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Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes

11 Oct 2014

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel on their contrasting fortunes; Daniil Kvyat on the elation of securing a career-best grid spot on home ground; and Caterham on their improving form, and almost progressing into Q2. The drivers and senior team personnel report back after the first Formula One qualifying session on Russian soil...

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo (7th, Q3 - 1:39.635)

"It's tough to get a lap together around here, for a new track it's really high in grip but at the same time it's hard to read the grip; it's not such a natural feeling that it gives us behind the wheel, but it's fun and a new challenge. We were trying to get the fronts in and get grip out of them and on the last lap I lost the rear. We're better off than we were yesterday, but I was hoping for more than seventh."

Sebastian Vettel (11th, Q2 - 1:40.052)

"I wasn't comfortable in the car today. It was very difficult, I think we took a step back from this morning and we expected the rear to be a lot stronger and the track to pick up more than it did. The car felt nervous, so I couldn't take the speed into the corners, I lost the rear many times around the lap and therefore wasn't quick enough."

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal

"A difficult session for both our divers, finishing what will become sixth and tenth. We seem to have struggled to have one lap pace so far this weekend, hopefully our long runs have looked stronger and we can make some progress from those grid positions tomorrow."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1

"Daniel did a good job to qualify sixth, but it was a difficult session for us today. We didn't get on top of our set-up issues and weren't quick enough to challenge those at the front. Straight-line speed seemed to be an issue too, and that's especially important at a track like Sochi. Power Unit-wise, at this stage of the season it's important to manage the mileage and prevent any reliability issues. That could prove vital tomorrow in helping us to score a good result."

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat (5th, Q3 - 1:39.277)

"It feels great securing P5 in today's qualifying here in my home country. It was already looking quite promising yesterday, so I'm very happy we could put it all together and achieve my best ever Qualifying result today. The car felt very good and everything worked out well, so well done to the team. I will do my best in tomorrow's race and I will definitely aim to finish the race at least in fifth position."

Jean-Eric Vergne (10th, Q2 - 1:40.020)

"I was extremely slow today and I don't know why. I lost time everywhere around the track and I'm wondering if there was a problem somewhere, which did not allow me to get the best out of the car. We will have a look at all the data, trying to understand what happened and be quicker again tomorrow."

Phil Charles, Toro Rosso chief race engineer

"We are clearly very pleased, both drivers in Q3 is great, especially on a new track, and the team work well to put the set up together. Daniil has done an absolutely superb job throughout the three qualifying sessions, where he kept improving, using his head, refining his driving each lap and learning from the lap before. He was able to extract a little bit more each time and get better and better and that was the secret for him. As for Jev, he's been unlucky, as something a little bit strange occurred during his Q3 and he could not manage to match his Q2 time. We will have some work to do tonight, as we need to understand what happened exactly. I feel sorry for him as he was looking really good and he would have deserved a better result today."

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

"Needless to say that was a fantastic qualifying session for the entire team, and especially Daniil who is obviously delighted to be lining up fifth in front of his home crowd tomorrow. The fuel and energy management were both very good but we'll keep working hard this evening to give both drivers all of the necessary tools with which to fight tomorrow. Finally, it was nice to out-qualify our big brothers over at Red Bull. But we're not counting our chickens just yet!"


Kamui Kobayashi (19th, Q1 - 1:43.166)

"It's not being the easiest of weekends for me here in Russia, as I haven't completed that many laps up until now and I am still learning the track every time I go out. Having said that, I think I've improved a lot in a very short time here in Sochi and, even though my qualifying lap was not perfect, we were able to qualify ahead of a Lotus as well as a Marussia. I'm sure I will be much more confident in the race tomorrow and I look forward to tomorrow - a day where of course our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Jules."

Marcus Ericsson (17th, Q1 - 1:42.648)

"What a great qualifying session! I did a very good lap and the car behaved very well; we can be very pleased with qualifying in 17th position here in Russia. It's a bit frustrating to be so close to Q2, but overall I think that we can be very happy with what we achieved today. This morning's FP3 was another good session where we built on what we learned yesterday and continued to make progress. I went into qualifying feeling confident in the car and I knew what I had to do, and it all came together nicely. Now we need to look forward to the race tomorrow, I'm really up for another good race. Of course, Jules is very much in our minds and our thoughts and prayers are always with him, it's not being an easy weekend in terms of emotions, we will all be racing for him here tomorrow."

Manfredi Ravetto, Caterham team principal

"We haven't stopped improving and we can be very pleased with what the team achieved today and in recent races compared to where it was four months ago. Not only did we qualify ahead of Marussia, but we also out-qualified a Lotus and our fight with them has become very consistent. We've made small but steady steps forward since the start of the second half of the season in Belgium, and here in Russia we've confirmed that with hard work and determination, we can get closer and closer to our main rivals and beat them like we've done today. I'm very proud of the team - we're doing a great job and we need to continue in this direction."

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

"It was a fantastic effort from Marcus right at the end of Q1 to get so close to making the cut, so we're a little bit disappointed to have missed out on that. However, it does show that we're right there with the guys ahead and our long run pace looks especially good, so we're optimistic for tomorrow. The Power Units have run like clockwork in practice and qualifying, which meant we could also focus on energy optimisation."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg (12th, Q2 - 1:40.058)

"It's a very long and challenging lap here, and it's not so easy to put a good lap together. I think we got pretty much what we could from the car because getting the most from the tyres today was a big challenge. If you pushed more initially, you paid the price at the end of the lap, so the secret was to find a balance across the whole lap. Having the five-place grid penalty tomorrow will be quite costly on this track because I think it's going to be difficult to overtake - it's only really possible down the two main straights. Hopefully I can make a clean start and use our race pace to score some points, but there is not that much you can do with the strategy because the tyre degradation is very low. We expect this race to be very demanding on fuel consumption so maybe that will open up some opportunities."

Sergio Perez (13th, Q2 - 1:40.163)

"It is disappointing to miss out on a place in Q3 because the gaps were very small. My first lap in Q2 was very good, but in my second run I made a few mistakes which cost me two tenths and a place in the top ten. I think we will be starting pretty much where we expected based on our one-lap pace, so we will aim to move ahead and achieve a better position in the race tomorrow. In terms of strategy, we don't expect big surprises. I think it will be an interesting race: overtaking won't be easy so the start and the first few laps could have a big influence on the final result. The track is quite difficult and tyre temperatures will be a key element as the race progresses."

Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal and managing director

"A place in Q3 was out of reach today but the margins were very close and one or two tenths would have made the difference. The penalty for Nico is unfortunate and gives us an even bigger challenge tomorrow because of the limited strategy options on a circuit where it appears to be very difficult to overtake. However, it's a brand new track, we've never seen a race here, and there are lots of unknowns that could play a role. So we remain optimistic of converting our starting positions into points and we will give it our all as usual."


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"As expected, the performance gap between the two compounds has come down a bit compared to yesterday while degradation is minimal. We will probably see the drivers keeping their tyres for as long as possible, with a one-stop strategy now looking a distinct possibility, also because of the fact that the pit lane speed limit has been reduced. The faster cars may allow themselves the luxury of a two-stopper, following more of a sprint strategy. Either way, it's going to be an interesting race at a significant new venue, where tyre tactics are set to play a central role."


Max Chilton (21st, Q1 - 1:43.649)

"A tough weekend and one that hasn't got any easier as we've progressed towards the race. I'm grateful for having the whole Team around me as I think that it is helping all of us to focus. Performance-wise, we didn't get the qualifying position we wanted today, but there are some reasons for that. This morning we experienced a driveshaft problem and missed the latter part of the FP3 session, and therefore the soft tyre run. As this is a new circuit for us, that's quite a disadvantage going into qualifying. I was fairly happy with the balance and looking at the three free practice sessions as a whole, I think we have done a good job and there is more to come in the race. We'll keep pushing hard this evening, and do our best to get ahead of the Caterhams tomorrow, but the fact is, it's not the same without my teammate."

Dave Greenwood, Marussia chief enginner

"It has been another day of digging deep, in order to focus on the immediate job in hand here in Sochi. Yesterday we made mention of the strength of the Team, but today brought home to us the burden on Max's shoulders. This is a brand new circuit and the first barometer for a driver is always his teammate in equal equipment. Max is flying solo here. We compounded that challenge with a driveshaft problem that caused him to lose a chunk of this morning's FP3 session, and there's no doubt that the lost track time and knock-on effect of not being able to run the option tyre have been a factor in our qualifying performance today. So we don't believe the gap to Caterham in Q1 is particularly a reflection of the true picture, but that's for us to demonstrate in the race tomorrow. The challenge hasn't become any easier this week, and the race will certainly be tougher still, but hopefully we'll find strength in the fact that, tomorrow, all of us, including Max, will be racing for Jules."


Esteban Gutierrez (14th, Q2 - 1:40.536)

"It was an interesting competition today. We missed quite a lot of time in the morning due to a technical issue. I was still experimenting with the set-up in the third free practice, and during the qualifying laps I was able to improve between the runs. It was pretty important to put in a strong lap on track at the end of the qualifying. I think it is a great competition between Adrian and myself, we are really pushing to the limit which brings some excitement."

Adrian Sutil (15th, Q2 - 1:40.984)

"It was a normal qualifying, but it was difficult to get the tyres up to temperature. Unfortuntaley, I could not extract the maximum as I made a mistake on my final lap. Without this incident I probably would have finished one position better, which would not be a huge difference. Under the current circumstances there is not more to expect. In the race we have to make the best out of every chance we get."

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal

"Based on Friday's results, we knew what we were able to achieve. Our grid positions are where we could expect them to be. Concerning the race, once again the goal is to make no mistakes and be ready when opportunities present themselves."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara , Sauber head of track engineering

"In the morning a red flag and a software problem cost Esteban some time and, as a result, he lost one run in FP3. I have to praise his recovery, because, despite these problems, he managed to put together good laps and to maximise the car's performance in qualifying. For Adrian technically things went smoothly today. This morning we did some checks on the aerodynamic set-up, in order to make the right final call. In fact we found some performance, but then in qualifying he made a mistake and lost several tenths of a second. We are where we expected to be."


Valtteri Bottas (3rd, Q3 - 1:38.920)

"I took a bit too much out of the tyres in the first two sectors and they started to fall away in the final corners and this maybe cost us a chance of finishing on the front row. Mercedes have looked very strong in the final sector all weekend so I don't think pole was possible but it would have been good to see where that lap would have put me. The benefit is that we will be starting on the cleaner side of the grid and this could be very beneficial on a new track with a lot of dirt off line. Third is a good result and we have strong race pace so hopefully we can battle with the Mercedes cars and secure another podium finish tomorrow."

Felipe Massa (18th, Q1 - 1:43.064)

"I'm very disappointed as the car has been looking very competitive at this track and we should have been looking at the second row at least, but a problem with the car in Q1 has pushed us down the grid. I had no real power throughout qualifying and we were trying different things to resolve this out on track but in the end there was nothing I could do. P18 is far from ideal but I know I have the car underneath me to overtake tomorrow so we should have a chance to score points and limit the damage."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"From a performance point of view I'm extremely happy with the pace of the car so far this weekend. Valtteri did a great job and second was possible if he had managed to put all of his sectors together. Our reliability record has been very good all season and this is something we can be proud of, but unfortunately we had a problem with Felipe's car in Q1 which is disappointing. We have a great car and we're confident that in the race we can get both of them ahead of the teams we're fighting in the Championship which is our aim at this point in the season."


Romain Grosjean (16th, Q2 - 1:41.397)

"Today it was a real struggle to find grip which made the car a big handful to drive. Qualifying was really tough because of this. It was a shame as the track is nice to drive and you just need that extra bit of adhesion to be able to push harder. The layout isn't as much of a challenge as we thought in some places - T3 for example is easily flat out. The track surface is very smooth so we do have to work to get the tyres up to temperature and this only happens after quite a few laps."

Pastor Maldonado (20th, Q1 - 1:43.205)

"We had a lot of problems today so very little time on the track. I missed the morning session because of a concern with the Energy Store, which meant we missed the opportunity to see how the track had changed and to make improvements to the car. Out on track the car actually felt okay when we weren't having issues, but clearly the pace was not there. We weren't able to push any harder because there were further issues with the power delivery. Tomorrow we'll start from the back of the grid so we've got it all to do."

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director

"There were problems for Pastor which prevented him from setting a representative lap and Romain was struggling for grip so qualifying was pretty far from where we want to be. Pastor lost track time in the morning so was already on the back foot, then he faced further problems at the start of qualifying which led to an issue for his gearbox. Romain couldn't find grip so struggled to be able to push for a fast time. Pastor will have it all to do starting from the back of the grid and Romain will have his work cut out too."


Lewis Hamilton (1st, Q3 - 1:38.513)

"It's an amazing feeling to come to this beautiful place and to race on this track. It's fun to drive. Today, the laps in practice felt more special. In qualifying it seemed a bit harder to get that special lap but I'm grateful that I was able to improve. I crossed the line and I was just hoping I got it; when they tell you, it's the biggest relief - a great feeling. The corners are mostly medium and high speed where you need a lot of downforce, so tomorrow should be a challenge. It's a long run down to Turn One and we need to be mindful there are opportunities to overtake here. It was great to see such a strong turnout for the first Saturday of running at this new track. Hopefully we can give them a good show tomorrow."

Nico Rosberg (2nd, Q3 - 1:38.713)

"That was a very difficult qualifying today; we had to adapt a lot of things. The track is new and so unique: the tyres last very long as the surface is very smooth. Lewis was just quicker today so I need to have a good start tomorrow. Starting from the front-row is still a good position to begin the race. I guess this will be an exciting Grand Prix; there will be some opportunities to overtake on the straights and I am sure we will see plenty of action on track."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"It was another big battle between our drivers with Lewis coming out just on top in the end. It was hard fought on every run, with Nico starting out stronger, then Lewis each time able to find a little bit extra on the second and third timed laps. The performance was ramping up as the runs went on and it looked like Valtteri (Bottas) in the Williams was going to spoil our party at the end - he had two purple sectors then made a mistake in the final corners and didn't improve. But we have every reason to be happy with a Silver Arrows front row at the end of an unusual qualifying session. We expect the competition from Williams and McLaren to be tough tomorrow, like it should be in Formula One, so we will need to be on the top of our game in terms of performance and strategy. A special word, too, for Daniil Kvyat: he did a great job to qualify fifth at his home race."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"That was a very tense qualifying session and we went into it knowing that Williams and McLaren would be tough to beat today. Like the other teams, we found ourselves in an unusual situation with tyre usage owing to the new track surface. New tarmac such as this has a layer of tar on top of it, which gets worn down with time but initially makes it very hard to work the tyre enough to get temperature into it. This is the phenomenon we have encountered this weekend and also saw in Austria earlier this year. As a result, the tyre performance was improving lap by lap - and this meant we ended up electing to make a five timed lap run in Q3 to get the best out of them. Although the shape of the session was atypical, the drivers did their customary excellent job. Lewis took a deserved pole, topping the times in every part of qualifying, while Nico secured a strong second place under some pressure from Bottas in the Williams. Looking ahead to the race, the tyre behaviour means that a one-stop strategy is feasible - although not necessarily the optimal solution."


Fernando Alonso (8th, Q3 - 1:39.709)

"Today's qualifying was more difficult than usual, or at least more complicated compared to the last two race weekends, when we had been able to fight with the front runners. So far here, we have not been competitive, even though the car seems okay and on the set-up front, we've changed almost nothing. We can't single out any particular bad point because we are losing in all the sectors. The truth is just that the cars ahead of us were quicker. Here, the grip seems to improve with every lap and on top of that, reducing the pit lane speed to 60 km/h all points to a one-stop strategy. Even if the Safety Car could mix things up a bit, I think tomorrow, the start and the first corner could define the outcome of the race, and so we must prepare to tackle the early stages as well as possible."

Kimi Raikkonen (9th, Q3 - 1:39.771)

"After a difficult Friday, things went better today, the car has improved a lot thanks to a series of changes that worked and we had a good pace. Sure, we can't claim to have ended up where we would have liked, but compared to the start of the weekend, we have made a step forward and this makes me confident for the race. Today, it wasn't easy to put a quick lap together because I still have some difficulties with the front end, especially in the final sector, but tomorrow we will try our hardest to be in the game and make up some places."

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director

"Yesterday, it was immediately apparent that tyre performance was unusual compared to that at other circuits, both because of the track surface and because of the interaction with the compounds available for this Grand Prix. It is reminiscent of the situation on the first Saturday in Austin, where the best times came after a decent number of laps. Today, as then, the main difficulty was in choosing the right amount of fuel so as to produce the maximum performance while at the same time being able to complete the number of laps necessary to get that best performance. Added to this of course was the effect produced by the evolution of the track. Today's result reflects the pecking order seen last week in Suzuka, with Williams more competitive, the Red Bull closer and a few surprises, such as the two Toro Rosso. Race strategy is looking like being a one stop, but the pit stop window is very wide, because of the low degradation levels. With Magnussen's penalty, we gain a place on the starting grid, but only tomorrow will we know how many passing opportunities this track will produce. There's a high chance of a safety car, if you consider the walls are very close and that there aren't too many escape roads. This can be seen as both a risk and an opportunity and we must be ready to react."


Jenson Button (4th, Q3 - 1:39.121)

"We were strong on both Options and Primes [tyres] yesterday, in both FP1 and FP2, but this morning in FP3 we went backwards, even though we weren't running a lot of fuel. With the set-up we'd adopted, the car just wasn't working for us, but, importantly, we kept our heads after that, worked through the issues, and came to qualifying with a much improved car.

"Tomorrow, I really don't know what to expect. Our long runs have been pretty good, but it isn't obvious how many pit-stops most drivers will be making; if you lock up here, however, you'll completely flat-spot a tyre, and, if you do that, a one-stopper will become untenable, so as I say it won't be straightforward at all. Valtteri [Bottas] is obviously the guy we'll be trying to pick off from the start of tomorrow's race. His pace looked good yesterday and today, but Fridays and Saturdays are very different from Sundays."

Kevin Magnussen (6th, Q3 - 1:39.629)

"Today hasn't been a good day. We didn't get anything out of FP3 € as Jenson says we went the wrong way on set-up € but, even so, this afternoon things felt pretty good for me in Q1 and Q2. In Q3, however, the car felt very different. As a result I wasn't able to get near the time I'd set in Q2, so we'll need to look into what happened there.

"Overall, though, our pace has been a bit better than usual here, so it's obviously a shame for us to have been hit with a five-place grid penalty [imposed in respect of a gearbox failure in FP3]. Even so, I hope we'll be able to make good progress in the race. It won't be easy, because we'll be starting quite far back [P11], but at least overtaking is possible here: moreover, there's a good DRS zone, and quite a long straight down to Turn Two, and our long-run pace hasn't been too bad, so all in all I'm fairly positive we'll be able to make up some positions."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"After an encouraging day yesterday, during which Kevin had posted the second-fastest lap-time and Jenson had posted the sixth-fastest lap-time, unfortunately we took our cars' set-up in a negative direction in this morning's FP3 session.

"This afternoon, in qualifying, we therefore reverted to the set-up we'd used to great effect yesterday, and the result was successful: P4 for Jenson and P6 for Kevin [which will become P11 as a result of a five-place grid penalty imposed in respect of a gearbox failure in FP3]. Okay, P4 and P6 amount to our best cumulative qualifying performance of the year, which of course represents a welcome recovery after this morning's wrong turn, but we're nonetheless left feeling somewhat frustrated. In all probability, had we been able to optimise the utility of FP3, and had we thereby been able to capitalise on the extra car-development time that that optimisation would have created, we may well have been quicker still in quali this afternoon.

"Now, though, we're looking forwards, not backwards, and it's clear that both Jenson and Kevin have pace sufficient to perform well in tomorrow's race. Kevin will be handicapped by being relegated to a P11 grid slot, through no fault of his own, but, even so, there's no reason why, like Jenson, he shouldn't also bag a decent haul of world championship points for the team."