Hamilton targets win as "perfect farewell"

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

McLaren have had a nearly perfect weekend so far at Brazil. Both drivers together topped all free practice sessions and today qualified in first and second positions, the best possible result in Lewis Hamilton's final race weekend for McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton, MP4-27A-04:
FP3: 4th, 1m13.389s (+0.201s) 17 laps
Q: 1st, 1m12.458s (on Options)
“Pole! What a great feeling! It’s been a fantastic weekend so far. We don’t yet know for certain what the weather conditions will be like tomorrow, but I hope that both Jenson and I will be able to push for victory.

“I’ve usually started from fourth grid position at Interlagos, and it hasn’t always given me much success. Before qualifying, I told Martin [Whitmarsh] that I really didn’t want to start fourth this time. All in all, I’m very proud and happy that I got pole.

“Jenson and I are in the best possible starting positions for tomorrow. However, if it’s wet, the lead car is the always the first to aquaplane or hit the puddles, so, even if we both get good starts, we’ll still need to be cautious. Equally, however, I don’t want to drop back at the start because it would then be very difficult to see in all the spray.

“We haven’t had a one-two in a race for quite a long time [Canada 2010], so it would be a great positive for the team if we could achieve it tomorrow. It would be my perfect farewell, in fact.”

Jenson Button, MP4-27A-03:
FP3: 1st, 1m13.188s, 22 laps
Q: 2nd, 1m12.513s (on Options)
“It’s great for us to both be on the front row, especially as it’s Lewis’s last grand prix for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Our car is working very well. I was just half-a-tenth away from pole, and I reckon we both drove very good laps.

“So, yes, I’m happy with qualifying. From the front row, you always hope you’re going to drive a calm and orderly race – but it looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow, so that may make things rather less predictable.

“This race is important for us. Obviously, we’re out of contention for the world championships, but this weekend’s and last weekend’s performances are very encouraging for next year, which will become our focus immediately after tomorrow’s race.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
“Here at Interlagos today, on a track that was slippery when wet at the start of qualifying and then dried out in bright sunshine as the session progressed, Lewis and Jenson both drove superbly, managing the changing conditions with consummate expertise and then nailing super-fast laps in Q3 to line up first and second for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix. They ended up just 0.055s apart, demonstrably the class of the field.

“It was the 62nd front-row lock-out in McLaren’s Formula 1 history, which establishes a new world record of which all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are justifiably proud. It was also Lewis’s 7th pole of 2012, and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ 8th.

“Rain is forecast for tomorrow, and, as we all know, inclement weather always makes the outcome of any motor race that bit harder to predict. But we’re now extremely well set, and, come rain or shine, we’re delighted that our drivers will both be starting from the very front of the grid.

“Moreover, Lewis and Jenson are both extremely combative and canny racers, outstandingly adept in the wet, and they’re both therefore eminently capable driving to victory tomorrow. We clearly have an extremely quick car, and our long-run performance yesterday would suggest that our race pace is competitive too.

“Finally, I want to say both ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ to all Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ designers, engineers, technicians and mechanics, not only here at Interlagos and back home in Woking [Surrey, UK] but also in Brixworth [Northamptonshire, UK], where Mercedes AMG HighPerformancePowertrains is based. The Brixworth guys’ excellent engine has served us extremely well in 2012, as expected.

“So, while I’m on the subject, I’m pleased that we’ve been able to give our good friend Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, a pole position to celebrate on his 60th birthday.”