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By Alan Davies
, Sports reporter
Saturday, November 26, 2011
LEWIS Hamilton was disappointed at qualifying on the second row for the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix but is still optimistic for the final Formula 1 race of the season.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire could only qualify fourth around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in Brazil.
He will line-up on the second row in Sao Paulo on Sunday alongside McLaren colleague Jenson Button, and behind the two Red Bulls of pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Hamilton clocked a best lap of 1m12.480s on Option tyres around the anti-clockwise Interlagos track, with Button fractionally faster with a 1m12.283s.
The 2008 F1 world champion from Tewin was disappointed to not challenge for a place higher up the grid.
Top speed: 320km/h
Average speed: 210km/h
Pit straight length: 450m
Circuit length: 4.309km
Race length: 71 laps/305km
Number of corners: 15
Longest section at full throttle: 15.9s/1200m
Herts-born Hamilton, 26, said: “Jenson was massively quick today.
“I ended up a couple of tenths away from him, so clearly I could have gone a bit faster, but the fact is that although I didn’t make any mistakes on my best lap I just wasn’t quite quick enough on the day.
“While that’s inevitably a little disappointing for me personally, Jenson’s pace is very encouraging for the team.
“We have reason to be optimistic about tomorrow too: we’re both on the second row, and we can definitely mount a strong challenge from there.”
Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, admitted there might have been an issue with the tyre pressure in qualifying’s top 10 shootout.
“Perhaps we didn’t quite get the best out of the Option tyre in Q3 this afternoon,” said Whitmarsh.
“It could have been a tyre pressure issue although we’re not yet sure about that – but we still put both our cars on the second row which is a pretty decent result.
“Jenson nailed a particularly impressive lap to end up in third place – his best qualifying performance ever at Interlagos.
“Lewis delivered a very good lap too, just two-tenths shy of Jenson’s best.
“He experimented with driving two flying laps in Q3 – a fast-ish one followed by a really hot one in an attempt to get more out of the Option – but in the event it didn’t appear to confer any benefit over the conventional one-flying-lap approach adopted by Jenson.”
The 2011 Grand Prix of Brazil starts at 4pm on Sunday.