Latest News / Headline

Qualifying - selected team and driver quotes

22 Nov 2014

Sergio Perez on why Force India didn't have the pace to crack the top 10 in qualifying - but might in Sunday's race; Lotus's Romain Grosjean on a difficult season coming full circle in Abu Dhabi; and Caterham's Will Stevens on mixed emotions after completing his first F1 qualifying session. The drivers and senior team personnel report back on a compelling second day at Yas Marina...

Force India

Sergio Perez (13th, Q2 - 1:42.239)

"Today wasn't an especially difficult day, but we simply didn't have the pace to extract a better position from qualifying. We expected this, which is why our set-up is more geared towards the race. The way the tyres are behaving here is quite different from the past in Abu Dhabi so we had to amend our set-up accordingly: we hope this will give us some advantage tomorrow. In any case, the strategy choices are quite limited on this track so I don't expect any adventurous choices from anyone on the grid. We have made some big changes compared to yesterday; hopefully they will pay off when it matters and we can close our season with another points finish."

Nico Hulkenberg (14th, Q2 - 1:42.384)

"Going into qualifying we knew we that our pace over one lap was not the best and that it would be difficult to make the top ten. With the set-up we chose it has been quite tricky to find a good harmony over one lap on this track. The good news is that our race pace looks stronger and I hope we can perform better tomorrow. Also, there are double points on offer, so everything counts twice. It's also the last race of the year so we should try and take some chances to finish the year in a good way."

Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal and managing director

"We enter the final race of the season with nothing to lose and an outside chance of claiming fifth place - so we will need to give it our all tomorrow. Our one lap pace today was not that strong, but we are hopeful of a more competitive showing in the race. Unfortunately this is one of those circuits that always proves difficult for overtaking so our best chance is to try and do something with the strategy to bring our cars into play. Whatever happens tomorrow we look forward to a spectacular finale to the season and I look forward to the championship showdown between Lewis and Nico."


Romain Grosjean (16th, Q1 - 1:42.768)

"It's not going to be an easy race with starting from the back and having a drive-through penalty, but that's what we started with at the beginning of the year in Melbourne so there's some kind of cruel symmetry there! We will try our best in the race; you never know what can happen. It's a long Grand Prix and you never know how the season finale can play out. Let's hope we achieve the best result possible."

Pastor Maldonado (18th, Q1 - 1:42.860)

"It was difficult to get temperature into the front tyres which meant they started locking up easily on braking, which obviously penalises you for lap time. We didn't expected to be very competitive this weekend as Yas Marina is a very particular track with slow speed corners and long straights, neither of which favours our car. We did the best we could but in the end it wasn't enough. Nonetheless, we hope to be more competitive tomorrow as we should be better than our rivals in terms of tyre degradation. A good strategy will be key, as it is a long race and we should recover a decent amount of places."

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director

"Qualifying was pretty representative of our entire season and we have plenty of work to do in the race tomorrow. Certainly we're far closer to the front of the grid in terms of lap time than we were at the start of the season, however both drivers have a lot of cars ahead of them on the grid so we'll be working hard on a strategy which enables us to make the most the race. Romain has the additional challenge of starting from the back of the grid with a drive-through penalty too, so there's no point being conservative with his strategy. We have a pretty good past history in Abu Dhabi and the E22 looks quite reasonable in the longer runs so there is definitely potential to move forward over the course of the 55 laps. Both drivers are driving well and we've seen good reliability of late. We'll all be giving it everything we've got."


Kamui Kobayashi (19th, Q1 - 1:44.540)

"We've had a very decent weekend up until now - it's been a positive day today and the car feels better than yesterday. I lost a bit of time in the last sector, but nothing would've changed result wise, so we can be satisfied with our performance today. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow - we will fight like we always do and I hope we can end the season with a good result to thank all the fans who are constantly supporting the team and that got us here to Abu Dhabi."

Will Stevens (20th, Q1 - 1:45.095)

"I was looking very strong on my last qualifying lap - I matched Kamui through the first two sectors but I made a mistake going into Turn 17; I was actually a second quicker than my previous lap at that point. I'm pleased because I know that if I hadn't made that mistake I would've been matching my teammate, but obviously I'm disappointed because I could've done better. But overall it's been a positive day. This morning in FP3 we started to push and I had some good performance runs. I was pretty happy with my Prime tyre run but my Option run was quite messy and I didn't get the most out of the tyres. I feel comfortable and I just need to keep a cool head and enjoy my first ever Formula One race tomorrow. We will all do our best as we want to show all the fans out there how much their support means to us."

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat (7th, Q3 - 1:41.908)

"It was a very good Qualifying session for us. I did a good lap in Q3 and I am happy that we achieved P7, even if we could have done a little better. We were very close to the 6th place, but nevertheless we are in a good position for tomorrow, also because I will start from the clean side of the track. It's hard to fix a target for the race, I just hope to maximise our strong performance in qualifying. I think yesterday we correctly understood where our car could have been improved and we worked in the right direction. Now we'll just have to work hard in order to get points tomorrow. I have good memories here from GP3 and I hope that tomorrow's race will also turn out to be an experience to remember. It will be my last race with Scuderia Toro Rosso, I will miss the whole team and I will also miss speaking Italian. But tomorrow there is no time to be emotional: I will be totally focused on the race!"

Jean-Eric Vergne (12th, Q2 - 1:42.207)

"It wasn't a bad qualifying session, even though I would have preferred to get into Q3. It's been a difficult weekend, with a car which has always been very hard to drive, so at the end of the day to finish so close to Q3 is not such a bad result. All considered, it gives me the possibility to start the race with the tyres that I want tomorrow and I'm really convinced that our car will perform much better, as our race pace has been looking good for the whole weekend. With a good strategy, we should definitely be strong tomorrow and bring home some good and valuable points, to end the season on a high, for me and for the team."

James Key, Toro Rosso technical director

"From Friday we were quite happy with our high fuel pace, but we knew it might be difficult with our one lap pace for Qualifying. We had a bit of work to do, some of it was certainly car related and some was with tyres, but I have to say the team did a very good job, putting a lot of attention into many details and that has paid off. In FP3 we made a good step forward compared to yesterday, but we still had a few things to fix. We managed to start our qualifying session with a reasonable balance on both cars, which meant a further improvement compared to FP3. We might have saved a set of tyres with Daniil in Q1, but it was very difficult to get a reference for the track conditions, so we played it safe. Q2 was good, with a very competitive lap from Daniil, making it to Q3. Jev made a big step but he lost a couple of tenths in the last corner and that was enough to keep him out of Q3. It's a shame, but he is in good shape for the race - we have a free tyre choice for the start and with a good strategy he can definitely show well tomorrow. As for Daniil in Q3, he did a great job getting very close to P6, but he made a slight mistake in turn 17. Overall, we are happy and now we look forward to tomorrow and the final race of the season."

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

"It's fantastic to see Daniil qualify ahead of both McLarens and Ferraris, especially as this will be his final race with the team. We pushed very hard to extract the most from both Power Units and the end result is extremely satisfying for everyone at Toro Rosso. The fight to make the top-10 was very close, so it's a shame to see Jean-Eric just miss out. But we're really optimistic that both drivers can fight for points tomorrow, just as they achieved at the opening round in March. We'll be checking and optimising every single parameter to ensure that happens."


Jenson Button (8th, Q3 - 1:41.964)

"I thought we had a decent shot at getting P6 today, and in the end we were just seven-hundredths' off. As the track temperature drops, you start to lose grip, and you're never certain from which end that loss of grip will come. On my final lap, I had a lock-up into the hairpin at Turn Eight - it locked the loaded right-front wheel, which is quite unusual, so we didn't get it quite right.

"Looking forwards, I'm not sure what our race pace will be like, as I didn't get much running done on Friday. I don't know where we're going to be, but I intend to have some fun. One thing's for sure, I'll go out there and get the maximum out of the car. Considering where we were yesterday, this was an okay performance."

Kevin Magnussen (11th, Q2 - 1:42.198)

"I'm a bit disappointed, to be honest. There was a bit of traffic out there, but, more important, in Q2 I struggled quite a bit with the rear of the car - it just didn't have much grip. It felt a bit better yesterday, so we'll have to look at why that was.

"Our race performance looks promising though; certainly, our pace on the Prime tyre didn't look too bad on Friday. So the Prime will probably be our race tyre, and we'll be trying to get the best out of it tomorrow. As always, our target is to score as many points as possible."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"Jenson put in a solid performance in qualifying today, and will start tomorrow's race from eighth slot on the grid. He's well placed to mount an effective challenge for a decent clutch of world championship points tomorrow.

"Kevin was quick in Q1, but then made a mistake at Turn Six on his first hot lap in Q2 and chose to abort that lap. Through the first two sectors of his next and final Q2 lap, he was on it again; however, he lost time behind Checo [Perez] in sector three, losing a couple of tenths, which unfortunately left him 11th-quickest and prevented him going through to Q3. Had he not had that mishap, he, like Jenson, would have made it into Q3 easily.

"He'll be disappointed, but, again, you may be well sure that he'll be approaching tomorrow's race in a positive frame of mind. There's no reason why both our drivers shouldn't notch up decent results tomorrow, in fact."

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo (5th, Q3 - 1:41.267)

"I'm really happy with quali; we knew after FP3 we had a bit of work to do, but we knew when the sun went down the temperature would drop so we stayed optimistic that our set up would work better in the evening and we made some good changes for that. I was the happiest I have been all weekend during quali. We are fairly close to the Williams and not too far off at least one of the Mercs, so not a bad session."

Sebastian Vettel (6th, Q3 - 1:41.893)

"I'm not too happy with that. Practice went well, but then I realised immediately in qualifying that we wouldn't really get the grip out of the super soft tyre which we were able to do this morning and yesterday. We tried to change the car between sessions. When we went out on the used tyres in Q3 it looked as though we had found something, but it wasn't to be. I'm not entirely happy as I would have loved, in my last qualifying for the team, to show a little bit more. I'm sure tomorrow will be an emotional day, it was already quite emotional getting into the car today."

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal

"It was a very close qualifying, with the teams lining up in the end two by two. Daniel got pretty close to the Williams, but at this circuit one lap pace was never going to be our strength but he and Sebastian are on the third row for tomorrow's race and hopefully we can move forwards from there. A great job by Daniil Kvyat as well, to have three Red Bull cars fifth, sixth and seventh."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1

"Fifth and sixth is a reasonable qualifying result. Dan suffered some issues during third practice this morning, but everything was fixed for qualifying and there was no repeat. His final lap was very good but not quite enough in the end to sneak a place on row two. Seb struggled with the car throughout the session though and we're now analysing the data to understand the problem. As usual we will have to extract the maximum from our PU tomorrow and factor that performance into the overall strategy. With double points on offer it's really important to give Seb every chance of finishing the season fourth in the championship."


Esteban Gutierrez (17th, Q1 - 1:42.819)

"It was pretty tight. I tried my best to get the maximum out of the car. My last lap was a good one, but I missed half a tenth that would let me reach Q2. It is not very satisfying, but at the same time we need to focus on tomorrow's race and try to get the best out of it."

Adrian Sutil (15th, Q2 - 1:43.074)

"That was a solid qualifying. We continuously made progress during the whole weekend, although it was not easy as I missed the first free practice session, and, therefore, did not run many laps on this circuit. Session by session the feeling in the car got better after testing different set-ups. The car had a good balance during the first qualifying session, so my crucial lap went well. After that the track temperatures went down and the driveability of the car was different in Q2. It was difficult to have the ideal conditions. In general I am satisfied with qualifying. The team did a good job, and we hope for a positive race tomorrow."

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal

"Even before the event it was clear that this race weekend would not be an easy one for us. This track clearly shows the deficiencies of our overall package. However, this doesn't mean that we are giving up for the race. Some of our competitors are within reach, so our goal must be to deliver the best possible result."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara , Sauber head of track engineering

"Technically it was a trouble free day. However, on the performance side we were expecting to have a tough weekend. In the end nothing went really wrong in qualifying, but we just got the result we could expect on a track like this. The race will not be easy, but we will do everything to get the maximum out of the car."


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"With so much at stake, it was an exciting qualifying session that as usual went down to the very final seconds. Tyre performance was in line with our expectations, and the first stint in particular tomorrow on the supersoft tyre will be crucial in determining the stint length for the rest of the Grand Prix. We're still looking at two stops for the race, with a possibility of three for some competitors."


Valtteri Bottas (3rd, Q3 - 1:41.025)

"It is important for the team to get third in the championship and we have set ourselves up well to achieve that. I also have a good chance to regain fourth in the drivers' championship and so will be focusing on that as well. That was one of the best laps I have done in qualifying all season, throughout the session I worked the times down and got it all together when it mattered. I will be ready to fight for any opportunity to move forward in the race tomorrow."

Felipe Massa (4th, Q3 - 1:41.119)

"We are starting in the best positions we could tomorrow. I potentially had the pace to be in front of Valtteri but I didn't put together my final lap after I locked up. The car is showing good performance for tomorrow and another second row lockout is encouraging. The tyre degradation will be vital tomorrow, so this will be important for the strategy. A podium is possible so I will fight hard for that as it would be a great end to the season."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"The team has done a really good job today; we have qualified where we should have done and got everything right. We have done our homework so we start the race in a good position tomorrow. We are now looking at getting the strategy right and making sure we have all the bases covered to make sure we are prepared for the final race of the season tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso (10th, Q3 - 1:42.866)

"Today's qualifying was very tricky on a weekend that, in general, has been more complicated than usual. Changing the engine after the final free practice session created a few extra problems and it took until Q2 for the car to perform consistently. Tomorrow, I expect an uphill struggle, partly because, over the past two days, we haven't done any practice starts and I have never run with a full fuel load. But at the same time, I really want to give it my all and try and make up as much ground as possible. It will be a special day for me and even if it's really about the title contenders, Rosberg and Hamilton, I would like my last race for Ferrari to feature some nice battles, for the team and for all the fans who have supported me over these past years."

Kimi Raikkonen (9th, Q3 - 1:42.236)

"Even before we arrived in Yas Marina, we knew this track would not favour our car and all weekend, we never managed to find a set-up that worked well at every corner. Today, in qualifying, I felt more comfortable, but it wasn't simple putting a good lap together. I was always on the limit and on some parts of the track the car worked well and in others it tended to slide. Tomorrow it will be a difficult race, but as always, we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible for the team."

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director

"Given our performance in yesterday's free practice, we knew we were facing a complex weekend and, unfortunately, today's qualifying turned out to be particularly trying. The gap to our competitors is more evident from the second to third sectors where what counts is mainly speed and driveability, two areas we are working on a lot as we know we need to improve. In the opening laps of Q1 we had various problems, especially on Fernando's car, some down to traffic management, others linked to technical parameters after we changed the power unit. As the sessions went on, track conditions improved significantly and we tried to get the most out of our package. Starting from the fifth row means we will have to attack and so the entire team has to be absolutely concentrated in order to bring home as many points as possible."


Nico Rosberg (1st, Q3 - 1:40.480)

"Thanks to the engineers, the setup of my car was very much to my liking at the end. We did an amazing job together. I had two great laps in Q3 - but qualifying is only one step to having a good weekend. I hope that I can continue my form from the last race and win but, as we all know, I need some help to take the title. It will be tough but these things happen a lot in sport. I will push flat out and keep the pressure high on Lewis to try to force him into a mistake like in Brazil and also hope that the Williams have a chance to be in between us. I already offered to pay for Valtteri to have a great wellness programme tonight so that he is fully relaxed and will put on a great performance tomorrow... let's see what happens! I'm highly motivated and very happy about how today went for me. Finally I want to say thank you for all the support I've received out there. That's new to me and a great feeling as I've never been in the situation of a championship fight before."

Lewis Hamilton (2nd, Q3 - 1:40.866)

"I didn't have the best of laps today. Q1 and Q2 were very good and I didn't make any mistakes in Q3, it just wasn't a good lap. I really enjoyed it though and the car was fantastic. Tomorrow is when it counts; my approach will be the same as always. I had very good pace throughout practice, particularly on the long runs which gives me confidence for tomorrow. It's not my style to settle for second place but we'll need to decide how to play it."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"This evening, we achieved the first part of our mission this weekend with another front row lockout for the team. Nico did a fantastic job, like we have come to expect from him in qualifying this season. It has been a great run for him to get 11 poles this year and become the 'pole champion'. Lewis didn't put the perfect lap together but second place is still very much okay as a starting position for him. He's totally professional and knows that tomorrow is what counts. A lot of people have been asking what we will be saying to the drivers before tomorrow's race and the answer is: nothing, it's too late. They are in the zone now and we will leave them in peace to prepare for tomorrow evening. I know they will put on a great race for us and all the Formula One fans around the world."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"What a great final qualifying session of 2014! Congratulations to the team and the drivers on the overall performance this year: it is an incredible achievement to deliver a car that can score 12 front rows and 18 out of 19 pole positions. Looking specifically at this evening, we were very happy to secure the front row after an exciting session. It generally ran trouble-free: Lewis didn't get the best out of the car on each of his Q3 runs but that shouldn't take anything away from the amazing laps Nico put together - effectively taking pole twice in the final session. Overall, the stage is perfectly set for a fantastic championship showdown tomorrow."