Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 10 Oct 2010
After Saturdays qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix was postponed thanks to heavy rain at Suzuka, the drivers finally had a chance to stake their claim on the grid on Sunday morning, ahead of this afternoon's race. With Ferraris Felipe Massa failing to make it through to Q3 and the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber looking ominously dominant, there was plenty to talk about. The drivers, and senior team personnel, review Sundays qualifying action
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 30.785s)
Friday was a good day for us and after yesterday, with the horrible conditions, we didnt know what to expect today. We were thinking the track might be wet, but the sun was strong this morning and so the track was dry. The car feels fantastic around here, especially in the first sector. Its always very enjoyable so, all in all, a good start to the day - but obviously the race is still to come.
Mark Webber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 30.853s)
I had a good battle with Sebastian, there wasnt much between us. The car worked well in qualifying and were looking pretty strong. Id like to be on pole of course, but starting on the front row is not a bad way to start the day and I can get some good points from there. Its a pretty compressed programme with the important part still to come; Im looking forward to it.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
Its unusual to have qualifying on a Sunday morning, but both drivers did an excellent job and the session was well executed by the team. A Red Bull one-two is a great start to the day and hopefully we can convert it this afternoon.
Nico Rosberg (7th, Q3 - 1m 31.494s)
"I'm ok with seventh place and it was a good lap. The car felt well-balanced today after our issues on Friday so we need to look into that. It was very tight in qualifying but the car just couldn't go any quicker so we can be satisfied with what we achieved. We can have a good race from here and try to make up places."
Michael Schumacher (10th, Q3 - 1m 31.846s)
"Tenth place was probably about the maximum from my side in qualifying. I am not totally happy but I am also realistic about our performance. I will concentrate on the start and hope to make up positions as overtaking is quite difficult here. Moving forward through our start and strategy is where we may gain places so let's see how it goes."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"A good performance from Nico and Michael during today's delayed qualifying session at Suzuka. We achieved probably the maximum potential of the car so the focus will now be on our race strategy to see how we can make up positions and continue our good run of points-scoring finishes."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Another solid effort from our team and drivers with the technical package we currently have. Nico posted a very good Q3 lap which was just over seven-tenths down on Sebastian Vettel's pole time. Three of the five drivers fighting for the world championship are positioned within three-tenths of Nico and Michael is another three and a half tenths down which is again a good qualifying result at this track."
Rubens Barrichello (8th, Q3 - 1m 31.535s)
It was very nice out there today. It looked like we were quicker when the track was greener though! We were looking really fast and then the others found a little bit more time later on in the sessions. It was a good performance by the team and Im happy with where we are.
Nico Hulkenberg (9th, Q3 - 1m 31.559s)
It was certainly different to do qualifying on Sunday morning, but it was dry and this circuit is great to drive in the dry. We did a good job this morning, but my last run of Q3 was destroyed by Hamilton. I dont understand why he backed off into me because there wasnt a car in front of him. You need all the downforce you can get here so to be only a second behind the guy in front isnt going to help you get a good lap and it didnt help me today.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
It was a good qualifying effort by both drivers to get into the top ten. It shows that the development parts are working well and we should have a strong race this afternoon.
Nick Heidfeld (11th, Q2 - 1m 32.187s)
I was obviously very close to making it into the top ten - literally in the last second Michael (Schumacher) went faster and kicked me out of Q3. In Q1 I had some problems with traffic on the track, but on my last run in Q2 I had a clear lap. I am still busy learning how to drive with these tyres, and especially finding out how to get the most out of the softer compound which we used in Q2 but not a lot before here in Suzuka. I really have to concentrate on this when I leave the garage on option tyres, as it is not automatic yet. However, I keep learning and I changed my driving style after the Singapore weekend. The fact that on my car we are tight on engines and they have significant mileage doesnt really help either.
Kamui Kobayashi (14th, Q2 - 1m 32.427s)
Until the very last corner I was good enough for Q3, but then I made a mistake and I feel sorry about that. My car was good, and the balance and set-up seemed alright to me, although I didnt have much running on the circuit. I really enjoy every single lap, and it is just great to drive in front of my home crowd. The tyre strategy for the race is quite tricky because the grip level of the track is now changing a lot. After the heavy rain the track only got some rubber down on it today. Lets see what we can do, of course it would be great for me and the team to score points today.
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
This is an eventful day with qualifying and the race on the same day. We came in not knowing whether the work we had done after Friday was enough, or in the right direction to address some of the balance issues we had. There was a lot of pressure on everyone to go out straightaway and qualify. We went out with both cars on prime tyres for four timed laps to give them a feel for everything. Both drivers reported the car felt a little bit better. We stuck to the prime for the second run and made it to Q2 fairly comfortably. We were then targeting Q3, and it was very close. It was a great shame for Nick who was tenth until almost the end when he got kicked out by Michael Schumacher by just a tenth of a second. Kamui was looking pretty good for Q3, but sadly on his final lap he made a mistake in the chicane, which cost him the time he needed. Its a bit frustrating not to make it to Q3 because it was clearly possible today, but equally it was a good job by the team to rectify the problems we had on Friday.
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, Q2 - 1m 33.071s)
From Friday practice we knew we were not so competitive in the dry, so today I ran with a different mechanical balance on the car and we think it went a bit better. In the end, I struggled a bit although I thought we might be able to beat Force India. But I made a mistake at the last corner on the option tyres. In Q1, Schumacher really closed the door on me, but at least by then I was already through to Q2.
Sebastien Buemi (18th, Q1 - 1m 33.568s)
It was a difficult session and I lost a lot of time behind a Hispania in the first sector, so this is the first time this season that I have not got further than Q1. In fact the grip level was quite good considering how much rain fell yesterday.
Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director
We ran the two cars with significantly different set-ups, as we were not happy with where we were on Friday. We needed to have a comparison and Sebastien opted to stick with what he had in free practice, while with Jaime we took a gamble and it paid off. Unfortunately, he lost half a second at the chicane on his last lap. Sebastiens session was further complicated by the fact that the floor of his car was damaged because of a production problem. Squeezing qualifying and the race into the same day has had little impact on our preparations and our strategy numbers have been extrapolated based on what we have seen on Friday.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Today I am very sad as we did not beat the course lap record in our final home Grand Prix as there was not much rubber left on track after yesterday's rain. The surface was damp but drying quickly with the wonderful weather we have here this morning. We saw a lot of improvement in the surface through the session. Sebastian completed a great lap for pole whilst Jenson has tried a different approach from the rest of the top ten by qualifying on the hard compound. Assuming we have no return of rain, it is going to be interesting to watch the timing of the pit stops as we only have Friday's dry data to go on. The track surface will improve a lot as more rubber is laid through the race so Jenson's strategy could well be beneficial for him as he will make use of the soft compound when track conditions are better for this tyre later on in the race."
More to follow.
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