European GP 2008
AUGUST 23, 2008
Saturday Team Quotes
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:38.989): "It's great to be on pole position, especially after the great disappointment of Budapest, but I'm well aware the race is tomorrow and so there is still a long way to go. My first run in Q3 was very good and on the second I made a good improvement in the first sector and that's where pole came from. Today, the track was still very slippery, partly because of last night's rain. After this morning's free practice, I thought the harder tyres would be the most competitive in qualifying, but at the start of the session, I didn't feel as comfortable anymore and so we went for the softer compound. The team did a great job in preparing for this event and I want to thank them for giving me such a strong car. I hope we can have a good race tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:39.488): "Fourth place is not what I was looking for, but it's definitely not the end of the world. I could have been higher up the grid but on my last run in Q3, I locked the wheels at a few points and lost valuable time: it was nothing dramatic, but at this circuit, a small error is very costly. I still think I can be in the fight for the win, especially if I manage to get a good start. We have a good car, which should be especially competitive in the race."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We are very happy with Felipe's first place and he really drove very well. It was a shame for Kimi, who could have been a bit higher up the order, even though fourth place cannot be considered a bad result. All things considered, a good day for the team, even though we are well aware that it's the race that counts. Tomorrow, we can expect a sweaty afternoon and not just because of the heat! We will have to pay great attention in managing all the possible scenarios that could occur. The decisive factors will be the usual ones - reliability first and foremost, strategy, performance and the work of the team and drivers. On top of that there will be the unknowns that go with a track being raced on for the first time. For our part, we will do our utmost to try and bring home the best possible result in terms of the championship."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "A good qualifying session, very close and made even more uncertain because of the weather. A first and a fourth place is a good outcome, even if it could have been better. Felipe did two great laps in Q3, while Kimi missed out by a whisker on being able to start from the clean side of the track. In fact, the start will be one of the decisive moments of the race. Tomorrow it will be important to try and pick up as many points as possible with both drivers. We have a car that is competitive over a long run and we will try and exploit that as well as possible. We must pay careful attention to managing all the possible scenarios that arise: as on all street circuits, the risk of a safety car period is always hanging over the race."
Robert Kubica (3rd, 1:39.392): "This was a very good Qualifying for the team and me. After some unlucky races lately the pace of the car here in Valencia is not that bad. However, there is still a small gap to Ferrari and McLaren. Qualifying went pretty smoothly, with only the weather a bit unstable. In the end there were only some rain drops in the second qualifying session, but this did not affect the result. The choice of tyres was pretty clear for me by yesterday: I went on the harder compound in Q1 and on the softer compound in Q2 and in Q3."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:40.631): "Qualifying eighth is not perfect, but I think it was about the maximum possible today as the fuel load comes into play. In Q1 I thought it was d ©ja-vu when Timo Glock was in my way. Our team informs us on the radio how many seconds behind us a fast car is, and when we have to let somebody overtake. Apparently this isn't the case in every team. I was afraid my qualifying would be ruined, but luckily I was able to do a second lap straight away and it was good enough. Q2 was fine, as I was third fastest and could see the pace was there. Generally speaking I'm a lot happier with my car today. On Friday I was struggling a lot, but we have made a lot of changes since."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "On this new and demanding track Robert had a great qualifying again and fought his way through to P3 on the grid. Nick improved in the second part of qualifying and made it into Q3 with the third best time overall. His last lap wasn't perfect as he lost some time in the second sector. Anyway, eighth is good. What these positions are worth we shall see tomorrow during the first pit stops. We had no technical problems during qualifying."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "This was a very exciting qualifying. In the first part there were some rain drops, and in the second part the times were close. It's positive that we were able to get both cars into the top ten qualifying. Nick drove a very fast lap in Q2 and was able to qualify easily for Q3. Robert also had a very strong performance. Starting from P3 he is in a very good position for the race, and Nick will also have his chances. I'm pleased all the hard work we have done since the race in Hungary has paid off."
Fernando Alonso (12th, 1:38.435): "I am understandably disappointed with the qualifying session because I had other hopes for today. The race tomorrow will therefore be more difficult, but, as we are on a street course, anything is possible in the race. We must continue working hard this evening to try and work out the best strategy that will allow us to be ready for all eventualities tomorrow, such as a safety car period, which seems quite likely."
Nelson Piquet (15th, 1:38.744): "I am disappointed with my qualifying, and I could probably have set a better time this afternoon. I don't think our result shows our true pace because Fernando also failed to reach Q3 when we both had the potential. I will now work with my engineers and prepare for an aggressive race to move up through the field tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Considering all the preparation involved for this new circuit, it's very disappointing not to have any of our cars in the final part of qualifying. I am sure we had the potential to do so, but potential is not an ultimate result. However, I'm sure it will be an interesting race tomorrow. In the event here several weeks ago, we saw that the safety car can play an important role, and we will think hard about our strategy to try to make the most of our situation."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Our position at the end of qualifying is disappointing, especially as we thought we had done some good work yesterday and seen some encouraging results. But all is not lost and we will try and develop a strong strategy that will allow us to make the most of grid positions."
Nico Rosberg (9th, 1:40.721): "It's been a few races since we managed to get into the top ten, so this is a good result for us. We'd obviously always want to do better, but this shows we've made a step in the right direction and that's satisfying. We had a better understanding of where we had to improve, so we've made those changes which gave us a more competitive car today. We have a good strategy for the race so anything is possible. Today has been positive which gives me hope for points tomorrow."
Kazuki Nakajima (11th, 1:38.428): "It was a good qualifying for us as both cars are close in the midfield. It was a shame to miss out on Q3, but actually P11 is not a bad place to start the race from because we can select our fuel level. I'll also be on the clean side of the track tomorrow so, all in all, it was a positive qualifying session for us."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering: "It's good to have at least one car in Q3 which we've missed for quite some races. Both drivers did a good job. Unfortunately, Kazuki just missed out on his first Q3 by the smallest of margins. The important thing now is to prepare for the race and make sure we're happy with our strategy. We're looking forward to tomorrow."
Mark Webber (14th, 1:38.515): "We've struggled for speed for most of the weekend. It's a new venue here, which brings variety to the positions, but we don't seem to have the pace we had a few races ago, which is quite frustrating. There were a few laps I was pleased with, but we didn't make it through to Q3."
David Coulthard (17th, 1:39.235): "I expected to be able to make it through that first part of qualifying. On my last run, I ran wide in Turn 5 and dropped about four tenths, although I pulled two tenths back, the net loss over the whole lap meant it wasn't enough to go through. It's just the way these qualifying sessions go. That was probably one my messiest sessions and I'm disappointed."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A very disappointing qualifying. We seem to have struggled for pace here all weekend despite having been very fast in the last sector and it's frustrating for the drivers to finish in 14th and 17th. An incident filled race is the only way we're likely to achieve any points this weekend, so we'll wait and see. Congratulations to Toro Rosso who got both their cars into the top ten for the first time."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "A bad day and a bad result. It was bad beginning to the week with the plane crash in Madrid and the death of Dino Toso, chief aerodynamicist for Renault, which puts things in perspective. But, life goes on and coming back to our present work, we have to work like hell now to bounce back from here. We already need to be thinking about the next race in Spa."
Jarno Trulli (7th, 1:40.309): "After our difficult practice yesterday, we completely changed my set-up for today. Then we had a gearbox oil pump problem this morning that meant I could not try it out. So in a way I was driving blind this afternoon but I used my experience, I concentrated very hard and I made it through into Q3. I made a mistake on my last run but I am still very happy with what we achieved today. I'm also delighted with the way the car is developing and the fact that we can always fight for the top ten and score points. That is again our target tomorrow. It's important and realistic and it will be an interesting race. Here, more than anywhere, anything can happen and it should be a great event."
Timo Glock (13th, 1:38.499): "I don't know what went wrong but I just didn't get the lap together in the second session and that was that. We definitely had the chance to be higher, in the top ten, but it was a difficult qualifying in the end. For me the prime tyres seemed to work better but I struggled to get temperature into the tyres in the first sector of my last lap in Q2. So it was just not my day today. I had a heavy cold overnight and didn't feel particularly well, but no excuses. I think the car was good enough but it just didn't work out. Of course we will do our best to make up positions tomorrow. There could be safety car periods so we will aim to make the most of our freedom with the strategy."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "Altogether it has been a very difficult day and a disappointing qualifying result. Yesterday we had a very competitive Friday, especially with Timo, and now things have turned around. Jarno did a fantastic job because he could not run in P3 this morning due to a gearbox oil pump problem. But that did not stop him and all his laps apart from his last lap in Q3 were very good. For Timo, today was not as successful as yesterday. He was on the pace in Q1 but Q2 did not go as expected so we will have to investigate what happened. After the overnight rain the track was green again today but the tyre situation is clear. The positive thing for us is that we are in good position to defend against safety cars tomorrow and make sure that both cars are not caught out by the same safety car period."
Sebastian Vettel (6th, 1:40.142): "My best result ever so I am pleased, as it has taken a bit of time to improve on my P7 that I did in my first Grand Prix. It's been a fantastic day for us. We made some changes to the set-up overnight and they all turned out to be positive. The team worked hard to make the most of the data. We didn't expect to do this well here but it's a good thing to have both cars in Q3. My last lap should have been a bit better, but I made a mistake in turn 12, locking the rear under braking. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground, because there are a lot of laps ahead of us tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the race when I think we have a real chance to score points."
Sebastien Bourdais (10th, 1:40.750): "This wasn't bad. I am still having my problem of not finding grip on the "option" tyre, so we need to work on that. But I am happy that our performance is getting better. I'm really pleased to be in Q3 for the first time. It's a good feeling as I kept waiting to hear that I dropped down to 11 or 12! What we have seen here is that, on a new track, some teams have worked in the right direction and some have not. The team did a good job of giving me a car that was one of the best today. Now it is up to me to get the most out of it in the race. It's bound to be a tough race but I hope to be in a position to fight for points after making a good start."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "We must be doing something right but I'm not sure what it is! Seriously though, this is our best qualifying performance with Sebastien making his first appearance in Q3 as we got both our drivers into the final part. The fact this is a new track meant we didn't have to pay our usual tax in terms of our drivers' lack of experience, as it was the same for everybody. We brought a few new things here and everything worked, so we can be happy."
Jenson Button (16th, 1:38.880): "It was a really disappointing qualifying today, particularly as we have been quick all weekend. My first run on the prime tyres was good but we simply chose the wrong tyre for my final run in Q1. I had no grip with the option and it just wasn't very competitive for us. My final run was slower than my prime run, which shouldn't happen on a circuit which is improving all the time. I'm really disappointed as we have improved the car but today we didn't make the most of that."
Rubens Barrichello (19th, 1:39.811): "It has been an incredibly frustrating day for us today. We were not able to find a balance on the car in practice this morning which affected our preparations for qualifying. This afternoon I particularly struggled with rear locking which cost me a lot of time as I wasn't able to attack the lap. It's very disappointing to be starting the first race here from so far back on the grid."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Our free practice pace was genuine and we have definitely made some improvements to the car over the break and here this week. Today I felt we could have had one car in the top ten. Rubens has been struggling with the car all day and we never really managed to overcome those problems. Jenson however had the car working very well as we saw with his first run in qualifying when he was using the prime tyre. He then switched to option tyres but they didn't work at all for him and he could not match his early time. With the mid pack being so close he was just squeezed out of Q2 contention. From our grid positions the race will certainly be a challenge. If the car is working well tomorrow the drivers will be up against slower cars ahead and we think overtaking is going to be difficult. However race incidents are likely here. It could be very tricky off-line and, as we have seen from the other series, there are places from which cars are difficult to recover so safety cars are a real possibility. We now need to focus on making our strategy as robust as possible to ensure we are well-placed to take advantage of any opportunities."
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th, 1:39.268): "I really tried my hardest on that lap. I think I got the maximum out of the car and the best time we could do, and in the end we are only 1.3secs from the fastest time of the session. It just shows how close everything is now, but I don't think we could have done anything more. It was a fantastic effort from the team and the car felt good. It could be an unpredictable race tomorrow, so let's see how it goes."
Adrian Sutil (20th, 1:39.943): "The first run was OK, the track was improving and the grip level was getting better with every lap. On the second run I had a good lap, except for a small mistake in Turn 14 where I lost two to three tenths, but it was still not bad. Then on the last run I had some problems with the traffic on my out lap and couldn't warm up the tyres, so they weren't ready for the first couple of corners so I locked up in the first corner. That's why I couldn't improve my lap time, which was for sure disappointing as the final run is always the quickest and I couldn't improve my time. So last on the grid, let's see for tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "I think a good effort from the team, and Giancarlo got the maximum out of the car in qualifying. It's the first race with our quick shift box and I think we have clearly taken a step forward in competitiveness and it's nice to start out-qualifying some of the works' cars in the progress. I am very proud of the team, now we are just 1.3secs from the fastest time of the day and really pushing to move into the midfield. For tomorrow's race we know there will be a lot of incidents and potentially a lot of safety cars, but we know our race pace is normally better than our qualifying pace so I think we can genuinely race with the midfield and look for a potential opportunity to score."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:39.199): "We knew we had a great car and we didn't have any problems during qualifying. I felt really comfortable, and I decided to qualify with the option tyre. My first lap wasn't perfect, and I lost almost one second compared with my second lap, but on my final lap everything went well. Second place on the grid is a good basis for tomorrow's race. However, Felipe Massa was significantly faster in the first sector, and I hope we'll be able to improve there tomorrow. Our team did a great job, and I'm confident we'll be strong."
Heikki Kovalainen (5th, 1:39.937): "The balance of my car was good and we improved continuously throughout the sessions. However I'm a little disappointed with my fifth place on the grid as I didn't make any mistakes and performed to the maximum. It's now up to us to score as many points as possible and make a good start from the cleaner side of the grid. Our strategy should help us to gain positions during the race."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Today we saw another very good afternoon's work from both Lewis and Heikki, characterised by strong lap times that reflect their respective race strategies. All in all, therefore, we're well prepared for the first grand prix to be held on this exciting new racetrack. All the drivers did an exemplary job today, in fact, avoiding the walls in the tricky conditions. We hope that tomorrow's race will be equally incident-free, and that in time the Valencia event will become a regular, integral and much-admired element of the Formula 1 calendar. I would like to offer our congratulations to all concerned, and to the Valencia authorities in particular; with appropriate promotion, this Grand Prix promises to become a fabulous adjunct to our sport's existing harbour side spectacular, namely Monaco."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A very exciting qualifying session here on this completely new and impressive circuit. Thanks to everybody involved for doing such a superb job in such a short period of time. I think we are well prepared for the race, and it will be interesting to see which of the frontrunners will drive the longest first stint tomorrow. Both Lewis and Heikki did a good job, even if Lewis unfortunately lost more time in the first sector than he is now behind the pole time. Our German friend Sebastian Vettel and his Toro Rosso team showed a great performance today - really well done."