F1 2012 Grand Prix of India qualifying: Hamilton's hopes and fears
PUBLISHED: 00:11 27 October 2012 | UPDATED: 12:58 17 November 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2012 Indian Grand Prix today (Saturday).
F1 2012 Indian Grand Prix
Buddh International Circuit facts
* Race distance: 60 laps (190.924 miles/307.249km)
* Start time: 15:00 (local)/09:30 GMT
* Circuit length: 3.185 miles/5.125km
* 2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 60 laps in 1hr30m35.002s (203.513km/h)
* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m24.178s (219.178km/h)
* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m27.249s (211.463km/h)
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star from Hertfordshire takes to the Buddh International Circuit this morning looking for a strong grid position.
The 2008 F1 world champion was fourth fastest on Friday in first practice and then seventh quickest in FP2 with a lap of 1m27.131s as Sebastian Vettel dominated for Red Bull.
Despite showing good long-run pace in practice, Hamilton admits it will be tough to secure a front-row result in qualifying.
Speaking after practice, he said: “I think we’re probably quick enough to qualify third or fourth fastest at the moment, but, to go for pole, we’re going to really need to push hard in our development work tonight.
“It looks like it’ll be another close race.”
Of his McLaren’s performance around the track near New Delhi, Hamilton said: “The car felt quite good, but to get the best from the tyres each lap wasn’t so easy.
“We’re not quite quick enough yet, but tyre durability and our long-run pace both looked quite good. In fact, I was very happy with the long run.
“If we continue in that direction, we’ll hopefully be strong in the race.”
"I think we’re probably quick enough to qualify third or fourth fastest at the moment, but, to go for pole, we’re going to really need to push hard in our development work tonight. "
McLaren teammate Jenson Button was less happy after suffering a gearshift problem in second practice, although he was heartened by Hamilton’s long-run performance.
“Our lap-times in the first session were okay, but we couldn’t really get the Option [tyre] working in FP2 – perhaps that was down to a temperature issue,” said Button.
“Then I had a gearshift problem during my long run in the afternoon.
“Still, I think Lewis’s long-run pace looks promising. We’re still a few tenths shy of the very fastest cars, but I think we’re more competitive on long runs than we are on short runs, where we’re slightly struggling to get the tyres working.
“Fortunately, this is a good circuit for overtaking, but our aim is obviously still to qualify as close to the front as possible.”
McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh also thinks his drivers will do better on race day than in qualifying.
The McLaren team principal said: “This was a relatively routine practice day for the team, although it proved quite difficult throughout both sessions to find a low-fuel balance that worked for both drivers. However, our long-run pace certainly looks competitive.
“Unfortunately, Jenson’s final run of the afternoon was cut short by a gearshift issue, but Lewis’s race pace was more encouraging – Lewis himself felt the car was very well balanced during his long run.
“Our aim for this evening [Friday] will be further to maximise our race-pace potential while simultaneously looking to improve our performance in qualifying.
“Whilst a good grid position isn’t essential for the race, since overtaking into Turns Three and Four should be relatively straightforward, it’ll still be important to stake a place close to the front of the grid in order to optimise our chances of scoring maximum possible points on Sunday.”
The 2012 Indian Grand Prix starts at 9.30am GMT on Sunday.