Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 11 Jul 2009
Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastien Buemi on failing to take Toro Rosso through to Q2; Renaults Fernando Alonso on struggling to master the changeable conditions at the Nurburgring; Adrian Sutil on clinching Force Indias first-ever entrance into the top-ten shoot-out; and Mark Webber on how it feels to celebrate his maiden Formula One pole. All 20 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturdays action
Mark Webber (1st, Q3 - 1m 32.230s):
This is a very special day for me. Ive been close to getting pole a few times in the past. Today were here and the team has done a great job. Weve been quick all weekend and all the teams and drivers got really tested in that session. It was very, very chaotic and to deliver the lap time when it absolutely counted was very important to me. Getting the best time is fantastic. The car is working very well here and I was talking to my engineer Ciaran all the time, asking him what we were doing, because the track conditions were so hard; it looked quite dry, but the slicks just wouldnt take it at all. In Q2, it was really hard to read what we needed for the last ten minutes. In the end, the key for me was three clean sectors and thats what got me pole. I called on my experience and I have a great team of people, the guys on the pit wall making the right calls for me. They can see what the other drivers are doing. Were the best drivers in the world and we know when people are making mistakes that its down to the wrong tyres. So we stick to the decisions we make and believe in them and go out and do the best we can, because we know everyones in a bit of trouble in those conditions. A huge thanks to all the team, both here and in the factory and I hope that it can be my first win tomorrow. Were in a fantastic position to do it. Obviously these guys (Barrichello and Button) have had a very strong season and will push us, but were looking forward to a fight. Im up for trying to take my first race win tomorrow if I can.
Sebastian Vettel (4th, Q3 - 1m 32.480s):
Todays qualifying was a bit of a lottery - especially in Q2, as you never knew which tyres to put on. In Q3, it was back to dry tyres, but it was very tight. The circuit was getting better through the session, but my last lap wasnt magnificent, which is why Im not on the front row. The car was good enough to have been up there today, but I didnt do it. Who knows what is happening tomorrow in the race, the weather is quite unpredictable around here, so we will see.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal:
Despite the very tricky conditions, it was great for Mark to secure his first Formula One career pole and it puts him in an ideal place to start tomorrows race. Sebastian is on a slightly heavier fuel load, he did a very good job and it looked like he just dropped a little bit of time on the last turn. Unfortunately the two Brawns have managed to get ahead of him, so we have two Brawns in a Red Bull sandwich. I also think the McLarens are ominously placed right behind us with their KERS, so its going to make a very exciting race tomorrow.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, principal engineer track support:
Im so, so happy for Mark, he really deserves it, hes a good guy and a good driver. We owe him this pole position, he missed it by almost nothing in Silverstone, but here he has got it. We are very happy within Renault to be able to offer him this first pole position. For Sebastian, its a bit more complicated. He missed out by the smallest of margins and is fourth. I think he can have a good race tomorrow if the performance of the car is where we think it is.
Rubens Barrichello (2nd, Q3 - 1m 32.357s):
"I really enjoyed the excitement of qualifying today and am very happy to have come away with second and be starting from the front row tomorrow. I felt the track was just about good enough for slicks in Q2 so I radioed the team that I was coming in but didn't hear their response so thankfully the tyres were waiting for me when I arrived in the pits! It was a great decision and gave me a much more relaxed end to Q2 than some of the others. It's going to be a tricky race tomorrow so we'll have to be on our toes and take advantage of whatever the weather throws at us. I'm looking forward to it."
Jenson Button (3rd, Q3 - 1m 32.473s):
"Just getting into the final qualifying session was an achievement today so I'm really pleased to have qualified in third. It was a pretty eventful hour and Q2 in particular was madness but it was good fun. I thought it was too wet for slicks but Rubens made it work and we were able to switch tyres with just enough time to make my timed lap count. The race is going to be interesting as the forecast looks like it's going to be a mix of wet and dry conditions. We've improved the car since practice yesterday but it's still going to be tough to keep the tyres warm and you'll need a bit of luck with the weather. Congratulations to Mark on his first pole position today. We'll be doing everything possible to ensure that it doesn't become his first win tomorrow!"
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"The weather ensured an intense qualifying session for everyone today and we are extremely pleased to have come out of this afternoon with Rubens and Jenson in second and third positions. Both drivers were superb today. Rubens made an inspired call in Q2 to come in early for dry tyres and his direction was crucial in getting Jenson in and back onto slicks with enough time to complete his timed lap, which he did under great pressure as the rain fell again. Q3 was quite calm in comparison and both drivers were able to take full advantage of their well-balanced cars to get us into the top three. The teamwork in the garage was fantastic and we are all delighted and a little relieved to be starting from second and third positions tomorrow. Congratulations to Mark for his maiden pole position and congratulations to Mercedes-Benz with five cars in the top seven!"
Lewis Hamilton (5th, Q1 - 1m 32.616s):
The car behaves really well. It feels great to have a car that you can really push into the corners. Im really happy to be in Q3. Its a big difference for us this year, and the team has done a fantastic job. The conditions were up and down and they did brilliantly to make sure we were on the track with the right tyres at the right time. Also, the guys back at the factory have all worked extremely hard to get the parts to the track and they have made a big difference. Unfortunately, the track got a bit better after I set my fastest lap, when it was a bit greasy, but for Heikki (Kovalainen) and me to line up sixth and fifth tomorrow is a great result for us. Were definitely in a position to fight for a podium, but trying to beat the Brawns and the Red Bulls will be difficult. The car is still a work-in-progress and theres a way to go - but this is really encouraging. I dont mind if it rains tomorrow but Id just like a nice, smooth race!
Heikki Kovalainen (6th, Q1 - 1m 33.859s):
Today worked out better for me than expected: we can be very pleased with that. My tyre strategy worked really well this afternoon and I had the right tyres in Q2 when the conditions were at their trickiest. Thanks to the team for a superb job in a very tight situation. This result is very promising for everyone in the team and my car worked much better here than at previous races. The team has been working incredibly hard to make improvements to our car and, although I didnt have the same upgrades as Lewis today, its really encouraging to see the step forward weve taken - were making excellent progress. Finally, its great to be able to produce our strongest qualifying result of the year at the home race of Mercedes-Benz - I think theyve produced the best engine in Formula One, and I hope theyre proud of their results today.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
First of all, congratulations to Mercedes-Benz for having five of their engines in the top seven - what a magnificent result. Obviously, weve made a step forward and having both cars on the third row is a fine achievement. Everybody in this team has worked incredibly hard to bring these performance upgrades to the car and its hugely gratifying for everyone that we can begin to see the results of all their efforts. Lewis and Heikki did a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances and Heikkis pace, in particular, was outstanding. While a position on the front row was certainly possible, our cars were not running when the track was at its fastest. Nevertheless, we must be very pleased with todays result and we look forward to tomorrow, when we feel we have the strategy to achieve another good result.
Norbert Haug, vice-president Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
We had known since yesterday that a good result would be possible at our home race. Lewis and Heikki managed to put their cars on the third row - and even more could have been possible. The team and the drivers, including Pedro (de la Rosa), have worked extremely hard since our disappointing performance at the last race at Silverstone and we have definitely made a step in the right direction. We should be in good shape for tomorrows race and hopefully our KERS hybrid will help us to overtake a couple of cars at the start.
Adrian Sutil (7th, Q1 - 1m 34.316s):
I'm really happy, for sure one of F1's happiest guys today! It's my home race and my best qualifying position so far in F1, so it was a great qualifying for us. It was very tricky with the weather but our decisions were very good and on time, particularly in Q2 with the rain. We took a risk on the dry tyres and we did it a lap earlier than all the others and got the third fastest time. Finally, even with the fuel on board Q3 went really well and we got into seventh. I am very happy for everyone on the team. We've worked really hard in the last months. Now we just have to score some points!
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th, Q1 - 1m 32.402s):
First of all I am very pleased for the team and for Adrian to have had such a great qualifying. It was an incredible result and hopefully we'll be able to have a good race tomorrow. For me it was a bit disappointing. We went out early in the first session but unfortunately I got caught in traffic on both my fastest laps. It was a real shame as with the weather conditions I think we could have done really well. But it could be mixed weather tomorrow so you never know what's possible.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
P7 after Q3 for Adrian was a fantastic performance and a reward for the team's efforts recently. The weather played its part, but he secured the position on merit. It was an exciting session and I think that we got the calls right today. Giancarlo was unfortunate in that his second outing in Q1 was affected by traffic with so many cars on the circuit and with things being so tight he didn't make the cut. Otherwise I'm sure that he too could have progressed to a strong qualifying position. Our goal of course has to be putting those first points on the board in the race.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
Needless to say I am absolutely delighted with the team's performance today. We came to Germany hoping to get to Q2 and we got to Q3 thanks to a superb team performance and a stunning session from Adrian. To do so on his home soil will no doubt make it extra special for him. We are now in a good position for tomorrow's race and I hope we can finally get those much longed-for points.
Felipe Massa (8th, Q1 - 1m 34.574s):
This qualifying was a bit of a lottery: first dry, then rain then dry again. It could have gone better, but it could also have gone much worse. Im not jumping for joy over eighth place, but its not so bad. We have a good strategy aimed at getting us into the points, although a podium seems hard to reach to be honest.
Kimi Raikkonen (9th, Q1 - 1m 34.710s):
It was a pretty complicated session, with track conditions changing all the time. Therefore, its difficult to say if this result reflects the real standings down the order. Clearly, we were penalized by not having a single set of new tyres for Q3. I believe that in normal conditions we could have got a better grid position. Having said that, we are not in bad shape for the race: we have a good strategy and we will try and make the most of it.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
All in all, especially in light of the changing weather conditions, this is a reasonable result. Getting both cars into Q3 was our primary objective. It was not at all easy, because apart from the two teams fighting for the title, all the others are very evenly matched, with some teams seeming to have made a significant and surprising step forward. Tomorrows race could be rendered even more uncertain by the weather: realistically, we would like to get both our drivers home in the points and we will have to exploit every eventual opportunity that might present itself.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
This morning, we were fairly satisfied with the performance of the car in the dry. Then, in qualifying, we found ourselves up against rapidly changing conditions and it was therefore a good result to get both cars into Q3. At that point however, we no longer had any more new soft tyres available and that cost us very dear. We therefore opted to start with a good amount of fuel on board to try and make up ground in tomorrows race, when I think we will nevertheless be competitive, whatever the weather. We also hope to make the most of the KERS at the start, given that the main straight is very long.
Nelson Piquet (10th, Q1 - 1m 34.803s):
The conditions were difficult today, but I managed to deal with them well and had the right tyres at the right moments. It's a shame that I couldn't get any more out of Q3, but it's good to be in the top ten and hopefully we will be in a position to score points tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (12th, Q2 - 1m 42.318s):
"At the start of qualifying we were quite optimistic. We were competitive in Q1 but after that Q2 became difficult for everybody as the conditions were constantly changing. Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to be in Q3, but hopefully tomorrow we can make up some positions and if it does rain that could work to our advantage. I'm quite confident for the race tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
There is no doubt the updates on the car have improved our position this weekend. It was a very exciting qualifying session; Fernando looked extremely competitive but unfortunately spun at a critical moment and failed to make Q3. Nelson had a steady session and thoroughly deserves his position on the grid."
Kazuki Nakajima (13th, Q2 - 1m 42.500s):
It was a difficult qualifying session today, run in tricky conditions. To get it right, you needed to have perfect timing and make the right decision with the tyres. Today we just missed that a bit and that was it. The overall order in the top 10 is a bit different, so maybe this provides some possibilities for the race. Now we will just have try to use strategy to our best advantage and see what we can achieve.
Nico Rosberg (15th, Q2 - 1m 42.859s):
As long as it was dry it all went well. Qualifying one was comfortable and we were making good progress. If it had stayed dry, I think we would have been right up there. However, in the changing conditions in the second session we just didnt get the best out of it and we will have to analyse why that was. The circumstances with the changing levels of rain made it massively difficult, but it looks like it may be the same tomorrow and I hope that the luck will run our way if the conditions are as variable.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director:
It was a disappointing outcome to qualifying after a competitive morning practice and Q1. We just didn't get onto the right tyre at the right time because the conditions continued to change. There is some luck involved, but that's no excuse as everyone has to cope with the same conditions and others got more out of it. We'll put our focus now on the best strategy to score points tomorrow as the car is definitely capable of that here at the Nurburgring.
Nick Heidfeld (11th, Q2 - 1m 42.310s):
"It wasn't too bad in free practice, I was tenth in Q1, and also in Q2 it looked as if I could make it into the top ten qualifying. But then we just had bad luck with our tyre choice. When the intermediates were overheating I needed fresh tyres for the final run in Q2 and I was personally uncertain what to choose - another set of inters or the softer slick compound. I left the decision to the team and they went for drys. I don't blame anybody, as it is always easy to know afterwards what would have been best. However, 11th isn't too bad and we are free to choose our fuel strategy. I wouldn't mind having a wet race tomorrow."
Robert Kubica (16th, Q1 - 1m 32.190s):
"We brought some new parts to the Nürburgring and the car made some progress. Unfortunately, my car didn't react how it should. I have struggled with my car's behaviour. As early as the first free practice session I noticed that something was wrong. Although the analysed data looked strange, we do not understand in detail what is going on. We now have to understand and fix our problem."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
"It was a very strange qualifying, with the results depending on the changeable weather conditions. In Q1 Robert had to forgo his third run because of the rain and missed getting into Q2 by six hundreds of a second. For the first run in Q2 intermediates were mandatory as the track was too wet. When it dried out we gave Nick slicks for his last run, but during this lap it started raining again. Just like his team-mate, he also missed making it to the next qualifying session by one position."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"Taking the free practice results into account, we did not expect a lot more from Robert's qualifying. He was simply not happy with the car's balance. As usual, Nick did a good job during the rainy period of qualifying. In the crucial lap of Q2 we were unlucky as we had slick tyres on the car when it rained. Finally, we just missed Q3. The typical Eifel weather can be a crucial factor in tomorrow's race as well."
Jarno Trulli (14th, Q2 - 1m 42.771s):
"The weather didn't help us at all today. It was very windy and cold, which generally doesn't suit our car, so unfortunately we were struggling to get the tyres up to the right temperature. We were still reasonably competitive so we got through Q1 without any great difficulty but then we had the rain. Towards the end of Q2 we were not on the right tyres at the right time so it wasn't possible to get into the top 10. Obviously it's frustrating to qualify in 14th because I am more used to fighting in the top six but we can only do our best in the race tomorrow and see what happens."
Timo Glock (19th, Q1 - 1m 32.423s):
"That was definitely a disappointing result and it is not what I expected for my home Grand Prix. The weather was too cold for us because since Silverstone I have struggled to get the most out of the tyres over one lap; I don't know if it is only the temperatures or something else as well. It's not clear to me why we have this issue with the tyres in qualifying but we have to work on it. It is a real pity I went out in first qualifying because after that we had the rain and I usually do really well in wet conditions. Maybe we will have some rain again tomorrow and that might give me a chance to get a decent result. We will see."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"We were certainly not expecting such a bad result. So far the weekend had been quite smooth with trouble-free sessions for both cars. The set-up was reasonably sorted but obviously we didn't manage the changeable conditions well in qualifying. Timo locked his rear wheels on his lap on the super soft tyres in Q1 and we were one lap too late with Jarno to switch to dry tyres in Q2. It was quite a bad result considering the high standards we have set so far this season but anything can happen in the race. We have prepared our set-up to cope with the possibility of bad weather and rain could again play a big part."
Sebastien Buemi (17th, Q1 - 1m 32.251s):
I think I could have got into Q2 if I had not got caught in traffic. Other than that, I feel we did the best we could, given we are still waiting for our car updates. We improved the car this morning and it seemed competitive in comparison with the cars we are racing against. So I must admit, I am hoping for rain tomorrow as our car should go well in wet conditions. We will just have to keep pushing and see what happens.
Sebastien Bourdais (20th, Q1 - 1m 33.559s):
We knew we werent quick enough this morning, when I was unhappy with the balance of the car, so this afternoon we tried something very different in terms of set-up, using those that Sebastien was happy with this morning. But it didnt work out. Its a shame the rain did not come sooner, as I think we would have been more competitive in those conditions. To be honest, it doesnt make much difference if youre seventeenth or twentieth and tomorrow, I will try my best and see what we can do.
Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director:
We can be pleased that the cars have run reliably so far this weekend. We can also be pleased that last night Buemi was clever and bold enough to go back to his older style of set-up that he understands well. It was a bit late in the day, but this morning we made a step forward. This afternoon, we did not manage the traffic well. We cannot blame the rain, as it was the same for everybody and we knew what was going to happen.