Lewis Hamilton ready for U.S. GP balancing act as he aims to beat Sebastian Vettel
Lewis wants win but "doesn't want to get in the way of Vettel's race"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 17/11/12 10:19pm
The McLaren driver ran his Red Bull rival unexpectedly close in the fight for pole at the end of Q3 in Austin, finishing just a tenth adrift of the German despite having ended the previous session a full second off the pace.
It means that for the fourth time this season Vettel and Hamilton will start alongside each other on the front-row, making what was an already highly-anticipated first ever race run up the hill to Austin's signature wide first-corner hairpin a particularly mouth-watering prospect.
Asked if he was worried by any potential carnage at the tricky first turn, Hamilton expressed more concern about the fact he was starting from the dirty side of the grid, before hinting that, while clearly wanting to win, he wouldn't be taking any undue risks that could have major ramifications for the Vettel/Alonso title battle.
"I'm not really concerned about the first corner; I'm more concerned about the dirty side of the grid," the 2008 World Champion said.
"I did a launch from it earlier on in P3 and it's quite slippery. Sunday is about getting a good start and it's so wide in turn one I don't think much can go wrong there generally - I might be wrong.
"But I don't want to get in the way of Sebastian's race. However I do want to win so I'm going to try my best to get through cleanly."
Although Hamilton's surge to the front-row start came as something of a surprise given Red Bull had dominated practice, and McLaren in turn struggled for tyre warm-up on Friday, team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted his disappointment at coming so close to pole and then just missing out.
"It was tight in the end. Lewis did a great lap but it was not quite quick enough [for pole]," the McLaren Team Principal reflected. "I thought he was going to get it in that final lap but Sebastian pulled out the last little piece in the final sector.
"So close, on the front-row, and I'm sure he'll have a good go off the line tomorrow."
And for McLaren's race chances? Whitmarsh added: "Sebastian did look very good but this afternoon was probably the closest we've been.
"A good long run on Friday but Sebastian's just been very consistent in qualifying just to pull that last piece out.
"It's got to be do able, it's not easy that's for sure, but I'm sure Lewis will be pretty determined off the front-row."