Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 12 May 2012
Bruno Senna on spinning and beaching his Williams in the gravel; Charles Pic on a speedy Q1 run which saw him outpace his team mate Timo Glock for a second race in succession; McLarens Jenson Button and Red Bulls Mark Webber on failing to make it through to the top-ten shootout; Saubers Kamui Kobayashi on his hydraulic leak; and Lewis Hamilton on claiming McLarens 150th pole position - for a while, at least. All 24 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturday...
Lewis Hamilton (1st, Q3 - 1m 21.707s)
This is such a disappointment. Todays qualifying session was one of the best Ive ever driven - the whole car was just rolling so smoothly - it felt fantastic. The team had done a fantastic job to bring the updates here this weekend - so I want to say a huge thank-you to all the men and women at the MTC [McLaren Technology Centre] for working day and night to get all the new components here this weekend.
But, on my slowing-down lap, my engineers told me to stop on the track, and I didnt know why. Later, to hear that Id been excluded from qualifying, was of course extremely disappointing.
But, now, looking ahead to tomorrow, I think its clear that its going to be an incredibly tough race for us. Even so, as always, Ill never give up and Ill give it everything Ive got. It would mean so much to me to get a good result here in Spain: its such a pleasure to come here and the support I get is amazing. As I always say, and as I always do, whatever grid position I start a Grand Prix from, Ill always race my heart out.
Jenson Button (11th, Q2 - 1m 22.944s)
I expected quite a bit from qualifying today, so I dont really understand what went wrong. The speed is in the car though, as Lewis showed.
We were quickest on the soft tyre yesterday, and I thought wed be reasonably competitive today too - but that wasnt the case, and we dont really know why. I just struggled with a very different balance from yesterday. I had oversteer all through qualifying, then, on my final run - when we actually added more front wing - I had understeer!
Its not a perfect day when you qualify in P11 [P10 after Lewiss penalty] but I hope we can work out this evening whats happening with the balance for the race tomorrow. I guess youd just have to describe today as a difficult day at the office.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
You wont be surprised to hear me saying that today was a very disappointing day for all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. But, if I may start by stressing the positives, both today and yesterday our car has shown itself to be both fast and stable at this most testing of circuits, and as a result Jenson was extremely quick yesterday and Lewis extremely quick today.
But, when it came to final qualifying this afternoon, by their own admission Jenson and his engineers didnt quite manage to find the sweet spot in terms of set-up and tyre optimisation, and the result was P11 [P10 after Lewiss penalty]. Lewis, by contrast, hooked it up beautifully in Q3 today, continuing his run of scintillating quali-laps so far this season.
However, he was unable to finish his slow-down lap - and, since we accept that the stewards didnt agree with our interpretation of force majeure, we didnt contest their decision to penalise him. Our aim is therefore now to maximise the points we can score tomorrow, and you may rest assured that both Jenson and Lewis will approach the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with their customary combative ambition.
Pastor Maldonado (2nd, Q3 - 1m 22.285)
We have been working so hard all year to understand these tyres and with the updates we have brought to this race we have made a very good step forward. The car is very consistent and its race pace is good so I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow. There has been a really positive atmosphere in the team all season and this is a great result for them and Venezuela.
Bruno Senna (18th, Q2 - 1m 24.981s)
It was a disappointing qualifying for me and I had back luck with traffic when on the soft tyre. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow if I want to score any points but I have had good races from the back before and our car is looking competitive this weekend.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Pastor's qualifying performance was stunning today with a collection of very strong laps throughout the session which allowed us to save a set of soft tyres to fight for a decent qualifying position in Q3. To finish P2 is a great boost for the whole team and gives us a very good position from which to push hard in the race for decent points and hopefully a further belated 70th birthday present for Frank. It is obviously disappointing for Bruno to have crashed out of Q1 but we expect the race pace to be strong so points are still possible from P18.
Fernando Alonso (3rd, Q3 - 1m)
This third place is not what we had expected. We were counting on making a step forward that would allow us to get into Q3 with less difficulty than in the first races of the season and we managed it. But we certainly did not think we could be so high up the grid. I dont know if this position is a true reflection of our cars performance - its definitely not normal for a Red Bull and a McLaren to be eliminated in Q2 and that the other Red Bull gets into Q3 with no sets of new Soft tyre available but what is certain is that the new parts we have brought here have resulted in us taking a step in the right direction: sure, its not yet enough to fight for the very top places. Its a good basis to start from for this weekend, but the points come tomorrow. We will try and get a good start, especially as some of my main opponents in the title fight start behind us and we must try and make the most of that. Tyre performance will be a critical factor: we will have to be careful, because the forecast is for different temperatures to today and that could throw up some surprises. Racing in front of this amazing crowd always gives me some extra motivation!
Felipe Massa (17th, Q2 - 1m 23.444s)
When qualifying is as close as this, it is vital to manage to have everything fall into place on a clean lap and I never got that chance. On my second run in Q2, I came across at least seven or eight cars that were preparing their tyres for their timed lap and the time I lost definitely cost me dear. Its a real shame to start seventeenth in a race in which our car has shown it has made a step forward in terms of performance, as could be seen from Fernandos result. The new aerodynamic parts which we introduced on the F2012 seem to have worked well we have a bit more aerodynamic downforce and a bit less drag but we are well aware that there is still a lot to do. Tomorrow, on a track as hard as this one on the tyres, strategy will be crucial: lets hope I can make it into the points.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
A good result with Fernando, who managed to qualify third, the best performance of the season. A shame for Felipe, who suffered because of traffic on his quick lap in Q2: right now, I cannot say if he would have made the cut out of Q2, but it definitely cost him some places. We brought various updates here, especially aerodynamic ones: some worked well, meeting our expectations, others less so: looking at this afternoons result we can say we have made a step forward, but its clear that there is still a lot of work to do to always be at the same level as the best. However, third place is a confidence boost and it is down to everyone who, these past weeks, back home and at the track, has worked hard to reach this objective. Now we must confirm this progress in the race as well. The forecast is for slightly lower temperatures tomorrow and that could have an effect on tyre behaviour. We have seen various choices in terms of tyre management: now we will see who made the right choice.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
The session was very closely contested and packed with surprises. Finally this year, we managed to get to Q3 in a condition that meant we could show our worth, at least with one of the drivers. Fernando did a fantastic job from the first to the final lap of the session, constantly improving and, once again, getting all the potential out of the car. Felipe fought hard, but on his lap with new Soft tyres in Q2, he had a lot of traffic and lost a few tenths that would have brought him close to tenth place. We had a lot of new parts on the F2012 and the aim was to make up at least part of the gap to the best in terms of pure performance. We have made a step forward, this is a fact. Tomorrows race seems very hard to predict and tyre performance will make the difference. The weather could also play an important role, given we have already seen that a few degrees more or less can change the cards on the table.
Romain Grosjean, (4th, Q3 - 1m 22.424s)
It was a good performance from the team, especially as I didnt run in FP3 because of a fuel pressure problem. For the set-up we went from what wed found out yesterday and it worked pretty well. Everyone did a good job to get the car ready for qualifying after the problems of the morning. We can be happy with what we have achieved - of course you always want more but this is the result for today. I think that I could have been a little bit quicker, not too much more. Tomorrow is going to be long; our race pace did not look too bad but, of course, well have to manage tyre degradation.
Kimi Raikkonen, (5th, Q3 - 1m 22.487s)
I think we had a chance to be in the top three but weve been fighting with the set-up quite a bit today. We changed the car for qualifying and actually it was the correct call in the end; it was just a few small mistakes which cost me some time on my Q3 lap. Well see how it goes tomorrow in the race; the car has usually been better on Sunday than it has been on Saturday, so if thats the case tomorrow well be pretty happy. A lot of small details will decide the race and the tyres are one aspect of course. Our long runs were promising yesterday, so were not looking too bad. Hopefully we get a reasonable start and we can be up at the right end and go for it. I think weve got a good car and thats the main thing.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
Today went relatively smoothly for us. In Q3 I think we could have had a little bit more from both drivers laps. For Romain in particular - after missing this mornings practice - it was an exceptional effort. Having the hard and soft tyres as opposed to two compounds which sit alongside each other (the medium and soft used in Bahrain for example) meant we had to approach qualifying differently as we all needed the softer tyre to progress through Q1, limiting the number of soft tyres available for the next two sessions. We saw different approaches to this; well have to see in the race whose was correct. Our long run pace yesterday looked good so we can be reasonably confident heading into the race. Our target for today was to get both cars into the top six; weve got both in the top five so lets try and exceed expectations once again tomorrow.
Sergio Perez (6th, Q3 - 1m 22.533s)
After the free practice sessions hadnt been so easy for me, in qualifying the car really felt good. I think the result is what we were hoping for and perhaps a little bit better than expected. The competition is so close that a tenth of a second can really make a big difference, and you always think you could go a bit faster. In this regard it is almost frustrating having finished sixth, because a slightly better position was within reach. However, I think we can have a strong race performance. A lot will be down to tyre degradation tomorrow, which is quite high here. I want to do a perfect race and get the maximum possible points, or even come home with a nice surprise.
Kamui Kobayashi (10th, Q3 - no time)
We really had a good performance in qualifying, and I could feel I had not extracted the maximum potential out of the car yet. In Q1 I had a bit of traffic and also on my fastest lap in Q2 there was still room for improvement from me. I believe I could have been fighting for a top five position, and this was what I was looking forward to. But then, after the chequered flag at the end of Q2, I was told on the radio that I had to stop the car because of an hydraulic problem. Nevertheless the team did a great job here to get both of us in Q3, and I am very positive for tomorrows race.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
We are quite pleased with the outcome of qualifying. From an engineering point of view it was very positive that the good results from the Mugello test were confirmed on this track. Both drivers did a very good job, driving fast and consistent. Its a shame we had an hydraulic leak on Kamuis car. We decided that he should stop the car immediately in order not to do more damage. Now the important part comes tomorrow, and Im confident we can achieve a very good result in the race.
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO
We are very happy with this result. After the Mugello test, which was quite encouraging, we hoped we would be able to get both cars into Q3, and its good to see that this worked out. P6 is a great result for Sergio. We are sorry for Kamui who had to stop after Q2 due to an hydraulic leak, but Im very optimistic for the race.
Nico Rosberg (7th, Q3 - 1m 23.005s)
"That was a tricky qualifying session this afternoon, and seventh position was about the most that we could have achieved. It was a challenge to find the right set-up for the tyres and some of the others did that better than we did today. However with a good strategy tomorrow, we can hopefully gain some places. This has been a mixed up season so far and it's interesting to see that there are some new guys on the front row tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher (9th, Q3 - no time)
We wanted to save tyres this afternoon, which dictated how we managed Q3. I did not complete a timed lap, and now I still have the choice of what tyres to start on tomorrow. Equally, I thought it was better to start from ninth on the grid than eighth, and be on the clean side. It's clear that some teams have taken a step forward after the three-week break. And I would also say that the field is now even closer together. It's going to be a tight race tomorrow, although the forecast says it should be cooler, and it will be interesting to see if our choices today pay off at the end of the race."
Bob Bell, Mercedes technical director
"We completed useful race preparation work this morning, showed some improvement and went into qualifying expecting an interesting session due to the desire to save tyres for the race. The story of qualifying indeed turned out to be one of managing tyre use, and it certainly delivered a unique session. From a team perspective, we got two cars into the top ten and both drivers will start from the cleaner side of the grid, while our positions were probably as good as we could have achieved with the way we chose to use the tyres. Tomorrow's forecast is still for cooler temperatures, and with what we have seen both this weekend and this season so far, we know that a difference of several degrees in track temperature can make a huge difference to how different cars perform. We can expect a very interesting race."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A qualifying dominated by tyre saving which most of the teams did and we were no exception. Some sessions are tight, like Q2 when 0.048s separated P5 from P10, others are not, as Lewis' impressive qualifying time more than half a second ahead of P2 proved. Having said that, it is most likely that we will see changes in the top ten order from today at the end of the race tomorrow. Our target will be to score points with both cars posting consistent lap times as Nico did during his long run at the end of the final practice session this morning."
Sebastian Vettel (8th, Q3 - no time)
A pretty different session today; it was extremely tight. From Q1 onwards we decided to go on the soft tyres. The first run in Q2 wasnt good enough, so I had to go again and it was clear then that if we made it to Q3, we wouldnt have any new soft tyres left. I think we got the maximum at the end there in Q3, we saved some sets of tyres, which we thought going in to qualifying would be crucial, but we didnt have the pace of the top five cars today. Tyres will be important tomorrow, so lets see what we can do.
Mark Webber (12th, Q2 - 1m 22.977s)
Im pretty surprised by that; the guys did a good job with the car and were pushing hard all weekend. We were quick, but the track kept getting faster and we got caught out. My first timed lap in Q2 wasnt fast enough. I was P2 after the first lap and we thought we had done enough, but in the end it wasnt. I didnt use two sets of tyres in Q2, which it turns out wasnt the right thing to do. I was told not to go out again, but the way that the track improved was a surprise to all of us. We were very strong in the first part of Q2 and I was happy with how I drove my lap. Its the way it goes sometimes.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A difficult session, obviously everyone ended up having to use the soft tyre in Q1. In Q2 we thought we had done enough with Mark, we knew it was going to be tight, but we thought the time was enough and were keen to take a new set of tryes into Q3, but it didnt work out and we missed the cut with him. We knew we had to run again with Seb and he did just enough to make it into Q3, but hed used all his sets of soft tyres, at which point it became a game of tactics. Mercedes were in the same position as us with tyres and were the only one we could potentially out qualify. We performed an out and in-lap to make sure we were the first to do that and then started a timed, but Seb was down compared to Rosberg - the the only other scrubbed tyre user so we aborted the lap and will start in P8. We have four new sets of tyres for Mark and three for Sebastian, which can be extremely valuable in the race.
Paul di Resta (13th, Q2 - 1m 23.125s)
It has been quite a difficult weekend so far trying to get the car dialled into the circuit. In fact, it was only during the my final qualifying run that we made a change to the aero balance and I felt that the car was really hooked up. Its close throughout the field once again, but weve been fairly aggressive on set-up and our pace over longs runs has looked quite competitive so far this weekend, which gives us a reason to be optimistic for the race. The goal will be to make up ground tomorrow and I think it will be a big achievement if we can pick up some points.
Nico Hulkenberg (14th, Q2 - 1m 23.177s)
Im pretty satisfied with my final lap in Q2 because I dont think we could have achieved much more from the session today. Thats just where we are at the moment in terms of qualifying pace. We are still getting to understand the upgrades we have on the car, but its also clear that everyone else has made a step forward here and so the midfield remains extremely tight. The races so far this year have shown that grid position is not as crucial as it used to be with a lot of movement in the races, so I think we can still have a good race.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
The team has done an excellent job over the last few weeks to push through our upgrade package and get it on the car this weekend. But its still early days and Im sure that over the coming races we can fine-tune things further and extract even more performance. With than in mind I think we can take encouragement from our qualifying showing today with both Nico and Paul just a couple of tenths shy of squeezing through to Q3. Weve been pleased with our tyre wear and the performance over long runs suggests we are in good shape for a competitive race tomorrow.
Jean-Eric Vergne (15th, Q2 - 1m 23.265s)
I have mixed feelings about this qualifying, because from a personal point of view, I feel I did a better job than I have done in the other sessions this year and for the first time this year, I have out-qualified my team mate. On the other hand, I think we were lacking something from the car side. Everyone in the team has worked hard to bring updates for this race, but the others have done the same and apparently a bit more than us. We still have some work do to, but on the positive side, we improved the car from yesterday and I feel that our pace over a long run is pretty good, so we will have to see what happens tomorrow. I dont feel it is too unrealistic to try and aim for some points.
Daniel Ricciardo (16th, Q2 - 1m 23.442s)
This was not an ideal session for me. From yesterday I felt we were trying to chase a better balance front and rear on the car and although we made a substantial change overnight, it did not have as much of an effect as we had hoped for in terms of lap time or feeling in the car. In Bahrain I had a great Saturday and a poor Sunday, so Iets hope its the other way round this time. Im not going to dwell on todays performance and now Im just focussed on having as good a race as possible.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
It is clear from todays classification that, even if we were able to make improvements to our car overnight, it was enough to be up with the quickest guys. Its true that it is very tight in this part of the grid, but we were not able to get into Q3 and we can expect an equally tight fight in the midfield in tomorrows race. The pace of development is very high for everyone so we now need to push even harder to catch up. As far as the race is concerned, we have managed to produce something even from lower down the grid, so hopefully we can pick up a bit of pace and deliver a good performance.
Vitaly Petrov (19th, Q1 - 1m 25.277s)
I am very happy with today's performance. It feels great to have it all come together in qualifying today and I want to thank the team for doing a great job and helping me put together a final lap like that. There was even more time to come as I made a small mistake in sector two that maybe cost me two or three tenths, but between FP3 and qualifying we found a good balance on the softs and a KERS map that I could really get everything out of, so it's great to see it pay off with that sort of performance. Tomorrow's going to be an interesting race. I think a lot of it will come down to who uses the rear tyres best and as we've already seen earlier this season, we can fight with the cars ahead on Sundays, so hopefully we can carry through this afternoon's performance to tomorrow, and who knows what could happen.
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, Q2 - 1m 25.507s)
I'm not unhappy with today's performance but we could have definitely got more out of the car this afternoon. I made a mistake in turn three that cost me some time but overall I've not really been able to find a setup I'm happy with all weekend. We've tried a few different things to find a decent balance but for some reason we just couldn't find a compromise for qualifying today. We'll put that behind us now and move on to tomorrow where we'll aim to maintain the sort of race pace we've shown in the first four Grands Prix this season. If we can look after the tyres I think we'll be ok.
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
I think we probably got close to extracting as much performance out of the cars as we could this afternoon. Both drivers may have been able to find a couple more tenths but I am pleased with the performances they put in and now the focus moves to tomorrow's race. Tyres will be the defining factor in the race. We have already shown that we can fight with several cars ahead on Sundays and I think that careful management of the tyres and good pitstop strategy should give us a chance of putting in a good performance.
Charles Pic (21st, Q1 - 1m 26.582s)
I am quite happy to be honest. I think for me all round it is quite a good qualifying. We managed to improve the package for this weekend, but the gap to the cars in front today did not reflect that. I dont think we really know where we are yet because the car was not 100%. I feel there is more to come for sure. We always seem to be better in the race versus our competitors and I hope that will be true for tomorrow. For now though I am happy with my position and I look forward to the race.
Timo Glock (22nd, Q1 - 1m 27.032s)
A much better day today than yesterday. I think we got on top of the problems a little bit and in Free Practice 3 this morning I had a good feeling. Unfortunately qualifying wasnt great for me. I made a mistake on my first flying lap, which was then not quick enough, and on the second flying lap on the first set of tyres I ran into yellow flags at turn three where one of the HRTs spun, so I couldnt do much on first set of tyres. On the second set of tyres I just couldnt get the lap together. The first sector was good; in the second sector I got a bit of traffic; and for some reason I dropped tyre performance in the last sector. It just didnt come together today and I will have to sit and analyse it and hope for better things in the race tomorrow.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
We approached Free Practice 3 this morning somewhat hesitantly. For the last two race weekends we have found, on Timos car in particular, that a good balance on Friday has somehow translated into a car that is not behaving as it should have done for the rest of the weekend. A lot of analysis has taken place over the past week - and at the Mugello test prior to that - and some new parts that we brought to both cars seem to have solved these problems. Timo reported a much improved balance on the car today, even with respect to Friday. Given this, our confidence built in FP3 but was then knocked slightly by a mechanical issue on Timos car at the end of the session. We quickly diagnosed the fault on what was a new part and were able to apply a fix to both cars in readiness for qualifying. Unfortunately for Timo, he never really found his rhythm in the qualifying session, so Im sure theres a lot more to come from him tomorrow. Charles on the other hand performed brilliantly, as was the case last week, and he is certainly exceeding all the expectations that we had of him for this stage of his debut season. The guys in front still have a little margin on us if we put our best laps together, so tomorrow we will perhaps not be able to enjoy the fight we had hoped for. However, by setting the clear goal of trying to be as close to them as we possibly can, we will at least be able to learn more about where our car development needs to go from here.
Pedro de la Rosa (23rd, Q1 - 1m 27.555s)
The day went very well, especially this afternoon, so I'm very happy with what we achieved. We completed two very good laps in qualifying, getting under the 1.28 mark which we hadn't achieved neither yesterday nor this morning. I know that our position seems the same as always but, in terms of performance, we have progressed and that's what I'll take away with me. As I always say, we've still got a lot of room for improvement but we're on the right path and that's what matters. Tomorrow's race won't be easy because it's a tough track and the rear tyres wear out a lot. We have to get off to a good start, give the Marussias a good fight and finish the race in front of all our fans."
Narain Karthikeyan (24th, Q1 - 1m 31.122s)
"It's been a very unlucky weekend for me so far. In the morning everything went smoothly but in the afternoon, with the first set of tyres I was pushing really hard and spun on turn 3 and, as a result, I flat-spotted a tyre so I had to come back in to the garage. We were going to go on the second set of tyres but we discovered some problems and due to safety concerns, not only for myself but the others, we decided that the best thing was to not go back out. It seems like my bad luck continues to follow me this weekend and, although I'm disappointed about that, there's nothing else I can do but keep giving it my best shot."
Toni Cuquerella, HRT technical director
"We had mixed fortunes today. Pedro was able to continue with his programme and we were able to confirm that everything works fine and, as anticipated, the upgrades gave us an improvement. But we can't stop, we have to continue progressing. For qualifying, the car's balance improved a little bit more and Pedro completed two very good laps. With Narain the target in the practice session was to do as much mileage as possible and he did a fantastic job, but we weren't lucky in qualifying as he spun on the first set of tyres and wasn't able to set a good time, and when he was about to go out with the second set we had to abort as there was a problem with the fitting of the on-board camera which made it dangerous to go back out. He wasn't able to get in the 107% but I'm confident that, given the performance he showed this morning, there won't be any trouble for him to start tomorrow's race."
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Strategy was at the forefront of qualifying today, with a gap of around 0.8 seconds between the hard and the soft tyres, depending on the team. Historically, Barcelona is a race that has nearly always been won from the front row of the grid, but now drivers that have qualified lower down the grid still have a possibility to challenge for victory. There were some surprising eliminations in Q2; however these drivers will feel the benefit of having more fresh tyres, so it will be interesting to see what they can do with them. As Barcelona is so demanding on every aspect of the dynamics of a car, including tyre management, it is normally a very good indicator of the likely form for the rest of the year. With the teams so closely matched this season, and the upgrades introduced at Mugello beginning to take effect, its going to be very hard to predict a winner for tomorrow. Particular congratulations to Pastor Maldonado and Williams - who have consistently got the most out of the tyres throughout the weekend so far.
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