Team reaction after qualifying in Spa (part 2)
Mercedes GP, Toro Rosso, Lotus, Virgin Racing, Sauber & HRT F1
A weather-affected qualifying hour at Spa-Francorchamps today saw Mercedes GP drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg qualify in 11th and 12th places respectively for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. A ten place grid penalty for Michael and a five place penalty for Nico following a gearbox change will be applied to their qualifying positions.
Michael Schumacher: “What a pity as I would have liked to be in the top ten today obviously. I believe that we could have made it but unfortunately I had traffic on my last run so I could not push more at that point. Knowing I have to go back ten positions on the grid anyway makes me hope for mixed weather conditions tomorrow. This would at least bring some movement into the race which could work out in favour or against us. Let’s see what tomorrow afternoon will bring and what we can make out of it.”
Nico Rosberg: “It’s not been an ideal weekend so far and knowing that we have the five place gearbox penalty, we decided to go for more of a rain set-up as it would be our only chance in the race tomorrow. The car was generally lacking grip today but the main problem was that I had traffic on my fastest lap in Q2 with a driver staying in front of me on his in-lap for the last half of the lap. We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings but if it rains, then we are on the right set-up.”
Ross Brawn: “It is obviously a difficult weekend for us with the problems that we have had with Michael being put back ten places and now the gearbox issue with Nico which has lost us five places. We didn’t look too bad in various parts of qualifying today and when we went out at the end of Q2, we had plenty of time for decent runs however we had a problem with a driver who was on his in-lap and holding our drivers up. Michael and Nico ended up missing out on Q3 by fractions of a second due to another driver which is frustrating.”
Norbert Haug: “Both Michael and Nico missed the top ten by about seven-hundredths today. In addition, we have been handicapped here from the outset with Michael´s 10 place and Nico´s five place grid penalty. Let´s hope the typical Spa weather lottery will help us to improve and go forward.”
Toro Rosso Ferrari
Jaime Alguersuari: “Q1 was a nightmare, but it was the same for everyone I guess. We had to come in and switch to intermediate tyres, in very slippery conditions. But it was just enough to get into Q2 and try again in similar conditions. Then later on the slick tyres, I had a strong feeling of confidence from the car, because this weekend the car balance has been quite good as we have worked well over the two days. On my last run, Turns 13 and 14 were still slippery so although I pushed as hard as I could for most of the lap, I backed off a bit at these two points and that’s where I lost all my time, which meant I was not going to make Q3. To be honest, I never expected to be this high up the order, so I hope it rains again tomorrow, which will suit us well.”
Sebastien Buemi: “It was a chaotic qualifying session. In the end, we were quite lucky to go out on a dryer track at the end of Q1, because we were not in Q2 at that stage. But we made it and the circuit continued to improve lap after lap. I think I made my final run a bit too early, as the track was still drying so much, that a slighter later start would have meant a faster circuit. Jaime did a good lap today, so let’s see what we can both do tomorrow.”
Giorgio Ascanelli: “In performance terms this is pretty much what we expected, which means not so different to Hungary. We regret that we did not pip Liuzzi, because I think we should have done. We look a bit better than usual because other drivers made mistakes. I want to emphasise that the team did a very good job, particularly in getting both our cars at the front of the queue to leave the pit lane for the restart in Q1. During Q1, on intermediates, we could see that times would be better on slicks as there was no rain forecast and the clouds were moving away, which is why we brought the drivers back to the pits, rather than let them close their laps. Jaime has done a good job over the two days, keeping calm, even if he told us on the radio this afternoon that he could have taken more risks. However, I am pleased all the same.”
Lotus Racing CEO Riad Asmat and the Malaysian flag brought a touch of luck to the team today at the Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying session as Heikki Kovalainen made it through to his second appearance of the season in Q2, and finished the session 16th. Jarno Trulli just missed out on Q2 after yellow flags at the end of an action packed Q1 forced him to back off, robbing him of the chance of joining his team-mate in the afternoon’s second session. With the Mercedes cars of both Schumacher and Rosberg having to take grid penalties, and Timo Glock’s Virgin being dropped five places after the session, the Lotus Racing cars will provisionally line up 14th and 15th, and with the T127s carrying the Malaysian flag on the engine covers at Spa to celebrate Malaysian Independence Day on 31st August, the team are looking forward to putting in a performance tomorrow to give all their fans in Malaysia and around the world something to cheer for in the unpredictable Belgian conditions.
Heikki Kovalainen: “It was a great qualifying for us today, the second time we made it into Q2 like we did in Malaysia. It’s a shame Jarno didn’t make it through as well, and I was just ahead of him, but the team did a great job today and they should all be very pleased. We made the right calls on tyres in both sessions and in the second session it was really about fighting with Timo, and we nailed him so we achieved what we set out to do today. I think we should be in pretty good shape tomorrow against our direct competitors, and those just ahead, as it looks like the lower downforce circuits suit us, so I hope we have mixed conditions tomorrow and can give it our best shot.”
Jarno Trulli: “I’m obviously disappointed that I didn’t make it into Q2, but congratulations to Heikki and the team for putting in such a good performance. It was a pretty crazy session, and it started badly for me when di Grassi lost his car - I was quicker than him, and I couldn’t avoid going over him. If he had let me by in the first place when I was much quicker, then it wouldn’t have happened. It’s difficult in changeable conditions, everyone gets surprised, but we’re still in a pretty good position tomorrow, so we’ll do our best to reward the fans.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “In the end it was a very good session for us today. It’s disappointing we didn’t get Jarno into Q2 as well, but the yellow flags at the end of his final run held him up, otherwise I’m sure he’d have joined Heikki in Q2. Heikki did a great job in spite of the conditions, and he managed to get the best out the car. We’ll be in our best starting positions tomorrow and we’re all looking forward to a good strong race. We’re clearly the quickest of the new boys, and tomorrow will be all about getting Jarno up with Heikki, getting both cars across the finish line, and making good on the performance we’ve put in today.”
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: “I’m absolutely delighted, for the whole team, and for everyone who supports us around the world. We managed to get into Q2 for the second time in our first season which is pretty fantastic by any measure. It’s a shame Jarno didn’t get in as well, but that’s what happens in racing, and this is a really good start after the summer break. It’s important to remember that we’re a small team, with limited resources, and I think that what we have achieved today, and will continue to achieve, is the stuff dreams are made of.
“I’m lucky enough that Tony deputised me for this weekend in place of him who unfortunately can’t be here, but I think Tony, Din and Nasa, our Deputy Team Principals, all wish they were here - that’s for sure! They’ve all sent a load of messages, and they’re delighted with how we performed today. Tony’s passed on his congratulations to everyone and has said that the guys have done a great job today. He, Din and Nasa are here in spirit without a doubt – and we wouldn’t be here in Spa without them.
“To top it all, it’s the Malaysian Independence day on the 31st, so it’s just perfect. For everyone in Malaysia Hari Merdeka is a really important day, and I’m just really proud to see our cars carry the flag today, and to have done so well.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “This is a very special day for me. It’s funny how things pan out. By me not being there Riad deputised for me and what a story! Riad has gone from a very special assistant for many years to a CEO, and now he’s on the pitwall commanding and directing. That is Lotus Racing. We make the unbelievable believable, and we show that you have to keep dreaming. Whatever happens tomorrow, it doesn’t really matter. What matters today is Riad, Mike, Heikki, Jarno and the whole team who pulled out an amazing performance. Well done to all.”
The mechanics and engineers at Virgin Racing put in incredible effort overnight to have Timo’s car ready for this morning’s practice session following damage incurred in an ‘off’ yesterday, and were rewarded by seeing him go through into Q2 for the second time this year.
In the earlier practice session, the weather was still a key factor, starting dry and finishing with a rain shower. Both cars ran well and were able to gain useful dry-running data. For qualifying, the track looked to be dry despite a lunchtime shower, but proved to be deceptively slippery, resulting in an early red flag. Timo had already set a good time on the Option tyre by this time, but Lucas was unlucky enough to be hit by Jarno Trulli’s Lotus, which effectively ruined his qualifying session. A further rain shower meant that intermediate tyres were the way to go, and Timo’s early lap remained good enough to go through into Q2.
In Q2, the sun was shining and the track was drying, setting the scene for a classic Spa qualifying where crossing the line last could result in glory, but the dice weren’t loaded in Timo’s favour and he finished the session 17th. Unfortunately Timo was also judged to have held up Yamamoto on a timed lap and received a five place grid penalty, so Timo will start the race 20th on the grid, with Lucas 23rd.
Timo Glock: “A good qualifying today in which we made it through to Q2 and got the opportunity to show a little more of the team’s potential and also from my side too. The team worked incredibly hard to build an entire new car overnight following my accident yesterday. We always knew this would be a weekend with opportunities for the team because of the changing weather and to have such a good qualifying in such an unpredictable situation off the back of such a big task to get the car ready is a great reward for them. I was quite happy with my performance, not making any mistakes in these conditions and to get the best out of the car in the situation. The session was very chaotic having to switch tyres as the conditions changed and tomorrow promises more of the same. It could be a very eventful race for the teams and the fans and I hope we can make the most of that.”
Lucas di Grassi: “A disappointing qualifying session for me because the conditions were perfect for our set-up. On the first time lap Trulli hit me and the damage was so great we had to stop. Tomorrow looks like rain again so I’m looking forward to an interesting race.”
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: “An exciting and eventful session. Last night, we took the decision to gamble on the race weather being wet and have today run a high downforce aero condition on both cars that is some way from the fastest configuration from this circuit when it is dry. Timo’s crew did a fantastic job by working all night to get his car ready for free practice today and the shower before qualifying made the track very tricky. Lucas was very unlucky to get hit by Jarno when he slowed down to avoid a spinning car - sadly the impact broke his oil cooler and ended what could have been a promising session through no fault of his own. Timo managed to put a good lap together at the beginning of Q1 which showed what is possible in tricky conditions, and he managed to hang on to a Q2 spot for the second time this year. As Q2 ended up being relatively dry, we weren’t expecting to progress much and therefore decided not to change tyres at the end of the session. So we’ll fix Lucas’s car tonight and keep our fingers crossed for some more weather madness tomorrow!”
In the qualifying weather lottery for the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps neither driver got any further than Q1. Kamui Kobayashi qualified 19th after he had gone into a gravel trap while on slicks. Pedro de la Rosa, also on dry tyres, ended up 22nd after crashing into a barrier.
Kamui Kobayashi: “It’s a real shame. At the beginning of Q1 when it was dry the car was good, but after the session had been red flagged there wasn’t enough time to put in a timed lap before the rain set in. That was the same for everybody. When the rain stopped we went out first on intermediate tyres and then we made a mistake when we changed to slicks. To be on the safe side we should have continued with intermediates. The first corners were fine on the soft option tyres, but before the hairpin, turn eight, the track was much wetter than I expected and I went into the gravel trap. I was able to get out and the car was not damaged, but obviously the session was over.”
Pedro de la Rosa: “I am absolutely disappointed with this result. The car was really good and in terms of performance I’m sure we were in a position to fight for Q3. After the short rain shower it was very difficult to judge the conditions on the different parts of that seven kilometers circuit. The track was drying and it was a problem to know what you would find in which corner. We opted for the wrong tyre choice, as it was definitely too optimistic to go for slicks, and I made a mistake when I lost the rear end of the car before turn 14. I overestimated the track conditions there and crashed into the barrier. It is a terrible result.”
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: “In the first three practice sessions things looked very good for us and we had reasons to be optimistic, but then in qualifying both drivers went off on slicks on their out laps. It’s a shame!”
James Key, Technical Director: “Obviously for us a very disappointing qualifying, but equally it was a very difficult session. In the beginning we knew there was rain coming, so we went out early with the rest of the pack. It was really just a case of putting in a banker, but then the red flag stopped it. In the end with the drying track we decided to go out on the intermediate tyres and do three timed laps. The track was drying very quickly, and other cars went on dry tyres, so we decided also to change to slicks. But the track conditions were tricky and both our drivers had an off on their out laps, which stopped them from completing these laps. It’s a shame, but a situation like this is always difficult to judge. Now we have to go back and reflect on what happened and make sure next time we do better. Tomorrow we just have to see how we can best recover from the situation.”
HRT F1 Cosworth
It was a positive day for Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team as both drivers, Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto, were able to achieve their best results of the season in a qualifying session, where the team chose the right strategy at the right time. The Brazilian is going to start the race in 18th position (2.03.612) and the Japanese in 19th (2.03.941). The rain made it a very tricky and challenging session. Before, the third practice session started under dry conditions and the drivers of the Spanish team clocked their fastest lap times of 1.51.133 for Bruno Senna (20th) and 1.52.001 for Sakon Yamamoto (24th).
Dr Colin Kolles, Team Principal: “It was a thrilling qualifying and we were a bit unlucky not to get into the second part of the qualifying. Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna achieved their best qualifying results this season and before the first rain showers, they were positioned 13th and 18th respectively. The team was prepared very well for the different conditions and we went out on the right tyres at the right time. We got good weather updates and we could inform the drivers very well about the possible rain and wet kerbs on the circuit. We are looking forward to another exciting race tomorrow and we are hoping for some rain again.”
Sakon Yamamoto: “I am happy to have done my best qualifying result of the season today. We tried to set a lap time with dry tyres because we expected rain coming quickly, so we went out. As expected, during the dry tyre run the rain came and it was really difficult to manage it. Then, we set quite a good position for going into Q2. I think all of us prayed for the rain, but unfortunately it stopped, so we decided to go on intermediate tyres again. As I was blocked by another car on my first lap on the intermediates and maybe I could have done a better time. But there are going to be similar conditions tomorrow, so we will try to do our best and do a good race.”
Bruno Senna: “Today was a good day to experience what a rain shower could do to the circuit. One part of the track was dry and the other one was wet. So, it was a bit of a difficult situation and a gamble to choose which tyres to use. Normally, you stay out with the dry tyres, but it’s easy to go crash with cold tyres. We decided to go on intermediates and we did our fastest lap with these. All in all, I achieved my best qualifying result today and hopefully, there are some rain showers again tomorrow, which can bring some surprises.”