Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 06 Jun 2009
Renaults Nelson Piquet on ending Q1 in the gravel trap; BMW Saubers Robert Kubica on making it through to the top-ten shoot-out; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on pipping Brawn GPs Jenson Button to his second pole position of the season. All 20 drivers, and senior team personnel, report back on Saturday at Istanbul Park
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 28.316s):
We have a good car here and a good chance for the race. I expected to face more difficulties in qualifying today, I mean it wasnt easy, but we made it to pole. We now have the best position to start from and its definitely an advantage to be on the clean side of the track in terms of grip level. This is just the half-way point though, the main task comes tomorrow. Its a long race here, very tough and very hot so it wont be easy for the cars or the drivers - but it should be exciting. Im looking forward to it.
Mark Webber (4th, Q3 - 1m 28.613s):
That was a good qualifying session for us, Im happy with how Q3 went and its put us in a reasonable position for the start of the race. Were also on the right-hand side of the grid, which is good. I dont think I could have finished much further up. Im happy with the performance of the car, it worked well today and Im aiming for a podium tomorrow. The team did a good job today.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A good team performance; both drivers delivered very good qualifying laps hitting their target times and it puts us in a strong position for tomorrows race. It was a good recovery for Sebastian who lost track time yesterday. Once again the Brawns are extremely quick here, but Ferrari and Toyota are also a challenge so it should be an interesting race tomorrow.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
A superb result and a pole position! As in China, it seems that Sebastian is very good in the face of adversity - he did a very small number of laps yesterday due to an engine failure, but today he gets pole position, so thank you to him. Mark was very strong and his final lap in Q3 was impressive given his fuel load. He has a good start position and, as the Ferraris are not right behind us with their KERS, I think we can aim for a good result tomorrow.
Jenson Button (2nd, Q3 - 1m 28.421s):
"With the changes to the set-up that we made overnight, the car felt much better today and we were really able to get to grips with improving the pace. It's great to be starting on the front row, although of course I would prefer to be on pole, but Sebastian did a great job. It was quite difficult to choose between the tyres today as their performance was quite similar. The prime was a little too twitchy for my liking so I continued to run the option tyre for Q3 which had a more gradual and rolling feel. It should be a good race tomorrow as I really enjoy this circuit and you can overtake here so there will hopefully be some good battles out on the track. We will be trying very hard to change the statistic that everyone who has started from pole here has won the race!"
Rubens Barrichello (3rd, Q3 - 1m 28.579s):
"The team has done a great job since the practice sessions yesterday to make improvements and the car felt immediately better this morning. Qualifying went really well although I did have a worrying moment in Q2 when traffic affected my second run and the times were so close between the top eleven drivers. The main question in qualifying today was trying to understand which tyre performed better. I had a better feeling through the high-speed corners with the prime tyre and it was the best choice for me so I went for just the one run on the primes in Q3. I lost my first two flying laps to traffic but the third lap was really good. I have the advantage of starting from the clean side tomorrow so will be aiming for a good start and take it from there."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"A real team performance today to turn around what was an uncharacteristically challenging Friday for us. A lot of hard work overnight from the drivers, engineers and technicians, both here and at the factory in Brackley, resolved the issues that we faced and gave us the pace to that we needed to compete at the front in qualifying. Jenson and Rubens had different preferences for the tyres today so we adopted two very different strategies for Q3, both of which paid off with top three grid positions. We know that the car performs well with fuel so that gives us confidence for the race tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli (5th, Q3 - 1m 28.666s):
"I am happy with this good result, especially after the difficult time we had during the last race weekend. We have made big improvements and it is nice to be back at the front where we belong. The tyre situation was a little tricky today because I was very quick on the hard tyre while I didn't feel I got the most out of the soft option. We need to analyse that to give us the best possible chance tomorrow I'm fired up and looking forward to the race. We were not far off pole position which is very encouraging and gives us high expectations for the race tomorrow. Obviously it is a long race and it's difficult to predict what will happen, but I will be fighting to finish on the podium."
Timo Glock (13th, Q2 - 1m 27.795s):
"That was not an easy session for me and it is disappointing to be out of the top 10. This morning we were quick and the set-up felt really good, so I was happy with the car going into qualifying. But when we put the option tyres on with a light fuel load the car had some oversteer and it didn't feel exactly like it did in the morning. We were still competitive and expecting to get into the top 10 but on my final lap of Q2 I made a mistake in the last sector and that was it; I lost time and didn't qualify where I expected. But it's easier to overtake here than in Monaco so I won't give up on the race."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"We are clearly having a better weekend than we did in Monaco which is a credit to the huge team effort to understand our issues from that weekend and bring new parts here. Nevertheless, we cannot be completely satisfied with this qualifying result. We missed out on getting both cars in the top 10 which is a pity, especially as we had very high hopes for that before qualifying. Unfortunately Timo made a mistake in the last sector when he was on for a competitive lap time, which explains his grid position. Jarno performed very well throughout and it is pleasing to be back at the right end of the grid. Naturally we want to fight for the podium here so we aimed a little higher than fifth, but it didn't happen so now we are looking to maximise our chances in the race. The tyre situation here is extremely interesting and quite unusual, with the hard and soft tyres offering very similar grip characteristics. This makes tyre choice more of a challenge and we are likely to see some different strategies in the race."
Kimi Raikkonen (6th, Q3 - 1m 28.815s):
In qualifying the car was better balanced than in free practice but, even on a light fuel load, today we were a bit slower than the best. All weekend we have struggled a bit to get the tyres working at their best on the first lap. For sure, starting from the dirty side of the grid wont be easy, especially on a track like this, which is hardly ever used for racing, which means the track surface offers little grip off the racing line. We have made progress recently, but the others have also done the same, which is what always happens.
Felipe Massa (7th, Q3 - 1m 28.858s)::
On low fuel, the car was well balanced and had good grip, while once we had the race fuel on board, the situation got worse and we suffered oversteer, mainly on the softer tyre. Honestly, Id expected to start higher up the grid, especially as we were pretty competitive in Q1 and Q2. Starting from seventh, it becomes tough to aim for the top, so we have to be realistic. However, we mustnt forget this will be a long race and anything can happen. As usual, I will give it my best shot.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
It was a very close qualifying, especially at the top end of the time sheet. The cars ran trouble free all day: the major difficulty concerned tyre choice. In the end, we opted for the softer compound and all in all, we believe that was the right choice, even if the difference in performance between the two over the first timed lap was not as marked as on other occasions.
Fernando Alonso (8th, Q3 - 1m 29.075s):
"I have mixed feelings from this qualifying session. Q2 was really difficult and we only just made it through to Q3 in tenth position, but our level of performance and lack of pace meant we could only manage eighth on the grid, which is a bit disappointing. Unfortunately I will start from the dirty side of the track, which will make the start of the race difficult, but I still hope that I can challenge for some good points in the race."
Nelson Piquet (17th, Q2 - 1m 28.582s):
"I knew I had a brake problem from the beginning of qualifying and so I was being cautious, but it wasn't easy as the track was so slippery. On the last run the problem got worse and I spun off. However, I will remain positive for tomorrow as this is a track with good overtaking opportunities and hopefully we can have a strong race."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
"Nelson dropped out of qualifying after loosing a brake duct which overheated his brakes and caused him to spin. We had hoped for a slightly higher position for Fernando after second qualifying but bearing in mind our fuel load we are not in a bad position for the race."
Nico Rosberg (9th, Q3 - 1m 29.191s):
It really wasnt easy to choose between the soft and the hard compound to do your fastest lap on today, or to keep a balanced car while changing between the two. I ended up with some understeer and maybe a lost a position because of that, but Im on the clean side of the grid tomorrow, which will help us to get a good start and maybe gain some positions. Since we also have a good race car, we will be targeting points, which is important for us as a team.
Kazuki Nakajima (12th, Q2 - 1m 27.629s):
It was fairly a difficult qualifying session as the tyre choice was quite hard. We werent entirely sure whether the prime or the option would be better as there wasnt much in it between the two and this mornings practice didnt really clarify things. In Q1, I struggled with the option so we selected the prime for Q2, but unfortunately that wasnt much of an improvement and I didnt get the performance I wanted. Its going to be difficult to get into the points, but P12 is ok and I will be fighting hard.
Patrick Head, Williams director of engineering:
Q1 and Q2 were ok for both drivers, with Nico setting a time just four tenths shy of the fastest time in Q2. When the fuel went in for Nicos Q3 run, we werent quite as strong as we wanted to be but well find out what fuel loads everyone else will be running later this evening. Im sure both drivers will be in a position to fight for points from their grid slots though. We didnt have any reliability issues and the improvements weve made to the car are working. Again, the competition is fierce as can be seen from how close the times are.
Robert Kubica (10th, Q3 - 1m 29.357s):
Starting from P10 is definitely better than starting from P18 the way I did in Monaco. However, we still lack a bit of pace compared to the top cars. The track clearly suits our car better than the Monaco track did. However, we really have to fight tomorrow. Although the gap to the lead cars is quite close, there are a lot of cars between us and the front row. It will be difficult.
Nick Heidfeld (11th, Q2 - 1m 27.521s):
I have mixed feelings about todays qualifying. On one hand it is annoying to miss the top ten qualifying by such a margin, but on the other Im happy to see the progress weve made. The car was quick enough for Q3. I was seventh overall before my final outing in Q2 but then I was stuck in traffic on the last sector of my out lap. Given how the 2009 tyres are, this is enough to prevent them from heating up properly and consequently ruin your flying lap. Our new aero package with the double diffuser is obviously a step forward. This is not only compared to Monaco, but also to Barcelona where I scored two points after starting 13th on the grid.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
We produced a solid performance in todays qualifying. Obviously, our goal was, to get both cars into Q3, which didnt quite work out. Today, once again, the whole field was very close. Nick missed Q3 by just five hundreds of a second, and Robert was finally tenth. What this means in terms of the race we will only see once we know the competitors strategy. On the positive side, in Q2, when all the drivers were running in the same conditions, the gap to the front runners was only just 0.4 of a second. This proves the new aero package has had a positive effect.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
Todays result confirms we have made a step in the right direction. However, if we want to fight for the top positions we have to bring updates of the same magnitude to the next races. Yesterday we were able to find a basic set-up for the new aero package, which was also important for the ongoing development of the car. For Robert and Nick it will not be easy to score points tomorrow.
Heikki Kovalainen (14th, Q2 - 1m 28.207s):
I was pushing to the maximum this morning. But I flat-spotted the left-front on one run and was always trying to cope with the snappiness of the rear-end. Through Turn Eight, the car was very difficult to drive smoothly. Our car doesnt have enough grip for us to attack the fast corners. The others seem to gain grip through the weekend and are able to better use the Option tyre while were using the Prime and losing performance. Braking and acceleration are still very good but were just losing grip as the track temperature increases. The gap to the leaders is still too big so we need to do some more work back at the MTC to move closer to the front. Well never give up, but tomorrows race will be difficult.
Lewis Hamilton (16th, Q1 - 1m 28.318s):
The car felt great this morning - it was very well-balanced at the front but we still had to work to get the rear working properly. We anticipated this weekend would be a bit like Barcelona and that looks like being the case. Our car seems to have got slower relative to the others as the grip has gone down on the track. I pushed as hard as I could today but I just had no grip out there. We now need to make sure we dont rush into making too many changes to the car for the forthcoming races: well take our time, refine things and sort out the problem with our car. The team has done a fantastic job though: they really have been working night and day with the same determination and drive as ever. This is clearly going to be a challenging year for us, but I have no doubts that well bounce back.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
At the risk of stating the obvious, today's qualifying session was a pretty disappointing one for us. Having said that, we didn't allow our pace yesterday to cause us to be unduly optimistic about our prospects for today and tomorrow, simply because wed been aware for some time that our car wouldnt perform particularly well on the Istanbul Park circuits higher-speed corners. Even so, with hindsight, perhaps we should have run Option tyres for Heikkis second run in Q2 - some drivers did so and went faster as a result. On the other hand, other drivers stayed on Primes for their second Q2 runs and posted quick times on them. The fact is that, such is the level of competitiveness all through the field in modern-day Formula One, its very difficult to get into Q3 if your car is in any way sub-optimal.
Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
A poor result which reveals our weakness in fast sections. Whilst we are with the frontrunners in the final sector, with its long straight and tight corners, we lost more than a second around the rest of the circuit. It looked better yesterday, but today we have to accept the reality. We all need to work very hard to make sure that our level of competitiveness will improve sooner rather than later and that we come back to where we used to be.
Adrian Sutil (15th, Q2 - 1m 28.391s):
It was a really good qualifying session for us and I am very happy with the 15th place and Q2 again for the second race in a row. We didn't expect it as we had a few little issues in the weekend so far but we managed a good lap when it mattered. I am happy for the team and I think we can be really proud right now. I'm looking forward to a good race now tomorrow, we'll see what we can do.
Giancarlo Fisichella (19th, Q1 - 1m 28.717s):
I have had a problem with the brakes today and have had some front locking since this morning, but we made some changes between FP3 and qualifying that helped. Then unfortunately on my best lap there was a yellow flag as Piquet had spun and I had to lift off and couldn't get the time back. It was possible to be in the top 15, but there you go - sometimes it goes for you and others not. For sure the soft tyres are going to be a bit tricky tomorrow, especially in the heat, but I hope we can have a good race from where we are on the grid.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
We're obviously very pleased to be in Q2 for the second event in a row with Adrian. He simply drove a very good and clean qualifying and showed how much our performance is improving now. Giancarlo had a brake system problem this morning that was still causing some consistency issues in qualifying and we need to look carefully at this before the race. He is also clearly fast enough to race in the midfield. A hot race is forecast with another different tyre performance scenario likely and we are looking forward to it.
Sebastien Buemi (18th, Q3 - 1m 28.708s):
We had a very tough time, especially with the soft compounds, as we were never able to get the most out of them. So the best thing we can do now is think hard about the race and ensure we have the best possible strategy. It will be a difficult afternoon, starting so far back and managing the tyres, specifically the inevitable degradation on the front right. Okay, starting eighteenth Im not really thinking of a points finish, but we will still give it our best shot.
Sebastien Bourdais (20th, Q3 - 1m 28.918s):
All I know is that we lack grip and we are off the pace, even being two tenths off Seb. My first run wasnt too bad, but I had degradation on my next one. Then we changed the tyre pressures a bit, but it seemed that as the session developed the option began to work better and I was running the prime which we felt suited us better. Weve gone backwards a bit this weekend which is hard to take. In the race, I dont think the difference between the tyres will be that much and in any case, its not just the tyres that are our problem this weekend.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer:
Overall, we have been struggling for pace all weekend, especially on the option tyres, which showed up clearly in qualifying. The two drivers had different tyre tactics this afternoon, with Buemi only running the option, aiming to finally make it work, while with Bourdais we concentrated on the prime. We tried different set-up solutions across both cars through the weekend but nothing gave us the pace we were aiming for. We have to look at the data to try and understand the reason. Nevertheless, the weekend isnt over and we have a long and hot race ahead of us, when we will be pushing very hard to do as well as possible.