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In quotes - Saturday in Shanghai

11 Apr 2015

Qualifying for the 2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix threw up a grandstand finish and a fair few surprises. All ten teams feed back on day two in Shanghai...


Felipe Massa, 4th

"I am really happy with my lap. I managed to get the best out of the car and showed we are still in the fight with Ferrari. The car has improved throughout the weekend and we had the set-up correct for qualifying. Tomorrow is when it really counts so I hope we can have a strong race and get the most points on offer from the car."

Valtteri Bottas, 5th

"It was quite a close qualifying, although I suffered with the rear of the car throughout the final session, which made it a bit harder. We know we need to work on our race pace, but we should be closer than we were in the first two races. The cars in front look strong so we have to concentrate on tyre degradation."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It was a good job by the whole team. We managed to get the best out of the car from both drivers and qualifying in fourth and fifth is a pleasing result. We had a lot to do this morning after FP3 and we have delivered on the hard work, so I am happy. We have got ourselves into a good position for the race and are hoping for a strong result tomorrow."


Romain Grosjean, 8th

“It was a very tight qualifying session which made it very exciting in the car and I’m sure exciting to watch too. We made some good changes from yesterday which gave me a nice balance and I think that was about the best possible from the car at the moment. It’s going to be a long race and I think the key will be to take care of your front left tyres. I’m enjoying driving the E23 and I think we’ve found a strong baseline set-up which is important for me.”

Pastor Maldonado, 11th

“I expect to fight in Q3 but it’s been harder for me so far this weekend than it has in the previous two races. For whatever reason we’ve struggled through the weekend to find the right balance from the car which means I can’t be fully confident to push on this type of track. That said, I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we’re stronger on race pace so will be much more competitive hunting down those points we want.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“We qualified where we should have done with the current pace of the E23, meaning both drivers did good jobs. Romain made cleaner progress through the sessions and was able to get a strong final lap for his P8 position. Pastor didn’t have the cleanest of laps at the end of Q2 so was unlucky to just miss out on being in the top ten.

“We have good tyre management and the weather prediction is for dry and mild conditions so it’s a case of deducing where the best opportunities lie. We’ve seen a mix of two and three stops here before and I’m sure we’ll be in that range tomorrow. Both tyre compounds are behaving well with a reasonable lap time difference between them so there shouldn’t be too much to catch us out. We’re looking forward to a strong race.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 16th

“It was disappointing to go out in Q1 but unfortunately the final lap just was not quick enough. I lost a bit of lap time with a small mistake as I was pushing hard, trying to get everything out of the car and that caused us to miss out. We know there is a lot of work ahead of us to develop this car and get its performance to the level we expect from it, but we know this is a process that takes time: it is just a matter of pushing hard to get better week after week. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we are aiming to be fighting for some points. It is not going to be an easy task but we will give it our best shot.”

Sergio Perez, 15th

“I had a couple of pretty good, clean laps in Q1 and that was enough to take me through to Q2. I think we got the maximum from the first session and that’s why we approached Q2 with the race in mind because having enough sets of new tyres will make an important difference on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the race and seeing what we can do. We need to look at the strategy options tonight to make sure we pick the right one. If we can make a good start and find a nice rhythm tomorrow, we can certainly look at challenging for points.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“There were no major surprises in today’s qualifying session. Sergio did a great job in Q1 and was able to deliver a good lap when he was called to do it. He didn't have much of a chance to improve his position in Q2 as we opted to shift our focus to the strategy for tomorrow's race. Nico was unlucky to get knocked out in Q1: he was improving his final lap but unfortunately all the sectors didn't come together. We still line up in P15 and P16 and this should give us a chance to be in the fight for points, which was our objective coming into this weekend.”


Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“China continues to be a good place for me; I guess the circuit fits my style more than others and I enjoy driving it. Also, you just have to look at the stands with all the banners to see how amazing the support we have here is every year. The car felt really good today and the guys back at the factories have done a great job since Malaysia to analyse where we could improve and make a step forward. The last race wasn't the tidiest but this weekend we've put it all together with no problems so far, so thank you to everyone for that. Let's hope it continues tomorrow. There's a long race ahead and the Ferraris are very quick once again here, so the job is far from done.”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“I'm frustrated with today's result because four hundredths of a second is nothing. I had a good lap at the end but, in hindsight, it's always possible to see where you could have found that little bit extra. But that's the situation for me now and I'm still confident for tomorrow. I've focused on race pace with my set up and I know that tyres will be the decisive factor tomorrow. So I will be aiming to put a lot of pressure on Lewis ahead of me.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was a brilliantly close qualifying session between our two boys. Nico pulled out a fantastic lap on the final run but Lewis had just done enough with his first set of tyres to take pole by four hundredths of a second. It's a good situation to be in and confirms what we saw yesterday - namely that we have an advantage over Ferrari on one lap. But we also know that the gaps shrink in race conditions and we saw in Malaysia that they could extend their tyre life beyond what we could achieve, so we need to be careful of that tomorrow. We have some new factors to consider in our pre-race thinking compared to two weeks ago, so a successful race will be all about finding the right balance between speed and tyre management.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“That was a very dramatic qualifying session, with both of our drivers on the front row and split by just four hundredths of a second. It's a great result for the team, especially as we brought a number of upgrades this weekend which helped us today, so thank you to everybody back at our bases for all the effort they put into delivering that. It was great to see Lewis and Nico performing at their best and interesting to note that, behind us, the Williams managed to split the Ferraris today. The other noteworthy fact was that we managed to negotiate Q1 using just one set of prime tyres, which was not an easy prospect given a performance difference of up to two seconds between the compounds. But two very good laps on the prime tyre mean we have saved new options for the race. We start tomorrow in a great position but we will need to manage our race well and find the best tyre strategy. Our competitors have strong pace and we will have our work cut out tomorrow.”


Marcus Ericsson, 10th

“It is a great achievement for the whole team to get both cars into Q3 - for the race team as well as everyone back at the factory in Hinwil. This weekend has been extremely tight as the lap times are quite close. Felipe and I put in good performances today and placed the cars in a promising position for tomorrow. It will be an exciting race, and I think, we have good chances for another positive day.”

Felipe Nasr, 9th

“It is a great day for the team being able to have both cars in Q3. We seem to have the cars back on the pace we expected to have here. Therefore, I am confident for the race tomorrow. Hopefully we can get back into the points, and I will do my best to finish the race in the top ten.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“This is a strong qualifying result, which came as a little bit of a surprise considering the lap times in FP3. Looking at our strong long-runs yesterday, it was important to also be fast in qualifying on a single lap, in order to have good grid positions. We managed to achieve this, which is great. Both drivers used the full potential of the car and were rewarded by making it into Q3. Now we will concentrate fully on the race.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“In the morning we concentrated on refining the set-up of our cars, and building on what we learned yesterday. It was particularly about maximising the peak performance of the tyres, which yesterday was a bit of a problem for one of the cars. By qualifying we had managed to put everything together, so everybody did a good job with the two drivers extracting the full performance from the cars. We can build on a strong qualifying position with both cars in the top ten. Now we will work hard in order to convert that into a positive result in the race.”


Will Stevens, 19th

“It’s always good to feel progress being made and we’ve been making big strides from session to session here. There’s still a long way to go but the progress over the past three weekends is clear for everyone to see. The trouble-free practice sessions have really helped us to find a rhythm that has enabled us to make the right set-up changes. The car felt good and I was pretty happy with my lap, so we go into tomorrow in a comfortable position. I’m eager for my first race distance in the car and plenty more data to help the team develop, so fingers crossed we can have a good race.”

Roberto Merhi, 20th

“I’m a little disappointed today but a good result for the team. This morning I experienced an electronics problem a couple of times, which lost us a little momentum and also I missed my option tyre run in FP3. Overall I think we have seen a good improvement during the weekend though, so I think we will be better in the race tomorrow.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“Today’s qualifying represents another good step for us, with both Will and Roberto posting times well within 107 percent and edging closer towards our real targets. It has been a bonus for us to enjoy trouble-free sessions, enabling us to develop the set-up of the cars, extract more of the performance and translate this into a clear improvement in pace. Both drivers are doing an excellent job, pushing themselves hard at a time when they are effectively still learning. We’re looking forward to seeing them racing together tomorrow.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 7th

“P7 is what we expected for today. I think we are always trying to find a compromise, us and drivers and the engineers, and they have done the best job they can with the settings we are running. With quali we seem to find more pace as the session goes on and that’s important. Driveability has improved and our long-run pace is better, I think we should be closer to Williams tomorrow and I am optimistic we can have a good fight for top five.”

Daniil Kvyat, 12th

“I was losing some power today and the team is investigating the reason for this. I am disappointed but we have to keep our heads up. We are working hard to keep moving forward, at this track we have a straight-line speed disadvantage and we are trying to find a solution for that.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“We got everything out of the car there was today, and unfortunately P7 over a single lap is where we currently are. Daniil, after a few issues at the beginning of Q2, which we managed to rectify before his last run, just missed out by less than a tenth of a second for Q3 to line up P12. We saw yesterday our long-run pace was respectable, so hopefully we can use that to good effect tomorrow.”


Kimi Raikkonen, 6th

“I’m disappointed with the result, my car was behaving pretty well most of the time but in in my last run I was not able to put a good lap together. For some reason the handling of the car was different, more loose than in the previous laps and slippery on the rear especially in the first three corners. It’s a shame because in the previous sessions I had been satisfied with the behaviour. My starting position for the race tomorrow it’s not ideal , but I expect to have the same good car we’ve had so far. We’ll try to do our best and I’m sure that with a good start we can extract the best result out of the situation.”

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

“All in all it was a good session for us. We had only one real run in Q3 and were able to nail this run and put the car on P3. It is a shame that we couldn’t put both cars side by side. As far as I was told, Kimi had some issues with traffic on the warm up lap and with these temperatures everybody is relaying on the out lap, to nail it on the flying one. The pace is there and I am very happy with this. We have to keep our feet on the ground, Mercedes is very quick, and for a reason, they have a great car and both drivers seem to do a good job. So this makes them difficult to beat. For us, though, I am happy where we are and I hope we can be a bit closer tomorrow. We also have to watch out for others. Never underestimate Williams, also Red Bull seems to be better this weekend: it will be a long race.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 13th

“I’m happy with how the car has improved compared to yesterday. In FP3 we looked stronger and even though this is a very tricky track, I kept working to find the right balance and finally I found it just in time for the Qualifying session. Of course, my 13th position doesn’t show exactly where we should have been, as I think Q3 was possible for me today, but a lock-up at Turn 6 prevented me from it. We now have a bit more work to do for tomorrow, but I think we can be strong. We have a good race pace so I’m confident we will be able to fight for points again.”

Carlos Sainz, 14th

“This morning in FP3 we made a step forward in terms of performance and the car felt better, but when we went into Qualy this afternoon we didn’t manage to find that extra bit. By missing out on two or three tenths we didn’t get into Q3 and we’re not in the best position for tomorrow. However, we know that we have a decent pace on long runs and we showed some good consistency yesterday, so to finish in the top ten is still our main target.”

James Key, Technical Director

“Today’s was a very tight qualifying session. We’re disappointed not to have got at least one car into Q3 because it was certainly possible and we missed out by only a couple of tenths. Q1 was fine and, as we hoped, we certainly improved the car compared to yesterday in short runs, but in Q2 we didn’t quite get those last laps together. The fact of it being such a tight field compromised our Q3. But what’s important and what we need to focus on is tomorrow. We’ve got a very clear mission ahead of us and we know that this weekend our race pace has been better than our short run pace, so we need to make the best out of it and fight for the points positions.”


Jenson Button, 17th

“I guess we hoped we might be just a bit closer than we were today; in practice, we’d looked a bit more competitive, certainly.

“We’d found a reasonably good balance with the car, in fact, but the lap-time isn’t quite there yet. In addition, the cars in front of us seemed to make a big leap forward this afternoon – whereas we didn’t – so we’ll need to find out why that was.

“So, overall, we’ve made some improvements this weekend, but qualifying just didn't go our way. Hopefully, things will be better tomorrow, and we’ll be able to race some of the cars that will start in front of us on the grid.”

Fernando Alonso, 18th

“We were two tenths away from the mid-pack – and close to getting into Q2 – today. We’re getting there, and this is another step forward, but we’re still under-performing, so we need to keep improving.

“Our main priority now is to finish tomorrow’s race; that’ll allow us to learn more about the car and uncover any possible problems. Obviously, two DNFs in Malaysia wasn’t an ideal situation for us, so, regardless of the result, we need to make the finish here in China.

“This has been another positive weekend – everyone in the team is excited about the progress we’re making.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“I’d hesitate to use the word ‘disappointing’ to describe this afternoon’s qualifying performance, but I think we’d all hoped for a little more, particularly after looking like we’d made a respectable improvement in all three of this weekend’s practice sessions.

“Fernando’s afternoon was obviously affected by the car failure on his out-lap in FP3 this morning, but he responded magnificently, and the parity between our drivers today demonstrated exactly why we hired them: because they can get absolutely everything from the car, and leave nothing out on track. Superbe!

“Additionally, both Fernando and Jenson know how important it will be to finish tomorrow’s race. Hopefully, it will give us another opportunity to narrow the gap to the cars in front. In fact, while today’s grid positions of 17th and 18th don’t necessarily reflect it, this weekend does indeed mark another step forward: in Australia we were 2.836s off the best Q1 time; in Malaysia the gap was 2.367s, and here it was 1.774s.

“That gives everyone in the team reason to feel encouraged.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport

“In FP3 we had a small ignition system issue on Fernando’s car, so we couldn’t ride the momentum that we’d gathered during yesterday’s positive FP1 and FP2 sessions. It’s an unfortunate result, especially since we’d been closing the gap.

“I want to say a big thank-you to all the mechanics for their hard work to get Fernando’s car ready for qualifying. And we hope that the race tomorrow will bring us some positive results.”


"We’re expecting similar weather conditions for the race as we have seen today, so this should open up a number of strategic options with the increased performance of the soft tyre. However, we’ve also seen quite a few differences in tyre performances within the teams, so this provides an interesting variable. With the tyres of course being identical for everybody, it’s down to every team to make the most of the package they have and this will be the focus of the data analysis tonight. We would expect two pit stops for most drivers, but there is scope to do something different: China has often produced close and unpredictable racing in the past."