Hamilton still a favourite with aggressive setup
14 April 2012 – Although he starts seventh, Lewis Hamilton remains a firm favourite for victory in China on Sunday. The McLaren driver, knowing he had a five-place penalty for a gearbox change - meaning he will start seventh when the five red lights go out - managed to qualify second despite running his car with a race setup.
“Very big congratulations to Nico (Rosberg) today,” Hamilton said of the pole man. “We first met back in 1997 and were (karting) team-mates in 2000. We’ve been good friends ever since. When we were team-mates, we always dreamed of qualifying first and second together in Formula 1 – and it’s crazy that we did that today.
“Looking at the race, we’ve got a good car but I’m going to have to work my way up through the field tomorrow. But as long as I move forward in the race, I’ll be happy.”
Hamilton went on to explain why he will still be strong on Sunday:
“I’ve set my car up to be at its strongest in the race. So, although Jenson (Button) and I are a little bit further back than we’d like, and we’ve got a bit of work to do, we can still make it. There’s a good group of drivers ahead of us on the grid, but we’re right with them in terms of race pace. This is a track where you can overtake and we’ve got DRS too – so I’m massively excited about tomorrow.”
Since the Chinese Grand Prix debuted in 2007, Hamilton is the only driver to have won the event twice. In 2008 he dominated from lights to flag, then dramatically passed Sebastian Vettel to seize another victory last year.