Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 23 Jul 2011
Lotuss Karun Chandhok on finishing his first qualifying session of the year 21st; Saubers Kamui Kobayashi on why he failed to make the Q2 grade; Renaults Nick Heidfeld and Force Indias Paul di Resta on not making it through to the top-ten shootout; McLarens Lewis Hamilton on his incredible lap to second; and Red Bulls Mark Webber on taking his second consecutive pole position. All the drivers and leading team personnel report back on Saturday...
Mark Webber (1st, Q3 - 1m 30.079s)
The session went pretty well, with the exception of my run in Q2, which wasnt very smooth. The other sessions were good and the boys did a great job on the car; theyve had some late nights in the lead up to the event, so theyve recovered very well. I thought on my in-lap, if someone gets me, they deserve it, as I dont think I could have got much more out of it it was my limit and a pretty good lap. It was very satisfying to see no one got me there at the end, its quite an anxious wait for those thirty seconds. I will be in there pushing very hard tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, Q3 - 1m 30.216s)
It was tough session. I think we had a good recovery, as yesterday I didnt really find my way, but the car felt much better this morning. I think we could have been a bit quicker in qualifying here and there, but Mark did a good lap and I think we still have a good chance from third on the grid. It will be a long race and you never know what can happen with the weather here. Rain is forecast, but we dont know how much we will have and when. However, in the end it doesnt really matter, the most important thing is that we have a solid race and the target is to win, which is not impossible from third - its the clean side of the track and we go from there. Im looking forward to tomorrow - it doesnt happen too often that you have so many people coming here and supporting the German drivers, so I will make sure I enjoy the race tomorrow.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
It was a fantastic performance by Mark, with him building all the way through qualifying to produce a really great lap at the end. It was very, very tight with Lewis, Sebastian and Fernando throughout the three qualifying sessions and it was all going to be down to getting the perfect lap at the end - and Mark produced a phenomenal lap. He obviously likes it round here and has happy memories from his first grand prix victory two year ago. Sebastian lines up in P3 and is on the right side of the grid tomorrow. It was an excellent team performance and first and third, our tenth pole of the year and our thirtieth overall, is a good start to the weekend.
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, Q3 - 1m 30.134s)
First of all I want to say a huge congratulations to the whole team, who did a great job today. Everyone back at the factory and here at the circuit has been working massively hard, and thats the reason why the car was so quick today. I think we all underestimated how good the car would be, in fact.To split the Red Bulls and be ahead of the Ferraris is a fantastic effort by the team. Weve got a big job ahead of us tomorrow, of course, but today Im on a high: that lap was a real boost. I reckon todays qualifying session was one of my best ever, definitely my best this season. The car felt great, we had really good balance and I think its one of the best laps Ive done in the car. Youre already on the limit in your first lap of Q3, and usually if you improve in the second run its by a tenth; but today it was by four-tenths. I dont really know where I found the time, and to be honest Im going to get a recording of the onboard footage and watch it back because Id love to see it!
Jenson Button (7th, Q3 - 1m 31.288s)
My car felt pretty good this morning, but this afternoon during quali I couldnt find enough grip out there on either the Prime or the Option tyre. Well look into it this evening to better understand what happened. However, Lewis drove a brilliant lap to be second on the grid - so congratulations to him. Actually, his pace is encouraging for me too, because it shows theres more speed in the car if only we can find it. Also, yesterday showed that our long-run pace is pretty good, so thats encouraging too. So, when you consider that Ive had a rather troubled couple of days, I suppose P7 is a reasonable platform from which to try to score as many world championship points as possible during the race tomorrow. As always, here at the Nurburgring, theres a possibility of rain - and Ive had success in changeable weather conditions this year. But, come rain or shine, Ill be approaching the race really positively.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Lewis drove an absolutely stunning lap at the Nürburgring today, and will start tomorrows race from the front row as a result. Moreover, our long-run pace was strong in yesterdays practice sessions, so Id say were now in a good position from which to mount a challenge for victory on Sunday. Jenson had some reliability niggles yesterday, but was much happier this morning in P3. In qualifying this afternoon, however, he struggled for grip, but still qualified seventh. This evening well analyse what happened to him, the better to optimise his race strategy for tomorrow. Undoubtedly, hed prefer to have qualified farther up the grid, but we know how combative and canny a racer he can be, and hes therefore well capable of scoring a lot of world championship points tomorrow too. Weve worked extremely hard on the car in the two weeks since the British Grand Prix, and the new aero parts we brought here appear to have delivered what wed hoped theyd deliver. So I want to say a big well done to all concerned. As ever, also, Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines have done and are doing a fantastic job for us, and wed dearly love to be able to reward their sterling efforts with victory in their home Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso (4th, Q3 - 1m 30.442s)
We are neither surprised nor disappointed, quite the contrary in fact. This grid is more or less what we could have expected, from what we had seen in free practice yesterday. We though the Red Bulls would be three or four tenths faster than us and that was the case and then even Hamilton went very well, especially in the first sector and got in between us. In fact, McLaren had so many new parts here and you could see they were working well. I am happy with my lap and with the result and anyway, this year we have seen that we have always gone better in the race than in qualifying. Lets see what the weather will do tomorrow, as rain is forecast. If it turned out to be dry, then we can claim to have a 25 percent chance of winning and a bit less if it rains, but only because so far, in the wet others have been better than us. Maybe tomorrow the situation could turn around, you never know. I am still aiming for the podium, but if the chance of a win comes along I wont need to be asked twice. Also at this track, we have seen the updates we have introduced helping to improve our performance, race after race. Clearly, we must take a further step forward if we want to be up there with the best.
Felipe Massa (5th, Q3 - 1m 30.910s)
I cant claim to be completely happy with this qualifying, because some cars were faster than ours. That might not be surprising in the case of the Red Bulls, but it definitely is the case with Hamiltons McLaren. Tomorrow, we will aim to make our usual step forward in the race, but we know it wont be easy. Sure, if it had been ten degrees warmer, I would not have complained! Especially with the Medium tyre, we struggled a bit and thats why I used my first set of Softs right from Q1. At this track, tyre wear is very low, therefore it was not much of a penalty, not even in terms of the race. The big unknown for the race will be the weather: we have the maximum aerodynamic downforce possible, which should be a help if it does rain. In any case, in the wet it will be vital to make the most of any opportunities that come our way.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
First of all, on behalf of Scuderia Ferrari may I offer our condolences for the victims of the tragic incident in Norway yesterday. Seeing once again the extent to which human folly can drive people is always shocking and makes everything else seem unimportant today. All in all, I think the result matched our expectations. There is still a gap to the quickest, but it is definitely smaller than it had been a few races ago, which confirms we are working in the right direction. It might rain tomorrow, which would add further uncertainty to a race that already looks very open.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
No surprises at the end of the day. We knew the Red Bulls would be quicker and clearly McLaren, at least with Lewis, has made a significant step forward compared to Silverstone, be it because of a return to the Valencia situation in terms of engine mapping, or because of the updates introduced here. For our part, we are where we expected to be: the gap to quickest is more or less the same as in Valencia on a different track with different temperatures. If we had been given the choice, we would definitely have raised the temperature by ten degrees or so, but thats not within our capabilities Just as it wont be possible for us to control the weather tomorrow, which looks like being very unsettled. Rain is predicted, but its not clear at the moment how heavy it will be or when it will fall. That means we need to be ready to manage every eventuality in the best way possible. However, if it does not rain, from a strategy point of view, one has to consider there is a big performance difference between the two types of tyre: therefore, even if wear is much lower, its not a given that it might not be a good plan to do one more stop and reduce the number of laps on the prime to a minimum.
Nico Rosberg (6th, Q3 - 1m 31.263s)
"Sixth place is a good place to start tomorrow, and whether the conditions are wet or dry, I think we can have a good race from there. I'm happy with the set-up work that we have achieved this weekend and that the new parts are working which is really satisfying. We can see that we are going in the right direction. It should be an exciting race tomorrow and hopefully I can make up a couple of positions in front of all the German supporters."
Michael Schumacher (10th, Q3 - 1m 32.482s)
"We did not perform to expectations this afternoon and already this morning, the car was not the one I had in my hands up to the first run in P3. It felt like I was just sliding around out there and the balance wasn't great. We had a KERS problem this morning, which we thought explained the big gap to Nico, however in qualifying I was still nearly a second away and couldn't have matched his time, so we have to analyse deeply what could be the reason for it. Obviously then, I tried to push even harder to compensate which lead to a mistake in the last chicane on my last lap, probably costing me P8. We now have to see how we can improve for tomorrow, and I will certainly try to have a good start and a race as good as possible."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Sixth position for Nico got the most out of the car today. Michael was less happy with his balance, and had a moment on his final lap, but we still have a reasonable base for tomorrow with both drivers starting in the top ten. We have made good progress over the weekend in understanding how to use our new aerodynamic package, and hope to consolidate that work in race conditions. We have also learned this weekend that Silverstone doesn't have a monopoly on cold and wet summers! The forecast for tomorrow remains mixed and, while wet weather brings no guarantees, it always presents us with opportunities."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"To start ahead of one of the top three teams' drivers is the best result that we currently can achieve and Nico did an excellent job extracting everything possible from our car in qualifying. Michael had a little moment in the last chicane and found his car generally not as well balanced as yesterday. Tomorrow our target will be to score as many points as possible and hopefully we can be in the mix for a top five result - the forecast says rain, so tomorrow will be quite unpredictable."
Adrian Sutil (8th, Q3 - 1m 32.010s)
Another strong qualifying performance for us and its great to be starting my home race from P8. My Q3 lap was good, although a couple of tenths slow slower than my Q2 lap, but it wouldnt have changed my overall position. My laps in Q2 and Q3 were pretty much perfect and I feel I got the maximum from the car. The balance has been good all weekend; I feel confident in the car and I really like this circuit. So Im excited about the race tomorrow and really looking forward to it. We just have to wait and see what happens with the weather.
Paul di Resta (12th, Q2 - 1m 32.560s)
It was quite a tough day for me. I couldnt really get the tyres to work when it mattered and I was struggling with a lack of grip in both Q1 and Q2. I seem to have lost some ground to Adrian compared to yesterday so perhaps one of the directions we took overnight hasnt quite worked out. We need to analyse that and hopefully try and improve for tomorrow. As for the race, the unsettled forecast means its unlikely to be a straightforward race. I still hope we can fight for points because our long run pace has looked quite strong. Also my set-up is more race-orientated, which will hopefully play into our hands.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
Todays performance once again shows just how competitive we have become over the last few races. The pace of the car is genuine and both drivers are doing a good job of extracting it. This is a home race for Adrian and we are all delighted to see him qualify in P8 - a target we felt was realistic before the session. Paul lines up in P12 and did not feel totally comfortable with his car this afternoon. Even so, Im confident that both drivers can be in the hunt for points tomorrow afternoon. The big unknown will be the weather because rain is a real possibility, but Im determined to see us realise our potential and score points that reflect our pace.
Vitaly Petrov (9th, Q3 - 1m 32.187s)
It was not an easy day for us as it was very difficult to find the right set-up and also to warm-up the tyres in these cold conditions. We all worked very hard so it was satisfying to achieve our main target of getting into the top ten, and I think we should be quite happy with our position today. That said, we were still at the limit to get into Q3 so there is more work to do. The team did a fantastic job and they gave me a fantastic car. The weather has changed a lot over the last two days so you need to always adapt your driving style, but whether it is wet or dry tomorrow, we are ready for anything."
Nick Heidfeld (11th, Q2 - 1m 32.215s)
I was only just over three hundredths of a second off Q3 but margins like that can always be found somewhere, so by no means was this a bad qualifying session for me, although it would have been good to have had a run in Q3 and try to gain a few more places. As for tomorrow, so much depends on the weather; if its wet it makes it very difficult to know what to expect and we know that as a team, our car is better in dry conditions and on the long runs. One thing is clear, and that is that were on the way back. Silverstone was a tough race for us, but weve certainly made a step forward and we need to have a good race tomorrow to demonstrate that. Were definitely targeting points."
James Allison, Renault technical director
After the qualifying performance we put together in Silverstone at the last race, were happy enough to have a car back in the top ten. Its sad that Nick missed out by a heartbeat, he was only just over three hundredths off the mark. Were satisfied that were back on the mend but obviously still a lot of work ahead in the next few races. Yesterdays running was very instructive in comparing the two different exhaust configurations. Its too early to consider running the rearward exhaust in anger because it isnt competitive with the forward-facing (exhaust) yet, but its certainly something we are going to keep exploring and considering. We should be on for getting some points, seventh or eighth should be very achievable if we put in a strong performance.
Pastor Maldonado (13th, Q3 - 1m 32.635s)
It was a difficult session for us. We were looking more competitive than this yesterday, but not enough to be in Q3. We were working more on race pace so we will see tomorrow. I think we have the possibility to score some points if we have the right strategy.
Rubens Barrichello (14th, Q2 - 1m 33.043s)
We knew we might struggle on my car as we werent able to use KERS here. We didnt have an ideal balance on the car, particularly compared to the morning, and it wasnt possible to get on top of that during the session. We need to analyse that in detail, and look for better pace in the race tomorrow.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
We have improved on our performance from practice yesterday, but not enough to get into the top 10 in qualifying here today. We did run with quite different specifications between the two cars, with Rubens using the new diffuser and front wing and not running KERS, in order to give us more information going forward. On Rubens car we chose not to race with KERS here in order to get some more data for comparison. Now well have a look through all of that data tonight while focussing on the important race decisions.
Sergio Perez (15th, Q2 - 1m 33.176s)
Obviously our overall performance isnt good here and I think we almost maximized what was possible in qualifying under the circumstances. We struggle quite a lot here at the Nürburgring. My fastest lap was okay; there is nothing to complain about. I locked a wheel once but this wasnt the main problem. Perhaps the lap time could have been better by one or two tenths but for sure no more. However, this is where we are and will do everything to fight for points tomorrow.
Kamui Kobayashi (18th, Q1 - 1m 33.786s)
Of course it is disappointing to be out in Q1. It was a difficult qualifying in what has turned out to be a difficult weekend for us so far. My fastest lap wasnt perfect. I had some traffic in front and behind, but it is also the case that we have a general lack of pace here. The only positive thing is that I have now two fresh sets of the soft tyres left for the race. I will do my very best to recover from where I have to start.
James Key, Sauber technical director
This was a bad qualifying really. After the free practice sessions we knew that Q3 would be tough, but still we should have been better than where we ended up. Unfortunately Kamui had traffic on his Q1 laps. He was not in a position that would have allowed him to progress his lap time so unfortunately he ended up dropping out. Sergio was fine in the beginning. It was a shame because his first lap on new tyres in Q2 looked like a good improvement, but he had a problem in the third sector which ruined his lap. So he qualified a little lower than we would have hoped. This was a poor qualifying session and we have to think carefully about our approach to the race to make the best of it.
Sebastien Buemi (16th, Q2 - 1m 33.546s)
Given how little track time I had yesterday, in general I am pleased with my performance this afternoon. I had the feeling I got the maximum out of the car, which we had decided to run in rain set-up to be ready for a wet race tomorrow. Jaime has decided to stay with a dry set-up so now we must wait and see which one of us has made the right choice.
Jaime Alguersuari (17th, Q2 - 1m 33.698s)
This is where we are at the moment in qualifying. Maybe if it rains tomorrow, then it will prove to have been a good idea to have used the extra set of tyres this afternoon. Perhaps I could have gone one or two tenths quicker, but no more than that. Nevertheless, I am pleased that we managed to make a step forward on the car after this mornings session, improving it for qualifying and I believe I have a good set-up for the race too."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director
We have ended up in the positions that generally reflect our current level, even allowing for the fact that neither driver got a perfect lap on their last run. Currently, we now seem to be closer to Sauber than to Force India that has made a step forward and Williams is also going better. This is not a circuit where I expect a big difference in pace between qualifying and the race for us, because it is a high downforce track and the low temperature means that it is less critical to save your tyres, which is something we seem to have been doing a bit better than others up until now. Therefore I dont expect a big change in pace tomorrow. Clearly, looking at the cars it is obvious that Seb has gone for a wet set-up, assuming it could rain tomorrow, while Jaime has stayed with the dry. Theres not much difference between the two and in fact, this afternoon, Jaimes mistake at Turn Two was more influential on their respective lap times.
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, Q1 - 1m 35.599s)
Im relatively pleased with the performance today but I think there was still more to come from the car. On the second run I was still struggling to get the front tyres working and I maybe pushed a bit more than I should so couldnt improve on my first run. That run had gone well and I was able to get a decent time in so all in all not too bad.
Karun Chandhok (21st, Q1 - 1m 36.422s)
Ive got to say Im pleased with how qualifying went today. Tony had said to me that if I could get within a second of Heikki hed be proud, and I finished about 0.8 off him so thats a goal achieved. One of the challenges today has been finding out how much grip there is on the soft tyres on low fuel and that was always going to be a pretty steep learning curve in quali, but my times have been coming down all weekend so Im getting there. As Ive been saying, the last couple of days have been about learning the car, the tyres and how to get the best out of the DRS system, so to get as close as I reasonably could expect to my teammate is pretty good progress .
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader
First I want to say that Karun has done a very good job today. That was his first qualifying session for quite a long time and he has had a lot to take on board this weekend, so to see the improvement he made from his first run to the second is impressive. From the overall engine perspective I think we can still find more time in the setup and while our performance was ok, there is the potential for more, so overall I am reasonably satisfied, but with a bit more work to do."
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
I am pretty pleased with where we have finished today. As soon as I walked out of my hotel this morning and felt how cold it was I knew this would be a tricky day for us our car really does not seem to like the cold so I think we have ended up about where we should be. I am also pleased with Karuns performance today, and in all the sessions so far. He has achieved exactly what we wanted him to and has maybe even ended up closer to Heikki than I thought he could after such limited time in the car, so the aim now is to repay the faith we have in him by putting in as strong a performance as he can in the race tomorrow. On the wider team front I have also been busy helping push forwards in 2012, in what will be a critical season for us. I have had a number of good meetings today about next year and beyond and am very happy with the way we are progressing, so now I am looking forward to the race tomorrow to hopefully see both Karun and Heikki fight to the end of the race in what could be quite tricky conditions.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
A reasonable qualifying session. Karun has improved steadily all weekend and if he had put his ideal lap together I am sure he would finished just behind Heikki. On his second set of tyres Heikki made a mistake but that did not affect his overall position as he had put in a good lap on his first run. With the rain that is forecast for tomorrow I think we can put in a strong performance and the aim is to pick up some positions and have both cars cross the finish line.
Timo Glock (20th, Q1 - 1m 36.400s)
The car was not easy to drive today, by any means. We had the same problem in Silverstone in similarly windy conditions and our car is just very sensitive to that. We have to understand why because without the little mistakes, too much oversteer and being too much over the limit to trying to get the maximum out of the car, we could have been four or five tenths quicker. I was pushing hard and I drove a good lap I think. I just want to get more out of the car. We still managed to split the Lotus cars and in better conditions I think we could have a good race, so we will see what tomorrow brings. The fans have been great here and thanks to them for their support in my home race.
Jerome DAmbrosio (22nd, Q1 - 1m 36.641s)
I think it was a pretty good qualifying session for me today. I didn't quite manage to get the maximum out of the car on my fastest lap, and as we have to use the same set-up for the race tomorrow it wasn't ideal for qualifying anyway. But I'm very pleased to have had a smooth Saturday; we've had no rain and no bad luck. As a result we have a good consistent pace so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
We spent a lot of time last night going through all of the information we had collected during Friday, paying particular attention to the aerodynamic data. As a result of this, we made some quite significant changes to both cars overnight. The drivers were happy with these and were able to work on further set-up improvements during FP3. We seem to be starting to understand where some of our issues lie, particularly during the last two race weekends when weve experienced cold track temperatures and windy conditions. These arent suiting our car at present but we will keep working to solve these issues. We chose to do two long runs during the qualifying session to take advantage of the Option tyres that are being so consistent. Both drivers did a good job today managing the traffic and we achieved a good result, ending up with one car in front of a Lotus. We are happy with todays performance and we look forward to tomorrows race.
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd, Q1 - 1m 37.011s)
Weve continued to work hard during this mornings free practice and the balance of the car was good. I was optimistic about finishing ahead of our main rivals in qualifying. However, the track conditions changed from the morning to the afternoon and the car wasnt feeling the same. Also, with the gearbox change, we got penalized and will have to start off the back tomorrow. Still, Im confident that tomorrow we can regain yesterdays feel on race distance. Tomorrow will be a difficult but exciting race.
Daniel Ricciardo (24th, Q1 - 1m 37.036s)
Im quite happy with the qualifying session. Im not delighted but I have to be realistic and I think its a good step forward from Silverstone. Also, this morning, I wasnt so quick and we learned from that. We made some changes with the engineer and it seems to be positive because my lap times improved considerably. So I think its a very a good step forward. We need to take another one tomorrow during the race.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Clearly, wed intended to qualify better for our 28th grand prix, so inevitably todays qualifying session was a disappointing one. The race is what counts though. The team did a great job changing the engine yesterday after our problem and they are all solved now. The cold temperature is affecting the warming up of the tyres. I really hope we can achieve a good result tomorrow. The risk of rain that has been forecast all weekend could change our strategy even if it is a worry not to have worked with wet tyres all weekend on this track.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Despite the threatening skies, the rain held off, which enabled us to see a great duel from start to finish of qualifying. We saw a bit of tactics, with the teams trying to save their soft tyres for the race, but the predictions for tomorrow indicate rain, which is obviously going to throw all the strategy out of the window if it materialises. The data from the weekend so far shows that our tyres are lasting for a long time - we could probably get 60 laps out of a set of the mediums - so under normal circumstances we would probably see some teams trying a one-stop strategy. It seems unlikely though that the circumstances are going to be completely normal, so there will be a lot of thinking about the right set-up tonight.
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