• Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Delighted Hamilton surprised by margin to Raikkonen

ESPN Staff
April 13, 2013 « Tyre degradation is Rosberg's main concern | Raikkonen says gap to pole is still too big »
Lewis Hamilton: "It's an incredible feeling and I'm so happy to have our first pole" © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton was surprised by the margin he was able to take pole position by at the Chinese Grand Prix and is confident he stands a chance of holding onto the lead to take victory on Sunday.

Hamilton was 0.277s clear of Kimi Raikkonen in the final session of qualifying after a tight battle between Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari for pole position. He said nailing his flying lap had been difficult but hugely satisfying as he secured his first pole for Mercedes.

"It's an incredible feeling and I'm so happy to have our first pole," he said. "The lap was great, the team has performed well all season and I really hope we can carry that into tomorrow. The margin was really surprising because in FP3 the Ferraris were very quick and we didn't know where they'd be in qualifying.

"Obviously we had good pace in Q1 and Q2 but that last lap is so difficult to get. Obviously in Q3 we have ten minutes but we left it down to the last three minutes and you've got to get the perfect out lap and the perfect lap to get yourself up there. I really can't complain about the lap so I'm happy."

Hamilton said keeping Raikkonen behind him after the first pit stop would be tough because of the degradation he has experienced on the soft tyre, but is still confident he will have a shot at victory.

"These tyres are very tricky this weekend," he added. "Making the option tyre last is almost impossible so there's probably going to be quite a short stint in the beginning. Everyone has the same, except the guy to my right [Raikkonen] who seems to be able to look after them a little bit better than most people.

"Still, I think we'll have a competitive race, we've got good race pace and although I expect a really tough race, I hope that we can maintain position."