Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 23 Oct 2010
Force Indias Vitantonio Liuzzi on failing to make it through to Q2 after tyre graining issues; Renaults Vitaly Petrov on the spin that ruined his final flying lap in Q2; Williams Nico Hulkenberg on just missing out on the top-ten shootout; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on clinching his first pole since August. All 24 drivers, and senior team personnel, review Saturdays action at Yeongam
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 35.585s)
Its a special feeling to be on pole - it was very close. The track is good here - in the first sector theres not so much you can do, just hit your braking points at the right time, but the second and third sectors are quite entertaining with nice flowing corners, but its easy to make a mistake. It was a small margin for pole, but it was enough and it was a good result as yesterday we didnt have smooth running. We had a puncture in the practice, so I hadnt done too many laps on the new track, which makes it harder to get into a rhythm. You have to take every race as it comes, Japan was a good result, but now in Korea all the focus is on tomorrows race. The car was quick today, no doubt, but you still need to get the job done and the most important thing is that you remain calm, which we all did as we knew what we had in us. So, we got the job done today, but lets see for tomorrow.
Mark Webber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 35.659s)
I wasnt that happy on my first timed laps to be honest, so it was more comfortable for me to do two timed laps for my last run. It worked out okay, but obviously it was very close with Seb and I got second on the grid. Its not a bad position to start the race, but it would have been nice to get pole, still -we can get a good result from there. Im starting on the dirty side of the grid tomorrow and Fernando (Alonso, in third) will be solid off the line, but thats not going to make or break the Championship, so well press on from there - were certainly in a good position.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A fantastic team performance today. A one two start on the grid at this new circuit is a great result and the drivers were again split by the narrowest of margins. They elected to take different strategies in Q3, Sebastian focused on two one-lap runs while Mark elected to do two laps on his last run. The difference between the two of them was almost identical to the gap in Japan, so a great team performance. We need to continue this tomorrow and hopefully the weather wont interfere with the race.
Fernando Alonso (3rd, Q3 - 1m 35.766s)
I am satisfied with how things went in qualifying and I think I showed all the potential of our car. In Q1, I felt that we could be really competitive, which was then reinforced in Q2 and Q3. Then, with pole having escaped me, I think that it is better to be third rather than second, because starting from the dirty side would be very difficult. We expected Red Bull to be very strong, as its not by chance they have taken fourteen poles from seventeen attempts this year. However, the gap is pretty close, which shows that tomorrow we can be in the fight. We must get a good start without taking too many risks at the first corner, because in the race, anything could happen and the most important thing will be to get to the chequered flag. In theory there are a couple of places where overtaking seems possible, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see if that is really the case. Tyre degradation seems higher than at other tracks, so we will need to do a good job in managing them and in terms of the strategy: the softs give more grip while with the hards, we are all struggling to make them work at their best. Maybe it will be a case of doing more than one pit stop. On top of that, there is the unknown factor linked to the weather. The situation is definitely better than in Suzuka: the gap to the Red Bulls is smaller and we have kept strong rivals like Hamilton and Kubica behind us.
Felipe Massa (6th, Q1 - 1m 36.571)
I am not happy, especially because sixth place means I have to start on the less clean side of the grid, which is a major handicap on a surface as dirty as this one. I was very pleased at the end of Q2, because the car was more competitive than yesterday and I thought I could fight for a top place. Unfortunately, I had a bit of traffic on the only run I did in Q3 on my last set of new soft tyres: a shame because the car was going well, but I was not able to get the most out of it. The situation in terms of grip has improved, even with the harder tyres and I expect that trend to continue tomorrow. I am expecting to have a very tough race. If it was to rain it could be even more slippery than usual, given the condition of the track surface.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
It was a very closely contested session, with closer gaps than usual. We did our utmost and we can say that, overall, we are reasonably pleased with this result, even our aim is always to try and be in front of everyone. In Q3, Fernando produced two great laps: it would have been hard to do better and it is very important that he has avoided starting from the dirty side of the grid. Felipe is back on great form this weekend: its a shame that for his only run on new soft tyres in Q3, he was not able to show all the potential demonstrated in Q2, but I firmly believe he can have a good race tomorrow. And thats the day that matters, when the points are given out. On a track one knows, the usual parameters apply - the start, reliability, strategy, the work of the team and the drivers on a completely new one like Yeongam, there will also be the unknown factor of how the track will evolve, as well as how that might be affected by the rain forecast for tonight. All we can do is concentrate on our job and do our best in a race which looks like being very unpredictable.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
We had another day with no technical problems on either car, which is always positive. Qualifying was a bit different to usual, especially because the difference in performance between the two types of tyre Bridgestone has brought here is greater, which made the decision on how to manage the sets of tyres during the various parts of the session less obvious. After a couple of Grands Prix where this part of the weekend has been difficult for us, here we managed to get both cars into Q3 and with Fernando, we just missed out on pole. As we have seen so often this season, our main rivals managed to find something right at the last in order to get ahead of us. Tomorrow, we can expect a very unusual start, because getting away from the clean side will, in theory, produce a significant advantage: therefore, for Fernando it was better to be third rather than second, while unfortunately Felipe will start from the dirty side. I am expecting a very interesting race, where the tyre performance over a long run will heavily affect the outcome. So far, both the hards and the softs have presented us with problems and the track conditions could change still more. Then again, if it was to rain tonight, as predicted, everything could go back to zero again.
Lewis Hamilton (4th, Q3 - 1m 36.062s)
The team made a phenomenal effort to get all the new parts to the track for this race, and everybody has done a fantastic job at the track all weekend. We were very quick in practice, so I dont know where the Red Bulls found an extra half a second in Q3. Still, its important to remember that were still in the fight: we make good starts, and there are some long straights here, which should suit us. I feel that were competitive - the car is the best its ever been and our long runs are strong. We just need to do the best we can with what we have - we cant ask any more of the guys back at the factory, or the guys here, and I dont think I could have asked for any more from me. So, yes, we can still have a very good race tomorrow.
Jenson Button (7th, Q3 - 1m 36.731s)
Yesterday and this morning I was very happy with the car; the balance was extremely good and we were looking strong. This afternoon I couldnt get the tyres up to temperature and struggled a bit with locking fronts and rears. I didnt have enough grip and couldnt find enough pace. Its going to be a bit tough tomorrow, whatever the weather does. But the good news is that Ill be starting from the clean side of the grid, and there are a couple of long straights after the first corner, so itll be a fun first lap!
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
The conditions in qualifying today were pretty challenging - low-grip Tarmac combined with low-ish track temperatures - and as a result it was difficult to get the tyres up to optimal operating temperature fast enough. Both our drivers drove sensibly and well to get safely through to Q3 and, once there, we elected to give them each two single-lap runs. They both drove very good laps but as things turned out it wasnt easy to nail a time on a single lap. However, were very positive about tomorrows race. Weve got a very good race car, with strong straight-line speed, and as a result both Jenson and Lewis will be able to drive attacking races.
Nico Rosberg (5th, Q3 - 1m 36.535s)
"I'm very pleased with fifth place and it is the best possible position that we could have achieved today. It's nice to be ahead of one of the McLaren and Ferrari cars and also Robert who has been very close to us recently. We're in a good position for the race tomorrow. Strategy will be crucial with the tyre graining but we are strong in that area and with a bit of luck, it would be nice to give the team a great result."
Michael Schumacher (9th, Q3 - 1m 36.950s)
"I had a busy qualifying getting everything together with some changes we made but I'm quite happy with my position. There was no room for much more today. The team did a great job getting both cars into Q3 and we will be starting from the better side of the track in my opinion. I'm quite optimistic for tomorrow and we should score some points, especially as our set-up is focused on the race. We had a good race pace in practice yesterday and I'm looking forward to the first Korean Grand Prix."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We have seen another solid performance from the team and our drivers here with Nico putting in a particularly good lap in qualifying today to achieve fifth place. The team have got the most out of the car and adapted well to the new circuit. We have good straight-line speed and the car seems reasonable on high fuel so we can look forward to an exciting race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"As in recent races, we achieved the best possible result with our current package today. A superb lap from Nico on this challenging new circuit puts him in fifth place on the grid and Michael also has the opportunity to score good points from ninth place. The forecast predicts rain for Sunday so we may be able to benefit as our drivers have shown strong performances in these conditions. Our ultimate goal is to fight for pole positions and race wins however it is satisfying for everyone in the team when we achieve the best result possible. Compliments and thanks to the organisers here in Korea for building a thrilling new race track. With very hard work, the track is ready 'just in time' and I am sure everyone in the paddock wishes for a great race tomorrow as a reward."
Robert Kubica (8th, Q3 - 1m 36.824s)
The car had more oversteer than during free practice and I wasn't completely comfortable. If we had got everything perfect, we could probably have been a couple of tenths quicker, but we're right on the limit here. Unfortunately, starting eighth also means that I will start from the dirty side of the grid. This morning, in the dry, there was a huge difference between the two sides, but if it rains tomorrow perhaps it won't be such a disadvantage. It's not going to be an easy race, because everybody is very close together in terms of performance, but I will try to do my best tomorrow afternoon.
Vitaly Petrov (15th, Q2 - 1m 37.799s)
I was hoping to get into the top 10 today, to minimise the effect of the grid penalty, and it looked reasonable after Q1. During the second part of qualifying, I made a mistake by pushing too hard, touched the kerb and spun. The tyres were then so dirty that I couldn't set a proper competitive lap time afterwards. It's a pity, but I must now focus on the race, and take every opportunity that comes to me.
Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
We looked competitive during every practice session, so it is clearly disappointing that we were unable to repeat that level of performance in qualifying. However, we must now focus on the race. We know that our car is quick on the straights and we hope it will be competitive in race trim. We can look forward to aggressive performances from both drivers, and our goal will be to make up as many positions as possible tomorrow afternoon.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
After our performances in practice yesterday and this morning, we cannot be happy with eighth and 15th places in qualifying. Robert was complaining of more oversteer than this morning, when he had been pretty happy with the car, so we need to look at the data and understand what happened. As for Vitaly, he had a difficult session and will also incur the five-place grid penalty from Suzuka. We will need to be creative tomorrow if we wish to get both cars into the points.
Rubens Barrichello (10th, Q3 - 1m 36.998s)
That was a great qualifying in that the spirit was very high. I went into Q3 knowing that we had four tenths to make up; I did a good lap and made up the difference so Im delighted. We are still at the tail end of the top ten, and we dont seem to be as competitive as we expected we would be, but thats where we are. The track is quite slippery so Im predicting a lot will happen in the race and Im hoping we will get some points out of it.
Nico Hulkenberg (11th, Q2 - 1m 37.620s)
It was as tight as we thought it was going to be out there today. Its always disappointing not to get into Q3. The lap I was on would have pushed me into the top ten, but I lost the rear in turn 12 and was forced to abort the lap. P11 is still a good position to start from. We have the flexibility to choose our tyres so we will give that thought overnight and come up with a good strategy. There are overtaking opportunities here so theres still a chance to score points tomorrow.
Patrick Head, Williams head of engineering
Of course its disappointing not to get two cars into the top ten, but I dont think were as strong here as we have been at other tracks. Its going to be a very interesting race as we understand theres some rain coming. That will make tyre strategy interesting, so were looking forward to it.
Kamui Kobayashi (12th, Q2 - 1m 37.643s)
Overall, I think we achieved the best possible result. It wasnt much that was missing to make it into Q3. This morning we found the track had changed a lot from yesterday. Therefore the set-up work we did before needed to be re-evaluated. In qualifying I found the car a little bit nervous, but generally okay. Our tyre strategy was good, and for me it was the right decision to go for only one but longer run in Q2. On my fastest lap I wasnt lucky with traffic, but this can happen. I am looking forward to a good and challenging race tomorrow!
Nick Heidfeld (13th, Q2 - 1m 37.715s)
Qualifying here was a lot of fun. I had a clear lap with no traffic problems this time, and I also think my fastest lap was a good one, so Im happy with it. In the morning we had some set-up difficulties, but this was solved before qualifying. It is not easy to get the tyres to work at their best. My third lap with the softer compound was my quickest. After the front tyres had been too cold I was hoping on the next lap the temperatures would go up and I would be able to improve, but instead they started graining. My grid position should be on the clean side of the track, and therefore I hope to make up positions at the start. Later it might become difficult to overtake because our top speed isnt brilliant.
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
We made changes overnight, trying to address yesterdays weakness in the first sector. We established the downforce level which we thought was right, and we made mechanical changes. In free practice three both drivers reported the car was more oversteery, so more difficult to drive. It seemed we took a step back, with some of this in sector one, but also, compared to Friday, in sector three. For some reason not everything we changed worked the way we hoped, although the track was much more slippery and cooler than yesterday afternoon, so this was possibly a factor. Everybody did a good job to rectify the problems we had this morning. In qualifying we decided to play it safe in Q1 and go for option tyres for the second run, because we didnt know what the difference was between the prime and the option. We then decided to save a set of options in Q2 on the basis lap three was possibly the quickest. We had a little bit of traffic, but both drivers did well to get their quickest time on lap three. We were just a couple of tenths off breaking into Q3. It was strange that we lost quite a bit of time in the second sector, but sector one and three were much better. Its a shame we didnt make Q3, but everybody did a good job to get out of the difficult situation from this morning. We know our race pace is always much better than qualifying, so we are looking forward to a good race tomorrow. Im sure we can fight for points from where we are.
Adrian Sutil (14th, Q2 - 1m 37.783s)
Although P14 isn't exactly what we would have hoped for, we were still quite close to the top 12 and with a bit of luck could have been even closer to Q3. In Q2 I had some traffic on my first lap and then my second was good, but it was tough out there with the tyres. That said, it's a great track they have built here. I really enjoyed driving on it - there's a lot of challenges and kinks and it was really so grippy at the end of the session that it was a real pleasure to drive each lap. From where we are on the grid it's going to be a great race.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (18th, Q1 - 1m 38.955s)
We suffered with a lot of graining on the soft tyres today. We missed out on the last run in the morning because of a puncture and didn't try the option tyres, but we didn't expect them to grain as badly as they did. The first two laps of the final run were good and the first two sectors of the third lap were looking really good - I was on for a 1:38.2 at that point - but then the tyres grained so badly I lost a lot of time through the last two corners as the car started to understeer a lot. Based on this wear rate it's going to be an interesting race for sure.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
The Korean Grand Prix organisers have done a fantastic job with the circuit and the facilities here. The track seems to be a real modern classic that has got great feedback from the drivers and I think this bodes extremely well for a thrilling race tomorrow. It hasn't been the kindest to us here today: we were competitive throughout the morning and weren't so far from the top 12 in the afternoon, but we've been suffering a lot with the tyre graining and that's what caught us out in qualifying. That said we're still in a good position for the race tomorrow and I'm very hopeful of us doing well. I am sure the race will throw up a lot of unusual opportunities and we've got to be well poised to take any that come our way.
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, Q2 - 1m 37.853s)
We can be reasonably satisfied with this result because it is so easy to gain or lose tenths here because the track has so many corners. As we come towards the final part of the season, I must say thanks to my race engineer, who has developed a very good understanding of what I need and his decisions are nearly always right. That meant I was very happy with the balance of the car and I think I got the most I could out of the soft tyres. We did a good job in improving the car from yesterday and I think we can therefore expect further improvement in the race.
Sebastien Buemi (17th, Q2 - 1m 38.594s)
I have to say I am not happy with my performance. In Q2 on my last run, we opted to go for just one flying lap, to run with less fuel in the car, but I did not get the best of laps, making a few small mistakes which, put together, cost me a lot of time. Jaime did a really strong lap so congratulations to him for that. We need to work hard now to prepare for tomorrow, when we can face a long race in which anything could be possible. Jaimes performance shows we are not that far from those just in front of us in terms of pace so lets wait and see. We were not expected to get into the points in Suzuka but we did and who knows, it might happen again here.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Our overall performance compared to our main competitors was not too bad, as we are relatively close in terms of lap times to the best Force India, Sauber and also Williams. The truth is that you have six cars in two tenths and we were at the bottom of that group. Therefore today, two or three tenths have proved very expensive. Overall we have improved our performance since the start of the weekend and hopefully we can take another step forward for the race. We can expect the first Korean Grand Prix to be full of surprises with those walls and the decent overtaking opportunities so hopefully it will be a good show.
Jarno Trulli (19th, Q1 - 1m 40.521s)
Im happy with how it has gone today and I think my final lap was pretty good. The track was very dusty again in both sessions today, and that obviously affects the tyres, but I think we did as well as we could have hoped for this afternoon. I want to say thank you to my mechanics again because they have been working really hard all weekend - it has been a bit of a tough couple of days so far, because the bad luck I had yesterday limited my track time, and its thanks to the guys in the garage that Ive managed to get in enough running time to set me up for that quick lap today.
Heikki Kovalainen (21st, Q1 - 1m 41.768s)
Im pretty disappointed with how it went today. We were looking ok this morning but I think the strategy this afternoon didnt give me a great chance to go any quicker - the traffic obviously played its part, and when youre trying to push on a dirty track its always going to be a struggle. But were here to fight tomorrow, and as the grip levels evolve I think our car will become stronger, so theres all to play for in the race.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Im reasonably happy with the qualifying today, although its a little disappointing that the tactics in qualifying, and the traffic, played their part in denying Heikki a clear run at a quick time. Jarno produced a very good lap to finish the best of the new teams on his final run, and I think that these grid positions give us a good chance of having a strong race tomorrow.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
A pretty good day for us, and seeing Jarno put in such a good lap at the end of Q1 after a slightly difficult weekend on his side of the garage shows exactly what he and his pit crew are made of. We made a mistake with Heikkis strategy, and that prevented him from being able to get closer to Jarno, but a good job by both drivers, and the whole team, to keep us ahead of our nearest competitors. From a team perspective, it has been very pleasing to see what a great event the race organisers have put on here in Korea. We were never in any doubt that Korea would pull something special out of the bag for us, and from the moment the cars first went out on track yesterday, the welcome Lotus Racing and the whole F1 fraternity has had here has been outstanding. It was particularly good to see a couple of very dedicated Lotus Racing fans waving our flag in the stands, and the Korean media have given us some excellent coverage, so I think we will leave here having gained another army of new fans. We will do our best to reward them with a strong performance in tomorrows race.
Timo Glock (20th, Q1 - 1m 40.748s)
Today was a pretty good qualifying session for me. We made the right change from this mornings free practice to qualifying and I had a very good first run. The second one was good as well and I was able to get everything possible out of the car. I couldnt do any more so I am happy with the result and due to Petrovs penalty we move over to the clean side of the track, which will help us at the race start tomorrow. It should be an interesting race and Im looking forward to it.
Lucas di Grassi (22nd, Q1 - 1m 42.325s)
It was not a very good qualifying for me today. I did not manage to properly use my second set of qualifying Option tyres as in my two timed laps I got traffic and then I made a mistake, so for sure there is more to come. This is a track that improves all the time and very quickly and you need to be on it the whole time. Im looking forward to tomorrow and our first Korean Grand Prix. In the first few corners of the track there are a lot of overtaking opportunities, so it should be an interesting start. The race is also very long and a lot of things can happen, so we will see what happens as it unfolds.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
A strong qualifying session for Timo today, who was unlucky to be pipped at the very end of the session for the new teams pole, but at least he will start from the clean side of the track following Petrovs penalty. Lucas wasnt able to get the best out of the car but we are sure there is more to come from him in the race tomorrow. We are still experiencing quite a lot of graining on the tyres, which will make the choice for tomorrow interesting, and there is also the possibility of rain. The drivers report that the track modifications made overnight have been successful, so all credit to the circuit for their hard work and we are looking forward to the inaugural Korean Grand Prix tomorrow.
Sakon Yamamoto (23rdd, Q1 - 1m 42.444s)
I am very happy about our qualifying result at the first Korean Grand Prix. With the data we got yesterday and this morning, we could improve the car and I could do my best lap in qualifying. We were very close to the other competitors and I want to thank the team for preparing the car very well. Now we are looking forward to tomorrow, but we dont know if its going to rain during the race. But, as always, we will try to do our best and bring both cars to the finish line again.
Bruno Senna (24th, Q1 - 1m 43.283s)
Today we managed to work on the car as we could run more laps than yesterday. The qualifying result wasnt what we expected and maybe we could have done better with more experience on this new circuit. Tomorrow is going to be a long race and we will see what happens during the 55 laps.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Both of our drivers showed a good improvement compared to yesterday. The track got more grip and consequently the lap times got quicker. We had to adapt ourselves to the changes of the circuit and we expect it to keep on improving tomorrow as well. Sakon did a very good qualifying and we could close the gap to the new teams. Unfortunately, he lost one position in the last seconds of the session, otherwise he would have been further up. The whole team was working hard again to get the best out of the cars and therefore, I want to say thank you very much. Tomorrows race is going to be exciting and we hope to fight for positions.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Today we saw a very close and exciting battle for pole on an improving track surface which provided good entertainment for everyone. The surface evolution was very progressive today meaning that the tyre graining we have seen so far diminished, although it was still a factor. The track surface condition is still not the same as we would generally see heading into a race and this is our first ever time here meaning that everyone will be very reactive to the developing situation. I am very interested to see how the track surface changes tomorrow afternoon. The top ten drivers start with their qualifying tyres, so the number of laps they completed today is a factor, especially as they will start with a full fuel load with the softer option tyre. Because of this we would expect relatively early stops from them. Given the circumstances we have seen so far this weekend, a two stop strategy is certainly worthy of consideration. If the rain that some predict does arrive then everything gets very interesting indeed as no-one knows what to expect."
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