McLaren played down their expectations for qualifying here, but under the lights Lewis Hamilton was fast when it mattered and dominated Q2 and then Q3. Pastor Maldonado’s hot lap came out of nowhere for Williams, while Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel ended up disappointed to be ‘only’ third after dominating all three practice sessions and Fernando Alonso was philosophical to find his Ferrari not as competitive as it had been at Monza. Qualifying isn’t the race, however, and the winner will be the man who stays out of trouble longest, looks after his tyres the best and whose team minimises the interruption of the almost inevitable safety-car intervention. We take a team-by-team look at qualifying…
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 46.362s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 46.939s, P4
Hamilton said his McLaren felt great during his quicker lap, and even though he brushed a wall on his second it was still quick enough to have taken pole. It was McLaren’s 153rd, the first being set by Peter Revson in an M19C for the 1972 Canadian Grand Prix almost 40 years ago to the day. McLaren reported that Hamilton’s car was undamaged. Button struggled on his first run, and said that his car’s rear-end grip went away very quickly.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 46.804s, P2
Bruno Senna, no time, P17
Nobody saw Maldonado’s best qualifying lap coming – apart from Williams. Lost on set-up early on, they worked tirelessly all through practice to hone the FW34 to suit the Venezuelan’s style, and reaped the big reward as he delivered. In stark contrast, Senna damaged his car in FP3 and again in qualifying and he could yet drop another five grid places if, as feared, the team are forced to change the gearbox as a result.