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Saturday in Barcelona - team by team

14 May 2016

A round-up of the qualifying action at the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2016 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya...

Red Bull

What a performance from Red Bull. After grabbing all the headlines in the build up to Spain with the much discussed driver swap, all eyes were on Verstappen who looked completely at ease in his new car. At one point it looked like the youngster might even be on the front row, but Ricciardo had a stormer of a final lap to be best of the rest behind Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo, 3rd, 1:22.680

“Firstly I’m really happy to be back in the top three on Saturday and will try and be back here tomorrow! I’m happy for both of us (Max and I) to be in front of the Ferraris, we are both on the second row, which is pretty awesome. It took a bit of time to come together, but in Q3 I knew I had one lap and knew I had the pace and where I could do it; it was about putting it all together – up until then I hadn’t, but Q3 is what counts and I did it, so I’m really happy.”

Max Verstappen, Position: 4th, 1:23.087

"I enjoyed the qualifying, it was getting better with every lap. For me the target today was to enjoy myself and I had a good feeling in the car. I focused on what I had to do and it worked. I’m happy, I didn’t expect to adapt to the car so quickly. I didn’t expect to be on the second row, so it’s a positive feeling. We are close to a podium and hopefully we can keep our positions in tomorrow’s race.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“An amazing performance by both of our drivers today. It was a phenomenal final lap by Daniel Ricciardo, he only had one set of tyres in Q3 but he made the most of them and nailed the best lap of the weekend to line up third. Max Vertsappen, making his debut for the team this weekend, has proved to be the sensation that we know he is. He will line up alongside Daniel on the second row, in front of the Ferraris, which puts us in a great position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.”


Qualifying towards the back of the grid, Sauber can be heartened to be ahead of the Manors, an improvement on their last outing in Russia. 

Marcus Ericsson, 19th, 1:25.202

“It’s been a tough weekend for me. I have been struggling with the balance of the car since the first practice session. We have been working really hard to get a better balance for the car, and I felt we took steps in the right direction. Now in qualifying I felt more comfortable in the car, and I am satisfied with my driving. I think the result is the maximum considering our car’s current package. Unfortunately, it is not better than 19th position. I hope we can be stronger in the future.”

Felipe Nasr, 20th, 1:25.579

“It was not an easy qualifying for us. We were expecting to face some difficulties here. But overall we did a good job with regard to the set-up of the car, especially when it comes to race preparation. In qualifying I managed to have a good lap on the first set of soft tyres. During the second run I struggled with some oversteer, so I could not improve my time. I think the results are the best we could have achieved today, as the other teams are further ahead of us. It is a long race tomorrow; a lot can happen, especially with regards to the tyre degradation.”


Both drivers made it into Q2 but could go no further. Grosjean had complained about the VF-16 all Friday, and two lock-ups on Saturday indicated he was still having a tough time round the Catalunya circuit. In the end it was a solid performance from Haas, and with tyre degredation an issue in Barcelona, their long run pace might bring them into play on Sunday. 

Romain Grosjean, 14th, 1:24.480

“I think we did a great job and everyone worked very hard overnight to get a better car. It’s very close and very tight in terms of lap times. We couldn’t make it to Q3, but we weren’t that far off. We need to find some more speed but, generally, I’m very pleased with the way we worked. I’m very proud of all the guys.”

Esteban Gutierrez, 16th, 1:24.778

“It was a great effort from the whole team to recover after the problems from yesterday. Today, I really enjoyed extracting the maximum on every run. I found a little inconsistency between the different sets of tyres, but that’s something we can look into and try to improve to really get the best out of our setup. Now I’m looking ahead to the race tomorrow and fighting for positions. I’m excited to get back out there.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“Q1 was pretty good. Romain and Esteban did a great job, and I think we are back where we want to be. We finished up P14 and P16. I think we’re a little under where we could be, but it’s so close out there – so many are within three-tenths. You can be 10th or 15th. All in all, we are happy where we are. We got both cars into Q2, which is a good result for us. Tomorrow, we’ll head out and try and finish in the points.”


In what can be described as a disappointing day, Ferrari locked out the third row on the grid. Both cars looked a handful in FP3 and qualifying, with Raikkonen running wide more than once. The Prancing Horse was expected to challenge Mercedes this week, but instead were comfortably leap frogged by Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen, 5th, 1:12.113

"It was not an easy day: we did our best, but the result is a bit disappointing. We seemed to struggle quite a lot in the last sector and I'm not surprised we were losing a lot of time there. Before qualifying we made some changes to my set-up and the car felt better, but it was not easy to get the laps that we wanted and make the handling exactly as we desired. The car felt ok yesterday, today I was quicker, but the wind has been turning around a bit, making some places quite tricky. My last run was better than so far today, but obviously it's not where we want to be. Our rivals did a better job today, we have to keep working and improving and see what we can do tomorrow in the race."

Sebastian Vettel, 6th, 1:23.334

"I think every day can be tough but for sure I didn't expect to be that far off, especially because this morning we had a good rhythm. I didn't get hold of the car, I didn't get the feeling that I had earlier today, and couldn't nail the laps. I don't think that it is a surprise, if you don't get it together here it can be quite costly, and we know this. I think the gap to Mercedes is bigger than it has been all weekend. So clearly we didn't get it right. As for tomorrow's race, for sure the further up you qualify, the better: this rule applies everywhere. We will focus on the start, first lap and then there is a long race, and lot of things we can do. Usually there are several pit-stops here so we can play with the strategy and pass people that are slower than us. I think the car is quicker than P6, so I have high hopes for tomorrow."


A front row lock out marked a good day for Mercedes. There was some early drama in FP3 when Rosberg had to nurse his car back to the pits but it turned out to be a easily fixed sensor issue and he was soon back on his way. Hamilton has trailed his team mate in the early part of qualifying, but put the perfect lap together when it mattered to grab his third pole of the season.

Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:22.000

"That felt great today to finally put the lap together, I'm very very happy. You always need to put that performance in, it reassures your belief, and Nico had been so fast this weekend, sometimes two tenths quicker, sometimes more. I could see on my data where I was losing, so I had to try and figure it out on track, and it is so satisfying to attack that obstacle and get through it. I am really grateful to the team for working hard overnight to put the car in the right place for me to fight - and now it's three poles from three for me when I've been able to do the laps in qualifying. I haven't had a proper race with Nico yet this year so I am hoping that will start tomorrow. It's very hard to overtake here, so strategy is important, as is looking after the tyres: the forces round this circuit means it just eats the tyres up, so you need to get that balance just right and see it through to the finish."

Nico Rosberg, 2nd, 1:22.280

"Lewis did the better job today but tomorrow is when it really counts. There is a big opportunity for me at the beginning: I had some good starts this year and Lewis hasn't led into the first corner this season so far. Maybe in the race there will be an opportunity. Tyre usage will also play a factor and the right strategy will be crucial. So I'm expecting a pretty interesting race and I'm looking forward to the battle. We need to keep eye on Red Bull as well, as they are surprisingly stronger than Ferrari here."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"After the problems we had in the last two qualifying sessions, it was great to get both cars to the end of the session today - and to see the drivers put them on the front row. It was a magic lap from Lewis. He's struggled with the set-up this weekend but worked with the engineering team to get the car where he wanted it, and delivered at the right moment. I'm very pleased for him. As for Nico, he's second on the grid but it looked like he had something in his pocket in Q2, so his tyres might be a little fresher for the race start - and we will see if that makes a difference tomorrow afternoon. I'm expecting a tough race, a big battle between our boys and a challenge from the guys behind us on the grid. We must make sure we do our job and give the drivers reliable equipment, then see how the race unfolds."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"First of all, well done to all our colleagues at Brixworth, whose hard work and expertise over the past weeks has got us through the weekend reliably so far. Our aerodynamic upgrade package is also working well, which is a good confirmation that our development rate remains high and competitive. But we have had some difficult qualifying sessions recently, so it is a weight off our shoulders to have enjoyed a trouble-free session today in Barcelona - and it was a privilege to watch the battle between our two drivers performing at their very best. Congratulations to Lewis on his third pole of the season; he put in a tremendous performance during all three sessions and, at one point, was on course for a time in the 1:21 bracket. Well done to Nico, as well; he delivered some great laps to take our first all-Mercedes front row since Bahrain. Our focus now turns to tomorrow's race. We will need good starts, given the difficulty of overtaking at this circuit, and we expect a challenging race in terms of strategy with plenty of opportunities to take advantage. We want to make sure our long-run performance is on the same level as we showed over a single lap today."

Force India

Perez continued his strong run of form, qualifying ninth. He has looked the quicker of the two all weekend, with Hulkenberg just missing out on Q3 in 11th. Free tyre choice does give Hulkenberg more options with his strategy though, so a double points finish could be on the cards on Sunday.

Sergio Perez, 9th, 1:23.782

“I’m very happy to be starting ninth. This track has traditionally been a difficult one for us, so to come here with our upgrade and make Q3 feels pretty good. I think there was the potential to be even faster on my Q3 lap, but I’m still happy with the result. I expect us to be strong in the race and we have a good track position, which is important on this track where it’s never easy to overtake. In the first stint, the cars starting just outside the top ten on fresh tyres will be a threat, but I am confident we can make a good start and stay ahead. Strategy will be important, as well as tyre management, but it’s not easy if you get involved in battles that take the life out of your tyres. If we can come away with a good number of points it will be a nice reward for the team’s hard work and effort recently.”

Nico Hülkenberg, 11th, 1:24.203

“It’s always a bit disappointing to miss out on Q3 by just one hundredth of a second, but on the other hand starting from P11 gives us the chance to explore the strategy options with a free choice of tyre for the first stint. We brought a big upgrade here this weekend and generally it’s working well, but I’m not totally comfortable in the car and I’m still chasing the balance. I feel quite optimistic about tomorrow because our long run pace looked solid and we’ve got a good chance of scoring some points.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“To come to Barcelona – one of the most demanding tracks where aero performance dominates - and qualify in ninth and eleventh places is an excellent effort by the whole team. Everybody has worked extremely hard to deliver our new aerodynamic package and we’ve already reaped the rewards with our performance today. Sergio and Nico both delivered tidy laps and Nico was within a whisker of joining Sergio in Q3. Those starting positions give us a great opportunity to score a good number of points and make up for the misfortune we’ve experienced in some of the earlier races this season.”


Williams made a costly mistake in Q1, a timing issue meaning Massa will start from 18th tomorrow. Out of position, he will be looking to make up places from the start. Bottas was comfortably inside the top ten, without ever really challenging the Red Bulls or Ferraris.

Valtteri Bottas, 7th, 1:23.522

"I was hoping for a bit better result, but it was a good lap so I am pleased with how we did in Q3. It’s a shame about Felipe. Tomorrow, we need to set the bar high and aim to be in the top five in the race. It’s possible with a good start and our strategy, so we’ll try to make up as many places as we can."

Felipe Massa, 18th, 1:24.941

"I’m so disappointed about what happened. I had traffic on my first run so I couldn’t do a clean lap. We didn’t have time to go out on another set of tyres. Traffic or problems on the lap can happen, but we still need to ensure we can react accordingly. It’s a long race tomorrow though, so we still need to aim to challenge for points."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"Overall it’s a disappointing qualifying session. Our fastest car is in seventh position which is where we predicted we would get to, but it’s not enough. Valtteri did everything that he could with the car to get to that position, and we’re quite close to the Ferraris, which is positive. Felipe didn’t get his lap right and we didn’t have enough time to do another run, so we need to look at what’s gone wrong on his lap, because we had eight tenths of a margin to get through into Q2, and then we have to look at what we could have done better operationally as well. We’ll dissect everything, be open and honest, and do better. What we have to concentrate on now is the race tomorrow. Valtteri’s starting from a good position, and hopefully he can get some good points and get amongst the cars in front. With Felipe we need to be a little clever with the strategy, and think about what we can do in order to get into the back end of the points with him."


Wehrlein won the intra-team battle at Manor, beating Haryanto by nearly two tenths of a second. On a track favouring downforce, the team did as well as could be expected. 

Pascal Wehrlein, 21st, 1:25.745

“I think our qualifying performance was the maximum for us today. Our new developments are working well but even so we knew this track would not be our strongest because you really need a lot of downforce here and that’s an area where we still need to keep making improvements. Also it appears that we haven’t solved our degradation problems fully. I think this is where we are at this event but there will be some better tracks coming soon for us.”

Rio Haryanto, 22nd, 1:25.939

“I’m disappointed today as we pushed really hard in practice and qualifying. We’ve definitely seen some improvements with the new parts we have for this race but not enough to get ahead of the teams we’re competing against at this particular circuit. Still, I’m very focused on tomorrow and after the frustration of Russia I’m looking forward to actually racing, then I hope we can have a stronger day.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

“We have mixed feelings about our weekend here so far. On the one hand, there are some positive signs from our new developments. On the other, this was always going to be a tricky circuit for us to be able to demonstrate their benefit. We still have a lot of work to do to move us forward. Pascal and Rio did a good job today, so they’ll be disappointed with where they’re starting the race. Nevertheless, we’ve also seen them fighting hard in previous races to fight with the cars around us, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”


Alonso looked to be enjoying himself at his home grand prix and made it to Q3 for the first time this season. Button struggled to match his team mate, complaining about balance issues with the rear end of his MP4-31.

Fernando Alonso, 10th, 1:23.981

“Today is the first time in a long while that I haven’t watched Q3 on television!

“And it’s nice to be part of the show. This is new-shape McLaren-Honda’s first time in Q3 – but, in truth, we probably deserved this result a couple of races ago.

“But never mind that now: let’s just enjoy it before we turn our attention to tomorrow and look at how we can convert it into world championship points. That’ll require some thought because, for the first time this year, we’ll be starting on used Q2 tyres – we don’t have a free choice, which is a slight handicap that we’ll look to recover somehow.

“Nonetheless, we should be thinking about moving forwards tomorrow – and doing that here is usually all about the start and the pit-stops. Put it this way: I don’t think we’ll see too much overtaking tomorrow. That means we really need to focus on the start, and then look after our tyres because degradation is likely to be a factor.

“There’s still a long way to go, but this is a good step.”

Jenson Button, 12th, 1:24.348

“This result has been a long time coming for the McLaren-Honda team. Fair play to Fernando – he’s been very quick all weekend, and this afternoon’s Q3 success is great for the team.

“Having said that, merely getting into Q3 isn’t where we want to be as a team, but we did a good job today. And I hope it’s put a smile on everyone’s faces.

“However, it’s been a tough weekend for me. My car has been suffering from a loose-feeling rear end, which isn’t how I like it to feel because it means I can’t fully commit into corners. I tried my best, but driving around that handling characteristic has never been my strong point.

“Still, I adapted reasonably well to it this weekend, and, to end up just-one-and-a-half tenths off Fernando’s time is the best it’s been all weekend.

“I’ll start tomorrow’s race on new tyres too, so I’m not too upset.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Today’s qualifying session was the 24th we’ve entered since we renewed our partnership with Honda – and the result, our first appearance in Q3, is a welcome relief even though it’s taken a long time coming.

“In truth, however, although Fernando’s having bagged a top-10 grid slot for his home Grand Prix will cheer the local fans, and rightly so, the reason it pleases us is that it’s firm evidence of our slow but sure progress from past lows to future highs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re on a journey, a difficult journey, but it’s clear that we’re going in the right direction.

“Moreover, although Jenson narrowly failed to get through to Q3, he too is very well positioned to launch an aggressive yet canny offensive towards a points-scoring position tomorrow afternoon.

“We got both cars into the points in Sochi two weeks ago, and a repeat performance has to be our goal here in Barcelona tomorrow.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“It was a great feeling to reach our first Q3 session as McLaren-Honda with Fernando’s P10 finish today. Jenson also finished a good P12, with only a 0.2 second difference to Fernando, and he has the benefit of selecting his starting tyre.

"Though still not fully up to their satisfaction, both drivers saw an improvement to the feeling of the car, thanks to the team’s hard work last night. We know that the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a difficult circuit at which to overtake, so hopefully we can use this good starting position to finish with both car in the points."

Toro Rosso

Sainz had looked pacey all weekend, and qualified eighth at his home race. Kvyat had a more difficult day, failing to make Q3 and burning up much needed fresh rubber which he may rue tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz, 8th, 1.23.643

“I’m very happy with today’s qualifying! We’ve been strong the whole weekend so far and today’s P8 was the maximum we could hope for, and we did it – I’m very satisfied with my lap in Q3. Tomorrow’s race will be a very interesting one, and to start from the fourth row in front of my home crowd is something I’m looking forward to. To race on home soil is always special, something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was four years old, when I started to watch Formula 1. To finally be here, living the dream, is an awesome feeling and I will try and enjoy myself and put on a good show for all the fans out there.”

Danill Kvyat, 13th, 1:24.445

“I’m still getting used to the team and the car, so it hasn’t been the easiest of qualifying sessions. To be out in Q2 isn’t what one wants to see, but the general feeling is positive, I feel better and better in the car and in the future we will do better – I’m just not a very patient guy! We need to analyse and find where we could’ve done better to improve very quickly for the next races. Starting in P13 is not too bad, so we will do our best to score some points tomorrow – the race is very long, let’s see where we end up.”

James Key, Technical Director

“It’s been an interesting and busy weekend for us so far. We’ve been working hard with our new engineering structure and integrating Daniil back into the team. We are working very well with him and he has had a lot to adapt to. With every run he has done he has got more used to the car and continually found more performance, and we are getting the set-up more towards what he is looking for. Effectively we are trying to do the work of winter testing in the space of a race weekend! However Daniil’s learning curve has been very steep and he is settling in well. I think after Sunday’s race and a day of testing next week we will be back up to speed.

“Q1 was pretty straightforward for both Daniil and Carlos, although we went for a second run with Daniil just as a precaution, which unfortunately was not required. This left him with only one completely new set of soft tyres in Q2, although the risk of not running again was a little too high at the time. Maybe that put him at a bit of a disadvantage and he just missed out on Q3.

“Carlos did exactly what he needed to do today and got through to the top 10 as planned. We knew we wouldn’t be able to compete with the first three teams because they are a bit too far ahead, but we battled well and ended up just behind a Williams. He has had a very clean and focused weekend so far and I am sure he will carry that through to tomorrow. P8 is a decent place to start and we will target moving forwards from there, as our race pace is typically better than our qualifying pace. The good work Carlos has done with tyre management so far this weekend will help that too. The target is to get both cars in the points.”


Magnussen comfortably made it to Q2, and will start from 15th. A second consecutive finish in the points isn't impossible for the Dane. Palmer's reduced running on Friday hampered his chances of finding the optimum set-up and he exited in Q1.

Kevin Magnussen, 15th, 1:24.625

“I think we got everything out of the car, and we did a good job as a team to maximise our potential. I think fifteenth is absolutely the best that we could do today. Looking at it like that, it’s been a good day but I’m certainly looking forward to improving over the coming races. For tomorrow, we have to be ready for any opportunities that present themselves. I’m aiming to stay out of trouble and gain all the positions available.”

Jolyon Palmer, 17th, 1:24.903

“It was disappointing to be so close to getting into Q2 but just being pipped at the final moment. The car’s clearly improved and felt good, I felt happy with my lap from behind the wheel but we were not quite where we needed to be come the end of the session. There’s a little bit more time in the car; let’s try to make some places in the race tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"It was good to make it into Q2 and this shows that progress is being made. We have further significant upgrades to come for the test so today is just another step in this process.

"Jolyon was very close to being in Q2 despite missing a lot of running yesterday which was a strong effort and Kevin was able to deliver the close to the car’s full potential so it was a good job from both sides of the garage today.

"It will be a tough race for tyres as we see a lot of degradation here - certainly a lot more than seen at the last couple of races - which should mean a reasonable variety of tyre strategies. Obviously, we’ll be seeking to capitalise from this and move forwards a decent amount with both cars."


Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“There’s certainly been plenty to talk about from qualifying. Pole here was more than 2.6 seconds faster than last year, which confirms the pattern that we have seen in every session so far this year in Barcelona. That sets us up for an entertaining battle tomorrow, where strategy will definitely play an important part. We would expect most drivers to go for a two-stop strategy tomorrow although there will be some who are likely to try a three-stopper.”