Greater Noida: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has no unreasonable expectations of beating Red Bull in Sunday’s race and would be happy to stay ahead of the others in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC).
Fighting a close battle with Ferrari for the second place in the team championships at the end of the season, the duo of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton did a fine job to finish second and third, respectively, in the qualifying on Saturday.
While the star Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso will start eighth on the grid on Sunday, his teammate, Felipe Massa would begin fifth.
“I’m pleased with third place today (Saturday) as it’s been a tough weekend to get the car set up and squeeze as much performance as possible from it,” said Hamilton after the qualifying race.
“The team have done a great job to make progress since Friday and I’m delighted for everyone to see both Nico and I in the top three. Of course, what counts is tomorrow’s (Sunday’s) race and the race will be difficult with the different strategies and tyre choices.
“We'll hope for a good start, get rid of the softs early and then focus on pushing as hard as we can on the primes,” he added.
Rosberg, on the other hand, sounded happy as he felt the team strategy for the race clicked on Saturday. “We have tried a lot of different things in the practice sessions this weekend to try and find an extra one or two tenths and I found a good set-up with my guys so I’m happy with our work so far,” he said.
“I just wanted to qualify best of the rest today (Saturday) so I’m really happy with second place and starting on the front row.
“The race will be tough against Mark (Webber) on Sunday, though, as he has the quicker car and is on a different strategy, but we’ll give it our all.
“For our team, the most important thing is to score as many points as possible so we can secure second place in the Constructors' Championship at the end of the year,” Rosberg added.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said: “Before qualifying, we looked at what might be the best strategy and it was very difficult to choose between two possibilities. Using the soft tyres in Qualifying Three, we could have aspired to a better starting position, while the mediums would mean running a race with no traffic.
“Because if the softer compound follows the pattern we have seen so far, then those starting with it will have to stop very early, around lap six.” Pleased with the qualifying, his teammate Felipe Massa said: “I’m reasonably pleased with this qualifying, even if I didn’t manage to put together a perfect lap. Unfortunately, I lost time in the second sector and maybe this cost me one or two positions.
“Unlike my team mate and some others, I chose to qualify on the soft tyres, because at Nurburgring, I had made a choice that didn’t pay off.”
For Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, it wasn’t an ideal qualifying session. “I’m still having some problems with the understeer, but the car did feel better overall than yesterday.”