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In quotes - Saturday in Spielberg

20 Jun 2015

It was a dramatic ending to Saturday's qualifying session in Austria, even if the result was not entirely unexpected. All ten teams and their drivers report back on day two in Spielberg...


Romain Grosjean, 10th

“That was frustrating as we should be qualifying higher than P9. I went out for Q3 but it was immediately apparent that there was an issue and the team called me back in. It was a hydraulic leak which we thought we could fix, but sadly we just missed out on going out again. Starting from P9 is not the end of the world and it could be an interesting race tomorrow; I’ll be pushing all the way to make up as many places as possible.”

Pastor Maldonado, 11th

“It was quite a busy qualifying session with the track drying and everyone trying to get their fast laps in when the surface was at its best. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a clean, fast lap at the vital moment to get into the top ten, but at least we are the first of the cars able to choose our starting tyres tomorrow. It’s a great track here so we could still score a great result.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“Qualifying started positively but unfortunately we weren’t able to meet our expectations. Pastor didn’t make it into Q3 then Romain suffered from a hydraulic leak at the start of that final session meaning it’s P9 and P10 for us tomorrow.

Our primary consideration is how to work our way up the order. Romain will start with his qualifying tyres whilst Pastor has free choice so there’s potential for different strategies. As we’ve seen this weekend, the weather’s a variable so we’ll be looking at a variety of permutations. Friday’s running highlighted that we can show good pace here so we’re looking for a strong race.”

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 8th

“We did all we could today with the tricky conditions we had. We got the most out of the car and the session that we could, which is positive. Starting from where we will be starting, it will be a difficult race for us, but if we can get a few points, that will be a good result for the team. We still have a lot of work to do, because qualifying around seventh and eighth is not where we want to be.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 14th

“It was an unlucky Q2 for us. We lost some temperature in the brakes and I was losing time that I couldn’t make up in the high-speed straights. We made a compromise with the set up this weekend to accommodate the penalty we would be facing; we sacrificed some downforce for some straight-line speed. The grid position doesn’t change much for us with the penalty; we’ll try and do what we can in the race tomorrow.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“Our first thoughts today are with the victims and their relatives of the terrible tragedy in Graz. As to our performance on the track our focus was very much on a race set up. Dany did a good job to qualify eighth. He probably could have been a bit quicker but the yellow flag for the Mercedes incident meant there was no DRS allowed. It was a difficult session for Daniel, who had some issues on the downshift that we need to look into. It’s going to be a challenging race for us tomorrow, but we’ll do the best we can.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 5th

“I’m feeling very happy with how things went today. We knew we had a good chance to be in the top ten, so to be starting in fifth place is an excellent effort by the team. Q1 was fun on the drying track, but in Q2 and Q3 I found a really good rhythm and was able to deliver the laps when it mattered. I’m feeling happy and confident in the car at the moment and I think that showed with the result today. Tomorrow will be a tough race because there are some quick cars behind us, but we’ve already built a good foundation for a strong race. This track can sometimes spring surprises and we still don’t know what the weather will do tomorrow, but if we maximise things I’m sure we can score some good points.”

Sergio Perez, 16th

“It's very disappointing to drop out in Q1, especially because we had the potential to get a very good result. Today was quite a challenge on the drying track and it was not easy to find a good position and build up the right rhythm. Unfortunately, with the track getting faster and faster towards the end of Q1, the last lap was the one that had to count. I found myself right behind Fernando [Alonso] and I spent the whole lap behind him. I couldn't get any closer as I would have lost all my downforce, and I had Kimi [Raikkonen] behind me so I couldn't drop back. It made it very difficult for me and in the end I was less than a tenth off the time I needed to make Q2. Despite today's result, I still feel positive about tomorrow: it's going to be complicated starting just outside the top ten, but if we do a good job we should be able to make up the lost ground.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“Fifth place on the grid for Nico is a tremendous effort and a well-deserved result for the team. The car has been performing well here and Nico had a great run this afternoon putting together some fantastic laps. It’s a shame that Sergio was not able to join him in the top ten, but those sessions on a drying track are always a bit of a lottery and on this occasion he just missed out. With some other cars picking up penalties we expect him to start from P13, so there’s every chance to progress and challenge for points. Our long run pace yesterday looked competitive and we also need to keep an eye on the weather with the possibility of more rain tomorrow.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“From the moment we saw the skies this morning, we knew that it was going to be an unpredictable day here in Austria, and so it proved. Generally all the drivers did incredibly well to judge the limited grip available and make the most of our compounds under challenging circumstances, with the fastest times coming only at the end of every session. The unpredictability is set to continue tomorrow: we are looking at uncertain weather and a significant number of drivers out of position on the grid. Under normal circumstances we would expect one pit stop from the majority of drivers, although the faster cars may try two stops.”


Lewis Hamilton, 1st

“Generally it was quite a difficult session, for everyone I think, with the conditions. I'm really grateful I got that third lap in on the first run in Q3. I was pushing hard to find more time on the final lap of the second run and just locked the rears into Turn One. At that point I was backwards in seventh gear and just focused on trying to make sure I didn't damage the car. But then, once I stopped, I thought I'd probably lost it. It was bizarre but I'm really happy to get pole. It will be an interesting race tomorrow. Ferrari have shown great pace so it will be close with them. The tyres seem to be behaving so we should be set for a good battle.”

Nico Rosberg, 2nd

“I had to push a lot at the end of my last qualifying lap - but I pushed a bit too much and went over the limit. I saw on my screen that I was two tenths quicker than on my previous run and therefore equal to Lewis. It was really up to the last few metres to make the pole happen but, at turn eight, I went wide and got a bit on the astroturf which was still wet. I think after that my left tyres were also wet and that made me lose control of the situation. It's a shame but I still look very much forward to tomorrow. It’s a great race here and I still have good chances to win. I will need to have a good start to have a shot at Lewis but I will definitely be keeping the pressure high.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“First and foremost, we are shocked by the tragic events this afternoon in Graz. Our thoughts are with the injured and our deepest sympathies go the families of the victims. Next to something like this, our little world of Formula One pales into insignificance. On track, that was probably one of the strangest ends to qualifying I have ever seen. We had two drivers who thought they had lost pole, bringing out the yellow flags at different parts of the lap, and we still ended up on the front row. The mistakes on the final laps showed just how hard both guys were pushing out there. Nico had the upper hand for most of the session, then Lewis did a great time in Q3, before Nico was set to claim pole back until he went off at the last corner. We think it will be a much more difficult race for us tomorrow. Ferrari did some seriously quick long runs yesterday and today and they looked quicker than us, so it will be a tough battle. We will let our boys fight tomorrow, like we have done all along, but it will be a challenging afternoon.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“A great result but a bizarre ending when both of our cars spun off – one at the first corner and one at the last. It is a sign of how hard Lewis and Nico are pushing each other – right on the limit and, in this case, over the limit. It was also proof that qualifying in Formula One is all about ultimate pace – pushing driver and machine to the very limit. The session itself was a tricky one – especially with the drying track through Q1. There was a little bit of concern with Lewis, as we saw Kimi fall out at that point, but all turned out well. As the conditions improved, the session became more straightforward. Our plan had been built around getting secure lap times on the board with the first run in Q3 – fortunately so, as it turned out. Congratulations to the team, also, for the developments that we brought to this race which have kept us at the front of the field.”


Felipe Massa, 4th

“My best lap could have been quicker. I made a mistake and also the tyres would have been quicker for our final attempt, plus we would have had less fuel. That’s not to say we would have been higher than P4 though, and these things happen in qualifying. The conditions were good, so we hope it stays like that for the race tomorrow. Our long run pace looks strong and that could be key.”

Valtteri Bottas, 6th

“Sixth isn’t totally representative of the pace of the car considering there is only one Ferrari in front. We suffered a lot with the yellow flags and so I am a little disappointed with where we will start from tomorrow. Saying that though, we have a very quick car in race trim and so can still have a good fight for the positions ahead.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It was a mixed qualifying session with the drying track making it important to make fewer mistakes than those around us, which we did. We have got the cars in a reasonable position for the race tomorrow, and the team and car have been performing well throughout the weekend. We were let down a little by the yellow flags today, but there is potential for a good result tomorrow.”


Roberto Merhi, 19th

“I’m very happy with my qualifying today. I have lost a bit of track time here this weekend, due to a problem yesterday and then the rain in FP3 prevented us from running the option tyre. The track was starting to dry coming into this afternoon’s session but they were the perfect conditions for me and I hope we see a repeat of them for the race tomorrow. This can be a challenging track and the first and final corners are tricky, so we have to be ready to take advantage of any opportunity in the race tomorrow. It should be fun!”

Will Stevens, 20th

“A frustrating qualifying for me, considering my pace has been very strong all weekend. With tough conditions and the track drying out, it was always going to be the last lap that would be the best and unfortunately I had a lot of traffic during the lap, which cost me quite a bit of time. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as I know our pace is very strong here.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“Qualifying was a bit of a mixed bag for us, with Roberto seemingly revelling in the slightly damp conditions and Will being a little less happy today. That aside, both our short and long run pace was looking promising yesterday, so all in all I think we’re in good shape and ready for a race that could end up being very interesting. The weather forecast is for mixed conditions and again today we have seen that even the cars at the front of the field have ventured off track in the first and final corners. Our aim is to have a good strong race and resume our previous run of two-car finishes.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 7th

“I’m happy with P7, I think it’s a good result. Q1 was very difficult. We started on the Intermediate tyres and then we switched to the Super Softs even though the track wasn’t completely dry and some braking zones still had some wet spots. It was easy to lock-up but I took it easy, avoided making any mistakes and got through to Q2. The track was dry then so you could do your own lines and the car was working very well. I think we’ve been showing good pace all weekend and even though it will be a difficult race for us on the straights, we can get a bit of an advantage in sectors two and three and fight for points again.”

Carlos Sainz, 13th

“A bit of a disappointing qualifying session for me today, especially because we’ve chosen the wet set-up for today which will make tomorrow’s race complicated unless it rains. It’s a shame, because I have been quick throughout the whole weekend and the first part of qualifying, but when it came to the moment that counted I got stuck in traffic in the first and second sectors and that ruined my lap. I hope it rains tomorrow because if not it will be a very complicated race due to the downforce level we’ve chosen. Overtaking will also be difficult but, obviously, I will try my best.”

James Key, Technical Director

“Today’s wet conditions were positive for us and we knew this would help us because it neutralizes the track a bit. Both drivers did very well in Q1 and we were very happy with their performance in the wet as well as in the drying conditions. We were hopeful of getting both cars into Q3 and Max did a very good job to get through with a competitive time on what was practically a dry track. Unfortunately Carlos missed his first timed lap and then got some traffic on his second one. If we also add the fact that he didn’t get an Option run this morning in FP3, it made it even trickier for him as he was still learning in Q2. To see Max get into Q3 and finish in P7 is great, we were not expecting to be so strong here.”


Kimi Raikkonen, 18th

“It has been a very bad Saturday and this result will not help us tomorrow. When I went out for my last run in Q1, the team informed me that I could do three timed laps, but then the plan was changed and I did not get the information. Therefore we missed one lap completely and I was knocked out. The point is that I was sent out too late and that cost us a lot. Obviously my starting position is not ideal; we should have been much higher up, I’m sure we could have fought at the front. Tomorrow we should have the speed we need, but you never know what happens in the race. In the first lap it will be better to stay away of problems because there is a much bigger chance of something happening in the first few corners. There is a long straight, but also two corners which can be tricky if you happen to be in the middle of the pack. Then we’ll try to maximize our result. Until now it has been a pretty good weekend, the car is handling well: we’ll try to do our best and see what we can do.”

Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

“We didn’t deserve the pole position today, but tomorrow is a different day. We have a very good car, we’re very competitive, I feel very good in the car and the pace is good as well. We’ve proven that we can be quick in every session, even if yesterday they have been short ones. For the race we’re not the favorite, but we’ll push hard and try to put some pressure on the Mercedes. I would have loved to split them on the grid, but the gap is still too much at the moment. The position on the grid is great anyway and the race will be long. Normally between Saturday and Sunday we’re able to close the gap a bit, so hopefully the same will happen tomorrow. I believe here it’s important to have the confidence under braking, the two left handed turns in the second and third sector are quite tricky, you need to be happy with the car you’ve got and I am. Strategy for tomorrow has to be defined yet: number of pit stop and maybe safety car can change it, we’ll see. A big thanks to the guy in the garage for the work they did overnight!”


Fernando Alonso, 15th

“The car felt good today – the new aero package means it feels more competitive in the corners. It’s just a bit unfortunate that this is a high power-effect circuit, so we can’t maximise everything. Still, we’re moving in the right direction, which is very positive.

“We’ve had a lot of problems throughout free practice, so we definitely need to improve reliability, and we’ll have some extra penalties when the race starts. It's really a learning weekend for us – we’re running the cars in different configurations – but hopefully that will increase our learning.

“It’s going to be a difficult Grand Prix – a little bit painful – but hopefully we’ll get a lot of answers in the race tomorrow, and then use that data in the test next week.”

Jenson Button, 17th

“I was one of the first to cross the finish line in Q1, so everyone had a bit more time to improve while the circuit was drying.

“But I enjoyed it out there – it was actually a lot of fun. When the surface was tricky and unpredictable, I was looking pretty good, but once the circuit dried – and other people found their feet – I was only able to do what the car could do. I think there could have been a chance of getting into Q3 if the conditions had remained mixed.

“I also thought I was going to have a good battle with Fernando tomorrow, but we’ll get different penalties so I won’t be racing him. This just hasn’t been my weekend.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“When you embark on a qualifying session saddled with the discouraging foreknowledge that your two drivers will be given a combined total of 50 grid places by way of penalties, it’s not easy to keep one’s chin up.

“But McLaren-Honda is one team, and our esprit de corps is truly edifying.

“Moreover, despite the fact that we’ll start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid, and notwithstanding the certitude that our drive-through and stop-go penalties will disadvantage us further, there are in fact reasons to be cheerful today, tricky to spot though they may be.

“It’s a fact, for example, that our aero upgrades have delivered a useful performance step, and in future we can expect that positive increment to translate into track position and indeed world championship points. But that won’t eventuate tomorrow, obviously.

“Nonetheless, both Fernando and Jenson will race their hearts out tomorrow, as they do always, which sterling efforts will in my view be rendered all the more admirable by the inevitable fact that they will go unrewarded when it comes to allotting the scores on the doors at the end of the afternoon.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer - Chief Officer of Motorsport

“Unfortunately, we had incidents during FP3 that once again limited our running time. While the end results of qualifying were still disappointing, the team effort between FP3 and qualifying to get Fernando back out on track was incredible.

“Although we will suffer from grid penalties tomorrow, I hope that the combination of the power unit and chassis changes will lead to a better set-up for the race.”


Marcus Ericsson, 12th

“It is disappointing that my lap time was not good enough at the end of Q2, although I felt comfortable in the car and the team made the right calls. The conditions were difficult today, but this was the same for everyone. Nevertheless, it is still a good starting position for the race.”

Felipe Nasr, 9th

“It was a great qualifying for us. Since the first free pactice we have gone in the right direction and saw that our car was competitive. The conditions were not easy today, but everyone in the team did a good job and put everything together. It is a satisfying starting position for the race, and I am confident about fighting for points.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“It was a good qualifying for us here in Spielberg. Both drivers were satisfied with the balance of the car in the practice sessions. Felipe and Marcus both showed strong performances in qualifying, and they will also move up one position each on the starting grid. It looks promising for the race.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“It was a tricky qualifying with a satisfying ending for us. The conditions in Q1 especially were difficult, due to a partially wet circuit. During Q2 and Q3 the track was then dry. In these circumstances it is always a question of timing - you have to send the drivers on track at the right time with the correct tyre set, that we largely succeeded in doing. Our performance is good and the result has exceeded our expectations. We achieved two good starting positions to be able to fight for points from.”