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Belgian GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
06/09/2008

Lewis, I guess the smile on your face says it all with the pleasure and the perfection of your pole lap.
Lewis Hamilton: Today has been a great day for me. I was so happy with all three laps I did throughout qualifying. It is always satisfying when you can go out, do one lap and come back in and watch everyone else going around trying to get their laps done. Today the team made no mistakes and I made no mistakes. I had four great laps but especially at the end. In my first Q3 lap I had a bit of a lock up at turn one and I had the same for my second Q3 lap but somehow managed to keep it together but the rest of the lap I was very happy with.

And not an easy weekend so far with changing conditions. In Q2 we saw you running with the harder of the Bridgestone tyres compared to your team mate, so a lot of indecision going into qualifying.
LH Not on our side. I decided to stay with the harder tyre for Q2 and surprisingly the option tyre, the softer tyre, is quite a bit better. I think everyone else was on the option tyre but I was on the prime and I was very, very comfortable with the pace that I had, considering I was on that tyre.

You mentioned the lock up. That is not the first time we have seen you locking up. Is that something we should be talking about?
LH Not really. It is one of the characteristics of my car and that's why we are quick, maybe, I don't know. But even with those lock ups we still managed to pull it out of the bag. I feel great. The team and the atmosphere in the team feels great, back at the factory but also here and really the solid job that they are doing is coming out in the results that we have, so I am absolutely thrilled to be here.

Felipe, it will be a very tight first corner going into the Belgium Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa: To be honest, I did a great lap, I did almost a perfect lap but it was not enough. Sometimes you do a great lap and you are still missing something. On the qualifying these guys showed definitely a better performance than us and we need to understand why. I think yesterday we had a great car. I did a great job in qualifying but it was not enough.

You are implying that going into qualifying you felt that the Ferrari was right there with the McLaren, although we don't know what the fuel loads were at this stage.
FM Yeah, for sure we don't know their fuel loads. But I think they were quicker in all three qualifying sessions, so that is a sign they are pretty strong here. But the race is long and starting on the front row is always very important, so let's try to have a good race tomorrow.

How does the car feel through Spa's fast open corners?
FM It feels okay. The balance is good. For sure in terms of car balance we have a good car. We just need to pick up a little bit more speed to improve that couple of tenths to be in front of them. But it was not possible today, hopefully tomorrow we will see a different picture but it will depend on the track and the conditions, so we need to do everything we can tomorrow to have a strong pace.

Heikki, P3 confirmed the speed McLaren have this weekend. Talk us through qualifying from your point of view.
Heikki Kovalainen: Well, it has been a pretty good weekend all the way through. We have not had any big problems with the car and we have been modifying it little by little trying to increase the pace at the same time. The three sessions in qualifying were fairly straightforward for me, no big problems, but not quite enough to be higher up on the grid. But anyway we have the race tomorrow and we will see if we can be a little bit better.

How did your lap feel in the cockpit?
HK It felt okay, no big problems. Obviously, we lost a little bit in the middle sector, I don't know exactly where in terms of corners but somewhere in the middle of the lap I think I lost a little bit. But that's life. Sometimes that's the way it goes.

Lewis, this could not be more different coming here from Valencia. And your physical condition comparing two weeks ago to how you look to be driving now.
LH Absolutely, I think coming from Valencia we knew we had some work to do. I have come here feeling better than ever and more and more comfortable in the car. The preparation has been fantastic. As you can see I am stoked and I am struggling not to smile. Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day for all of us but with the pace and the package we have we are going to be hard to beat.

Press Conference

Lewis, to what extent do you feel you've been on top all weekend? Has everything been going perfectly? I know we saw you having a change of brake set-up yesterday.
LH Yeah, otherwise it's been going pretty smoothly. We've not had any problems, the car's reliable. I think yesterday we just made sensible choices and good steps forward with the limiting running that we had and also this morning. But I felt pretty sure, coming here compared to last year, that the car that I have, the set-up that I've worked on with my engineers would be suitable for here, so I've felt pretty much on it all weekend.

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