Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 28 May 2011
HRTs Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan on their Saturday afternoon 'no-show'; Mercedes Nico Rosberg on the sterling work which helped him qualify following his Practice Three smash; Williams Pastor Maldonado on making it through to the top-ten shootout for a second consecutive weekend; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on snatching his fifth pole of the season. All the drivers and leading team personnel report back on Saturday in Monte Carlo and send their best wishes to Sauber driver Sergio Perez...
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 13.556s)
"Its a long way around this track. Qualifying is tough, there are three segments and you have to give 100 percent in each one. My laps in Q1 and Q2 were not perfect, but in Q3 it was spot on, so I was happy with that. The most important thing to hear is that Sergio is okay and is conscious. We were sitting and waiting to go out, but we were watching the images on the TV screen as well and so were all thinking of him and wish him all the best. Hopefully he will be fit again very soon. It wasnt easy to sit and wait for such a long time in the garage and not many people improved their time afterwards. Its a long race here tomorrow and lots of things can happen. Weve seen this year with multiple pit stops that things can change. Pole position is very important here, so we can be happy with that, but theres no guarantee for tomorrows race. We need to push hard and see what we can do.
Mark Webber (3rd, Q3 - 1m 14.019s)
The races are more mixed up this year compared to the last few years, and tomorrow is no exception. Its possible to win from P3 but, that said, qualifying is crucial here and pole is certainly a nice benefit to have. Seb did a great lap and deserved pole and JB did too. It was a messy session for all of us - you never anticipate not getting a second go, but thats the way it fell today and bigger priorities took over when one of our colleagues, Sergio, had a crash. All our thoughts are with him; hes in great hands and hes talking and is conscious, which is good news; hell bounce back Im sure. We can learn from this in terms of safety here and its probably an area that we need to look at improving for the future. Jenson was lucky and Karl Wendlinger back in the nineties - so there are a few places around here we need to keep an eye on.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
On a day like today when you see an accident like Sergio Perez had, the main concern is his well being. It sounds like the initial signs are positive, which is testimony to the strength of the cars and safety standards that the circuit now has. A similar accident for Karl Wendlinger in the nineties resulted in serious injuries, so the main thing today is that the initial signs are positive. Sergios a strong boy and hopefully hell be back to full health very quickly. Sebastians performance in Q3 was quite phenomenal. The lap he produced was a classic balance of the speed and accuracy thats required around here - he delivered a very impressive lap time, so its good for him. Its great to have Mark up there as well and he made a very strong recovery after a difficult start to the weekend. Having both drivers starting on the clean side of the grid ahead of tomorrows race is very encouraging.
Jenson Button (2nd, Q3 - 1m 13.997s)
Todays result in qualifying takes a bit of a back seat after what happened to Sergio [Perez] in Q3 this afternoon. We all know this circuit can be dangerous, and I know what it feels like to go off at that particular corner, but Im very happy to hear that he appears not to have been seriously injured. Ive got no doubt that hell already be telling the doctors that he wants to race tomorrow. As for my performance, I was very happy with my Q3 lap: I knew there was more to come from the car after my Q1 and Q2 runs, when I had a bit too much understeer. While second isnt the easiest place to get away from here, its still nice to be up at the front. I think well see a different Monaco Grand Prix from what we usually see - strategy will be important, and I think it will make the race more exciting than normal because we should be able to push for victory despite not starting from pole. Our car feels good here, and thats given me a lot of confidence: Ill be pushing in the race tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton (7th, Q3 - 1m 15.280s)
I hope Sergio is well - my prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family. He was driving so well this weekend - you could see that from the onboard footage - but it was a very heavy shunt. You never want to see another driver get injured, and its at the back of your mind when you go back out, but you need to stay professional. After the restart in Q3, I had no temperature in my tyres or my brakes, so I didnt manage to pull a great lap together. With hindsight, we probably should have put a banker in. I felt Id been driving well all weekend and I had the pace to be on pole Im certain of that, in fact. Ill do my best from my grid slot and, while itll be tough to win from there, I wont give up. Ill keep pushing. My job will be to get as many points as I can tomorrow.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
First of all, I want to say on behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes that we hope Sergio is okay. Thats more important than anything else. Moving on to our own performance in qualifying today, Jenson put in a great lap quite early in Q3 - and, although hed doubtless have liked to have a go at improving it, when the track reopened it had become slower so it wasnt possible for him to do so. Lewis hadnt yet set a time in Q3 before the session was temporarily stopped, and P7 was the result. Hes understandably disappointed, because hes been in fantastic form all weekend and was looking very good in Q1 and Q2 today. Its fair to say that he fancied his chances of bagging pole position today, in fact. Instead, as I say, hell start from P7 - which, on the tight confines of this notoriously tortuous circuit, presents quite a challenge in terms of recovering from a disappointing qualifying position. But he loves this circuit - and, if theres one man whos capable of making that recovery, its Lewis. Jenson will start tomorrows race from the front row. Hes won here before, in 2009, and hell definitely be aiming to do so again this year.
Fernando Alonso (4th, Q3 - 1m 14.483s)
In qualifying I did not have as good a feeling from the car as I got in free practice and we need to work out exactly why. Today, McLaren were very quick and I think Hamilton was probably favourite to get pole. I dont think the result of Q3 represents the true order because the red flag mixed up plans for many of the drivers. For Hamilton it went badly, while everything was fine for Red Bull, with us at a halfway point: we should have done two runs of two timed laps each without refuelling and therefore, we did not get the most out of the tyres. I reckon that tomorrow, overtaking will be pretty much impossible, despite the KERS, DRS and whatever else. The start will be very important and our race pace is good, so I hope I can make up some places, also making the most of any unpredictable situations and of our strategy. I expect some drivers will try for two stops and maybe others will risk doing only one. The car is handling better than a week ago at the Catalunya circuit: the balance is fine and the super softs are working well. Perezs accident? From inside my car I had no information as to his condition. Frightening accidents like this do make for a bit of tension, but then you try and stay focused and do your best.
Felipe Massa (6th, Q3 - 1m 14.877s)
A mixture of satisfaction and regret for me after this qualifying. Along with the team, we managed to improve the handling of the car compared to free practice, reducing the oversteer, but a mistake at Rascasse in Q3 cost me one or two places. A shame, as I was on a good lap. Starting sixth is not brilliant at Monaco but here you need to use your head in the race: we will have to concentrate throughout as anything can happen. The start will be very important, but so too will be staying calm and cool-headed, lap after lap, because any mistake can cost you dear. Tyre degradation is less than we have seen before, so I dont think there will be so many pit stops. I hope Sergio is okay: it was a frightening accident and the impact was really heavy. That part of the track is very tricky and accidents are very common there.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
First of all, our thoughts are with Sergio Perez, his family and everyone at Sauber. We got a real fright when he crashed into the barriers but, fortunately, we can now breathe a sigh of relief at the news that his condition is not serious. As for the actual qualifying, we cannot deny that, given how things had gone up to the end of Q2, we could have hoped for a bit more. The red flag in the final part of Q3 definitely played a role in the strategy we adopted, putting us in a difficult position as we were unable to properly exploit the second set of option tyres. Thats Monaco and one has to accept that things like this can happen. Tomorrows race will very long and full of traps: we must try and make the most of any opportunity. The start will play a crucial role, but above all it will be vital not to make any mistakes. Who makes the least mistakes will emerge as the winner.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
We were hoping for a better result today because our car had the potential to secure a front row placing. Vettels time was not within our reach, but we could have been up there at the front. We opted to do two timed laps on each of the two sets of options available in Q3, but that meant not refuelling in the pits: the red flag complicated matters for us and then, when the session restarted, the conditions did not lend themselves to improving our times. From what we saw in Thursdays free practice, our race pace is not too bad, so we should be in with a chance. Strategy will be very important: tyre degradation is not very high, therefore I dont think we will see as many pit stops as we had in the last two races. We will have to do a good job of managing any unpredictable scenarios, to try and make up some places.
Michael Schumacher (5th, Q3 - 1m 14.682s)
"First of all, I am happy to hear that Sergio seems to be well, which is obviously the most important news. The incident reminded me a lot of what happened to Karl Wendlinger in 1994 and it shows the quality of the safety improvements the FIA have implemented since then, especially the side impact tests. As for my starting position, I benefited a little from the circumstances and probably P7 on the grid would have been more realistic. Having said that, our car looks better in race trim this weekend, so with another good start, I will try to make the most out of it. Overtaking is known to be more difficult here than at most other circuits, so it will come down to having the right strategy, especially because the tyres should last longer than in recent races and we can expect fewer stops. I think it will be an exciting race."
Nico Rosberg (8th, Q3 - 1m 15.766s)
"I have to say a special thank you to the team and the attitude everybody had today after my accident. This morning, I made a little mistake and lost control of the car but nobody was angry about that when I came back to the garage: the guys simply came up to me and said, let's go for it in qualifying! The circumstances in Q3 were a bit tricky because the red flag came at the worst moment for me. When we went back out, it was not possible to do a fast lap because the tyres weren't working properly, but I am still happy to have made it to Q3 after such a tough day. I also want to send my best wishes to Sergio and we are all pleased to hear that he is ok after such a big accident."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We have achieved a reasonable result with all things taken into account today. The crash that Nico had this morning took a huge amount of effort from the boys to repair and I must pay tribute to the team for the fantastic job to get his car ready for qualifying. Nico's programme understandably didn't run very smoothly in qualifying and he suffered with the timing of the red flag. Michael had a much smoother day and did a good job of putting the car in fifth place which is an excellent result. I think we can look forward to a reasonable race tomorrow. We were all horrified to see the severity of Sergio Perez's accident, particularly as it was so similar in nature to Nico's crash this morning. It is a credit to the FIA and all of the teams that such progress has been made in terms of safety. It's one of those moments that really help us realise what a challenging sport this can be and how important it is to keeping improving our safety standards. We are all really pleased that Sergio seems to be ok."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The most important result from today is that Sergio Perez is ok after his crash and we wish him a speedy recovery. Our entire team did a fantastic job to put Nico's car back together in less than two hours after his crash in the morning session. It was not a foregone conclusion that he would be able to compete in qualifying, but our great guys managed it. Michael did a good job to put his car in fifth position on the third row. Nico did not set a competitive time on new tyres before the interruption to Q3; after the restart, the track conditions had changed and he was lacking grip. We hope for a good race tomorrow after our cars showed respectable speed in all the sessions."
Pastor Maldonado (9th, Q3 - 1m 16.528s)
Im happy! We were consistent in Q1 and Q2 and I made it into Q3. It was very tight at the end of the session because of the red flag; we had just over two minutes to do our lap, so Im pleased with ninth. Weve been competitive throughout the weekend and we squeezed 100% out of our package again today. Our pace is strong and I will do my best to get us into the points tomorrow. I hope Sergio is ok and wish him well.
Rubens Barrichello (12th, Q2 - 1m 15.826s)
The car felt ok but it seemed quicker on older tyres. When I went onto new tyres I didnt get the grip I was expecting. That was the difference today and Im a few tenths behind. It was strange and we need to understand why that was the case. I need the car to stick to the ground as much as possible. That is what I am looking for. Strategies are going to play a big part tomorrow. We all hope Sergio is ok.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Obviously our first thoughts are with Sergio Perez and the whole team wishes him a quick recovery. Pastor did well to qualify in the top ten again today. Two races in a row shows strong progress. Monaco requires a car with good mechanical balance, maximum downforce and plenty of concentration from the drivers. We have work to do but we're heading in that direction.
Sergio Perez (10th, Q1 - no time)
Kamui Kobayashi (13th, Q2 - 1m 15.973s)
Sergios accident was, of course, a shock and Im obviously happy he has no severe injuries. In the beginning I didnt know about the accident because I had been taken for a doping test. In qualifying I still had difficulties with my car, which kept bouncing too much despite some further set-up changes we did in the third free practice. Nevertheless, from my grid position points are within reach and this is what Im heading for tomorrow.
James Key, Sauber technical director
First and foremost we are obviously relieved with the reports that Sergio is okay. Its always very worrying for a team when you see an accident of that magnitude, so its good to hear that he is fundamentally okay. We are looking into what happened. There is no indication at the moment from the data we have seen that there was a problem with the car. But we have to talk to Sergio to investigate further what happened.
Peter Sauber, Sauber team principal
Of course we are very relieved that Sergio wasnt seriously injured. Up to the accident he was doing very well in qualifying, and also better than expected as he had outperformed all his direct competitors. For Kamui it didnt go too well in qualifying, but we know what his skills are and expect them to play a role in tomorrows race.
Vitaly Petrov (11th, Q2 - 1m 15.815s)
We should be comfortably in the top 10, so naturally starting 11th on the grid is not particularly satisfying. We have found the super soft tyres challenging this weekend and I only managed to take off a few tenths when I used them, so we need to look at why this has happened. We should really be a second quicker than we are, so we will look at the data this evening and see what needs to be improved to ensure we are performing better tomorrow we are going to have to be very much on our game strategically come race time. On another note, Sergios crash was a tough one. He seems to have lost control exactly where I had a problem on Thursday. We were teammates in GP2 so I hope hes OK and I wish him all the best.
Nick Heidfeld (16th, Q2 -1m 16.214s)
There were no problems with the car and I did have clear laps but obviously we werent as fast as we want to be. After Thursdays running we knew we still had work to do, but I thought we would be able to make it into the top ten. Unlike in Barcelona, there wont be much overtaking here because of the nature of the track but we will be pushing hard. Maybe if we use KERS in an unconventional way, where the driver in front has not expected it, there will be an opportunity, but it certainly wont be like the last race. Of course, anything can happen with safety cars and other cars not finishing so its important that we finish and push as hard as we possibly can.
James Allison, Renault technical director
We thought we would do particularly well here in Monaco but so far our performance has been decidedly lacklustre. At the last GP we had qualified as close to the leaders as we have all year, so to come here and be this far off the pace is as unexpected as it is disappointing. We have struggled to get the most out of the super softs all weekend, so I did have my suspicion that we would struggle for pace in qualifying. On the prime tyre we performed more respectably, but even this was below the standard we would have expected. Without a good start it will be tremendously hard - this is not going to be a KERS, DRS, tyre, F1 2011 style overtakeathon. Tomorrow will be a traditional Monaco race where attrition and the barriers will make overtaking more likely than anything else. We will need to make a flying start tomorrow and then hope for things to unfold favourably in front of us. It is much harder for strategy to have a real impact at Monaco. Of course, it remains crucial to do the right thing in terms of when and how often to stop, but it is difficult to get past other cars unless mistakes are made. However, it is the case that our race pace is respectable, so we will be looking to salvage what we can from a disappointing weekend so far.
Paul di Resta (14th, Q2 - 1m 16.118s)
Once again I think that P14 is a fair reflection of our pace this weekend. Everybody knows that qualifying is very important here and so I pushed hard to get as high up the grip as possible, but the race is long and anything can happen tomorrow afternoon. So Ill just try my best to stay out of trouble and try to make some progress with the strategy. Its my first weekend racing a Formula One car at Monaco so Ive lots to learn but Im really looking forward to the race tomorrow.
Adrian Sutil (15th, Q2 - 1m 16.121s)
Its disappointing that we couldnt fight for Q3, but the pace was not there today. I was bit unlucky on my last run in Q2 when Petrov wasnt watching his mirrors and I had to abort one of my flying laps. I did another lap, but my tyres were going off by then and so I probably could have been a little bit higher up. For the race tomorrow we know that overtaking is difficult and making the strategy work wont be easy, but we will be ready for any opportunities that come our way.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy ream principal
The qualifying session at Monaco is arguably the most important of the year because we know how hard it is to overtake around here. So we went all out today to get both cars as high up the grid as possible and hoping we might squeeze through to Q3. In the end we just missed out, but all the times were incredibly close with just a few tenths making the difference. For the race tomorrow we will try and make the strategy work to bring Paul and Adrian into contention. Historically this race has seen quite a high attrition rate and so we need to capitalise on any incidents in the race to move forward and hopefully challenge for points.
Heikki Kovalainen (18th, Q1 - 1m 17.343s)
Before I talk about the sessions today I want to say that its good to hear that Sergio is conscious and talking. Ive had a big accident myself and know what its like for the team, friends and family as you wait for news, so I hope hes back on track soon. In quali it was quite a tricky session for me today, but Im reasonably pleased with where I ended up. My first run didnt really go to plan - I definitely didnt get the best out of the tyres so I had to really go for it with the second set and that was definitely better, but not quite enough to get into Q2. But the gap to the cars ahead is pretty close and I think well be ok tomorrow.
Jarno Trulli (19th, Q1 - 1m 17.381s)
That was a bit unlucky for us. The cars not been responding as Id like all day and the tyres were behaving strangely - the first set was mega and the second set were really poor, so Im not too sure where were going wrong. I know I could have gone much quicker on the second run with more rubber on the track but for some reason I was only marginally faster which is why we ended up where we did. Tomorrow in the race well keep our heads down, run to our plan and see what happens around us. Im sure there will be places to pick up so lets wait and see. I also want to say that I hope Sergio is ok. That was a massive shunt and I hope we have more good news about him soon.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader
During FP3 we worked more on the driveability of the engine which is the most important aspect of engine behaviour here. We had good feedback from the drivers who were both happy, especially in the slow speed corners where the engine is reacting in a good way but unfortunately in qualifying we were not able to get into Q2, but were pretty close. Both cars were very close to each other so we have clearly found a good, consistent setup, but I think we struggled a bit with the tyres and that is what has stopped us pushing into Q2 today. I also want to echo what the whole team has said about Sergio. I hope he's ok and we have good news soon.
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
To begin with I want to say that I hope Sergio Perez recovers quickly. He had a big accident and the early news is that hes taken a knock but is ok so thats encouraging. On track I think we knew we would probably struggle to get into Q2 here as the performance difference between the tyre compounds doesnt give us the same chance we had in Spain to play with the strategies. Despite that we have had a good, reliable weekend so far and the aim is definitely to have both cars cross the finish line tomorrow. We have obviously had a couple of pieces of good news so far this weekend so perhaps tomorrow will bring us something else to cheer.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Firstly we obviously hope that Sergio Perez is in good shape following his accident. Our best wishes are with him and the whole Sauber team. For us that was a reasonably good qualifyign session. Jarno was reporting more grip than in the morning but he couldnt get the most out of his second set of tyres, but overall we are close to the group in front and we look forward to a strong race tomorrow.
Timo Glock (21st, Q1 - 1m 17.914s)
That was pretty much the perfect Saturday for me. Free Practice went well this morning and that was one of the best qualifying laps Ive ever driven here at Monaco. I put everything into it. A couple of times I just brushed the wall and had a couple of slides close to the barriers and in the end I just got a massive lap out of it. Just before the crucial lap I said to my engineers This is all or nothing, and it turned out to be four tenths quicker than the lap before! Big thanks to the team - they did a good job and I took my chance to make a bit of a difference. In the end we are only a tenth away from one of the Toro Rossos and right with Lotus, so Im quite happy with my job today.
Jerome DAmbrosio (22nd, Q1 - 1m 18.736s)
Not a great qualifying session for me. I think we went a bit backwards compared to this morning and Thursday, so we really need to understand why we didnt continue to make progress. We just need to focus on that and understand and then see how we get on in the race.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
First of all, that was a very big crash for Perez today and we wait for positive news regarding his condition. For our team, after a day spent looking through all the data, we applied most of the setup changes that we had done on Friday to both cars this morning. Whilst initially both drivers reported a loss of track grip, both were reasonably happy with the setup of the cars. The red flags interrupted our programme slightly but we still came out of the session reasonably happy. In a place where mechanical setup makes a huge difference, the engineers have done a good job to optimise both cars. Timos lap in qualifying was perhaps one of the best we have seen from him and its good to see him enjoying himself around a circuit where the driver can make the most difference. On Jeromes car a small setup change was made before qualifying, going back to a setting that he had run on Thursday and, at the time, he was happier with. Unfortunately this was perhaps not the way to go today, however overall we are pleased with his progress over the weekend so far. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will be looking for a solid race from both cars. Theres been a lot of action on the track so far and well be staying sharp to maximise any opportunity that comes our way.
Narain Karthikeyan (22nd, Q1 - no time)
Today was a little bit disappointing. It was not safe for the car to come out as it was, so we had to make some changes to the suspension which resulted in us being unable to run in qualifying. We would have easily qualified, just like in the last four races, I have no doubts about that. So it was a good decision from the stewards to let us race.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd, Q1 - not time)
It was a difficult day because in the morning I had a crash in corner 1. I have been struggling a lot with the balance of the car since Thursday, the rear end is suffering a lot. The FIA showed some good sense with the decision they made since weve been inside the 107 percent rule for every race since Australia. It will be a difficult race tomorrow because were struggling with the balance on the car but in Monaco you never know what will happen.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
We had a difficult day with Tonio crashing and Narains car having problems with the suspension just before qualifying. We couldnt run either car in qualifying as a result of this so we had to go to the stewards to see what would happen tomorrow. Thankfully they made a good decision so both our drivers will be on the grid tomorrow.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
First and foremost, our thoughts are with Sergio Perez. We wish him a very swift recovery and the fact that we heard he was conscious and talking so soon after such a big accident is a great testimony to the safety standards that operate in Formula One these days. As for the action on the track, its going to be very interesting to see which strategies the teams choose to adopt tomorrow. The performance as well as the durability of our PZero Red supersoft tyres have been excellent so far as we expected, and were very proud to have set the fastest lap in final qualifying of the iconic Monaco circuit to date with this new compound.
More to follow
For tickets and travel to 2011 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.