we need.
Q: Is it that Red Bull are slow here? Or are McLaren quick?
LH: Let me put it this way - I have no doubt that we can overtake these guys and it is just a question of when. We have to keep pushing for new components over the next races and keep on developing the car. But yes, I assume that theyve slowed down this weekend. But dont get me wrong, they still have an advantage, thats why we have to improve the car constantly.
Q: After a tough winter, you must be delighted
LH: I am, and I dont take this for granted. Everybody is working so hard to improve. No one can really imagine how much energy goes into the permanent improvement of the car - and how much focus and passion. I have won a Grand Prix every single year. My guess is that there are not many people around who can say that they had a car that had put them in the situation to win for years. That is really what my team is about. They have pure strength. Right now we know that we are not really there, but we have plenty more to come and we should be very proud of what we have achieved.
Q: What are your expectations for the race?
LH: I dont plan to have another Turn One slip like two weeks ago. I am hoping to have a good start. The challenge could be that it looks like they (Red Bull) can make their tyres last longer. That will be the challenge tomorrow to see how long we can make our tyres last. I am hungry to take the win.
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