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Saturday in Melbourne - selected team and driver quotes 16 Mar 2013

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Tom McCullough (GBR) Sauber Head of Track Engineering.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013 Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT) Sauber Team Prinicpal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 16 March 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 and Alan Permane (GBR) Lotus F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 21 February 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 2 March 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 John Booth (GBR) Marussia Racing Team Principal in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 20 July 2012 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 15 March 2013

Albert Park is challenging even in the fairest conditions, but when heavy rain arrived on Saturday, the Australian circuit threw down another test to the teams and the race organisers. Following Q1, the downpours worsened, and despite everyone’s best efforts, the decision was taken to postpone Q2 and Q3 until Sunday morning. Members of the paddock discuss Saturday...

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg

“We had an unusual qualifying session, which reminds me of the qualifying in Suzuka 2010 where the session was also postponed because of the rain. Usually Formula One works like clockwork, but you can’t influence the weather. The performance in general was good and now we have to focus on getting the best out of the situation tomorrow.”

Esteban Gutierrez
“Unfortunately I made a mistake and feel sorry for the whole team. I feel very comfortable with the car and this is something that is a step forward for me. Now, of course, I need to avoid this kind of mistake and try to make the most of my potential.”

Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
“The forecast was right about poor conditions. The car performed well on both the full wet and the intermediate tyres. Unfortunately Esteban was caught out by one of the kerbs in the wet. However, he had a very good pace prior to that. We need to regroup now and make the best out of qualifying tomorrow. Nico showed a solid performance and will participate in Q2 tomorrow.”

Monisha Kaltenborn Sauber team principal
“It was a qualifying in very difficult conditions and a shame Esteban went out, particularly because he had proven before that he was quick on full wet tyres as well as on intermediates. He definitely had the potential to make it into Q2, but was unlucky. However, there is still a race tomorrow in which he can make up posititions.”

McLaren
Sergio Perez

“Well, even though we didn’t manage to finish it, that was a really dramatic qualifying session, full of suspense and excitement. But, even though that uncertainty made things tricky for all the teams, I think our guys did a fantastic job. They kept calm and focused throughout the whole session, even in the gaps and delays, and as a result Jenson and I were always confident that everything was totally under control. We’ll have to follow a really tight schedule tomorrow - including a very short turn-around between qualifying and race - and that’ll be tough for everyone, especially the guys in the garage. Boys, I appreciate all your hard work in advance, okay?! Even so, I think the FIA stewards made the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3. The conditions were becoming too dangerous - in terms of low visibility as well as low grip. Tomorrow may be a tricky day for us, because our car isn’t yet as competitive as it’ll become, but our aim will be to score points with both cars so as to keep in touch with the teams who currently appear to be a little way ahead of us in terms of performance.”

Jenson Button
“A stop-start session like today’s is tough for everyone. For us drivers, it means we have to build ourselves up for the challenge of qualifying again and again - a bit like asking Usain Bolt to get ready for five 100-metre sprints one after the other and aborting four of them. That level of disruption creates quite a lot of mental and psychological stress for any athlete - but it was even worse for the fans, who’d been waiting excitedly for qualifying all day long and who then had to sit in the pouring rain with no on-track action to entertain them. So I’m very sorry for them, because the fans are what all sport is ultimately all about, but I hope we can make it up to them tomorrow by putting on a really exciting race. Even so, I believe the FIA had no choice. It was the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3 until tomorrow, for safety reasons. Having said that, deferring the completion of qualifying until Sunday morning means that I won’t now be able to go for coffee on the beach, which is my traditional pre-race routine here in Melbourne. But, you know, maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because it means I’ll be able to keep my Sunday morning Melbourne coffee as a lucky charm, since I don’t think we’ll be quick enough to win here tomorrow, so my coffee-then-win record here will remain intact.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Unseasonally heavy rain rendered today’s qualifying session unviable, with the result that we were only able to complete Q1. Q2 and Q3 will be run at 11.00am tomorrow morning, until which time all the cars will be held in parc ferme conditions. We started today’s Q1 session on wets, but Jenson made the canny call to try Intermediates reasonably early, and immediately showed by neatly posting the quickest time theretofore that that was the way to go. Checo followed suit, and also recorded a fast and error-free lap. The weather is forecast to be dry tomorrow morning, and obviously we didn’t learn very much today about how our car will perform in the dry because it was so wet this afternoon. Time will tell.”

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen

“It wasn’t easy with the traffic, people going off and the yellow flags but we went through to the second qualifying session tomorrow so it’s not all bad. The car doesn’t feel too bad in the wet - it’s an improvement on where we were last year for sure - but today the challenge was finding some clear space on track. The session being delayed until tomorrow was a shame but it’s the same for everyone.”

Romain Grosjean
“The day started pretty well; it’s the first time I’ve topped an official practice session and I have to say a big thank you to the team for their hard work since yesterday. We took a different direction with the setup and it’s clear we made the right decision. It’s frustrating to delay the rest of qualifying, but there were some good things for us to take from Q1. It’s no secret that wet conditions did not favour our car last year, but from what we saw today there have definitely been some improvements. I’m sorry for the fans as they have been fantastic all week and stuck around despite the weather. We have a big day tomorrow and it looks like staying dry, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
“We’re in good shape. We’ve made some improvements to our wet setup following lessons learnt in pre-season testing which have certainly worked. It’s a shame that we can’t finish qualifying today, but it’s absolutely the correct decision; it was too wet. In terms of the weather it looks like tomorrow should be dry, in which case the supersoft is the faster qualifying tyre. That means the top ten starting on the supersoft and working to maximise its potential at the start of the race on high fuel and a newly washed track surface. The medium compound will be the preferred race tyre.”

Marussia
Jules Bianchi (19th, Q1 - 1m 48.147s)

“These were very challenging conditions for my qualifying debut, especially as none of my limited pre-season testing experience with the Team was in the wet. I can’t deny it was disappointing - and a little daunting! Yesterday’s dry running showed a lot of promise so it would have been nice to get a better feel for where we are in performance terms, but we just had to make the best of it. In the end though I am very happy with the job we did today and where we have ended up. Clearly we were not able to show our full potential and yet we ended up in the right place relative to the cars around us - both ahead of Caterham and close to the cars ahead. So I look forward to a return to dry conditions - which is what we hope to see tomorrow - and to my first Grand Prix. To be honest, whatever the weather brings, this is an exciting moment for me and one I have been looking forward to for a long time.”

Max Chilton (20th, Q1 - 1m 48.909s)
“I’m pretty pleased with how today has gone when you look at the circumstances. I hadn’t really expected to be sitting in the garage for 30 minutes seeing a river forming on the track outside when I’d contemplated my first F1 qualifying experience. With that in mind, I’m really encouraged with how we fared. With the conditions starting to clear a little in the dying minutes of the Q1 session I knew everything hinged on that final lap. We were improving in each sector so I knew we would be okay, it’s just a little disappointing that my last lap was affected by the Yellow flag. Now my thoughts turn to tomorrow and I can’t wait, rain or shine.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“It was a big ‘ask’ of two rookie drivers to face a qualifying session like the one we’ve experienced today, but then we have absolute faith in our line-up and that has been rewarded today. Both Jules and Max performed admirably in what must have been very daunting conditions and we are very pleased with where we find ourselves today. I have to admit that we were disappointed to be faced with a wet qualifying. The car looked good in the dry yesterday and we were hoping to use qualifying as the barometer it can be in showcasing relative outright performance. Nevertheless, that’s racing and we’ll continue to feel encouraged by a very positive start to the weekend - and hopefully the season.”

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde (21st, Q1 - 1m 49.519s)

“Honestly I’m disappointed with where we ended up today as we could definitely have finished higher. We made quite a few changes to the car overnight and it felt much better in FP3 so I was feeling good about qualifying. The delays at the start of qualifying obviously weren’t ideal but I was very calm and looking forward to getting out there. It was obviously the same conditions for everybody and it was very tricky out there - I hit a puddle on my first run and span off which meant I had to pit for a new nose, but the boys did a good job to get me out again quickly and we were looking good. With a few minutes left in Q1 we switched to inters and the car felt great. On my last run I was well up but I had to back off for double yellow flags and that was the end of my chance. It’s a shame as I know we’d have finished higher, but sometimes it’s like that. Now we have some more work to do to prepare for the race. Starting where we are we just have to make sure we can avoid any problems at the start and concentrate on getting to the end of what will be my first Grand Prix. If it’s raining again at least we know what the track’s going to be like so I’m looking forward to it.”

Charles Pic (22nd, Q1 - 1m 50.626s)
“Sometimes qualifying goes like it did today. We obviously didn’t finish where we wanted to but for much of the session we looked pretty good, especially halfway through the session when we were putting in pretty good times. We made the call to switch to inters with about five minutes left of the session and for the first lap it was very tricky - there was a lot of standing water and it was hard to keep the car on track, but it improved pretty quickly and I was starting to push before I touched the white line which caused me to spin and I made contact with the barrier which meant I had to pit. Until that point I was much faster but didn’t have the luck you sometimes need. Our pace was good in the conditions today, similar to a number of cars ahead, but it’s obviously important to finish our fastest laps - today we didn’t do that but that speed gives us reason to be positive.”

More to follow.

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