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Saturday in Singapore - team by team

17 Sep 2016

A round-up of all the action from qualifying at the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay...

McLaren

Alonso was the only driver who was ahead of Grosjean when the Frenchman crashed at the end of Q2 and thus was able to finish his lap and grab a spot in Q3. He split the two Force Indias in ninth. Button wasn't so fortunate - he kissed the wall in Q2, winding up with a puncture and had to park his MP4-31 track side.

Fernando Alonso, 9th, 1:44.553

“On the face of it, I’m pleased. Getting into Q3 was our first objective, but our next is to be competitive in the race. Nonetheless, our pace still wasn’t great today and we struggled a little – in fact, good pace hasn’t come too easily to us this weekend.

“Hopefully we can improve for tomorrow though. Race strategy will be key, and I hope things can turn around for us a bit, especially if we get a good start, attack into the first corner, and come out in a good position at the end of lap one.

“It might be a case of damage limitation in the race, but let’s see what we can do.”

Jenson Button, 13th, 1:45.144

“Up until qualifying, our weekend had been really tough. But we made some changes to the car, and it felt really good this evening. It took a few set-up tweaks and I found my confidence, so I was able to get the best out of the car in quali.

“Then, on my final run in Q2, I went a touch wide at the exit of Turn 14 and just tapped the wall on the exit. The impact broke the left-rear wheel and gave me a puncture – it was my fault.

“It was definitely possible to get into Q3 today: my final lap in Q2 was looking very similar to Fernando’s before the puncture.

“Our long-run pace means the race could be difficult for us, but there’ll probably be some Safety Car periods and a bit of action, so anything could happen.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Bearing in mind the problematic day we had yesterday, we recovered well today, dialling-in a decent grip level and an improved handling balance on both cars. I want to say ‘bravo’ to our engineers for that achievement, which they accomplished calmly and without drama overnight and earlier today.

“Jenson was unlucky to suffer a left-rear puncture following a light brush with the wall on the exit of Turn 14, the result of which was that he wasn’t able to progress to Q3.

“Fernando moved through to Q3 with no such ill-fortune, and duly recorded a fast and efficient lap to end up in P9.

“Tomorrow both our drivers will enjoy the slight advantage of starting the race from the clean side of the grid – and, in what’s usually a long and difficult evening’s racing, they’ll surely bring their great experience to bear on the task of doing their best to score world championship points.

“To be clear: scoring points with both cars is, of course, our aim.”

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

“All through the Friday and Saturday free practice sessions, both cars struggled to find overall grip, but we were able to make the most of the cars’ balance in qualifying today.

“Thanks to some great driving, Fernando made it through into Q3 to finish in P9, his second-highest qualifying result of the season. Unfortunately, Jenson had an incident in Q2 putting an end to his Q3 chances, but he showed good pace in Q1 so we're hopeful that we can recover in the race tomorrow.

“Above all else, both our drivers showed their stellar driving prowess right when it counted, which led to our qualifying results today.”

Haas

Grosjean had another tough day. Calling the VF-16 "the worst car I've driven in a long, long time" in practice, the Frenchman made the situation even worse when he hit the barriers at Turn 10, ending his involvement in qualifying. Gutierrez had a minor tangle with Nasr in the early session, but kept his nose clean in qualifying to grab 14th.

Romain Grosjean, 15th, 1:45.723

“I don’t know what’s going on, to be fair. Yesterday we had issues, we were struggling. I spun the car and crashed yesterday and ended up doing the same again today. That’s not my style of driving, to do that twice in two days. There’s something not quite right, so we really need to analyze what it is. We’ve been trying to resolve the problem. It was qualifying and I was pushing at 200 percent. It’s just been a weird weekend all along.”

Esteban Gutierrez, 14th, 1:45.593

“FP3 was much better in terms of car balance. We used the morning session to evaluate certain things and I think we found a good compromise considering we had an updated aero package. Qualifying was very frustrating. It was a missed opportunity. I was preparing myself for that lap and I believe I would’ve had the opportunity to fight for Q3 if I could’ve completed it. We were really unlucky today. However, I’ll take the feeling I experienced during the first part of the lap into tomorrow for the race.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal 

“The weekend is getting more and more challenging. I hope tomorrow we’ll do better. Esteban did a good job to set his car up in FP3. Romain still struggled, obviously. But then in qualifying, through Q1 and until he crashed, he was doing a good job. He was very close to Esteban with very little running. We need to investigate why we crashed. Fourteenth and 15th are fair positions. It’s where we should start from considering the weekend. This is always a race where a lot of things can happen, and because a lot of stuff has happened to us already, we hope we can avoid further incidents and take advantage of those situations. These are the ups and downs of racing. I’m sure the guys will do their best to get the car together again tonight, and do the best they can for Romain to have a good race.”

Sauber

A very impressive last gasp lap from Ericsson saw him leapfrog Magnussen and grab the final spot in Q2. He then did only one run in Q2, opting to save tyres for the race and will start 16th. Nasr ran wide in FP3 after a squabble with Gutierrez but kept his car out of the barriers, and after a quieter qualifying starts in 18th.

Marcus Ericsson, 16th, 1:46.427

“It is positive that I reached Q2 today. Overall it has been a difficult weekend for me, as I haven’t been able to get a good feeling for the car during the practice sessions. Therefore, it makes it even nicer that we managed to make it into the second qualifying session. It is a good effort, but we need to keep pushing to close the gap to the midfield.”

Felipe Nasr, 18th, 1:46.860

“It was a disappointing qualifying for me. I was surprised by the drop of performance in qualifying, as I felt comfortable in the car during the free practice sessions. We went in the right direction in regards to the car’s balance. Then in qualifying I struggled with the rear grip on my first try; on the second set of tyres I felt that my tyre temperatures were not in the right working window. Anything can happen here in Singapore, so we keep fighting.”

Manor

Wehrlein hit the barriers in FP3, significantly damaging his rear wing and briefly bringing out the red flags. The Manor mechanics did well to repair the damage and get him back out towards the end of the session. In the end he out qualified his team mate by just over half a second.

Pascal Wehrlein, 20th, 1:47.667

“Difficult day. This is a track where you need a lot of downforce and good traction. We don’t have enough of either yet, so we were expecting a tough weekend. Sure enough, it has been a tough weekend. This morning I lost much of the session, but as we were struggling before, it hasn’t compromised us so much.

“It’s a track that isn’t suited to us, but it’s also a track where things can happen in the race. So that’s what we’re focusing on now – being there when it counts. It’s a spectacular event here, racing under the lights, so I will try to enjoy it.”

Esteban Ocon, 21st, 1:48.296

“It wasn’t a great day for me. We need to investigate the problems we have as we are quite a way off where we need to be. I don’t think more was possible here today with the car we have. It’s been a tough weekend so far but this wasn’t a surprise to us.

“Tomorrow is another day. Fresh opportunities maybe. There will be a few different strategies at play and it’s a street circuit, which always throws up a few surprises. I love the track and feel very comfortable here, so I’ll keep pushing and see where we can try to make a difference.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

“Not a lot to say really; the times say it all so there’s little point in trying to dress it up. There are no excuses; we’re just not good enough around here. That’s the bad news; tomorrow’s another day and we’ll be doing everything we can to give our drivers the opportunity to take whatever chances come our way in the race.”

Williams

Massa and Bottas were both on their second quick runs in Q2 when they were slowed by waved yellows for Grosjean's stricken Haas. That cost them both an opportunity to appear in Q3, but with free tyre choice for tomorrow's race, they could still score some good points for Williams.

Valtteri Bottas, 11th, 1:44.740

"We managed to make little improvements from practice to qualifying but this weekend seems to be a little bit tricky for us. It was tight out there - it’s very close with Force India. I felt like I had another very good lap in Q2 but because of the yellow flag I had to slow down a little bit, that’s why Perez is ahead of us, but he’s under investigation so we’ll see what happens. The race pace is looking better than what we’ve seen over one lap here, so we will fight with Force India tomorrow and also try to get ahead of Toro Rosso. That’s a good target for us."

Felipe Massa, 12th, 1:44.991

"It wasn’t a great qualifying in the end. I was improving on my final lap, but I couldn’t finish it because I had to slow down for the yellow flags. Maybe some other cars didn’t slow down. Looking ahead, the race is tomorrow and we need to be ready for anything in Singapore."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"There are positives and negatives for us. We were never going to be happy with 11th and 12th, but we’ve acquitted ourselves quite well at a circuit that doesn’t play to the strengths of our car, especially in qualifying. We did a lot of work overnight and, although the end result isn’t stunning, the team has done a good job to find our feet. We had the same pace as Force India during the qualifying sessions that we were both in. Given that this was never going to be our best circuit, we were happy with the pace up to that point. We could have had both cars in the top 10 if it weren’t for the yellow flags, where Perez got through when everyone else aborted. It also looks like he’s overtaken under a yellow flag in a separate incident. The stewards are investigating so depending on the outcome, that could move us a little higher up the grid. Our pace on Friday was encouraging. We can definitely race from where we are and get some points tomorrow to keep pushing forward in the championship."

Red Bull

Red Bull tried to steal a march on Mercedes in qualifying by letting both drivers set their Q2 times on the supersoft tyre. That may give them an advantage in the race, but in Q3 Verstappen was unable to put together a perfect lap when it mattered and had to settle for fourth. Ricciardo was involved in a close battle with Hamilton and just pipped his rival to grab a spot on the front row, but couldn't find the pace to challenge Rosberg.

Daniel Ricciardo, 2nd, 1:43.115

“I’m pleased with the front row. We set ourselves up well and the lap was clean, but obviously Nico created a big gap and I would have loved for him to not be that far ahead. Even with a perfect lap I don’t think we could have caught that up. So I did what I had to do and the last sector was good. I kept the tyres in good condition and that was important. That was a bit of a weakness earlier in the weekend so I was happy to get on top of that. The supersoft is what we’re going to start the race on and we seem to be the only team in the top ten doing that so hopefully it works for us. We did that in Monaco but then we didn’t get to see if it worked because of the rain on Sunday. If we can get the start we want I think we can control the situation tomorrow, but it’s not a predictable race. There are normally incidents and safety cars so it won’t be straightforward, but I feel good and ready to go. I’m excited.”

Max Verstappen, 4th, 1:43.328 

“Qualifying wasn’t fantastic and I am disappointed with my starting position. The car felt good throughout the weekend during the practice sessions and I was very comfortable in the car but it didn’t come together for qualifying. I was struggling throughout the whole session to warm up the front tyres and the balance wasn’t quite right, there was a lot of front wheel locking so the lap just didn’t come together, which is a shame. We have good race pace and we also have a different strategy to Mercedes as we start on the supersofts, so we’ll see how it’s going to work out during the race, hopefully we can improve on P4.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“A fantastic performance by both of our drivers today to be starting from the first and second row of the grid tomorrow. Tremendous from Daniel, leaving it right to the last minute to put an excellent lap together and split the Mercedes; and Max also producing a last minute improvement to get ahead of Kimi’s Ferrari. We have a different strategy compared to the other cars around us, starting on the supersoft tyre, so it should be an interesting grand prix.”

Renault

Magnussen was 15th in final practice, suggesting Q2 might be on the cards. But in the end neither he nor team mate Palmer made it out of Q3, though after qualifying on the last row in Monza, 17th and 19th is a bit of an improvement...

Kevin Magnussen, 17th, 1:46.825

“We were hoping to be more competitive this weekend but it didn’t come together in qualifying. I hope that our race pace will be better as it usually is, so let’s see. It’s a race that tends to have quite a few safety cars, that shows that a lot of things can happen here and we just need to be there to pick up any points that may come our way.”

Jolyon Palmer, 19th, 1:46.960

“Qualifying was looking to be going okay ; on my final lap I was picking up pace however I pushed the tyres too hard - overheating the rears with a big slide – so the performance fell off a cliff, meaning that I was nowhere in the second half of that lap. If I hadn’t overheated the tyres there was definitely a good few tenths of pace in the offing. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"We can’t disguise that we struggled for pace here. Neither driver had a perfect lap but breaking into Q2 would have been a strong statement given the performance of the car on this track. It’s going to be a long race in terms of time and it’s a tough one on cars and drivers because of the heat. We’ll be focused on making no mistakes, having fast pit stops and giving Kevin and Jolyon the best opportunities to work up the order."

Toro Rosso

After disappointing in the last two races, Toro Rosso looked much more competitive in qualifying this time around. Kvyat ended a run of three races where he has been unable to get out of Q1, and made the top ten for the first time since Baku in June. Sainz likewise featured in the final part of the session, and will line up sixth, which equals his best quali result this season.

Carlos Sainz, 6th, 1:44.197

“A very positive day! I think we can be very pleased with this qualifying session. After a few tough races, it was time to get back to where I think we belong and to fight for the top six, half a second clear of the Force India, is something to be proud of. It wasn’t as easy as it looked like: I had to stop at the FIA scales in Q2, after that the engine didn’t start and I also missed the second run in Q2… So it was very difficult to get into a rhythm, but finally in Q3 I managed to do two consecutive laps on the ultrasofts and the lap came when it counted. This is a huge boost for the team and we know that we have the pace for a good race tomorrow, so we can be confident! I’d say this is one of my best qualifying sessions of my career and I will be going to bed with a big smile on my face!”

Daniil Kvyat, 7th, 1:44.469

“A strong day today. That last lap felt pretty good and, even if I only had one set of new ultrasofts left for Q3, we delivered a solid performance and we can be pleased with a P7. It’s always pleasing when the car is at its best on the last lap. It’s encouraging to see that we are back where we should be, showing that we are competitive here, and - fingers crossed - tomorrow we can have a good race! It will be a very long one, where anything can happen, but we just need to keep our head down, be patient and take any chance that comes our way. I feel fine, we are well positioned so now we just need to maximize what we achieved today!”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“A very positive day for us. P6 and P7 in qualifying today is a good pick-me-up for the team. We have struggled at recent events with our top speed deficit. This result just gives everyone a bit of a confidence boost that we have been doing a good job and that when you come to a track which negates some of our weaknesses we can compete again at the level we expect. Obviously, qualifying is only your starting grid and ultimately we are all measured by the finishing result tomorrow and not today. On top of this, Singapore race has traditionally been a tricky one and I think there will still be some tyre-related and safety-car-shaped curved balls to negotiate tomorrow. Nonetheless, it is still nice to be well placed at this point. Most positively, I am pleased with both the drivers and the engineering teams. The drivers delivered good laps in Q3: Daniil did particularly well, given he ran only once in this session, so this lap came with a bit of pressure; Carlos actually also did an excellent job earlier in qualifying by getting through Q1 with a fantastic lap on supersofts. As a result this gave him an extra set of new ultrasofts in Q3 compared to our original plan and enabled him to gain that little bit extra. For the engineers, it is good for them to see a return to form, as it has been a busy few weeks with some of our continued aero package evaluations and they have worked hard to keep on top of the various setup parameters and to learn from the tests done.”

Ferrari

Contrasting fortunes in the Ferrari garage. Raikkonen always looked the quicker of the two, and briefly appeared to be in the hunt for pole, before settling for fifth. Vettel struggled throughout Saturday, complaining in free practice about the rear of his SF16-H being 'nervous' but worse was to come. A problem at the start of Q1 - possibly a broken anti-roll bar - rendered him unable to set a competitive lap time and he will line up last on a circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

Kimi Raikkonen, 5th, 1:43.540

"Today we got more or less what we could from our car. Obviously it's a bit disappointing given where we finished, but this is a tricky place. The fifth position is not ideal, but I was pretty pleased with my first lap in Q3 and the car was handling well. In the last run I knew I had to push a bit over the limit, trying to improve, but it didn't pay out. I made some mistakes, I went wide in turn 1 and got sideways. There's no issue with the car, we are just lacking overall grip and in Singapore that makes a big difference. Tomorrow we have to make a good start and then go from there, there will be different ways of using the tires between the teams. The race is going to be very long, and usually there's a lot happening, so we have to get the timings right and try to go forward."

Sebastian Vettel, 22nd, 1:49.116

"Already in the first lap, going into turn one, something happened. Then in turn two, through turn five, I felt that the car was not the same. So far we don't really know what happened, initially I thought it was at the front, but then it felt like the rear bar had broken. I hadn't felt anything wrong in P3. Then I wanted to come into the box, but in the end we decided to stay out, and then we came in because it was hopeless anyway, we were just not quick enough, and there was no time within three or four minutes to fix the problem. For tomorrow we have a long race in front of us, with a lot of safety cars. At least we have some new tires, and even if for sure it is not an ideal situation. we can still have a good race."

Mercedes

Rosberg topped the timesheets in FP3, and looked to have the measure of his team mate around the Marina Bay circuit. So it proved, with the German grabbing pole by over half a second. Hamilton ran too deep at the start of his final flying lap, costing him vital tenths and a place on the front row.

Nico Rosberg, 1st, 1:42.584

"That was a fantastic Qualifying for me – especially on my 200th GP weekend. I think this lap is in my top three of all time. I felt totally at one with the car, which is really rare. I was able to push a lot and couldn’t even top that first lap time on my second run. In the past we’ve seen that in Singapore pole is important, so I’m in the best possible position for tomorrow. We know that there a lot of pressure will come from Daniel in the Red Bull, as he will start on the SuperSoft tyres. This will be a tough battle but I’m quite confident that we chose the right strategy. We can be really proud of how much quality we have in the team. We learned a lot from last year when we were nowhere in qualifying. We’ve closed that gap and that is very satisfying."

Lewis Hamilton, 3rd, 1:43.288

"It's not been my weekend so far. I've not got many good laps out there. Not for any particular reason. I just haven't been able to string it together. People have pointed out turn seven as the problem. But it isn't any more difficult than any other corner on the track. It's one of the heaviest on brakes and quite bumpy but that's it. I had an issue with the suspension not working properly in practice which affected my braking – but we fixed that and in qualifying braking wasn't a problem. Nico did a great job and showed the potential of the car today. I've not really looked at the long runs and I didn't get to do any yesterday. Nico did and, although our setups are slightly different, I don't think I’ll be in a bad position. I'll find out tomorrow. I've kind of been on the back foot for most of the year, so it's nothing new to be in this situation. I'll do what I can from here. It's tough to overtake here but I think we've made the right call on strategy. Red Bull will go longer on the SuperSofts at the start – but Nico will probably control the race from the front and make it hard to get by. Time will tell tomorrow."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"Before the weekend, if you had offered us P1 and P3 on the grid, I think we’d have been very happy to take that result with last year’s performance in mind. But after the fact, it’s probably a little bit of a shame that we didn’t quite manage to get both cars on the front row. It was a really amazing lap from Nico – probably even quicker than we had thought was possible in our predictions. Credit to him where it’s due for a great performance. As for Lewis, he hasn’t been totally comfortable with the car we’ve given him so far this weekend and has therefore struggled to find that all-important rhythm you need at this track. It’s always a case of finding the sweet spot between the car and the driver and it seems a little bit off so far. Looking ahead to tomorrow, there is still everything to pay for. Red Bull has gone for an interesting tactic with the SuperSoft tyre at the race start. Our starts have been a focus in recent races and we have been working to optimise them – but it’s still an area we need to improve. So we can be pleased with this result for as much as it’s worth. But tomorrow is when the performance really counts and the points are scored. That’s our full focus now."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"First of all, congratulations to Nico on an incredible lap. To be honest, it reminds me of Monza where Lewis achieved something similar – and that’s what makes this battle between our drivers so fantastic. They are both able to pull out these phenomenal performances under pressure and keep setting the bar even higher. Congratulations as well to the team for their work so far this weekend. We arrived in Singapore conscious of our relatively poor performance and results last year, and a large effort went into understanding the reasons for this and being stronger this year. We have seen today that, as far as qualifying is concerned at least, we have achieved that. That is a great credit to our engineering team for some excellent work so far. As we know, however, this is an extremely tough race for the drivers, the car and the team, so our attention has turned quickly to tomorrow. We must complete diligently our preparation and see if we can convert strong grid positions into equally rewarding race results."

Force India

Force India were once again vying with Williams for much of the day, and unlike their rivals, both Perez and Hulkenberg made Q3, although Perez did so in slightly controversial circumstances after setting his fastest time whilst yellow flags were waving. A visit to the stewards post-session resulted in an eight-place grid drop.

Nico Hulkenberg, 8th, 1:44.479

"I'm not entirely happy with eighth place. I believe there was more speed in the car – maybe two of three tenths – but it was quite a messy session and we couldn't extract the maximum from it. We always felt that Q3 was a realistic target, but we faced some strong competition, especially from the Toro Rossos. It was quite hard to find my rhythm because I had a software issue in Q1 and then the yellow flags in Q2 meant I didn't complete my second lap. Considering all the circumstances, eighth place is a reasonable result and I think we are in good shape for the race. The long run performance from yesterday looked solid and we've done the homework we need ahead of the race."

Sergio Perez, 10th*, 1:44.582

"It was a very tricky session for me – pretty much like the rest of the weekend so far. We had a few technical issues yesterday and we had to make some compromises with the set-up to get a better feeling with the car, so to make Q3 was a good result. The final session was very tight and a couple of hundredths would have moved us up the grid. I'm disappointed to receive the grid penalty because I did significantly lift off for the yellow flags during Q2. Tomorrow's race is going to be very long and the chance of a Safety Car is very high. It's one of those races where just getting to the end gives you a chance of points: anything can happen and we need to make the most of every opportunity."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal 

"Even though we saw both our cars through to Q3, there was definitely a sense that we didn't maximise our full potential this evening. Both drivers found it difficult to find their rhythm and there were various issues that disrupted the flow of qualifying on both sides of the garage. A few tenths here and there would have certainly moved us up the grid. Looking ahead to the race, I'm wary of making any bold predictions. It's always a long race, close to the two-hour mark, and there will be plenty of opportunities to show our competitive race pace and hopefully collect some valuable points."

 

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“We witnessed qualifying sessions with some surprises from start to finish. Strategy already came to the forefront from Q2, when Red Bull opted to run on the supersoft to set their fastest times. As a result, they will be the only starters in the top 10 to begin the race on this compound, which means that they can run an alternative strategy. We’d expect to see at least two stops per car tomorrow, but this is always one of the hardest races to predict.”