Belgian GP - Saturday - Team Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:45.863): "We've looked very fast all weekend, and the car's felt great. Obviously, the Mercedes-Benz engine is the best suited to this circuit, and our car's aerodynamic package also works well here. On my first run in Q3, I was the first driver into Turn 14, and the track was drying but still a bit wet, so I didn't push hard enough and lost ground - maybe half a second. I thought we could have got pole, but I went a bit wide at La Source on my final run. There was one little patch of rain over Turn One, so it was a bit slippery, and I lost about three and a half tenths there. But I was able to extract some good time from the tyres in the second and third sectors - and that's where I made up the time I lost in sector one. Still, it's not essential to have pole here - I still feel like I'm in a good position. There's a very long straight from Eau Rouge to the top of the hill, and it's quite tricky to stay ahead of a chasing car, even if you're on pole. I'm hopeful of getting a good start tomorrow, and we'll take it from there. For tomorrow's race, and in Monza, we need to capitalise on the fact that our package appears to be very competitive. Tomorrow will be a tough race, but we'll keep pushing."
Jenson Button (5th, 1:46.206): "Our car feels good, and I think our pace has been good all weekend. I just wish I could be a bit further up. We ran used tyres at the start of Q3 and used tyres at the end, and two of the cars ahead of me put their best times in at the start of the session when it was dry. For my final run, there'd been a bit of rain in sector one, so I lost about three and a half tenths to my previous best Q3 lap in the first sector. I was down quite a bit but was able to pull it back in the middle and last sectors, which were quite competitive. I'm reasonably happy, but would have liked to have been a bit higher up. In qualifying, you obviously want to push the car to the limit, but it's very tricky with this asphalt to see which parts of the surface are wet or dry. And, when you're pushing as hard as you can, it's very difficult to find the limit of the tyre in the wet. If you hit a wet patch, you're off. Still, I'm fifth - on the good side of the grid - and in this sort of weather, anything can happen, so it's pretty exciting. That's the way it is, but I still think we can have a very good race with our car tomorrow."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "For all the teams, the key to today's qualifying session was managing things so that one's drivers were on track at the right time on the right tyres - and, to the extent that Lewis and Jenson qualified second and fifth, I suppose we can be reasonably satisfied that we did a decent job. Having said that, with hindsight, if we'd started Q3 with new Option tyres rather than used Option tyres, we may well have been celebrating McLaren's 147th Formula 1 pole position this afternoon. Equally, a small spot of rain came at just the wrong time for us. Without that, again, pole may well have been within our grasp. But I don't want to sound churlish, because the team did a very good job and both drivers did an extremely good job. As for tomorrow's race, well, the Spa-Francorchamps track is a glorious venue for grand prix racing, and you can be well sure that both Lewis and Jenson will be looking to attack from the start. The run down to Turn One is a relatively short one - but the long haul up to Eau Rouge may well offer overtaking opportunities on lap one and you can be well sure that both Lewis and Jenson will be looking for them."
Michael Schumacher (11th, 1:47.874): "What a pity as I would have liked to be in the top ten today obviously. I believe that we could have made it but unfortunately I had traffic on my last run so I could not push more at that point. Knowing I have to go back ten positions on the grid anyway makes me hope for mixed weather conditions tomorrow. This would at least bring some movement into the race which could work out in favour or against us. Let's see what tomorrow afternoon will bring and what we can make out of it."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:47.885): "It's not been an ideal weekend so far and knowing that we have the five place gearbox penalty, we decided to go for more of a rain set-up as it would be our only chance in the race tomorrow. The car was generally lacking grip today but the main problem was that I had traffic on my fastest lap in Q2 with a driver staying in front of me on his in-lap for the last half of the lap. We'll have to see what tomorrow brings but if it rains, then we are on the right set-up."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It is obviously a difficult weekend for us with the problems that we have had with Michael being put back ten places and now the gearbox issue with Nico which has lost us five places. We didn't look too bad in various parts of qualifying today and when we went out at the end of Q2, we had plenty of time for decent runs, however we had a problem with a driver who was on his in-lap and holding our drivers up. Michael and Nico ended up missing out on Q3 by fractions of a second due to another driver which is frustrating."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Both Michael and Nico missed the top ten by about seven-hundredths today. In addition, we have been handicapped here from the outset with Michael's 10 place and Nico's five place grid penalty. Let's hope the typical Spa weather lottery will help us to improve and go forward."
Mark Webber (1st, 1:45.778): "Spa is certainly a great venue to get pole - it's a very special track. I was very happy with my first lap in Q3, but you never know in the current company if it's enough. You get to the finish and wait for Ciaron (Mark's engineer) to come on the radio and say 'P...?' and you're thinking 'what is it?'. At that point the lap was enough, but then you have to do it again. You get another set of tyres and see how you go. We had a rain shower, which spiced things up and made it hard for people to improve. Lewis did a pretty good job to improve to P2 at the end when La Source was a bit greasy. I'm pleased to be on pole and tomorrow's race is going to be interesting, I don't think the race will be won on the first lap. I'm looking forward to it."
Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:46.127): "We had a bad start with Q1 being last out of the box. It gave us the advantage of not suffering any traffic, but then you're the one who has to face the most water on the track with dry tyres - it was tricky. Fortunately we could get a lap in on the intermediate tyres and we were safe, but you never know in these conditions. Q2 was comfortable and in Q3 it turned out that the first run was most important. There was a bit of rain in the first corner and my first try in Q3 wasn't good enough, simple as that. I made a couple of mistakes at the beginning of the first sector and lost momentum. On the last lap I made a good recovery and it was quicker than my first try, but then I went a bit sideways in Turn 14 and that was it. The most important thing today was that the car was very good, good enough to be ahead of everyone else. It didn't happen for me today, so we need to do it tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Our 12th pole of the year in such difficult conditions demonstrates what a great job the team and Mark did today. Fourth place for Sebastian backs up an excellent team performance. Mark made the best of the circuit when it was at it's fastest at the beginning of Q3. Sebastian dropped some time at Turns 13 and 14, otherwise I think we would have had another Red Bull front row lock-out, but it's great to see both cars right up there."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "A very difficult session with all the mixed conditions, but I think we managed very well. The team did a great job at being on the track at the right time. It was a difficult Q1, but we made it and our performance increased session after session. It's a good result - we got pole position with Mark, he did a great lap at the start of Q3 and Seb is fourth. We were close to a 1-2-3 for Renault, but Lewis did a great lap. I think we are in a good position for a great race tomorrow, but you never know what the conditions will be and it will be tough. The engines may suffer also on this hard track, but we will do our best."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:46.314): "Definitely a difficult qualifying. Already this morning, we had seen that the McLarens and Red Bulls were quicker than us and they confirmed that this afternoon, when we had a few difficulties, failing to get the result we were expecting: which means we will be trying to improve our positions tomorrow in the race. As usually happens here in Belgium, you can predict that the changeable weather might play a crucial role: it will be vital to manage the situation as well as possible. On my first run in Q3 I got a good lap, but maybe it could have been a couple of tenths quicker, while on the second one, I immediately had rain at Turn 1 and I locked the wheels and I decided to pit without completing the lap, because I would not have been able to improve my lap time. If we have a track that is only slightly damp but not too wet, it could be a problem because the rain tyres get destroyed very quickly and it will be necessary to manage them very carefully."
Fernando Alonso (10th, 1:47.441): "Obviously, I can't be pleased with this result, but it has to be said that if there is one track where grid position is less critical than others, then it is this one, both because of the track characteristics and because the weather can be very changeable: in some cases the right decision at the right time can see you make up an advantage of a minute, therefore we will have to be clever and make the most of every opportunity. In Q3, I only had one set of new soft tyres left and I used it on my second run when, unfortunately, there was a bit of rain. There's no point in making a drama over this tenth place: we must stay calm and concentrated, because qualifying is one thing and the race is quite another when the points are given out, not today."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We definitely cannot be happy with this result. Qualifying was complicated by the changing weather conditions which might have been easy to predict from yesterday but, having said that, clearly we failed to extract all the potential at our disposal and now we have to understand why. We are expecting a difficult race tomorrow, when it will be important to try and make the most of every opportunity, especially as our main rivals will be starting ahead of us."
Chris Dyer: "We cannot be pleased with the outcome of this qualifying session. Of course, the fact the weather was so changeable made running the session more tricky, especially for Fernando, who found himself with just one set of new soft tyres left in Q3: when he used them there was just a short shower which prevented him from setting the time he was capable of doing and which would have seen him starting a bit higher up the grid. Spa is famous for being unpredictable in terms of the weather: and once again this was confirmed today, with the possibility that tomorrow's race will also be similarly affected, therefore we will have to do a good job in managing the possible variables."
Rubens Barrichello (7th, 1:46.602): "Today was a good effort by everyone in the team. We were struggling a bit with set-up this morning, but the team came up with some great ideas after practice to get the car into better shape for qualifying and they paid off. I'm delighted to be up in seventh place. I'm having a great weekend celebrating my 300th race with my family and the team and I will be pushing hard tomorrow to get a good result."
Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 1:47.053): "It was not a bad outcome today for the team with two cars in the top ten. I am happy enough with my position, especially considering that my last run in Q3 to claim my grid slot was on a used set of options that clearly were past their best. Just like the session today, I expect the weather to be pretty mixed tomorrow and to be honest, I am relaxed about that - with the variability in conditions, it is important to take it as it comes, the only sure thing is to aim for a good points finish tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "To get both cars in the top ten today was a good effort by the team. The rain could have proved troublesome, but the drivers and engineers managed the weather well throughout the entire session. We'll now move our focus onto strategy for the race tomorrow. It looks like conditions could be changeable yet again, which will certainly make it an interesting afternoon!"
Robert Kubica (3rd, 1:46.100): "We have been in the top five in every session, in all conditions, this weekend, and going into qualifying we were hoping that it might be possible to get third place. This is the first race at which we have used our f-duct and I must say congratulations to everybody at the factory because it has worked perfectly from the first lap in practice. In fact, I was in second position at the end of my first run in Q3 but I wasn't able to use my second set of option tyres. The car cut out just before the pit lane on my in-lap, and after the mechanics had pushed me back to the garage, we didn't have time to do another run. At the end of the session, I was standing in the pits, watching the other cars and praying for rain when a few drops started to fall - and only Lewis was able to improve his time. It meant I lost a place on the front row, but I am still in a strong position for tomorrow, and now we need to wait and see what happens - with the race and with the weather."
Vitaly Petrov (24th, No Time): "It was a very disappointing session for me today. On my out-lap on slick tyres, I went on the kerb at the exit of turn nine and lost control of the car because of the standing water. I wasn't able to get started again, so that was the end of my session. It was a big shame because the car has been very good this weekend, and I was aiming for a place in the top ten. But now this has happened, all I can do is focus on tomorrow and stay positive. The f-duct is working very well, so we are quick on the straights and will be able to overtake. Plus the weather forecast is uncertain, and we know that when it is wet, everything is possible."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "Qualifying third with Robert is a great result, especially at a track like Spa. The race team did a really good job, although we had a fuel pick-up problem, which cost Robert the chance to do a second run in Q3. Unfortunately it was a dramatic start to the session for us with Vitaly making a mistake on the kerb out of turn nine, which is really a shame. Hopefully he can come through the field in the race tomorrow. We've been running the f-duct this weekend and overall we are happy with how it is working, which is thanks to the great job done by the team at Enstone and here at the track. This development has drastically improved our performance, which looks promising for the end of the season."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "Third is a fantastic result for Robert and just goes to show the performance we have put on the car, not only since the last race, but all season, is really paying off. It obviously wasn't a great session for Vitaly, spinning off on his out-lap, but with the pace of the car we have this weekend, I'm sure he can still have a good race from the back of the grid. With Robert we are where we are on merit, and we will be racing to finish on the podium. The weather has been changeable all weekend and I expect more of the same tomorrow. I'd prefer a dry race, but we've been quick in the wet and the dry so either way won't worry us too much."
Adrian Sutil (8th, 1:46.659): "Getting into the top ten was my aim today so I'm really happy. It was a tough qualifying of course with the showers and we had to be quick in taking decisions on the pitwall and on the circuit we had to react quite quickly as you never knew what was going to happen. I was lucky to go through in Q1 as I did my quickest lap on the intermediate tyres and the track was drying. Then second qualifying went well and in Q3 I was quite happy with the one lap I did. We only had one set of option tyres left for Q3 and I just missed out on a second lap as at the end of the first lap it had started to rain. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow, I think there will be a lot of overtaking maneouvres, particularly up the hill and into Eau Rouge after the start, and you can really attack throughout the race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th, 1:48.680): "It wasn't such an enjoyable qualifying as everything was very confusing and stressful with the rain in Q1. But overall we made an improvement to our car as we have had some problems with top speed from Friday practice until Q1. The car has a good balance into the corners and the blown diffuser is working well but although we improved in qualifying, it didn't feel 100%. In FP3 this morning we also ran just four laps, also with a different wing setting, so we went into qualifying a bit blind. But we can be pretty happy, the forecast is changing every 10 minutes for the race tomorrow so we'll keep on top of it and from P12 on the grid we've still got a good chance of scoring some points."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "We're obviously very pleased to be back in the top ten again after a couple of difficult races, and to get two cars starting in the top 12 is our best qualifying session since Canada. It wasn't an easy session to call with the rain coming and going but we made the most of the conditions to give ourselves a good shot of a points finish, which is of course the ultimate aim. We know our race pace is strong, but as usual here in Spa you also have to be spot-on with the tyre calls if the weather is changeable. We look forward to a competitive race tomorrow."
Jaime Alguersuari (13th, 1:48.267): "Q1 was a nightmare, but it was the same for everyone I guess. We had to come in and switch to intermediate tyres, in very slippery conditions. But it was just enough to get into Q2 and try again in similar conditions. Then later on the slick tyres, I had a strong feeling of confidence from the car, because this weekend the car balance has been quite good as we have worked well over the two days. On my last run, Turns 13 and 14 were still slippery so although I pushed as hard as I could for most of the lap, I backed off a bit at these two points and that's where I lost all my time, which meant I was not going to make Q3. To be honest, I never expected to be this high up the order, so I hope it rains again tomorrow, which will suit us well."
Sebastien Buemi (15th, 1:49.209): "It was a chaotic qualifying session. In the end, we were quite lucky to go out on a dryer track at the end of Q1, because we were not in Q2 at that stage. But we made it and the circuit continued to improve lap after lap. I think I made my final run a bit too early, as the track was still drying so much, that a slighter later start would have meant a faster circuit. Jaime did a good lap today, so let's see what we can both do tomorrow."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "In performance terms this is pretty much what we expected, which means not so different to Hungary. We regret that we did not pip Liuzzi, because I think we should have done. We look a bit better than usual because other drivers made mistakes. I want to emphasise that the team did a very good job, particularly in getting both our cars at the front of the queue to leave the pit lane for the restart in Q1. During Q1, on intermediates, we could see that times would be better on slicks as there was no rain forecast and the clouds were moving away, which is why we brought the drivers back to the pits, rather than let them close their laps. Jaime has done a good job over the two days, keeping calm, even if he told us on the radio this afternoon that he could have taken more risks. However, I am pleased all the same."
Heikki Kovalainen (16th, 1:50.980): "It was a great qualifying for us today, the second time we made it into Q2 like we did in Malaysia. It's a shame Jarno didn't make it through as well, and I was just ahead of him, but the team did a great job today and they should all be very pleased. We made the right calls on tyres in both sessions and in the second session it was really about fighting with Timo, and we nailed him so we achieved what we set out to do today. I think we should be in pretty good shape tomorrow against our direct competitors, and those just ahead, as it looks like the lower downforce circuits suit us, so I hope we have mixed conditions tomorrow and can give it our best shot."
Jarno Trulli (18th, 2:01.491): "I'm obviously disappointed that I didn't make it into Q2, but congratulations to Heikki and the team for putting in such a good performance. It was a pretty crazy session, and it started badly for me when di Grassi lost his car - I was quicker than him, and I couldn't avoid going over him. If he had let me by in the first place when I was much quicker, then it wouldn't have happened. It's difficult in changeable conditions, everyone gets surprised, but we're still in a pretty good position tomorrow, so we'll do our best to reward the fans."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "This is a very special day for me. It's funny how things pan out. By me not being there Riad deputised for me and what a story! Riad has gone from a very special assistant for many years to a CEO, and now he's on the pitwall commanding and directing. That is Lotus Racing. We make the unbelievable believable, and we show that you have to keep dreaming. Whatever happens tomorrow, it doesn't really matter. What matters today is Riad, Mike, Heikki, Jarno and the whole team who pulled out an amazing performance. Well done to all."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "I'm absolutely delighted, for the whole team, and for everyone who supports us around the world. We managed to get into Q2 for the second time in our first season which is pretty fantastic by any measure. It's a shame Jarno didn't get in as well, but that's what happens in racing, and this is a really good start after the summer break. It's important to remember that we're a small team, with limited resources, and I think that what we have achieved today, and will continue to achieve, is the stuff dreams are made of. I'm lucky enough that Tony deputised me for this weekend in place of him who unfortunately can't be here, but I think Tony, Din and Nasa, our Deputy Team Principals, all wish they were here - that's for sure! They've all sent a load of messages, and they're delighted with how we performed today. Tony's passed on his congratulations to everyone and has said that the guys have done a great job today. He, Din and Nasa are here in spirit without a doubt - and we wouldn't be here in Spa without them. To top it all, it's the Malaysian Independence day on the 31st, so it's just perfect. For everyone in Malaysia Hari Merdeka is a really important day, and I'm just really proud to see our cars carry the flag today, and to have done so well."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "In the end it was a very good session for us today. It's disappointing we didn't get Jarno into Q2 as well, but the yellow flags at the end of his final run held him up, otherwise I'm sure he'd have joined Heikki in Q2. Heikki did a great job in spite of the conditions, and he managed to get the best out the car. We'll be in our best starting positions tomorrow and we're all looking forward to a good strong race. We're clearly the quickest of the new boys, and tomorrow will be all about getting Jarno up with Heikki, getting both cars across the finish line, and making good on the performance we've put in today."
Bruno Senna (20th, 2:03.612): "Today was a good day to experience what a rain shower could do to the circuit. One part of the track was dry and the other one was wet. So, it was a bit of a difficult situation and a gamble to choose which tyres to use. Normally, you stay out with the dry tyres, but it's easy to go crash with cold tyres. We decided to go on intermediates and we did our fastest lap with these. All in all, I achieved my best qualifying result today and hopefully, there are some rain showers again tomorrow, which can bring some surprises."
Sakon Yamamoto (21st, 2:03.941): "I am happy to have done my best qualifying result of the season today. We tried to set a lap time with dry tyres because we expected rain coming quickly, so we went out. As expected, during the dry tyre run the rain came and it was really difficult to manage it. Then, we set quite a good position for going into Q2. I think all of us prayed for the rain, but unfortunately it stopped, so we decided to go on intermediate tyres again. As I was blocked by another car on my first lap on the intermediates and maybe I could have done a better time. But there are going to be similar conditions tomorrow, so we will try to do our best and do a good race."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was a thrilling qualifying and we were a bit unlucky not to get into the second part of the qualifying. Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna achieved their best qualifying results this season and before the first rain showers, they were positioned 13th and 18th respectively. The team was prepared very well for the different conditions and we went out on the right tyres at the right time. We got good weather updates and we could inform the drivers very well about the possible rain and wet kerbs on the circuit. We are looking forward to another exciting race tomorrow and we are hoping for some rain again."
Kamui Kobayashi (19th, 2:02.284): "It's a real shame. At the beginning of Q1 when it was dry the car was good, but after the session had been red flagged there wasn't enough time to put in a timed lap before the rain set in. That was the same for everybody. When the rain stopped we went out first on intermediate tyres and then we made a mistake when we changed to slicks. To be on the safe side we should have continued with intermediates. The first corners were fine on the soft option tyres, but before the hairpin, turn eight, the track was much wetter than I expected and I went into the gravel trap. I was able to get out and the car was not damaged, but obviously the session was over."
Pedro de la Rosa (22nd, 2:05.294): "I am absolutely disappointed with this result. The car was really good and in terms of performance I'm sure we were in a position to fight for Q3. After the short rain shower it was very difficult to judge the conditions on the different parts of that seven kilometers circuit. The track was drying and it was a problem to know what you would find in which corner. We opted for the wrong tyre choice, as it was definitely too optimistic to go for slicks, and I made a mistake when I lost the rear end of the car before turn 14. I overestimated the track conditions there and crashed into the barrier. It is a terrible result."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "In the first three practice sessions things looked very good for us and we had reasons to be optimistic, but then in qualifying both drivers went off on slicks on their out laps. It's a shame."
James Key, Technical Director: "Obviously for us a very disappointing qualifying, but equally it was a very difficult session. In the beginning we knew there was rain coming, so we went out early with the rest of the pack. It was really just a case of putting in a banker, but then the red flag stopped it. In the end with the drying track we decided to go out on the intermediate tyres and do three timed laps. The track was drying very quickly, and other cars went on dry tyres, so we decided also to change to slicks. But the track conditions were tricky and both our drivers had an off on their out laps, which stopped them from completing these laps. It's a shame, but a situation like this is always difficult to judge. Now we have to go back and reflect on what happened and make sure next time we do better. Tomorrow we just have to see how we can best recover from the situation."
Timo Glock (17th, 1:52.049): "A good qualifying today in which we made it through to Q2 and got the opportunity to show a little more of the team's potential and also from my side too. The team worked incredibly hard to build an entire new car overnight following my accident yesterday. We always knew this would be a weekend with opportunities for the team because of the changing weather and to have such a good qualifying in such an unpredictable situation off the back of such a big task to get the car ready is a great reward for them. I was quite happy with my performance, not making any mistakes in these conditions and to get the best out of the car in the situation. The session was very chaotic having to switch tyres as the conditions changed and tomorrow promises more of the same. It could be a very eventful race for the teams and the fans and I hope we can make the most of that."
Lucas di Grassi (23rd, 2:18.754): "A disappointing qualifying session for me because the conditions were perfect for our set-up. On the first time lap Trulli hit me and the damage was so great we had to stop. Tomorrow looks like rain again so I'm looking forward to an interesting race."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "An exciting and eventful session. Last night, we took the decision to gamble on the race weather being wet and have today run a high downforce aero condition on both cars that is some way from the fastest configuration from this circuit when it is dry. Timo's crew did a fantastic job by working all night to get his car ready for free practice today and the shower before qualifying made the track very tricky. Lucas was very unlucky to get hit by Jarno when he slowed down to avoid a spinning car - sadly the impact broke his oil cooler and ended what could have been a promising session through no fault of his own. Timo managed to put a good lap together at the beginning of Q1 which showed what is possible in tricky conditions, and he managed to hang on to a Q2 spot for the second time this year. As Q2 ended up being relatively dry, we weren't expecting to progress much and therefore decided not to change tyres at the end of the session. So we'll fix Lucas's car tonight and keep our fingers crossed for some more weather madness tomorrow!"