- Japanese Grand Prix - Qualifying
Hamilton shocked by Saturday conditions
Hamilton handed five place grid penalty for gearbox change
Drivers and teams sorry for fans
Qualifying postponed until Sunday as rain hits Suzuka
- Japanese Grand Prix
- FIA Formula One World Championship
Lewis Hamilton confessed that the conditions he drove in during Saturday's third practice session at Suzuka were some of the worst in his career.
Hamilton, who admits to being a fan of wet-weather driving, said that the circuit was like a river, leaving him aquaplaning with alarming regularity.
"I like going out in the wet, but in order to keep the tyre temperatures up, you need to be going at a sufficient speed to be able to work the brakes properly," said Hamilton. "I was aquaplaning all the time - I couldn't get to full throttle. I couldn't even use half-throttle! They're some of the worst conditions I've ever experienced in Formula One - rivers flowing from one side of the track to the other.
"And with so much torque, even in fourth gear, the rear would light up, so you were trying to push gently to avoid losing heat in the tyres. It was a good call by the stewards to defer qualifying today."
Despite having to sit out most of Friday's session after his early accident and then having limited track time on Saturday, Hamilton remains upbeat about his chances on Sunday.
"The more driving I do, the happier I am. I've done hardly any driving all weekend, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow! I don't have any expectations: bearing in mind the limited time I've had on the track, I want to get through qualifying safely, get a good grid position and score as many points as I can."
Team-mate Jenson Button said that although it had been a frustrating day, he does not see any problem in completing both qualifying and the race on the same day.
"I spent the qualifying session talking to the mechanics and playing yo-yo - jumping in and out of the car, just in case the track conditions improved enough for us to run," said Button. "Moving qualifying to Sunday won't really change my preparations: it just means it will be a bit closer to the race itself, and that we'll be at the track earlier on Sunday morning. But it won't be a problem to focus on both quali and the race in a single day.
"It's far tougher for the mechanics: they worked tirelessly overnight and they'll have to work really hard to prep the car between quali and the race. For the drivers, it's less of a problem - it's actually quite fun to have something a bit different to do. The circuit is likely to be drier tomorrow. It's not supposed to be raining, just wet from overnight showers. So I feel pretty sure we'll be able to run, and that we'll have qualifying."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Products you might like at espnshop.co.uk