Belgian GP 2008
SEPTEMBER 6, 2008
Saturday Team Quotes
Felipe Massa (2nd, 1:47.678): "I did a great lap, but it was not enough to be on pole position. Today, we lacked a bit of speed compared to our main rivals but the race is very long and, over a distance, we know we can be very competitive and therefore we are capable of fighting for the win. The start? It will be difficult to do a repeat of Budapest, especially as the start-line straight is shorter than at the Hungaroring. Then, we will have to see what the various strategy choices are and obviously, how the weather evolves. If it was to rain, the race could be turned into a lottery."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:47.992): "On my second run in Q3 I made a small mistake, running wide at Turn 7. A shame, as it cost me valuable time which would have seen me move slightly higher up the order on the starting grid. All the same, I am reasonably happy with my car, which seems to be behaving the way I like. Of course, I'm a bit disappointed, as I would have liked to have done better: fourth place is far from ideal to go looking for the win, but it doesn't mean I've given up hope. We know we have a good potential, especially in race trim. The weather will however be a key factor and we will have to try and assess it as well as possible."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Overall, it's a reasonably satisfying result. Of course, we always hope to be ahead of everyone, but it's not always possible, especially as we are up against some very strong opposition, which we always knew was the case. When evaluating this session we also have to take into consideration that the difference in fuel loads, has a greater effect here than at other tracks. Tomorrow, apart from the usual factors, the weather could play a key role. As always, we will be doing our utmost to bring home the best possible result."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "My compliments to Felipe, who did a fantastic lap on his second run in Q3. It's a shame that a mistake at Turn 7 probably cost Kimi at least one grid position. We knew our main rivals would be very strong, especially in qualifying, but we are still convinced that we can be on the pace tomorrow in the race, which is when the points are given out. It will be a tough race, in which it will be vital to manage any situations that might arise as well as possible. If it is run in the dry, it will be important to monitor how the tyres perform over a long distance, given that neither yesterday nor today was it possible to do a lot of laps consecutively. The F2008 worked well and also the performance of the tyres over the first timed lap was up to our expectations."
Nick Heidfeld (5th, 1:48.315): "I‘‚ m happy with the qualifying result, and for me the weekend has gone well so far. It wasn‘‚ t bad on Friday, this morning I was quickest and fifth was the best possible result in qualifying. For me it is very important to know the work we have done has paid off. A couple of weeks ago we found solutions to some problems, and for me this meant an improvement, but then came the race in Valencia which was surprisingly bad. Then at last week‘‚ s Monza test we were able to learn something more. I have the feeling we are a little closer to McLaren and Ferrari here. However, I think in the race it will be very difficult for us to keep up with their pace. Tomorrow the weather conditions will be an important factor and a good start for me will be crucial. I will start from the clean side of the track."
Robert Kubica (8th, 1:48.763): "Qualifying was difficult for me although the conditions were the best so far over the course of the weekend. The track was completely dry, but I have had problems with the balance of the car all weekend and I am lacking overall grip. This makes driving quite difficult, especially here in Spa where you have a lot of long corners."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "I‘‚ m satisfied with today‘‚ s performance. We obviously didn‘‚ t have the right basic set-up yesterday, and, with the changing weather conditions, it was not easy to get it right. However, we saw this morning we were able to make a significant step forward. Nick confirmed this in qualifying with both low and high fuel loads. He is now in a strong position for the race. For Robert things were just not right this weekend, and in qualifying he wasn‘‚ t able to put in a perfect lap."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Although we struggled yesterday to find the right set-up, today we managed to get both cars safely into Q3. Nick in particular has made a big step forward since yesterday and he was very strong in qualifying. Robert struggled with the car‘‚ s set-up in all the practice sessions, and sector 2 was particularly difficult for him. I think we are well prepared for the race. Now we have to see what the other teams‘‚ strategies are."
Fernando Alonso (6th, 1:48.504): "I am satisfied. We know that in normal conditions it‘‚ s very difficult to finish in the top four and that to finish in fifth or sixth place is a good result. So that means that we have done a solid job today. We now have a real chance to get a strong result tomorrow, which is important for the championship. I‘‚ m quite confident."
Nelson Piquet (12th, 1:46.965): "I‘‚ m disappointed not to make Q3 as I was in a position to be able to do that. I was on the pace, but my final run in Q2 just wasn‘‚ t enough to get me through to the top ten. I am now going to work with my engineers to be well prepared for the race tomorrow, and I will do my best to progress in the race and aim to finish in the points."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Our optimism from yesterday was fulfilled in qualifying with a very competitive session from Fernando. Nelson also looked strong, but he missed reaching the final part of qualifying by a very small margin. Spa normally produces good race and we look forward to it tomorrow."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Once again, we saw that qualifying is challenging. The first four places are still out of reach, but the sixth place for Fernando is a reason to be satisfied because it means we can hope to score some points tomorrow. Of course, we must not make any mistakes and look after our tyres because all the teams are close here, but I think it will be an interesting race on a circuit that is challenging for the cars and the drivers. Nelson must get ready for a difficult race, but we will do everything to help him progress in the race."
Nico Rosberg (15th, 1:47.429): "I didn‘‚ t really expect us to struggle so much in qualifying today. While we knew that Spa was not going to be our best track, being this far back is unexpected and very disappointing. In one respect, my car was okay from a balance perspective, but there was a serious lack of grip which meant I couldn‘‚ t go any faster. Obviously looking ahead to the race tomorrow, some rain would give me a small chance to achieve something, otherwise it‘‚ s going to be very difficult."
Kazuki Nakajima (19th, 1:48.268): "I felt our car was better in practice this morning despite the fact that the dry conditions for qualifying made the circuit better this afternoon, but when we got into the qualifying session, I just couldn‘‚ t find any grip and I am still not able to understand why. It‘‚ s going to be a long race tomorrow and starting 19th will make things more difficult."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was obviously a disappointing session for Nico not to make it through to final qualifying and for Kazuki not to progress into Q2. Nico got the best out of the car and he was competitive in sector one and sector three, but he couldn‘‚ t improve in sector two which is where our weakness lies. We did expect that Spa would be one of our difficult tracks. From here we will work on strategy to, as always, keeping pushing and see if we can get into the points tomorrow."
Mark Webber (7th, 1:48.736): "We‘‚ ve got more pace here than in Valencia. It was a stress to get into Q3, it was very tight as usual and all the drivers were pretty evenly matched so you had to find that extra few tenths to get into the final group. We‘‚ ll see how tomorrow goes with the strategy, we‘‚ re in a reasonable position to mount an attack for some points. It‘‚ s good to see Alonso and me up there today, it‘‚ s encouraging for Renault and for our team, for everyone here and in Milton Keynes."
David Coulthard (14th, 1:47.018): "I‘‚ m not so happy with that. Fourteenth doesn‘‚ t look good, but it‘‚ s so tight in the mid field and we‘‚ re separated by such a small margin. Let‘‚ s see what we can do tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "That was a good qualifying session for Mark, which sensibly places us on the grid for tomorrow. We dropped a bit of time at the Bus Stop chicane, so we could have been even quicker. In such a tight qualifying session, David missed out by the smallest of margins. The field continues to be as competitive as ever."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "It‘‚ s a good result for Mark to finish in P7 on this very difficult track that demands a lot from the engine. It‘‚ s good, especially after our difficult experiences in Valencia. For David, it will be a bit more complicated, fourteenth is not so high up and it‘‚ s not easy to overtake on this track. But it‘‚ s a difficult race for everyone here, so let‘‚ s wait and see, especially as changing weather conditions may affect things. We are beginning a cycle of two very difficult races for the engine, so even after this one we will still have to cope with Monza."
Jarno Trulli (11th, 1:46.949): "We knew we would be struggling a bit today given these low temperatures and it was a difficult qualifying for us - this has been the trend of the weekend so far unfortunately. It was very hard to get the temperature into the tyres in order to make them work properly so it is then not easy to judge the car balance. As well as that I am on the second race with my engine and that is particularly important here because you have the long straights. Normally on the second race the engine loses a little bit of power and here this makes a difference to the lap time. But tomorrow is another day and I will do my best. The only positive point is that we can choose our strategy just before the race."
Timo Glock (13th, 1:46.995): "It was quite a difficult session for me today. In practice we were struggling a bit to bring the tyres to the right temperature and we suffered from this again in qualifying. It was particularly hard to get the heat into the tyres on my first flying lap, so we were not able to get the result we wanted. We are not getting the performance out of the tyres in these conditions and it is difficult to get a feeling for the car when that happens. It was really tricky to get it right today and it's hard to see it changing dramatically tomorrow; maybe the temperature rises a bit or it rains, you never know here. It would be good for me if it was wet because I like those conditions and our car performs well if there is a bit of rain. We will have to wait and see but whatever happens we will push as hard as we can to achieve the best possible result."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "This was one of our worst qualifying results this season and it means that obviously we got something wrong in our preparation work. We will be busy tonight and tomorrow morning trying to understand what has happened here. Qualifying in 11th and 13th is obviously not what we expected and it is not a satisfying result. From a tyre point of view, not surprisingly the medium and hard compounds are not really suitable for these conditions and we had a difficult time running around on quite a cold track. However that is the same for everyone and it is for us to handle the situation. On the positive side the tyre choice itself for the race is pretty clear."
Sebastien Bourdais (9th, 1:48.951): "A qualifying session when I can get out of the car and say that I drove well and that the team, as usual did a good job. The car worked well even if we couldn‘‚ t mix it too much with those ahead of us. But let‘‚ s see what strategies the others are on in terms of fuel loads tomorrow. A couple of tenths is all that separated us from sixth or seventh. It‘‚ s beginning to come together and it‘‚ s been a good weekend so far. I feel this track and its corners suit me better. It was nice to see my name at the top of a time sheet in Q1. It‘‚ s been a long time!"
Sebastian Vettel (10th, 1:50.319): "I‘‚ m quite happy and we can be satisfied to get both cars in Q3, which we did not expect at this track. It was a strong qualifying performance. I was struggling a bit on those sections where the driver doesn‘‚ t have to do much. I could not find the pace my team-mate had. I messed up my last run a bit but it didn‘‚ t affect the result in the end. I think we have a good strategy for both cars so let‘‚ s see what happens. At the moment, I‘‚ m starting on the dirty side of the track but if it rains for the race it becomes the clean side."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "Better than expected, as I‘‚ d predicted tenth and 13th. It is the second race in a row that we get both cars into Q3 and they have run reliably. Clearly our guys are on two different strategies, so Vettel didn‘‚ t get the full potential out of the car as he is clearly heavier and he didn‘‚ t have the benefit of a first sighting run in Q3. Anything can happen at this track and for the race we wanted to have our cars positioned differently: the fastest driver and today that was Bourdais, gets the fastest strategy in Q3. Overall, it was a strong performance."
Rubens Barrichello (16th, 1:48.153): "We have to be pleased with what we achieved in qualifying today, particularly given that we have been pretty much at the bottom of the timesheets so far this weekend. It was a good lap and a good effort from the team. It's just a shame that the car is not able to be more competitive here."
Jenson Button (17th, 1:48.211): "My first lap in qualifying was the first lap that I did today so in a way it was nice to be able to beat some of our competitors and be close to my team-mate. It was a decent session for us, at the level of performance which the car is showing this weekend, and we will at least be starting from the clean side of the grid. Rain tomorrow would make the race more interesting but unfortunately it's not looking likely."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Following our poor showing yesterday we had to make some pretty significant changes to the cars overnight, both aerodynamic and suspension. Our Friday was not very productive, which is obviously not the best way to go into a Grand Prix weekend. This morning Rubens found the overnight changes to be beneficial but Jenson stopped out on the circuit with a mechanical problem. While P16 & P17 was not where we hoped to be, the reality is that it is a reasonable result given how the weekend started. The cars were well balanced and it seems unlikely that the drivers could have found enough to take them through to Q2. Starting from the latter half of the grid the strategy has to fairly conservative. Since the circuit modifications a couple of years ago there isn't a high expectation of any safety car periods. The weather forecast is for dry conditions tomorrow, but in Spa there is always the possibility of an unexpected shower so we need to be ready to take advantage if that should be the case."
Adrian Sutil (18th, 1:48.226): "It was a very close qualifying today, with seven-hundredths to the two Hondas and also very close to 16th place. I think we expected to be at this pace and we can be quite happy with the performance. We knew that Honda would be our closest competitor and it was close. We know we have a fast car on the straights here and I think we can do some overtaking and have a good race tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (20th, 1:48.447): "We were struggling a little with the grip level in the qualifying session, but the balance wasn't too bad. I had a bit of traffic on the last run and also some problems with the rear tyres graining and I lost the rear end in three places, so I lost at least three to four tenths. I think there was a possibility to get 16th position, but tomorrow there is a good chance to move up some places."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "I think today we have maintained the momentum we gathered in Valencia. Again we were very close to works' cars and I feel we performed as well as we could have done at this track. We all know Spa is a classic circuit with several places one can overtake, and I am sure that the hungry drivers we have will not be hindered by their starting positions for long. Add the unpredictable weather to the mix and I think we could have a fantastic race on our hands!"
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "It was a very close session today and I think both drivers did a good job. It is a shame that a tenth would have picked up several places on the grid, but overall we have shown that we have closed the gap to the Williams' and the works Hondas so a good effort from the team. Tomorrow we have to look to beat them out on the track."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:47.338): "I‘‚ m really happy about my pole position. We‘‚ ve got a great car and the atmosphere within the team at home in Woking and here at the circuit is fantastic. After Valencia we knew we had to improve and that‘‚ s what we did. Today‘‚ s outcome is also a result of this great preparation and I felt very comfortable when we came here. First, I decided to drive with the harder compound, but obviously the option tyre was the better one. Today I gave it my all and so did the team. At the beginning of my first lap, I locked up my right front wheel for a moment, but afterwards I didn‘‚ t make any mistakes. I‘‚ m confident for tomorrow‘‚ s race."
Heikki Kovalainen (3rd, 1:47.815): "A good weekend so far and we were able to improve throughout. Today‘‚ s qualifying was fairly straightforward; however, in the end, I didn‘‚ t quite do enough to make it onto the front row. I didn‘‚ t make any mistakes on my lap, but obviously I lost a bit of time in the middle sector. Anyway, tomorrow is where it counts and I‘‚ m feeling optimistic."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "First and third is a pretty good qualifying result by anyone's standards, and it has set us up for what we hope will be a highly competitive showing tomorrow. We think we've worked out a decent race strategy, and we're confident that both Lewis and Heikki will therefore be in good shape. There was a bit of a fuel difference between them today, so you can conclude that both of them did a fine job."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A very impressive pole lap by Lewis. With him being in first and Heikki in third position on the grid, we have achieved a great result. It‘‚ s Lewis‘‚ s 11th pole in his 30th Grand Prix and his 17th start from the front row, which is quite an impressive score. Hopefully we can make best use of these positions tomorrow. Thanks to everybody in the team - first and foremost to Lewis and to Heikki for a very good job.‘‚ Å“