British GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-02 P3 programme 18 laps/1m20.638s (17th) Two runs in the morning on a circuit that was slightly damp at the beginning of the session but which dried quickly. Choosing to run without KERS in order to better balance the...

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-02

P3 programme
18 laps/1m20.638s (17th)

Two runs in the morning on a circuit that was slightly damp at the beginning of the session but which dried quickly. Choosing to run without KERS in order to better balance the car for this high-speed circuit, Heikki completed an installation lap before conducting an eight-lap run on Prime tyres (1m21.915s). He finished the morning session by making a comparison run on the Option (five laps/1m20.638s).

Qualifying
Q1 1m19.732s (15th)
Q2 1m19.353s (13th overall)
Q3 -

Starting on the Prime, Heikki set a fastest time of 1m20.756s on his first run. Switching to Options for the second, he recorded a 1m19.732s -- a time which graduated him to Q2. In the second session, Heikki pulled together a strong, clean lap, but his best time of 1m19.353s was only enough for 13th position on tomorrow's grid.

Heikki said: "Today's result is obviously disappointing for the team but, given the circumstances, I'm satisfied with my performance: I gave it my all and couldn't have gone any quicker. I didn't make any mistakes and was on the limit all the time. It's a pity that Lewis couldn't improve on his time due to the red flag in the first session as I'm sure he would have joined me in Q2 as well.

"We knew this circuit wouldn't suit our car and that it would be difficult to get into Q3, but the balance was quite okay this afternoon. We're all working extremely hard to address the car's lack of downforce. The guys worked hard overnight to make a lot of changes to the car and we worked really well together to get the most from the car during the morning session. The work doesn't stop here, however, and our immediate aim is to maximise our strategy and finish the race."

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04

P3 programme
16 laps/1m20.048s (11th)

Lewis ran an identical programme to Heikki, completing runs on both tyre compounds. Starting the session on the Prime, he completed seven laps (1m20.628s) before switching to the Option (four laps/1m20.048s). "The improvements we've made overnight made the car feel better in the high-speed corners," Lewis said. "But we're still lacking the downforce to really get the best laptimes. But I felt I was able to attack the fast stuff with a bit more commitment than yesterday."

Qualifying
Q1 1m19.917s (19th overall)
Q2 -
Q3 -

Completing two runs on Options in the truncated session, Lewis pushed hard to set a 1m20.502s and a 1m19.917s. The first lap of his second run was a slower one, a 1m21.372s, and he failed to improve for his final effort when the session was red-flagged following Adrian Sutil's accident. He starts his home race from 19th.

"I did the best I could today," said Lewis. "I was pushing as hard as I could but our car is too slow. I gave it my all and there wasn't really much more I could have got from the car."

He also played down his chances of being able to improve before the stoppage, admitting: "I was pushing on that final lap -- but it was nothing special. However, we live to fight another day and anything can happen in the race tomorrow. We'll keep pushing on and hopefully put on a good show for all the fans. The great thing is that I've had incredible support these past few days from the fans -- they're the ones who are really helping me to get through it, so a big thank-you to all of them."

MARTIN WHITMARSH
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"While a starting position of 13th for tomorrow's race might not sound like a spectacular result, I think Heikki can be pleased with his efforts given the circumstances. Lewis was a little unlucky to have his final quick-lap cut short by Sutil's accident. Today's result is not a surprise, but it demonstrates that we still have work to do to address MP4-24's weaknesses in high-speed corners. Nonetheless, we're already fully focused on the race tomorrow and mindful that we could still produce a strong result in front of the many thousands of passionate fans who will be cheering us on."

NORBERT HAUG
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Quite painful for Lewis and everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to start from the last row after dominating this race last year. He just drove into his last qualifying lap in Q1 when the track was red-flagged. Otherwise a start from as high as the sixth row could have been possible, albeit unlikely. Heikki and his guys did a competent job in extracting what was possible from the car with its deficits in high-speed corners -- plenty of which you'll find at Silverstone. We'll all stick together through these tough times and everybody will work very hard to come back to where we used to be in the last two years, when Lewis started 21 of his 42 grands prix from the front row. It's time to get back to that place!"

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Adrian Sutil
Teams Mercedes , McLaren