Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 27 Oct 2012
Caterhams Heikki Kovalainen on spinning out of the action at the end of Q1; Toro Rossos Jean-Eric Vergne on getting eliminated in Q1; Force Indias Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg on failing to make it into the top-ten shootout at their teams all-important home race; McLarens Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton on finally feeling they have got to grips with the Pirellis; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber on locking out the front row for the third race in succession. All 24 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturday...
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 25.283s)
Pole is the best place to start from, so Im happy with that. We had a good qualifying session and a good weekend so far with no car issues. My first attempt in Q3 wasnt great, I was a bit too greedy with braking into Turn Four, but after that we had a good second run and it was enough pole. McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus look competitive in race trim, so well see what happens tomorrow - they will be pushing hard.
Mark Webber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 25.327s)
It was great for us today. We put in a lot of effort to make sure we had a great car to get as high up the grid as possible. It was very, very close with Seb and I, both of us only really had one run in Q3, Seb made a mistake on his first lap and I couldnt get the tyre prep right for the second run, but thats how it was. Tomorrow should be a good race, I think it will be tighter between all of us, but we should have enough. Its a challenging track with quick chicanes and you need to be very accurate when entering the corners.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A tremendous team performance - three front rows in the last three races is a personal best for us. It was very tight between the two drivers in Q3. Sebastian made a small mistake on his first run, while Mark delivered a very good first lap and then Sebastian delivered on his second run, while Mark, after being slightly compromised on his out lap, dropped a little bit of time in Turn 2 and the lap was gone. The drivers have done a great job and we need to make sure we capitalise on this great performance tomorrow.
Cyril Dumont, Renault support for Red Bull
Our third consecutive one-two of the season, which is the first time we have achieved this - its a very positive result. I think even if Mark and Sebastians laps were not perfect in Q3, we succeeded to get a one-two, so we are really happy with this. Now we just hope that we keep the momentum from the last few races and get another good result. If we get a win tomorrow it will be an important step for Renault, but for now the focus is on the race.
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, Q3 - 1m 25.544s)
Im very satisfied that Ill be starting tomorrows race from the second row. This is one of the best circuits we race on and I definitely think third position gives us a fighting chance to win tomorrow. Even if Id had a perfect qualifying lap, I think Id only have found another tenth. I reckon I got everything out of the car, particularly on my final run in Q3; the middle and last sectors were particularly strong. At the start tomorrow, I feel I have a lot less to lose than Sebastian in front of me, so Ill certainly be pushing a bit. Seb has more to worry about than I do, and, if I can get up with the two Red Bulls, Id love to take a win for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We have the race pace to be able to stay with the Red Bulls, so as I say a win is definitely possible.
Jenson Button (4th, Q3 - 1m 25.659s)
Fourth isnt a bad place from which to be starting tomorrows race. We struggled a little to get the options working, particularly on the first lap, so I went for a different strategy from most other drivers, carrying out a three-lap run. The longer run really worked out for me in Q2, in fact, but I didnt quite have the right balance in Q3: I had a bit more understeer, as the circuit had gripped-up more than wed anticipated. In terms of my performance, my Q2 lap was better than my Q3 lap. Overall, as a team, we should be reasonably happy with what we achieved today: were not far from the Red Bulls and were ahead of the Ferraris. As a result, Im very excited about the race tomorrow. Our starts tend to be pretty good, so lets see what we can do from the second row.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
We struggled a little to get the Options instantly switched on, and consequently our first few laps on them were a tad tricky. As a result, we werent able to post Q3 laps quite as rapid as the Red Bulls - our fastest Q3 time was 0.261s away from their fastest, in other words a delta of just over a quarter of a second. But both our drivers did a superb job in the circumstances - Lewiss and Jensons respective Q3 times were separated by just 0.115s - and we think weve got a very good race car. Yesterday our long-run pace was very strong, in fact. So, as a result, tomorrows race may be a bit closer than some pundits are currently prophesying. Moreover, the Buddh International Circuit is a fantastic racetrack, and all the drivers relish the challenge of racing here. Ours certainly do. So heres hoping that, collectively, we can all put on a brilliant show for the tens of thousands wholl be making the trip to Noida from all over this great country to watch the Indian Grand Prix, and also for the tens of millions all over the world wholl be watching it on their sofas at home.
Fernando Alonso (5th, Q3 - 1m 25.773s)
We tried to get the most out of what we had, but there was no way we could be ahead of the Red Bulls and McLarens. In the end, fifth place is not so bad, because it would have been easy to end up even further back if anything had gone wrong. Clearly, finishing ahead of Red Bull is our aim, but today it was impossible to fight them, at least in qualifying: when we had a similar car, it was possible to fight with Vettel and we have even been ahead of them, but now we are fighting against Newey and, at the moment we cannot match him. We brought some updates here which have worked as we expected, but the others have also improved over these past two weeks: its down to us to bring something more significant for the final three races. I am not concerned nor demotivated, because I know that things can change very quickly and that high spirits on Saturday can easily turn to sadness on Sunday. We must try and make up places on the first lap and try to put pressure on our main rivals, ensuring they dont have an easy race. There are sixty laps to work with and we will need to tackle each one as if its qualifying, by attacking. Clearly I hope I can soon have a more competitive car to try and fight them on equal terms on Saturday and not just on Sunday. I definitely am not the sort to give up and thats my real advantage.
Felipe Massa (6th, Q3 - 1m 25.857s)
I am reasonably pleased with sixth place, even if maybe, but for a mistake at Turn 6 on my run in Q3, I could have started from further forward. In Qualifying Red Bull is faster, while McLaren was only just ahead and then its us: in the races, things are a bit different and we hope we can fight with these four cars for the top places. There are many key points for tomorrow: the start, strategy, tyre wear and not making mistakes. We will need to be very focused because it will be a very long race. Today, it wasnt easy to put together the perfect lap, partly because the track surface was still quite slippery. We have brought updates here which seem to work, but maybe its not enough to be ahead of our closest rivals.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
We were hoping to at least get our cars onto the second row, but we did not hit our target, even if we did get close. The result reflects our current potential, but in order to be where we wanted and where we were capable of being meant we needed to be perfect today and we werent. Sure, we want to have the quickest car of all and we are not there yet. We brought some updates for the car here: nothing revolutionary but it did produce a step forward, otherwise we would have been even further back, given that all the top teams are pushing to the maximum on development. Tomorrows race looks like being very interesting, partly because tyre degradation seems lower than usual. We must try and do everything perfectly to stay in the fight for the title right to the end. All of us, here at the track and back at the factory, are pushing as hard as we can to try and give our drivers the best car possible.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
We were hoping to be able to start from the second row: that was our target. We didnt manage it and that will make our race more complicated but it does not mean we have given up hope, far from it. As usual, tomorrows race will be long and tough on a track where overtaking is possible and where maybe, we could witness some different strategy choices to usual. Yesterday, we saw our race pace was reasonably good, but the others certainly didnt seem to be lagging behind in this respect. Reliability, teamwork in the pits and on the pit wall, the start: the deciding factors will be the usual ones. We know its going to be hard and we will do our utmost to bring home a good result which will allow us to keep pursuing our objectives for the season.
Kimi Raikkonen (7th, Q3 - 1m 26.236s)
"We changed the car after this mornings session and we were quite confident heading in to qualifying. Unfortunately, we didnt seem to have any grip this afternoon so it was much more difficult than we thought. Im quite disappointed to be starting from seventh as I thought we had a much better car than that."
Romain Grosjean (11th, Q2 - 1m 26.136s)
"I was expecting better so Im a little disappointed, however in terms of strategy P11 has one advantage as youre the first car that can choose which tyres it will start the race on and I have a couple of new sets in my pocket for tomorrow. I wish I could have got through into Q3 and lacking two hundredths of a second to make it there was frustrating. On my second timed lap I was doing well, but for whatever reason the car snapped on me and I lost time. It was difficult to get everything right, but were looking strong to score some good points tomorrow."
Alan Permane, Renault trackside operations director
It was a disappointing result. Kimi had a very good session in the morning and we were looking forward to a strong qualifying. Unfortunately, neither driver felt they had the grip levels they had enjoyed in the morning. Romain reported poor overall grip in all corners, whereas Kimi had issues with the low speed corners - a nervous car on entry and poor traction on exit - which are typical comments made about a car which is lacking in all round grip. Qualifying seventh behind two Red Bulls, two McLarens and two Ferraris shows that we have the fourth fastest car here. We will do what we can in the race but weve seen very low tyre degradation and overtaking is difficult due to the circuit layout and DRS setup."
Sergio Perez (8th, Q3 - 1m 26.360s)
Todays result is a nice surprise and it was hard work to get there. I am personally very happy with P8 and I am really pleased for the team. It was a great effort from the guys to improve the car after Friday when we were struggling so much. In Q2 I think I managed to get in a perfect lap. The one in Q3 wasnt that good but still okay. I am very motivated for tomorrows race and want to score as many points as possible.
Kamui Kobayashi (17th, Q2 - 1m 27.219s)
It is a shame I ended up 17th in qualifying. Actually the pace of the car is better now than it was before, but in the end in Q2 it all went wrong. I had decided to take fuel for only one lap and then we made a mistake with the cars settings, which caused the brake balance to be completely wrong. I then didnt have a second chance because of the fuel. So I did my best time on a used set of soft tyres instead of making use of the fresh ones at the end. However, tomorrow we have to make the most out of the tyres we still have available and the fact this circuit allows for overtaking.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
First of all Sergio did a good job in qualifying. Eighth was the maximum possible today. With Kamui we had a unique issue. Because of a momentary shut down of the telemetry he went into corner one with the wrong KERS recovery setting, which leads to a wrong brake balance and that is why he had to abort his final attempt in Q3.
Monisha Kaltenborn Sauber CEO
After a difficult start to the weekend, which was mainly dominated by finding the right tyre management, the team and the drivers were able to improve the performance significantly in qualifying. Eighth for Sergio is a very good result under these circumstances. Unfortunately Kamui was not able to benefit from the improvement due to a technical issue which was clearly not his mistake.
Pastor Maldonado (9th, Q3 - 1m 26.713s)
I made a small mistake on the final corner of my final lap which lost me quite a lot of time so I dont think ninth is reflective of our true pace today. We were not as quick as we needed to be yesterday but we worked really hard to understand why and the car felt much better today. Were back challenging in Q3 so there are lots of positives we can take from todays qualifying, and our race pace seems to be competitive so Im optimistic about my chances tomorrow.
Bruno Senna (13th, Q2 - 1m 26.331s)
I made a mistake on my lap which is disappointing because I would have been in the top 10 if that hadnt happened. We showed good pace in this mornings practice and in Q1 as well as a clear improvement over the last couple of races so things are going in the right direction. Weve been strong on our longer runs so hopefully I can make up some places tomorrow and get into the points.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Both drivers did well today with the car having the pace to get into Q3. Bruno, who has been very good all weekend, easily moved through to Q2 but had a mistake on his new option tyre lap which ultimately cost him a top 10 position, finishing in 13th. Pastor's pace picked up significantly from P3 to qualifying but he locked his brakes in the last corner which put him in an unrepresentative ninth. We showed good long run pace on Friday and with further car improvements through the weekend we expect to have two strong races with both drivers fighting for points.
Nico Rosberg (10th, Q3 - no time)
In terms of our strategy for the race, it was better for us not to run in Q3 as it should give us a better pace tomorrow with fresh tyres. Of course it's not a nice feeling to be waiting in the pits and watching the others out there however. It seems that the race will be tough on the tyres with very long stints, so I should have an advantage compared to the cars in front of me. I'll be able to tell you tomorrow if it was the right decision but I'm reasonably happy today as we looked like we have made a small improvement here.
Michael Schumacher (14th, Q2 - 1m 26.574s)
We had a tough qualifying session today and I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning. In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tyres into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon. That means I am starting from quite an unpromising position tomorrow, but it also makes our tactics much simpler: we have to look forward and battle hard.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
That was a qualifying session in which we had to balance the temptation to run to our ultimate pace and the realistic consideration of what the race will bring. After Q2, it was clear that seventh place was the maximum we could achieve with Nico, and his pace had been strongest on used tyres. However, we preferred not to go into the race on a set of used soft tyres which had already completed up to ten laps, as this would limit our strategic options. With a view to tomorrow, we therefore decided not to run in Q3 which will give us the choice of a fresh set of either tyre for our opening stint. Michael was unfortunately unable to progress beyond Q2, and he was less comfortable with the car balance than he had been in practice this morning. We expect to be racing in a very closely matched group of cars behind the leading teams tomorrow and we will have to race well in order to try and move up the field.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
In Q2, Nico posted quite an impressive lap time on used options which was 0.541 sec slower than the fastest time of that session. So we were tempted to try the same again in Q3, however the downside would have been to start the race on options with quite a few laps on their shoulders. Therefore the team took a conscious decision not to go out for a timed lap as we found it better to have the free choice of fresh tyres rather than potentially starting higher up the grip on used rubber. We will see tomorrow whether this strategy will pay off. Michael was 0.6 seconds down to Nico in Q2 struggling with set-up and car balance which prevented him from reaching a top ten slot which he had achieved in the final practice session before qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg (12th, Q2 - 1m 26.241s)
We went into the session targeting and expecting to make Q3, so its a bit disappointing to miss out. After the first part of qualifying it was clear that it was going to be a big task, but obviously you always try and believe it is possible. My lap in Q2 was actually pretty good with no mistakes and that was just the maximum for us today. I guess that some other cars have picked up pace today and thats why we are behind them. I still have confidence for the race because we have seen how close the times are today and we were not too far away from the top ten. The other good news is that we can pick our starting tyres for the race, so our focus tonight is to think hard about the strategy.
Paul di Resta (16th, Q2 -1m 26.989s)
Its a big weekend for us but the performance we showed today is not really where we want to be. It has been a tricky couple of days and weve not been able to maximise the car weve got. The car balance was not ideal and I didnt have the best lap during my final run in Q2 - there were a few small mistakes and I didnt have the consistency or the confidence to really push. So there is a lot of work to do ahead of the race tomorrow and we need to look at things overnight to see where we can improve. Its an important day for us and we need to try and recover some ground if we want to come home with points.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal and managing director
We saw another very close session today, but ultimately we didnt have the performance level to continue our run of top ten qualifying performances. Weve been struggling to find the sweet spot on set-up and it seems that the tyres have played a much more significant role here. Their operating window on this track seems very narrow and we probably havent got the most from them. Even so, its only Saturday and tomorrow is what counts. There is a long race ahead and we can still turn things around and demonstrate our true potential. Its our home Grand Prix and we want to deliver strong races with both cars to hopefully see both Sahara Force Indias inside the points come Sunday afternoon.
Daniel Ricciardo (15th, Q2 - 1m 26.777s)
That was quite a good session for me and I was pretty happy with my laps, even if my last run in Q2 was a bit scrappy, but generally I pushed hard to get the time out of the car. I had hoped to get a bit closer to Q3, but looking at our pace this morning, we did make a small step forward for qualifying. The nature of this circuit means you have to be aggressive with it. We are looking alright for tomorrow as my lap time on used Options seems quite respectable.
Jean-Eric Vergne (18th, Q1 - 1m 27.525s)
Yesterday, Daniel and I had tried different set-ups on our cars and mine was not working so well, so we made changes to the car overnight, which meant that this morning it was like starting from the beginning with a clean sheet of paper. It turned out to be quite complicated to find the right balance on the car so it was difficult for me. I am disappointed to have missed out on Q2 by just fractions of a second and so I will have to try and get a good race tomorrow. We have finished in the points starting lower down than this so why not hope for some more points tomorrow? If you look at Daniels performance today, the car definitely has the performance, so Im looking forward to tomorrow.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Jean-Eric has made a significant improvement since yesterday, when he was not happy with the car. We made several changes overnight to give him a better feeling and it worked, because he got into a good rhythm this morning. Its a shame that he missed out on getting into Q2 by less than one hundredth of a second, but thats what one can expect when the midfield is so close. Daniel also did a good job. Tyre management is tricky here as could be seen from the fact that most cars did a lot of laps in qualifying and overall, we are pretty much in the mix, ahead of some of our usual competitors and behind a few others. This means we can compete with them tomorrow and if we can confirm our usual race pace tomorrow, it should allow us to fight for points.
Vitaly Petrov (19th, Q1 - 1m 28.756s)
Im really happy with where we finished up today. All weekend the team has done a good job and Ive had a balance Ive been happy with in every session. We made a couple of changes for qualifying and the way the car felt and my lap times showed that we made some progress, so Im pleased with that. Now were looking ahead to tomorrow and to be honest anything could happen. Nobodys too sure what tyre strategies will be run, it could be one stop or two, so well look at that tonight and Im pretty sure that if we make the right choice we could have a decent result in the race.
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, Q1 - 1m 29.500s)
Its been a pretty good weekend so far. The balance has been better than we had in Korea and on my first run in qualifying the car felt ok. There was more to come but I had a bit of traffic that held me up and then on my second run I caught up with a bunch of cars going into turn 10 and lost a bit of grip, enough to put me off. I wasnt going in too hard and there werent any issues with the car, I just lost the front end and even with the spin I didnt lose any positions so I think we can still have a good race tomorrow.
Timo Glock (21st, Q1 - 1m 29.613s)
Free Practice Three this morning was okay but in qualifying we again experienced a more general problem with the overall balance. Even though the track is dirty, the grip level on the racing line is high, but we were unable to make the most of that because I was unable to get temperature into the front right. On my first run, using the hard prime tyre, I got a reasonable time. On the second run, the Soft option felt okay and I had a really good first sector. I got a good slipstream from Perez and I was already 0.4s up on my lap. Due to the low temperature I strayed off track, got a massive flat-spot and effectively took the corner on three wheels. I also had a problem with the DRS activation in turn 10 and had to abort the first flying lap on the soft tyre. Overall I am pleased that we have managed to close the gap to Caterham in qualifying now as well as the race; given that we dont have KERS, this is very pleasing for everyone in the Team. It is a shame though that the problems we did encounter today prevented us from splitting Petrov and Kovalainen because that was easily within our grasp. Looking to tomorrow, we have a good strategy and have given ourselves a couple of options to play with, so the aim now is to have a good race with the cars ahead and try to get the best result we can. My thanks to my car crew for their efforts here and the quick turnaround between runs, but also to the factory for continuing to push right to the end of the season.
Charles Pic (24th, Q1 - 1m 30.662s)
Naturally I am a little disappointed with qualifying today because it was not a reflection of our true pace here. The first run on the hard tyre was strong in sectors one and two, but I had to abort the lap. In the second run, on the soft tyre, we were less competitive than on the hard tyre, which will take some analysis to understand. The overall lap time was better, but only because we were able to complete the lap. I think we have a lot of work to do to make sure we have the car performing well tomorrow, because our race pace is good. It will be difficult starting behind the HRTs but my objective will be to get past them as soon as possible as this will be crucial in enabling me to have a good race tomorrow, which I very much hope for.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
In much the same vein as Korea, we approached qualifying very much with one eye on the race tomorrow. Whilst we are still pushing to close the gap to the cars in front in qualifying, in some respects we have to be realistic about how much progress we can make on low fuel. Clearly our car is performing much better on higher fuel, particularly this weekend, and so the decision to have only one soft tyre run was entirely logical. Timo has been suffering with a handling trait in the car, which does appear to be inherent, however he has done a good job to string the best laps he can together in qualifying. What we do know is that he is much happier with the car in race trim. Charles did not quite get the best out of the soft tyres today and so we will need to spend some time understanding why that was. Overall our position today was as good as we could hope for and we look forward to having a much more exciting race tomorrow.
Pedro de la Rosa (22nd, Q1 - 1m 30.592s)
"Although we didnt find the lap we were hoping for, we did complete a very good qualifying session. With the first set of tyres the car performed very well and I was able to complete three clean laps. However, with the second set and with more rubber on the track when times could be improved significantly, I encountered a lot of traffic and I was unable to complete a clean lap. The car was better today than yesterday and we couldve been even quicker but with the traffic it was impossible. But the positive thing is that we qualified well at a difficult track and the car improved so I hope to achieve a better result tomorrow.
Narain Karthikeyan (23rd, Q1 - 1m 30.593s)
"Overall Im happy with the performance we showed in the qualifying session. On my second run I made a mistake on lap 10 which cost me a couple of tenths but the large amount of cars on the track was the main problem as we didnt find a gap to go as quick as we would have liked. Despite this Im happy because we finished ahead of one of the Marussias, my time was almost identical to Pedros and weve got good pace so we can be satisfied. The car has improved and tomorrow we will try to continue progressing to achieve a good result in front of my home crowd.
Toni Cuquerella, HRT technical director
"Weve improved since the first free practice session and extracted more performance from the car so were satisfied in this sense. But in qualifying neither Pedro nor Narain had a clean lap because of all the traffic on track, especially in the final minutes. Its understandable because the track was in better condition towards the end. But despite not having completed better laps were confident that we have a good pace with both tyre options for tomorrows race and weve also noted that the degradation isnt excessive so we anticipate a one-stop or two-stop strategy.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Weve already seen an indication of the strategy after a very intriguing qualifying session, where track evolution played a significant part. The tyre wear is looking good on both compounds, with plenty of consistency from both the hard and the soft rubber. So from what we can see so far, we think most of the teams will go for a one-stop strategy. Depending on the car, the soft tyre could be up to a second a lap quicker than the hard tyre: balancing that equation will be the art to the tyre strategy in India. Speed is obviously important here, but so is strategy and that has been a recurring theme of the whole season.
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