Lewis Hamilton said he remains optimistic about his Indian Grand Prix chances having gone second fastest in qualifying, which translates to fifth on the grid when his yellow flag penalty is applied.
The McLaren driver knew the highest he could start would be fourth as he had been awarded a three-place grid penalty for going too fast through a yellow flag zone in Friday morning practice. He was three tenths slower than polesitter Sebastian Vettel as he claimed second in qualifying at the Buddh circuit - and felt that was the best he could have hoped for given the cars' relative pace.
"It has been a good day for me," said Hamilton. "We are really surprised, quite surprised to be able to split the Red Bulls. We had the penalty, which is a bit of a silly mistake for myself – I paid the price."
Still, he thinks the layout of the track and McLaren's long-run performance will minimize the hardship of starting back in fifth.
"Tomorrow we have good race pace, and a long straight with two DRS zones so overtaking is easier than other places, so I'm still optimistic," Hamilton said.
The Briton relied on his first Q3 run for his second place, having abandoned a subsequent effort.
"My first lap was very, very good, as much as I could get out of the car," said Hamilton. "Maybe there was half a tenth but it was on the limit in the second run. I was a tenth down going into Turn 15 but didn't see much point in wasting the tires for a potential half a tenth, so came in."