BUDAPEST, July 30, 2011 (AFP) - Although Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button qualified second and third for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said he had hoped for an even stronger result.
Briton Hamilton, world champion in 2008, looked likely to end Red Bull's run of pole positions after an impressive initial flying lap during the final qualifying session.
However, the 26-year-old ran wide on his final lap and eventually finished one tenth of a second shy of reigning champion and current championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who secured Red Bull's eleventh consecutive pole position. Although Button, 31, finished third ahead of both Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Whitmarsh admitted he was feeling downbeat.
"It was tight, just disappointing," he said. "It's not the result we wanted, but we've got both cars on the front two rows so it should be an exciting race. "He [Hamilton] ran a little wide at the last corner on the last lap, but neither were bad laps. It would just have been nice for him to have got pole."
In spite of this, Whitmarsh hinted that he was feeling optimistic about his team's chances in the race. "At least we should be competitive in the race," he added. "Both drivers had good runs on Friday, and we're not in a bad place. We'll try to make it exciting."
Meanwhile, Hamilton, currently third in the title race, was not too concerned by Vettel's pace and hoped to be challenging for the win. "It's great to see the McLaren Mercedes team with both cars on the front two rows -- it's a sign that there's real pace here now," he said.
"I'm very excited about the race, in fact, because we had quite a good long run yesterday and we'll work hard to build on that pace overnight and take it into tomorrow. "We're in the fight - and, with a good start, we can definitely challenge
for the win."
His compatriot Button has had a tough time during qualifying in recent races, but he was feeling much more optimistic about his chances. "To be honest, qualifying has been a bit of an issue for me recently," he said, "although I relish attacking any circuit in an effort to make up places on a Sunday afternoon.
"I guess you're always going to be playing catch-up if you start much farther back than the first two rows. "So, this weekend, it's nice to be in a position to drive for a win from the outset, and that's definitely what I'll be attempting to do tomorrow."