Qualifying - Austria GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

3 July 2021 - 19:03
Qualifying - Austria GP 2021 - Team (...)

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin qualified 19th and 20th, respectively, for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, Round 9 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Red Bull Ring.

Mazepin and Schumacher had three new sets of Pirelli’s P Zero Red soft tires at their disposal in Q1 – hosted under a blistering Austrian sun. Lap times dropped throughout the opening 18-minute session with Schumacher netting a 1:06.127 and a 1:05.621 on his first two sets of rubber. His third and final set delivered a 1:05.427 to place the German 19th at the checkered. Mazepin clocked a 1:07.106 to open his account before shaving nearly a second off on his second attempt with a 1:06.282 tour. With his final set of fresh softs bolted on the Russian improved again with a best lap of 1:05.951 for 20th overall.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen secured a third straight pole position – the fourth of the season for the Dutchman, and the seventh overall in his Formula 1 career. Verstappen’s flying Q3 lap of 1:03.720 beat first-time front-row qualifier Lando Norris of McLaren by .048 of a second.

Nikita Mazepin

“It was quite clean. I’m happy with my improvement with every chance I had on the tires, but I didn’t feel comfortable in the car. The rear part of the car was stepping out and snapping mid-corner in those high-speed corners. I was on the edge let’s say.”

Mick Schumacher

“It was better than last week, that’s for sure. We were closer to the cars ahead of us, which is always a positive. We knew our qualifying performance might lack a bit but still, I think I managed to extract the most out of the car, so I’m quite happy about that.”

Günther Steiner

“Qualifying here in Austria over two weeks, I would say we’ve made progress. The distance to the people in front of us has reduced since last week so we can see progress and that’s the only thing we can do at the moment. Hopefully tomorrow there is a surprise during the race – like rain – then maybe there is something there for us. You never know.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team faced frustration in qualifying for tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fourteenth and Esteban Ocon seventeenth on a challenging Saturday.

Fernando looked set to progress to Q3 for the fourth consecutive race but an unfortunate incident in Q2 meant the Spaniard was knocked out in fourteenth place. On his second push lap, Fernando was up on his best time but was blocked by Sebastian Vettel at Turn 10, the final corner, and had to abort his lap. Prior to that, Fernando comfortably progressed through Q1 on one set of tyres with his lap-time good enough for third place in the session.

Esteban will line-up in the identical grid slot to last weekend after not progressing out of Q1. His lap-time, a 1min 05.051secs, was narrowly short of the cut-off.

Esteban Ocon

“Our pace hasn’t improved this weekend and, unfortunately, we’re back in the same spot. We tried some different things this week but we’re still lacking something. I felt like I had a good lap today, so, at the moment, there aren’t many answers, but we’ll keep thinking and keep finding solutions. I’ll focus on doing the best possible job and help the team move forward. I’ll race as hard as I can tomorrow to get some positions back and we will not give up.”

Fernando Alonso

“Today we lost an opportunity to be in a better position than last week on the starting grid, perhaps P5 or P6. It was an unfortunate situation with Seb [Vettel], which his team should have managed better. It’s not Seb’s fault and, as drivers, we’re relying on our engineers to communicate things that are happening on track. It’s disappointing as we had the potential today. The car felt really good and probably the best it’s felt all season and it’s frustrating not to have the opportunity to reach Q3 with two new sets of tyres. Starting fourteenth tomorrow means the race will be more challenging but we’ll still do our best to recover something.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It’s been a very disappointing qualifying today with both cars not in the starting position that we were targeting. Through no fault of our own, we weren’t able to see Fernando’s full potential with the incident with Vettel ending his chance of reaching Q3. It’s disappointing as he went through Q1 on one set of tyres and could have been into Q3 and in a much stronger position for the race. Esteban did all he could, and we’ll keep learning to better understand how we can improve his situation. We have free tyre choice with both cars for the race, and we’ll try and find the best strategy for tomorrow. We’ll push as much as we can to recover something and improve from this position.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“It feels like every weekend we’re Qualifying in a similar position and I’m really happy with that, sixth is another strong performance for us, so today is a good day. I haven’t been as comfortable in the car this weekend for some reason, so going into Quali we had a bit of an unknown, which is why I’m really pleased we managed to make it work this afternoon. We’re the first cars starting on Softs tomorrow, so strategy will definitely be key in the race. We’ve shown that the car has the pace though, so I’m feeling confident.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“I’m really happy with today’s performance, it’s my best Qualifying so far. I want to say a big thank you to the team, who have maintained the pace from last week and managed to put it all together when it counted the most. My final lap was pretty good, even though I didn’t get a slip stream, so I’ve got to be pleased with that. It’s been really helpful for my learning to be here in Austria for two races in a row, it’s allowed me to build up my confidence and I think that shows in my performance today. Tomorrow is key, I don’t know what the conditions will be like during the race, but tyre management will be crucial to scoring points, which is what I’m aiming for.”

Claudio Balestri (Chief Engineer – Vehicle Performance)

“Today was a busy day. Track temperatures were very different, compared to Friday, so we had to take this into consideration when setting up our cars. In the morning session, we continued to test the new tyre for this event and then we focused our attention on Qualifying preparation. At the end of FP3 we were not fully satisfied, as the balance was not really optimised, especially for the softer compound at this race. We made some adjustments to the car ahead of Qualifying and it paid off, with both cars making it through to Q3. The session was very tricky, with other teams opting for a different tyre strategy and using the Mediums in the later stages, but we wanted to maximise our opportunity to enter Q3 and in the end it worked well. We now switch our focus to the race and will continue to keep an eye on the weather, as we review the data this evening.”

Williams F1

 George Russell qualified 9th and Nicholas Latifi 18th for the Austrian Grand Prix
 George achieved a career-best qualifying for the team, posting a quickest time of 1:04.591 in the Q3 session
 Nicholas set his fastest time on his second flying lap of the Q1 session, posting a 1:05.195

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

We thought that bettering our qualifying result of last week might be difficult, especially given how tricky it can be on this short track. However, George – aided by the entire team – produced an excellent performance to not only make it to Q3, but to do so on the Medium tyre. There is still a long way to go this weekend, but we can afford a moment of contentment before we move on to the serious business of the race tomorrow.

Having looked at some different set-up directions yesterday, Nicholas settled on a good compromise for today and, but for some traffic, was looking strong in FP3. He completed an aggressive strategy in Q1, and his first run was strong. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite track the pace progression that George found and when the gaps are so small, those fine margins are crucial. He starts the race from 18th place but is in a good position to attack the cars ahead.

George Russell

Qualifying was pretty special; we usually do well on Saturdays but that was on another level. I had a lot of confidence in the car, which really helped when it came to nailing my Q3 lap with only one shot. P9 in any circumstances is a great place to be, but starting on the mediums with a few cars ahead on the soft tyres puts us in a strong position for the race and hopefully gives us a real advantage when it comes to making strategy decisions. I’m really pleased for the whole team; we’ve managed to keep the momentum going and this is thoroughly deserved after the struggles of last Sunday. I’m very excited for tomorrow.

Nicholas Latifi

It was a different challenge this weekend for everybody with softer tyres, but I am struggling to get the balance right this weekend and the car dialled in. The first run wasn’t so bad, but the second run I made a mistake in the hairpin of turn three and missed the corner. I got it wrong this time and lost so much time as a result, so obviously very frustrated.

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“We can certainly aim for points tomorrow and I am happy with our approach to start on the Soft tyres. They will not last as long as the Mediums or Hards, but it will be a fast tyre so let’s wait and see what we can do tomorrow. We made some small improvements across all the sessions and the car has been better balanced today. We have been competitive all weekend and it is the first time this year that both cars have been in Q3. If we can run in some clean air tomorrow, we will be able to show some decent race pace. It is a shame that Fernando [Alonso] had his lap impacted during Q2. All the drivers agreed yesterday to slow down on the straights between Turns Eight and Nine, which I did, but other drivers jumped the queue, then slowed down in the final corners, which is not allowed. That backed me up as well. It is a strange situation and something that is really difficult to avoid. I am sorry for Fernando because there is nothing he could have done.”

Lance Stroll

“We can be happy with qualifying today because starting inside the top 10 gives us a good shot at points tomorrow. In hindsight, I think we could potentially have started a little bit higher up. The car felt good in Q2 and the laps came together nicely, but it was a little bit more tricky to put clean laps together during Q3. We could see today that teams were considering both the Soft and Medium tyres in qualifying, so the compounds could be quite close to each other. That is something for us to go away and think about for tomorrow because strategy could be more important with the softer tyre compounds this time out. We will go do our homework and come back tomorrow to fight for points.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“Today, at the Red Bull Ring, in the ninth qualifying session of this year’s World Championship, we were delighted to see both our drivers get into Q3 – for the first time this season. In so doing, Sebastian and Lance out-qualified both Ferraris – a pretty satisfying performance, and one that very clearly shows the progress we are making. Sebastian was called to the stewards after the session, alleged to have impeded [Fernando] Alonso, but, whatever the outcome of that inquiry, we have shown that we have strong pace and we are therefore in good shape to score points with both cars tomorrow.”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN extended its run of Q2 appearances as Antonio Giovinazzi qualified in P15 for the Austrian Grand Prix, with team-mate Kimi Räikkönen a position behind him in 16th. It’s a result that belies the strong pace shown in the practice sessions earlier this weekend, but one that will allow the team to fight for points in tomorrow’s race.

After being well into the top ten earlier in the day, with Antonio in P5 in the final practice session, expectations were high and pace seemed to be on our side. This was confirmed in Q1, with Antonio confirming his form to set the seventh fastest time to comfortably make it to Q2. Kimi, on the other hand, set a good lap on his first attempt but couldn’t replicate the same feeling with the car in the second part of the session, ending up just 0.03s away from a spot in Q2, in 16th.

In the second session, Q2, Antonio set the 15th fastest time in his first attempt; a second, quicker attempt was unfortunately cancelled due to a track limits infraction.

The result is short of expectations but with a strong race pace displayed around the Red Bull Ring last Sunday and promising results in the practice sessions, the team enters the race knowing we can be in the fight for a place in the top ten.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“Given how strong we looked in the practice sessions so far this weekend, to line up in 15th and 16th is well short of what we were expecting: when margins are so small, however, this is what happens when we can’t extract 100% from what we have. Our focus is completely on tomorrow’s race now: we know we can be really competitive in the race, especially with what we have shown last week, so we will try to make up as much ground as we can in the early stages and then make our pace work for us. We came within touching distance of the points last week and we can go better this time around.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“I had a good feeling and the car felt quite good in the first run, but when it came to the second set, I just had no front end in the first two corners. I don’t know what caused it as our lap preparation had been as good as always, but I ended up a couple of tenths down after the first corners and that was my lap pretty much done. I managed to catch up a little in the rest of the lap but the damage was done. We had a good recovery in the race here last week, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“After such a strong weekend so far, to be 15th is disappointing. I really struggled at the beginning of our push laps, so we need to understand better what happened. We feel we had the pace to go to Q3, but we couldn’t put it together. We’ll see what we can get out of the race, our long run pace was good and we were strong last week on the compounds we will use tomorrow, so we can fight our way to the top ten.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“Q1 and Q2 were very good and comfortable but I was not entirely happy in Q3 as my laps weren’t amazing. I’m of course happy to be on pole, especially at the Red Bull Ring again, and having three poles in a row is great for the Team. But I cannot be entirely happy as I always want to be perfect and I always want to analyse what went well and what went wrong. Maybe that is how I grew up but I also believe that is how you keep improving. Now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow as we have a good race car and of course with Checo being third as well it is great for the Team and hopefully we can push together and score a lot of points. It was also an amazing lap by Lando and they have been quite close this weekend but I don’t expect them to be our main rivals in the race tomorrow. I’m very pleased with the whole package, the car and engine together have been working so well over the last few races, so we have good confidence for tomorrow but for sure it’s never easy and it’s softer compounds compared to last week so it will be tough to manage those in the race and we still have strong competition. It was also amazing to see the orange army back in the grandstands. It has been a long time and they are so happy to be here cheering us on which I love to see.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“I’m happy, it’s a very good result for the Team here at our home track in Austria. Max and I are in a good starting position and hopefully we can get a good start off the line tomorrow, that will be critical. Overall, it’s been a really hard weekend up until now, we’ve been chasing a lot of balance, exploring the car in all areas and just chipping away at it in every single run. I’m starting on the mediums but it’s going to be a race where one or two pit stops is unknown, no one has had enough of a long run yet so it’s hard to tell. In the end we got a good lap today and it didn’t come easy, anything can happen tomorrow and I believe we have a better race car than quali so I hope that we can bring home some solid points for the Team. Congratulations to Lando too, he did a very strong lap today.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal

“Today was a great Team performance. It’s our first triple pole since 2013 and Max’s first, plus it’s great to have Checo up there in P3 giving us a great chance with both cars tomorrow. Max is always looking for that little bit extra and he was frustrated as he felt there was more in the car in Q3. He had a slight lock-up on the first run so we wanted to give him clean air for the second which meant he ended up at the front of the queue, creating a hole in the air that gave Lando behind him a slight tow making the margin very small, but nonetheless a phenomenal performance once again from him. It was clear that we wanted to get both cars through on the medium tyre which is what we achieved, so let’s see what the weather brings tomorrow with the colder temperatures and threat of rain. The tyres are also a step softer so there will be a lot of discussion tonight around whether the race is a one or two stop. You forget the atmosphere the fans bring, it seems so long since we’ve had them at the track. Max has got such a large, loyal following, and you could hear the noise when he got pole no matter where you were on the circuit. It’s great for Formula One to see the fans back so let’s hope we can deliver a great result for them tomorrow.”

Mercedes

Attention turns to the race after a difficult Saturday in Austria for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

 Lewis qualified in P4 and Valtteri in P5 with the car struggling for pace in Q3.
 All four Mercedes-Benz powered teams made it through to Q3.
 Both drivers will start on the Medium tyre compound tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton

This weekend is more of a challenge than it was already last week and we continue to lack pace. We tried everything to get more out of the car but the underlying pace just isn’t good enough at the moment, so we’ve got to really find performance in the following races. I don’t know if McLaren brought an upgrade but they were mega quick today so great job from Lando. We’ve just got to try and improve, we’ve still got a long way to go. In the heat today, Red Bull seemed to step forwards and we stepped backwards so let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Valtteri Bottas

I was hoping to fight for the pole but today it was out of reach. It seemed like we went a little bit backwards from last weekend or others gained more than us. I would say we’re missing maybe a tenth or two from where we should have been and clearly McLaren has found something with the C5 compound this weekend, it seems to work well with their car.

I think race pace wise we should be in better shape - all the developing we’ve done with the car setup is aiming a bit more towards the race pace so we need to learn from today and then I’m sure we can get a good result for the team tomorrow. I’m still expecting a big fight with Red Bull in the race.

Toto Wolff

What started as a good day in FP3 we couldn’t translate into a good qualifying session. The gaps here are very small and our performance in qualifying wasn’t great, and that showed in the final result. We need to analyse whether a slip-stream could have helped us but overall, we just need to continue to develop the performance of the car. Hopefully tomorrow we will be in better shape for the race and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.

Andrew Shovlin

We obviously hoped for much better than 4th and 5th but we’ve been struggling a bit all day and with such a short lap and small gaps, you pay the price when you don’t get things right. The hotter track today doesn’t seem to suit us and we need to question whether we were getting the soft tyre in the right window. Most cars in the final session were able to find a tenth or two but we didn’t really pick anything up and slipped further down as a result. So, lots to work on but now we need to focus on making the most of the opportunities tomorrow. We at least managed to get both cars onto the medium tyre for the start and hopefully we can show good race pace and get ourselves back into the fight at the front.

Ferrari

For the first time this season, neither Scuderia Ferrari driver managed to get through to the final part of qualifying. Come the end of Q2 for the Austrian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz had to settle for 11th, missing the cut by only six thousandths of a second, while Charles Leclerc was just 47 thousandths away and qualified 12th. Balancing out the natural disappointment is the fact that both drivers get a free choice of tyres for the first stint, which might play an important role in terms of strategy and prove significant when the points are awarded – the final verdict of this ninth round of the season is only handed out when the chequered flag is waved.

Carlos Sainz

“Today we decided to take a bit more of a risk by trying to make it into Q3 using the Medium tyre. After a decent first attempt with that tyre, we went for it and unfortunately missed the cut by only 6 thousandths of a second. I’m obviously not happy with that because it was extremely close and we couldn’t show the good progress we’ve made this week. These past few days, we worked hard on the balance, the set up and my driving style and we could have had a good Q3. Anyway, the race is tomorrow and our goal is to have another strong Sunday here in Austria and score as many points as possible.”

Charles Leclerc

“Mixed feelings after today’s qualifying. On the one hand, we were aware of the risk of not making it into Q3, prioritising setting our fastest Q2 lap on the Medium compound to suit our strategy. The lap itself was quite good. Unfortunately, some of our competitors finished ahead of us on the same compound, which is the disappointing side of it. Our race pace has been solid this weekend and we have a free choice of tyres for the start. We have to analyse exactly which strategy is the best for tomorrow, considering that there are quite a few cars ahead of us, some of which are starting on Mediums. This makes things a bit more tricky, as our advantage has slightly lessened. We will give everything and make the best of it tomorrow.”

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

“Of course we cannot be happy given that we didn’t get either of our drivers through to Q3, but more than ever, today’s qualifying result has to be looked at in terms of the race. Starting where we are, we can choose which tyre compound we start on, which should give us an advantage over those ahead of us who are on the Softs. That is why we tried to make the cut into Q3 on the Mediums, which we missed out on by a very small margin at the end of a session in which nine drivers were covered by less than two tenths, several of them running the softest compound. Now we are concentrating on preparing for the race in which strategy and the behaviour of the various tyre compounds will play a key role.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

"Very happy! My best result in qualifying in Formula 1, so a big achievement for us as a team but also for myself. It was one of the best laps I’ve done. To only be half a tenth off pole is a great achievement for everyone. It makes you miss it from your early career! I don’t think we could’ve done a lot more, so P2 is awesome for us and a great position to start from tomorrow. Let’s see what we can do in the race."

Daniel Ricciardo

“Unfortunately, a similar result to last week. It did feel better, but it’s just not translating into lap-time. In Q1, I was pretty happy with the laps. I felt like I’d done quite well but I was still half a second off. So, it’s a bit of a head-scratch. I don’t really know where else to get the extra speed from at the moment, so I’ll keep chipping away. We’ve got the tyre choice tomorrow, so we’ll try to make another good start like last week and keep sailing through the field.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“It’s been nine years since McLaren has qualified on the front row, so P2 today for Lando is a great result for the entire team and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. A reward for the hard work that everyone has been putting in over the last month to keep improving the car and make this possible today. Lando’s been flying, continuously improving with every single lap all through the qualifying sessions.

“On Daniel’s side, it was another challenging qualifying session which ended with him in P13 – but at this circuit and with the strategy options we’re expecting, he can have a good race from there. While we’ve had a good moment, it’s important to switch our focus to tomorrow, which is when the points get distributed. The objective is clear: we’ve got to get Daniel back into the points and score another big result with Lando for our battle in the Constructors’ Championship.”

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