Lewis Hamilton: “It’s a long haul down to Turn One…”

Lewis Hamilton saved McLaren’s day in Hungary by qualifying fifth after team mate Jenson Button was stranded down in 11th, and he now has the chance to do some good damage limitation as he seeks to defend his championship lead.

McLaren had targeted fifth after accepting on Friday that it would be impossible to beat the Red Bulls or Ferraris, but Button’s problems in Q2 caused some concern prior to the final session.

Hamilton says he’s hopeful of a good start and a solid race performance.

“It was really my target!,” said Hamilton. “The Red Bulls are impossible to beat, the are 1.7s ahead this weekend. It’s incredible. I saw Massa was just ahead of me, and it was possible to get very close to him, but I don’t think to be ahead of him.

“I am happy with that result. To get into Q3, I was relieved, it was very close. And then I feel that I pulled absolutely every inch out of the car. Obviously we’ve got to work hard, but that’s a good position for us to start tomorrow, on the clean side. So that’s a positive for the start. It’s a long haul down to Turn One, so anything’s possible.

“I think it’s important for myself and the team to keep our heads up. We need to make as good a start as we have for the last few races and stay clean, get round the first corner. As always we want to move forwards. If we can make a step forward, fourth or third will be spectacular.

“You can’t overtake here, but I can imagine it would be a very hard race if I ever had a Ferrari behind me. But we’re going to do the best job we can, and I’m ready for it.”

Hamilton admits that it’s easy distracted by the pace of the Red Bulls: “I think on the team side and on the engineers side it’s probably harder than for us as drivers. I think for us it’s not a case of a tenth or two here and then, it’s half a second in the middle sector, it’s half a second in the last sector.

“For us drivers we look at the onboard footage and we just laugh, me and Jenson, it’s just insane how fast they are going. For me the car is the best it’s ever been at this circuit. But those guys, I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s incredible the pace they have.”

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