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McLaren disappointed after qualifying, but positive ahead of tomorrow’s race


By Berthold Bouman

McLaren was disappointed after this afternoon’s qualifying for round ten of the FIA Formula One Championship, the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, but they are adamant they will score better on Sunday.

Jenson Button on a sodden Hockenheim circuit

Jenson Button was the fastest McLaren driver on a very wet Hockenheimring, he took seventh position, but was 3.492 seconds slower than pole sitter Fernando Alonso. McLaren this time had problems getting enough heat in the full wet tyres, the tyres of choice during the third and final qualifying session.

“We struggled to get the tyres to work today — when you can’t get temperature into the tyre; you don’t know its limit because it’s too cold, and you can’t hit the brakes either because you’ll lock up. It’s an issue we’ve had for a few races and an area where we need to improve,” said Button.

But the 2009 World Champion reckons he will be faster when it is dry during tomorrow’s race, “In dry running, however, the pace is very good: we just struggle in wet conditions to get the tyres working. We’ve got to sort out these issues with the tyre temperatures because it’s hurting us both — and that makes it a very difficult day in the office for us.”

He was also positive about the new car upgrades, “However, the positives that we can take away are that our car looks quick in the dry and that this weekend’s upgrade package is a good step forward. Everyone should be proud of their efforts to not only get it working, but to also have delivered it ahead of schedule this weekend. Today was tough, but I hope we have a good race tomorrow.”

Lewis Hamilton was eighth, just 0.073 seconds slower than Button, but he also was not fast enough to join the battle for pole today. “We’ve got to be a little disappointed with the final qualifying result; we were looking good in both Q1 and Q2, so I don’t understand how the others went quicker as the track dried slightly towards the end of Q3,” said Hamilton.

He is also counting on a dry race tomorrow, “Still, we’re in a better position for tomorrow: although we’re not starting from the best positions, our car certainly looks better in the dry and, with dry weather predicted tomorrow, I definitely think we can have a good race.

On Sunday, I plan to hunt everyone down from behind. The great thing at Hockenheim is the great big DRS zone along the back straight — so hopefully Jenson and I will be doing lots of overtaking there tomorrow!”

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh also had mixed feelings, “The bad news is that we weren’t quick enough in Q3’s wet conditions; but the good news is that the dry pace of our car appears to be very good. It’s looking dry for tomorrow, it’s going to be a long race and we have two great racing drivers, so we’re optimistic of getting a decent result.”

Due to Mark Webber’s five-place grid penalty, both McLaren drivers will move up one position and will leave the start grid from sixth and seventh place tomorrow.

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