McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton says he will take a measured approach to Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix.
Hamilton said he had “not decided” whether to try to go for the win after qualifying third behind the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
“I guess it depends on how the start goes,” he said. “If you get a good start, then things change.”
He said he was focusing on enhancing his and McLaren’s positions in the drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
Hamilton is fourth in the championship 42 points behind the leader Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who qualified fourth, with Vettel second, four behind Alonso and Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen third, five ahead of the McLaren driver.
McLaren are 41 adrift of Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
“Of course I want to get really good points for the team,” said Hamilton, who is leaving McLaren at the end of the year to move to Mercedes.
“We are only 40 points away in the constructors’, which is great, and also in the drivers.
“I want to beat Sebastian. I want to beat Fernando. I want to try to close that gap up. But [Red Bull] are so fast this weekend.
“There’s 125 points [still available in the drivers’ championship for the rest of the year], so just making sure I pick up as much as I can at each opportunity I have.”
Pressed on whether he would go for points or the win, Hamilton said: “I’m swaying towards going for the win. I want to win but the podium has to be the initial goal and then bit by bit through the race pushing for the win.”
Webber took his first pole since Monaco in May, but it is suspected Red Bull may ask him to help Vettel in the race.
Although the Australian still has a mathematical chance of the championship, he is 60 points behind Alonso.
Webber said: “Looking to get off the first corner very well. That’s important and then two long straights after that. I’ll be the little hare and then we’ll see what the greyhound’s doing.”
Alonso said he was “more or less happy” with his fourth place on the grid.
“Obviously our main competitors Red Bull start first and second, which again shows us how strong they are at this moment,” the Spaniard said. “So we need to do a perfect race tomorrow and try to maximise our points.
“I was thinking it would be a little bit worse to be honest, because we were sixth and 11th in Suzuka [last week].
“We have exactly the same car, and we are fourth and sixth here, so it’s something that’s a little bit better, and we seem a little bit more competitive, also on the long [race simulation] run [on Friday].
“[I’m] a little bit more confident for tomorrow’s race, but we know that it’s going to be tough.”
KOREAN GRAND PRIX 2012, DAY TWO
- Saturday, 13 October: Qualifying replay 13:00 BBC One.
KOREAN GRAND PRIX 2012, DAY THREE
- Sunday, 14 October: Race 07:00 BST; BBC One (from 06:00), online and BBC Radio 5 live (from 06:55). Race replay 14:05 BST; BBC One. Highlights 19:00 BST BBC Three.