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In quotes - Saturday in Spain

09 May 2015

The teams and drivers report back on a thrilling qualifying session for the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2015 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya...


Will Stevens, 19th

“I’m reasonably pleased with my qualifying today. I was able to improve on my first run despite making a small mistake, but the car is performing well and I’m looking forward to the race.”

Roberto Merhi, 20th

“A disappointing qualifying for me. I had a good first run and I was feeling comfortable with the car. After that I was called to the weighbridge but we had an ERS false alarm. When we got the car back to the garage we just ran out of time to do the turnaround. My car crew were pushing hard to try to get another run so thanks to them. It’s a shame that I didn’t get the chance to improve on my time but I’m looking forward to tomorrow and my home race.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“A tough afternoon for the team, particularly on Roberto’s side of the garage. Naturally everyone wanted him to have a positive qualifying session at his home track but we encountered a ERS false alarm at the bridge and unfortunately Roberto was stranded there while we made precautionary checks. His car crew pushed him back very quickly but ran out of time for him to get out for his second run. We’ll aim to help him have the best possible race tomorrow. Will had a better time of it and got a good clean lap, which was pleasing.”

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 8th

“I did my best and so I can’t be happy with P8. Maybe we have not got the most out of our upgrades just yet, but I’m sure the team can turn things around. At least this weekend, we have had a clean free practice and qualifying and, step by step we will get there. Nevertheless, tomorrow is the day that matters, the thing we are all fighting for and there is still everything to play for, so I can definitely aim to score some points starting from where I am on the grid.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 10th

“I think tenth place must be my worst quali since I started with the team, so it wasn’t the best day. I was frustrated mainly in sector 3. In Q1 and Q2 I felt it was my strongest sector, but then in the end we lost maybe half a second or more through there. And I don’t really have an explanation for why that happened. I am disappointed with the outcome, as I had hoped to be at least P7 or P8. From the long run I did in FP3 this morning, the car performed consistently and the balance was okay, so we should be okay on tyres tomorrow. We are not really quick enough down the straights, so we need a good start and then we will try and do something with strategy.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“A tricky qualifying for the team and we can’t help but feel we have underperformed, lining up eight and tenth on the grid after a difficult build up from Friday and FP3. I think Dany got the most car of the car today, and Daniel struggled a little on the last run. We have plenty of work to do in the race tomorrow.”


Valtteri Bottas, 4th

“It's always a good feeling to split the Ferraris. We knew that if we got everything right we could be close and that's what happened. It was pretty much the maximum we could do today. If we can get a good start and get the strategy right, then maybe we can have a repeat of Bahrain and keep one of the Ferraris behind us. We have improved the race pace in the past few weeks but we know Ferrari are still strong on long runs, so it's up to us to do what we can to stay in front.”

Felipe Massa, 9th

“I’m disappointed because I made a mistake in Turn 3 on my flying lap in Q3, running off the track which lost me a lot of time. I had to use two sets of options in Q2 to make sure that I was safe, so that one timed lap in Q3 had to be it. Without that mistake I could have been in the top five. The car's long run pace looked solid yesterday so provided we get a clean start I should be able to move forwards, so there is still a lot to play for tomorrow with a good amount of points on offer.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“We’ve brought some upgrades to this Grand Prix and today has shown that we have more than kept pace with our rivals, and perhaps moved a bit ahead of the teams that have been behind us. Seeing as this is a track that does not necessarily suit our car, the fact that we still have the Ferraris and Mercedes in our sights is very positive. Felipe lost a lot of time on his flying lap in Q3 after going off the track at Turn 3, which is a shame, but these things happen when you’re pushing hard. Valtteri starts in a strong position and our focus will be on trying to get a car home on the podium tomorrow.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Qualifying ran along the lines that we expected, both in terms of relative car performance and also tyre behaviour. Wear and degradation are in line with expectations, to make a two-stopper tomorrow the most likely strategy, even though a three-stopper is in theory slightly faster. Track temperatures have been warm today and these are the same conditions that we will experience during the race tomorrow. Consequently the teams should have enough accurate data to formulate the optimal race strategy for tomorrow and work out where they might be able to gain a tactical advantage.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 17th

“Barcelona is always a big test of downforce and car balance, and that’s where we are struggling at the moment, so it made for a difficult day. To be honest, I was hoping for a bit more than P17 because I was P12 in final practice, but it was much hotter and windier this afternoon which didn’t help us. My final lap was not great, but it’s not easy when the car is working in such a narrow window. The long run performance yesterday looked more promising so I would like to think we can race with the Saubers and the McLarens tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez, 18th

“It hasn't been an ideal weekend so far, even though we always knew this was going to be one of our weaker circuits in qualifying. We just don’t have the performance in the car at the moment and, on a track with so many high-speed corners, that really hurts your lap time. However, we have to remain optimistic about the race: we may be starting in a low position, but that doesn't mean we cannot fight hard and we know that our race pace is looking more competitive. It’s going to be hard, but it's a long race and we will give everything to try and get a good result.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“We always knew that the characteristics of this track would give us a tough task this weekend and our grid positions are a reflection of that. Although we’ve struggled for one lap pace, the longer runs yesterday give us cause for some optimism and I think we can still race well on Sunday afternoon. The race won't be an easy one, but there’s no doubt that both drivers will push hard to move forward and will be targeting some points.”


Romain Grosjean, 11th

“We can be happy with where we are following qualifying. After this morning we didn’t think that we’d make it into Q2 but we made good progress since FP3. P11 is quite a good position to be in, on a clean side of the grid and we’ll have plenty of new tyres for tomorrow’s race. Of course I’m a racer and I always want more, which sometimes can cost me a little bit but it’s been good to be able to fight this afternoon after a complicated start to the weekend. We are hoping for points tomorrow like we scored at the last two races. There could be some nice overtaking manoeuvres opportunities on Sunday even though it can be tricky here in Barcelona.”

Pastor Maldonado, 12th

“Qualifying was actually not too bad when you consider where we were yesterday and this morning as we’ve been working very hard to find some balance with the car. We ran a different strategy for qualifying as we saw that the single lap pace potential wasn’t all there, so we’ve looked to the race and our strategy there to make up positions, especially with an extra set of new tyres relative to our rivals.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“Obviously it would have been nice to have made the top ten but we didn’t quite have the pace to do that. However with P11 and P12 we are well placed to make inroads into the top ten during the race and our race pace and consistency should reward us here.

“From our perspective we are free with our choice for the starting tyres with both cars and we have two sets of new medium compound tyres which should prove to be an advantage in the race. We’ve seen the weather has been pretty constant this weekend and don’t expect any surprises in that regard. Positions will be hard won over the 66 laps, but we’re in with a fighting chance of making good progress.”


Marcus Ericsson, 16th

“Overall it is a bit disappointing. We are starting further down the grid than we had hoped for. The first run in Q1 was ok. We were able to find some improvements when we went out on the second set of tyres, but it was not enough to make it into Q2. We need to analyse and understand the reasons for it. Tomorrow we have to make the best out of our positions.”

Felipe Nasr, 15th

“After FP3 I felt good with the changes we made for qualifying. On my last run in Q2 I was a bit too aggressive with the result that I had a lot of oversteer. The rear tyres were overheating when driving the car on the limit. It is not going to be an easy race for us, but we will do our best to fight for points.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“A disappointing result. We knew it was going to be very tough. However, we did expect to be a few more positions further up the grid. Nevertheless we are not going to give up and will try to make the most of the race tomorrow.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“We can obviously not be satisfied with this result, although we do not seem to have any specific issues on the car. The day itself went quite reasonably as we were able to collect more data about tyre management. The drivers felt quite comfortable with the balance of the car. We have to accept this result for the moment and make the best out of it for the race.”


Kimi Raikkonen, 7th

“So far the weekend has been more difficult than I wanted and today I was still struggling, for some reason my car was sliding around. After a difficult Friday I decided together with the team to go back to the old package because I wanted to make sure it was fine. We knew it would be a risk and it might be difficult but I don’t think that the result would have been as bad as it was today. In Q2 the feeling was pretty ok but then in Q3 it was difficult again, I had not much grip and did a bad lap. It’s one of those weekends in which things keep going a little wrong here and there, and today we also lost one set of Medium tyres because of a burning of a blanket. Tomorrow is another day and the race is a different story, obviously we start in a position that is not ideal, but we have a good package. If we have a good start we can go from there, I’m sure we have the speed to have a good race.”

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

“It’s not a great place to be behind Nico and Lewis, but I think it’s the maximum we could do today, so I’m happy with qualifying. I think the week end has been a bit rougher compared to the last couple in terms of finding the balance and the feeling with the car: we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. We have improved the car, but the track conditions this weekend are a bit tricky: the wind is very gusty, which is throwing the car around plus the tyres are potentially a bit too hard and not really working. It seems that Mercedes is struggling less and the gap seems bigger than usual. Tomorrow we can put them under pressure: we’ll see, it’s a long race. Hopefully we’ll come up with a good strategy, we’ve saved one set of new tyres for tomorrow as Mercedes did: I’m hoping we can stay with them for a long time. There’s room for improvements, hopefully the conditions tomorrow will come towards us and we’ll be a bit stronger again. We’ll do our best, as always.”


Fernando Alonso, 13th

“This is the first time both McLaren-Hondas have got into Q2 this season, so we’re definitely unlocking more of the car’s potential, and there’ll be more to come in the next couple of races.

“Still, this is another step forward, and I hope we can fight for points tomorrow. We’re starting 13th, and our tyre management looks quite good, so I think it’s realistic to look at getting into the top 10, but we’ll need to attack throughout the race.

”To be honest, however, scoring one or two points tomorrow isn’t what we as a team are looking for, but it’s good for everyone’s motivation if we keep achieving tangible results - so scoring points will be a good step.”

Jenson Button, 14th

“I’m a bit frustrated because we fitted new brakes for qualifying, and, every time I braked for Turn One, the car pulled to the left. On my last run in Q2, the team told me to warm the brakes in a different way, which meant they weren’t fully warmed up by the time I started my fast lap, so I had front locking for the first three corners. It felt a bit weird, so we need to look at the reasons why.

“I hope that we can be relatively competitive and have a reasonable race tomorrow. We’re making solid progress - we got both cars into Q2 on merit, without any cars ahead of us suffering any issues. That’s a positive step for the whole team.

“Yesterday, our long-run practice pace looked okay - a lot of teams turn their engines up for qualifying, and then turn them down again for the race; but we don’t have to do that, so we perhaps go into the race with a bit more potential than some of the cars ahead of us.

“I’m looking forward to the race.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“Compared with where we were at the beginning of the season, this afternoon’s qualifying performance clearly indicates the continuing steady improvement we’ve been working so hard to achieve.

“No, we aren’t remotely satisfied with P13 and P14, and we never will be. But our target for today was to get both cars through to Q2, and we achieved that.

“We have a busy evening ahead of us, with plenty of data to study. Tomorrow, our ambition is to score our first world championship points of the season. That isn’t a promise, but, yes, it’s our objective.”

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

"We’ve been working hard to improve the low- to mid-speed output on the power unit, but unfortunately we couldn’t bring everything together for qualifying. It’s disappointing, but we know that our race-pace simulation during FP2 went well yesterday, so we hope that we’ll be able to improve our positions during tomorrow’s race.”


Nico Rosberg, 1st

“Today was a good day in the office for me. The conditions were really difficult out there but, thanks to the team, we nailed the setup and got it all together. I really feel great in the car this weekend and was able to improve from session to session. So now I hope to have a good start and to control it from there. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and can't wait for the race. It's been a positive start but Sunday is where it really counts...”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd

“It was quite tricky out there today. I did the best I could - but it wasn't quite fast enough and Nico did a really good job. I think he's been a bit more comfortable with the balance than I have so far this weekend. The rear was under-rotating quite a bit today, which means you have oversteer and poor traction, so I lost a lot of time in the middle sector. In the end, P2 isn't so bad. Of course, being on pole makes life a bit easier but it doesn't mean you can't win from elsewhere on the grid. Generally speaking, the outside of the grid is cleaner here so you can usually get a good start from there. The main opportunities to gain places will be the start and the pit stops as it's hard to overtake but I'll give my best shot like always. Every race you do, you're thinking about racing for the Championship and I'll keep driving the same way I always do. It may not have been the greatest weekend so far but it's not over yet - tomorrow is where it counts.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was a brilliant lap from Nico in Q3 to take his first pole of the season. It just goes to show that things turn quickly in Formula 1. There have been lots of people asking questions about whether he could bounce back or had lost his momentum. But they have to remember that these guys are tough, they're resilient and they're not so much affected by these ups and downs in results as people think. Nico stayed focused this weekend, did his job so far and took a great pole position. Lewis suffered from an oversteer balance on his laps and it's very hard to find the limit at this circuit when that's the case. But he still took P2 and can target a strong race tomorrow. We have a solid half-second gap today but I am sure things will be closer in the race. The conditions are very hot and we will have to manage the tyres carefully tomorrow in order to find the right balance between durability and speed. I'm expecting a pretty interesting afternoon.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“That was a great qualifying session and we're really pleased to get the front row at Barcelona. It's a very important result because overtaking is more difficult than usual at this track. Likewise, it was pleasing to be able to save two new sets of option tyres for the race - one with each car - and that will be an advantage tomorrow. Congratulations to Nico on his first pole position of 2015 - in fact, he set two laps capable of securing pole, so it was a fantastic job and I'm really very pleased for him. Conditions out there were pretty tricky, too, with a lot of gusting wind. Looking at the relative performances, we seem to have maintained a good differential at this first European circuit where everybody brought a lot of upgrades; which is a really important achievement. We're looking forward to tomorrow and to seeing if we can convert our front row positions into a lot of championship points.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 5th

“Wow! What a result! This is something very special and I’m very, very happy! A P5 and a P6 is an amazing achievement for the whole team. I wasn’t totally comfortable with the car up until the qualifying session, but then in Q1’s first run the car was right where I wanted it, I was feeling very confident and was able to build on that and score a very nice result. I can only put this down to a lot of hard work and analysis, and I have to thank the team for this. It won’t be easy to finish the race in the top five, but it’s free to dream and we will try our best to end the race in the highest position possible. I’m also very happy to be starting tomorrow’s race from P5 here at home in Barcelona, in front of my home crowd. I could see all the fans cheering, it was a great feeling and I’d like to thank them all for their support. Let’s push for a good result in the race tomorrow!”

Max Verstappen, 6th

“I’m not 100 percent happy with my lap as I was struggling a bit with the balance compared to this morning’s practice session, but today’s sixth place is still a positive result! To start tomorrow’s race from fifth and sixth is a great achievement for us and there’s a fantastic atmosphere right now in the team. The most important is for both of us to score points and that’s what we’ll fight for tomorrow. The car has been great the whole weekend and, even though it won’t be easy, I will try to keep my position in the race.”

Ben Waterhouse, Deputy Technical Director

“What a fantastic result for us today! Both drivers did an exceptional job to deliver an extraordinary performance. We did our homework last night and made good improvements for today, and by the time we got to Q3 both Carlos and Max had extracted the best out of the car. I think we should all be very pleased with the work the team has done so far, both here at the track as well as back home in Faenza and Bicester. However this is only a portion of the job and there’s no points on a Saturday. We now have to make sure we prepare well for tomorrow’s race. We’ve done a good job to put ourselves in the best position, but we still have a lot to deliver and I look forward to tomorrow!”