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Saturday in Belgium - team by team

27 Aug 2016

A round-up of qualifying action from the 2016 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps...

Sauber

Ericsson missed most of FP3 after reporting a loss of power on his early run. Sauber did get him back out at the end of the session, but the lack of running hampered his chances in qualifying. He also has a ten-place grid drop to take due to an engine penalty. Nasr had a quieter session, just missing out on Q2 in 17th.

Marcus Ericsson, 20th, 1:49.071

“It was a disappointing qualifying for me. We already had issues with the power unit in the morning. We managed to fix it for the end of FP3, so I was at least able to go out for a couple of laps. Then in qualifying I had a lack of power again, and, therefore, I lost lap time, especially on the straights. We need to investigate and sort these issues out for tomorrow.”

Felipe Nasr,  17th, 1:48.949

“I was close to making it into Q2. I put in a decent lap at the end of Q1, but I just missed some lap time in sector three, as I struggled with the grip, especially on the rear, in the last corner. On the first try my lap time was deleted because I went on the inside kerb exceeding the track limits in Turn 4. On my second and last try I was able to improve, but it was not enough for Q2. It will be a long race tomorrow; there is lot that can happen.”

Williams

Massa topped the time sheet with a blistering lap at the end of Q1, and it seemed business as usual that both cars made it to the final shootout for pole. Unfortunately a software issue meant neither car was able to run in qualifying mode, however, hurting their challenge in Q3. On top of that, Massa locked up badly on his one flying lap. Bottas qualified eighth which was good considering, with Massa behind in tenth.

Valtteri Bottas, 8th, 1:47.612

"Obviously it was a bit of a problematic qualifying session for us. Considering the software issues we had, I think we performed like we should have. It’s a shame that we had the issues because it meant we couldn’t get a top six position. At the end of the day, the race is tomorrow and that’s what counts. The car felt better today than yesterday so we’ve already made progress. Our long runs in practice looked good in terms of the race pace, so I think we can have a strong race tomorrow, even though we didn’t get the perfect result out of today."

Felipe Massa, 10th, 1:48.263

"I had a software issue in Q1 which caused a misfire so I couldn’t put a lap together. That really didn’t help my qualifying, because I only had one set of supersofts left for Q3. I gave it everything on my final lap, but I locked the front into turn one and lost a lot of time, so I’m not happy with that. If I had two sets of tyres in Q3 it would have helped me a lot, but that didn’t happen so we lost a few places. We will see what we can do tomorrow though. I was happy with the car, the balance and the laptimes in qualifying."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"Qualifying was disappointing for us. We had a software issue with the power unit which meant that we weren’t able to run qualifying mode, so we lost lap time there. Without that we would have been around fifth position. It unfortunately put us on the back foot in Q1, after we discovered it on our first run and had to react accordingly. Most of our efforts were then focused on trying to resolve the issue rather than making our car go quicker, so it’s somewhat ruined our qualifying. Apart from that, the cars were reasonably well balanced. Going into the session we knew it was going to be tight with Force India, but we had a little bit of a margin on them so it’s a shame not to be ahead. We’ve all got to pick ourselves up now, accept that these things are part of motor racing, and look forward to tomorrow. The long runs we were doing both yesterday and this morning were very encouraging. We just need to make sure we get everything right tomorrow and outscore those around us in the championship."

Mercedes

A perfect qualifying session for Rosberg: not only did he grab pole position but he also set his fastest lap in Q2 on the soft tyres, and will therefore will start Sunday's race on the more durable yellow-marked tyre. With fellow front-row starter Max Verstappen starting on the supersofts, Rosberg has an early advantage. Hamilton's numerous engine-related grid penalties meant he was never going to play a part in the sharp end of qualifying, and he did what he needed to in Q1 to guarantee a place on the grid. He will be looking to make his way through the pack tomorrow to limit any championship losses.

Nico Rosberg, 1st, 1:46.744

"We had a difficult weekend until Qualifying. Especially, this morning we were thinking that we were off the pace a bit. So I was really happy to grab pole today. The Red Bulls were quickest on the long runs on Friday, so we need to be at our best to beat them. The tyres are a big challenge in the heat here this weekend. The degradation is very high. My disadvantage at the start is that I have a harder tyre with lower grip, so Max should get off the line quicker on the Supersoft. I reckon that, with some luck and a maybe a Safety Car, Lewis can climb up to the top very quickly, so he can't be ruled out either. In any case, I'm pleased with my qualifying and looking forward to tomorrow. It will be an exciting and intense race."

Lewis Hamilton, 21st, 1:50.033

"Firstly, the team have done an incredible job - the guys and girls back at Brixworth building the engines and then everyone here who've been kitting and fitting them - so a huge thank you to them. To bring a new engine here, take it out after FP1, put another new one in for FP2, then do the same again before FP3 was just an unbelievable job. I have a massive 55 place grid penalty today - but I also now have three new engines in the pool for the season, which is positive. In terms of today, it was definitely a weird qualifying session for me. There was no point in showing my pace. It was all about race preparation. The key for me is making sure I come out of tomorrow having lost the fewest points possible - and that meant having as many fresh sets of tyres available as possible and making sure the car was set up well. I can't say right now what the plan is - the team will know already what's best and we'll discuss that later. We're not easily the quickest here. We're all going to have massive degradation and looking after the tyres will be a struggle for everyone. It's going to be far from an easy, breezy day but where I can just pick people off. There will be lots of pit stops and who knows what else. I'm going to have to battle my way through the traffic - but I'll give it my best as always and see where I end up."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"We had completely opposite outcomes from today's session with Nico taking a great pole but Lewis doing the minimum he needed to do in order to be able to start the race from last place after his engine penalty. For Nico, it wasn't an easy job. We have struggled with the balance of the car this weekend but he managed to secure the strategic advantage of making it through Q2 on the soft tyre In Q3, we were overheating the super soft compound a lot but Nico managed to do enough to squeeze out the performance ahead of Verstappen. So a perfect job from his side. Lewis did the perfect job as well in totally different circumstances. He has taken a very positive approach to the challenge this weekend and has been very clear about focusing all his practice work on the race. He did the minimum today but this leaves him fresh tyres and the most strategic options for the race, which was the right choice. Finally, I must pay tribute to the fantastic work from the team in Brixworth and the team in the garage to implement our strategy of stockpiling the power units. So far, they have delivered an enormous workload without mistakes and in a perfect way. They are working under a lot of pressure but it shows the quality of our team that we have been able to deliver a smooth weekend so far. But the most important bit is now ahead of us. The tyres will be difficult to manage in the high temperatures tomorrow and I think we can expect a lot of action on the track and in the pits. It's now up to us to make the most of our opportunities to score the best possible result."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"Not quite the normal qualifying routine with Lewis' grid penalties to consider. We decided to do a single short run with him during Q1 to get him safely within the 107% limit and then park the car to save the maximum number of tyre sets for tomorrow, giving him plenty of strategic options for the race. That left our bid for pole down to Nico. We could see from practice that it was going to be very tight between ourselves, Red Bull, Ferrari and Force India. We also had the challenge of getting through Q2 on the soft tyre, as we don't consider the SuperSoft to be a good race tyre here this weekend. Nico produced a fantastic lap in Q2 to go fastest on the Soft and, although Q3 was tighter than we had hoped after the Q2 times with Nico only finding a tenth and a half between the compounds, he delivered a strong lap to take pole. Tomorrow is going to be a very tough race - particularly managing the endurance of the tyres - so we can expect an exciting afternoon once again at this spectacular circuit."

Red Bull

Red Bull were the only one of the front running teams to split their strategies in terms of tyres used in Q2. Verstappen out-qualified Ricciardo for the second time to grab a spot on the front row of the grid, but the teenager is the only one in the top five to start on the more fragile supersoft tyres, which could make the start of the race fascinating. Ricciardo might be behind both Ferraris but is still a contender given his long run pace on Friday. He will be feeling confident, given that two years ago he won this race from fifth on the grid...

Max Verstappen, 2nd, 1:46.893

“It’s a great feeling. As soon as I crossed the line in Q3 on my fastest lap, I could see the fans going really wild so I knew it was a good lap. It’s been already an amazing weekend. To see so many fans around the track and feel their support is incredible and I’ve been enjoying the whole week a lot, so to be second on the grid is fantastic. It would have been very difficult to get pole position. The chance is always there if you are that close and in sector two we were very strong, but we were missing some top speed. Tomorrow will be very interesting with the different strategies between us, Mercedes and Ferrari so I think it’ll be a good fight. Hopefully the supersofts will give me a bit more grip in the first few laps and then for sure I will drop off a bit but that’s my strategy. I will probably have to pit a bit earlier but we have to wait and see how the race goes. Big thanks to the team for such a quick turnaround and working so hard on getting me out on time in Qualifying.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 5th, 1:47.216

“In Q3 I would have loved to have got a bit more out of it, but I’m not too disappointed looking at the race tomorrow. I’m really pleased I got through on the softs in Q2, that was our objective, whether it works tomorrow or not let’s see, but that’s what I wanted to get out of it. I’d be less happy with P5 on some tracks, but I’m not disappointed for two reasons: you can overtake here and with the tyres we’ve got this weekend, you can do a lot during the race tomorrow. If you can have a faster car or if you can be a bit more intelligent, then it can pay off. In Q2 my objective was to start on the softs. It was a nervous few minutes but we did it. I’m happy; it’s close enough to the front and I’m on the softs, sure a few cars in front have them too, but it’s going to be a good race. Two years ago I started in P5 and won! Max did really well to get on the front row – but we have a split strategy for tomorrow, we talked about it before qualifying and he wanted to start the race on supersofts and I wanted to start on softs, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“A fantastic performance by Max, in what is theoretically his home race, to qualify on the front row here within 15 hundredths of Mercedes, and with Daniel in fifth place on the grid at a track where you can overtake, it’s going to be a fascinating race. That together with the different strategies the two cars will be running tomorrow, starting on different tyres, it should prove to be an exciting grand prix. It’s all going to be about tyre degradation and managing the tyres particularly in these unusually hot conditions at Spa.”

Haas

Eleventh and 13th for the two Haas drivers means free tyre choice for the race, which - given how delicate the supersoft rubber has proved - could be an advantage over the cars in front. Gutierrez will have a five-place grid drop though, received for impeding Wehrlein in FP3. Nonetheless, points will be the target tomorrow.

Romain Grosjean, 11th, 1:48.316

“The car was fine in qualifying. We made a good step before the summer break, so I’m more happy with the car. There are still a few things we can improve but, generally, it’s not a bad place to be after qualifying. For the race, I don’t think we’ll be as challenged as some of the other teams. Hopefully, we can have a good, aggressive strategy and try to make it work to get some points.”

Esteban Gutierrez, 13th, 1:48.598

“It was a really good effort from the team. We’ve been struggling with the car setup, but managed to find the best balance. In qualifying, it felt like a step forward considering the high track temperatures, which is making things a little complicated with the tires. In FP3 there was a miscommunication that cost us a five-place grid penalty, which is obviously very painful, but we will try to put that aside. I’ll start the race and give everything I’ve got to recover the lost positions and I’ll be fighting all the way to get into the top-10.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“We had a good FP3 session, except for a communication issue with Esteban as he wasn’t made aware that Wehrlein was coming. He received a five-place grid penalty which is very unfair as there was no intention on his side. Overall in qualifying, we did the best we could. We finished 11th and 13th. Eleventh for the fifth time this year. I think we are getting very consistent. The team works very well together, so the day will come when we get into Q3.”  

Renault

A much improved Renault managed to get both cars into Q2 for the first time since Australia. Magnussen in 12th managed his best qualifying of the season, while Palmer matched his best of 14th, which gets even better once Gutierrez's grid drop penalty is taken into account. Renault will be looking for their first points finish since Russia.

Kevin Magnussen, 12th, 1:48.485

“Today we found a lot more pace than expected and that’s a nice surprise, obviously. My lap wasn’t even perfect ; I really locked up in Turn 1 and lost a lot of time. I thought it was over, but pushed for the rest of the lap and got a decent time in. Even though we are P12, I think there was a little bit more in it and that’s encouraging for the race tomorrow.”

Jolyon Palmer, 14th, 1:48.888

“I am pretty happy with that performance. It’s the second race running that I’ve been in Q2, but we can be especially pleased with this one as yesterday was tough and we turned it around. Having two in a row shows that Hockenheim wasn’t a one-off and we are making genuine progress. There are a lot of unknowns for the race tomorrow as the temperatures are sky-high and tyre degradation is worse than expected, but we have some advantages. Everyone in the top ten is starting on used tyres whereas we have a new set in hand. I’m now really looking forward to the race and trying to crack into the top ten if we can.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director

"We have worked hard on improving the balance of the car over the last few races and have made genuine progress.

"The team put in a very good performance ; it was the first time we have got two cars through to Q2 since Australia. We qualified in twelfth and fourteenth and will line up twelfth and thirteenth after penalties, which is our strongest starting position of the season so far. It shows that we’ve made progress with the car and the package now seems to be working well.

"We looked competitive in Hungary before the summer break, and then again in Hockenheim, so we are showing genuine steps forward. This weekend we started relatively slowly but all the major improvements have come from making adjustments to the balance throughout the sessions. We have been methodical in our approach and the performance has come from making relatively small changes.

"We expect to be racing Haas and Scuderia Toro Rosso so we’ll be concentrating on them and their game plan, rather than anything Hamilton or Alonso may be doing."

Force India

Force India seem to be continuing the momentum gathered before the summer break, with both cars comfortably making Q3. Qualifying sixth and seventh, it was Perez who just had the edge over his team mate by one tenth of a second. A good result here could close the gap in the constructors' standing to Williams, who currently lie fourth, 15 points ahead of Force India. 

Sergio Perez, 6th, 1:47.407

“I think we are in a really strong position for the race and I am really looking forward to tomorrow. We got as much as we could out of the session: I made a small mistake at the end of my lap and I could have been about a tenth faster, but that’s all we lost. Some of the cars ahead of me are starting on the soft tyre compound, which should be a big advantage for them, but we are still in good shape to get a strong result. There will be a variety of strategies at play and I hope we can move forward, enjoy the battles and bring home some points. The hot weather is making it really difficult for everyone – you reach a point where you can’t go any further with the tyres. Strategy and making the right calls at the right time will be very important: you don’t want to be on the wrong tyres at the start of such a long lap because it’s going to cost you.”

Nico Hülkenberg, 7th, 1:47.543

“I’m reasonably satisfied with our performance today. Q1 and Q2 went to plan, but I had an issue with the power unit during Q3 and that cost me some time down the straights and proved quite costly. We’ve got to start the race on the supersoft tyres, but I think we made the right decision to use them in Q2 because it would have been difficult to make Q3 on the softs. It’s certainly going to be a challenging race if the weather stays this warm because Spa is already a demanding track on tyres in cool conditions. We need to explore our options tonight and make the right decisions tomorrow.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“It was satisfying to see our strong form in free practice carried into qualifying with both Sergio and Nico delivering some excellent laps. Nico had a sensor issue, which cost him a few tenths on his runs in Q3, but overall we can’t be disappointed with sixth and seventh on the grid. Tomorrow’s race will be dictated by tyre strategy so we need to wait and see if the high temperatures continue for the race. We’ve shown that we are competitive and we are well placed to pick up some good points tomorrow.”

Ferrari

Raikkonen looked to have genuine pace throughout Saturday, topping the final practice session and qualifying ahead of his team mate in third position. Ferrari opted to send both drivers out on the soft tyre in Q2, meaning they will start on the yellow-marked rubber in the race. Vettel didn't quite find the pace to match Raikkonen, complaining of problems with the rear grip of his SF16-H.

Kimi Raikkonen, 3rd, 1:46.910

"So far it has been a decent weekend, the car was behaving well today and we had the speed. My first run in Q3 was very good, but I went sideways and off track. The second attempt was even better, but in the last chicane I had some slight understeer and lost a few tenths compared to my Q2 sector. Today I felt we had the chance to get pole position, so I'm a bit disappointed, my laptime was not good enough. On a positive side, we are very close compared to the last couple of races. We decided to start the race with Soft tires, if you can make them work it will make a massive difference, we'll see how the race will pan out but I think our plan will be fine. We'll do our best, of course the hot conditions won't be easy for the tires, but it's the same for everybody. Hopefully we'll be up there fighting also tomorrow."

Sebastian Vettel, 4th, 1:47.108

"I'm sure we made a step forward from yesterday! If you look at the gaps between the cars, they are very close, so tomorrow it should be a good race. Obviously you always want a little bit more, the exit of the last corner in particular wasn't very strong, so I can't be happy with that. The rest of the lap was ok, we had a much better balance than on Friday, but it's important to be fast in all three sectors to be up there. We decided to start the race on the Soft tires, we believe that this is the best strategy, we'll see tomorrow. Anything can happen, there could even be some rain, in Spa you never know..."

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso expected to struggle here so can't be too surprised to fail to get a car through to the top ten shootout. Kvyat didn't even make it past Q1, knocked out in 19th and behind Manor's new signing Ocon. Sainz at least made it to Q2, but could only manage 15th. He will benefit from Gutierrez's penalty though so points are not out of the question.

Carlos Sainz, 15th, 1:49.038

“It’s being a very tough weekend for us, maybe even a bit more than expected, and it’s disappointing not to be able to fight to get into Q3. On one side I’m happy because I know I’ve extracted the maximum out of the car today, but on the other side I’m sad to see us sitting in P15, a second off Q3. It’s not good enough. There’s a lot of analysis going on right now inside the team to see where we are losing so much performance – we know the reason for half of it, it’s due to the 2015 power unit, but we need to understand why we are not performing as expected in Sector 2. We’ve been slow all weekend so tomorrow’s race will be difficult. I’m confident that a right strategy will get us close to the top ten, but it won’t be easy to finish in the points. Having said that, we will give it our all and fight hard to finish as high up as possible.”

Daniil Kvyat, 19th,  1:49.058

“Even if we are not where we would like to be, I think it wasn’t a bad qualifying session for me and I’m happy with my laps and my progress from Friday to today. My lap was pretty much the maximum of what I could’ve done today. We must accept that the car is where it is right now and, of course, it’s difficult for us but we just have to work with what we’ve got and try to move forward. I think that for the rest of the season this is what it’s going to be like and we will have to keep fighting, there’s no other choice. Tomorrow we will do our race and see where we end up – I don’t want to do any predictions, all I know is that it will be tricky but we will do our best with a package that isn’t competitive at this track.”

James Key, Technical Director

“We had the feeling qualifying would be a difficult session for us, we’ve been struggling a bit this weekend. Something’s not working very well for us right now and we need to look into that further in a lot of detail. We know that straight-line performance is important here and this is becoming quite a big weakness for us now – we knew this would happen, but nonetheless there’s more to it than that I think. We need to understand the situation a bit better going into the next races, we introduced a lot of new parts on the car throughout July and, although we have not seen any obvious problems with any of them, we have had two unexpectedly difficult races on a row now. Sadly, Daniil didn’t get through to Q2 as he lost a bit of time in the last corner – it’s a shame, as he was actually up on his teammate at that point, so that was a bit unfortunate… But that’s life and we have to move on. Regarding Carlos, his Q2 lap wasn’t so easy, as he got disrupted by another car a little bit and didn’t quite get the Sector 2 together… So, all in all, it was a tough session for the team and the drivers. The thing to do now is understand why we seem to be struggling a bit at the moment, find out if it’s something on the car, the high track temperatures we’ve had recently or something else, because clearly we are feeling a bit out of position at the moment and we need to come back from that. Shorter term, we need to focus on tomorrow’s race and see what we can do. We think there’s still opportunities here and even if we knew that Spa and Monza wouldn’t be strong events for us, we still have to do our best and that’s what we will do tomorrow.”

Manor

All eyes were on rookie driver Ocon, who had performed well in practice, in Q1. He didn't manage to out-qualify his team mate but did finish only half a second back in 18th. Wehrlein made Q2 and finished 16th but it was his blistering lap in Q1 that had people talking - some even billed it as Saturday's standout performance.

Pascal Wehrlein, 16th, 1:49.320

“Well, I’m very happy that we made it through to Q2, of course; Q1 was incredible for us with P9. But unfortunately we had no new Supersoft tyres for Q2, so it’s a bit of shame, and I had to do my lap on used tyres. Q1 felt so good with new tyres, so you can see what was possible today; that last run was not our true pace. So it was a bit of a shame, but that decision has to be made much earlier in the year.

“We’re actually in a very good position for tomorrow, in terms of our position on the grid and also with the tyres we have available for the race. Degradation will be high at this track, so we’ll be okay I think. And, yes, I’ve been very happy with the weekend so far. It’s all gone pretty much to plan and I’m looking forward to the race.”

Esteban Ocon, 18th, 1:49.050

“I’ve been pretty happy with my pace generally but it’s not easy to start your F1 career more than halfway through the season. I need more time in the car and with the Supersoft tyre and even managing the traffic; that’s quite a challenge too with all the cars slowing down after their laps. It takes more experience than I have in three practice sessions to really extract the maximum out of everything. That’s something to look forward to with each new race though, improving step by step. I was very quick on the Soft tyre, so although I’m a little disappointed today, I’m also excited about what is yet to come.

“Tomorrow I will be the happiest guy on the grid. It’s my first race and I can’t wait for the whole experience of preparing for the race, the grid, lights out, pit stops - everything. Again, the race will bring its own challenges, as it’s my first one, but I’m really happy with the work we’ve done in practice. I’m happy on the Medium and Soft tyre, and with the long run pace, so I’m just going to stay focused on the goal, which is to have a strong clean race, get a good result for the team, learn a lot and have fun with it too.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

“Funny, isn’t it? Everyone has worked so hard to get to the point where we can get through to Q2 on pure pace, yet while we have achieved this with Pascal’s fantastic performance today, there is also a sense of frustration. Perhaps if we had believed in ourselves a bit more we might have managed our tyre usage slightly differently, such that we could have competed in Q2 with new tyres rather than reuse the same sets from Q1. However, that was how we chose to play it and as a result we’re looking very good for the race tomorrow, which is when it really counts. So, brilliant job Pascal and the team. That’s what we’re here for, so let’s keep it going!

“Esteban? Well, he has been absolutely mega! Yes, it’s his first ever Grand Prix, but that’s nothing compared to the fact that yesterday morning, at 1000hrs and the start of FP1, he drove our race car for the very first time and yet, here he is, 18th on the grid, having done a fantastic job all weekend. I’m sure he’s incredibly excited about tomorrow’s race, as we all are. His preparation has been perfect and his race pace is where it needs to be, so he’s ready for it and I am sure he will deliver.

“Congratulations to everyone in the garage and back at Banbury. Today is a big milestone but there’s still a long way to go, so let’s keep pushing!”

McLaren

A mixed day for the Woking team, who saw Button qualify an excellent ninth - with what he described as  "one of the best laps I've ever done" - but Alonso succomb to more technical issues and fail to log a time. Given that the Spaniard already had an engine change penalty, that wasn't the end of the world, but it did show that for all their advances there is still plenty of work to be done.

Fernando Alonso, 22nd, no time

“We noticed that there was an issue after P3 but we didn’t have time before qualifying to do a proper investigation, so in qualifying we managed to do only about 500 metres before we had to stop the car. 

“Now all we can do is to do everything we can to make sure we finish the race without any further issues. 

“It’s been a difficult weekend so far for me – a little bit unlucky because after all Jenson has the same new-spec PU yet he’s had zero problems. But as I say it’s just a bit unlucky, that’s all. 

“With regard to the new-spec PU itself, again, as was the case yesterday, I’ve had too few laps on it so far this weekend to be able to really compare it with the previous one. We’re moving in the right direction though – Jenson’s result shows that I think. 

“Obviously it’s painful when you have reliability problems such as these, but at the end of the day it’s part of our learning process. We know what we have to do: we have to understand what’s still too fragile in the PU, reinforce those parts, and make sure that next year we have a PU that’s powerful and strong enough to be capable of fighting at the front.” 

Jenson Button, 9th, 1:48.114

“I’m very happy with ninth place. Spa is a tough circuit for our car so I don’t think we expected to get the result we did. You’ve know when you’ve done a good job, and I feel I did just that. 

“We obviously won’t be near the front, but our race pace should be better than our qualifying pace was so we’ll certainly be competing with the cars that have qualified around us. 

“The team have done a great job this weekend, and Honda have brought us a new power unit, so we’re looking at a situation of definite improvement. We didn’t expect to be this far up in qualifying here, so hats off to the whole team; it’s good progress as I say. 

“All in all, I’d say it’s the best qualifying of our season so far.” 

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Fernando had another very frustrating day, failing to complete even a single lap in this afternoon’s qualifying session before his car drew to a halt on his out-lap. 

“We don’t yet know the exact cause of the problem – that’ll require a thorough investigation – but it’s possible that he may require yet another PU change for tomorrow’s race. If that’s how things pan out, he’ll incur further penalties, but he was always going to start from the back row of the grid anyway owing to the penalties he’d already incurred. 

“On Jenson’s side of the garage, things are altogether more cheery. He drove very well this afternoon, moving smoothly from Q1, to Q2, to Q3, and ending up recording a very creditable P9 by the end of the qualifying hour, just 1.370s behind Nico’s [Rosberg] pole time. 

“Tomorrow, as Fernando has already japed, he’ll do his best to hang on to Lewis’s [Hamilton] flying Mercedes as Lewis inevitably carves his way through the field from the back row. Watching them race their hearts out doing that should make for great TV. 

“As for Jenson, who’ll be starting from the fifth row tomorrow, there’s every reason to expect him to drive one of his typically gritty yet disciplined races to a points-scoring finish, as indeed he did last time out at Hockenheim.” 

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

“It was another bitter-sweet qualifying weekend for us, but, to first focus on the positives, Jenson drove brilliantly in qualifying, finishing P9 despite the power-hungry nature of this track. This confirms that our power unit update has indeed performed as expected, and I’m thankful to everyone in Sakura and Milton Keynes for working on the development and engineering of the power units during the summer months. 

“On the other hand, Fernando’s side of the garage suffered a difficult day. During the final laps of FP3, his ICE showed an oil pressure drop. We started investigating the issue immediately following the session, and, after data checks, maintenance and understanding the risks, we took a team decision to run the car in qualifying. Unfortunately the oil pressure couldn’t be maintained, and it was duly necessary to stop the car at the start of Q1. 

“We’re still investigating the cause of the problem, and we’re sorry for Fernando and his team. They’ve all worked extremely hard this weekend, and in return they’ve had little set-up time, on top of the penalties they’ve incurred. 

“No doubt tomorrow’s race will be difficult, but as usual we’ll come back fighting and do our best.” 

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“The high track temperatures have increased the wear and degradation rates on a circuit that is already very demanding on tyres. We’re expecting two or three pit stops per car, depending on degradation rates, and we’ve seen the tyre strategy start already with a number of drivers completing Q2 using the soft compound. With some drivers – notably Lewis Hamilton – starting out of position as well, due to grid penalties, we should see an intriguing mix of tactics during the grand prix tomorrow.”