Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 09 May 2009
McLarens Heikki Kovalainen and Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen on crashing out of Q1; Williams Kazuki Nakajima on just missing out on joining team mate Nico Rosberg in the final shootout; and Brawns Jenson Button on how his last-ditch effort secured his third pole of the season. All ten teams and 20 drivers on Saturdays action
Jenson Button (1st, Q3 - 1m 20.527s):
"An unexpected but very pleasing pole position today and it is probably my most satisfying pole of the season. Rubens been really quick all weekend and I was able to benefit from that by looking at his set-up to overcome some of the issues that we faced in practice yesterday. My final lap in Q3 was by far the best lap that I've had this weekend but it was a bit close crossing the line with just two seconds to spare! The upgrades that we have on the car here are performing well and it is certainly a good step forward for us although we haven't got the most out of the package yet. The team has done a great job with the developments and I hope that everyone at the factory in Brackley and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth enjoyed the pole today. It's really important to start from the front here as overtaking can be difficult but we do have Felipe (Massa) behind us with KERS so a good start will be crucial tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (3rd, Q3 - 1m 20.762s):
"We have had a really good weekend so far here in Spain and I'm happy to be starting from third position on the grid tomorrow. Of course it is a little disappointing not to be on pole after a great Q2 however my final lap in Q3 was good. We may have gone out slightly too early for the final run and missed an opportunity there. However I'm happy with our strategy and we are well placed for the race. We will need to get off the line cleanly and stay ahead of the Ferrari down to the first corner to make the most of our potential."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
Congratulations to Jenson for his third pole position of the season and another great job from Rubens to secure third place. After some hard work from the team overnight, we were able to resolve the issues which Jenson encountered with our upgrade package yesterday and were greatly helped in that process by the input from Rubens. The developments on the car have enabled us to make good progress over the weekend and whilst we are still to fully maximise their impact on performance, the signs are encouraging. Rubens was very quick in the first two sessions on low fuel today with Jenson having the edge on the heavier fuel loads in Q3. Today's result puts us in a good position and we look forward to a very exciting race."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, Q3 - 1m 20.660s):
I felt very comfortable in the car today. The lap time in Q3 was good, unfortunately not good enough to beat Jenson - last minute he took the pole position away! But second on the grid, on the front row is great, especially as we were struggling a little bit with the car yesterday. The conditions are different to when we were testing here during the winter, but we fixed it and made a good recovery today. We also made an adjustment following this mornings practice, before qualifying, which seemed to work - so Im very happy. We only needed one run on the hard tyre in Q1 and one run on the soft tyre in Q2. It was a great job and compliments to the whole crew for their hard work. Some parts arrived quite late, which has meant some long nights for the boys, but they will have some rest later today.
Mark Webber (5th, Q3 - 1m 21.049s):
That was a bit disappointing. I would like to have done a slightly better job in Q3 and I could have done it. Q2 was good, but thats not the most important session. Were fifth, so lets see what we can do from there tomorrow. Thanks to the guys at Red Bull, theyve done another good job this weekend.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A very exciting qualifying session - ultimately it was really tight between Jenson and Sebastian. We believe we have a good strategy for tomorrow so we wait with interest for the fuel levels, but the performance in Q1 and Q2 was extremely impressive. Marks performance in particular in Q2 was very strong, which is also encouraging for tomorrow.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
Its a good result today and the car was very quick in Q1 and Q2. Now, we need to wait to get the weights of the cars to see if we are very happy or just happy! Tomorrows race will be tough I think. There was a question mark over where the car would be with all the updates that we bought here, but we are still at the front so we can be positive for the rest of the season.
Timo Glock (6th, Q3 - 1m 21.247s):
"I am reasonably satisfied to be starting in the top six, especially as the practice sessions didn't go completely to plan. I struggled a bit in practice with car stability but we worked hard to improve that and qualifying sixth is not a bad result so we have to be happy with it. Obviously we hoped to be a bit closer to the front but other teams have made a step forward this weekend and the competition is really close. I've scored points in all the races so far this season and starting from the third row gives me a good opportunity to keep up that run. Finishing on the podium will not be easy but of course I'll be pushing as hard as possible and we'll see what happens in the race tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli (7th, Q3 - 1m 21.254s):
"It was an interesting and tough qualifying session for me today, particularly Q1 and Q2 when I struggled a little on a low fuel load but we made it into Q3 which is the main thing. In Q3 the grip was much better with more fuel on board and the car reacted well so I was able to push hard. At the end of the session I managed to put in a very good lap so I am pleased with my performance and I think seventh on the grid is pretty good considering the fuel I have on board. I believe my strategy is a good one so today's result was positive and I am optimistic for a good result in the race."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"All in all our qualifying performance went well and we are reasonably satisfied to have both cars in the top eight. It has been a busy weekend for us because we had several new aerodynamic items to evaluate in practice and we have done a lot of laps in preparation for the race. Prior to qualifying the practice results didn't look fantastic for us but we have worked well to be competitive again when it mattered. In terms of track and tyre characteristics here, we are in a situation which clearly opens a window for two or three pit stops so the race will be very interesting and we will probably see some different strategies. We believe we are in good shape so I am feeling positive."
Felipe Massa (4th, Q3 - 1m 20.934s):
"We demonstrated that the car has improved and is much more competitive than at the other races. I am happy to be back at the front end in qualifying and the credit for that goes to everyone at the Scuderia, who have worked day and night these past weeks to get so many new elements on track so quickly. There is still a long way to go, but we are working in the right direction which is a good sign for the future. From fourth on the grid, my aim is to fight for a podium finish. At the start, the KERS could be very handy in helping me make up some places and then we know we can count on running a good race pace. I feel more comfortable at the wheel: the car is more stable and doesn't slide so much everywhere as it did in the past."
Kimi Raikkonen (16th, Q1 - 1m 21.291s):
"We made a stupid mistake. It's a real shame because the car was much better than the one we had in the previous races and we had every chance of getting a good result. I didn't get any particularly good laps on my only run in Q1, but we thought my best time would be enough to make it to Q2 and so I stayed in the garage. There's no point in saying whose fault it was, because we can't do anything about it now. I certainly wasn't keen on doing another run as I was thinking of saving a set of new soft tyres for Q3 and the team reckoned we could make it. Tomorrow's race will be tough and we will try and make the best of the situation. The F60 has improved, maybe not yet to the level of the best, but we're definitely getting closer."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
"A day of varying fortunes. On the one hand there's the satisfaction of Felipe's result and on the other, disappointment for Kimi's. Felipe's showing in qualifying confirms that all the work of the past few weeks aimed at improving the car's performance is going in the right direction. However, that can only add to the disappointment of how things went in terms of managing his team-mate's session. We had the potential to get both cars into the top three rows and we only got it half right. Tomorrow, we can expect a long and difficult race, as usual in fact. Felipe has a chance to do well, while Kimi will have to try and climb up the order in the hope of making it into the points."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"We have worked so hard to bring new components here for the F60 and the result of those efforts was confirmed today by Felipe's performance. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully exploit this improvement, because we made a serious mistake in our evaluation of Q1, believing that Kimi's time would have been good enough to get him through to the next stage. It was a serious error which is really regrettable. We will try to make up for it tomorrow in a race which he will start from way down the order. Felipe is on a good strategy and although we wait to see the fuel levels of the other drivers, we can aspire to a podium finish. As usual, reliability will be the number one priority."
Nico Rosberg (9th, Q3 - 1m 22.558s):
I must say I am very pleased with todays result because we werent looking good this morning. In qualifying, we struggled to get the tyres to work because the temperatures were only just about right. The tyres werent perfect on the first lap, but then they came together on the second. I managed to hook up a strong lap in Q2 which put me as high as P7, but I then didnt have any tyres left for Q3. We did the best we could and we can be happy with the fifth row. We have a strong strategy so we have a good chance for the race tomorrow.
Kazuki Nakajima (11th, Q2 - 1m 20.531s):
My effort is a little bit disappointing. I felt comfortable throughout the session but I then lost time towards the end of my quick lap. The car felt really good too so I need to look over my data and see why I was losing that time. I think we can still have a decent race; in fact, I need to after the last few that havent gone well for me. Points will definitely be a target for me tomorrow.
Patrick Head, Williams director of engineering:
We had a difficult morning in practice, mainly caused by traffic problems, but we also struggled with the tyres. In qualifying, Nico secured a good time in Q2 to enter Q3 and then take ninth. Kazuki unfortunately just missed out on Q3 but P11 is a good position to start from. Because wed used all of our new tyres, we decided to take a more conservative direction with race strategy so we wont be threatening the front runners in the early laps of the race.
Fernando Alonso (8th, Q3 - 1m 21.392s):
I think that we did our maximum this afternoon. We were quick and have closed the gap with the leaders, although it was a bit close in Q2 where we were 10th. For the race tomorrow we know that the seven cars in front are quicker and the ones behind us are quite heavy on fuel and could jump ahead of us during the pit stops, so it might be difficult to keep our position. Nonetheless we need to score points and that will be our aim in tomorrows race.
Nelson Piquet (12th, Q2 - 1m 20.604s):
It was another really close session and all the cars were very competitive, especially in Q1. I was happy with the car as we had improved the balance this morning, but I just missed out on the top ten which is a bit disappointing. Still, starting 12th is not too bad and we have been free to choose our fuel load and have a strategy that we hope will help us move forward during the race.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
Everyone was looking forward to Barcelona to see how the teams updates might change the relative positions. We can see that Ferrari have made a step forward, but overall the status quo has remained. Fernando has done a great job once again and he has a good grid position for his home Grand Prix. Nelson is also well placed and although he just missed out on the top 10, he is extremely close to Fernandos performance and has the ability to have a very successful race tomorrow.
Robert Kubica (10th, Q3 - 1m 22.685s):
Qualifying started really well for me. I did two solid runs in Q1 and then an excellent one in Q2. The time was even good enough to take a little gamble. I only did one outing to save a set of tyres. This worked out, and it is a clear indication we have made progress with the performance of the car. But then in Q3 the car understeered heavily right from the beginning of the decisive lap. It was clear that something was wrong and I came back to the pits. Its disappointing that this problem hindered me in getting the full potential out of the car.
Nick Heidfeld (13th, Q2 - 1m 20.676s):
It is good news that our car has obviously improved with the new aero package, so it is even more regrettable that I couldnt get the most out of it. After I went off in turn twelve in this mornings free practice and hit a tyre barrier I couldnt do anymore running to prepare for qualifying. Predictions for the race are difficult and overtaking isnt easy in Barcelona, but I still hope for points.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
Today the performance of the car showed the upwards trend which we hoped for. Robert only had to do one run in Q2 to make it into the top ten. Then, however, in preparation for the decisive run in Q3 the team made a mistake while fitting the tyres. Nick missed Q3 by just a fraction. Obviously, the fact that he went off in the morning and lost some valuable time to set up the car also played a role.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
The new aero package definitely proved to be a step forward. How big it is in comparison to the competition is something we now need to look at in detail. With Robert we were able to take a risk in Q2 when we left him in the garage after just one run in order to save a set of tyres, and it worked. But in Q3 he had to interrupt his final attempt because we made a mistake when fitting the tyres. Nick unfortunately just missed getting into the top ten. In tomorrow's race we should be able to score some points."
Lewis Hamilton (14th, Q2 - 1m 20.805s):
We had a much better feeling on the softer tyre this morning, but it is still difficult to stop the car understeering through the longer corners like Turns Three and Nine. It wasnt a bad lap, but there was still too much understeer through Three and Nine. We did the best we could today. My lap was not fantastic but the car was not fast enough either - I didnt have the grip to go any faster. However, it will be quite a long and tough race for everyone tomorrow and well try and make up as many places as possible and hope to score some points. Well learn from this, keep pushing and do better in the future.
Heikki Kovalainen (18th, Q1 - 1m 21.675s):
This was the first time this year that I didnt reach Q2. Into the last sector, Nick was a little bit ahead of me but I dont think he lost me a lot of time. Its been quite a difficult weekend: I just couldnt find any grip today - thats why the lap time was too slow.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
We knew in advance that this was going to be a particularly difficult circuit for us and today proved that. Lets not forget that only eight weeks ago we were more than 2.5s off the pace - during qualifying today, Lewis was only three tenths off second place in Q1 and eight tenths off the front in Q2. While thats still disappointing, its nonetheless a significant step up from where we were back in early March - and at a track that we knew would challenge the deficiencies in our car. However, the first four races have demonstrated that we have two very determined racing drivers in our team: they have battled against the odds in the first four races and we have every faith that they will make the most of tomorrow as well.
Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Lewis in 14th and Heikki in 18th place is obviously a very disappointing result today. On the positive side, we closed the gap to the quickest car from 2.5s per lap at the last test two months ago before the season stared when we were dead last, to a little less than one second today. We knew that the fast corners of this circuit would highlight the shortcomings of MP4-24, which is mainly a lack of overall downforce. It took us two months to cut our deficit in half - our aim now has to be to be fighting for race wins within the next two months.
Sebastien Buemi (15th, Q2 - 1m 21.067s):
"We were hoping for better than that. Apart from going off the track, I also encountered some traffic in Q2 and I think without that I could have been two or three tenths quicker and been a couple of places higher. Now, we will work hard to be well prepared for tomorrow when they say it might rain, which could be good for us. It is hard to overtake here, so it will be tough to get up into the points places, but you never know what might happen on the first lap. I have not given up on the idea of having a good weekend."
Sebastien Bourdais (17th, Q1 - 1m 21.300s):
The car is definitely quicker in this specification, but the times are so close that, as soon as you make the slightest mistake, you are not forgiven. My first run was okay, but I felt I had less grip in the second one. Doing two runs of two laps was the right decision. I had a bit too much oversteer in the slow corners, so I couldn't carry enough speed and for a fraction I didn't make the cut, and unfortunately it wasn't good enough again today."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director:
"Here in Spain, we have benefited from the introduction of the "Melbourne" specification package, as used by Red Bull Racing from the first race. We could and should have got both cars into Q2. Everyone else has also made a step forwards, but compared to the others, I think we have made a bigger step, which should have moved us up the scale of values. Unfortunately, this afternoon, we didn't get it right."
Adrian Sutil (19th, Q1 - 1m 21.742s):
We knew that this would be a tight session and it was. The balance of my car was OK and I don't think missing the free practice session yesterday put us at a disadvantage, it was just really close out there again. Track conditions were quite good for us, and the grip of the car improved from this morning but we just didn't have enough speed at the end of the day to do any more. But it could be a good race with the people we have around us.
Giancarlo Fisichella (20th, Q1 - 1m 22.204s):
I had some problems with traffic on my last lap and felt I could have improved the time. The car felt quite good though, more consistent than in the free practice this morning, and our race pace is always better than in qualifying. With Kovalainen and Raikkonen not far away from us I think the race will be a tough one, but let's see what we can do with the strategy and try and gain some positions.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
Both drivers found it difficult to get the best from the car in today's qualifying. Adrian drove two good laps at the end of the session and unfortunately Giancarlo found some traffic. Clearly we've some work to do still to improve our qualifying pace on circuits like this. We'll look to be creative with our race tomorrow and make the best of any opportunities that come our way.