“Our intention is to go for the win”
Bahrain International Circuit, Saturday April 21
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“As we’ve already got used to seeing this season, it was very tight at the top today.
Even the early stages of qualifying – Q1 and Q2 – are nowadays extremely hard to get through. Michael [Schumacher] and Kimi [Raikkonen] can confirm that.
“As for our boys, well, Lewis drove an excellent lap, and missed out on pole position by just a tenth of a second. Jenson, too, was his usual rapid and reliable self, ending up in fourth place, directly behind Lewis on tomorrow’s grid.
“The race will inevitably be a physically challenging one for all the drivers, as is always the case in hot climates such as Bahrain’s, but we’ve got two tough racers in Lewis and Jenson and our intention is to go for the win.”
4th 1m33.782s (+0.528s) 16 laps
Q1 16th 1m34.813s (on Primes)
Q2 1st 1m33.209s (on Options)
Q3 2nd overall 1m32.520s (on Options)
“I’m very happy with how qualifying went and the job the team has done so far this weekend. I’ve put the car on the front row at every race this year, and I feel this was one of my best qualifying performances so far. Both my laps in Q3 were very good and I feel I got everything out of the car.
“Fingers crossed for tomorrow: both Red Bull drivers will be very hard to beat in the race, but we’re less than a tenth behind on race pace. The start could be key – we’ve had good launches all season so I expect us to be able to challenge Seb [Vettel] down to Turn One.
“This season is shaping up to be very interesting: it’s anyone’s for the taking, at the moment”
6th 1m33.899s (+0.645s) 14 laps
Q1 15th 1m34.792s (on Primes)
Q2 6th 1m33.416s (on Options)
Q3 4th overall 1m32.711s (on Options)
“Fourth position wasn’t quite what I’d been hoping for, but it’s not too bad. It’s always a horrible feeling on your final Q3 lap when the balance isn’t quite where you want it. I couldn’t get the best from the car so I pitted early to save the tyres. Besides, fourth isn’t too bad anyway.
“The car is definitely a lot better than it was yesterday – we made some improvements overnight. We’d expected the Red Bulls to be very quick in qualifying, so to be close to them is a positive. A nice surprise is that we’re ahead of Nico [Rosberg] who was on pole just a week ago.
“A good launch tomorrow will be very important – both Lewis and I will be starting on the dirty side of the grid, which makes things more difficult, so we’ll need to get it right. Tyre management will be crucial too.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge.”