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Saturday at Suzuka - selected team and driver quotes 09 Oct 2010

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 9 October 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren waves to the crowd.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 9 October 2010 Sakon Yamamoto (JPN) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) waits for qualifying to commence.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 9 October 2010 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 9 October 2010 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 9 October 2010

Suzuka’s layout is challenging enough, but when heavy rain arrived on Saturday, the Japanese circuit threw down another test to teams and race organisers. Despite the FIA’s best efforts to check whether the circuit was ready for a pack of 24 drivers keen to qualify, and the sterling staying power of the Japanese fans, the downpours continued. In the end the decision was taken to postpone the session until Sunday morning, which is forecast to be dry. Members of the paddock discuss Saturday's waiting game and look ahead to a busy race day…

Jenson Button, McLaren
“I spent the qualifying session talking to the mechanics and playing yo-yo - jumping in and out of the car, just in case the track conditions improved enough for us to run. Moving qualifying to Sunday won’t really change my preparations: it just means it will be a bit closer to the race itself, and that we’ll be at the track earlier on Sunday morning. But it won’t be a problem to focus on both quali and the race in a single day. It’s far tougher for the mechanics: they worked tirelessly overnight and they’ll have to work really hard to prep the car between quali and the race. For the drivers, it’s less of a problem - it’s actually quite fun to have something a bit different to do. The circuit is likely to be drier tomorrow. It’s not supposed to be raining, just wet from overnight showers. So I feel pretty sure we’ll be able to run, and that we’ll have qualifying. This is a big shame for the fans - they’ve not seen us drive today, which is very disappointing for them. But there’s nothing we can do in conditions like these: you’re not actually driving the car, you’re floating!”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
“I like going out in the wet, but in order to keep the tyre temperatures up, you need to be going at a sufficient speed to be able to work the brakes properly. I was aquaplaning all the time - I couldn’t get to full throttle. I couldn’t even use half-throttle! They’re some of the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in Formula One - rivers flowing from one side of the track to the other. And with so much torque, even in fourth gear, the rear would light up, so you were trying to push gently to avoid losing heat in the tyres. It was a good call by the stewards to defer qualifying today. The more driving I do, the happier I am. I’ve done hardly any driving all weekend, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow! I don’t have any expectations: bearing in mind the limited time I’ve had on the track, I want to get through qualifying safely, get a good grid position and score as many points as I can. It’s unfortunate for all the fans - but I think tomorrow will be an exceptional day.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Obviously, today’s postponement of qualifying was extremely disappointing for the thousands of loyal fans at the track and the many millions watching on TV around the world. But it’s important to frame that within the limitations we inevitably encounter when faced with constant heavy rain and large areas of standing water. In such circumstances, it’s neither safe nor sensible to consider driving a Formula One car in anger, and I think the stewards did an extremely sensible job to monitor the situation closely before deciding to reschedule the session for Sunday morning. All the drivers on the grid will face a considerable challenge to take their cars to the limit in what’s expected to be a tricky damp-but-drying morning qualifying session. Sunday promises to be for a thrilling spectacle, and everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is looking forward to it tremendously.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t run today as the rain was too heavy. We decided to stay in the garage with both cars and waited for it to rain less. Now, we have to prepare for an action-packed day as qualifying and the race are on the same day. It looks like tomorrow’s conditions are going to be dry and we hope for a successful day for our team.”

Sakon Yamamoto, HRT
“I want to thank the spectators who were patient and stayed until the final decision had been made. They were waiting in the rain for the cars to drive, which was not possible unfortunately. We are looking forward to tomorrow and it is going to be exciting with qualifying and race within only some hours.”

Bruno Senna, HRT
“As expected, it was raining a lot and the rain even got heavier during the day. Tomorrow we will have a busy day, with the qualifying session and race under what it looks like dry conditions. The spectators showed a great support as they stayed until the end even when it was raining a lot.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"There was very little track action due to the extreme weather with continual heavy rain throughout the afternoon. We saw some very limited running in the morning however qualifying was first delayed and then postponed due to the amount of water on track. Every driver did complete at least an installation lap, and all reported aquaplaning due to the number of deep puddles and amount of water streaming across the track. The decision to postpone qualifying was the correct one as it was too wet, even for our wet weather Formula One tyre. We will have to look to the skies. If there is no rain we will face a clean track from the rain, but without the benefit of laid rubber so it will be an evolving track surface. If there is rain I hope it will not be as hard as today. Our wet tyre can displace 61 litres per second of water when fitted to an F1 car travelling at 300 km/h, but this afternoon there was too much water even for these tyres."

Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
“This Saturday was very unusual and I managed only the installation lap in Free Practice 3. We should have a dry Sunday, so we’re going to continue the work from yesterday’s Free Practice 2 and I am confident that with the new upgrades and a good set-up we can achieve a good result on Sunday.”

Timo Glock, Virgin
“Free Practice Three was very difficult this morning because there was so much standing water and rivers of rain running across the track. Jaime Alguersuari and I were the only drivers to record timed laps, so we had a little more track time but there wasn’t much to learn in those conditions. Tomorrow could be very exciting, so we’ll do everything we can to make the most of every opportunity the situation might present.”

John Booth, Virgin team principal
“Obviously today’s weather meant there was little we could learn from the circuit. Everyone seemed to be struggling with aquaplaning in the very wet conditions and it was the correct decision to postpone qualifying. Tomorrow will be a hectic day and it is by no means certain that the track will be dry, which may be to our advantage. I’m sure the team and drivers will do a good job in the face of whatever situation they have to deal with.”

Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
”I feel so sorry for the spectators in the grandstands. All the Formula One supporters were very much looking forward to the weekend, and now they have hardly seen a car today and got terribly wet. But safety comes first, that is clear. We cannot drive in these conditions. We have to wait for better weather.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
“Aquaplaning with a Formula One car is basically the same as with any other car - you become a passenger. We could go with a higher ride height in order to avoid aquaplaning, which happens because of the car’s floor, but when you have a certain amount of water on the track the tyres are floating as they can’t push the water aside. Another big safety issue is the visibility in the spray. If you have 24 cars on the track in Q1 and one spins no driver would have the chance to see it and avoid crashing into it.”

Andy Stevenson, Force India team manager
“Given the torrential rain we've had throughout the day the decision to assess conditions and then to finally postpone qualifying until tomorrow is the right one. The rain hasn't abated and when the decision was taken the light was also fading, so for a potential 24 cars to be on track at the same time was just too much of a risk. We fully support the decision of the FIA and the promoters and will now put our efforts into optimising our performance for qualifying and the race tomorrow.”

More to follow

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