After qualifying 3rd for tomorrow's European GP, Lewis Hamilton is confident he can put up a fight for the race win at Valencia. Jenson Button meanwhile struggled with oversteer and will start from 6th, but as we've seen in Canada, anything is still possible from there.
Lewis Hamilton, MP4-26A-03:
P3: 7th, 1m38.741s (+1.483s) 13 laps
Q1: 4th, 1m39.244s (on Primes)
Q2: 2nd, 1m37.727s (on Options)
Q3: 3rd overall, 1m37.380s (on Options)
“I’m excited to be in the fight: we can win from this position. Of course, we’ll need a bit of luck with the strategy and the pitstops, but our guys are on great form. You’ve got to be fortunate and maximise absolutely everything to get ahead of the Red Bulls – and, hopefully, that can happen tomorrow.
“I tried to push a little harder on my final lap – but it’s a very fine line between being too greedy and getting it just right – and, unfortunately, I locked up into Turn One and that’s where I lost time and bailed out.
“The team did a great job as always. The guys back at the factory have been working as hard as ever to bring the updates to the track. They’re pushed to the limit, but they are delivering, so I’m very thankful for everything they’re doing.
“Our race pace has been pretty good over the past three races and we should be fast tomorrow too – so keep your fingers crossed!”
Jenson Button, MP4-26A-04:
P3: 5th, 1m38.326s (+1.068s) 13 laps
Q1: 5th, 1m39.453s (on Primes)
Q2: 3rd, 1m37.749s (on Options)
Q3: 6th overall, 1m37.645s (on Options)
“Sixth position is a bit frustrating because the car felt pretty good in Q2, and I didn’t have to push it too much. So I don’t know why that changed for Q3. I had quite a bit of oversteer and I couldn’t get enough rear grip or traction, particularly in the first two sectors. And that was something I wasn’t expecting.
“The car felt really good this morning in practice, though. Maybe in this heat, the balance didn’t work quite as well as it did this morning due to the higher track temperatures. It was the same with the Prime tyre: a bit more oversteer than there was this morning.
“Still, I’m sure we can change the tyre pressures and aero balance for tomorrow, so we can still have a good race.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
“In the last three grands prix – Barcelona, Monte-Carlo and Montreal – we’ve had the quickest race car, and I’m hopeful that we’ll have the quickest race car here in Valencia, too.
“Today, we qualified third and sixth – good but not great – but we feel we can still win tomorrow’s race.
“Getting the strategy right will be a challenge for everyone, but we’ve got a great race car in the MP4-26 and two great race drivers in Lewis and Jenson – and, although ideally we’d prefer to have qualified on the front row, as I say I firmly believe we’ll be able to mount a serious challenge for victory tomorrow.”