2009 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING ANALYSIS
Valencia, Saturday August 22
1m39.950s (12 laps, 8th)
Using the shorter-wheelbase car, and having lost track-time during yesterday afternoon’s practice session, Lewis used his first run (on Primes, five laps, 1m39.950s best) to evaluate set-up changes. He declared himself very pleased with the results: “I’m really happy with the balance – the car feels great, particularly in the slower corners.” Having failed to get a run on Options yesterday, he only had a brief opportunity to try the softer tyres after the session was red-flagged.He completed two laps (1m41.426s) to finish the morning eighth overall.
Q1 1m38.649s (2nd)
Q2 1m38.182s (2nd)
Q3 1m39.498s (1st overall)
The performance of the MP4-24 this afternoon meant that Lewis only needed to complete a single run in each session. In Q1, he did a 1m38.649s best on Primes. In Q2, he ran two laps on Options, setting a fastest time of 1m38.182s. In the final stint, he attempted two runs on Options but his first lap of 1m39.498s was sufficient for the pole and enabled him to abort his final run.
This is Lewis’s 14th career pole position in Formula 1.
“After winning in Hungary, we came here not knowing if the others would have closed the gap: clearly, we’re still competitive. We haven’t seen this level of performance for a long time: last year, I was able to do only one run in easy qualifying session but, this year, we’ve had to use every second of the sessions to get through. “I managed a couple of very good laps today, so we’ll start the race from a very competitive position – but a lot will depend on strategy and how the start goes. “Congratulations to Heikki, he did a fantastic job – it’s been very close between us all weekend, so this is great to see. We’ve got the front row to ourselves – and that’s something we’ve all wanted for a very long time.”
1m39.553s (8 laps, 4th)
A very limited programme for Heikki this morning as Sebastian Vettel’s stoppage cost track-time. Nonetheless, Heikki managed a single flying lap (1m42.249s) before the red flag (setting fastest time in the first sector on his next lap before being forced to abandon the run).
At the end of the morning, he ran two laps on Options (1m39.553s) and declared himself very comfortable with his car, which is running in longer-wheelbase configuration.
Q1 1m38.816s (4th)
Q2 1m38.230s (3rd)
Q3 1m39.532s (2nd overall)
In Q1, Heikki did two runs, first on Primes, setting a 1m39.107s best, before switching to Options and recording a 1m38.816s best. Into the second session, he again completed two runs (on Options, 1m38.400s and 1m38.230s). For Q3, he did a slower single lap before winding up for two very fast laps – a 1m39.532s and a 1m39.586s. The latter looked set to put him on pole position until he pushed a little too hard in the final sector. Nonetheless, his second spot on the grid is his best qualifying position since Monza last year. It is the team’s first one-two of the year and also its first since Hungary 2008.
Heikki said: “Obviously, I’m pleased that I’ll be starting from the front row tomorrow, but I made a mistake at the end of my quickest lap and could have gone a little faster still.
“I knew qualifying would be very close, and I was sure our car would be competitive, so I decided to really go for it today. As a result, I pushed just a little too hard – but it was a calculated risk and I lost only one place – and, even better, I lost it to Lewis. So we nailed the front row anyway.
“The guys back in Woking have done a lot of great work this week, since the end of the summer shutdown, and I want to say thank you to all of them.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“A truly brilliant result for the entire team – well done, everyone! As for Lewis and Heikki, well, they were both brilliant, too. They made things look relatively easy, but in fact the conditions out there today were very difficult for all the drivers: it was hot and humid, and the circuit is an extremely demanding one. Heikki was totally on it today – he really went for it and very nearly pinched pole position at the very end. Lewis did a fantastic job, too, and I’m sure both our drivers will perform very well in tomorrow’s race.”
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“A great result – nobody had fewer laps over the weekend so far, and nobody was faster than Lewis today. The lap time from his first outing in Q3 was strong enough that he could afford to abort his second attempt after two quicker sector times in order to save fuel for the race – a truly great job from Lewis.”Heikki was only a friction – 0.034 seconds – slower and could have made the top spot as well: he was really strong from lap one on this track. Thanks to everybody in the team who worked so hard after the FOTA summer break. I have the feeling that in the week since even more work was done in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart than in three weeks of flat-out business before the summer break. “Every one of us got the best reward today with this ‘double pole’ and only tomorrow the reward could be even better.”