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Saturday in Germany - team by team

30 Jul 2016

A round-up of qualifying action from the Formula 1 Grosser Preis von Deutschland 2016 at Hockenheim...

McLaren

Having got a car through to Q3 for the last three races, McLaren seemed to take a small step backwards in qualifying. Button struggled with his MP4-31 complaining of understeer throughout FP3, and could only manage 12th. Alonso meanwhile felt he had been impeded by a Ferrari in qualifying, which limited him to 14th.

Fernando Alonso, 14th, 1:16.041

“It’s a bit disappointing not to be in Q3 today: 14th position isn’t great, but we’re not as competitive at this track as we were in Budapest.

“This afternoon, I didn’t put a lap together as I had some traffic, which is why I didn’t finish a little bit higher up the order. Additionally, Hockenheim’s long back straight and big acceleration zones don’t really suit our car.

“On the positive side, we have plenty of new tyres remaining, which will give us an advantage at the start and allow us to be a little more creative with strategy.

“It’s going to be tough tomorrow, but hopefully we can recover some positions because points are a real possibility.”

Jenson Button, 12th, 1:15.909

“This weekend has been pretty tricky for me. I’ve missed having time with the car, which doesn’t make for the easiest preparation, and this is a tough circuit if you haven’t had any mileage.

“I had a few issues yesterday – I stepped out of the car early because of my eye – then, this morning, we had a couple of problems, so I didn’t run the Supersoft in FP3 at all. It was all a bit of an unknown going into qualifying.

“Still, 12th position is reasonable, and it’s always nice to be in front of your team-mate, but we’re still not quite there yet with the balance of the car. Even if we’d got everything together and beaten Williams today, getting into the top 10 was always going to be tricky.

“There’s a possibility that we’ll get into the points tomorrow. The race should be pretty interesting; the start and the strategy will be important, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“It’s a sign of the progress we’ve been making recently that we’re disappointed that neither driver was able to make it into Q3 this afternoon. However, looking beyond the timesheets, it’s apparent that we’ve not had the smoothest of runs into qualifying – Jenson took a trip to the local hospital yesterday afternoon, and had his morning’s progress put back by a brake component assembly issue in FP3.

“Nonetheless, we’re well placed for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix, and will start with the added benefit of a free choice of tyre strategy for both cars. There’s plenty left to play for, and we’ll be looking to push both drivers into the top 10 and score some valuable world championship points ahead of the summer break.”

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

"It was quite a difficult Saturday here at the Hockenheimring, where neither driver could find the perfect balance of the car and struggled to find the best power unit modes throughout FP3.

"We were able to improve our performance for qualifying, but we were unable to continue our run as the fourth-quickest team, losing both cars in Q2.

"Both Jenson in P12 and Fernando in P14 will be able to start on fresh rubber, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage and gain some ground with good race management tomorrow."

Haas

Grosjean spun in FP3 and then limped home to the pits with gearbox issues. Even with such reduced running he was still able to make Q2 - but he will have a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change. Gutierrez put in a very tidy lap to qualify 11th, his joint best of the season. With free tyre choice for the race tomorrow, the Mexican is handily placed to score some good points for Haas.

Romain Grosjean, 15th, 1:16.086

“It’s not been a good weekend so far. We’ve had our problems, and things didn’t really go our way in qualifying either. The guys in the garage did an amazing job to get the car back together for qualifying after the gearbox issue this morning. I was feeling more comfortable in the car and I felt we had a good chance. Sadly, the last run in Q2 just didn’t work. I don’t know what happened. There was no grip. It’s tricky to find the right balance. We’ve got good top speed in the car and, hopefully, it behaves so I can have a good race.”

Esteban Gutierrez, 11th, 1:15.883

“It was an interesting qualifying. I was pushing all the way as I really wanted to get into Q3. I took all the available risks that I could and I really enjoyed it out there. I’m happy the way we worked as a team. It proves that from Friday to Saturday we are making good progress and this gives me a lot of confidence. I’m really proud of the whole team. P11 is a good place to start and it leaves me hungry to keep pushing for the next one to try to get into Q3. Tomorrow I’m going to give it everything from the start and fight all the way with the guys in front to get into the top-10.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“We are 11th, again. It’s getting old. We should be happy by being 11th, but we just want to make the jump to Q3. That’s what we are working hard for. Esteban did a fantastic job in getting where we are. Romain was slightly handicapped not being able to run in FP3 due to an issue with the gearbox which happened when he spun. Some parts were damaged inside the gearbox, so he had limited track time, but he still got it into Q2. We are always so close. We’re confident it will come, but we now have to wait until after the summer break. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll finish better than 11th as we’ll be fighting hard to get into the points.”

Red Bull

Red Bull pushed Mercedes closer than it appeared they might after Friday's practice sessions. Ricciardo and Verstappen scrapped throughout qualifying for supremacy and it was the Australian who came out on top when it mattered by one tenth of a second.

Daniel Ricciardo, 3rd, 1:14.726

“In Q3 I knew I had to find some more time and I put a really good lap together in the first run. Then I knew there wasn’t much more for the second run so I probably tried a little bit too hard and made a few mistakes, but in the end it was a nice qualifying. Third is a good place to start. Hopefully we can look at Mercedes tomorrow and have a good battle with them and not focus on what’s happening behind us. The feeling in the team is very good at the moment. In the last three races now both Red Bulls have been in front of Ferrari and it seems like we’re getting a little bit closer to Mercedes. Everyone in the team is happy and it’s nice standing here knowing that I’m in the top three. Tomorrow I think we’ll have a good chance. The long runs yesterday looked a bit better than they did in Budapest so let’s see. I’ll start the race on slightly older tyres because I had to do two laps in Q2, which means they are not as fresh for the start but it’ll be fine. I’ll go hard and hopefully get in front and at least lead some of the race. If I can’t lead the last lap then I’ll try and lead some and be on TV. Whoo!”

Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:14.834

“I’m feeling really good, it was a smooth qualifying. Q3 was strong, it was just a bit of a shame about my last sector where I washed out and lost a few tenths. It’s quite tough to get the tyres in the right window but we still managed a good time. The main target is to be in front of the Ferraris and that is what we have done. That said, we know they will be quick in the race as we saw last week. Mercedes look pretty strong but we are not that far away so I think we can be very happy with that. It’s my first time here in a Formula 1 car and not an easy track to learn so I’m really pleased with today. We can both be satisfied to be on the second row as this track wasn’t expected to be the best for us. Race pace is looking very good for the moment. We definitely want to be challenging for a podium tomorrow, I think a win might be difficult though.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“For the third qualifying in succession that’s a second row lockout for the team. A strong performance by both the drivers and we are actually closer to Mercedes than we thought, but they were ultimately out of reach. It puts us in a very good position for tomorrow’s race.”

Sauber

Seventeenth and 18th in free practice, it looked as though Sauber had found a little bit of pace compared to their rivals. Unfortunately, both Ericsson and Nasr struggled in qualifying and will line up on the back row of the grid.

Marcus Ericsson, 22nd, 1:17.238

“It is a disappointing result to start the race from the last row. It seemed to be a positive weekend, as we were going in the right direction and also found some positive results with the new rear wing. In terms of the car’s balance, I felt comfortable. But in qualifying, especially, our performance is not good enough. It will be a tough race, but, as always, we will do what we can.”

Felipe Nasr, 21st, 1:17.123

“It has been another difficult qualifying for us. I felt I was on a good lap, although we cannot see it in the result. At the moment, this is the maximum we can extract out of our current package in qualifying. We have saved a set of tyres, so hopefully we can make good use of them in the race. We normally have a decent race pace, so I am confident I can move up a few positions. As always, I will do my best.”

Williams

After Massa's surprise early exit in qualifying in Hungary last weekend, it was business as usual for Williams as the team got both drivers into Q3. Starting eighth and tenth, they will be hoping for a good haul of points tomorrow to pull clear of Force India in the constructors' championship.

Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:15.530

"It was a very consistent qualifying session from us as a team. It was a very close session, as expected, but the balance of the car felt good and we managed to get the tyres to work better. We are missing a bit of grip compared to the cars in front so I think we more or less got the maximum from the car today. I had some traffic in the last sector on my Q3 run which cost me a few hundredths, so I could have been seventh, but apart from that I’m pretty pleased with my qualifying today."

Felipe Massa, 10th, 1:15.615

"I’d say it was a very competitive qualifying today, especially with Force India. We are constantly fighting for a tenth. I was very happy with my lap; but I just went into the turn too much at corner 12 and I lost time on my lap because of that. That’s the only thing that happened or else I’d have easily been one tenth quicker. So that’s a shame, but I will try even harder for the team tomorrow."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It was a very close session. From Mercedes and Red Bull backwards the laptimes are really tight and even Ferrari didn’t have much of a margin on us. We worked hard this morning to ensure that we could get a good qualifying balance, which I think we achieved. Both drivers made little mistakes on their final lap, which would have secured them seventh and eighth, but as a team we haven’t done a bad job. We’re never going to be content with eighth and 10th because that’s not where we ultimately want to be, but for this weekend that’s what we will accept. We made great strides on our qualifying pace yesterday and understanding where that pace had to come from, which will transfer into good race pace. I’m convinced that we’ve got a good race car and we’re aiming to outscore our closest rivals."

Renault

Palmer put in a great lap to make it through to Q2 for the first time since Australia. In doing so, he relegated his team mate to 17th, with just under one tenth of a second between them. Q2 is clear progress for Renault, and will offer much confidence heading into the race. 

Kevin Magnussen, 17th, 1:16.716

“My lap wasn’t the best and I lost out by the smallest amount from getting into Q2. Both cars were very evenly matched and it was Jo that got the upper hand today. We didn’t seem to be able to pick up the pace between FP3 and qualifying as much as our rivals however our long run pace does look more favourable and that’s what we need for a stronger result tomorrow.”

Jolyon Palmer, 16th, 1:16.665

“It’s good to be back in Q2 ! The car is improving overall, there is clear progress. We were close to Q2 in Silverstone, we should have been there for Hungary and now here we are in Hockenheim. I’m looking forward to the race ; we had better pace in Budapest but started lower in P17 than here. I was driving pretty well in Hungary bar one corner, so if I can drive well around the Hockenheimring for every corner then I should have a good chance to score points.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"It was a step in the right direction. We always want more but it was good for Jo to get through to Q2 especially with the lap times so very close here. If we can unlock just a little more pace from the car we’ll continue to work our way up the order so it’s been a positive day. We seem to have better long run tyre performance even than in Hungary on the same compounds of Pirelli’s tyres so this bodes well for us. It looks like the weather will continue to be dry so there’s good scope and potential for both cars climb through the field."

Manor

Wehrlein performed well in front of his home crowd, at one point lying 13th before others improved to drop him down to 18th. Haryanto had a quieter day but did well to qualify ahead of both Saubers.

Pascal Wehrlein, 18th, 1:16.717

“We were very close to Q2 today - just 0.15s - but I’m very happy with our qualifying because we managed to stay in front of Sauber, and also a Toro Rosso, which is positive. The team did a really good job, so my thanks to everyone for that.

“At the moment Renault seem quite strong and especially in the last sector. We’re still lacking a bit of downforce, so we couldn’t keep up today; we were losing half a second to them in that sector. But the most important thing is that we’re in front of Sauber, so I can’t be unhappy.

“Well, we’ve continued improving through the weekend, so I hope we can do an even better job in the race tomorrow. We can do something from P18 and of course I’ll be trying to get another special start, to make up some places off the line. I can’t wait!”

Rio Haryanto, 20th, 1:16.977

“Very happy. We managed to improve every time we left the garage today. The times were very close through the field today.

“I think we’ve done a good job overall and I feel like I’ve taken a good step forward here. Also, we’ve made some good improvements recently and I think we’re seeing some of the benefit of those today. We did a good job to stay ahead of the Sauber and I’m in a better position for the start. Our race pace looks good, so I hope we can have a strong race.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

“The gap to Q2 was incredibly close and we were all on the edge of our pit wall seats when it seemed that both our drivers might squeeze their way in. In the end we missed out by the narrowest of margins, but we are still very pleased to finish ahead of both Saubers and there’s a Toro Rosso in Pascal’s wake as well. Both drivers did a great job today and they’ve worked hard to put us in a strong position for the race. As always, a big thanks to the rest of the team for the great job everyone is doing. It’s been a hard couple of months and the effort they are putting in to put these two race cars on the track is just incredible. Tomorrow will be a tough challenge, but I think we can enjoy a good battle with the cars around us.”

Toro Rosso

Kvyat had a bad day at the office - unable to fully explain his lack of pace, he exited in Q1. Sainz qualified in 13th but was subsequently given a three-place grid drop for impeding Massa during Q2.

Carlos Sainz, 13th, 1:15.989

“A very difficult qualifying session. We are struggling here in Hockenheim – we always knew that a power circuit like this one was going to be a challenge for us, as we are not quick enough on the straights. Having said that, I think I put in a very good lap. I feel good in the car and the package is working, but this is the most we could extract from the car today. Tomorrow we will try and fight for more points – of course it won’t be easy but we will surely give it our all and try and finish as high up as possible; it would be good to go on holiday with a few more points in the bag!”

Daniil Kvyat, 19th, 1:16.876

“I’m disappointed, I didn’t drive well in today’s qualifying session and my last lap wasn’t good enough to get through to Q2 – I lost my references, made some mistakes and just couldn’t put a good lap together. We looked promising yesterday, but today when it really mattered we were just not there. I’m upset and I’m not at my usual level, that’s for sure – we all go through some periods where we don’t feel good in the car and that’s where I am now. I just need to have a bit of a better understanding of what’s going on around me and try and come to some conclusions in order to feel confident in the car again. It’s a tough task to get back to my level, but I’m young and I’m sure we will find some answers soon. The good thing is that I feel that the solution isn’t that far away… We had a good Friday yesterday for the first time in a while, so we need to look into that. Tomorrow is the race and we will try to fight our way back. I haven’t got much to lose so I will just go for it!”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“A very difficult Saturday for us. It was clearly a very tight pack in the mid field today. Unfortunately for Daniil he had two scrappy runs in Q1, the second of which had a slow first sector with a small mistake in T1. This proved very costly as it was enough to mean he didn’t make Q2. Carlos’s story was a bit happier in Q1, where he got through into Q2 in 12th place, but unfortunately he needed two sets of tyres to do this when we had hoped to make it through on one. Then, in Q2, he did two pretty clean laps but our sector 2 times were simply not strong enough and he finished P13. Of the midfield pack the Force Indias were strong today and the Haas did a particularly good job, with Gutierrez to be in front of us. We were very close with the two McLarens and Carlos was placed between them. Unfortunately he did baulk Massa in T2 on his first run in Q2, which now means a 3 grid position penalty. We will make sure that our apologies are given.”

Mercedes

A front row lock out for Mercedes capped a good Saturday. Rosberg, having been quickest in all three practice sessions, looked to have the edge over his team mate and so it proved. There was a late scare when the German was pulled into the pits in Q3, aborting his first flying lap as an electrical issue was detected, but he got the job done on his next run. Hamilton didn't have the answer today and will be hoping for a good start tomorrow to maintain his slim championship advantage. 

Nico Rosberg, 1st, 1:14.363

"That was a difficult qualifying for me! I had an electronic problem with my throttle on my first quick run in Q3, so I had to abort. That meant I had a bit more fuel on my final run. I did a pretty good lap but I wasn't sure if that was enough. I'm very happy to start from P1 at my second home race. It was awesome to hear the fans cheering for me after my run. It's a great atmosphere here in Hockenheim and I can't wait for tomorrow. I hope we can put up a good show and that I can win this Grand Prix."

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:14.470

"There was nothing particularly wrong today. My final lap just didn't work out. It was pretty close out there and sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. The car was feeling great. The team did a great job to get it where I needed it to be and it was definitely on for pole. I was two tenths up coming out of T2 - but from T8 onwards it started to deteriorate and I couldn't maintain the gap. I've missed out on pole, so I didn't do what I was supposed to do - but it's in the past now, so you just let it go and look forwards. It doesn't mean the race isn't there to win tomorrow. I'll try to get a good start and see how it goes from there. I don't know what the strategy will be - we'll look through that tonight. But this is a track where you can overtake, so I don't have to go for it at the first corner. It can be somewhere else. Last time we raced here I started dead last and finished on the podium, so this is definitely a big step up from that! The pace is clearly there, so it's still been a good day and I'm generally pretty happy. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to do something from where I am. I'm just focused on trying to move forward and if I can drive like I have done in the past few races then anything can happen."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Overall, a fantastic result to take the front row of the grid at our home race here in Hockenheim. I'm really pleased for Nico because he overcame a tricky session to get pole. On his first Q3 run, he had an electronic problem during his fast lap, so he aborted and came back to the pits to have it fixed. For the second run, we gave a safety margin of two extra laps of fuel, just to make sure he could get a time on the board. But on his first flying lap, he pulled it out of the bag and got the pole anyway. Lewis then responded on his final run, but fell slightly short; afterwards, the times showed he had been faster in sector three, but lost a bit too much time in the middle sector of the lap. In any case, we can see that our biggest threat for tomorrow starts right behind us. On the long runs yesterday, Red Bull were very competitive and we know that it's a long and hard race here in Hockenheim. So the first, small part of the job is done. But we must make sure to prepare carefully overnight, keep our feet on the ground and deliver the result tomorrow."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"Well that was a bit of a change from Hungary and the two hour marathon we saw there! Fortunately today we were back to a more regular pattern with warm, dry weather throughout. We chose to run the Soft compound tyre in Q1 to give ourselves more strategic options for the race with a new set of SuperSofts available. Sealing the top two spots on a harder compound seemed extraordinary at the time. But, as it turned out, the delta between the compounds was not that large in these conditions. Q2 was pretty straightforward - but things didn't start quite as smoothly in Q3. An electronics problem on Nico's car caused an engine cut-out, with a warning message relating to his throttle pedal also appearing. This, quite reasonably, caused Nico some concern, which caused him to pit immediately. Fortunately we were able to fix the problem by switching various systems to default modes, before sending him out with enough fuel for three timed laps in a single run. As it turned out, he delivered pole at the first attempt with an extra two laps of fuel on board, which was very impressive - particularly in the circumstances, with his programme disrupted and the pressure on. Lewis did a great job throughout all three sessions and will be disappointed not to get pole. But it was a great battle between the two of them which will hopefully continue through tomorrow's race. Overall, we can be very proud to have secured the front row at the home Grand Prix of Mercedes-Benz and excited for a close battle tomorrow."

Ferrari

Ferrari couldn't match the Red Bulls for pace but locked out the third row. Vettel struggled to put the perfect lap together, whereas Raikkonen was much tidier round the Hockenheim circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen

"Our car was behaving pretty nicely today and I was happy with the handling. My last try in Q3 was a bit more tricky, I was struggling a little bit with the feeling from the tires, but apart from that we had no massive issues. I don't have much to complain from the behavior of the car, we are just lacking speed overall. We need to put more downforce in the car to go faster. This result is disappointing, finishing fifth and sixth it's not ideal, but this is what it is right now, and we keep working to improve. Usually the race is our stronger side, but every circuit is different. Tomorrow it's a new day, we'll do our own race, you never know what is going to happen. We need to make a good getaway from the start and hopefully take the fight to the guys in front, and then do our best."

Sebastian Vettel

"I am not happy with 6th position, it was a difficult session. In the moment I tried to do the best, we didn't get everything together. Somehow we lost a bit and now we need to understand what happened this afternoon. I was reasonaby happy with my lap, but it wasn't quick enough, there was a bit of time we lost here and there, overall we struggled a bit to extract the pace from the car. The balance didn't come together in qualifying, it was better this morning and yesterday. We know the car can be quicker, but we didn't manage to get it in the right window, that's our job and we didn't succeed. I'm sure that tomorrow we'll be competitive, but again we start a little bit from the back foot, so it will be tough because here it's not easy to overtake. I think we don't have to hide, in terms of race pace we are fast, then it should be an interesting race."

Force India

Perez ran wide in FP3, damaging his VJM09. The team fixed the issues swiftly and despite reduced running, he was able to qualify for Q3 along with his team mate. Hulkenberg in front of his home crowd just edged the intra-team battle, grabbing seventh spot to Perez's ninth.

Nico Hülkenberg, 7th, 1:15.510

“I’m feeling pretty happy to qualify in seventh for my home race – it’s best of the rest behind the top three teams and a good effort by the whole team. Our objective is always to maximise our potential and it feels like we achieved that today. Most of my laps in the session came together nicely and my final effort in Q3 was spot on. We can expect a tough fight for good points tomorrow, but we are in a good starting position and we’ve looked strong here in all the sessions. The long run pace is competitive, too, so we’ve got every chance of getting a great result this weekend. There is talk of some rain tomorrow and to be honest I would not mind a shower during the race, but let’s wait and see what happens.”

Sergio Perez, 9th, 1:15.537

“It was a fun and very intense fight with Nico and the two Williams cars throughout qualifying, and in the end it was really close between the four of us. It was crucial to get through Q1 on one set of tyres because some other teams had to use two sets and this gave us a small advantage in Q2, which helped us make the top ten. On my last lap of Q3 I struggled a bit through some of the right-hand corners; I think I may have picked something up on my front wing – maybe some debris – and that cost me some time, but it’s something I will analyse with the team. In the end, it was so close and just a few hundredths of a second made the difference. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. We are starting on the supersofts on which we qualified and we will need to work well as a team to make the strategy work and score some important points.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“Today’s qualifying performance is a good effort from both sides of the garage and sets us up nicely for a strong race tomorrow. The car has shown good speed since the start of practice and it’s satisfying to convert our potential into representative starting positions. In Q3 it was a very close fight with Williams, with Nico just edging ahead of Bottas. There are several strategy options for us to explore this evening, but we are well placed to make the most of whichever approach we take in the race. Tomorrow should bring an interesting and exciting race”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“It looks like we might be seeing a mixture of two and three stop strategies tomorrow, with the running up to now showing that there could be a few quite different approaches to the race. A lot will obviously depend on the weather, which still appears to be changeable. Mercedes handed themselves a potential advantage by saving themselves an additional set of supersofts, so it will be interesting to see if they can capitalise upon that tomorrow.”