Hamilton surprised by McLaren slump

World champion Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised by McLaren's poor form in qualifying following a strong Friday in Turkey

The Briton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen were amongst the quickest drivers in yesterday's practice sessions, but come qualifying both men struggled to show any kind of competitive form.

Hamilton went out in Q1 for the second race in succession and will start tomorrow's event from 16th position.

"For me today was a surprise," Hamilton told reporters on Saturday afternoon. "Coming into the weekend we thought it would be a bit like at Barcelona, but then yesterday was quite an impressive day.

"We were at least in the top 10, maybe not the quickest, but we were looking quite good. But then as the track has become faster, as the grip has become better for everyone else, it has become worse for us."

He added: "Yesterday I went down a certain route and it was working quite well for me, and I tested that this morning. I was happy with the car, but it was leading to us being in a vulnerable position.

"So we opted to go through, and at the end of P3, it was kind of a gamble going back to the set up we ran in P1. We didn't know if it would work on this track, and it was a disaster. The car was locking up, hopping.

"We did a lot of work yesterday to reduce the problems we had, but due to certain circumstances we went back on it, and on lighter fuel as well, whilst everyone improved, those problems hindered us and I wasn't able to put together a great lap."

The world champion conceded McLaren is not dreaming of fighting at the top in the near future, despite admitting the team is working as hard as possible to rectify the situation.

"We're under no illusion," he added. "We're not sitting here saying we're going to win the next 10 races, that at the next our car is going to be the best and we're going to beat the Brawns. We're not silly. We know we've a package we're working as hard as we can to improve, and we have to be realistic.

"Whilst still focusing on this year and trying to improve, we have to make sure we don't make the same mistakes next year and that we come out with a better package to elevate ourselves towards the championship."

Hamilton, who has scored just nine points in six races, said McLaren is still determined to fix this year's car rather than switch focus to 2010.

"We're focusing on trying to improve this car and understand it, and we're still learning," Hamilton said.

"You learn from mistakes, and we need to understand the car and where it is wrong, and was wrong in the design, to make we don't implement it again next year.

"It is still an important learning curve for us this year, so we are going to keep on learning and we hope at some stage it gets better, but we can't promise anything."

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