Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 25 Apr 2009
Red Bulls Mark Webber on the traffic that ruined his final flyer and left him 19th on the grid; BMW Saubers Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld on failing to make it through to Q3; and Toyotas Jarno Trulli on taking his first pole since 2005. All ten teams and 20 drivers report back on Saturdays action
Jarno Trulli (1st, Q3 - 1m 33.431s):
I'm thrilled to be back on pole again. This weekend has gone well and it's great to be starting at the front tomorrow. In fact this afternoon didn't go quite as smoothly as yesterday because I had a bit of a problem with my brakes during the session. That's a bit of a worry for the race so we'll have to look into it overnight. Still, I'm confident for tomorrow because our race pace has been good this weekend and we've been looking after the tyres well. The first three races haven't really worked out for me but I hope we can now change that. We tested here over the winter and this track has gone well for our cars in the past. To have both cars in the top two shows we did a very good job. I'd like to dedicate this pole both to my team, who have worked so hard, and to the people of my home region Abruzzo, who suffered a disastrous earthquake this month."
Timo Glock (2nd, Q3 - 1m 33.712s):
"It's brilliant that we've been able to take the top two places today. We had a problem on my car yesterday and we were struggling but the team did a good job to change things for today. We were quickest in the session this morning, though I lost a bit of running with an electronics glitch. But qualifying went extremely smoothly. The wind changed a bit and it was a struggle to get used to the prime tyres in Q1. After that I felt more comfortable in Q2 but in Q3 I made a small error after Turn Eight so I couldn't catch Jarno. A big thank you to all the engineers and mechanics because it's been a hard start to the season for everyone and this is a great result for us."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"We're obviously delighted with today's result. We have been competitive throughout the weekend so we were targeting pole and things went as expected - though the gap to the cars behind us is a bit bigger than we anticipated. Both drivers did a great job and from the very first lap in Q1 we could see the pace was there so we just had to manage it over the sessions. Tomorrow's race will be very interesting because the tyre situation generates huge differences between the two specs and it opens windows for very different strategies. We already saw yesterday that our pace over one lap and our consistency over long runs has been good. This morning went well except for a small electronics problem on Timo's car. Congratulations to the engineers and mechanics who fixed it in time. Now we have to convert this perfect start into a result tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, Q3 - 1m 34.015s):
That was a good session, we could see in Q1 it was very tough and it wasnt enough to do one run on the prime tyres, so everyone had to put on the option. But it was a smooth qualifying session and we had no problems. The car was very quick, we only needed one run in Q2 and we remained at the top, even though the circuit was improving, which was very good. In Q3 the two Toyotas were a bit too quick - Im looking forward to tomorrow, I reckon they might pull in a little earlier than us! But, its a long race, so lets see.
Mark Webber (19th, Q1 - 1m 34.038s):
Traffic. I had traffic on the last corner and therefore wasnt quick enough to go through. I dont usually get caught out with that problem and that was the worst place to get nailed, as it wrecked both my flying laps. I had nowhere to go in the last corner of my first lap and then Sutil slip-streamed past me for the start of my second, so it was a disaster. Q1 is the worst session to have had that problem, as now were at the back for tomorrow - my race is screwed.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
I think the car weights will show that both Toyotas are set for an aggressive strategy tomorrow - weve got a fresh set of tyres remaining from today so I think we have a strong strategy for tomorrows race. Were bitterly disappointed for Mark who was blocked by Sutil in Q1, both drivers should have been up at the front today which is really frustrating. It was a great performance from Sebastian though - hes on fire at the moment, he did a great lap in Q2 and a very good lap in Q3, so lets see what tomorrows race brings.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
Very mixed feelings. We had a very good qualifying with Sebastian, who was top in Q1 and Q2. Hes third, but I think he has a good strategy so were confident for tomorrow. It will be very hot and the engine will suffer a bit, but we will try our best to get some more points and I hope a victory! Its such a shame for Mark, he was having a great weekend but then was blocked in qualifying. Im sure he can bounce back from there tomorrow - well cross our fingers.
Jenson Button (4th, Q3 - 1m 34.044s):
"We were aiming for pole position today but unfortunately it wasn't our best qualifying session of the season and the pace just wasn't there. I didn't have a great lap on my final run in Q3 and we were struggling for grip on the corner exits and locking tyres throughout the session. We were surprised by our lack of pace and the quicker pace of our competitors today who have obviously made advances and caught up quickly. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow however our long-run pace with heavy fuel was really competitive on Friday so that will stand us in good stead if we can get a clean start."
Rubens Barrichello (6th, Q3 - 1m 34.239s):
"Unfortunately qualifying didn't go as well as we planned today. I suffered from traffic on my final run in Q3 when I was in the middle of a group were taking it slowly on their out laps. That was different to my approach and meant that I couldn't get enough temperature into the tyres which compromised my quick lap. Our competitors are improving and it will be interesting to see how that affects the race. It's going to be tough but I am confident that good points are possible tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"The track and ambient temperatures are incredibly high here today and we are learning all the time how to make the tyres and chassis work in such extreme conditions. The track has evolved since morning practice and neither driver was completely happy with the balance of their car. However we were able to make progress through the sessions and have secured decent grid positions for the race tomorrow. The forecast is for slightly cooler weather which should be beneficial for the performance of the track and car. We will reflect on our qualifying performance overnight and see what we can learn ahead of the race."
Lewis Hamilton (5th, Q3 - 1m 34.196s):
We have been pushing incredibly hard over the last couple of months and this is a result of all our hard work. Im very proud of what weve achieved: firstly, it was good to get into the top 10, then it was even better to battle inside the top 10! Weve got a similar pace to some of the guys in the top five; as long as everything goes smoothly we should be able to get a top five finish tomorrow. I can almost see pole position now and Im really looking forward to getting there soon!
Heikki Kovalainen (11th, Q2 - 1m 33.242s):
I didn't have any major problems today but, obviously I wasn't as fast as I would have liked. We have to analyse what went wrong. Nevertheless our competiveness has improved compared to the previous grands prix. We are lacking pace especially in the middle sector. However, the fact that I was less than one tenth of a second behind 10th position in Q2 shows that we have made some more progress. I am now looking forward to the race, where my target is to achieve a solid points result."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
After our top-10 qualifying position in Shanghai last weekend, todays performance once again shows that we are continuing to make progress with MP4-24. Lewiss top-five position is a fantastic achievement and, considering he began the first race of the season from 18th on the grid, a fantastic indicator of just how much progress the team has made. Of course, while our qualifying positions mark the teams best Saturday performance of the season, they were made without compromise to our race pace; both Lewis and Heikki are well placed to pick up some more points for the team tomorrow.
Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Looks like we are heading in the right direction. Lewis did a great job yesterday and today. The layout of the track is not bad for us as our car is strong under braking and we feel that our KERS hybrid is helping here as well. A shame for Heikki that he missed Q3 by less than one tenth, finishing 11th while Lewis was eighth: an incredibly close session, with 0.05s covering fourth to eighth! It is extremely tight these days in Formula One but that is great for the spectators - they are what we are here for.
Fernando Alonso (7th, Q3 - 1m 34.578s):
"Once again we saw a very close qualifying session. It's difficult and stressful inside the cockpit, but I guess it's very interesting for the viewers. We haven't made many changes to the car since China, but the team has been working late into the night once again to give me a competitive car. Qualifying went more or less as we had expected and starting seventh is about what we imagined was possible. Tomorrow we need to do everything we can to finish in the points, aiming for the top six and maybe even higher."
Nelson Piquet (15th, Q2 - 1m 33.941s):
"I pushed a bit too much to try to get into Q3. I had four cars around me and I really couldn't do much so I had to take some risks and pushed hard, but it wasn't good enough to go through to Q3. Hopefully we will have a strong start to the race and can adopt a good strategy so that I can challenge for the points, which is what we need right now."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
We had very warm conditions today with ambient temperatures reaching degrees Celsius and track temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius. Both cars and tyres where therefore tested severely. Our performance today is mixed. Fernando's position in qualifying again reflects where we think our level of competitiveness is at the moment. But Nelson unfortunately made a mistake during his important lap in Q2 and is probably not showing everything he is capable of. The race will be difficult tomorrow. The wind has already caused problems today and is forecast to be even stronger tomorrow. Strategically it will be important to look after the tyres, but I'm confident that we can have a strong points-scoring finish."
Nico Rosberg (7th, Q3 - 1m 35.134s):
That was not a good qualifying from me as I really didnt feel comfortable in the car today. We were just lucky we made it through to the third round because it was very close. In the end, P9 is ok because we have a lot of fuel onboard so, strategy-wise, I think we are looking pretty competitive. My hope for tomorrow is definitely to finish in the points and I think thats achievable. Our race car is pretty good, so we should have a consistent pace and everything is possible from ninth.
Kazuki Nakajima (12th, Q2 - 1m 33.348s):
Its difficult to say where I lost my time. I didnt make any mistakes and the car was performing pretty well. If I think about the gap separating Nico and me, Im pleased with my afternoon. Overall, though, I have mixed feelings as I should have made it into Q3.
Sam Michael, Williams' technical director:
"This result is where we expected to be. Ninth is a good position from where Nico can target a points-scoring finish tomorrow and Kazuki did a good job considering he doesnt have the same package that Nico is running. He also equalled his season best qualifying position today. In conclusion, we will be aiming for points with both cars. Congratulations to Toyota for taking the front row."
Felipe Massa (8th, Q3 - 1m 34.818s):
"It seems we have made a small step forward, but we know we still have a long way to go. Personally, I'm happy to be back in the top ten in qualifying and I hope I can have a good race and make it into the top eight. This morning, the car was handling very well, but in the afternoon it lost a little bit of performance because of oversteer, probably down to the track conditions. Tomorrow it will be very hot and that will have a considerable effect on reliability and tyre performance. We must try and make it to the finish and bring home some points, maybe making the most of the KERS, especially at the start."
Kimi Raikkonen (10th, Q3 - 1m 35.380s):
"It would have been difficult to do better than tenth. In the first two parts of qualifying, the car handled better than we had expected, but in Q3 I no longer had any new soft tyres, having already used all four sets. The car's performance has improved with KERS. Tomorrow, the race will be very tough because of the high temperatures. Let's see what we manage to do. The aim is to finish in the points."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
"We were aware of the current situation in terms of the pecking order and how difficult it would be to get into Q3. You only had to look at the times in the second part of the session, with five cars all within half a tenth. The slightest thing and you wouldn't make it. Cleary this is not a Ferrari-style result, but we have to make a virtue out of necessity. Tomorrow, it will be vital to ensure that first and foremost, we make it to the chequered flag. With these high temperatures, car reliability faces a stiff test. Our aim is simple, to wipe the zero off our score card in the championship."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"We can't claim to be happy in absolute terms with our performance, but at least for the second time this season, we managed to get both cars into Q3. In the final part of qualifying, Kimi struggled a bit more than his team mate, as he had no more new soft tyres, but all things considered, that's the best we could have expected today. We have a good strategy and hope to bring home both cars in the points tomorrow. Yesterday afternoon we decided to fit the KERS to both cars. We studied carefully the data from free practice and that led us to go for this solution."
Robert Kubica (13th, Q2 - 1m 33.487s):
"We already knew before qualifying it would be difficult today. We lack overall performance. In qualifying 2 I struggled with the grip of the new option tyres. Additionally, our radio didn't work today so, as a result, it was quite hard to fine-tune tyre pressures and stuff like that. On top of that, we also had two small fires during refuelling in the pits. Although this didn't influence the performance, it didn't help. However, we now have to go on working in a concentrated and calm way."
Nick Heidfeld (14th, Q2 - 1m 33.562s):
This was quite a difficult qualifying for us. A lack of pace is obvious and, as we are waiting for our aerodynamic update for Barcelona, it is clear we lose lap time in comparison to competitors who already have new parts. At least we knew this before qualifying. Also today the car's balance between the runs was very inconsistent. On my second run in Q2 I was quicker than on my first of that session, but not as quick as in Q1. I was really fighting hard and missed the apex in turn nine. It seems unlikely we can collect points tomorrow, but certainly we will not give up and will try everything."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
"Qualifying was as difficult as expected after seeing the close gaps in free practice. One point five seconds between first and last means every weakness will result in a loss of a few grid positions. In the decisive second run in Q2 both our drivers complained about the car's inconsistent balance and because of that were not able to fight for the top ten."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"Of course we cannot be satisfied with our starting positions. After an acceptable Q1, in Q2 we were - in comparison to most of the others - not able to improve on our times from the first part of qualifying. This was the case, although the track conditions had improved. The reason for this has to be analysed. From these positions it will be very difficult to score in tomorrow's race."
Adrian Sutil (16th, Q1 - 1m 33.722s):
It was quite a good qualifying but conditions were very difficult out there. The grip was much lower than in free practice in the morning so the balance was not perfect and it was quite hard to go on the limit. I managed a good lap in the end and I think P16 is a good effort so we should be quite happy. There was a little problem with Mark Webber in the last corner: I was just trying to make a gap to Alonso to start my lap and Mark came in on a flying lap, but I didn't know that. I just tried to stay in my position to get a clear start to the lap. It was a misunderstanding and I apologised to Mark after the end of the session.
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th, Q1 - 1m 33.910s):
We made a good step forward today and were very close to getting into Q2. I wasn't totally happy about the car balance in the session. It was better on the hard tyres but as soon as I went on the soft tyres the car was much more unpredictable. We made some changes to make it slightly better for qualifying but we still had some inconsistencies. I think that's the reason we couldn't improve the time but anyway we definitely made progress and it was a very good effort from the whole team. Tomorrow we need a good strategy to get to the end of the race but we know our pace is better over a race distance.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
We have clearly improved the car for this event and out-qualified one of our closest competitor teams. In this respect the contrast to China is obvious and that bodes well for the race. However we didn't make Q2 and to be so close is tough, of course. The track was the hottest we've seen since 2005 so the cars naturally lost some performance. It will be a hard race tomorrow and we're looking forward to giving our best and to another strong showing.
Sebastien Buemi (17th, Q3 - 1m 33.753s):
It should have been much better and I ought to have comfortably got through to Q2, but I made a mistake in the third sector. Im disappointed with my performance as the car performed better than expected and with the sector times I was doing, maybe I should have been more cautious, just to make sure of getting into Q2. Track conditions were similar to this morning. Tomorrow, I still think we can have a good race, because this afternoons performance does not show what the car is capable of, so I am hopeful I can make up some places. How many is difficult to say. As for the tyres, its clear that the softer ones are those we will want to run the most in the race.
Sebastien Bourdais (20th, Q1 - 1m 34.159s):
Losing track time this morning did not help. This afternoon, my first run was quite good, better than I thought and I was optimistic. But on my second run, we picked up a lot of understeer, which I corrected with the front wing for the final run. But suddenly the car went the other way, with massive oversteer. The car is extremely sensitive to the changes we make and we suffered with a lack of downforce and therefore grip. It is disappointing to finish so far down.
Giorgio Ascanelli, Force India technical director:
We had troubles so far this weekend with a reliability problem, but we think weve fixed it now. In terms of this afternoons performance, we were simply not quick enough and thats the end of it, although we got fairly close with Buemi, when you consider there were five cars within one and a half tenths, which means it comes down to mistakes. The picture here is pretty similar to what happened to us in Melbourne: both places are braking circuits and braking does not appear to be one of our strong points. Thankfully, it seems conditions should be cooler for tomorrows race.