OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Shanghai, China, Oct 18, 2008
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix from pole position – his second successive pole and his seventh of the season. In the closing moments of a tense final session, Lewis nailed a 1m36.303 lap to head off the Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and nearest title challenger Felipe Massa. Heikki Kovalainen impressed in both previous qualifying sessions before winding up fifth fastest with a 1m36.930. Lewis also set the fastest overall time of the weekend in the low-fuel Q2 session, posting a 1m34.947 lap.
Today’s pole is the team’s eighth of the season, the 62nd of the McLaren-Mercedes partnership and the 141st in McLaren’s history.
“I got a bit out of shape during my first run in Q3; I ran a bit wide at Turn Eight and oversteered onto the marbles, which put me on the wrong line for Turn Nine and left me cleaning my tyres for the rest of the lap. But I pulled it all together for my final attempt – and it was as close as I could get to a perfect lap. Our whole weekend has gone well, I can really feel the support from the team and my family and we’ll give it our best shot in the race tomorrow.”
“Q1 and Q2 went very well for me and I started Q3 feeling optimistic. But, unfortunately, on my last run, my tyres didn’t seem to deliver the grip levels I’d expected. It’s a pity, because I was hopeful I could get a better grid position than P5. But I’m still very encouraged by the progress we’ve made since yesterday, particularly with the balance, and I’m confident I’ll be even more competitive in the race tomorrow.”
“Lewis produced another very strong qualifying lap to record his second successive pole position – and we’re confident that he’s got a good strategy for the race. Heikki has continued the strong form he showed at Fuji last weekend and we should therefore be in a position to deliver a very competitive team performance with both drivers tomorrow.”
“Lewis kept it thrilling until the closing stages but then put his car on pole position. This was probably the most important one of all the seven he clinched this year. Heikki was very convincing in his first attempt, being fastest, but he finally missed the front row by three tenths of a second and third place by less than half a tenth. Tomorrow, both Lewis and Heikki should be in a position to run quick and consistent lap times according to our long runs on Friday. It will be a very important day and all the team wants to make the best out of it. Having said that, we certainly will not forget that we have got strong competitors that won’t make it easy for us.”
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