Malaysian GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04 P3 programme 15 laps 1m36.657s (12th) Lewis's morning programme was disrupted by a number of set-up changes after he felt the overnight modifications made by the team had not significantly improved MP4-24. He completed a...

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-04
P3 programme
15 laps 1m36.657s (12th)

Lewis's morning programme was disrupted by a number of set-up changes after he felt the overnight modifications made by the team had not significantly improved MP4-24. He completed a single exploratory lap on the prime (1m46.341s) before reeling off two late runs on the soft (three laps/1m38.015s; four laps/1m36.657s).

Qualifying
Q1 1m35.280s (12th)
Q2 1m34.905s (13th overall)

Lewis wasn't totally happy with the balance of his car going into qualifying, but was satisfied with his two option-tyre runs in Q1, setting 12th fastest time of 1m35.280s. Into Q2, the team ran an identical programme, carrying out two low-fuel runs on options, setting a 13th-fastest 1m34.905s and 1m34.970s respectively. He will start tomorrow's race from 12th, gaining a position following Sebastian Vettel's 10-place grid penalty. "We qualified about where we expected to," said Lewis afterwards. "We don't yet have the pace to get into Q3 but the balance doesn't feel too bad -- we're just unable to carry enough speed through the corners. We expect to see some improvements over the next two or three races. For tomorrow, I'm just going to race my heart out, do the best I can and try and score some points."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03
P3 programme
13 laps 1m36.742s (13th)

Heikki only completed one flying lap (1m39.947s) on his first run before he was called back to the pits after an electronic sensor alerted the team to a problem with the left-rear tyre, which was later found to be losing pressure. The issue limited him to a single run later in the session (seven laps/1m36.742s best).

Qualifying
Q1 1m35.023s (5th)
Q2 1m34.924s (14th overall)

Running a cooling-down lap between his fast laps, Heikki was able to set two quick times (1m35.981s and 1m35.637s) on his first run. He improved to fifth overall in Q1 with a 1m35.023s. Into Q2, he again ran two low-fuel single-lap runs, recording a 1m34.924s before refuelling in the pits with a dump churn. His final run of 1m34.949s did not improve his overall position and he finished 14th overall. Heikki said: "We knew that getting into the top 10 would be tough, so my result was more or less what I expected. The gap to the cars in front is smaller than it was in Melbourne, so I'm confident that we're headed in the right direction, but we haven't yet found that extra bit of speed we need. The balance today wasn't completely to my liking, but I did my best and I'm looking forward to an enjoyable battle in the race tomorrow."

MARTIN WHITMARSH -- team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"We always knew that qualifying would be difficult around Sepang because MP4-24 lacks the aerodynamic downforce needed to match the top teams. That's no fault of either Lewis or Heikki, who have driven faultlessly all weekend: they just lack the grip needed to get the most from the car through the high-speed corners. Of course, starting 12th and 14th is not where we are accustomed to starting grands prix, but we are confident that the improvements we are preparing for the forthcoming races will allow us to quickly move into the midst of the tight pocket of cars competing for times in Q3."

NORBERT HAUG -- vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"We will start tomorrow's race from about where we thought we would. We have made some small additional improvements to MP4-24 since last weekend's season opener in Australia but we still missed out on getting into the top 10 by two tenths of a second. Our KERS certainly helped laptimes in sectors one and three and we hope it will also prove beneficial tomorrow and hopefully help us overtake some of the cars that start ahead of us."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes , McLaren