Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 17 Oct 2009
As one of the worlds most populous cities it seems Sao Paulo does everything on a grand scale, and on Saturday the rain at Interlagos was certainly bountiful. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on the wet-weather action in Brazil
Rubens Barrichello (1st, Q3 - 1m 19.576s):
"I'm so happy to have qualified on pole for my home Grand Prix today particularly after such an unusual qualifying session. It's the first time in seventeen years that I've got out of the car twice during qualifying! I'm very proud of what we achieved today. We were lucky to make it through Q2 when we should have gone for intermediates but it was a great drive in Q3. It's a good situation to be starting from the front and have your own race pace rather than be in the pack. However the job is only half done and I'm keeping my feet firmly on the ground and just focusing on having a good race tomorrow. It's great for all the fans at Interlagos who sat through all the rain delays and kept supporting me to have a Brazilian starting from the front tomorrow."
Jenson Button (14th, Q2 - 1m 22.504s):
"It was a crazy qualifying session today and it's obviously very disappointing to have only qualified in 14th position. The first session went well and our pace was reasonably good in the wet which was encouraging. The track had dried out a little for Q2 so we made some small set-up changes but the balance of the car just felt transformed. I had massive understeer for the first few laps and tried everything that I could to set a time but the pace just wasn't there. By the third lap, the rear tyres started to go away, leaving me with no rear grip, and I just couldn't improve my time. It's going to make the race very tough tomorrow as I will be right in the middle of the pack but I'll make the most of it and any opportunities to make progress."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"It was a day of mixed fortunes with Rubens achieving a quite superb pole position at his home race and Jenson unfortunately not progressing from Q2. It was a chaotic and delayed qualifying with the heavy rain causing havoc and requiring the team and drivers to stay focused through the long delays. We were lucky in Q2 with Rubens who just scraped through but Jenson missed out. The lack of balance which Jenson experienced on his set of wet tyres was unexpected and proved costly as we believed it was possible to get through without using intermediates which proved with hindsight to be the wrong strategy. Jenson went for the lap right at the end but unfortunately the pace was just not there. Rubens did a fantastic job today to get the pole position. The car has been working well all weekend and the potential was evident from the result that he achieved in Q3."
Mark Webber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 19.668s):
That was a very tricky session - especially in Q1 when the conditions were really bad. The car was difficult to drive then, but we scraped through. After qualifying restarted, the track came back to us a bit and I was able to be more competitive. It wasnt too comfortable at first out on track, but then the grip came and the times were quite good. In Q3 I kept switching between the top three, from pole to third to pole to third; I would have liked to have had another crack at being on pole, but I made a mistake. I think it wasnt easy to knit six perfect laps together in those conditions, but Im very happy with how I drove and the guys in the garage did a great job. Congratulations to Rubens for his pole here at home; well give him a race tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel (16th, Q1 - 1m 25.009s):
Im not happy, its very disappointing. It should have been better, but it was difficult in the conditions. There was a window when the circuit was at its fastest, but we couldnt use it as we were in traffic. Afterwards, when we were in clear air towards the end of the session, it was raining hard and there was too much water, so it was impossible to improve the time. Its not the best position to start from - we were targeting much higher, but thats life and we have to accept it. There wasnt really anything missing from our side today, it wasnt about our pace, it was just a case of timing.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal:
Firstly, its really frustrating for Sebastian to just miss out on Q2. Unfortunately, in the window when the circuit was at its best, traffic or other cars were making mistakes ahead of him, which cost him dearly and he wasnt able to put a lap together at the optimum time. Later in Q1, the circuit was in an atrocious state and he just missed getting through to Q2. Its frustrating as after the delay you could see how competitive the car was once some of the standing water had moved. Mark ran very competitively and missed out on pole by less than a tenth of a second. It was a strong performance by him and its going to make for a fascinating race tomorrow.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
That was the longest qualifying session of my career - what a session! The first part was very disappointing with Sebastian not being able to make it into Q2. The second part was much better and Mark drove very well in the difficult conditions to secure second place. I have mixed feelings, its going to be very hard for both championships now, but if its wet tomorrow anything can happen, so we will fight.
Adrian Sutil (3rd, Q3 - 1m 19.912s):
Being in the top three is always a great feeling, particularly after such a difficult session. On the Friday it didn't look so good in the dry so I was really hoping for rain and in the end we got too much! We had to wait so long during the session and keep focussed. Q1 was definitely extreme wets as there was so much water that you had to be careful not to spin. Then there was so much waiting until Q2. I did my fastest time in that session on the extremes but you could really only get one good lap out of them so it was a clear sign we needed to go onto the intermediates in Q3. We left it a bit until we went out and I crossed the line with just seconds to spare to start my fastest lap, which was good enough for third. I'm really happy, it's feels good to be back here at the front. I like this circuit although it hasn't been the greatest for us for results in previous years. I'm hoping for a good race tomorrow - I'm just going to give it my best.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (15th, Q2 - no time):
I am really disappointed and frustrated that the qualifying ended in the way it did as I was pretty convinced I could have got into Q3 and done well - as Adrian has shown today we were very much on it. The car reacted well in the wet conditions and we showed a good performance in Q1, even if we were in traffic and couldn't do the best lap time. At the start of Q2 it was very difficult conditions and it was risky to go out but once there is a green light you have to try and go out and do your best. I am sorry for the team as we could have achieved more but I was a passenger at that stage and couldn't do anything when the car caught that puddle. All the same I think we are in good shape tomorrow and if the conditions stay like this we have a well balanced car so I am optimistic for the race.
Simon Roberts, Force India chief operating officer:
We're delighted that Adrian got into the top three today. He put in a sterling performance in very difficult conditions and really got the maximum from himself and the car. It was tough to get the tyre calls right but we were pretty much spot on with the timing from wets to inters and got this fantastic result that hopefully should set us up very well for the race tomorrow. It was a real shame for Tonio that he could not have progressed much further but at the time the conditions were at their worst and there was nothing he could have done to avoid going off. We're obviously pleased he is okay and with the expected unpredictable conditions tomorrow he could still be in for a good performance in the race.
Jarno Trulli (4th, Q3 - 1m 20.097s):
"It was a very intense qualifying session. In first qualifying the only target was to keep the car on the track and try to do a reasonable lap time because the conditions were horrible, with a lot of aquaplaning. It was extremely hard and the important thing was to stay focused; we managed to get through which was the important thing. In second and third qualifying it was much better and the car was running well so I was able to push harder. I enjoyed it because we were putting in some quick lap times on the right tyres and it's good to be on the second row. It would be nice to repeat the Japanese Grand Prix podium and I will be fighting hard."
Kamui Kobayashi 11th, Q2 - 1m 21.960s):
"That was a very difficult session for my first qualifying experience in Formula One. The conditions were really hard because from lap to lap the situation changed and there was a lot of aquaplaning. I have never driven this track in those conditions before so it was certainly not easy but the car felt good. I made a small mistake on my last lap in second qualifying so I missed out on the top 10 which I am a bit frustrated about. But overall, to qualify in 11th for my Grand Prix debut in conditions like that is a good result which is more than I expected so I am happy with it. We'll see how it goes in the race tomorrow; it would be great to score points and I will be doing my best to achieve that."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"A qualifying session of almost three hours is quite unique and I haven't experienced anything like it before in Formula 1. But the team and drivers performed well to stay focused and prepared through such a chaotic session. In the end we are pleased with the result, although we were targeting the front row. Both drivers did a very good job in difficult and changing conditions. Jarno showed he has the potential to score a lot of points tomorrow and we are really happy for Kamui. He missed on the top 10 by a tiny margin but 11th place in his first Formula One qualifying session is a great achievement, especially considering the weather. Now we are looking forward to tomorrow when the weather could play a part again, so it should be an interesting race."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, Q3 - 1m 20.168s):
"Overall, I'm pleased with this result. On the extreme wet tyres, we were very competitive and I actually think that if the conditions had stayed bad enough for these tyres, I could have done better than fifth place. However, on the intermediate tyres the car was no longer as easy to drive, because it is harder to get them working at their best. If it rains tomorrow, it will be very tough, because here, you see almost nothing if you are behind another car and the conditions become really difficult. I think that today, it was the right decision to delay qualifying: at least it meant we were able to drive in acceptable conditions, rather than just trying to stay on the track. The F60 worked well: we know we lack grip, but this is the problem we have carried with us since the start of the season."
Giancarlo Fisichella (20th, Q1 - 1m 40.703s):
"When qualifying started the conditions were almost impossible. I ended up spinning even though I wasn't going that quickly, but I was at a point where the track was flooded. As I turned the wheel, I hit the engine cut-out switch and that was my qualifying over with. A shame, because the car goes well in the wet, as could be seen from Kimi's performance. I hope he manages to bring home a good number of points, but for me that will be tough as I'm starting from the back row. At the moment, everything seems to be going wrong: I am very unhappy, because I so much want to show my worth in a major team like Ferrari. I hope that, starting tomorrow, some luck comes my way, as it has not done so far."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
"Tomorrow we face a race that will be very important in the battle for third place and it's a shame we will not be tackling it with both our cars in the top half of the grid, given that our main rivals are quite a way back. However, we also have to keep an eye on Toyota who are not too far behind in the classification."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"A bitter sweet qualifying for us. Once again, Kimi produced a fantastic performance to take a good fifth place, while Giancarlo, having felt comfortable in the wet this morning, was unfortunate in that his spin occurred when track conditions were at their worst. We have gone for a strategy choice that should allow us to have a good race whatever the weather. Well done to the team who remained concentrated throughout the entire qualifying session."
Sebastien Buemi (6th, Q3 - 1m 20.250s):
Of course I am happy, as sixth is my best ever qualifying result. It was a difficult session and I just stayed in the car, trying to remain focused. Our goal for tomorrow is to score some points. But with this kind of weather anything can happen. I would prefer it to be dry tomorrow, but so far this weekend, we have been quick whatever the track conditions, so I will be fighting my hardest if its wet or dry.
Jaime Alguersuari (12th, Q2 - 1m 22.231s):
That was not bad and Im happy with the result. There was a lot of water and it was easy to crash, so my priority was to stay on the track, making no mistakes. Visibility was very bad in these conditions, so I hope we have better conditions for the race. I think I did the best I could today. To make it through to Q3 would have required using the Intermediate tyre, but we gambled on sticking on the Extreme and the final result is pretty good anyway.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer:
Our best qualifying result of the season with our second consecutive Q3 with Buemi and second consecutive Q2 with Alguersuari. In Suzuka, we showed we had the pace thanks to an aero update. Here, the team and drivers put everything together well in what was a very difficult session to manage. Sebastien did a very good job to secure P6 and Jaime also did well to reach Q2 in what were very difficult conditions. But its the race that matters, when I think we can expect a complicated afternoon. Today was an encouraging first step and now we must try and convert it into some points tomorrow.
Nico Rosberg (7th, Q3 - 1m 20.326s):
It was good to see that we were fastest on the wets throughout qualifying. Unfortunately, however, I think we just werent quick enough on the intermediates. We werent able to warm up the front tyres enough so they didnt work properly which ultimately hurt our pace. Still, seventh is a position from which we can hope for a strong race tomorrow.
Kazuki Nakajima (9th, Q3 - 1m 20.674s):
It was a difficult qualifying session with a long time between red flags and each round. It would probably have been better if it had continued raining because the car was very competitive in the wet, but we still managed to get a good position. Its the first time Ive been in the top ten since Hungary so Im looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
Rod Nelson, Chief Operations Engineer:
It was a very busy and long qualifying today because of the weather. Both drivers were happy with the car in the wet, and we moved them onto inters at the right time in Q2. Its good to have both drivers in the top ten again, but I think we could have done a little better. It will be an interesting race tomorrow and we should do well.
Robert Kubica (8th, Q3 - 1m 20.631s):
"The conditions in this qualifying were really difficult. At one point there was so much water on the track that the car was almost undriveable. Fortunately, after the break, the conditions were a little better. We are running relatively low downforce, which was obviously delicate in these conditions. To my surprise, the car was quite competitive when it was very wet, and it was somewhat more difficult to drive with less water. I had too much understeer. The car is set up for a dry track, so we have to see what the weather will be like tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (19th, Q1 - 1m 25.515s):
"Of course it is very annoying to be out in Q1, but I simply had no chance. We certainly knew it would rain in qualifying and we put our ride height up, but it wasn't enough given the amount of water on the track. In a Formula One car you don't only get aquaplaning problems from the tyres, but also with the plank. That's not driving anymore, that is swimming. At the end of Q1 when I had changed to fresh tyres the conditions turned from bad to worse, which didn't help either."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
"Just like two weeks ago in Suzuka, Qualifying in Sao Paulo was again dominated by the weather. This was especially the case for the first and second parts of qualifying. Nick was stuck in traffic at the same time Robert set his fastest lap. After that the conditions got worse, so he finally got stuck in Q1. For Robert everything went according to plan - up to his last attempt with intermediates. In the decisive run he lost time from Turn Seven, so he ended up eighth. Today more would have been possible."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"After qualifying in Suzuka lasted more than 90 minutes, there was another chaotic Saturday in Sao Paulo. First the third free practice was almost washed away by the water. Following this, qualifying had to be stopped several times and lasted for almost three hours. Nick was unfortunate to get stuck in Q1. Robert was one of the top contenders in Q1 and Q2, and also in Q3 things looked good until his last run. But after a good first sector on his final run he lost time and ended up eighth. Today, a position in the first two rows of the grid would have been possible."
Fernando Alonso (10th, Q3 - 1m 21.422s):
"I think this was the longest qualifying session that I have ever taken part in! The weather conditions made it interesting, but the car did not have the pace to qualify higher up the grid today. If we get changeable weather tomorrow, it will impact on the race and if we can react to the conditions at the right times then we can make up some places. We will certainly try our best to do that."
Romain Grosjean (13th, Q2 - 1m 22.477s):
"The rain was very heavy for the first part of qualifying, but I was very happy with the car. It was the same for all the drivers and I did well in these conditions. Unfortunately in Q2 the track was drying, but we didn't have time to fit the intermediate tyres and so I did the whole session with the same wet tyres. I also want to say thanks to my mechanics for the super job they did to repair the car after my accident this morning."
Bob Bell, Renault team principal:
"It was a difficult qualifying session with the extreme weather conditions that we have had today. We were very lucky to get Fernando into Q2 because the car just wasn't quick enough today. It's disappointing that he is not higher than 10th, but he's in reasonably good shape for the race tomorrow and we will take it from there. The latest forecast suggests that it will be wet in the morning and there is a good chance of rain in the afternoon. So it seems the conditions will be changeable again as we have seen today."
Heikki Kovalainen (17th, Q1 - 1m 25.052s):
These were some of the worst conditions Ive ever experienced in a race weekend. I like driving in wet conditions, but today there was so much aquaplaning that it was extremely difficult to keep the car on the track. Plus, there was very bad visibility when you were travelling in the spray of another car. This result shows that we still lack some downforce, so there was nothing we could do to go any faster. I hope the set-up will better suit us in different conditions tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton (18th, Q1 - 1m 25.192s):
Today was one of the worst qualifying sessions I can remember. Our car didnt feel good at all: for both Heikki and me, we couldnt even go flat-out along the straights - thats how little grip we had. It was a disappointing performance, but we did the best we could - I even had a small off trying to push at the end and the car just let loose on me. We were running with a dry set-up, so its a lot stiffer than youd probably want in the wet - and our shortfall in downforce, compared to some of the other cars, really shows in these conditions. Im hoping the sun comes out for tomorrow so well have a fighting chance of getting into the points, but starting 18th means your weekend is really on the back foot.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
This was obviously disappointing for the whole team. Perhaps we concentrated too much on anticipating a potentially dry race tomorrow, and, consequently, we didnt give our drivers a car that enabled them to graduate past Q1. Clearly, this was not what wed hoped for, but we will be doing everything we can in tomorrows race. We wont give up, and we want to score some points tomorrow by adopting perhaps a less risk-averse strategy than we otherwise would have done from positions further up the grid.
Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
A great disappointment. It looks as if our cars were more surfing than driving on lots of water on the track and, obviously, as a team we didnt give it the best possible shot during these difficult heavy rain conditions today. We certainly cant blame our drivers for our struggle - they are proven rain specialists. In addition, I feel very sorry for our friend Sebastian Vettel, who couldnt make it into Q2 either, which may have cost him his last chance of a shot at the title.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"I think it is fair to say that the rain was the main factor today and this was the longest qualifying session I can remember. A wet track is one of the biggest challenges in motor racing, because the grip level from the circuit is always changing. This makes choosing the correct tyre at the correct moment crucial, especially with the current qualifying format. At times the circuit was too wet for running, especially with some cars not running full wet set-ups. Overall we are happy with tyre performance today and it is very interesting for the championship battle to see Rubens Barrichello on pole so well done to him and Brawn GP. Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil also put in strong performances in the difficult conditions.If it's dry then we think the medium compound will be the preferred race tyre, as the super soft suffers from worse degradation. However, if temperatures are very cold and there is the threat of rain the super soft with its lower temperature working range and extra grip could show benefits. If it is wet like today tyre choices become very difficult and we saw a very good illustration of this last time we visited Interlagos."