McLaren may have ended up second best to rivals Ferrari off the track and in qualifying this week but neither Lewis Hamilton, nor anyone else in the team, is conceding that the Belgian Grand Prix itself will turn out the same way.
Hamilton qualified fourth for the race, a third of a second adrift of team mate Fernando Alonso and further back still from the Ferraris, but has no plans to stay there: “Anything can happen on the way down to the first corner,” he warned.
Mercedes Motorsports’ Norbert Haug indicated this was the mood across the team: “We know that we cannot be as dominant as we were in Monza at every track, but the race tomorrow may be a different story than today’s qualifying result.”
Hamilton felt the session had not gone badly, despite the result and a spin by Alonso that restricted him to one flying lap in the final session: “It was a decent qualifying for us and I think that we did a good job.
“The first session wasn’t great, but I made some improvements to my driving and managed to find the time in the second session. I thought my final lap was really good, with no mistakes.
“It is always possible to win, and I am pretty confident that I have a strong strategy. We knew the Ferraris would be quick, and it will be an interesting race; anything can happen on the way down to the first corner and obviously there is a long straight where you can overtake.”
Team boss Ron Dennis added: “A solid performance from both drivers despite a rare mistake from Fernando on his first run. Obviously we would prefer to occupy the first rather than the second row, but the times are very close and we believe we have a strong strategy for tomorrow.”