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In quotes - Saturday in Singapore

19 Sep 2015

Ten teams, 20 drivers, and one official tyre supplier report back on Saturday's qualifying action for the 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix...


Romain Grosjean, 10th
“We had to work hard to get into Q3, both on the track in the session and working with my engineers beforehand. It’s something of a surprise that it all worked and we made it into Q3, so I’m pretty happy. I was pushing really hard out there today; I was getting up close and personal with some of the walls, but I think my wife will forgive me!”

Pastor Maldonado, 18th
“It was a tough session and we weren’t really able to get the maximum out of the tyres, which is something we’ve struggled with all weekend. Lack of grip was the main problem out there and it certainly made things slippery for us. Tomorrow’s the race and we can certainly recover some positions, especially as we will have fresh tyres relative to the cars in front of us.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“We’ve got mixed feelings after today’s qualifying. Pastor wasn’t able to get a good enough lap to get through Q1 but on the other side of the garage Romain was able to do a terrific job to get into the top ten. Romain and his engineers worked hard since yesterday to find improvement to their car and have really made a difference with some subtle changes which have been sufficient to get more out of the super soft tyre this evening.

It’s a very long race where there is a lot of tyre degradation to consider. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see any one-stop strategies so we’re looking between two and three stops. Tyre management, strategy and timing will all play their part. We’ve got good scope for a solid points haul.“

Force India

Nico Hülkenberg, 11th

“It’s a bit disappointing not to make the top ten, but at the same time I’m confident we can have a good race from P11. For whatever reason we didn’t have the harmony or performance we expected and I wasn’t as happy with the balance as I was yesterday. I was chasing the set-up in final practice and we made some changes before qualifying, but we still couldn’t find the sweet spot. The car was quite snappy with some oversteer and it wasn’t easy to get a tidy lap together. For tomorrow, the strategy decisions will be critical and we’ve seen over the years how unpredictable this place can be. It’s always a tough race with high tyre degradation, especially the rears, and all the teams around us look quite evenly matched. We need to keep out of trouble and make the right decisions with the strategy.”

Sergio Perez, 13th

“I am disappointed as I think Q3 was possible. The yellow flag at the end of Q2 meant I couldn’t finish what would have been my best lap, which is a shame, but sometimes things don’t go your way. I don’t think P13 reflects our true pace because we’ve done a very good job so far this weekend and we are continuing to take big steps forward. For tomorrow, there is plenty to fight for and it’s a long race on a street circuit where anything can happen. Starting in the middle of the pack will be a challenge because overtaking is not easy here, but we will try and overcome this with a good strategy. We will need to be ready to maximise every opportunity.”

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal & Managing Director

“Our performance level yesterday suggested we would be able to fight for the top ten, but ultimately we weren’t able to deliver on that potential today. Nico’s laps were clean enough, but he wasn’t comfortable with the balance and had to settle for P11. Sergio was unlucky with the yellow flag in the final moments of Q2, which impacted on what was shaping up to be his quickest lap. In the end he was just eight hundredths of a second behind Nico. Despite starting outside the top ten, I believe there is still everything to play for. Qualifying is only half the battle and this race is tough on the drivers and the cars. We need to sensible and take our chances to make sure we come away with some good points.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“One of the most thrilling qualifying sessions of the year, which promises a lot in terms of strategy. Track temperatures clearly had an influence on qualifying, with temperatures progressively falling during the session. The result is a grid that has a distinctly different look to it from usual and that means that we should be in for an exciting grand prix tomorrow. Singapore contains so many differences compared to other races that it inevitably leads to a surprise or two, and we’ve seen that again tonight: in an absolutely stunning setting under the lights.”


Marcus Ericsson, 17th

“It was a disappointing qualifying for me, especially after my strong FP3. We would definitely have expected more. It was very tight in Q1. I was a bit unlucky with traffic, which compromised my performance. Now we need to analyse what we could have done differently and learn from that. We will start the race from the back, which is not ideal for a street track. Tomorrow is a new day – we are going to fight as much as we can.”

Felipe Nasr, 16th

“As a team and also myself, we kind of expected to finish qualifying some positions higher. I have been struggling a lot to get the tyres to work. This has been my main limitation on the supersoft tyres. It was difficult to have a good balance on the car, and it seemed that everyone else picked up more pace in combination with the track evolution. It was also a very close competition. Now I will focus on the race tomorrow.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

“A disappointing result. We expected more after FP3. However, the data from the initial analysis of the new aerodynamic package means we remain confident. We knew that the potential from this update could not be fully exploited on this circuit due to the track layout. The most important thing here in Singapore is to finish the race.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 2nd

“It’s really nice to be back up here on the front row; it’s been a while and it’s a bit of coincidence that it’s Seb and I together, but it should be a good race. Qualifying was exciting and to have no Mercedes up here is a surprise, so we will definitely try to capitalize on that - it would be nice to be back in the press conference tomorrow! I’m really happy for the team as we have definitely made a load of progress, since Silverstone and particularly since Budapest. Today’s result backs up the confidence I had in the car. We’ll be aiming for the win, as that’s where the points are and the champagne is. Seb put himself out of reach, so we are second best for today and we’ll try and go one better tomorrow. It’s always a challenge here and you need to have confidence in the car, because it’s hot and physical and a test for the driver which makes it fun. I’m happy with the way the weekend has gone so far.”

Daniil Kvyat, 4th

“I’m happy with today’s qualifying. I think it’s a good place to start the race tomorrow. Obviously as a driver you always want more but we’ll do our best to get as many points in the race as we can. The red cars are looking strong but we will take the fight to them during the race. It’s a long race and we will have to be patient. The chassis is behaving really well and the team have done a great job with the car.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“That was a great performance from both our drivers. Daniel lining up alongside Sebastian on the front row of the grid is the perfect place to be starting, backed up by Dany on the second row. Remarkably, we are ahead of both Mercedes, which is down to a great team performance. Hopefully we can now turn these strong grid positions into a good points haul tomorrow.”


Lewis Hamilton, 5th

“It is what it is today; I enjoyed it out there but we just didn’t have the pace. We weren’t surprised with the pace of the Ferrari as it was like that the whole weekend. We don’t know the reason why we weren’t as quick today, we obviously didn’t get the tyres switched on like everybody else did, but we need to look into it. We haven’t lost any performance on the car compared to two weeks ago but the guys in front were just too fast today. Tomorrow is going to be hard; it’s difficult to overtake but I’m still excited, I’ll be pushing hard and will do everything I can to make up positions.”

Nico Rosberg, 6th

“The pace of the Ferrari is very impressive, starting from P6 is really frustrating. I had no grip in the corners, which was very strange. But there is a lot to play for tomorrow. Firstly I will work on overtaking Lewis, it's very important for me to finish ahead of him. It seems that the front runners are also much quicker on high fuel from what we have seen on Friday. I tried a few things on the set up, but we didn't really find out why we are so slow this weekend. It's strange, until now we were quick on every track. But coming now to Singapore and seeing the difference to the quickest cars, is really not good.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“P5 and P6 certainly doesn’t reflect our expectations or the results we have been used to in recent seasons. Clearly, our car has not lost a huge amount of performance from one weekend to the next, but we just haven’t got to grips with the circuit this weekend. Already yesterday we were struggling and we just couldn’t pull out the lap time today; the drivers were on the edge and closely matched but we simply lacked grip compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, who were very impressive indeed. It looks like we have taken a wrong turn somewhere in the set-up or how we approached this weekend, but we will need to do some careful analysis to understand why that has happened. For now, our focus is a tough race tomorrow night. On a circuit which is so tough for the cars and drivers, and where overtaking is very difficult, we shouldn’t expect miracles tomorrow. It’s going to be a day for damage limitation.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“First of all, we must congratulate Ferrari and especially Sebastian on a fantastic qualifying performance today. Both Ferrari and Red Bull did a great job and that left us on row three of the grid, which are not the positions we have been used to recently. There is clearly something that we have not got right this weekend, as we have been off the pace since practice began yesterday – in spite of Lewis and Nico pushing the car right to the limit. We have been working hard on the problem through all three sessions, including final adjustments up to and during qualifying, but so far we have not understood the underlying reason for our lack of performance this weekend. We all know that the points are scored tomorrow, and we will be aiming to fight back in race conditions, but we also need to be realistic about where we stand this weekend.”


Kimi Raikkonen, 3rd

“I’m happy to finish third considering the difficult day I’ve had compared to yesterday. I have been struggling all day with the set up of my car, finding the grip and the balance. It was difficult to make the car work as I wanted. We always try to do our best in a race weekend and here it seems to work. Some places seem to favor one team and some others other teams, this time we have been having a pretty ok weekend so far. Our aim is to improve for the race, tomorrow we’ll see how strong our opponents are, we’ll try to do our best and hopefully have a stronger race as a team.”

Sebastian Vettel, 1st

“Of course there are no points given today, but for the team, for all of us, this is a fantastic result! We had been waiting for so long for this pole to arrive, not just the team, but myself too. Perhaps I could have aborted the last attempt, but there was no much point in doing so, because I did not know what the others were doing and I felt fantastic, so I pushed to the end. Now I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow, knowing that it will be very difficult and challenging to master all the conditions that you experience in a race. But we are starting from the perfect spot. I wouldn’t mind to pull away at the start, but it’s going to be a very long race. There are so many small decisions you have to take, and it’s easy to focus on the big result and neglect the small details… So we’ll have to focus on tomorrow, because so many things can happen on the way to the chequered flag, with the safety car and so on, as we’ve seen so often in the past. Hopefully we can have the same speed tomorrow, and then it could be a very good day”.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, 8th

“I’m satisfied with today’s P8. The most important is that we are in front of our main competitors, Lotus and Force India. I have to say that I’m really happy with my lap, especially after FP3, where we were struggling a bit with the tyres, but we managed to turn it around very quickly and have a very good qualifying session. We really maximised today’s result. Now I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow, there will definitely be some good fights!”

Carlos Sainz, 14th

“A disappointing way to end what was being a good qualifying session. We knew we had a car good enough to get into Q3 – my lap was actually three or four tenths quicker than the limit to get into the top ten… It’s a shame that I didn’t know that when I was in the car. I thought it was going to be very tight so I was pushing to the limit and unfortunately made a mistake, touching the wall. It’s something to learn from and now we just need to look forward to tomorrow, that’s when the points are given.”

Ben Waterhouse, Deputy Technical Director

“We haven’t had the smoothest of weekends and we’ve been struggling a bit at times, but after a lot of work and effort by the team we managed to get the car into a really good position and we showed good performance today. Max’s P8 is an excellent result, I think it’s about everything we could’ve expected from him. On the other hand, it’s disappointing to see Carlos starting from P14 because he showed he had the pace and he was on for a Q3 lap, but unfortunately he hit the wall. We’ve shown that we’ve got good pace, so we can certainly look forward to tomorrow. I think Max is on line for hopefully a very good result and for Carlos it will be difficult, as it’s always a bit of a challenge here, but the target is to get him back into the points positions.”


Will Stevens, 19th

“If I’m honest, this weekend has been the most difficult of the season so far. We got off to a good start in FP1, but then I made a mistake at the start of FP2 and it has really set me back. I haven’t raced here in Singapore before, so it was important to do as many laps as possible in FP3. We managed a long run this morning, which helped me reacquaint myself with the circuit. I knew that I had the time in me and then I had the opportunity to push in the last stint. I’m now a lot more optimistic about tomorrow and looking forward to racing here for the first time.”

Alexander Rossi, 20th

“I’m pretty comfortable with the car and the circuit, but my target was to qualify ahead of my new team-mate, so anything short of that is disappointing. I was quick all morning, and in my first qualifying run, but I didn’t make the most of my second run; we didn’t improve enough. As for tomorrow, it’s going to be a tough race but I’ve waited a long time for this moment and I’m very excited to get started.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“It’s fair to say that Will has had a tough weekend up until qualifying, but this afternoon he dug deep and pulled a fantastic lap out of the bag. This is his first time out here and although it has taken a while to get into the groove, I think he is now in a position where he can have a good race tomorrow. Up until qualifying, it looked as if Alex might have the edge. He knows the circuit from GP2 but it’s his first time here in a Formula One car and of course it’s a big weekend for him in general. What is clear is that we can expect to see some close racing between the pair, tomorrow and going forward, so we’re looking to that.”


Valtteri Bottas, 7th

“Given Friday, it's a good starting position for tomorrow. We always knew it was going to be challenging for us here and we improved from practice to get both cars inside the top 10. I'm pleased with my lap, I think I got everything I could from the car so it's a good result. This is a race where anything can happen and we are going to be there so everything is still open.”

Felipe Massa, 9th

“It wasn't an easy qualifying session. I made a mistake in Q3 and lost time that would have put me a few positions further up. We only had one set of new tyres for Q3 so I tried everything I could, maybe too much. The position at the end could have been much better, but this is not a fantastic track for us so we'll concentrate on getting the best we can from the race tomorrow.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“We worked on the car last night to ensure we were in Q3 and in front of the midfield, but it's not where we need to be. As a company, everyone at Williams needs to work hard to ensure that we improve in situations like this. There are some fairly anomalous laptimes in qualifying today, so we can see that tyre management played a major part. The positive is that it's going to be a long race with lots of points to pick up, so we'll get as many as we can.”


Fernando Alonso, 12th

“I think this is the position we deserved today. Okay, without the yellow flag, we may have been able to manage 11th and 12th, half a second from the top 10, but not better than that.

“This weekend has been very good for me, though, very different from Monza and Spa, I’ve always felt comfortable and competitive here, and tomorrow we’ll start in a good position from which to score points. The race here is quite tough and demanding, on the mechanical side and on the driver’s side. There’s no room for mistakes, so we have to run a perfect race tomorrow and hopefully be in the points.

“Overtaking here is very difficult, so positions are mainly decided by where you start and by your strategy. There are always Safety Cars here, and you need some luck with that too.”

Jenson Button, 15th

"We were always going to have high targets coming here off the back of two difficult races – you’ve got to think positive. But even if we’d got absolutely everything together, it would still have been difficult.

“Even so, 15th isn’t what I’d hoped for, and I’m sure 12th isn’t what Fernando had ideally hoped for either.

“It was a pretty tough qualifying session, all in all. I got understeer when I put new tyres on, and you just can’t put enough front wing on to help that. And then I got the yellow flag at the end of the lap, so I had to lift, which scuppered my chances of doing better. I wouldn’t have got through to Q3, but I would have been a bit higher up.

“So tonight I’ll have a nice chilled evening and look forward to tomorrow. It’s quite an unusual circuit here – you can overtake – so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Well, we got both cars into Q2, which is significantly better than we managed to achieve in Belgium or Italy, but, even so, we’re a little disappointed.

“But for the yellow flag incident towards the end of Q2, which disadvantaged us, we believe we would have been able to bag better grid positions than P12 and P15.

“This isn’t an easy circuit on which to overtake, but tomorrow’s race will be long and hard, and both Fernando and Jenson plan to approach it with the ambition of trying their hardest to score world championship points.”

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

“From FP1 to FP3, we were on track to setting the car up for a smooth qualifying session. Unfortunately we missed out on Q3 by a slight margin.

“This was especially disappointing as a late yellow flag prevented Fernando from setting his second flying lap time.

“Tomorrow, we’ll likely be fighting in the middle of the pack, so we’ll once again work together with the chassis side to strategise our energy and fuel consumption management for the race.”