Abu Dhabi GP: Qualifying notes - McLaren


Lewis Hamilton

Today we saw the fourth pole position of the season for Lewis, who revelled in the handling of MP4-24 around the Yas Marina circuit today. After an extremely encouraging run yesterday, and going into this afternoon's final practice, Lewis refined the car's balance to his liking, finally declaring the car "the best it's felt all year," after taking pole.

"My pole lap wasn't too aggressive," said Lewis. "I was very smooth, and it just kept getting better and better. KERS Hybrid and the engine have been fantastic all season - and today was no exception - but it's the chassis that has really come good lately and we've brought them all together this weekend to create the perfect package.

"Even more encouragingly, this is all a work-in-progress for next year - and winning tomorrow would be a perfect way to end the season and raise our expectations for 2010.

"It should be an exciting race - I just want to go out and do the job tomorrow."

Heikki Kovalainen

It was a day of disappointment for Heikki, who looked set for one of his best grid positions of the year before being sidelined with a gearbox problem - just as he was preparing for his fast laps in Q2. Despite that setback, Heikki still finished the session 13th fastest and is well positioned for a charging race tomorrow evening.

"What a disappointing outcome to my qualifying," Heikki said. "I got stuck in second gear during Q2 and that was it. I already had minor problems with the gearbox yesterday when it jumped out of gear, so it's frustrating when you have a car you can easily take into Q3.

"But I'm looking at the positives: the balance of my car has been good throughout the entire weekend, and it's been great to drive on this fantastic circuit.

"You can absolutely guarantee I'll be giving it my all in the race tomorrow and I'll be fighting from the first lap to the very last."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: "Lewis did a brilliant job, demonstrating prodigious speed, to secure pole position in dominant fashion in Abu Dhabi this evening. We were relatively aggressive in terms of his fuel strategy, but we've certainly been more aggressive in a few other qualifying sessions this year and there's therefore no doubt that his pace here is very genuine.

"Heikki, too, would have figured at or close to the front had he not been hampered by a gearbox problem not of his making, but you can be well sure that he'll be pushing as hard as ever tomorrow to make good progress from his P13 grid slot.

"Tomorrow's race will be an arduous one for drivers and team members alike - hot and tiring - but we'll be aiming to end the season on a high by delivering a disciplined, focused and hopefully victorious performance, in an effort to secure third place in the 2009 Constructors' World Championship."

Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "What a great lap from Lewis. This was his fourth pole in the last seven grands prix since Valencia and certainly a very important one on this fantastic new race track here in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully we can continue in that direction tomorrow. Our race simulation laps showed yesterday that our speed is there.

"Sorry for Heikki who could not make it into Q3 due to a gearbox problem, but tomorrow is another day for him as well and he can still have a good finish in the points.

"The organisers and the hosts here did an unbelievable job to build up this very impressive venue - another good reason why it would be very special to fight for a victory tomorrow at this inaugural GP of Abu Dhabi."

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    Published: 31/10/2009
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