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Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:31 UK

Lewis Hamilton expects McLaren response in Shanghai

Button and Hamilton frustrated in qualifying

Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren have the potential to win the Chinese Grand Prix despite qualifying on the third row of the grid in Shanghai.

Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button were disappointed not to deliver on what their expected potential after seeing Red Bull lock out the front row.

But Hamilton said: "There is no reason why we can't get a one-two if things play in our favour.

"Our long run pace is very strong, as strong, if not stronger, than others."

We went backwards from Q2 - you can't do that at the highest level and expect to be on the front row

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh

Hamilton had set the two fastest times in the first and second stages of Saturday's qualifying, but lost valuable speed in the third and final session as Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber once again underlined the impressive speed of their RB6 cart.

The Red Bulls secured a one-two in last year's Chinese Grand Prix and are once again well placed to do the same and follow their similar success in Malaysia, when Vettel took his second win of the season ahead of Webber.

Hamilton starts the race behind fifth-placed Button, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is third ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.

Hamilton, who was 0.476 seconds slower than Vettel, said: "We looked at the data and it appeared the car wasn't particularly bottoming more than any other sessions.

"The wind had picked up a bit more in Q3 but I think what we're still trying to understand is that the tyres seem to be very sensitive to temperature and how you prepare them on the out-lap is crucial.

"I pushed the same as I did in Q1 and Q2 and the tyres didn't last as well.

Lewis Hamilton in action in China
Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix from pole in 2008

"It was a bit unfortunate as overall our pace this weekend was very competitive, but we know we have good race pace so, fingers crossed, we can get some good points."

Button endured an equally frustrating day as he struggled to push his car to its full potential during the first two qualifying sessions.

"Some of it was tyre pressures but I think, brake bias-wise I was in the wrong place so I was overheating the rears - it was a problem in Turn Six and Turn 11," said the defending world champion.

"We finally got it better for Q3 but it's very tricky to get it right round here and to make the tyres last for a whole lap. It's just a pity it didn't happen earlier because we could have played around with the balance a bit more.

"The pace of the car is good but it also shows you need to get everything together to be quickest."

Rain has been forecast for Sunday's race and Button believes wet conditions would bring out the best in McLaren's MP4-25 car.

"Our car works well in wet conditions and it throws it up in air a little bit," the 30-year-old said.

"If we can get off the line cleanly and challenge the cars in front we can have a good race tomorrow whether it's wet or dry. Whatever the conditions we'll make the best of it."


Team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted McLaren still needed to work on improving their one-lap speed.

"We went backwards from Q2 - you can't do that at the highest level and expect to be on the front row," he said.

"We've got a new package for Barcelona and we've demonstrated we can improve the car race-on-race.

"We are closer - today you have to say Vettel did a great job but for the sake of a 10th we could have been up on the front row as well.

"But we're not satisfied with the car, we have to improve it and make it quicker and that's what we must make sure we do."

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see also
Hamilton admits 'weaving' error
17 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel charges to pole in China
17 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP qualifying photos
17 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix qualifying results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Chinese GP qualifying as it happened
17 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton sets China practice pace
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso unfazed by engine problems
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Buemi escapes 200mph China crash
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP practice as it happened
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1

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