Valencia, Spain: Lewis Hamilton was 'really surprised' by the pace of his McLaren car after securing second place on the grid during Saturday's qualifying for Sunday's European Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old and current drivers' championship leader struggled to match the pace of the frontrunners during practice on Friday and thought he would be starting further down the field.
However, the 2008 champion's best lap time of one minute 38.410 seconds, despite being almost four tenths of a second slower than pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, was enough to edge out third-fastest Pastor Maldonado of Williams and secure a front row start at the Valencia track.
"I expected to be a lot further back," he said, "we struggled all weekend and into qualifying I had to make some guesses as to what set-up I wanted, and it seems to work.
"I'm really, really surprised. The guys did a great job to get me a good lap and the car felt pretty good. The gap is still quite big so it will be quite a tough race tomorrow as always."