by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

UAE F1 Grand Prix 2011: Qualifying Report - Lewis P2, Jenson P3 (MGP)

- MP4-26A-03
- P3 programme: 1st, 1m38.976s, 17 laps
- Qualifying:
- Q1: 1st, 1m39.782s (on Primes)
- Q2: 2nd, 1m38.434s (on Options)
- Q3: 2nd overall*, 1m38.622s (on Options)

“It would be nice to have had pole position, but that Red Bull, as always, is very quick in Q3! Still, we’ve got our car to a point where it works particularly well on certain tracks, and we always seem to go well here.

“To be as competitive as we’ve been this weekend is very encouraging – we’re on the front row so we can have a good race from there. And, for the first time in quite a while, my long-run pace was pretty good too, and I think we had more fuel on board than some of the other teams. I feel really good about tomorrow, in fact.

“I hope I have a good start – I really want to get into Turn One first. But, if I can’t, I’ll follow Sebastian [Vettel] as closely as I can, I’ll try my hardest not to let him get more than a second ahead, and I’ll try to get ahead through the DRS zones.

“Last year I started second but braked early into Turn One and let Sebastian have the corner. I’ve just told him that’s not going to happen tomorrow, though…”

- MP4-26A-04
- P3 programme: 4th, 1m39.429s (+0.453s), 16 laps
- Qualifying:
- Q1: 3rd, 1m40.227s (on Primes)
- Q2: 5th, 1m39.097s (on Options)
- Q3: 3rd overall*, 1m38.631s (on Options)

“I haven’t really been able to find a balance that suits me perfectly this weekend. The car changed quite a lot for qualifying. In practice I’d been struggling with the rear end; but, during qualifying, I suddenly had great rear grip and masses of understeer – so the car felt completely different to me.

“Obviously, there’s only a certain number of things you can do during the qualifying session to counteract that, so we used everything we could to make the car work reasonably well, and I felt much happier as a result.

“Third isn’t a bad place from which to start – hopefully we’ll get one over on the Red Bulls tomorrow.”

Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“It may sound a little churlish to say that we’re a bit disappointed with second and third today, but the honest truth is that we are.

“Granted, second and third is a pretty creditable result – it’s a platform from which we can win tomorrow in fact – but I don’t mind admitting that we were eyeing pole position today.

“Lewis and Jenson both did a good job though – and, looking forward, they’re both great racers and we think we’ll have a strong race package for tomorrow. Our long-run pace has been impressive all weekend, and we think we’ll be in good shape on both the Prime and the Option [tyre].

“People tend to opine that it’s difficult to overtake here in Abu Dhabi – and so it is. But there are two DRS zones, and of course there’s also the all-important drag down to the first corner. Beyond that, you’ve got to get the strategy right, and let’s just say that we intend to pile the pressure on tomorrow afternoon!”

* Official photos and report courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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