• Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton expected 'great battle'

ESPN Staff
May 12, 2012 « Raikkonen rues 'small mistakes' | Ferrari making progress - Alonso »
Lewis Hamilton initially took pole by 0.578s © Sutton Images
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Prior to learning that he had been excluded from qualifying, Lewis Hamilton said that he expected to have "a great battle" with Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso during tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix after securing his 21st career pole position.

A surprising session saw Hamilton's provisional pole time beaten by first Alonso and then Maldonado in Q3, before Hamilton regained the position with his final lap on soft tyres. Having saved tyres that he thinks will be better in the race he said that he was confident with the allocation available to him, but was still prepared for the other drivers to make the grand prix "massively tough."

"We've looked after our prime tyres which is generally the better tyre for the race, or so it seems at the moment - the longer lasting tyre - and also the option tyres are all in good condition," Hamilton said. "So I think it's going to be a massively tough race tomorrow, of course I've got these two great drivers [Maldonado and Alonso] next to me, really happy to see [Maldonado] up here and to see Williams up here, and also Fernando. It's really great to see my old team mate up here with me as well so I'm going to have a great battle with these guys and I really hope that we can put on a good show for all the fans."

Having ended qualifying with a half-second advantage Hamilton described it as one of his most impressive performances and thanked his team for the pace of the car.

"It was a fantastic qualifying session for me. Really very, very happy with it - I think it's one of the best ones I've ever had. An amazing job buy the guys in the garage and a huge thanks to all the guys back at the factory for bringing us the upgrades which have worked fantastically. I stopped on the track; I was told to stop , I really have no idea why. But the car was feeling great today and it's really a great day for the team I think. I don't know what happened with Jenson but he has got great strength and great pace in the race so I have no doubts that he will make his way up through the grid."

Hamilton will now have to hope that he too can make his way through the field, having been stripped of pole and excluded from qualifying after stopping on the track due to a lack of fuel.

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