Japanese GP 2008
OCTOBER 11, 2008
Saturday Team Quotes
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:18.644): "I'm pleased to be back on the front row, even if I'm not totally happy as I always want to be the fastest. On top of that, I'm not completely satisfied with the handling of my car: all weekend we have worked very hard to find the best set-up but we did not get it a hundred percent right. All the same, we have improved our performance, especially with a heavy fuel load. This result means I'm in good shape for the race. Tomorrow, I will try to make the best of the situation. My aim is to finish this season in the best way possible and help the team to win both championships."
Felipe Massa (5th, 1:18.874): "A shame. Today I was the quickest man on track but at the wrong moment. In Q3, I never had the right amount of grip from both sets of tyres that I used. On my first run I was a bit cautious on my "out" lap and so suffered in the first sector, making a mistake at Turn 3. On the second run, I did the opposite and found myself without grip at the end of the lap. So, I've ended up fifth on the grid, which is definitely not an easy place to be. I will try and work my way up in the race to score big points for the championship. All the same, the set-up on the car is good and we should be competitive. The first corner? It's similar to the one at the Hungaroring, so I hope I can manage to repeat the good start I got there."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Obviously, we were hoping for a different result, especially given our potential. It's a shame for Felipe who had been quickest in Q2 before suffering with a lack of grip from the tyres in Q3. Kimi did a good job and managed to get back onto the front row. Tomorrow, we can expect to have to fight our way up to the front, especially given the positions of our closest rivals. It will be a long race in which tyre performance, strategy and the overall team work will, as usual play a decisive role in terms of the final outcome as of course will the need for absolute reliability."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "It was a somewhat contradictory session, both in terms of the final result and of the various performance levels through the field. In the first two sessions, Felipe had shown himself to be very quick and to have found the right balance on the car, while Kimi was struggling a bit. In Q3 the situation was pretty much reversed and specifically, Felipe found his sets of tyres producing inconsistent performance, offering less grip than previously. Hence his fifth place on a grid where the time differences are minimal. For his part, Kimi was more comfortable on the heavy fuel load and managed to do a great lap to get onto the front row. Tomorrow we will be up against very strong opposition and we will do our utmost to get both our cars ahead of them."
Robert Kubica (6th, 1:18.979): "Yesterday we were struggling with low grip, so the rain last night and this morning definitely didn't help us as it washed away the rubber. The balance of the car was fine, but it was just lacking grip. I tried everything I could, and this was the best I could manage. Sixth is not bad under the circumstances."
Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:18.835): "Now we know it was the wrong decision to stay on the harder tyre compound for the second outing in Q1. After my initial run on the first set of those tyres, I knew I could improve on the Prime tyres, so we took the risk and put on another set. I actually did improve, I was about half a second quicker, but still it wasn't enough and I missed Q2 by one tenth of a second. Robert just made it. Of course from so far back on the grid it will be very difficult to do something in the race. But we have seen everything happen in Formula One and I shall never give up."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Qualifying didn't go as we hoped it would. The main reason was we estimated incorrectly how the track conditions would improve, and their influence on the tyres in Q1. We sent both drivers out twice on the harder compound, while others were already changing to the softer tyres. The unexpected big difference between both compounds left us in the situation where Robert just made it into Q2 and Nick didn't. In the remaining qualifying sessions Robert put in the performance we were expecting and was 6th."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "The most difficult part of today was the first session of qualifying, during which we planned to use the harder of the two tyre compounds. We wanted to have enough sets of the softer one for the remainder of qualifying and for the race. This decision cost Nick a place in Q2. It will be difficult to score points from 16th. Robert's performance was strong and he managed to clinch sixth. This was what we realistically expected."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:18.852): "We can be happy with fourth place, which is a good result and the work we did yesterday certainly paid us back today. We had a bit of trouble in Q2, but in Q3 with fuel on board the car felt good, which is encouraging for the race tomorrow and I think we can realistically aim for a top five finish."
Nelson Piquet (12th, 1:18.274): "I am very disappointed as I made a mistake in Q2 and I wasn't able to make it through to Q3. It's all the more frustrating because the car was really working well and I was feeling comfortable with it. I won't give up, but I know that the race tomorrow will be difficult and so I will do all that I can to try and fight through the field."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Fernando's position on the grid is as high as we could have hoped for and so we are satisfied with our afternoon and hopeful of a strong race tomorrow. Nelson has had an excellent weekend as he showed with his 7th position in Q1, but unfortunately in Q2 things did not really go as we would have wished. Nevertheless, he has been quick and we hope we can have a strong race with him as well tomorrow."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Once again, qualifying was very close and the competition to reach Q3 was extremely competitive. There are obviously still lots of unknowns at this stage of the weekend, but we have opted for an appropriate strategy and I think we can hope for a good result tomorrow with Fernando. For Nelson, we will think things over this evening and try and find a strategy that will allow him to do something in the race, but we know we must not underestimate our rivals in the fight for fourth in the championship."
Kazuki Nakajima (14th, 1:18.594): "After a strong run in the practice sessions that was a difficult qualifying, but we did do our best. I don't think that this afternoon's conditions suited the car that much and some traffic interrupted my last run, which didn't help me either. We now need to prepare a good strategy for tomorrow's race."
Nico Rosberg (15th, 1:18.672): "It wasn't very nice to qualify 15th today, especially having come from Singapore where I finished on the podium, but that's the reality. We've struggled a bit this weekend, but we were expecting to be less competitive here as we just seem to be missing something on these types of circuits. I'm keeping my expectations for the race in check, particularly if it stays dry, but we could have a better chance of doing well if it rains. I'm happy with my qualifying lap though, and Kazuki's been doing a really good job all weekend. He's been a little bit quicker than me and I'm pleased for him as he's in front of his home crowd. But this weekend isn't over yet; we'll see what tomorrow brings."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Obviously this isn't the best track for us. We took both cars through to Q2, but we weren't strong enough to get into Q3 here. Fuji delivered a very interesting race last year, so we'll now work towards the most advantageous strategies possible for our positions and see if we can't get something out of the race."
David Coulthard (11th, 1:18.187): "It was very close today. That was one of my better qualifying sessions, each of my laps were very tidy. On the last lap I was quicker going into the final corner, but I seemed to drag more speed going into the apex, which made me very slow down to the start/finish straight. I would love to have got through to Q3, as it would have meant more driving in the car on low fuel, but I don't think there was much more I could have got out of the car with the balance I had."
Mark Webber (13th, 1:18.354): "I wasn't quick enough today and when you don't get the times you don't go through. I didn't get it together in Q2 and you pay the price. There was more to get from the car, but I over drove on the last sector. It was a shame as I had had a good feeling for the car both yesterday and this morning, but qualifying didn't seem to work out for us today. It will be difficult from there tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "While it's disappointing not to make it into Q3, David drove well in both sessions and was unlucky to miss the final cut by just 0.08secs, but 11th obviously leaves him free to pick his strategy for tomorrow. Mark didn't manage to string his best three sectors together, which leaves a lot of work for him from 13th on the grid tomorrow."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "That was disappointing not to get into Q3. DC had a good session and was very, very close to getting through to Q3, I think he was just 0.08secs off. At least this is a track where you should be able to overtake and gain positions in the dry, so we'll have to make sure we're ready to make the most of anything that might happen ahead of us tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli (7th, 1:19.026): "We've done quite a good job overall this weekend preparing for qualifying and the race. I had to make some adjustments during the first part of qualifying but in the end fortunately I got the set-up right. That meant that I could find the right balance and get back on the pace. In Q2 I was 4th and Timo was 5th so it shows that the Toyotas are going well. Q3 was a bit of a mystery because as soon as we put the fuel on the car was rather unbalanced and we lost a lot of grip. So I wasn't so happy about the pace of Q3 but maybe it's down to the different fuel levels. Now we must go for a strong result for everyone here in front of our own fans and we must fight really hard until the end tomorrow."
Timo Glock (8th, 1:19.118): "We have to be happy with how qualifying went in the end. This morning's rain didn't really help us because we would have liked to have more rubber on the asphalt. Instead it was quite low grip but still Q1 was quite easy. I was quickest and I had a really good feeling. But after that we struggled to get the most out of the softer tyre on heavy fuel and we are slightly further back than we'd hoped. There are a couple of places where you can overtake here so let's see what happens tomorrow. What is great is the home support we've had here. There are so many Toyota fans and now we have both cars in the top ten we have a good chance to get both cars into the points."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "This was a clear improvement compared to last year when we failed to get our cars into Q3. Overall the qualifying sessions went very well. In both Q1 and Q2 both drivers were very quick, with Timo the fastest of all in Q1 and Jarno less than three tenths off in Q2. Given that, we are slightly disappointed by the positions we had in Q3, but as usual it's really a matter of where people will stop tomorrow. Considering the situation with tyres we feel that we have the ideal strategy for tomorrow. Both drivers did a good job and we are where we deserved to be. This morning we had the only wet conditions of the weekend - unlike last year - and we saw that even in the case of rain we are competitive. Now we must look to make the most of these positions in tomorrow's race in front of our home fans."
Sebastian Vettel (9th, 1:19.638): "At the start of qualifying the track was still quite green because of the rain, but we made it to Q3 again which is good. Then in the final part, I was struggling a bit with the heavier car, as it did not feel as good as before and I made a couple of small mistakes. But the gap to the next fastest was a bit too big. It will be a tough race on the cars and especially the tyres, so I think the key to success will be to keep the tyres in good shape. I hope our strategy turns out to be a good one."
Sebastien Bourdais (10th, 1:20.167): "It was a good qualifying and I'm happy to be close to Sebastian on a track with a lot of corner entries on the brakes which is where I usually struggle with the rear end of the car, so I had to hold back a bit. I think the car has improved a bit after the team found a couple of things on the aero side which has helped. I think we are in good shape for the race."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "Having both cars in Q3 indicates that we put together a strong qualifying performance. Both drivers have done a very good job, closely matched throughout the weekend. Tomorrow, we will find out what our competitors have done in terms of fuel loads, but certainly, we are happy with our race trim and are looking to have a strong race."
Rubens Barrichello (17th, 1:18.882): "Although my second run today was actually a good qualifying lap, unfortunately we are at the back of the midfield group where just another three-tenths would have been enough to put me in P10. I was already right on the limit with my second run so we had to take a bit of a gamble with the final run and add a little more front wing. Unfortunately this led to the tyres graining by the second sector and I was not able to improve. It's a shame that we were unable to qualify better than this at our home race but we will do our best to make the most of any opportunities in the race tomorrow."
Jenson Button (18th, 1:19.100): "It has not been the best of days for us today but hopefully the race tomorrow will be better. I have been struggling with the car for the whole weekend and have found it difficult to achieve a good balance. The car was better in the wet this morning, however the bumps and corner apexes are unsettling the car in the dry and we have not been able to resolve this. I had too much understeer on my final run in qualifying today which made the car very twitchy and difficult to get round the corners and I was unable to improve my lap time. It's disappointing but we just have to do our best with the package that we have."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Unfortunately we were well aware in advance of this weekend that Fuji was going to be a difficult track for us given our current package. That fact does not make today's result any less disappointing however. Obviously going into a dry qualifying after a wet morning was a little like venturing into the unknown as we were reliant upon the settings we made to the cars overnight. In actual fact, early in the qualifying session, the cars were working quite well, certainly for Rubens. At the end of our first set of option tyres, both cars were comfortably in a position to progress to Q2. We then switched to the second set of options and that's where it all went wrong for both drivers. The option tyres have more grip but are also more delicate and they grained on both cars."
Adrian Sutil (19th, 1:19.163): "It was very close again today. I'm quite happy with my performance as I did some really good laps and the last one was particularly on the edge. I don't think there was any more we could do. We were just one second from pole, which was very good and competitive but still not enough. Let's see what the race brings now, we are quick in a straight line and I think there is a chance to make up some places."
Giancarlo Fisichella (20th, 1:19.910): "I could improve my time quite a lot from the first run, but on my final run I hit some traffic on the out lap and couldn't warm up the tyres in the cool conditions. Unfortunately I locked up into turn one and lost a lot of time there, so even though the rest of the lap was OK it was never going to be quick. It's a shame but we are still very close to the fastest times. Tomorrow's race will be exciting - you never know what the weather will bring, so we'll look to have a good strategy and try to make up places when we can."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "It was again a very, very close qualifying with the whole field incredibly closely matched. Adrian being just one second off the pace is a very good result for us and just a couple of tenths would have moved both him and Giancarlo up a couple of places. We know we have a good race pace and set-up for tomorrow and have to look to put in a good performance."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:18.404): "Usually, on a heavy fuel load, the car can be quite tough to drive on the limit, but I managed to pull all the sectors together and drove a pretty good lap. It wasn't perfect - I made a small mistake in the final corner, where I lost a tenth - but we had a good session. The team has done a phenomenal job all weekend, and Heikki's and my pace today really underlines that. We think we've got a good strategy for tomorrow and we want to finish at the front."
Heikki Kovalainen (3rd, 1:18.821): "A pretty good session for me - it took a little time to get up to speed in Q1, but I put two good laps together in the final session. We were very quick in Q2 as well - and, while third was really the best I could manage today, I'm still very pleased with the result. We're still targeting both world championships in these final few races so I'll be looking for the very best result for myself and the team tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "First and third in qualifying is clearly a very satisfying result - and represents a very strong team performance. Lewis's pole lap was awesome in the proper sense of that often-abused adjective - in fact I'd go so far as to say that it was possibly the best lap of his career so far. Heikki's lap was also very impressive and extremely pleasing - because it showcases the strength and depth of our driver line-up and of our whole team. Having said all that, although we'll enjoy our qualifying success this evening, the race is what really matters and all I'll say about that is that we've sacrificed nothing in our efforts to achieve advantageous grid positions and are therefore looking forward to putting in a very competitive performance tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A great lap from Lewis, a great lap from Heikki make pole position and position three for us. This is a perfect line-up for the start tomorrow, but we certainly will not make the mistake and under-estimate our competitors. We should be strong in the long runs of the race as shown on Friday during the practice sessions, but Ferrari will be very quick too, so there will be no room for errors tomorrow. For today, we are perfectly happy - thank you to the team and thanks to Lewis and Heikki. It would be great of course, if we could generate the same feeling inside the team at the same time tomorrow."