Hamilton surprised by pole advantage
13 April 2013 – Lewis Hamilton says the advantage he held in the final stage of Saturday afternoon's qualifying session at Shanghai came as a massive surprise, with the Mercedes driver comfortably outpacing Kimi Räikkönen to claim his first pole position for the team.
Having finished over half a second behind pace-setter Fernando Alonso in final practice, Hamilton bounced back to set the qualifying standard by almost three tenths.
"It’s really surprising," he said in the post-qualifying press conference. "In Practice 3 the Ferraris were very, very quick. We didn't know where they would be in qualifying."
The result, which marks Hamilton's 27th career pole, comes as a massive boost for the Briton, who has been questioned by many for his move from rivals McLaren.
"It's an incredible feeling," Hamilton said of his achievement. "I am so happy to have my first pole for some time - I’m just ecstatic. The lap was great and the team has performed well all weekend so I hope we can carry this into tomorrow.
"It could have gone either way, but I'm grateful that I'm here and in the fight. Today is such a blessing to be here as it was a big step for me. I think I made the right choice."
Although he is hopeful of remaining in charge on Sunday afternoon, Hamilton is expecting "a tough race" with Pirelli’s aggressive tyre compound allocation.
"These tyres are very tricky this weekend," Hamilton added. "Making the Option tyre last is almost impossible, so it will probably be quite a short stint at the beginning. We have good race pace. I expect a tough race, but I hope we can maintain the position."