Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 03 Nov 2012
Toro Rossos Jean-Eric Vergne on missing out on Q2 for the eighth time this season; Marussias Charles Pic on out qualifying team mate Timo Glock by over three tenths of a second; Mercedes Michael Schumacher on failing to make it through to the top-ten shootout; Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on stopping on his slowdown lap; and McLarens Lewis Hamilton on claiming his 25th career pole. All 24 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturdays action
Lewis Hamilton (1st, Q3 - 1m 40.630s)
Those extra three-tenths came from my family! Our car works incredibly well around here. Our aero package really suits this track; the set-up was perfect, and everything came together perfectly for qualifying. My lap felt really great - I enjoyed it so much. I love this track! Still, Im realistic: the race tomorrow is going to be tough. At the start, its down to the team to make sure the clutch performs perfectly because the getaway will be incredibly important. Our race pace is very strong, but so is Red Bulls - and staying ahead will be tough, particularly with the double DRS zones. I really want to finish on a high for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Ill give it everything Ive got tomorrow.
Jenson Button (6th, Q3 - 1m 41.290s)
I shouldnt really be starting this far back. All weekend, Ive been pretty happy with the car, but, for some reason, we just couldnt find the pace in qualifying - and we dont know why. Obviously, our car is very quick around here - Lewis put it on pole by quite a margin - so theres some more time to find. While starting sixth will make the race more difficult, there are two good DRS overtaking zones, so hopefully therell be plenty of overtaking. Also, our race pace has looked good all weekend, so Im still feeling optimistic.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Lewis drove brilliantly in qualifying here in Abu Dhabi today - he was quickest in Q1, Q2 and Q3 - and pole position was never really in doubt, was it? It was the 25th pole of his Formula One career - all of them scored in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes cars - and hes now perfectly positioned to drive to victory tomorrow. Having said that, you get no points for pole position in Formula 1, so we dont intend to get carried away. Equally, theres a lot of hard work for us to do between now and flag-fall at the end of tomorrows race, and we never under-estimate our opposition. But weve got a good race car, and Lewis loves this circuit. Jenson is understandably a little disappointed with qualifying, but hes a truly fantastic racer and he can still mount a serious challenge from sixth place on tomorrows starting grid. Moreover, his long-run pace was good yesterday - so, like Lewis, hell certainly be one to watch when the five red lights go out on the start-line gantry.
Mark Webber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 40.978s)
Im pleased with that, it was a good qualifying and I felt happy with the car. The track temperatures moved around from the afternoon to this evening, so you have to be careful how the car performs, but I felt comfortable in all three sessions and got a good momentum. McLaren were strong, but were in a good position and can have a good race from there.
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, Q3 - 1m 41.073s)
Third in Q3 was a good effort, but I should have done a bit better on the final lap. I had a little mistake in the final sector of my last flying lap, but it was still good to be third. Im not sure what the issue was at the end, I was just told to switch off the car. One of the best ski jumpers of all times once said Every chance is an opportunity and as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances tomorrow.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
During the slow-down lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to immediately stop Sebastians car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel system. After speaking with the stewards, who accepted the situation of force majeure for technical reasons for the car to be stopped, unfortunately, for reasons yet to be fully understood, 850ml of the required one litre was pumped out of the car following post-race checks. As a result, the FIA has excluded Sebastian from qualifying and we will withdraw the car from Parc Ferme in order to investigate further. Therefore Sebastian will start from the pit lane for tomorrows race. We will need to make the most of Marks strong front-row grid position and Sebastian will have a busy evening ahead of him.
Pastor Maldonado (4th, Q3 - 1m 41.226s)
It was a difficult session, especially in Q2 as we were on the limit in P10, but I saw the potential in the car. We then found a great balance in Q3 and Im happy that we are back to looking strong again. I think we showed throughout all the weekend that we are competitive and I did my best in qualifying. Im really happy for the team, for myself and looking forward to the race tomorrow. Points are very important for us so I will be pushing to the maximum.
Bruno Senna (15th, Q2 - 1m 42.330s)
I never want to be out of the top ten in qualifying but this weekend we have had a few problems, so that is how it is. Hopefully tomorrow the car will be quick in the race as we have a competitive car. We'll work hard tomorrow and will still be trying to get into the points. For sure it is a track with some overtaking opportunities with the DRS so hopefully we can make some use of that and use it to our advantage.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Pastor has been very strong all weekend showing good race pace on Friday. We worked hard on the qualifying balance throughout the weekend which ultimately paid off today with Pastor delivering an excellent fourth in Q3. Bruno has found it a bit more difficult this weekend. His first run in qualifying was hampered by a car problem that was quickly fixed prior to his second run but unfortunately he didn't quite have the pace to transition into Q3, finishing 15th in what is a tight grid.
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, Q3 - 1m 41.260s)
Qualifying was good. The car hasnt felt fantastic all weekend but we decided we werent going to change the cars set-up from where it was for the last race. It was the right choice because in the end the circuit came to us in qualifying where the car was the best it has been so far here. Well give tomorrow our best shot; Lets see if we can make a good start to get right behind the Red Bulls, and then well see what happens after that.
Romain Grosjean (10th, Q3 - 1m 41.778s)
It wasnt a great qualifying lap for me today, and P10 is not where we want to be on the grid. In the last run in Q3 I had no grip so wasnt able to find more pace. The car had felt fine before that and we looked good through the other qualifying sessions. It just means I have some more work to do in the race and I think theres more to come from me and the car.
Alan Permane, Renault trackside operations director
We are happy with our achievements today, however we could have possibly managed even more with both drivers. Fifth on the grid is very good for Kimi and means we should be well placed for tomorrow. Romain was looking set for a strong lap too, matching Kimi for the first two sectors, but he lost half a second on the final sector; well be looking at what went wrong there. As has been the trend this season, were confident in terms of where our race pace should be relative to our opposition. We completed a promising long run on Friday afternoon; we have no problems or issues with tyre wear, warm-up, or anything like that so there are no reasons why we should not have a good evening tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso (7th, Q3 - 1m 41.582s)
In all three free practice sessions, we were always around this position, so it would have been too optimistic to hope for more in Q3: a place between fifth and eighth was within our expectations going into the session and thats where we are. I did almost the same time on three occasions between Q2 and Q3, which means there was nothing more to come. I am pleased with the work we have done today, because we squeezed every last drop of performance out of the car. The updates we brought here have improved our performance but the others have not been relaxing on the sofa watching television while twiddling their thumbs...Usually, Saturday is the day we suffer the most, while on Sunday things always go better: lets hope that will also be the case this time. Its also true that with so little tyre degradation, the strategic choices are much more limited and so too the opportunities to make up places. We know that in the three remaining races, we must score fourteen points more than Vettel and that is our one and only objective.
Felipe Massa (9th, Q3 - 1m 41.723s)
This is definitely a rather difficult and complicated weekend, at least up until tonight. We were hoping to be able to start a bit further up, at least on the front three rows of the grid. In Q3, I opted to run a different programme to my team mate, partly because I only had one set of new Options available. Looking back, one could say that was not the best choice, but its always easy to be wise with hindsight. I did not have all the updates we brought here: that was definitely not great, but looking at Fernandos result, it didnt make a difference. On the last lap I had a bit of oversteer in one corner which cost me a few hundredths: maybe I could have been eighth but it would not have changed much. Honestly, today it would have been hard to do more than this. Lets hope that tomorrow, thanks to a race pace that is traditionally our strong point, we can make up some places. This circuit seems to suit some cars particularly well: the McLaren was not this quick in the last three races, but here Hamilton took pole really smoothly.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
All I can do is repeat what our boss has said: we are disappointed that we did not give our drivers a sufficiently competitive car. We had brought various updates here, some only fitted to Fernandos car, because we do not yet have enough of them for both. Unfortunately, the whole package did not work the way we had expected before coming here, at least relative to the progress that the other teams have made. Both Felipe and Fernando did the maximum they could: unfortunately they had already reached the limit in Q2, which explains why its not by chance that Fernando did practically the same time three times in a row, while the others raised the bar in Q3. Its clear that the McLarens, especially Hamilton, seem out of reach this weekend, but all the same, we were hoping to start from higher up the grid. Now we must prepare as well as possible for the race. We know we can count on a good pace and on a top speed which will allow us to overtake. We will try and make up as many places as possible and to make the most of a slightly different grid order to the one we have seen in recent races.
Nico Rosberg (8th, Q3 - 1m 41.603s)
"Qualifying worked out well for us today as P8 was our target and we were able to achieve that position. I'm ahead of a Ferrari and a Lotus so that's a good step, and we have made some improvements with our set-up work this weekend. Thanks to my mechanics today who did a great job to fix an issue with the brakes just before qualifying and make sure that the car was ready in time. It won't be an easy task for us to move up the field tomorrow but I'm looking forward to the race and to seeing what we can achieve."
Michael Schumacher (14th, Q2 - 1m 42.289s)
"My qualifying did not exactly go according to plan today. We changed our approach a little for the last run in Q2, and then I did not properly make use of it in the first sector and particular in turn one. So we are not quite where we would want to have qualified but I will certainly try to make the best out of my starting position tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"A good qualifying session for Nico today, considering the car that we have at the moment. He drove very well, and the team did a good job to get him out at the right time and maximise our potential. We squeezed as much performance out of the car as possible today, and eighth place is a small improvement on recent performances. It was a little frustrating for Michael as a small mistake on his quick lap in Q2 prevented him from finishing higher up the field. But overall, a more positive day for where we are with the car, and we will wait to see what happens in the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A good lap from Nico in the final qualifying session this evening. He had only one opportunity and his lap time is about six-tenths closer to championship leader Vettel than at the last couple of races. 0.021 seconds separate Nico from seventh placed championship contender Alonso. Michael looked quite strong on used options but could not improve his lap time after a small mistake. Congratulations to Lewis on his 25th pole position in a McLaren Mercedes and compliments to our partner team - well done to them for getting the best possible job done on a Saturday."
Nico Hulkenberg (11th, Q2 - 1m 42.019s)
I expected a bit more from today, but it seemed that our car was no so competitive in the cooler temperatures because I felt much happier during final practice in the sunny conditions. So maybe the lower temperatures caught us out. I will start from eleventh, just one position away from the points, and I have a free choice of tyres so hopefully we can use that to our advantage to come away with some points.
Paul di Resta (13th, Q2 -1m 42.218s)
Ive been struggling with the balance and the car has been quite difficult to drive this weekend, so it was always likely to be quite a tough qualifying session. Our long run pace hasnt looked too bad but Im just struggling to get the ultimate performance from the car. Were still in a reasonable position to try and score points and Im feeling comfortable in the new chassis. We will play the long game tomorrow because I think its likely to be one of those races where tyres will probably last longer than expected.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
After final practice we were probably feeling quite optimistic of getting at least one car into Q3, but it seems that the cooler conditions this evening didnt play into our hands. Nico was just a tenth away from making the top ten, while Paul was not far behind, and that was about where our performance level was today. I think we have a good race car and both drivers were very consistent during their long runs yesterday so theres every reason to hope we can be strong tomorrow. Weve got the flexibility with the strategy on both cars and will be targeting points in the race.
Sergio Perez (12th, Q2 - 1m 42.084s)
My last lap was a good one and I think this is just about the maximum possible for us here. Q3 today wasnt within reach, although yesterday I hoped it would be. I have confidence in our race pace and believe we will be able to score points tomorrow.
Kamui Kobayashi (16th, Q2 - 1m 42.606s)
I have been struggling with the balance of the car since we got here. We did a lot of changes and managed to improve it to a certain extent, but I still had problems with the front brakes locking. This was also the reason for the mistake on my final flying lap in Q2. I hit the brakes, the front wheels locked and that was it. I think in race conditions we should be better, but it wont be easy to improve. The circuit allows for overtaking, but you also need to have the speed for it.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Today was all about the field being so tight. All in all we had hoped to put at least one car in the top ten, but we didnt make it. Apart from that I think there is still some work to do to have the best possible race tomorrow. It was kind of a normal day, everything went okay, but the performance was not totally satisfactory.
Monisha Kaltenborn Sauber team principal
We know this is a challenging track for us and we have experienced issues throughout the weekend on our low fuel runs. This result is not a surprise for us, but at the same time we have seen our long run pace is good and now we have to make the most of it during the race.
Daniel Ricciardo (17th, Q2 - 1m 42.765s)
So far, its been a harder weekend for us than we had expected. We definitely made progress today, compared to where we were on Friday, which is positive, but in the end it was not enough to move us higher up the grid. Everything went smoothly on my side of the garage, apart from losing a lap on the Prime, when my headrest was moving and I had to come in to have it fixed. I think this motivated me to then do two really good laps and the pace on the Option was okay, showing we had made progress again, not just from yesterday, but also from this morning. However, we are not where we want to be. Strategy will be a key to having a good race tomorrow and like in India a one stop could be possible for some cars.
Jean-Eric Vergne (18th, Q1 - 1m 44.058s)
Its quite frustrating to fail to make it to Q2 today. We have been struggling all weekend with understeer and we are still trying to do our maximum and I was pushing a lot. We really only had one lap to see where the balance was this afternoon and the car seemed to be going the other way towards oversteer and I made a mistake. That doesnt mean I will have to fight the car all the time tomorrow, because there are still things we can do like playing with the front flap and tyre pressures to improve the situation for the race but its going to be a tough night tomorrow.
James Key, Toro Rosso technical director
We had a troublesome Friday, struggling with the balance on both cars, so the team did a good job to come with some changes that produced an improvement in todays Free Practice. We moved in a stronger direction and the balance of the car is now far more driveable for both drivers. However, we really only had the three runs this morning so maybe there were further steps we could have taken if wed had more runs. I think the outcome of qualifying was unfortunate for us: in Q1, Jean-Erics lap was looking pretty good and he was on course to get to Q2, but he spun at Turn 20 and we will have to work out why. That effectively ended his session as he was on his new set of Softs at the time. Daniel made it to Q2, but we lacked a bit in the first corner and then in sector three, which is downforce dominated. From what we saw on Friday our long run pace was not too bad and the balance of the cars is certainly biased towards a race configuration. The tyre situation is a big unknown and so there could be some interesting calls in terms of strategy on Sunday. Therefore we will be trying to play that card correctly.
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, Q1 - 1m 44.956s)
Im pretty pleased with my final lap but I know there was more pace in the car. My first run on the medium tyres was ok but on the second run on the softs I had a problem with the DRS that meant I wasnt able to really attack the high speed corners and that cost me a bit of time. Despite that I think were looking ok for tomorrow. The balance feels better with the lower track temperatures we had for quali and thatll most likely be the same tomorrow for the race, so hopefully I can have another good start and see how hard we can push the cars ahead.
Vitaly Petrov (21st, Q1 - 1m 45.151s)
Honestly Im a little bit disappointed with where Ive ended up in quali today because I thought the car would be a bit quicker than it was. We had a slightly tricky FP3 and tried a couple of setup options to find a good balance and when I went out for my first run in Q1 it didnt really feel like I could push. It felt better on the softs and on my fastest lap I was looking good up to turn 17 but a bit of traffic after that held me up just enough to cost me time. The good thing is that the car definitely felt better when the track temperatures had dropped a bit so I think well be ok tomorrow.
Charles Pic (20th, Q1 - 1m 45.089s)
I am really very happy with my qualifying session today. I had a very good car; the balance was almost perfect. I lost a little bit of time in the second sector of my quick lap and that is how Kovalainen was able to get ahead. I have to be happy with the lap though as it represents my best qualifying result of the season, so a great result for me and the Team. I have to say thanks to my car crew because they worked very late last night, but I hope today was some reward for their efforts. I am now looking forward to the race tomorrow; the start should be quite interesting with the cars around me. I also hope to be able to make the same progress as we did in India and keep improving through the whole race. The objective is again to stay in touch with the Caterhams.
Timo Glock (22nd, Q1 - 1m 45.426s)
Not a bad day overall but a disappointing end when it counted unfortunately. This morning, at the start of FP3, we struggled a little, but at the end we arrived at a good set-up. We carried this through to qualifying and seemed to have good momentum all the way through until the last, most important, lap when his car had no grip. Until then we were fighting hard with the Caterhams, so its a little disappointing. So now we will have to go through the usual analysis tonight and see what we can find for tomorrow.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Today was another important step towards achieving our goals for this season and a fantastic achievement for Charles, which underlines his impressive development this season. His lap time represents the smallest gap we have had to Caterham in qualifying so far, at just 0.1s. Todays result is a credit to the excellent teamwork we have demonstrated here in Abu Dhabi, as the weekend has been less than straightforward - for the mechanics in particular. Today is an excellent reward for all their efforts. As for Timo, we have seen many times that the tyres are extremely sensitive and this evening our main focus will be to understand the sudden lack of grip he encountered on his final lap. He had some good high fuel runs in FP2, so Im sure he will take heart in the fact that he should be able to make good progress tomorrow. With both Charles and Timo lining up alongside our direct competitors on the grid, this will be our best chance of potentially out-racing at least one of them, given that we have already shown in recent weeks that our race pace is significantly better than our qualifying pace. Were looking forward to it!
Pedro de la Rosa (23rd, Q1 - 1m 45.766s)
"We completed a good practice and qualifying session. I was comfortable in the car and Im sure that I could have improved by a couple of tenths but surely the rest could have too. The car was running well and we had no problems with the temperature of the brakes or the engine at a circuit like this one which is so hot, so Im happy. I think weve got good pace for tomorrows race and the first objective is to get off to a good start and keep close to the Marussias. We should try to go for one stop, hope for the rear tyres to hold out and try and put some pressure on our rivals.
Narain Karthikeyan (24th, Q1 - 1m 46.382s)
"It was a tough qualifying session for me. Its my first time racing in Abu Dhabi and, being such a technical circuit, Im finding it tougher than expected. I didnt manage to string together a good lap; I was running well on the first set of tyres but with the second set I found traffic and the rear tyres wore out before I could improve my time. Although Im not entirely comfortable at this circuit, tomorrow I will give everything like always to try and put in a good performance and finish the race.
Toni Cuquerella, HRT technical director
"The aerodynamic improvements as a result of the new rear wing and the new engine air intake have given a good result and the difference with our main rivals has reduced. Its also important that at such a tough circuit we havent experienced problems with the temperature of the brakes or the engine. In qualifying it was important to find a clean lap and heat the front tyres well. Both drivers did a good job with the first set of tyres but Narain was unable to make the most of his second set. In any case, were satisfied to see that were close and that, with the data we extracted yesterday, we have a good race pace. The tyre degradation isnt too high so the race strategy will be two-stop or even one.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
We believe that were now looking at a one-stop strategy for many competitors. The pace of development in Formula One is unrivalled, and we can see this in the way that all the teams have really got on top of our tyres now: which was the same pattern we saw last year. Degradation is low with both compounds - and theres also not a lot of thermal degradation but one cause of this is also the track surface, which is particularly smooth in Abu Dhabi as was the case as well in India. From what we can see so far the long run race pace is quite closely matched, which will put the emphasis on strategy to make the difference. We saw a great lap not only from Lewis Hamilton but also from Pastor Maldonado in the Williams, who will start from fourth on the grid.
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