Hamilton blames switch to old wing
Lewis reveals rear wing switch prior to the start of Qualy after struggling to eighth
Last Updated: 02/09/12 7:34am
Lewis Hamilton has blamed his poor qualifying result in Belgium on the decision to revert to an older-spec rear wing on his McLaren after he struggled to eighth on the grid while team-mate Jenson Button stormed to a dominant pole.
McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh revealed to Sky Sports F1 prior to the qualifying hour that the team's drivers would be running different levels of wing on their respective MP4-27s, with Hamilton opting for the higher-downforce configuration whereas Button opted for the lower.
Although Hamilton's set-up was expected to be faster around Spa for a single lap, the 27-year-old was unable to get close to the sister car throughout the qualifying hour - with his deficit to Button over 0.8s at the end of both Q2 and Q3.
As a result, Hamilton will start Sunday's race on the fourth row and afterwards the clearly frustrated driver tweeted: "Damn, Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old. We voted to change, didn't work out. I lose 0.4 tenths."
He then added: "Nothing I could do. Now it's about picking up every point I can from there. Jenson should win easy with that speed."
The tweets were subsequently deleted with Hamilton explaining at a fans' forum that he wished to "rephrase some things I said".
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 immediately after the session, Hamilton had said he got everything out of his car on his laps that was possible but explained that his side of the garage had opted to take the new wing off following difficulties in the Saturday morning Practice Three session in which both McLaren drivers finished outside the top ten.
"Nothing happened," he told Natalie Pinkham. "I got absolutely everything out of the car on all the laps I had generally.
"But this weekend we came with a near rear wing for this track and for Monza and the wing wasn't working very well this morning so we opted to go back to the old wing, we thought that we would be safer for us. But it turns out that Jenson's wing is working perfectly now."
With his lack of straight-line speed therefore set to make it difficult to overtake on Sunday, Hamilton added: "But it's been good for him [Button]; I hope he gets maximum points. I've got to do damage limitations from where I am and score as much as I can."
McLaren were also caught by surprise by the contrasting fortunes of their drivers, with team boss Whitmarsh hinting the decision to change the wing on Hamilton's car.
Asked by Ted Kravitz if he had though Hamilton's set-up would have given him a better shot at pole, he replied: "We thought so, yes. But Lewis wasn't happy. We took a bit at a risk and you can always go down now and of course we'll analyse and maybe we got that wrong, we'll see. With the limited amount of data somtimes you've got to make a decision.
"We weren't frankly where we wanted to be with either car this morning and in that circumstance if you do nothing you can't suppose there's going to be a great change in fortunes.
"We changed both the cars and I think we obviously got Jenson's into a really good place."