Team reaction after qualifying in Istanbul (part 1)

Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Renault, Ferrari & Sauber

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By Franck D.

29 May 2010 - 15:30
Team reaction after qualifying in (...)

Red Bull Renault

Mark Webber: “Today went well. We had a problem during practice this morning so I went out late for the first prime run. It meant I was therefore a little on the back foot going into qualifying, which wasn’t ideal preparation, but we refocused and got ready. Some new parts were bolted on to the rear of my car about four minutes before went out for Q1, which was a great effort by the guys to get them on in time. It’s a great position to start tomorrow’s race, but each event is unique and has it own challenges. We know the tyres get a hard time round here, so it should be an interesting race – I’m looking forward to it.”

Sebastian Vettel: “Q1 and Q2 were very smooth; I was happy with the car and there were no problems. In Q3, the first lap was brilliant up to Turn 12, then under braking I slightly locked the front which was no issue, but it was very weird as the inside front just kept locking and never came back. Going into Turn 13 I was turning to the right and the wheels started turning again and then the same thing going into Turn 14. I locked the inside wheel very easily, the car didn’t seem to stop, so I lost time. On the second run I got confirmation in the first turn there was a problem, as I hit the brakes and went straight - I lost the ability to stop the car and the inside wheel didn’t do what it was supposed to. In Q1 and Q2 we were on top of the game, but in Q3 we were not, so it’s quite frustrating. All weekend I have felt very good, particularly today. Third is still a good position; I’m on the clean side of the grid tomorrow and it’s a long race. It’s difficult to make up places now with the new regulations, but we’ll see what we can do.”

Christian Horner: “Another great performance by Mark today for his third consecutive pole and the team’s seventh of the year, which is a great achievement. It was difficult for Sebastian who, having been the quickest car during Q1 and Q2, experienced a car problem in the last part of qualifying. We need to understand what it was, as it cost him quite a bit of time. However to salvage third place is still excellent. I also have to say congratulations to Cengiz, one of our drivers, who delivered some last minute parts to Mark Webber’s car just in time for the start of the session. So, three very fast drivers today.”

Fabrice Lom (Renault): “Another impressive performance from Mark, who claimed his third pole in a row with the same engine – so we are really happy with our three pole engine! Our focus tomorrow is now to
make it a three-win engine. It was a shame for Sebastian who I think had the opportunity to claim pole position also today. Engine-wise, everything went smoothly, much better than yesterday when we had an engine failure on Mark’s car. It wasn’t a worrying one, but it’s never good to have a failure during a race weekend, so we apologise to Mark for that. Let’s hope we have a smooth day again tomorrow.”

McLaren Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: “In terms of finding a good balance and getting a clear lap, today was one of the best qualifying sessions I’ve had all year. My lap was as close to perfect as I could possibly get it.

“But we’re still nearly four tenths down in the middle sector. Compared with Barcelona, I don’t think we’ve made a huge step, but we’re making small steps forward to close the gap to the front.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to do everything I can to get a sensible start, get round the first corner and then challenge Mark [Webber], if I can. But I’m on the dirtier side of the track, so that may make it a bit harder for me. And the Red Bulls still have a performance advantage over us, even if it doesn’t show from today’s times. But we’re going to catch them – and then, hopefully, you’ll see Jenson and me up there, with the Red Bulls trying to split us.

“We’ve got to keep pushing; the guys back at the factory are doing an incredible job, even though they’re under immense pressure. We all want to win, we’re taking nothing for granted, and we’re edging closer all the time. I really do believe we’re the best team out there, and, once we make that next step, I’m sure we can move ahead of everyone. But until then all we can do is be as close as we can and apply maximum pressure. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing tomorrow.”

Jenson Button: “Fourth is not too bad, but the final run was a bit frustrating: being the last car on the circuit can be a good thing, because it means you have the cleanest track, but there’s obviously more chance of somebody going off, and that’s what happened with Michael [Schumacher], who was ahead of me on my final lap. And when there’s a yellow flag, you’ve obviously got to back out of it.

“So I just came straight back to the pits, because my final run clearly wasn’t going to be any quicker because of that. The lap wasn’t perfect, but it’s still pretty good to be fourth. We’re on the dirty side of the track, but we’ll see what we can do from there.

“The only performance issue I’ve really had all weekend is through Turn Eight – I was losing three tenths to Lewis there because we were running the car too low. That was my fault – I wanted to run the car low for the rest of the circuit – but it’s just a little bit too low through Turn Eight. Obviously, the car will be heavier at the start of the race tomorrow, but we’ll be going slower, so it won’t be pushed onto the track as much. We’ve got to hope that will help.

“Nevertheless, we seem to be closer to the Red Bulls than I expected this weekend, so that’s a positive, and I reckon we can challenge them in the race.”

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, McLaren Mercedes : “Both our drivers have performed really well so far this weekend, yesterday as well as today. They’ve quietly got on with the job in hand, and today they both drove excellent qualifying laps despite the fact that our cars lacked a little bit of pace in the all-important Turn Eight compared with the Red Bulls.

“Lewis’s lap, which split the Red Bulls to land him a front-row grid slot for tomorrow’s race, was particularly satisfying. But Jenson, too, whose final qualifying run was compromised by the deployment of yellow flags, is also in a very strong position. Both he and Lewis are very combative racers who know how to make up positions, and we think our car will have good race pace tomorrow. As a result, I think the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix could present a very exciting spectacle for the fans.”

Mercedes GP

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg will share the third row of the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on Sunday after qualifying their MGP W01 cars in fifth and sixth places respectively today.

With temperatures slightly cooler than for the practice sessions on Friday, the Mercedes GP pair progressed easily through Q1 with just one run each on the harder prime tyres. An initial run on the prime and a second run on the option tyres saw Nico and Michael through Q2 in fourth and tenth positions.

Both drivers had two sets of new option tyres saved for Q3 and set their fastest times on the first of their two three-lap runs. Michael ran wide on the exit of turn eight on his second run and ended the session in the gravel.

Michael Schumacher: “I am quite happy with my qualifying today and I really think that we have made a step forward. If you consider that this is a track which is aerodynamically demanding, you can clearly say the hard work of our guys paid off and I would really say thank you to them. What happened in turn eight was that it was my last go, the fast lap before was a good one, so obviously you try to push even more, especially as on this lap you can win time. I went out a bit wide and off it went. In my view, the side I am starting from tomorrow is an advantage as it is much cleaner. I have tried practice starts from both sides and felt my side was the better one. As for tomorrow’s race, I will certainly try to have a good start and try to achieve the best result possible.”

Nico Rosberg: “It was a decent performance today and sixth place gives us a good opportunity for the race and we will aim to move up the field from there. I would have liked to have been a little further ahead of course. The car is feeling reasonable this weekend and although there is a very narrow set-up window, we have pretty much got there. It’s clear that we have made some progress with our aero upgrades and everyone at the factory has done a good job, so thanks for all their hard work. I am on the dirty side of the grid for the race tomorrow but it should have cleaned up now and it’s only a short run to the first corner. If I can have a good start and first lap, then we have the potential for a strong race.”

Ross Brawn: “A good qualifying performance from the team today after a lot of hard work here at the track and back at the factory on the latest developments for our car. Michael and Nico have been very evenly matched throughout the weekend and have worked well together to ensure that we have been able to get the new parts functioning and extract the maximum performance. Fifth and sixth positions on the grid gives us the potential to have a strong race tomorrow and we look forward to seeing what Nico and Michael can achieve. We’ve seen just how challenging the Istanbul Park track can be with turn eight catching out many drivers over the course of the day and Michael was no exception but thankfully there is no damage done.”

Norbert Haug: "That was a step in the right direction with Michael achieving P5, less than a tenth of a second behind P3, and Nico posting the sixth fastest time, less than two-tenths behind P3. Having said that, we are very aware that we are still almost six-tenths behind the superb pole time of Mark Webber and Red Bull Racing. However our speed compared to the front looks better than at the last ‘normal’ race track that we competed on in Barcelona. The step forward since then has only been possible through hard work, dedication and our aggressive development process. Thank you and well done to everybody in our team. We are not yet where we want to be but we are heading in the right direction.”

Renault

Robert Kubica: I’m pretty happy with my qualifying session because seventh position is about what we were expecting after free practice. The only issue I had was with the soft tyres because I didn’t feel totally comfortable on them today and so I couldn’t find those final few tenths that I needed to be higher up the grid. However, my lap in Q3 was good and we can’t be too disappointed with this result. It’s also nice to see Vitaly up there with me in ninth and I think we will have strong race pace tomorrow, which means we should be able to score some good points.

Vitaly Petrov: It feels really good to have made it into Q3 and to be starting the race from ninth. So far it has been a really smooth weekend for me with no problems and my engineers and mechanics have done an excellent job to give me a car that I feel really happy with. The car is easy to drive and we have managed to improve the performance with each session, so I knew that we had a good chance to be in top ten today. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to a close fight with the cars around me and hopefully scoring some more points for the team.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: To see both cars make it through to the top ten is an excellent result for the team and puts us in a good position for the race tomorrow. Both cars have run perfectly all weekend and the developments we have brought to this race have continued to add good performance to the car. Robert’s seventh place continues his strong run of qualifying performances and it’s great to see Vitaly join him in Q3 for the first time. He has been close to Robert’s pace all weekend and has not put a foot wrong in any of the sessions. We know that the car has good race pace here so we are hopeful of seeing both cars bring home points tomorrow.

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: Overall it has been an excellent day: the drivers are happy with their cars and both free practice and qualifying have been trouble-free sessions for us. One of the big decisions today was to determine which would be the best tyre for qualifying because it was very close between the soft and the hard compound. In the end the soft was slightly quicker and so that’s the one we concentrated on for Q3. Robert put in a good lap to qualify seventh and it’s great to see Vitaly reach Q3 for the first time and qualify in ninth place. For the race tomorrow we are targeting good points finishes with both cars.

Ferrari

A disappointing result for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix. Felipe Massa was the only driver to get through to the final part of the session, but could do no better than eighth.
Fernando Alonso was eliminated at the end of Q2, having set the twelfth fastest time.

Stefano Domenicali: “These are certainly not the positions from which we would have liked to start the eight hundredth Grand Prix in the history of the Scuderia, but we have to be honest and admit that today, our performance did not live up to our expectations. We have to react immediately, starting from tomorrow’s race, when we will try to bring home as many points as possible. Then we must accelerate the development of our car to be competitive at every type of circuit. Today, Felipe did the maximum, using all the potential available from his car and the tyres. Fernando did not have a perfect Q2 and missed the cut for the final part of qualifying: when the gaps are so close, it takes very little to be in or out.”

Felipe Massa: “We were slower than our main rivals, so we will have to work very hard to get back to fighting for the top places and there can be no doubt about that. Even if this is a track I like very much, today I could not do any better than eighth place. The team and I cannot be pleased about it, but we have to react calmly and analyse the reasons that have led to this situation. Now we will concentrate on tomorrow’s race: it will be tough but we will try and do our very best.”

Fernando Alonso: “Nothing strange happened: twelfth place is what we deserve from what we have seen today. I did not have enough speed and, when there are nine drivers within half a second, as happened today in Q2, it takes an instant to be either fourth or twelfth and in my case it was the latter. I don’t think I could have done better today: I did practically the same time three times. Tomorrow will be tough and we will be racing defensively, but we will try and get the best result possible. I don’t think today’s weather, with slightly lower temperatures, had an influence on this result. Already in Q1, we realised we were not competitive at the highest level and that it would be difficult to get into Q3. The car balance is okay, as it was yesterday when we were quicker.”

Chris Dyer: “It was a very frustrating qualifying for us: we definitely expected a better result than this. The F10 was not quick enough to be competitive in qualifying, while, at least from what we could see yesterday, over a distance, the situation seems to be better. Tomorrow, we face an uphill race, but we must not take anything for granted and try to bring both cars home in the points. Unfortunately, both drivers will start from the dirty side of the track, which is a definite disadvantage. Felipe did a great job, managing to get into Q3 and getting every last possible fraction of performance out of the car. Fernando was right on the cut after his first run in Q2 and at the start of his second, he did not get a perfect lap and then on the next lap, the tyres were no longer at their best.”

Sauber Ferrari

With one car in the top ten and the other very close, the team’s expectations were realised in qualifying. In Istanbul the team wanted to continue the positive trend shown at the Spanish Grand Prix three weeks ago, and this is what it was able to do. Kamui Kobayashi was ninth in Q2. His lap in Q3 was compromised because he had no new option tyres left. Pedro de la Rosa wasn’t totally happy with his final run in Q2 and qualified 13th.

Kamui Kobayashi: "I’m really happy to be in Q3 for the third time. Especially after Monaco, this is very important for the team. We are back on the pace we had in Barcelona. For me driving here was much better on Saturday than on Friday, as set-up changes as well as conditions played a role. In Q3 I could not fight because we hadn’t a fresh set of option tyres left, as we had already used them all. However, we kept working hard and apparently it pays off."

Pedro de la Rosa: "Overall we have made progress. The balance of the car in general was very good. It was actually best on the harder Prime tyres, therefore I could not get the extra grip out of the softer Option compound. My last lap, I have to say, wasn’t brilliant. I lost some time in the final sector. I believe we have quite a consistent car for the race, because our long runs in free practice were good. Also I regard it as an advantage to have a grid position on the clean side of the track, as with all the dust here this really makes a difference."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Looking at our performance, it’s obvious we are back on track. This is a great achievement for the drivers and the team. Kamui’s P9 in Q2 in particular is a fantastic result. Looking at who was behind him in Q2, he can really be proud of his lap. Congratulations to everybody in the team."

James Key, Technical Director: "That was a good day for the team. We made some good progress in the areas we knew we needed to improve from yesterday, which seemed to work pretty well. In the morning session Pedro was much happier with the balance of his car, and that was reflected in the lap times. We still had some work to do with Kamui’s car, however, we did a few changes between FP3 and qualifying which also paid off. It’s great to be back in Q3 which is what we hoped for. Kamui did a great job, as he put in an excellent lap and really picked up his pace in qualifying. It was also a very good session from Pedro, but it was a great shame he couldn’t make it to Q3, because by rights he could have been there. He had a set of new options left, which sadly Kamui didn’t, so his lap was compromised. But both drivers showed a strong performance, and we can look forward to a good race tomorrow."

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