McLaren qualifying strategy dismays Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton criticised his McLaren team's choice of strategy after a disappointing qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Englishman paid the price for being the only driver to plan a single flying lap when a crash involving Sauber's Sergio Perez disrupted the session.

He ended up in seventh but then had his time deleted for cutting the chicane.

"I had the pace to be on pole, I'm certain about that," said Hamilton, who will now start in ninth.

"In Monaco you can't take risks and leave it right to the end, you have to get a banker in, as everyone else did."

Of the incident that led to his penalty, the 26-year-old admitted: "I was on the limit with no front end and I just understeered and went straight over."

Hamilton also implicitly called for Felipe Massa to be penalised after he felt he was delayed behind the Ferrari driver on his sole flying lap, but stewards ignored his pleas.

In Monaco you can't take risks and leave it right to the end

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton stayed in the pits while the other leading runners set their first times, and went out for his run with just five minutes of the 10-minute session remaining.

His first attempt at a lap was hampered by Massa, and then Perez's crash caused the session to be suspended with about two and a half minutes left.

Hamilton joined the other drivers in getting out for one final run, but they found the track to be significantly slower and no one improved.

His frustration was heightened after his pace in the first two sessions of qualifying had suggested he would have had a chance of beating Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel to pole.

The German took his fifth pole in six races, with Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button second ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"In hindsight we would have perhaps gone out earlier to get a banker in but it didn't happen," said Hamilton.

"When we did go out Massa held me up on my lap. He was in the middle of Turn Three into Turn Four and I lost a lap basically. When I went past him, I put my hand up like 'what the hell is he doing?'"

Hamilton, speaking before his penalty, added: "The engineers advised we should do one stint at the end of Q3.

"I didn't contest it, I think you always have to have a balanced view with the engineers, but I didn't take into account - and I know the engineers didn't - that in Monaco you can't take risks and leave it right to the end, you have to get out and get a banker [lap] in, like everyone else did.

Strategy will make Monaco exciting

"With racing experience, you would assume most people would have that, but other things were going on and we didn't have that.

"I start seventh or wherever, hopefully sixth because another driver will lose position. You can't win from there, but I'll still do my best and keep pushing."

Button said lack of tyre temperature was the reason neither he nor Hamilton were able to improve their positions in their final qualifying runs.

Button had set the provisional pole time before Vettel went 0.4secs quicker just before Sergio Perez crashed heavily, leaving time for only one flying lap.

McLaren sent both drivers to the end of the pit lane to ensure they had track position, but Button said that he was unable to get the tyres to work because of the wait.

"It was very slippery, but we wanted to get out early to really push on the out-lap and there wasn't any tyre temperature because we'd been sat at the end of the pit lane for two and a half minutes," Button said.

"So it wasn't the best but the great thing I was I put in a good lap at the start of the session, a lap I was very happy with. It was much better than my Q2 lap."

He added: "All weekend I've felt good in the car and confident, which you need around a circuit like this. I feel that it's suited my style.

"Both of us have been trying to put more front end into our car. It got better and better in qualifying and I felt like I did a very good lap.

"We were actually fuelled to do four timed laps and it was on my first lap that I did the best lap time. I knew there was no point continuing. I was happy with it and it was at the right time."