What the teams said – Qualifying in Tuscany
Bottas swept the practice sessions and started qualifying as favourite, and certainly looked it when he comfortably headed Hamilton in Q1. But the reigning world champion nailed his lap when it mattered to sneak ahead for the first time in Q2 by the narrowest of margins, and then grabbed pole on his first flying lap in Q3 in emphatic fashion. Bottas then lost his second quick lap to yellow flags, to be left disappointed with P2 overall. A front row lock out is a good way to bounce back for the team after the disappointment of Monza though.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:15.144
"I'm so happy to be up here. It's been a tough weekend, to be honest. This is a phenomenal track and it's very challenging. You're going through Turns 6, 7, 8 and 9 at around 275 to 285 km/h and the g-forces we're pulling through there is just insane. Valtteri has been quicker than me all through the weekend, so I've been working hard in the background to try and improve my lines and set-up. And finally, I got the lap together that I needed in Q3. The wind picked up a bit for the second lap, which is why I wasn't able to go any quicker, but the first lap was good enough. Valtteri did a great job and has been pushing me really hard, so I'm glad I could pick up the pace once I got to Qualifying. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, it'll be difficult on such a high-speed track but that should also make it pretty interesting."
Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:15.203
"It's disappointing to miss out on pole, especially by such a small margin and after I had to abort my final lap. The yellow flags definitely hampered my Qualifying, as I still had more to come with the last lap and was just waiting for the time to get it all right. The first run was okay but not perfect, so I was looking forward to going again but I just didn't get the opportunity. Coming into the weekend, we thought it would be nearly impossible to overtake here but during practice, we've seen how wide the track is and the different lines you can take through the corners. So, I'm hopeful I'll be able to take the fight to Lewis tomorrow and have a good battle. There's a long run to Turn 1 as well, so we'll see what happens."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"I'm very happy with a 1-2 in Qualifying and locking out the front row. This is such a fast and flowing track, so Qualifying was spectacular - as we expected. We have all the ingredients for an exciting race tomorrow, with both Red Bulls behind us and it's also great to see Ferrari in their 1,000th Grand Prix with a car up in P5. We're flying a little bit blind for the race, with it being a brand-new track for F1. Our long runs in practice actually weren't that long so there are still some unknowns. We'll have to see how the tyres last and whether it will be a one or a two-stop, but there are a few strategic options and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'm really looking forward to a good race tomorrow."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"Well done to Lewis on another fantastic pole position, it's difficult to put the lap together here with so many interconnected corners, but he made a big step overnight and was putting in strong laps all session. It was a frustrating final lap for Valtteri; he'd found good time compared to his penultimate run as he exited Turn 3 but had to abandon the lap due to the yellow flags. Valtteri's been strong here from the word go, so he was frustrated to not get a chance to finish the lap but at least his first lap in the final session was good enough to secure the front row. This is the closest that we've seen Red Bull all year in Qualifying and that normally translates to them being close in the race. They also have two cars up at the front which will give them a few more options. Hopefully it will be an interesting race; it's pretty tough on the tyres and there are quite a few strategies that all end up similar on race time, so I think we'll see some variety up and down the grid in tyre choice and number of stops."
Verstappen split the Mercedes in FP3 and looked right in the fight for pole. He faded somewhat in qualifying which he said he expected, but won’t be too unhappy with third and the racing line into the first corner, not to mention a potential tow as well. As for Albon, he looked more comfortable than he has of late over one lap and locked out the second row with his team mate in his best qualifying since Austria back in July.
Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:15.509
“As a team I think we did a very good job the whole weekend and from the start the car was in a good window which meant it was more about fine tuning. We are the closest we have been to Mercedes in qualifying so we can be happy about that and also the gap to the competition behind us is bigger. I have good hopes for the race and it is always difficult to predict whether we can fight for the win but I feel a bit more confident than some other weekends. We have quite decent top speed which I think is good around here and although it won’t be easy to pass at least the last few corners are quite wide and long so you can take a few different lines if you have the pace to follow. Strategy wise as it is a new track we will find out a lot during the race, especially about the tyres as track temperatures are going to be quite high tomorrow. A Mercedes is never easy to overtake but we will give it all we have and I love this track so I’m really looking forward to the race.”
Alex Albon, 4th, 1:15.954
“It was a good, strong qualifying and driving these cars around this circuit on low fuel is just incredible. It’s crazy and it takes your breath away so I hope we continue with tracks like this in the future. Qualifying fourth is my career best so I’m happy as we are making constant progress. Spa was good, Monza was better and here so far has been another step forward. Obviously, there’s still some time to find but we’re consistently getting better and I think without the yellow flags in the last Q3 run we would have gone even quicker. During the Free Practice sessions, I was lacking a bit of confidence but after we made some changes, the car became more connected and I could start pushing it. Tomorrow, we’ll need to get a good, clean launch as it’s a long run to Turn One and then hopefully we can have a simple, boring race without any dramas.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“It’s great to have both drivers up on the second row in qualifying with Max third and Alex fourth and we extracted the most out of the car today. We were just a couple of tenths shy of Mercedes but it was one of the closest sessions this year and hopefully we can race well from there. Alex has had a strong weekend with his best F1 qualifying result to date which will provide him with confidence ahead of the race. We’ve been quick in sector three all weekend so our first opportunity will be on the run down to Turn One and then we will see what we can do from there. It’s going to be interesting to see what affect the warm weather has on strategies and of course there’s no historic data here so you’ve got to be prepared to be reactive. The drivers are really enjoying this circuit, it’s a fast old school track so let’s hope it produces a great race tomorrow.”
Both cars made it out of Q1 in what was a marked improvement on the last two races. Vettel exited at the second time of asking but Leclerc made it all the way to the top 10 shootout. That was cause for celebration enough, but then the Monegasque nailed his lap before the yellow flags came out to grab an impressive fifth on the grid. Whether he can keep hold of that position tomorrow remains to be seen but today was definitely an upturn in fortunes for the Scuderia at their 1,000th race.
Sebastian Vettel, 14th, 1:16.858
"I made a mistake in Q1, although I was still able to go through to the next part, but from then on we weren’t able to make any progress. We need to have a look at the data, but so far, I’m not really getting the hang of the car. I am trying to, but it will be a difficult race tomorrow, especially given our start position, which means we won’t be able to show our true pace. I am not happy with this result, but I have struggled a little bit this weekend so far, so lets see what we can do tomorrow. As for overtaking, everybody is saying it is difficult here, but as we have never raced here before, let’s see what happens tomorrow."
Charles Leclerc, 5th, 1:16.270
“I’m happy to be back in the top ten as I’ve missed tackling Q3 in recent races. The last two weekends have been extremely difficult for us so it’s nice to finally see the light.
"It’s still a bit of an unknown where our pace came from, and it is very important for us to find out, because that’s how we will consistently be at our best.
"The characteristics of this track suit our car better, that’s for sure. I think our medium-downforce package is better in terms of balance compared to our low-downforce one that we were running in Monza and Spa. I was struggling to drive the car there, and here I’m a bit more at ease with it, so I had more confidence and that also helped today.
"P5 is definitely the best we could have done. We are lacking performance compared to the guys in front but overall I’m very happy with the balance, which is positive.
"It’s going to be a difficult race because we have quite a lot of cars behind us that might turn out to be faster than us. Hopefully we can give our tifosi some entertainment and finish in this position or even better."
Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director
"After two very tough weekends in Spa and Monza, we wanted to turn things around and we seem to have managed it. Charles is fifth on the grid, so that today at least, he is ahead of the group of drivers that normally fight over a few tenths. It’s the best we can do right now.
"Sebastian’s result is not so good, but the gaps are very small: just five thousandths faster would have moved him up two places. We can expect a very tough race tomorrow on a beautiful and spectacular track that is also demanding for both the car and driver.
"At least ten cars will be fighting for places right behind the top three and we will have to do everything perfectly when it comes to strategy, reliability and the work in the pitlane. Our aim is the same as always, to bring home as many points as possible. We will have some extra motivation from the fact we want to do our best on what is the Scuderia’s one thousandth Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix."
Stroll’s car has been fitted with an upgraded bargeboard, with only one available, and in the early part of qualifying that looked to be worth a few tenths to the Canadian. He also only ran once in Q1 and thus preserved a set of tyres for the final segment of qualifying, while Perez was left with only one fresh set. As a result the Mexican was out by himself in the middle of Q3 and managed to miss the drama to grab sixth. Stroll though was caught out by the late yellow flags waved for Ocon’s spin and had to settle for P7. Those positions will be reversed for tomorrow to take into account Perez’s grid penalty.
Sergio Perez, 6th, 1:16.311
“I think we got everything we could out of the car and overall it’s been a positive day for the team. It was a good lap in Q3, which was important because we only had one set of Soft tyres remaining [having used two sets in Q1]. It’s a shame that we have the penalty for the Grand Prix, but if I had to lose a place on the grid – I’m glad it’s to my team mate! Lance was able to run the car upgrade today, which is looking positive, so that’s a good sign for the coming races. It’s a new race for all of us, so there’s plenty of unknowns and calling the strategy won’t be easy tomorrow. A strong start will mean we have everything to play for in the race.”
Lance Stroll, 7th, 1:16.356
“It was a little bit frustrating out there today. I think we could have qualified in P4 or P5 without the yellow flag on the final runs in Q3. I’d set a comfortable banker lap on my first run and I think I was set to improve significantly on my second. Regardless, there’s plenty of positives to take from today. We improved the car overnight and earned a good starting position – and that’s important because overtaking is going to be difficult here. I’m happy with the feel of the car and we have good underlying pace, so I think we have the potential for a strong result tomorrow. We were also able to collect more data on our upgrade package and the early signs are promising. It’s been a good day’s work and I’m looking forward to the race now.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“A pretty solid qualifying effort with both cars showing good speed across the sessions. Even with Checo’s one-place penalty, it doesn’t change our starting positions as a team with Lance now lining up ahead of Checo. Lance was unlucky on his final run in Q3 to be disadvantaged by the yellow flags for Ocon and had to abort the lap. That took away his chance of getting ahead of Leclerc. The layout of this track suggests overtaking will be difficult tomorrow, so it was important to secure good starting positions today. I’m confident our race pace will match our qualifying speed and that we can bring home important points tomorrow.”
Renault were well off the pace in FP3 after catching some traffic late on, and thus their true pace was an unknown heading into qualifying. The R.S.20 defied expectations to be quick, with both drivers comfortably making it into Q3. Ocon though, only had one set of fresh soft tyres so only went out for a flying lap at the end. He managed to put a wheel onto the grass at Turn 3 and spin, and the yellow flags that came out caught all the drivers behind out – including his team mate.
Daniel Ricciardo, 8th, 1:16.243
“We showed pretty good pace today, so it’s a shame not to maximise it. We’re still in a good position to score points for the race. I was happy with the session, especially with Q2, where I put in a good lap and saved two sets for Q3. My first run in Q3 wasn’t the best, I lost the rear and it was a bit messy and there was certainly more to come on the second set. Unfortunately, with Esteban’s spin and the yellow flag, I couldn’t improve my lap time. Looking at the result, there was potential for fifth with a clean lap. There will be a lot going on tomorrow and I think there will be a good battle for the top five and hopefully it’s a fun one.”
Esteban Ocon, 10th, No time set in Q3
“Unfortunately, I lost the car on my Q3 run and couldn’t put in a lap time. It was one of those times when you push the limits more and more throughout the session and that one was just a bit over. It’s a shame as we showed good pace and we could have qualified a lot further up. The car was good today and the team did a really solid job, especially the step between FP3 and qualifying. We’re in a position to score points tomorrow and I know we have the ability to grab some.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We can be happy to have got two cars into Q3, particularly after our difficult morning today. However, we can’t be totally content with the finishing positions. We justifiably showed that the car had more pace than that; we could have been fifth and sixth. We, nevertheless, have to be satisfied with eighth and tenth and see what we can do tomorrow. Watching the support races, it seems possible to overtake, so it could be an interesting race. Conditions look similar to today, so we hope to have another strong race and double points finish for the team.”
A mixed bag for McLaren once again. Norris looked to be making it into Q3 comfortably but Sainz delivered a fast lap when it mattered to knock his team mate out of the top 10. Norris at least has the consolation of free tyre choice from 11th but wasn’t too impressed today. As for the Spaniard, he ran used tyres on his opening effort in the top 10 shootout, before losing his second flying lap to those pesky yellow flags.
Carlos Sainz, 9th, 1:17.870
“Today was a good reaction to a very difficult weekend so far. We finally managed to put a good lap together in Q2 and get through to Q3. It’s disappointing to not fully see what the car was capable of doing in Q3 due to the yellow flag but, in general, I’m happy with the turnaround we made.
“We’ve made a lot of set up changes across the weekend and now we’re ready for a challenging race tomorrow, when we’ll try our best to fight for points.”
Lando Norris, 11th, 1:16.640
“A tricky qualifying, but given how much we were struggling in FP3, there are some positives we can take away from today.
“The car was a long way off the pace this morning and I didn’t have much confidence, so I struggled a lot during that session. We made some good improvements going into qualifying and the result could’ve been a lot worse, but obviously I’m still frustrated to have missed out on Q3 by a few tenths. We’ll push hard tomorrow to make up a few positions and get into the points.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“A challenging two days so far for us here in Mugello. Despite improving the car for qualifying, we have to accept that P9 and P11 were pretty much everything we could achieve today.
“The gap to the cars in front of us isn’t huge, which gives us the opportunity to fight tomorrow. We’ll do our homework tonight and look to the race ahead.”
What a difference a few days can make. After looking comfortable top 10 material all through practice, Gasly lost his first flying lap in Q1 to traffic and then caught some understeer on his second to fall at the first time of asking in what can only be called a disappointing display. At least Kvyat spared the team’s blushes by making Q2, but he could go no further after making a mistake and running through the gravel.
Pierre Gasly, 16th, 1:17.125
“Today was frustrating as everything was going so well all weekend. The car was good in free practice, and in quali we pushed the engine a bit more and in my two laps before the finish line, I ran out of energy which cost us more than a tenth. Looking at the gap, we were only missing half a tenth to Q2. It’s clearly not good on such a track to qualify so far behind and it’s a shame because everything before that went great. We just didn’t manage to put things together in quali and we made small mistakes in the worst possible moment. We need to find a way to recover as we know we are faster than this, so we’ll try to make our way back into the points tomorrow.”
Daniil Kvyat, 12th, 1:16.854
“I had a solid day today as I felt more comfortable with the car in qualifying than in other sessions. My engineers did a good job trying to make the car suit my driving better because yesterday I wasn’t very happy, but today we definitely made a step forward. However, we were missing a couple of tenths, so in the last run since there wasn’t much to lose, I tried to take Turn 7 flat; you try to find time anywhere you can. We start from P12 tomorrow and you can fight from there, the race is new for everyone, so it will be important to capitalise on anything that might happen.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“A disappointing qualifying session today. We have been much more competitive in the sessions leading up to qualifying, but we didn't manage to repeat our performance this afternoon and we need to understand what the factors behind this were. There is a lot of work to get through tonight in order to be fully prepared for the race, and today's result has made it harder than it should have been. However, we feel we have a package to be competitive tomorrow fighting with the cars in the midfield and this is our target.”
Giovinazzi couldn’t muster any heroics in qualifying in his homeland, and has still yet to make it out of Q1 this season. Raikkonen though looked to have more pace than of late at the track at which he first drove an F1 car, back in the day testing for Sauber. He made Q2 and out-qualified the Ferrari of Vettel to boot in a decent showing.
Kimi Raikkonen, 13th, 1:16.854
“P13 is a good result given the circumstances but obviously we want a lot more. The car felt quite nice and I felt we got everything we could out of it, but it’s still disappointing not to be higher up on the grid, as we were very close to the top 10. We keep pushing for a spot in Q3 and sooner or later we are going to break in. We’ll find out tomorrow if we can get in the points in the race: overtaking will be difficult but all we can do is go out there and do our best.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 17th, 1:17.220
“I’m disappointed to be out in Q1 as today we had the potential to do better. I put in a good lap in my first run, but in the second one I just didn’t pull it all together. This is a track where a small mistake costs you a lot because this layout is effectively a sequence of corners: if you do a mistake, you lose momentum and your lap is ruined, and this is what happened. The race tomorrow will be tough: physically tough, with high temperatures and on a track on which overtaking is difficult. We will try our best to make up some ground.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“To place a car in Q2 for the second race in a row, just 0.3s off a place in the top 10, is a good result and we can be pleased with the step forward we have made. We had our best qualifying of the year: we’ve made a big improvement in the last couple of months and the gap with our rivals has shrunk considerably, although we know we have to keep working hard to keep moving forward. It was a shame to lose Antonio in Q1: he was less than 0.2s from a place in the top 15, but with such a tight field, that was enough to miss out. The race tomorrow will be interesting: strategy will surely play a big role and we need to be ready to react quickly to any circumstances: a place in the points is possible if we play our cards right.”
Magnussen just didn’t click with the VF-20 today, and struggling with understeer he exited at the first time of asking. Grosjean though made Q2 in what was a mini victory for the team but could go no further. With such a long straight here, the race could be an uphill battle for the American outfit who look down on power once again.
Romain Grosjean, 15th, 1:17.254
“Q2, as I said at Silverstone, that’s our current target for the short-term in qualifying. So, that’s the positive today. The Q2 runs weren’t that good. I didn’t have a tow on my first run, and for us that’s costly here. The lap was good, we were just missing straight line speed. I just went for it on my second lap. I guess at Turn 1 I picked up a big gust of wind – the rear of the car completely snapped. I was down four tenths already, so it was game over from the first corner. I can’t say for the race how we’ll go. In all fairness, I didn’t do the long run yesterday with the issues we had on my car. I’m pretty sure tyres are going to have a tough time. Let’s see, at least for us, how much of an issue surface overheating is. I’m a bit worried but let’s hope I’m wrong. But what a track to drive. Turns six to 10 you’re flat out – that’s absolutely mega.”
Kevin Magnussen, 20th, 1:17.348
“I’m pretty surprised to be where I am. It didn’t feel bad, the car’s gotten better and better all weekend long. When I was driving that last lap, I thought it was going to be okay, it didn’t feel too bad. I had one of the Williams car’s go off in the gravel at Turn 7, there was a lot of gravel and dust coming up. I had to lift off a little bit, which maybe cost me a tenth or so. That meant I was dead last as it’s so tight here. It was a little bit unlucky, but honestly it felt much better than it was. Given the surprise of today, not being as competitive as we thought, it’s hard to have too big an expectation for the race tomorrow. As always, we’ll do what we can to try to make it up in the race.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“After a good FP3 to start the day, we were hoping for a little bit more in qualifying. At least the good point is we got one car into Q2 – at the moment that is the best we can do. We’re always doing the best that we can. The drivers are pretty happy with the car, but we’re just not fast enough. Tomorrow is another day. Starting from 15th will be tough to get into the points, but if you don’t try, you don’t get. At some stage we will get lucky – somewhere, sometime, it may be far away, but it will come.”
Russell missed almost the entirety of FP3 after a brake by wire issue was detected on his installation lap. Shawn of running, he looked rusty at the start of qualifying but managed a hair-raising last flying lap, keeping his foot in despite having two wheels partially in the gravel to at least beat his team mate and keep his qualifying streak going. Latifi had to make do with P19 in a quieter day.
George Russell, 18th, 1:17.232
"We were quick from the off and I had a really good feeling in the car. We changed the downforce level from yesterday, which I planned to run this morning but didn’t get the chance to. It was a bit of a change for us, and missing FP3 made it difficult. I am disappointed I couldn’t finish my final lap as that would have been a great way to reward the team, as Q2 was definitely on the cards for us today. A big thanks to the boys for getting my car turned around after FP3 as there was a lot of work on their hands. Nevertheless, I think we did a good job today."
Nicholas Latifi, 19th, 1:17.320
"I was feeling strong after FP3. We made quite a sizeable change going into qualifying and geared the car towards the race tomorrow to have more of a fighting chance. The first run was feeling good, but the balance went in the wrong direction for the second and the third. I was limited with a lot of understeer; we were compensating for that and we kept adding more and more wing. I think there was more today, but I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"A small issue with the brake system on George’s car at the beginning of FP3 required some major work to access the damaged component. This gave the mechanics a lot to do to get the car ready for qualifying, robbed George of some valuable track time and meant that we missed some of the set-up work that we were keen to do. Fortunately, we were able to move some of George’s tests to Nicholas, and he and his team did an excellent job to update their run programme and collect the key data. It was a great example of the team’s agility and highlights the trust across the garage. Based on the results from Nicholas’s car, both drivers were able to go into qualifying with the best set up on their cars.
"The mechanics did a sterling job to repair George’s car after FP3 enabling him to leave the garage on time at the beginning of qualifying. The Q1 session was busy as we looked to maximise track time for both drivers. Both put in strong performances, pushing the limits further on each run. George ran wide at T7 on his final lap, which cost him some time, but he was still able to complete a strong sector three despite coming across Hamilton in the last corner. Nicholas meanwhile had his tyre preparation compromised by traffic on the out-lap and couldn’t improve on his previous best due to too much understeer.
"Qualifying was very tight, and the car had the pace to progress to Q2 today. We are a little frustrated by the result this afternoon, but we know that it was very close, and we are happy that we made some good decisions in difficult circumstances. The team have done an excellent job all weekend and although today we fell a little short, we are ready to race hard tomorrow."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"It was another warm day at Mugello with the tyres providing good performance. Already in Q1 yesterday's new track record was broken, before being lowered further in the final session. All the drivers in the top 10 of the grid have chosen to start the race on the soft tyres, which obviously has an effect on the race strategy. Controlling degradation on the soft at the beginning of the race will be crucial, and this will help to decide if it's a one or a two stop race, with several different strategies possible. The soft tyres were used from start to finish of qualifying today, but the harder compounds will definitely come into their own tomorrow, especially for the drivers contemplating a one-stop strategy."