Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying – Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“WE’LL ATTACK TOMORROW”
Circuit de Catalunya, Saturday May 21
4th 1m23.068s (+1.361s) 13 laps
Q1 14th 1m24.370s (on Primes)
Q2 4th 1m22.148s (on Options)
Q3 3rd overall 1m21.961s (on Options)
“The Red Bulls look very strong, but I’m going to do everything I can to jump at least one – if not both – of them at the start. I hope I can attack tomorrow.
“When you start from the clean side of the grid, you automatically have a much better opportunity of getting a good start – and, this year, I’ve usually been on the dirty side, so tomorrow will be a bit of a bonus for me.
“Third on the grid is actually a perfect position – because, if you get a good start, you can slipstream the guys in front. My aim is to be P1 by Turn One! It doesn’t normally go that way, but as long as I don’t go backwards I’ll be happy.
“When you’re trying to eke every last drop out of the car, you sometimes lock the front wheels – and that’s just what happened on my final lap. While the flat-spot to the front-left doesn’t look perfect, we’ll manage it by re-balancing the wheels, so it’ll be fine.
“We’ve definitely made an improvement this weekend. We’ll keep pushing: we don’t give up, and with the DRS we should see some good racing tomorrow.”
5th 1m23.214s (+1.507s) 14 laps
Q1 15th 1m24.428s (on Primes)
Q2 3rd 1m22.050s (on Options)
Q3 5th overall 1m21.996s (on Options)
“I feel that I did a good lap, so I’m happy with that; my car got better and better throughout the session – I was only three-hundredths slower than Lewis. I was a bit unlucky not to be third, then Fernando got between us as well, so you can see how close it is out there.
“One major positive is that, like Lewis, I’ll be starting on the clean side of the grid. Another is that, also like Lewis, I’ve got two sets of [Option] tyres that have only done one lap and another set that’s brand new – that’s going to be key tomorrow.
“Having your tyres in good condition makes such a difference – so I think we’re looking in very good shape.
“There’s a big difference between the Option and the Prime here, so there’ll be some different strategies tomorrow. We’ll be looking at the strategy tonight and I’m sure we can make the harder tyre work for us too.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“We wanted to come through qualifying having retained one set of Option tyres for both our drivers, as did Red Bull, and it was for that reason that we were determined to tackle Q1 on Prime tyres. There’s a big speed differential between Options and Primes here in Barcelona, so most teams had no choice other than to use Options in Q1, for fear of not making it through to Q2. Fortunately, by contrast, like Red Bull, we were able to conserve our Options.
“The final result at the end of Q3 was P3 for Lewis and P5 for Jenson – in other words good grid slots on the clean side of the track for both our drivers.
“In actual fact they may have been a little quicker had they gone out when it was less breezy, and had we been able to get our KERS Hybrid up to optimal operating temperature; but I don’t think we’d have been quite as quick as the Red Bulls. To be clear, our KERS Hybrid is an excellent system, thanks in large part to the superlative work done by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, but we struggled to get it up to optimal operating temperature today.
“Even so, we’re usually a little closer to the Red Bulls’ pace in race trim than we are in qualifying, and we’ve got two brilliant racers in Lewis and Jenson, and as I say they’ll start from the clean side of the track; so, all in all, let’s just say that we’re looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow.”