What the teams said - Qualifying in Singapore
Leclerc topped final practice which caused a few raised eyebrows. Was the Scuderia's pace genuine? It certainly was, with Vettel grabbing provisional pole at the start of Q3 and the boys in red a second ahead of their silver rivals. Roll on round two, and the German made a mistake so aborted his lap, which left the path clear for Leclerc to steam through and grab his third straight pole. The Monegasque is in irrepressible form at the moment.
Sebastian Vettel, 3rd, 1:36.437
"I'm not completely satisfied with my Q3, as I wasn't able to improve on my second attempt. I made a mistake in sector 1 and I realised I was not improving, so I decided to abort the lap. It started off very well, but I wasn't able to put together the lap I potentially had. Overall, first and third is great for the team and even if I cannot be entirely happy we can say that we were able to extract the most from today.
"The new parts we have on the car worked as expected this weekend, since we are not losing out in the corners to the extent that we were in in Hungary, a track quite similar to this. We were able to extract more performance and also, in terms of race pace, I think we can be competitive.
"Yesterday we suffered with a lack of front grip, but tonight as the temperature dropped, it was better for us, the balance also improved from yesterday to today. The race will be really long but I think we could have some opportunities."
Charles Leclerc, 1st, 1:36.217
"Coming to Singapore, we expected to have a difficult weekend. I struggled with the car yesterday and was not satisfied with my driving. I knew that there was more to extract and focused on the improvements I had to make on myself to do a better job today.
"Pole felt out of reach but this morning, the car came alive and felt great. The team in our factory in Maranello did an incredible job to make this result possible by giving us the high-downforce package we need on this track.
"The lap itself was not perfect. I made some mistakes and there were some close calls. To finish it like this just feels amazing. I have to keep my head down now and stay focused. It is difficult to overtake here, so the start will be the most important part of the race for me. I hope it will be an exciting one."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"Today things went better than we had hoped. After the two wins in Spa-Francorchamps and Monza we all came out here somehow hoping to continue the momentum and do something special, and somehow we did it. We brought a new aero package here, which proved positive but more importantly, it shows that our development is going in the right direction. We have clearly identified our weaknesses and we are addressing them, which is also useful for next year. I still believe that our rivals are very strong and that we need to improve in some areas but at least we are on the right path.
"Charles set an impressive pole by extracting the maximum from the car, which around here is extremely tricky and he took some risks. He hasn’t put a foot wrong and has improved his confidence throughout the season.
"It was a shame for Sebastian, who had a fantastic first attempt and was doing very well in the second. He could have easily been on the front row and has proved again today that he can be very fast and that’s very important for him. But the race is tomorrow, we should not forget that, and starting at the front in Singapore is always very important. What we achieved today is very good."
The Silver Arrows certainly looked competitive and seemed to be in the hunt for pole, but were blown away by Ferrari at the start of Q3. It took something special from Hamilton to eventually grab second, but even the great one-lap master couldn't find an answer to Leclerc today. As for Bottas, confidence seemingly slightly knocked by that crash yesterday, he was a disappointing fifth.
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:36.408
"I don't think we were expecting the Ferraris to be so quick today, they've clearly made some improvements to their car and it's working really well, so fair play to them. We had a deficit after the first run in Q3 and I was sitting in the garage thinking "Oh my God, it's a second - where am I going to find a second?" But all you can do is tighten your seat belt and launch the car through those corners, and I managed to improve by about second. I gave it everything I had tonight, but I couldn't find any more time. Nonetheless I'm really glad to be on the front row and I hope that I can fight tomorrow with the Ferraris - it's going to be a tough one, but not impossible."
Valtteri Bottas, 5th, 1:37.146
"This is a disappointing result because I think we had the possibility to achieve more today. I felt much more comfortable in the car in qualifying than I did in any other session of the weekend. I was actually pretty happy after Q1, thinking that we might be able to fight for a spot on the front row today. But the Ferraris just kept getting quicker and quicker, they kept improving their times and ultimately we just couldn't match them. Unfortunately, Q3 was pretty messy for me; I never managed to get the ideal tyre preparation because I was stuck in traffic on both of my out-laps, which compromised my timed laps. Tomorrow will be tricky, starting fifth is far from ideal, but we'll go into the race with a fighting spirit. There's usually a lot of action in Singapore, so we will see if there are any opportunities and try and make the best of it."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"That was a tricky qualifying session for us. We needed to get every detail right between the out-laps, the tyre warm-up and track position, and we didn't quite manage that when it counted today. Likewise, Ferrari were very strong: as usual, they were gaining time on us along the straights, but they were also very competitive through the corners all the way through the lap. We have Lewis on the front row and Valtteri back in fifth: our car is strong in race trim and although overtaking is difficult here, this is a very long race where much can happen and keeping the tyres in good shape will be key. We will be targeting strong starts and aiming to move forward from there with both cars."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We could have done a better job of giving our drivers good out-laps. We seemed to need a faster lap than the others to bring the tyres in but as soon as we left the garage we'd have a group of cars roll out in front of us and end up starting the lap with tyres that were out of the temperature window. We decided to go late for the final run in Q3 which risked us getting caught out with a yellow flag but even then we had another car leave just ahead. We'll have a look at how we could have handled it more effectively as both cars could have found more time today, especially Valtteri who had a really strong start to the sessions but didn't get good track position for any of his last three runs.
"The pace of the others is a bit of a surprise; Ferrari a bit quicker than we expected and Red Bull a bit slower. We have to assume Ferrari have solved some of the issues they have had in cornering this year as you can't get pole here otherwise. However, we looked pretty good on the long runs yesterday and our car seems to be kind on the tyres. There's always opportunity here as the race is so unpredictable with incidents and safety cars. It's difficult to manage as you need to balance the requirement to build a gap with the need to keep the tyres in good shape for restarts. Hopefully that will create a bit of opportunity for us tomorrow as we'd like to leave here with more than a second and fifth place."
In truth, the Bulls had a disappointing day. They came here expecting to be in the fight at the front, but were well off the pace in final practice. Roll on qualifying and it was a similar story, with Verstappen only fourth and Albon sixth. Can they feature in the fight for race victory? Their long-run pace on Friday was strong, so they can't be discounted...
Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:36.813
“Before the weekend we hoped to qualify higher than the second row but as soon as we were on track we quickly realised that Ferrari and Mercedes were very fast. Yesterday you could see that we all had more to come but clearly they stepped it up more than we did and we didn’t have the pace to challenge for pole. Balance wise the car felt pretty decent but we just didn’t have enough grip which we need to look into. I didn’t expect Ferrari to be on pole but they did a really good job and we will have to work harder. We came here wanting to fight for the front row and P4 feels a bit disappointing on a track like this where we hoped to be quicker but it was the best we could do and at least we are ahead of one Mercedes. Let’s see, as anything can happen in the race tomorrow.”
Alex Albon, 6th, 1:37.411
“I felt like the car was getting away from me a little bit in Q1 and I was chasing a bit of balance. Then towards the final run we changed a few things, the set-up felt better and I started to get my confidence back as the car’s performance improved. That’s all part of the learning curve and I’m understanding more and more about how to make the car go faster around this track. Strategy will be important tomorrow and the tyres don’t look like they’re holding on that well. The track is also very technical so I’m expecting a long, hard race. Of course I would have liked to have finished a little higher up today and there is still work to do, but overall I felt it wasn’t a bad result. I will focus on the positives and take a cold bath before the race and be ready to fight from P6.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“After both Alex and Max progressed easily through Q1 and Q2 Ferrari found some incredible pace on their first run in Q3 which looked very difficult to beat. Max was able to improve on his second run but unfortunately, with Hamilton also improving Max dropped from P3 to P4 and will start on the second row of the grid. Alex has built on a positive weekend to qualify P6 which is his career best qualifying and is a good effort for his first time here in Singapore. We had hoped to be higher up the order for tomorrow's race, but it wasn't to be. A lot can happen on a street circuit, as we have seen here before, so it should be an interesting grand prix tomorrow evening.”
A good day for the Woking team. Both drivers knuckled down in final practice, although there was a scare at the start of qualifying when Sainz appeared to lose power. That issue was rectified and both cars made it into Q3. The Spaniard wound up 'best of the rest' while Norris was a slightly disappointed P10 after being pipped by both Renaults on his final run.
Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:37.818
“It’s been a very positive day for us. Congratulations to the whole team. We showed good pace on a low-speed track, which we know has been one of our weaknesses. The rear-end and the car in general has been behaving well the whole weekend and we managed to put together a very good lap in Q3, despite an engine misfire at the end of Sector Three.
“We lost a couple of tenths there but it didn’t affect the outcome, with P6 being likely out of reach today. P7 was the best position possible out there and it’s a good spot from which to fight tomorrow.”
Lando Norris, 10th, 1:38.329
“It was a good quali all the way until the final run in Q3. I was getting more and more confident in the car, which was nice. Q1 was good, Q2 was good and then I didn't quite get the out-lap I wanted which was a little bit annoying, because around here it’s important to have the confidence.
“I just made some stupid mistakes on my final run in Q3, pushed too hard in an attempt to make up time that I’d lost and the lap just ended up messy. It’s annoying, especially because I was behind two other cars that I shouldn’t be behind. But overall, I was very happy with the car – the team did a great job for me.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“It’s great to be back with two cars qualifying in the top 10. This evening in FP3, we could confirm we have a strong car here with the updates the team back home have developed for Singapore. The team and drivers did a great job then to progress through the sessions in qualifying.
“Today is only Saturday and the points are distributed tomorrow. It’s going to be a long, hot street race and we’re expecting a very tight battle once again – but scoring good points is in our hands.”
The team's upsurge in qualifying form continued, with both drivers making Q3 for the third straight race. They couldn't quite match their exploits from Italy, but nonetheless both getting the better of a McLaren isn't a bad result considering they had looked the slower of the two midfield teams. Ricciardo beat his team mate by two-tenths, and clinched their 2019 qualifying head-to-head as well.
Nico Hulkenberg, 9th, 1:38.264
“Qualifying was very intense today and we gave it everything. We probably achieved our maximum, I was happy with my laps, so we’ll take that. It’s always tough here with the close walls and frequent corners, it’s very intense but that’s why we all like racing here. It’s going to be tight and overtaking is difficult here. There’s the strategy question, safety car possibilities and I’m sure there will be plenty thrown at us.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 8th, 1:38.095
“Our intention was to get into Q3, so to achieve that with both cars is good. I’m not disappointed, it was a good effort and we’ve recovered well throughout the weekend. I’m content with eighth and there’s plenty to play for there. We have to focus on the race now. We’ll see what happens and get along with our business. The race is the toughest of the year, but I enjoy the challenge.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We’re always happy to have both cars in Q3 and, today, we got the most from it. We’re more comfortable here than other high downforce tracks this season, having learnt some lessons at previous races. The cars are working well and we’re pleased to be eighth and ninth on the grid. Tomorrow, we’re expecting a long and hard race. It’s challenging on the car, the drivers, the crew and the tyres. Tyre management will play a key part in the race and we will be ready to react to the many different scenarios that could be thrown at us.”
Perez had an eventful afternoon, clipping the wall hard in FP3 and damaging his gearbox as a result. He will hence take a five-place grid penalty into tomorrow's race, dropping him from P11 on the grid. Stroll's qualifying woes continued, as he was knocked out in Q1 for the third straight time in Singapore.
Sergio Perez, 1:38.620
“Everybody did a tremendous job to put the car together in time for qualifying. It’s very unfortunate that I damaged the car in final practice. This circuit doesn’t allow a single mistake, but I made one. We’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow, but I believe that we have an opportunity to recover and fight back. It’s a long race and I’ve been in this position before in Singapore. I know that anything can happen here: even when you think you are down and out, you can still come back strong. We have good race pace and there are two hours of racing ahead of us. We have to make sure that we finish the race, stay out of trouble and then we can have a shot at the points.”
Lance Stroll, 17th, 1:39.979
“We were in a bad position out on track. I think we had a four-second gap to the car in front and I was being pressured to start the lap from the cars behind. So I had to keep track position or I think it would have been a bigger mess. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. We’re all doing the best that we can to try and get free air. In Q1 there are 20 cars on the track and everyone knows how important it is. Clean air is very, very important here and I just feel like I had a lack of grip on that second run so I couldn’t deliver the lap time that we needed to get through. And it was very tight too: we were missing a tenth to make Q2 so there’s very little in it. I think we had more potential. There were a few more tenths in the car today. I will now focus on racing well tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“It’s been a disappointing qualifying session overall. Lance was caught up in traffic towards the end of Q1 and didn’t get a clear lap. Sergio’s day was compromised by the contact with the wall in final practice, which deprived him of track time and forced the gearbox change. He was on the cusp of making the cut for Q3 but will now incur a grid drop for the new gearbox. While I don’t feel we’ve shown our true potential today, I remain optimistic that we can have a better Sunday. The long run pace is encouraging and we will play the long game tomorrow to take any opportunities that come up.”
Kvyat missed most of final practice after he pulled into the pits with smoke billowing from the back of his STR14. An oil leak was detected and the team did well to get the Russian back out for qualifying. As for Gasly, he was another to clip the wall hard, escaping with limited damage but losing enough time to exit in Q2. It is a shame after the team looked quick yesterday, but at least the Frenchman benefits from the grid penalty of Perez to move up one spot.
Daniil Kvyat, 16th, 1:39.957
“I cannot be happy with my Qualifying, the last lap felt very poor and I knew once I crossed the line there wouldn’t be a chance for Q2. I ran into a lot of traffic which was unfortunate as it cost me some time, and a little mistake with the engine switch in Sector 1 did not help. Not taking part in FP3 hurt us quite a lot and at a track like this every lap counts. I wasn’t really in the rhythm when I went out on track for Q1 and I didn’t have a great feeling in the car. I expect a tough race tomorrow as it can be quite unpredictable around here, however maybe that will work in our favour, so we can have a chance to finish in the points.”
Pierre Gasly, 13th, 1:38.699
“We knew before Qualifying it would be tight in the midfield to make it to the top 10 here. I managed to do it in Q1 with the ninth-fastest time, then in Q2 we just missed out by a tenth, so it was really close. It’s always a bit frustrating when it’s that close, but I think we did the best with what we had. Tomorrow we will start the race P12, so we need to look at our strategy options to see where we can take advantage by choosing our starting tyres for the race. I’ll be pushing as much as I can, it’s a long 61 laps where a lot of things can happen, so it will be important to have a clean race and keep fighting until the end to hopefully score some points for the team.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“After a reasonable Friday, today has been somewhat frustrating with a chassis side oil leak on Dany's car in FP3. This prevented him getting any meaningful running and therefore the completion of the normal preparations. Pierre's FP3 ran a lot smoother and we were reasonably happy with the car’s performance. Regarding Qualifying, Dany had a bit more work to do and unfortunately, we were not able to get beyond Q1 on this occasion, which is frustrating given the importance of grid position here, but we will just have to take some risks tomorrow and see what we can recover. Pierre was reasonably competitive but again, frustratingly, we just missed out on what was a very tight battle for Q3. Looking ahead to the race, overtaking is difficult here but If we can make good use of the tyres and any opportunity which might arise from safety cars, there could still be the possibility to move up the field.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“Kvyat was unlucky today, as his car had an oil leak caused by an issue between the chassis and PU side at the start of FP3. The best option was to change the PU, allowing Daniil to start Q1 as normal. Tomorrow, as always on a street circuit, anything can happen, so we will prepare as well as possible for any eventuality.”
Both drivers made Q2 but could go no further, with Raikkonen clipping the wall on his first run and failing to improve on his second. Likewise Giovinazzi couldn't improve in an Alfa that lacks a touch of pace this weekend. They do tend to go well in the races though, so can't be discounted tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, 14th, 1:38.858
“This hasn’t been an easy weekend for us so far. The car is improving step by step but still we’re not fast enough. I don’t know if it is about the tyres, sometimes we seem to have grip but then it goes away and that makes it hard to feel confident and push properly. The long runs yesterday have shown more consistency so hopefully the race will be a bit easier for us.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 12th, 1:38.697
“It hasn’t been the smoothest weekend so far, so to qualify so close to the top ten is a decent result. I think I could have improved a little in my fastest lap, but looking at the pace of the Renaults and McLarens, it would have been very difficult to beat them. Starting in P11 tomorrow, because of Perez’s penalty, means we are the first of the cars with a free choice of tyres and that can be an advantage. We saw the softs degrade a lot yesterday, so we can pick another compound and make a good strategy out of it. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow, but if we take any chance we get, we can finish this weekend positively with some points.”
Haas were lacking pace across all three practice sessions, so can't have carried much confidence into qualifying. Grosjean clipped the wall hard on his final run in Q1 and exited at the first time of asking. Meanwhile Magnussen made Q2 but could get no further, winding up P15. It looks like the American squad will have their work cut out to score points tomorrow.
Romain Grosjean, 18th, 1:40.277
“I think there was more in the package than what we got. We changed the car after yesterday, reverted to a lot of parts from the Melbourne-spec – on my side of the garage. We didn’t have a chance to try it in cool conditions because FP3 was still warm. I think the balance got away from us in qualifying, so we couldn’t quite extract the maximum. It’s unfortunate but I think we just didn’t get the time to set it up right for the cooler temperatures. Maybe it’s a better package for the race, we’ll see tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen, 15th, 1:39.650
“We didn’t have the pace today. I kind of expected it to be a tough day. Now we’ll see if we can make the tyres hang on in the race and hopefully hold our starting position. I’m not expecting to make much ground, but you can always hope that people make some mistakes. If we can hang onto our position then maybe with safety car and a lucky pitstop or something, we could make some progress even without having the pace. That’s what we cross our fingers for tomorrow.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Unfortunately, this was not unexpected today – this result. I actually think Kevin (Magnussen) did a good job to get into Q2. We know where we are at the moment, we just need to keep on working.”
Williams didn't look far off the pace of Haas in FP3, but come qualifying they were once again rooted to the foot of the table. Russell continued his qualifying clean sweep, beating his team mate home by three-tenths of a second.
Robert Kubica, 20th, 1:41.186
"We improved the car balance for qualifying and I was a bit surprised, so probably under drove a few corners on my first lap. I knew I had a second set of new tyres and the track evolution was pretty big, but we had a problem with the refuelling between the runs and left the garage too late. Unfortunately, I took the chequered flag before opening my final lap. It’s a shame but that’s how it is. The race will be a big challenge. The track is demanding both physically and mentally. It is also hard on the tyres and the car, so it will be a tough one."
George Russell, 19th, 1:40.867
"We decided to risk it and go as late as possible to get the best from the circuit. Unfortunately, lots of other drivers were trying to do the same and my warm up lap was 20 or 30 seconds slower than every other I have done this week. When I started the lap I almost spun off as I had no temperature in the tyres, so from the first corner I knew that the lap was pretty much ruined. It was a shame as we had a small chance of a good result, but it wasn’t meant to be."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"Qualifying was ultimately frustrating as neither driver had the best opportunity to demonstrate the pace of the car. For George, his final out-lap was compromised by being in traffic, which hindered his tyre preparation. Meanwhile, Robert had a small issue with the car during the quick garage turnaround following a visit to the FIA weighbridge. The short delay meant he left the garage later than intended. His out-lap was good and he was able to prepare the tyres as he wanted but he was further delayed in the final corners by the traffic ahead. Although the TV footage shows that he started the lap before the lights went red, the official timing, which is the final arbitrator in such matters, unfortunately showed that he had missed the end of the session by 0.2s. Reluctantly, we had to tell Robert to abort his lap as taking the chequered flag twice would have led to further sanction from the stewards.
"It is frustrating for everyone in the team, but we knew that to have a chance of progressing from Q1 we had to take some risks. On this occasion, we were not rewarded. We will analyse what happened and improve as a result. However, tomorrow there is still an opportunity to race the cars ahead of us on the grid and our immediate focus is on how best to achieve this."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"A bit like the actual grand prix, this was an exciting qualifying session from start to finish. In the end, with considerably more than a second between the medium and the soft, everyone chose to get through Q2 on the soft tyre, so the top 10 will all start the race on this compound tomorrow. When it came down to the final Q3 runs, getting the timing right was crucial, with Leclerc maximising the window of opportunity and delivering an incredible lap. In theory, starting on the soft tyre forms the beginning of the optimal race strategy tomorrow, but in practice we've seen in the past that absolutely anything can happen in Singapore. So it's definitely a very tough race where drivers can do well even starting further down the grid order."