Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 08 Oct 2011
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg on failing to set a Q1 time after hydraulic issues; Saubers Sergio Perez on feeling under the weather; Force Indias Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta on missing out on Q3; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on withstanding McLarens resurgence to take his 12th pole position of the season. All 24 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturdays action
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 30.466s)
I went off in the free practice yesterday and damaged the front wing, so it wasnt ideal to prepare the car for today. We suffered a bit from that this morning regarding the cars balance and were too slow. We sat down after P3 and looked at where we could improve and we were able to extract everything out of the car in qualifying, which was crucial. There wasnt much between me and Jenson! I want to say thanks to the team and the factory for getting another front wing out for me, I would not sit here now without them, so Im very happy and very proud. Regarding one point or no point tomorrow, Im not focusing on that. I had a lesson yesterday where for a little moment I wasnt 100 percent focused and lost the car. Tomorrow is a long race and its challenging; Im looking forward to it. We really love to come here, its a special atmosphere and the fans are so passionate and crazy. When we leave the hotel in the morning, its full of people and theyre all screaming, so its a nice feeling to be part of that and starting from pole tomorrow will be special. Its a long race and a lot of things can happen.
Mark Webber (6th, Q3 - 1m 31.156s)
Im very surprised to be sixth. I did my best, but it wasnt quick enough and it was a bit of a surprise that I couldn't go with the pace there at the end. Seb obviously did a massive lap for pole so he got on the front row just, which was a great effort. Im disappointed to be on the third row. The car was pretty good yesterday on the long run - and it was good on short runs too, up until the end there so clearly I didn't get the most out of it today. Ill wake up and push tomorrow.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A phenomenal qualifying. It was very, very close with a tremendous last lap from Sebastian. Its been tight with the McLarens all weekend and he produced a remarkable last lap to get the pole by 100th of a second. This rewards the hard work thats taken place both here and in the factory after one of the new front wings was damaged yesterday and needed to be replaced. Its a fantastic way to pay back that effort. With Mark, he was up on his last run and was purple in his first sector, but thereafter the lap seemed to move away from him time-wise and he wasnt able to improve in the final two sectors in a very, very tight grid. Hopefully he can make good progress from there tomorrow.
Jenson Button (2nd, Q3 - 1m 30.475s)
This is the closest Ive been to pole position all season, but its still not pole: tomorrows grid will still be the same distance from first to second place. But Im satisfied, because I didnt leave anything out on the track today - I feel like I got everything I could from the car; there was nothing left. I think the whole team feels encouraged because we didnt come to this race with any significant upgrades, we just got the car working well all weekend. We have a more efficient rear wing, particularly with DRS, but weve just made this car very quick on high-speed circuits. We were quick at Spa, and were quick here too, so its no surprise. Our Friday long-runs on high-fuel were less than ideal, but weve seen the form vary significantly between Friday and Sunday, so tomorrow should be very different. Sundays the important day: we start second, but its so, so close. I really hope we can take the fight to Red Bull tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, Q3 - 1m 30.617s)
Im happy to be third - Ill be starting from the cleaner side of the grid, and we can have a good race from there. And Im pleased that weve been extremely competitive all weekend. Weve definitely shown an improvement: to be so close at a high-speed circuit like this means were doing well. Its very encouraging, because if wed had this car at the beginning of the season, I think the championship could have been a different story. In Q3, my final attempt at a lap was compromised when I entered the final corner on my out-lap and, from out of nowhere, Mark shot up the inside of me. Then Michael came past on my outside and went across the grass. Those incidents delayed me, so I couldnt reach the start line to begin my lap - it was an interesting situation but we were all up against it to get across the line. I might be starting third, but I know Im as quick as the two guys in front of me. Its not been a fantastic weekend for me so far, so hopefully thatll change tomorrow."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
The whole qualifying session was extremely tight today. In terms of pace, were encouraged by our performance - its the closest weve been to the Red Bulls for some time, and, with one driver starting second and the other third, were in good shape for the race tomorrow. Jenson did a great job in qualifying. In fact, hes been driving brilliantly all weekend - to miss out on pole by 9/1000ths of a second, which equates to a mere 68cm when travelling across the start/finish line at around 280km/h, is extremely unfortunate. But hes on the front row and in a very strong position for the race. Lewis did a great job, too, particularly with an incredibly quick lap in Q2 and on his first run of Q3. It was a little tight on time as we left the garage for his final run - we knew we couldnt afford to let any other cars past but he lost time on his out-lap and didnt quite make it to the finish line in time to start his final run. With the benefit of hindsight, we perhaps didnt make it clear enough to Lewis about what he needed to achieve on his out-lap. Nonetheless, our car has a good balance, both drivers are feeling confident and Im sure we can have an exciting race tomorrow.
Felipe Massa (4th, Q3 - 1m 30.804s)
It was a difficult qualifying session but at least we managed to keep one of the four best cars behind us. Its never easy here to put together the perfect lap and my last run was very good, even if I lost a little bit in the final sector. Tomorrow, it will be important to get a good start. Hamilton alongside me on the grid? It makes no difference to me if its him or anyone else. The race looks like being a complicated one, with a lot of stops to change tyres that show significant degradation here, so it follows that strategy will play a key role. It will be vital to find the right pace, so as to be quick, but at the same time, save the tyres. Overtaking will not be easy, despite KERS and DRS: maybe tyre wear will count for more, given that you come onto the main straight off a very slow chicane. Our aim is the podium: were starting one place off it, so its a realistic expectation.
Fernando Alonso (5th, Q3 - 1m 30.886s)
I am not very surprised by this result: at the end of the day, McLaren and Red Bull have been quicker than us all weekend long and at least we have managed to get ahead of Webber. I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year and at least it means I start from the clean side of the track.Tomorrow I expect significant tyre degradation to be a key feature of the race, with the possibility of several pit stops, which means strategy will play a very important role. We hope we wont have the same problems as in Singapore two weeks ago. We will try and make the best choices and fight for a podium finish, which is a realistic target. The win is certainly less so: as we saw in qualifying, McLaren seem very close to Red Bull here. The start will also be an important moment: both myself and Felipe will try and put pressure on those closest to us and then, if we happen to make up some places we will try and have our say. My first run in Q3? I was pushing to the maximum but, after looking at the lap time analysis, I dont think I could have done much better than my second run.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
Before moving on to talk about our performance today, I would take this opportunity for a more general observation. Once again today, as has happened before during this season, we have seen cars - no less than four in Q3 - give up on doing a flying lap. Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view, I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future, because I dont think its such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand, who, I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for Formula 1 and for those who are watching on television. Moving on to our result, I have to say it is more or less what we expected. We know where we stand at the moment technically and we have to try and make the most of every opportunity to fight for a podium finish. We will attempt that with our trademark level of determination.
Pat Fry, Ferrari deputy chassis director
Overall, this is the result we could have expected. We felt that, if we put together the best possible package and squeezed the most out of it, then we could hope to reduce the gap to pole compared to recent races: thats how things turned out, even if it definitely does not affect the hierarchy down pit lane. Felipe had a great qualifying, especially in Q3, so we really hope that for once, he can have a normal race after all the problems he has encountered recently. Tomorrows race will be very tough, especially for the tyres which, historically at this track are given a hard time. It therefore becomes crucial to select the right strategy, pinpointing the best moment to change tyres and, especially, not to make any mistakes. We have a duty to fight right to the very end to achieve the objectives that are still within our grasp this season and we will leave nothing to chance. At the same time, we have to use the remaining days we have on track this season to learn as much as possible about elements that could be useful for next year.
Michael Schumacher (7th, Q3 - no time)
"It was a tricky ending to my qualifying session today, but at least we have saved a set of tyres for the race tomorrow. We are still in a good position for gathering some important points, and obviously that is what I am geared to do. I am very happy with how we worked as a team to improve our performance this weekend, and I am really looking forward to having a good race at this great track which is one of my favourites."
Nico Rosberg (23rd, Q1 - no time)
"On my first lap out in Q1, the team advised that I had a problem and asked me to come back into the pits. We tried to fix it in time for me to complete a lap, however the hydraulic systems are quite complicated and there just wasn't enough time. So for the race, I have a promising strategy with all the new tyres that I have! But seriously, I will push and try to get into the top ten. That will be my aim tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"It was a mixed qualifying session for us today. We had a hydraulic problem with Nico's car right at the start of Q1 which we now need to investigate and establish what the cause was. It's going to be quite a challenge for him starting from the back of the grid but it will be an interesting race with the tyre situation so there should be opportunities. Michael had a good session although the end of Q3 wasn't as clean as we would have liked. It should be a good race and I look forward to seeing what both Michael and Nico can do."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Michael and our team did a calculated job to save tyres during qualifying and it was more important for us to go into the race with the maximum number of fresh tyres than to maximise our grid position. Thanks to our overall strategy for the session, Michael got into Q3 with a single run in Q1 and Q2 - and will start the race with more fresh tyres available than the cars ahead of him, which means he has a variety of strategic options. We will wait to hear from the FIA whether he will ultimately start from seventh on the grid tomorrow. It was unfortunate that Nico suffered a hydraulic problem during Q1 - sorry for that, Nico. This prevented him from completing a timed lap and means he must start from P23 tomorrow. However, three races ago, Michael started last and climbed through the field to a strong fifth place at the finish. That's positive motivation for us all - Nico first and foremost."
Bruno Senna (8th, Q3 - not time)
It was a bit of a squeeze getting my car together in time for qualifying but the team did a fantastic job to mend it after my mishap in practice this morning. I havent been able to get as much track time as I would have liked yet this weekend, however the car performed flawlessly throughout qualifying, and the strategy we deployed helped put us in a strong position for the race tomorrow. I am really looking forward to lining up on the grid, as it should be an exciting race. As Ive said several times this weekend, I love this track and I am very well supported here so I hope to be able to give the supporters in the stands something to shout about.
Vitaly Petrov (9th, Q3 - no time)
Im pleased with lining up ninth on the grid. We are looking much stronger here than in Singapore, and were demonstrating the potential of the R31 at high speed corner tracks once again. The car has felt progressively better each time Ive taken to the wheel this weekend. It felt good in FP1 and FP2, and then FP3 this morning confirmed my sense that there will be a good opportunity for us to perform well here. The stability of the car improved around the high speed corners and the traction was better too, so Im feeling confident going into tomorrow. A lot of different strategies will be played out during the race but Im glad we are back in the hunt again.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
How satisfied are you with the cars lining up in P8 and P9 on tomorrows grid? Im satisfied with the performance. It has been a good day although it was unfortunate that Bruno crashed this morning, which stymied his hopes of getting some good lap time before qualifying. The mechanics did a fantastic job to get the car ready in time for qualifying and he made his way comfortably through Q1 and Q2, and secured a good position on tomorrows grid.
Kamui Kobayashi (10th, Q3 - no time)
I am really happy we made it into the top ten qualifying in Suzuka. I very much enjoy seeing all the fans here. In free practice we struggled quite a lot with the balance of the car, but the set up changes we made for qualifying worked out well. I think from the pace of the car you can see now that the new aero package is starting to work. My laps in Q1 and Q2 were good, and I cant complain. We still have some good tyres left for the race tomorrow, and the race is what counts. I want to score points in front of this crowd.
Sergio Perez (17th, Q2 - no time)
As you can see from Kamuis result the car is quite competitive, and I was optimistic t I would also make it to Q3. But then on my last lap in Q1 in sector two I suddenly had a hydraulic problem, I lost everything, starting with the power steering. Therefore I could not go out in Q2, which is obviously disappointing. The mechanics worked very hard and tried to fix it, but we have to do some further investigations and Im sure we will be alright for the race. For me the weekend isnt that easy because I also have a cold. However, looking at it positively I have plenty of good tyres for tomorrows race.
James Key, Sauber technical director
This morning we carried on with the new parts we brought here and eventually came to some reasonable solutions about what we needed to do for qualifying. Both drivers were quite happy after FP3, although Kamui still had a few issues with some of the tighter corners. In qualifying Kamui did a fantastic job to make it into Q3. He drove a good lap and showed that the car is working as we expected. We hope to have an equally strong race tomorrow. For Sergio it was a great shame. He too had a good chance to make it into the top ten, but unfortunately we had a hydraulic problem on the car which the guys worked very hard to fix quickly, but we decided in the end not to send him out so as not to risk any further issues. We will look into this tonight.
Adrian Sutil (11th, Q2 - 1m 32.463s)
Overall I think todays qualifying session went pretty well. I was a little bit disappointed to miss Q3 because we were not too far away from it, but everybody knows P11 is a very good place to start, especially because of the free choice of tyres for tomorrow. I was happy with my laps and I dont think I could have found much more. Also, we opted to do just one run on the soft tyres in Q2, which means I have a fresh set available for the race. So I think we can make the strategy work tomorrow and have a good race.
Paul di Resta (12th, Q2 - 1m 32.746s)
Given the weekend weve had Im pretty happy to be starting P12 just a place behind Adrian. Ive struggled to get fully up to speed here and find the ideal balance, which is why weve opted for a set-up more suited to the race. Hopefully that will pay off tomorrow because I think tyre wear is going to be a major factor in this race. Also, Im feeling a bit under the weather today with a sore throat, so Im pleased to come away with a starting position that should allow us to fight for points. Ill get some rest tonight because this is one of the more physical tracks of the year and will give it my all tomorrow.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
We always knew the high-speed nature of Suzuka was unlikely to suit our car as much as Singapore, but I think we can be pretty satisfied with our showing this afternoon. Two cars just outside the top ten means we are well placed for the race and we have a free choice on tyre strategy. Paul did well today considering hes not feeling 100 percent and Adrian loves this track and delivered once again. Theres a long race ahead tomorrow and managing the tyres will probably be the main concern for all the teams. We know weve got a good race car, strong pace over long runs, and hopefully we can convert that into a result tomorrow afternoon.
Rubens Barrichello (13th, Q2 - 1m 33.079s)
First of all I want to thank the team for working so hard on making the changes I wanted. The car wasnt behaving well in practice this morning so we changed almost everything on it before qualifying. Everyone did a great job turning it around in time. The changes really transformed the car and we pulled off a strong lap this afternoon.
Pastor Maldonado (14th, Q2 - 1m 33.224s)
Quite a difficult qualifying for me, primarily because we lost a lot of track time during yesterdays practice. We made a few changes after this mornings session and we managed to get a good lap out of the car in qualifying. I dont have the balance Id like, but we have time go through everything and do some more work ahead of the race.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
It was good to get through the entire run plan in P3 after a difficult day yesterday. Rubens was initially unhappy with the balance on his car after it had to be almost completely rebuilt after his crash in P2. The crew did an excellent job to make a number of changes between P3 and qualifying and Rubens had a very good lap this afternoon which placed him in 13th. With limited running in practice, Pastor also did really well to learn the circuit as quickly as he did and pushed hard to get 14th.
Sebastien Buemi (15th, Q2 - 1m 33.227s)
I got a super lap in Q1, but I cannot be happy with Q2, because I made a mistake on the exit of Turn Nine, hitting the kerb a bit too hard which sent me off into the grass, costing me around half a second. I am disappointed about that because Ive ended up behind the Williams, when we could easily have been ahead of them. They dont give out any points for qualifying, so we took the decision to save tyres for the race and we will see if that was the right choice tomorrow. Tyre degradation is quite heavy, which means that having new tyres will be important in the race.
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, Q2 - 1m 33.427s)
We could have had a much better qualifying in performance terms, but we had concentrated on the race in terms of our set-up and aero balance. Therefore, even if the grid position is not so good, I am quite happy because I feel that tomorrow I will have a car strong enough to score some points. I could have gone quicker this afternoon, but we decided to save tyres as well as run with a race set-up. I expect we can see a situation similar to Valencia and Monza, being very quick in the race. We have tried to focus a lot on the race in terms of getting consistency from the tyres, even if that was going to penalise us this afternoon. Thanks to the mechanics who did a good job of sorting out a problem on the car after Q1 in order to get me back on track in Q2.
Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director
We looked good in Fridays FP1, but then we had to back-pedal on performance as we had concerns over reliability with some of the new elements we were running here. But today, we did not get it right and it was not a good performance, neither in how we engineered the session, nor in our capacity to produce a good lap time. With hindsight, possibly we should have given Sebastien another set of tyres and sent him out again at the end of Q2. There would not have been much point doing that with Jaime because he had too much understeer and we could not fix it, which was not quite the same picture we had seen this morning. Actually, this should work in his favour for the race, because according to our numbers, the rear tyres will be very difficult to manage tomorrow, which explains the amount of understeer Jaime had this afternoon. Sebastien was happier with the car, but he made a mistake on track. As usual, I tried to privilege the race rather than qualifying, which is why we did not send him out again and inevitably, some people moved ahead of us.
Heikki Kovalainen (18th, Q1 - 1m 35.454s)
"I'm pretty happy with that, particularly as it was one run, one lap to get it right, and I nailed it straight out of the box. We took the riskier strategy with the tyres, went out late in the session and I think I may have even been able to find a bit more in the first sector, but overall I'm pleased. I went through 130R with the rear wing open which was pretty hardcore, but having been bold with the tyres we're in a good position for the race tomorrow. There's been quite a lot of talk about the tyre wear here but I'm not sure the degradation will be as big a problem as people thought. The long run on the soft tyres yesterday was good - I think we can get maybe up to 15 laps out of them, and as we have a few new sets ready to go tomorrow it'll be an interesting afternoon."
Jarno Trulli (19th, Q1 - 1m 35.514s)
That was a good session. The car felt much better this afternoon as we made the right changes to the setup and even though I made a couple of mistakes on my quickest lap I still don't think I could have got much more out of it. Tomorrow we'll fight as hard as possible in the race and give our Japanese fans something to cheer for. Our pace in the races has been good all season, so I hope I can make as good a start as I have been in a lot of the races this year, play with the tyre strategies and see where we end up."
Riad Asmat, Lotus Group CEO
We keep edging ever closer to the teams ahead so where we finished up today is very pleasing. We made the right call on the tyre strategy, opting to save sets of the softs, and as we have seen all season we can mix it with some of the cars ahead in the race, so with the excellent way our pitcrew have been performing in the stops I think we are in a good position for the race."
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
"A good Saturday for us in both sessions. Jarno and Heikki has issues this morning with understeer but we managed to dial that out for qualifying and their feedback was that they were both happy with their cars this afternoon. Jarno chose to do a run on the medium tyres early in qualifying to see if that could help him get more temperature into the brakes, and then the plan was always to do one run on the softs on both cars. We wanted to make sure we kept well clear of the cars behind and, with tyre degradation likely to play an important role in the race, give ourselves as many sets of tyres as we could for tomorrow, so job done."
Jerome DAmbrosio (20th, Q1 - 1m 36.439s)
It was a good Saturday. We had a very good last lap, something which is difficult to achieve here. You want to push hard, but you still have to think, as its all about priorities and working out which corners to sacrifice. Im pretty happy about today, especially because we turned it around yesterday was a difficult day and we managed to do well at a track like Suzuka. Im really happy. I worked well together with the engineers and I think that thanks to this combination we improved the car and my driving.
Timo Glock (21st, Q1 - 1m 36.507s) For me I think it was a good qualifying session. Going from free practice three to qualifying was a bit blind again because we tried something overnight which didnt really work out as we had hoped, so we had to go back on that between sessions. In the end the car was really good and my lap was pretty spot-on. Theres not much to say apart from I think today Jerome was slightly quicker and he did a good job. Im happy with the car so well see what happens tomorrow.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
After probably one of Jeromes more challenging Fridays, he spent a lot of time last night going through the data with his engineers to see where he needed to improve. Throughout P3 he did an impressive job to close the gap to Timo and into qualifying he had a good second run to finish 0.07s ahead of him. We anticipated a reasonable level of track improvement throughout Q1 so we left the final run right until the end with only one timed lap, which worked out perfectly for the traffic and enabled both drivers to get the most out of the car. Timo reverted to his P2 set-up for qualifying, having tried a slightly different direction in FP3 which proved not to be the way to go. Weve seen the track throw up many incidents during the course of the three practice sessions so tomorrow well be looking to ensure that both cars have a clean race and are in a position to take advantage of any opportunity.
Daniel Ricciardo (22nd, Q1 - 1m 37.846s)
From my point of view it was not a bad session. I approached it well and did what I had to do. In qualifying you have to push 100% and I definitely did that. I went a little bit wide in some areas from pushing too much but Id say I only lost about a tenth which isnt enough to get in front of our rivals. I am satisfied because the balance of the car was the best its been all weekend but the others have also improved and we have to keep on working. Anyways its time to focus on the race where Im keen to put in a good performance.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (24th, Q1 - no time)
Its been a terrible start to the weekend. Yesterday I could only do four laps, eight this morning after an engine issue and this afternoon again problems so in the end Ive hardly done any laps in two days. Well start from last position, which isnt very positive, and its a shame because the few laps we did werent too bad. But this is one of the best races of the season with a great atmosphere so Im hoping to put this behind me and have a good race tomorrow.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Again another day with highs and lows. Daniel has done a good job and has always been pushing and taking steps forward. But today, again, we experienced problems with Tonios engine. Yesterday he could only manage 4 laps and only 10 today. It is far from ideal but with his experience Im sure he will be able to pull out a good race. Races are always a different matter and now we can only hope for a trouble-free race for both cars to finish the race.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
It was a very fast qualifying and the tyres stood up well to the high-speed demands of Suzuka circuit, with no wear or degradation beyond the usual parameters. However, it now seems to become a trend that some cars qualifying in Q3 do not set a time in order to save tyres, so we will be working with the teams and the FIA to find a solution that is acceptable to everybody to avoid this kind of scenario in the future, as it is not fair on the spectators. We have made a number of proposals in the past, which the teams rejected, but today showed that this remains a problem, which we would like to solve. Looking ahead to the race, with quite a significant lap time difference between the soft and the hard tyres, the possibilities for interesting strategies are wide open this weekend. The trade-off for this extra performance of the soft tyre is the fact that the crossover point, where the medium tyre becomes quicker, might come after only five or six laps. So its going to be interesting to see what the teams all opt for.
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