Singapore GP 2009
SEPTEMBER 26, 2009
Saturday Team Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:47.891): "It's an absolutely fantastic result. We came here with several technical upgrades, and we didn't know if we'd be up there - particularly after Friday practice, which wasn't spectacular for me. My pole lap was very relaxed: the car has just got better and better as the track has evolved, and I think I would have gone faster on my final lap if the session hadn't been aborted. I didn't expect to be on pole today, but our pace has been really good. We'll need to see what fuel loads everyone else is running, but I feel quite confident in what we're doing and I'm in the best position for the race tomorrow."
Heikki Kovalainen (10th, 1:49.778): "This is a very disappointing result for me. In the first two sessions, things went smoothly - although my laptimes weren't as competitive as I was expecting. For Q3, I didn't get a good enough lap in during my first run as I'd been running the harder tyre, which wasn't quick enough. I also made a couple of mistakes, but I was focusing my efforts on my second run - which would have been on a set of new Option tyres. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow: starting from 10th will make things very difficult, but there's nothing I can do about that now, so I'm just going to absolutely go for it tomorrow."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Although today's qualifying ended slightly anticlimactically, owing to an accident that befell Rubens [Barrichello] and triggered a red flag that prevented the session from running its full allocated hour, Lewis thoroughly deserved his pole position. Other drivers were also pushing hard at the end, and undoubtedly it would therefore have been close, but we feel relatively confident that Lewis would have remained unbeaten. By contrast, on the harder tyre, Heikki hadn't managed to cut a really quick lap in Q3 by the time the session was red-flagged - but we believe that, with the benefit of another lap, he would have been able to go significantly faster. As a result, although he's understandably disappointed that he'll be starting the race from P10, there's no reason why he shouldn't put in a competitive showing tomorrow. Overall, then, we're hoping to score plenty of points - but, since Lewis will be starting from pole, I grant you that that isn't a particularly bold statement. I make no apology for that: the weather will be hot and humid, and we may even see rain; the walls are close and unforgiving; the circuit is a challenging one. But we think we're pretty well set."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Congratulations to Lewis for a fantastic job and his third pole position in the last four grands prix since Valencia at the end of August. Also, a big, big thank you to everyone in the team who worked through the night until 10 this morning to build up a different chassis for Lewis as a precaution after a problem related to a cable of our KERS Hybrid. Sorry for Heikki, who was strong all weekend until the last session when his first run did not work out in the expected way. After Rubens' crash there was no time for a second run left, so Heikki has to start from 10th position. Strategy-wise we should be in a good position and hopefully we can fight for a win tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (13th, 1:47.177): "Unfortunately, today we were just not quick enough to get into Q3 and there was not much we could do about it. It's logical that, as other cars improve, race after race, we pay a higher price for our decision to stop developing the F60. Tomorrow, we can expect a tough race as it is very difficult to overtake here, so getting into the points will be very difficult. It's true that anything can happen on a track like this and we will have to do our best to make the most of every opportunity, maybe getting some help through a good start as we have usually managed in the last few races. As for the tyres, I think that tomorrow, there could be a problem with wear on the softer tyre, even if the situation could improve during the race."
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th, 1:48.350): "Obviously, I am disappointed with this result. I really wanted to do well, but I still haven't managed to find the right level of confidence in this car: it's almost as if it is driving me rather than the other way round. Especially on such a difficult track, I don't have the confidence to go right to the limit. Naturally starting from eighteenth place means I can expect a very difficult race. I will try and make up some places at the start and then make the most of the race pace. Getting into the points would be the maximum, but even that will be a very tough target to reach."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Our target today was to get at least one car through to Q3 and the other to Q2, but we did not succeed and we have to accept that our package just wasn't quick enough in this qualifying session. Furthermore, if so many of our competitors continue to develop their cars, while we stopped doing so with ours several weeks ago, then the more time goes by, the more we will find ourselves in an ever more difficult situation. However, what really matters is the race result, where reliability is always the key factor, especially in a race that looks like being very tough and where all sorts of things could happen. Clearly, we will be trying to fight our way towards the front, which means it will be difficult to reach our minimum target of finishing in the top eight."
Chris Dyer: "A really difficult qualifying for us, even more so than we expected. We knew it would be tough, but we felt we could have made it through to the final part of the session. But honestly, today we did not have the performance to do that. Kimi did two good laps in Q2, but it was not enough. Tomorrow's race will be very long, so let's hope we can make up some places at the start and then try and get into the points."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:49.307): "Although it might appear nice to be in top ten again, as we have had worse results this season, I'm really disappointed. The car had improved and it all looked good in Q1 and in Q2. But in Q3 I could not use the advantage of the softer tyres because of the red flag. I had just started my fast lap and from the early corners it was clear to me it would be a huge improvement, but then Rubens Barrichello crashed and the session was red flagged. In hindsight it would have been better to use the softer tyres earlier, but of course you don't want to sacrifice the advantage of the track being at its best in the last minutes of the session. That's bad luck."
Robert Kubica (9th, 1:49.514): "Of course our qualifying performance was influenced by the red flag caused by Rubens Barrichello's accident. I think most of the drivers are in a similar situation. We used the harder tyre compound in our first run of the top ten qualifying. This cost us a lot of lap time - the prime tyres were about two tenths slower just in the first two corners compared to the softer compound. It will be a very difficult race tomorrow. The track is very challenging. It requires lots of traction and braking stability. Also physically the circuit is very demanding as there are a lot of corners and you are permanently fighting with the car. Tomorrow a lot will depend on tyre degradation and possible overheating."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Qualifying brought some surprises. In Q1 with 20 cars on the track it was difficult to find a lap without traffic. Both our drivers were only able to get the right time to advance in Q2 on their second try. Also the way from Q2 into Q3 was anything but easy. Positions five to ten were only fractions of a second away from each other. In Q3 we saved our last set of soft tyres for the final run, but this was stopped by Rubens Barrichello's accident. We were one of three teams today that made it with both cars into the top ten. For us it was only the second time this season we managed this. This confirms the positive trend and the work we all put into the new development package."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Our comprehensive development package made us move a step forward. For the second time this year both our cars made it into the final qualifying session. Anyhow we are not satisfied with our qualifying positions, even though both Nick and Robert will move up the grid one place because a driver finishing in front will be penalized. Both drivers had to cancel their crucial final run in Q3 on the softer tyre compound due to Rubens Barrichello's accident. Therefore both of them qualified in the final session only on the harder compound."
Fernando Alonso (6th, 1:49.054): "We start the race in fifth, which is a good position for us. It might be difficult to fight for a podium tomorrow, but for sure finishing in the top five would be our main goal. Our race pace was not fantastic during practice so we need to improve that a little bit for tomorrow, otherwise we might have a defensive race as I will be determined to defend this fifth place."
Romain Grosjean (19th, 1:48.544): "We were having problems with the brakes and the team was trying very hard to solve them, but in the end it was a difficult session. I don't believe that 19th on the grid shows the true pace of the car so I look forward to the race where hopefully I can make some progress. I remain in a positive frame of mind and want to gain some valuable experience from this demanding track."
Bob Bell, Team Principal: "Unfortunately Romain did not have a great qualifying session as he had brake problems which hampered his progress. In Q2, Fernando picked up pace - maybe because the track temperature was falling slightly or perhaps because the circuit was picking up grip. Whatever the reason, the balance of the car certainly improved and Fernando was able to gain time and had more confidence in the car. He did a very good job in Q3 although it's fair to say we benefited from Barrichello's incident, but I think it was a good solid performance considering our expectations prior to qualifying."
Timo Glock (7th, 1:49.180): "I am happy to be back in the top 10 again. I like this track and I feel confident in the car set-up here. The sessions went well generally; particularly in second qualifying when I was straightaway a second faster than I had been in the first session. The car felt really good and it was nice to get through to third qualifying. My lap was okay in that session but I was on used options and they were a bit worn out. I was really looking forward to my last run on new options but the red flag destroyed it. I know I could have improved my lap time and who knows where that would have put me. But in the end I start from sixth so it looks pretty good. I hope we can have a clean first lap then try to finish in the top six. I will be fighting for as many points as possible."
Jarno Trulli (15th, 1:47.413): "The main problem for me was a lack of grip. The track conditions seem like they have improved but we couldn't improve our lap times enough from yesterday. I am not sure why because Timo looked strong but I just had no grip at all. The car didn't feel particularly good so we didn't quite get it right today unfortunately. Anything can happen in the race tomorrow and I will fight as hard as I can but it will be difficult to score points from 15th."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "As expected we are stronger here in Singapore than we were at the last race so it is disappointing not to get both cars into the top 10. Timo did a good job to get through first and second qualifying. In the end we are a bit frustrated that the final session ended early due to the red flag because he didn't have the chance to use his final set of new options so there was an opportunity to qualify even higher. The target for Timo is clearly a strong points finish but the race will be harder for Jarno. We need to analyse the grip problems he had and we will see what we can do with our strategy to recover some positions."
Sebastien Buemi (14th, 1:47.369): "I am quite happy, as the session went smoothly without any mistakes. I got the most I could out of the car and am pleased to have got ahead of Trulli. I'm glad to finally be back in Q2. as it' s been a long time. Now we need to work on a race strategy, make a good start and run the pit stops well."
Jaime Alguersuari (17th, 1:48.340): "We did quite well and we're getting faster. It was quite difficult to do better than that, but I am feeling more comfortable with the track every time I get in the car. This has been the hardest track I have driven apart from Macau. With it being a street circuit, anything could happen tomorrow, so hopefully I can have a good race."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "We had a very difficult Friday and made a major change to the car set-up overnight, which seems to have been a step in the right direction. Sebastien and Jaime also improved their performance. Jaime has got better throughout the weekend on a track that is difficult to learn and Sebastien is back in Q2 after a gap of a few races. We're still not where we want to be, but having made a good step forward from Friday to today, there is still room to make another one for the race, which is likely to be very chaotic, so anything can happen."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:48.204): "Unfortunately, when the red flag came out it was my first run on new tyres. I had previously been on used tyres, so my flying lap wasn't as easy or relaxed as it might have been. But, at the end of the day, it's great to be back qualifying near the front, especially on a street circuit. The car has been very good all weekend and I've been feeling comfortable. It was a shame the red flag came out, but we'll keep pushing tomorrow. Let's see - it's a long race and it will be tough, but we have all that it takes, so I'm looking forward to it."
Mark Webber (4th, 1:48.722): "You never think your first run is going to be for the grid, so I think everyone always leaves a little bit of a margin. I was on scrubbed tyres and was banking on a big lap in my second run. I'm not sure who was on new tyres, but we're fourth so let's see - it could have been a lot worse. My guys have been absolute superstars this weekend, putting the car back together after yesterday, in very tough working conditions for them here. I have a lot of motivation to reward them tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "An exciting qualifying session. It was disappointing that it got red flagged just before the end, as both our guys were on really strong laps and we felt we could lock out the front row today. But, both drivers drove very well throughout all the sessions and second and fourth are good starting places for tomorrow's race, which will be long and tough. The spectacle of seeing the cars driving under the lights again here is fantastic."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "A mixed feeling again today. It's a very good qualifying result, we didn't expect to be as quick as we are, so second and fourth is very good, but I think we were quicker than our final times show. We didn't demonstrate exactly what we can do, due to the red flag interrupting the final runs, but let's see tomorrow. I think we can have a strong race and close the gap to the Brawns here."
Nico Rosberg (3rd, 1:48.348): "It's been a great day as it has been the result of some good work to change and adapt the set-up of the car in practice and even in Q1. Going into qualifying, it all came alive in Q2 and I got a super lap in. Although Q3 was not as easy on heavy fuel loads, I think we are seeing the benefit of a lot of development work that has gone into the car and I am really pleased for the whole team that we have made another step towards a podium finish and we may even be able to fight for a win sometime soon. P3 is a great position to start from tomorrow and I will be on the clean side of the track, which might prove to be important."
Kazuki Nakajima (11th, 1:47.013): "It was frustrating to be P11 and just miss out making it into Q3. The car had more potential if I had been able to find more from the tyre on warm up, but I had quite a few different points on the lap where I was struggling. That said, I think we have a good chance to score some points from where we are tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a fantastic qualifying performance from Nico tonight with his true pace only shown in Q2 because of the red flag in Q3. So I'm really happy for him and expect him to race well tomorrow. Kazuki just missed the cut for Q3, but can race for points tomorrow with a good fuel strategy. We could see from yesterday's practice that the FW31 upgrades were working well, so development is going in the right direction and well done to everybody in the team that has contributed to this progress."
Adrian Sutil (16th, 1:48.231): "As we can see, we are still very quick on the straights and on the high speed circuits such as Spa and Monza, but here it is all about downforce. It's a very similar configuration to Monte Carlo, but about twice as long with twice as many corners and that's why we lost so much over one lap. We have had a problem with the grip level the whole weekend. I did expect us to be a little bit more competitive, but the field is very tight and if you lose out a bit in the traffic suddenly you are at the back. I lost some time on my fastest lap when Giancarlo [Fisichella] was in front of me in the middle sector and I finished 16th. It's going to be difficult but let's see what we can do. It's a long race and anything is possible and we will still be giving it our best."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (20th, 1:48.792): "We knew we would struggle more on this type of circuit compared to the low downforce tracks such as Spa and Monza but we didn't expect it would be this much. We were suffering with a lack of traction and weren't able to find the right balance - Adrian and I seem to have the same problems. My quickest lap was quite clean, perhaps there were a couple of tenths more in it, but to get through to Q2 this time would have been quite difficult. With more fuel on board we are quite competitive but from this point on the grid it will be tough. However at a circuit like this anything can happen and if we have a good pace in the race and a good balance we could still get some points. Street circuits are always a bit crazy so we won't give up just yet."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "After the outstanding performance in Spa and Monza we were expecting more of a challenge this weekend for sure. We feel we have a car that is now amongst the quickest in the field but unfortunately in high downforce trim we are not seeing a reflection of this performance as teams that were behind us in Spa and Monza are ahead of us here. There are however only two extraordinarily high downforce tracks on the calendar - here and Monaco - so we cannot trade this improvement in performance for just one race. We are still looking forward to the Grand Prix, which is sure to be eventful, long and challenging and will try our best to continue our current run of points' scoring finishes. We are however anticipating a better performance at the more traditional tracks of Suzuka and Interlagos, which will be sure to suit us a lot better."
Rubens Barrichello (5th, 1:48.828): "It was an eventful qualifying session for me today but I'm still feeling positive with starting from tenth position on the grid. Considering everything that happened, I feel that it's a pretty good result. I had a problem with the car after Q2 when I hit the kerb too hard and probably damaged the floor as the car wasn't feeling quite right at the end of the session. It was a great lap to get into Q3 as we were struggling for pace and I knew that I had to push regardless of any damage. I was really going for it on my final run in Q3 and unfortunately the car bottomed out and I lost control and ended up bouncing off the wall. It's a shame but the car should be ok and we can look forward to the race tomorrow."
Jenson Button (12th, 1:47.141): "It was a frustrating qualifying session for us today. The car felt pretty good in Q1 and I was the second quickest which was positive. We had a bit of understeer so we made some changes for Q2 but unfortunately it made the car very difficult under braking and I locked the front left tyre up into turn seven which lost me a lot of time. Then with a flat-spotted front tyre, it's impossible to make the time up around here so that was my qualifying over. We'll make the best of it tomorrow of course but starting from twelfth on the grid is going to make it a tough race."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a difficult qualifying session for the team in Singapore this evening. Prior to qualifying, we took the decision to change the gearbox in Rubens' car as this is a heavy duty cycle track for gearboxes and further dyno simulations had shown that keeping the box was too risky. Both drivers progressed comfortably through Q1 then we struggled in Q2 and were not able to get the cars balanced. Rubens put in a good lap at the end to progress with Jenson suffering from understeer throughout the day. We made some significant changes to his car prior to qualifying but were not able to get into the top ten. We expected to be more competitive in Q3 but with Rubens' accident, it's clearly not been a great day. We have to tough it out and see what we can recover tomorrow."