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In quotes - Saturday in Monte Carlo

23 May 2015

The teams and drivers report back on an enthralling qualifying session for the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2015...

Williams

Felipe Massa, 14th

“There were no major issues during qualifying that caused us to be out of position; Monaco just isn’t a circuit that suits the characteristics of our car. We struggled throughout the day and found it hard to set the lap times we wanted. Tomorrow won’t be easy, but anything is possible due to the nature of the track. It’s not a great result as we have become used to qualifying higher, but I’m confident we can still get points and that must be our focus.”

Valtteri Bottas, 17th

“I had some traffic on my initial option run and couldn’t go at the sort of pace needed to keep the tyre temperatures correct, and on my timed lap I just lacked overall grip throughout the lap. We knew this track was not going to suit our car and we’ve been struggling to get the tyres to work throughout the weekend. Then again this is the sort of track where lots of things can happen and if we stay out of trouble and finish the race then points are still possible.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It was clearly a tough qualifying session for us and we are out of our usual position. We have been pouring through the data all week to try and find ways to improve our pace here, and whilst we have made some in-roads, qualifying has just come too soon for us to recover everything. Starting 14th and 17th in Monaco is never ideal because it so difficult to overtake, but we will see what we can do and the aim will be to get both cars home in the points.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, 18th

“It was a difficult qualifying for us. Since the first practice session we have been struggling to get the tyres to work in these cooler track temperatures. I was a bit unlucky with some traffic, so I lost a bit of time in the last sector. But this can happen on the narrow streets in Monaco. We will do our best in tomorrow’s race.”

Felipe Nasr, 16th

“We are obviously disappointed about being near the back of the starting grid. Looking back to the free practice sessions, we all knew it would be difficult for us. At the moment we have to make the best of our current package. Tomorrow we need some luck, but we are in Monte Carlo, and we know from previous races that anything can happen here.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal
“A disappointing result in qualifying. After the free practice sessions it was clear it would be difficult. However, we had been hoping for more. But on the street track in Monaco everything is possible. It will be crucial to have a trouble-free race.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“We cannot be satisfied with this result. The time gap per lap to our direct competitors in front of us was reduced from FP3 to qualifying, but it was not enough for Q2. We all know overtaking is almost impossible here, but the race is long and the Monaco Grand Prix can be unpredictable.”

McLaren

Jenson Button, 12th

“There’s always a bit of ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ in qualifying, but I would have easily been inside the top 10 today.

“On my final lap in Q2, I lost a lot of time lifting for the yellow flag at Turn One. I then gained a lot of it back - I was only a tenth off my best - but it wasn’t enough. And I think we could have had some fun in Q3, too - I think we’d have been fighting two or three cars for position.

“The car felt really good – although we still don’t have enough outright pace - but I have a lot of confidence in it, especially under braking. Today’s performance shows the progress we’re making. The team has done a fantastic job this weekend, and they should be happy because the car is getting better all the time.

“This is a nice little stepping stone for the future. Our aim tomorrow will be to score points.”

Fernando Alonso, 15th

“We don’t exactly know what happened to my car in Q2: I guess it was something electrical because the car switched itself off in the middle of the straight. I had no power, no electrics, and no readout on the steering wheel.

“But, overall, the team’s performance has been better this weekend, and Jenson at least has the opportunity to score a few points tomorrow.

“I don’t wish to sound pessimistic, but, in the Monaco Grand Prix, the race finishes on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, you just join a train of cars. Starting 14th, hopefully we can gain some experience of the car, and improve its performance and reliability. We’re still too fragile at the moment.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“Today's qualifying session was not only disappointing, but also unlucky.

“Fernando had been quick and confident in every session, and we were therefore fully expecting him to move smoothly through to Q3 this afternoon. Unfortunately, however, his bid for Q3 glory was ended by an as-yet-unspecified failure at Sainte Devote, where his car came to an abrupt stop. We're still investigating the cause of the problem.

“As for Jenson, he was also lapping fast and well, and would definitely have made it through to Q3 also. However, as luck would have it, just as he was about to cut his quickest lap in Q2, ahead of him Nico [Rosberg] locked up and went straight on into the Sainte Devote escape road, triggering a yellow-flag deployment, requiring Jenson to lift off as he passed the hazard.

“Had he been able to take Sainte Devote at normal speed, he'd have ended Q2 well inside the top 10, allowing him to go through to Q3 for the first time this season.

“So, as my British colleagues would phrase it, I guess there's no point crying over spilt milk, but we're undeniably frustrated nonetheless.

“Having said that, Jenson and Fernando are both massively experienced world champions, so tomorrow you can be well sure that they'll be pulling out all the stops in their efforts to battle their way through the field to points-scoring positions by flag-fall.

“Overtaking is always incredibly difficult here, of course, but our guys will be doing their damnedest to make good progress, even so.”

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

“We are extremely disappointed with the qualifying results as we had a very good feeling within the team during FP3 earlier today. I believe that Jenson's qualifying lap may have been affected by the sudden yellow flag as he was starting his flying lap.

“We are currently investigating Fernando's car issues, though we suspect it to be electrical. The drivers have a positive impression towards the car, so tomorrow we will adapt the power unit set-up and hope to gain some positions during the race.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen, 6th

“I don’t think that the accident of this morning affected my qualifying. My car has been working pretty well so far, apart from the fact that it was hard to get the tyres working. You need few good laps to make a time and today in my last run I was too slow behind a Toro Rosso and decided to come in. Today we had the speed but not the chance of doing a clean lap. It was not a very good day and obviously tomorrow we are going to pay a big price. Tomorrow we’ll see what we can do, we’ll try to make a good start and go from there, even if it won’t be easy. Here there is a big chance to remain stuck behind other cars for the whole race and overtaking is really difficult: that’s why the result of today is very disappointing.”

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

“I am happy with third place. Today it looked like everybody was struggling to get the tyres to working temperatures - which is funny, because they call them supersofts - and the Mercedes cars were the ones which probably suffered the least from this problem, so this is why the gap looks bigger. The rain on Thursday didn’t affect us so much, as it was the same for everybody, today’s low temperature probably did not help, but we are not looking for excuses. Tomorrow I will be starting from third on the grid, on the inside line. Everything can happen and I hope to have a good pull-off; it could be possible to jump one of the cars ahead, two is more difficult, but then Lewis, too, should have a good start, otherwise he may be blocking the way. The gap to our contenders is still there, but we have more to win than we have to lose.”

Marussia

Will Stevens, 19th

“It’s encouraging to be a little bit closer to the cars ahead, but I think there was a little more to come from the car because our first run was cut short when I had a problem. We managed to get on top of it in between the first and second runs. Overall it was a good session and a very special feeling to take part in my first F1 qualifying here. I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow and to making the most of any chances to progress through the field.”

Roberto Merhi, 20th

“It was not a bad qualifying for me. I am a little closer to my team-mate and my runs were good, so I think we can have a good race tomorrow. The chances of being able to keep pace with the cars directly ahead are a little improved by the nature of this track, so that means we can be in a good position to take advantage of any opportunities that may come our way.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“Overall, a good first qualifying for Will and Roberto on their Monaco debut. With Will it was not an entirely seamless session, so perhaps there was more to come there. With Roberto, he has had a slightly better session than the races so far, so a good job by him. We will have to see what tomorrow brings but our long run pace has been quite promising all weekend, so we hope to continue our run of two-car finishes as a fitting finale to what has been an emotional return to Monaco for our team.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 4th

“I’m a bit frustrated because I think we should be P3. There was a miscommunication from the pit wall starting the last lap and it’s a missed opportunity for us. At Monaco, every grid position counts, but we’re in a good place to attack and we’ll go all out to try for a podium finish in tomorrow’s race. I always enjoy this track and having to fight the car over the kerbs; I’ll try to have a bit of fun tomorrow.”

Daniil Kvyat, 5th

“It’s a positive qualifying result for the team. But we’re not where we want to be, although we’re making progress and heading in the right direction; we’re in a good position for tomorrow’s race. The rain didn’t affect us too much during quali but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s a factor tomorrow.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“It was a great performance by both our drivers to finish fourth and fifth, despite Daniel dropping a couple of tenths due to a miscommunication. I think they got everything out of the cars today and it puts us in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, and hopefully we can make some progress from there.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“My first Monaco pole position; it's felt a long time coming! Today, bringing the tyres in was tricky. We had to do an out-lap, warm up lap then fast lap. We had to do that for both tyres. It's an important day for me, looking back through every year at Monaco generally it's been quite poor. Sometimes I've had the car, sometimes I haven't. I've lived here for the last few years so it makes this pole position even more special. There's still a long way to go, it's only half the job. It's going to be mentally and physically challenging tomorrow but I'm looking forward to it. A big thank you to the team; the performance we have in the car is outstanding and they've been working very hard. I think the last pole position for me here was in GP2 in 2006 so I hope I can take advantage of it tomorrow in the race. “

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“I found a good way into qualifying today, had a good Q2, but then I lost the good rhythm at the end, which is a shame. I had to push a lot so I went a bit over the limit. Lewis did a good job today, unfortunately now it's getting really difficult to win this race. But I will dream tonight of my Barcelona start and hope to have another one tomorrow.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Congratulations to both drivers because we have done the first half of the job now, with our cars on the front row in Monaco. It looked like Nico had the edge during Q1 and Q2, then Lewis found another gear in Q3 and nailed the lap when it mattered. To set a lap of 1:15.0 around this circuit is pretty incredible, especially when you consider that this is just 1.5 seconds away from the all-time best here in Monaco. With Nico, he locked up into Turn 1 on his final lap, which meant he couldn't improve his time - but it was still good enough for the front row. Obviously, from pole position and the front row we can control the race if we make strong starts. But we will need to be on our toes and to extract everything from the car tomorrow, because our rivals are close - and will be pushing us hard tomorrow.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“A front row at Monaco is never easy and this is always the most tense qualifying session of the year because so many things can go wrong. Coming out of third practice this morning, Sebastian looked very quick and we were expecting a very close contest between our drivers and him in qualifying. As it happened, perhaps because of the cooler conditions, we found we had a good margin of performance over Ferrari but it was, of course, very close between Nico and Lewis. They were separated by just over 0.1s on their first run in Q3, then Nico locked up into the first corner on his second lap, leaving Lewis with a safe pole. Nevertheless, we let him complete the lap and he improved with a stunning time of 1:15.0 to claim his first pole position in Monaco. Well done to the drivers for getting this far with the cars intact and to the team for a fantastic job so far this weekend and a great car.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“Qualifying in Monaco is probably the most important session of the year, and we were pleased with the way that our new supersoft tyre performed during the tight battle for supremacy. We would expect a one-stop strategy for most competitors tomorrow, unless something unusual happens with the weather - which we saw a hint of today.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 8th

“Considering where we were in FP1, FP2 and FP3, a P8 in today’s qualifying session could have seemed disappointing, but we need to remember that our objective was always to get into Q3 in order to fight for points in tomorrow’s race, and that’s what we had done today. I was actually quite satisfied and happy with a P8 in my debut in Monaco, but the stewards’ decision for me to start from the pit lane for not stopping at the weighing bridge in Q1 is very disappointing. 78 laps around here in tomorrow’s race will now be even tougher. In Monaco it’s very difficult to overtake but I will try my best.”

Max Verstappen, 9th

“I’m disappointed with qualifying in P10 here in Monaco. Q1 and Q2 were okay, even though I was already starting to struggle with the tyres, but in Q3 it was really difficult to get the tyres up to temperature. I had no grip at all and started to lock-up a lot, and in my last run I was only eight hundredths faster with a new set of tyres. We have to make sure we look into this and understand the reason. We will try and make the most out of today’s result in tomorrow’s race, but it won’t be easy. I will try and make a good start, stay out of trouble and hopefully fight for some more points.”

Ben Waterhouse, Deputy Technical Director

“We had hoped to get both cars into Q3 and that’s finally what we did - at least in terms of performance. Unfortunately Carlos missed the weighbridge and he will now have to start from the pit lane, while in Max’s case, we are slightly disappointed as we feel there was more potential in the car and we haven’t managed to get the most of it today. However, considering it’s both Carlos and Max’s first time in a Formula One car her in Monaco, they have driven well this weekend. Looking forward to tomorrow, with Max we remain in a good position to achieve our main target of points. For Carlos, it will be a big challenge to finish in the top ten, however, this is Monaco and anything can happen, so we will prepare ourselves as well as possible hoping for a good result tomorrow.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, 11th

“I made a mistake on what should have been my fastest lap in Q2 and I was aiming for a much better lap time which would have put me in the top ten. Basically I locked a wheel heading into turn fifteen and went straight-on which lost me about four tenths. The car is looking good for the race, even if I have it all to do with my penalty meaning I start from P15 on the grid.”

Pastor Maldonado, 9th

“That was not too bad. The car felt better from this morning as we made some beneficial changes. I think we could have done better, but we had to hold the car a while to get some track space for the final lap and that meant that everything cooled a little. P8 is a strong position to start from and I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a good race for us.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“We’re reasonably happy, although we always want a bit more and it would have been good to be ahead of both of the Toro Rossos and Force Indias for the race tomorrow. Pastor did a great job to get into the top ten whilst Romain will have a tough race through qualifying in eleventh position then getting a gearbox penalty which drops him five places.

“[The considerations for tomorrow’s race are] ensuring clean laps, avoiding any contact with the barriers and other cars is particularly relevant here. With Pastor, it’s a case of trying to make positions whenever possible against similarly paced cars. Romain on the other hand will be around much slower cars at the start so we will look at what we can do strategically to assist him to move forwards as soon as possible.”

Force India

Sergio Perez, 7th

"I’m really happy and excited with seventh place today. I always say qualifying in Monaco counts for 90 percent of your final result, so it was important to be strong. To be quick here you need confidence in the car and in yourself, and I had both today. To make it through to Q3 was already a great effort by the team, but to be starting P7 means we have already done a lot of the hard work for the race. We went out early in Q3 because we thought the rain was coming and I had a mega lap. I was worried some of the others might improve their times, especially with the track evolution, but fortunately it was not the case. Tomorrow we have a good opportunity to score some important points. We know that anything can happen on a Sunday in Monaco, but I’m focussed on getting a clean start and a good first lap."

Nico Hulkenberg, 13th

"My final lap was a very good one and I believe I could have been firmly in the top ten, but unfortunately I made a small mistake in the final corner, which cost me enough time to miss out on Q3. Obviously it is disappointing, especially knowing how important your starting position is here. I am likely to be 11th on the grid, which means we will need to choose the right strategy to try and make up some positions. If we make the right calls tomorrow, we should be able to get some points. The brush with the wall in Q1 didn't do any damage but it cost a lot in terms of rhythm: you spend a long time trying to get the right confidence around Monaco and an incident like this sets you back a little. Qualifying in Monaco is always a challenge, but one I really enjoyed. The car feels much better than it did in Barcelona and we seem to have more performance in our hands which is encouraging. Nevertheless, I expect a tough race where good tyre management will be especially important."

Vijay Mallya, team principal and managing director

"Today's strong performance in qualifying is an important boost for the team. Sergio’s laps were competitive right from the off and he had the confidence to extract every fraction of a second from the car. It’s an important result because track position is essential around here. Nico also looked on course for a top ten qualifying position, but fell just short of the mark: it is proof of how competitive the midfield is at the moment that one small mistake can cost so many positions on the grid. Nonetheless, both drivers seemed happy with the car and this gives us confidence for tomorrow. Overtaking is hard on this track, but as this team has shown in previous years it can be done. With an aggressive strategy we should be able to target points for both cars."