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Lewis Hamilton has blamed tyre warm-up issues for only qualifying fifth at the U.S. GP

Mercedes driver hoping for good start on Sunday

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 18/11/13 4:33pm

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Lewis Hamilton blamed the tyres after struggling for speed in qualifying.

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Lewis Hamilton says tyre warm-up issues are why he only qualified fifth for the United States Grand Prix in Austin.

Having been the best non-Red Bull runner in final practice, the 2008 World Champion was over three tenths of a second slower in the afternoon as he failed to get this Pirelli rubber into the required operating window.

Team-mate Nico Rosberg fared even worse and went out in Q2 after posting the 14th quickest time, but that was of scant consolation to Hamilton.

"Not really as I want to fight the guys in front," he told Sky Sports F1 when asked if he was relieved it was not worse.

"It wasn't a great qualifying, for some reason these tyres are not working perfectly, so you have to do the outlap, then a slow-lap to warm the tyres, then you push and when you push the tyres don't feel great, whereas other people were getting it on the first lap.

"Who knows maybe tomorrow with the higher temperatures that might be a benefit for us."

Many drivers were heard on the radio blaming the wind for the dramatic difference in balance between the morning and afternoon sessions, but Hamilton doesn't think it was a contributing factor.

"The wind direction, I don't know if it changed, but it got quite gusty out there so through the fast sections of the first sector it was quite tricky," he added. "But the car felt okay, it was just the tyres."

One minor positive for the British driver is that he will at least start from the clean side of the grid for the race which he hopes will see him make up a couple of positions on the uphill run into turn one.

"It is the side we all drive on across the start line so I am hoping it will be a benefit," the Mercedes driver said. "I need to launch past at least two of the cars in front so that is my plan."

Hamilton's former team-mate at McLaren Heikki Kovalainen qualified eighth on his return to F1 with Lotus and the 28-year-old was full of praise for the Finn.

"He did fantastic," Hamilton enthused. "He stepped up to it - he hasn't driven all year really so to come straight in and be in Q3 he has done a really great job."

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