SUZUKA, Japan, Oct 6, 2012 (AFP) - Outgoing McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton shrugged off his poor qualifying show at the Japanese Grand Prix as "just one of those days" Saturday -- but warned he could struggle on race day.
Hamilton, days after ending intense speculation by announcing his departure for Mercedes next season, qualified just ninth for Sunday's race, and blamed set-up problems for the handling problems which prevented him from fighting for pole.
He said: "That was just one of those days. We had a bit of a problem. I think it was P2, with the set-up. We had a lot of under-steer. So we changed it for P3, which was much more front-end but 'over-steery'.
"So we opted to go back -- well, I opted to go back -- and unfortunately it didn't work!
The 2008 champion added: "I really felt great in the car all weekend before that. It was literally just we made some set-up changes going into this session and I had everything I could to get the car to turn in, it just wouldn't turn in any more than it was."
He said that the yellow flags which were waved when rival Kimi Raikkonen spun his Lotus were not a serious problem.
"I was nowhere anyway!" he said. "But with the pace that I have, who knows. You never know what's going to happen in the race. The long-run pace wasn't bad yesterday but the car... I'm going to struggle with it, but I'll do what I can."
A retirement while leading last month's Singapore Grand Prix largely put paid to Hamilton's title hopes, despite two wins in the last four races.