F1 2011 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton chasing Monte Carlo podium
PUBLISHED: 20:49 28 May 2011 | UPDATED: 20:21 29 May 2011
FORMULA 1 race ace Lewis Hamilton is going to push all the way for a podium finish in the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix.
"I’ll do my best from my grid slot – and, while it’ll be tough to win from there, I won’t give up."
The 26-year-old McLaren F1 star from Herts will start Sunday’s race around the famous Monte Carlo circuit from the fifth row of the grid after qualifying seventh and then being relegated down to ninth.
Hamilton had gone fastest in Q1 and Q2, but things went wrong in the top 10 qualifying shoot-out.
He hadn’t set a lap time before Sergio Perez’s crash in the closing minutes of Q3 which caused a lengthy red-flag stoppage, and he will go from row five behind both Red Bulls.
With overtaking notoriously difficult around the narrow and twisty street circuit, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes hero will struggle to emulate his 2008 victory in the Principality – especially with reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel on pole position once more for Red Bull.
"He’s understandably disappointed, because he’s been in fantastic form all weekend and was looking very good in Q1 and Q2 today."
However, the Stevenage-born racer insists he will give it his best shot – the full Monte – although he acknowledges the odds are against him striking it lucky in the playboy’s paradise on the Côte d’Azur.
“I felt I’d been driving well all weekend and I had the pace to be on pole – I’m certain of that, in fact,” said Hamilton, who was watched trackside by US X Factor girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
“I’ll do my best from my grid slot – and, while it’ll be tough to win from there, I won’t give up. I’ll keep pushing.
“My job will be to get as many points as I can tomorrow [Sunday].”
Of his qualifying performance, Hamilton said: “After the restart in Q3, I had no temperature in my tyres or my brakes, so I didn’t manage to pull a great lap together.
“With hindsight, we probably should have put a banker in.”
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, felt Hamilton could have snatched pole – his pace was that good in the opening phases of qualifying.
“Lewis hadn’t yet set a time in Q3 before the session was temporarily stopped, and P7 was the result,” said the McLaren chief before Hamilton had his time deleted for cutting the chicane.
“He’s understandably disappointed, because he’s been in fantastic form all weekend and was looking very good in Q1 and Q2 today.
“It’s fair to say that he fancied his chances of bagging pole position today, in fact.
“Instead, as I say, he’ll start from P7 – which, on the tight confines of this notoriously tortuous circuit, presents quite a challenge in terms of recovering from a disappointing qualifying position.
“But he loves this circuit – and, if there’s one man who’s capable of making that recovery, it’s Lewis.”
Despite his own qualifying misfortunes on the unforgiving streets of the mega-rich Principality, Hamilton’s thoughts were with Sauber driver Perez, who crashed at the chicane section during the closing minutes of Q3.
“I hope Sergio is well – my prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family,” added Hamilton.
“He was driving so well this weekend – you could see that from the onboard footage – but it was a very heavy shunt.
“You never want to see another driver get injured, and it’s at the back of your mind when you go back out, but you need to stay professional.”
Recent Monaco Grand Prix winners
2006: Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2007: Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
2008: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2009: Jenson Button (Brawn)
2010: Mark Webber (Red Bull)
Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button goes from the front row alongside Vettel.
The 2009 F1 world champion said: “I was very happy with my Q3 lap.
“I knew there was more to come from the car after my Q1 and Q2 runs, when I had a bit too much understeer.
“While second isn’t the easiest place to get away from here, it’s still nice to be up at the front.
“I think we’ll see a different Monaco Grand Prix from what we usually see – strategy will be important, and I think it will make the race more exciting than normal because we should be able to push for victory despite not starting from pole.”
The 2011 Monaco Grand Prix starts at 1pm BST on Sunday.