Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes 23 Mar 2013
Toro Rossos Jean-Eric Vergne and Williams Valtteri Bottas on falling at the first hurdle in Q1; Lotuss Romain Grosjean and Force Indias Paul Di Resta on being caught out by the sudden shower in Q2; Ferraris Felipe Massa on securing second on the grid ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso; and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on making the most of a fresh set of intermediates to take pole by almost a second. All 22 drivers and senior team personnel report back on Saturdays action
Sebastian Vettel (1st, Q3 - 1m 49.674s)
It was very difficult as the circuit was half dry and half wet today so it was difficult to find the right compromise between pushing hard and also saving the tyres. It was the right strategy to come in and change the tyres and the pace was there. It was a good session in Q3 and it was clear what we had to do, so Im pleased with the result. Its a long race tomorrow and whoever wins will have done the best job. We managed to save some tyres today which will help if the race is dry, but we will see.
Mark Webber (5th, Q3 - 1m 52.244s)
Its disappointing to finish fifth. We didnt get the timing quite right in the last part of Q3, I thought I had more laps. We were quick enough, but we went too slow on the lap when we should have been going quick and it meant we didnt get a last timed lap in. The time doesnt represent how comfortable I felt in the car today and its frustrating when you put so much work in and know you could have done better. Im looking forward to the race tomorrow it should be interesting with the weather.
Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
A challenging qualifying, but in the end we were able to navigate both cars into Q3 when the rain came it was then a question of getting the timings right. Sebastian elected to do two runs it was always clear there was only time for one and one (timed laps) or five laps if you ran the whole session. Mark having not got his first lap in elected to stay out and, as the circuit continued to dry, the lap times continued to fall. Sebastian put together a fantastic lap in tricky conditions to get the pole. With Mark, it was a great shame as we thought he would be the last car to cross the line and get the last timed lap, but a miscommunication about the number of remaining laps meant that he was first car to get the chequered flag, missing a fifth lap by one second. It was a shame, but first and fifth for tomorrows race is a good starting position. That said, I dont think pole will be the deciding factor of tomorrows race; if its wet it helps with visibility, but in the event of a dry race then tyre degradation and tyre strategy will be key.
Thierry Salvi, Renault support for Red Bull
Its always a joy to come here as the weather conditions are quite extreme, so its interesting in terms of engine settings and engine set up. You can imagine that the engine can suffer quite a lot under these conditions and, in addition, you also have to work on drivability under dry and wet conditions. That means you have to be ready for the kind of qualifying we had today, when it starts dry and ends wet. The challenge here is to be able to cope with that weather and for the engine itself to be able to cope with these extreme conditions.
Felipe Massa (2nd, Q3 - 1m 50.587s)
It was a great qualifying in which we managed to make the most of all the opportunities that came our way. In Q3, we decided to stop towards the end of the session to fit a new set of intermediates and this allowed me to do a lap good enough to take second place on the grid. I am very happy with this team result, which is down to the great job done over the winter months. The car has shown itself to be competitive in all conditions, both in the wet and dry, but we must continue to improve. Today, we were up against very strong opposition and maybe the rain helped us a bit, because in normal conditions it would have been harder to aim for this result. Now we can expect a long and difficult race in which anything can happen and in which strategy and tyre management will be the key, while the uncertainty over the weather wont help anyone.
Fernando Alonso (3rd, Q3 - 1m 50.727s)
I am very happy with this position as its been too long since I qualified in the top three! Something I have usually managed to achieve in the race has been missing for quite a while: maybe the rain helped us a bit as we were not the quickest in the dry, but starting in the top three gives us a realistic chance of a podium finish and we can even dream about winning. In Q3, when we had seen the track was drying quickly, we had a moments hesitation, because in the dry, the intermediates only last one or two laps before beginning to degrade. But in the end, it seemed the most sensible choice and it worked out well. Of the past three years, this seems to be the moment when everything appears to be working for the best: performance, strategy, pit stops. Now we must see how tomorrow will turn out, because its always a lottery if it rains. Even if, in the current Formula One, the start is not the most important thing, we will still try to make a good one in order to maintain position or even to try and get past Vettel at the first corner. Then we will see: our race pace in Australia and the long run here on Friday means we can be reasonably optimistic.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Like all the other teams, we tackled todays qualifying with the aim of using as few tyres as possible to save them for tomorrows race. It took just one run on the hard compound to get both drivers through to the second part, providing various options for the rest of the session. In Q2, we used just one set of mediums and even without the rain, I think that we would have managed to get through to the final part without any trouble. From then on, as predicted, it started to rain, but not enough to complicate matters: even though the track was wet, it was clear that Intermediates were the right choice. Going for a pit stop change after the first few laps proved to be the right move: we had to evaluate a subtle balance between tyre temperature and the amount of water on track and while at the time that can seem stressful, given the conditions, thinking back, it was relatively straightforward. If the rain holds off tomorrow, it will be very interesting to see how everyone exploits the tyres.
Lewis Hamilton (4th, Q3 - 1m 51.699s)
I'm pretty happy with fourth place considering the conditions today. The car was not too bad in the dry but the balance could have been a lot better, then it was pretty tricky conditions in the wet during Q3. We did our lap with older tyres than the guys in front, which was a bit unfortunate, but our pace was good overall so I can't complain. It's the second race on the second row for me and there are lots of positives to take out of the weekend so far. Our long run pace looked pretty good compared to the other teams so I'm hoping for dry conditions tomorrow.
Nico Rosberg (6th, Q3 - 1m 52.519s)
In the dry conditions I had a great balance today and everything went perfectly which was nice to see. Once it began to rain unfortunately we weren't able to get the most out of the car and at the end of Q3, my tyres were worn as some parts of the track were drying and I wasn't able to improve my lap time. We have a good car for the race and a strong starting position from the third row of the grid so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We should have some good opportunities and will need to make sure that we make the most of them.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
An exciting qualifying session this afternoon with the threat of the weather conditions changing. The car was well balanced on both dry compounds and the intermediate tyres, and we made a pretty good job of judging the conditions. Clearly there was an opportunity at the end to put a second set of intermediates on and potentially go faster but it could have gone either way. Both Lewis and Nico are in good positions for the race and the car seems to be in reasonable shape so we look forward to tomorrow and whatever the weather decides to throw at us.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
That was a tricky qualifying session, particularly in Q3 when it may have been better to run a second set of new intermediate tyres - but it's easy to be wise after the fact. The reality today is that we have shown our trend is positive, we got a solid result with both cars in the top six and the team delivered a solid performance. We have spent the entire weekend working on our performance for Sunday, not Saturday, and we hope that we can confirm our positive trend tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen (7th, Q3 - 1m 52.970s)
"We weren't quick enough on the intermediates so I don't think we could have found much more time in the wet today. For sure I wanted more but it is what it is and I hope we'll do better on Sunday. It's obviously disappointing to lose three places on the grid, but we'll have to see what happens in the race. I have no idea what the weather will do, but it will be the same for everyone."
Romain Grosjean (11th, Q2 - 1m 37.636s)
"The car felt better today for sure and we were looking good after free practice earlier this afternoon. We should have easily had both cars in the top ten, but unfortunately the skies opened at just the wrong time for me. My first run in Q2 was on scrubbed tyres and then as soon as we came in to fit the new ones it started raining, so for now they stay new. It's a shame but there's a long race ahead of us tomorrow and we now have extra sets of fresh dry tyres in our pocket so hopefully we can use them well."
Jenson Button (8th, Q3 - 1m 53.175s)
I dont think we can really expect to qualify any better than P8 right now but, having said that, to be just two-tenths off the guy who won last weekends Australian Grand Prix [Kimi Raikkonen] in Q3 cant be too bad. Q3 was wet today, of course, but during Q1 and the first half of Q2 it appeared that perhaps were now a little more competitive in the dry than we were this time last weekend. Were still not quick, but the guys are doing a fantastic job to get everything they can out of our car. As for tomorrows race, well, when youve got a quick car, you never want it to rain. When youve got a less quick car, you do want it to rain. Today, though, we didnt have great pace on the Intermediates in Q3, when it was raining, so all Ill say is that as always well battle hard and see what the race brings.
Sergio Perez (10th, Q3 - 1m 54.136s)
Considering how our car was behaving at Albert Park just a week ago, I guess you could say that was an encouraging qualifying session. Jenson and I both got into Q3, which was a relief, but obviously we know weve still got a long way to go in terms of car development. Having said that, I can see how hard the team is working to improve our car, and its a really good feeling to be a part of that. It often rains in the late afternoon here in Sepang, so I guess tomorrows race may well be affected by wet conditions, given that its scheduled to start at 4.00pm. But I really enjoy racing on this circuit, and, whatever the weather, Ill give my best tomorrow for the best team in Formula One.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Both Jenson and Checo drove commendably solidly in qualifying here today, in tricky conditions in which it would have been all too easy for them to have made costly mistakes. In terms of car performance, while wed never be even remotely satisfied with P8 and P10, its fair to say that weve made a small amount of progress since last weekends Australian Grand Prix, so I want to say thank you to all the guys, both on the road and back home in Woking, for their sterling efforts in that respect. Just as important, though, weve continued to gather useful data, which well now number-crunch intensively with a view to continuing our evolution of MP4-28. Theres still a long way to go, because as I say were not yet even close to where we want and need to be in terms of car performance, but its probably fair to state that, although the gains weve made have been small so far, the development trend appears to be in the right direction.
Adrian Sutil (9th, Q3 - 1m 53.439s)
Its a shame that the rain arrived for Q3 because our pace in the dry had been very strong. Im still not totally confident with these tyres in the wet and the car was sliding around in the corners with too much oversteer. I will hope for a dry race because we have a competitive car and Im happy with the balance. The target is to try and push to the front tomorrow with a good strategy and come away with points or maybe more.
Paul di Resta (15th, Q2 -1m 44.509s)
Quite a frustrating day because we got caught out by the weather. Weve looked strong this weekend so felt quite confident heading into qualifying, but the rain arrived earlier than the team expected. Now we need to see what the weather does tomorrow, but I will certainly come back fighting. Ive got lots of new tyres, which is more than enough to complete the race and the car has been working well here so far.
Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal
We ended qualifying today feeling a little bit disappointed. Throughout practice we have been very competitive in the dry and Adrian demonstrated that once again during Q1 when he set the fastest time. In Q2 we misjudged the weather with the rain coming in earlier than anticipated, which proved very costly for Paul who didnt have time to complete his quick lap in the dry. Adrian progressed to Q3 but struggled in the wet conditions and didnt feel comfortable on the intermediates. Had it been dry, Im confident he would have been higher up the grid. Going into the race we will keep a close eye on the weather and be pushing hard to get both drivers home in the points.
Nico Hulkenberg (12th, Q2 - 1m 38.125s)
The balance of the car is still not quite right. We went out on a set of used medium tyres in Q2. We didnt have any information on the weather because the radar was broken. If we would have known the rain was coming we would have gone out on a new set. In general our pace wasnt as good as I expected it to be, but nothing is lost starting from P12. We have to wait and see what the weather will be like during the race tomorrow and prepare for all conditions.
Esteban Gutierrez (14th, Q2 - 1m 39.221s)
Unfortunately, we were not able to extract the most out of the car in Q2. We went out too late on new tyres and were caught out in the rain. The team brought the set-up of the car to a really good base from FP3 to qualifying, which was something very positive. Now we are looking forward to the race. We have to analyse everything and get a good strategy together for tomorrow in order to be in the points.
Monisha Kaltenborn Sauber CEO
We knew that qualifying would be a big challenge. During free practice 3 we learned a lot, which will be of particular importance during the race. Unfortunately, we werent able to exploit the full potential in Q2 due to the weather changing quickly, however, we are confident for a strong race.
Tom McCullough, Sauber head of track engineering
It was an eventful qualifying session. Ultimately in Q2 we were unlucky because we werent able to get out on new medium tyres. But starting from P12 and P14 with plenty of fresh dry and wet tyres the goal will be to score points with both cars.
Daniel Ricciardo (13th, Q2 - 1m 38.822s)
Coming into qualifying today, if Id been told I could sign on the dotted line for thirteenth, Id have taken it. Its a decent result and we havent been that far up the time sheets all weekend in practice. Looking at it that way, thirteenth is quite good, but in Q1, we were quite competitive and only one hundredth of a second from the top ten. With the rain coming, maybe we missed an opportunity to do better. We have improved but I still want more. Tomorrow, I plan to move up the order in what could be an unpredictable race. I really want to be in the top ten and get some points on the board early in the season.
Jean-Eric Vergne (17th, Q1 - 1m 38.157s)
I dont know how much better I could have done, but its never nice to be out at the end of Q1. I was held up in the final sector by another car and lost between four and five tenths and that cost me the chance of getting to Q2. If we want to find positives, then at least I have saved a set of new tyres for the race, which could be important as this track is very hard on tyres. Being behind my team-mate? It means nothing today and the important thing is to be in front tomorrow! As usual, I am still being optimistic about tomorrow and hope to go after some points. Anything can happen in this race and in free practice we saw we had a good pace on a long run, which is encouraging.
James Key, Toro Rosso technical director
We knew the balance of the car would be very different to Melbourne and we adjusted the car accordingly for Friday, but the difference in car balance and tyre behaviour was greater than we had expected. Overnight, we wanted to take another step for this morning, but on both cars it was actually a step too far and the softer tyres did not work well and the balance was not optimum. So we went back a bit for qualifying, making some additional changes. This did the trick, so we expected Q1 to be fine for us. Unfortunately, Jean-Eric encountered traffic and did not get a clean lap, which was a shame as both drivers have been evenly matched, so he looked likely to get through to Q2. Daniel did exactly what was required to secure a good Q2 position, especially considering how tight it is in the midfield. The changes we made for qualifying worked well and, from a race point of view, those changes will also be suitable for the race.
Pastor Maldonado (16th, Q2 - no time)
We were unlucky with the timing of the rain in Q2 which meant we were forced to abort the lap. The car felt better on track and there was a chance we could have been fighting to get into Q3. We still have work to do to improve the car and close the gap, but we will work hard now to prepare for the race tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas (18th, Q1 - 1m 38.207s)
It was disappointing not to get through into Q2 today, especially after we felt the car had improved since last week. The prime tyre run felt good with the car responding well. We expected a much bigger gain from the medium compound but we didnt get any extra grip. The lap times were tight at the end so we just missed out on Q2, but our long-run pace will mean we will be aiming to gain some places from our grid position tomorrow.
Mike Coughlan, Williams technical director
We feel weve made some small steps forward which we were able to show in FP3 this morning. However, we were unable to capitalise on this during qualifying with Valtteri narrowly missing out on a place in Q2 and finishing in 18th. Pastor made it through, but we were then caught out by the rain which came earlier than predicted and so he was unable to set a time.
Jules Bianchi (19th, Q1 - 1m 39.434s)
I am obviously thrilled with my qualifying lap today, but seeing how close we were to Q2 - just 0.5s - only left me wanting more. It has not been an easy time in practice, as we seem to have been struggling quite a lot with the tyre degradation. In the break we worked to put all of that together into a single lap for this afternoon and it all came good in the end, especially with the weather, which stayed dry for us. I am not sure we can expect the same dry conditions tomorrow - we will see. I do feel we can have a very interesting - and maybe exciting - race and show some more progress from where we were in Melbourne. My thanks for the Team because it has been difficult to progress the car since yesterday, but to do so in this heat and humidity is very tough. I am not sure it will be any easier tomorrow but I hope we can bring home another good result for everyone as some reward.
Max Chilton (21st, Q1 - 1m 39.672s)
Today has been a tough day for us and unfortunately it didnt get any better for qualifying. Weve been dealing with some significant tyre wear issues all weekend and these have hampered our progress quite a bit. This left me rather on the back foot going into qualifying and although the steps I was making to play catch up were satisfying, they were always going to be a step behind our true pace. Its disappointing because had we not suffered quite as much, the performance is obviously in the car and there to be taken advantage of. Thats today done and dusted though and my thoughts now turn to tomorrow. Im pretty confident that if we can get the Caterham off the line we can get into the right position and then start making an impression on the midfielders.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
It was pleasing to get a dry qualifying session today to afford our two new drivers this experience after the difficulties of a wet session in Melbourne. The dry conditions also gave us the first true barometer of pace that weve been waiting for since pre-season testing and we have to be pleased with how things have shaken out in respect of where we are relative to the cars ahead. The morning session wasnt without its issues for Max, so unfortunately as a team we didnt prepare him in the best way for qualifying and this has undoubtedly compromised him today. However, as he demonstrated back in Melbourne, he can surely have a good race tomorrow and fight his way back up to a more representative position in the field. Jules has excelled himself today and worked well with his engineers to extract the maximum performance from the car. The good news is he came back still feeling a little disappointed in his own lap, which shows there is still more to come from him and the package in general. We look forward to what we feel sure will be an eventful race tomorrow. As todays more sustained dry window has shown, you can never predict anything in Sepang, but what we do have some confidence in after today is our ability to continue reeling in the midfield pack.
Charles Pic (20th, Q1 - 1m 39.314s)
We had a very good FP3, really making progress, especially on the long runs, but I dont think there was a lot more we could have done today in qualifying. I had a lot of understeer on my first run so we adjusted the pressures for the second run but I still couldnt dial out the understeer so with the performance gap to the cars ahead we probably finished up about as well as we could have hoped. So now we focus on tomorrow. In FP3 we found a good direction to go in the race so I think its going to be interesting. Itll almost certainly rain and I like it when the conditions are changing on track so lets see what happens.
Giedo van der Garde (22nd, Q1 - 1m 39.932s)
Qualifying didnt go well for me today to be honest. Ive had an issue with a lot of oversteer on the option tyres all day and really couldnt get them to work as well as they did at the last race and that obviously hurt my pace. Its odd as the car felt good on the hard compounds in FP3 today but I just couldnt get the mediums to work so well have to look at that again tonight. However, with the car performing well on the primes and the pace we have on the inters I think tomorrow could be interesting. Its rained every day at about the same time as itll be halfway through the race tomorrow so strategys going to be really important. Physically I feel really good, totally prepared for the race, so well look at the plans for the race and hopefully pick up where we left off in FP3.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
We saw an interesting variety of strategies right from the beginning of Q1, with a mix of teams going out on the hard and the medium tyre. Unusually for Q1, some of the top teams also used the softer compound, in order to save new tyres for the race. But the rain that began to fall at the end of Q2 changed the complexion of qualifying entirely. With the track drying quite quickly, it all came down to the closing seconds of Q3, but the surface was still too wet to approach the crossover point for slick tyres - although it was not far off. So it was mostly about who could stay out the longest to benefit from a drying track at the end of Q3. Now that the drivers have the possibility to start on whichever compound they choose tomorrow, the possibilities for strategy are wide open. Theres a difference of about 0.8 seconds between the two slick compounds and the data we have seen so far suggests that we should expect about three stops tomorrow, on one of the most aggressive circuits of the year for the tyres. But knowing the conditions here in Malaysia, we wouldnt be at all surprised to see the wet tyres out again at some point.
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