McLaren disappointed with Hamilton's exclusion

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

As was to be expected, stewards have investigated the on-track stoppage of Lewis Hamilton after qualifying,and decided that he was underfuelled to complete his out lap. He was therefore excluded from qualifying and will start 24th on the grid. Jenson Button moves up one place and starts from 10th.

Jenson Button, MP4-27A-04:
P3: 8th, 1m23.909s (+0.741s) 13 laps
Q1: 8th, 1m23.510s (on Options)
Q2: 11th, overall*, 1m22.944s (on Options)
Q3: -, - *(will start 10th following Lewis’s grid penalty)

“I expected quite a bit from qualifying today, so I don’t really understand what went wrong. The speed is in the car though, as Lewis showed.

“We were quickest on the soft tyre yesterday, and I thought we’d be reasonably competitive today too – but that wasn’t the case, and we don’t really know why. I just struggled with a very different balance from yesterday.

“I had oversteer all through qualifying, then, on my final run – when we actually added more front wing – I had understeer!

“It’s not a perfect day when you qualify in P11 [P10 after Lewis’s penalty] but I hope we can work out this evening what’s happening with the balance for the race tomorrow.

“I guess you’d just have to describe today as a difficult day at the office.”

Lewis Hamilton, MP4-27A-03:
P3: 16th, 1m24.778s (+1.610s) 15 laps
Q1: 1st, 1m22.583s (on Options)
Q2: 2nd, 1m22.465s (on Options)
Q3: 1st overall*, 1m21.707s (on Options)
* (will start 24th after being excluded from qualifying for breach of Article 6.6.2 of the Technical Regulations)

“This is such a disappointment. Today’s qualifying session was one of the best I’ve ever driven – the whole car was just rolling so smoothly – it felt fantastic. The team had done a fantastic job to bring the updates here this weekend – so I want to say a huge thank-you to all the men and women at the MTC for working day and night to get all the new components here this weekend.

“But, on my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track, and I didn’t know why. Later, to hear that I’d been excluded from qualifying, was of course extremely disappointing.

“But, now, looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’s clear that it’s going to be an incredibly tough race for us. Even so, as always, I’ll never give up and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. It would mean so much to me to get a good result here in Spain: it’s such a pleasure to come here and the support I get is amazing.

“As I always say, and as I always do, whatever grid position I start a Grand Prix from, I’ll always race my heart out.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

“You won’t be surprised to hear me saying that today was a very disappointing day for all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“But, if I may start by stressing the positives, both today and yesterday our car has shown itself to be both fast and stable at this most testing of circuits, and as a result Jenson was extremely quick yesterday and Lewis extremely quick today.

“But, when it came to final qualifying this afternoon, by their own admission Jenson and his engineers didn’t quite manage to find the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of set-up and tyre optimisation, and the result was P11 [P10 after Lewis’s penalty]. Lewis, by contrast, hooked it up beautifully in Q3 today, continuing his run of scintillating quali-laps so far this season.

“However, he was unable to finish his slow-down lap – and, since we accept that the stewards didn’t agree with our interpretation of force majeure, we didn’t contest their decision to penalise him.

“Our aim is therefore now to maximise the points we can score tomorrow, and you may rest assured that both Jenson and Lewis will approach the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with their customary combative ambition.”