Hamilton: We can match Red Bulls' pace
Lewis Hamilton admitted after qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix that third place on the grid was the best he could do but that McLaren’s race pace should be equal to that of front-row starters Red Bull Racing tomorrow.
Pole position winner Sebastian Vettel and second-placed team-mare Mark Webber were largely untouchable during the one-hour session but despite qualifying three tenths of a seconds adrift of Vettel, Hamilton afterward insisted he will be able to battle them in the race.
“The team have done a great job this weekend in just trying to dial the setup in the car,” he said. “To have us on the second row… I mean we’re not quick enough to be ahead of these guys, but we can definitely challenge them in the race. I think our race pace was just as good as theirs through practice, so I’m excited about that.
"Our race pace was just as good as theirs through practice, so I’m excited about that."
“I think Ferrari potentially have slightly faster pace overall. Over all of us maybe, but we don’t know what fuel they’re on,” he added. “Otherwise we’re all very similar. Hopefully, if we can get a good start and have a good fight with these guys in front, it’ll be a better race than the last one.”
Hamilton will be joined on the second row by team-mate Jenson Button, who professed himself happy with fourth place on the grid.
“Not too bad,” said Button. “We really struggled to get the tyres working on lap one so I went for a different strategy to most I think, I did a three-timed lap run, which really worked for me in Q2. However, in Q3 I didn’t have quite as good a balance as I had in Q2. I had a bit more understeer in the car. I guess the circuit gripped up. Not quite the perfect lap, but I’m pretty happy to be fourth, the second row.”
Button concluded by backing up his team-mate’s assertion that McLaren’s race pace is as good as those around them.
“We should be happy with what we’ve done today as a team,” he said. “We’re not far off the Red Bulls and we’re in front of the Ferraris. It couldn't have got much better. I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done, we’ve just got to see what the car's like tomorrow.”