German GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04 P3 programme 1m31.121s (16 laps, 1st) Lewis ran the morning session e quipped with a full upgrade package of new floor, top-body and FW5 front wing. He completed three runs, refining the overall balance of the car and...

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04

P3 programme
1m31.121s (16 laps, 1st)

Lewis ran the morning session e quipped with a full upgrade package of new floor, top-body and FW5 front wing. He completed three runs, refining the overall balance of the car and assessing the two tyre compounds. After setting the fastest time of the morning, Lewis declared himself thrilled with the potential of the new package: "The car behaves really well," he said. "It feels great to have a car that you can really push into the corners.

Qualifying
Q1 1m31.473s (4th)
Q2 1m39.149s (6th)
Q3 1m32.616s (5th overall)

An early Option-tyre run by Lewis in Q1 -- before the shower affected track grip -- secured his graduation to the second session with a 1m31.686s. Into Q2, he ran two slower laps on Intermediates before making a quick change to Options and recorded a 1m39.149s in the hectic dying seconds of the session. That placed him sixth. With the track steadily drying ahead of Q3, Lewis completed an early recce before bolting on another set of Options to set a 1m32.616s -- finishing his run before the track reached its optimum. Nevertheless, he lines up fifth fastest for tomorrow's race.

"I'm really happy to be in Q3," said Lewis. "It's a big difference for us this year, and the team has done a fantastic job. The conditions were up and down and they did brilliantly to make sure we were on the track with the right tyres at the right time. Also, the guys back at the factory have all worked extremely hard to get the parts to the track and they have made a big difference. Unfortunately, the track got a bit better after I set my fastest lap, when it was a bit greasy, but for Heikki and me to line up sixth and fifth tomorrow is a great result for us. We're definitely in a position to fight for a podium, but trying to beat the Brawns and the Red Bulls will be difficult. The car is still a work-in-progress and there's a way to go -- but this is really encouraging. I don't mind if it rains tomorrow but I'd just like a nice, smooth race!"

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03

P3 programme
1m32.742s (18 laps, 18th)

Two runs for Heikki in P3 -- an eight-lap run on Primes and a five-lap stint on the Option. Equipped with a second FW5 front wing, but without the top-body and diffuser upgrades for Lewis, Heikki still found it difficult to find a comfortable balance in MP4-24 but pushed throughout the morning to refine the car to his liking.

Qualifying
Q1 1m31.881s (12th)
Q2 1m40.826s (8th)
Q3 1m33.859s (6th overall)

Heikki completed three early laps in Q1 before making a tyre-stop in the pits and completing another three laps, recording a 12th-fastest 1m31.881s. On a damp track in Q2, he spun on Inters at the exit of Turn Four but the car emerged unscathed and he was able to pit for Options, keep his head during a longer-than-anticipated stop and set a 1m40.826s -- seeing him move into Q3 after a nail-biting session. For Q3, he completed two laps on the Option, finally setting a 1m33.859s to line up sixth -- a fantastic effort and Heikki's best qualifying position of the season.

Heikki said: "Today worked out better for me than expected: we can be very pleased with that. My tyre strategy worked really well this afternoon and I had the right tyres in Q2 when the conditions were at their trickiest. Thanks to the team for a superb job in a very tight situation. This result is very promising for everyone in the team and my car worked much better here than at previous races. The team has been working incredibly hard to make improvements to our car and, although I didn't have the same upgrades as Lewis today, it's really encouraging to see the step forward we've taken -- we're making excellent progress. Finally, it's great to be able to produce our strongest qualifying result of the year at the home race of Mercedes-Benz -- I think they've produced the best engine in Formula 1, and I hope they're proud of their results today."

MARTIN WHITMARSH
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"First of all, congratulations to Mercedes-Benz for having five of their engines in the top seven -- what a magnificent result. Obviously, we've made a step forward and having both cars on the third row is a fine achievement. Everybody in this team has worked incredibly hard to bring these performance upgrades to the car and it's hugely gratifying for everyone that we can begin to see the results of all their efforts. Lewis and Heikki did a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances and Heikki's pace, in particular, was outstanding. While a position on the front row was certainly possible, our cars were not running when the track was at its fastest. Nevertheless, we must be very pleased with today's result and we look forward to tomorrow, when we feel we have the strategy to achieve another good result."

NORBERT HAUG
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"We had known since yesterday that a good result would be possible at our home race. Lewis and Heikki managed to put their cars on the third row -- and even more could have been possible. The team and the drivers, including Pedro, have worked extremely hard since our disappointing performance at the last race at Silverstone and we have definitely made a step in the right direction. We should be in good shape for tomorrow's race and hopefully our KERS hybrid will help us to overtake a couple of cars at the start."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes , McLaren