FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton aims to win the 2012 Grand Prix of Hungary from pole position at the Hungaroring in his “fantastic” McLaren car, to enter the sport’s summer break on a high.
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire qualified fastest at the Hungaroring today (Saturday), having already set the pace in Friday’s two free practice sessions near Budapest.
Hamilton totally dominated qualifying, topping the timesheets in all three phases, and was more than four-tenths faster than his closest rival in Q3 with a lap time of 1m 20.953s.
He will line-up on pole with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean alongside him on the front row of the grid. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren driver Jenson Button start on the second row.
The Herts-born 2008 F1 world champion is determined to take the chequered flag in Hungary. Celebrating the 22nd pole of his F1 career, Hamilton said: “I’m really happy! It’s been a really good weekend so far.
“After Jenson was able to demonstrate the pace of our car in the last Grand Prix, at Hockenheim, now for us to be able to come to Budapest this weekend and be really ‘on it’ is just great.
“It was tough out there this afternoon, though, but I really enjoyed every lap and the crowd support was absolutely phenomenal. So I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the fans.”
After struggling for pace in recent races, McLaren’s latest upgrades have dramatically improved the car’s performance out on track.
Hamilton said: “Our upgrades are working. Jenson and I always want more speed still – that’s natural for any racing driver – but the guys back at Woking, and here in Budapest, have done a brilliant job.
“Our car now feels fantastic. We’ve been fine-tuning its set-up all weekend. Believe me: as long as we remain fully focused on developing our car, and getting good results, then anything is still possible for us this year.”
Looking ahead to the Hungarian race, Hamilton thinks the start will prove crucial – something he’s had issues with this season.
“My feeling is that the start of tomorrow’s race will be extremely important,” said Hamilton. “I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to make a clean getaway off the line and then stay ahead while looking after the tyres.”
Button, second in last weekend’s German GP, will start from fourth position, on the dirtier side of the grid.
He said: “I was much happier with the car in qualifying today [Saturday] than I’d been in free practice this morning and yesterday.
“I wasn’t quite as happy as Lewis obviously – he did a great job today so well done to him for that – but I feel pretty good, all in all.
“It’s a pity that I just missed out on P3 at the end of Q3, because the odd-number side of the circuit is quite a bit cleaner than the even-number side. If I’d stayed in P3, it would have made it a bit easier to get a good start tomorrow. But P4 isn’t too bad.
“As I said after free practice yesterday, being quick here is all about getting the perfect balance. I think today proved that. I didn’t quite manage to get that perfect balance here this afternoon, but Lewis clearly did.
“In fact, I think Lewis’s performance shows how real our car’s pace is now.”
The 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday and can be watched live from 11.30am on Sky Sports F1, Sky Channel 408.