McLaren eye German Grand Prix victory despite poor qualifying

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Hockenheim

McLaren believe they can win the German Grand Prix despite a disappointing qualifying performance.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will start sixth and seventh but the race is predicted to be dry, in which they have been fast.

Asked if he could finish on the podium, Button said: "We should aim for that. I think we should aim even higher."

Hamilton said: "Fortunately, we have a big DRS [overtaking zone] so hopefully we'll be doing lots of overtaking."

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael believes the team have "very competitive" pace in the dry. "All the data says we should have a very strong race car if it's dry," he said.

Asked if they could win, Michael said: "Yes, that's the aim."

McLaren's strong dry pace follows the introduction of a major upgrade package for this race, which includes new sidepods, brake ducts and diffuser.

Button said: "I think we should be happy with the progress we have made with the new package.

"For [tyre] degradation and outright pace we're strong but as soon as it started raining we knew we were going to struggle. I'm actually quite impressed we're this far up the grid.

"The car is quicker in the dry and the race is supposed to be dry. I think we're in for a very good race."

Both drivers struggled to get their tyres into the right operating temperature in the wet conditions - a problem that has afflicted them all season to a greater or lesser extent depending on the track and whether they are running 'extreme' wet or 'intermediate' tyres.

"We struggled with the wets here and been not bad on inters, and in Silverstone it was the other way around," Michael said.

"There's clearly something we are not on top of when we get into the operating windows we see on wet tyres."

Button out-qualified Hamilton for the first time this season after coming into the pits for a fresh set of tyres for a final two fast laps in qualifying.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who took pole position, did the same, but Michael said the decision not to do the same with Hamilton - who was fastest heading into the final three minutes of the session - was not decisive.

"The way the session was run, with Jenson stopping for another set and Lewis continuing, showed you could have done either [and it not made a huge difference for McLaren]," Michael said.

"Alonso and Kimi [Raikkonen] went four to five seconds quicker and Jenson went 1.4 seconds quicker, so he didn't get the same gain as other teams did."

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