Qualifying - French GP 2021 - Team quotes
Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin qualified 15th and 18th, respectively, for Sunday’s French Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Mazepin and Schumacher had to abandon their opening Q1 runs with Yuki Tsunoda’s stricken AlphaTauri bringing out the red flags at Turn 2 just four minutes into proceedings. When the session resumed Schumacher subsequently banked a 1:32.942 lap with Mazepin clocking a best effort of 1:33.554. A late crash for Schumacher at Turn 7 brought a premature end to Q1 and the German’s participation in qualifying.
Sitting 14th on the timesheets, and with the field forced to abort their final flying runs due to the red flag – including that of his teammate, Schumacher’s best lap time was good enough to advance to Q2 – with the fastest 15 in Q1 progressing. However, the German was unable to participate in Q2 due to the damage sustained on his VF-21. Mazepin was out in Q1 with the Russian classified 18th ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and fellow rookie Tsunoda.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen claimed his second pole position of the season and the fifth of his Formula 1 career. Verstappen’s fastest Q3 lap of 1:29.990 beat Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by .258 of a second.
“I wasn’t entirely happy with the car. We have FP1, FP2 and FP3 giving you time to get into the groove and set your time but Q1 sometimes can be very different. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my lap time done when it needed to be done and as fast as it needed to be. If you have two red flags in a session and it’s that short, that’s what happens. If you look at the statistics, things like this don’t happen often but obviously when they do happen, Saturday night’s sleep gets a bit interrupted, shall we say. It’s just one of those things. The race is so long that you finish where your speed is, so let’s see.”
“I pushed too hard going into the corner and that kicked out the rear. The car is very wind affected – I don’t know if that would have triggered some extra oversteer. Nonetheless, we’ve managed to get into our first Q2 session of the year, so things brighten up and hopefully we can get more of those days in the future. There is damage to the car, how great we don’t know yet. If everything is ok we’ll start from there and obviously it is on paper, and that’s what matters to me. If something happens, I’ve got 53 laps to catch-up. I’m optimistic that we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The team is getting more motivated every day, I am more motivated every day and those results prove that our hard work is growing.”
“It would’ve been a good day if we hadn’t crashed on Mick’s last run. We’re still investigating the gearbox and if we need to change it or not. At the moment it seems we don’t, so let’s hope it stays like this as this would be the first time this year that we’ve got into Q2. Otherwise, nothing big to report as we just went on. Let’s hope we can start from where we are now.”
— George Russell qualified 14th and Nicholas Latifi 16th for the French Grand Prix
— George reached Q2 for the seventh consecutive race, setting a time of 1:32.065 on his final flying lap
— Nicholas set a fastest time of 1:33.062 in a Q1 session interrupted by two red flags
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
Cooler and calmer conditions today improved the performance compared to yesterday. Minor adjustments to the set-up and the updated aero parts also improved the car and both drivers were happy after FP3.
Qualifying was a tricky session with two red flags in Q1 meaning that few timed laps were completed. George did just enough to progress to Q2 despite some traffic in Sector 3, sadly Nicholas missed out by the smallest of margins. In Q2 we opted to run a lightly scrubbed Qualifying tyre followed by a new Option tyre. George made a good improvement with the new Option, but lack of experience using this compound at low fuel meant that he couldn’t get everything out of the tyre. Nonetheless, both drivers did well in a difficult session and will start the race tomorrow in reasonable positions. There could be some storms around tomorrow and so we could be in for an exciting race.
It was a good session, but a little scrappy with the red flags and the traffic to deal with. My lap in Q2 wasn’t as good as I would have liked; it was my first real laps on the medium tyre and they take a bit of getting used to, so I think there were still a couple more tenths in there if I’m honest. Nevertheless, P14 is a good qualifying result and we’re putting a lot of effort into our race pace and trying to improve our Sunday performance, so hopefully we can make it count tomorrow.
Qualifying was a very interrupted session for me. Unfortunately, the first tyres I had on were wasted due to the first red flag, and the second red flag meant I only got to complete one flying lap. That was obviously frustrating as I was up on my previous time, but it caught a few others out and that’s racing sometimes. The car felt good around here though, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow in the race.
“It’s a very good day and I’m really pleased to Qualify in sixth position. It’s been quite a difficult weekend up to this point, I haven’t felt that comfortable in the car and we’ve struggled a bit with the changing conditions. We’d made lots of set-up changes to the car across the weekend and it all came together for Qualifying. After the disappointment of finding out my lap was cancelled, I knew I had just one shot to get it right in Q3. My adrenalin levels were high, and I managed to put an even better lap together, so I’m very happy with that. Tomorrow will be interesting for us as we return to a normal race circuit, we’re starting on the same tyres as everyone else, so strategy will be key. We’ll give everything we have and hopefully we can get some good points here, in front of my home crowd.”
“It was my mistake today in Qualifying and I want to apologise to the team. I just used too much of the yellow curb at turn one and I spun out. I tried to brake as much as possible to avoid contact with the barrier, but it was like skating on ice as I was going backwards. It was fairly low impact, but there is some damage to the car so the team will have to work hard tonight to get me ready for tomorrow. The best way to thank the team would be to have a good race tomorrow. It’s difficult to overtake here but I’ll push as hard as I can every lap and use every opportunity I get.”
Guillaume Dezoteux (Head of Vehicle Performance)
“Unfortunately for Yuki Qualifying didn’t last long today. The car was sharp at the start of the lap and he ran too tight in turn one, which meant he lost it. He sustained some damage on the rear-end but we will be able to fix it for tomorrow without a doubt. Pierre had a very strong Qualifying and we are delighted to see him getting such a great result at his home Grand Prix. Straight from the start of Qualifying Pierre was fast and we could see our balance was better compared to the previous sessions. He is in a strong position for tomorrow and we will now look at the strategy simulations to understand what scenario is best to allow us to bring home some good points.”
“To be able to put it on pole here, on a track that has not been our favourite in terms of performance, is very promising and a big boost for the Team. We really did not expect it so I am of course very happy. Everything has been working really well all weekend and from today even compared to yesterday we made a good improvement through hard work and maximising set-up. I was confident after FP3 but you never really know where you are or what everyone else will bring in Qualifying, so we should be very happy with this performance so far. There is a long run to Turn 1 so we have to get a good start tomorrow and for sure they will be very close but our long run pace in FP2 looked good so I expect another tight battle.”
“It wasn’t an ideal qualifying as I think locking out the front row was possible but unfortunately I made a mistake on my final Q3 run which cost me quite a bit of lap time. We were going in the right direction and I was feeling comfortable with the car but I just ran wide over the kerbs at Turn 12 and the lap was gone. But tomorrow is when it matters and we have better race pace than in qualifying so we should really be in the mix. It will be very close with Mercedes so I will be applying the pressure from the very first lap. My starts have been good so the plan is to get a couple of positions off the line and manage the race from there to try and bring home a 1-2 for the Team. I think the race will come down to tyre management so hopefully we can outperform them in that area but either way it’s going to be very entertaining for the fans and now I’m just looking forward to tomorrow!”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal
“It was another great performance from Max today and it’s fantastic to see him take our first pole position in France. Together we’ve been improving the car throughout the weekend and to have Checo up there as well, building on the momentum from his Baku victory, is a great Team performance. Starting from pole certainly gives us confidence but we’re expecting Mercedes to be very competitive tomorrow. This circuit has been such a stronghold for them over recent years so it will be important to see if we can beat them here. There’s a lot at stake and a long way to go in this championship but the whole Team is working incredibly well, putting in long hours, and coming together as a unit to put the pressure on Mercedes which is phenomenal to see. Having two cars starting at the front also gives us different strategic options in the race and so it will be important for us to do all the basics and get clean starts, execute quick pitstops and a good strategy.”
Aston Martin F1
“We looked strong in Q1 on the soft tyres, but I do not think anybody wanted to start the race on the soft tyres, which is why we ran on the medium tyres in Q2. We believed there was a real chance to make Q3 on the medium, but, for yet unknown reasons, the balance did not feel as good on my last run. The front end was washing out and I could not extract the grip I needed. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard, but we were not far away from making Q3. For tomorrow, we have a free choice of tyres, but all of the top 10 will be on the medium tyres anyway, so it is not easy to vary the strategy. Tomorrow will be about who is best at managing the tyre life and degradation.”
“It is one of those things. You can never predict when red flags are going to happen, and we were very unlucky to have two in Q1. I also had a lap time deleted, but that lap showed there is good pace in the car. I felt happy with the balance and the progress we have made so far this weekend, so there are positives to take away. It is a shame it is difficult to overtake at Paul Ricard, but you never know. We will keep our fingers crossed for some rain tomorrow, and we will try to push our way up the field from P19 regardless.”
Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal
“You win some, you lose some, often as a result of a hair’s breadth. Sometimes it really is not your fault. Today was one of those days. Lance drove a great lap in Q1, but it was disallowed owing to a small margin of track limits violation that gained him nothing in terms of lap time. Then his chances of recovering were scuppered due to the late red flag, which was outside of his control. Sebastian did well to get through to Q2 but struggled with a lack of front-end grip on his quick lap and ended up P12. As always, both drivers will push as hard as possible for points tomorrow.”
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN will have a good chance of points in tomorrow’s French Grand Prix after a fairly positive qualifying session, with Antonio Giovinazzi showing the pace of the team’s C41 car by qualifying in 13th position. Team-mate Kimi Räikkönen was on course for a good result, but an unfortunately timed red flag meant he had to abort his best lap and will have to line up 17th on the starting grid.
A cooler, cloudier day meant temperatures weren’t soaring as on Friday, but the Circuit Paul Ricard remained a tricky place to do business. Two red flags in Q1 made for a stop-start session in which setting a lap was a challenge. Unfortunately, that claimed Kimi, who had to give up his fastest attempt as the session was brought to an early end: the result will see him line up on the ninth row of the grid tomorrow.
The remaining Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN of Antonio had managed to set a time good enough for Q2 and, in the second segment of qualifying, the Italian delivered a good attempt to set the 13th time, just 0.2s shy of a place in the top ten.
Starting in that position, Antonio will be able to choose his own starting tyres for the race – something that proved an advantage the last time we raced here, in 2019. Such a bonus could be crucial as we aim to nail the right strategy for tomorrow’s race – unless it rains, of course…
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“The team did a good job today and we are confident we would have been on course to have a good result with both cars, hadn’t it been for the second red flag. As things went, we have to be really happy with the position Antonio achieved: he will be able to start on the best possible tyres and we’ll have all strategy options open to us. Kimi’s race will be a bit more difficult, starting from the back, but with a good start and a good strategy we can hope to make up some places. Our race pace looked good in practice so we’re still in with a chance.”
“Recently, the red flags seem to destroy my laps all the time. I was on a good one, the time was going to be ok, but when the red flag came out it was game over. In the end, that’s what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it. P17 on the grid is not ideal, but tomorrow is another day: our race pace was ok yesterday so we will try to get a result out of a disappointing Saturday.”
“We can be happy about today’s result: our target was P11, to be close to the top ten but not quite in it, as we knew the soft tyres would not be a good compound for the race. We nearly hit this target and we were very close to the cars ahead of us: tomorrow there’s everything to play for. Choosing our starting tyre will allow us to maximise our strategy: if we have a good start and a clean first lap, we can make up some places and make our way into the points. Our race pace wasn’t bad so we can be confident.”
Alpine F1 Team will start its home Grand Prix in France with Fernando Alonso ninth and Esteban Ocon eleventh on the grid after a stop-start qualifying session at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Fernando made it back to back Q3 appearances for the first time since May 2018, following up on his top ten effort last time out in Azerbaijan.
Esteban will line up for his home race narrowly outside the top ten, as he looks to push into the points tomorrow afternoon.
Both drivers remained in the garage in the early running in Q1 and avoided the first of two red flags after Yuki Tsunoda’s spin at Turn 2. After a brief interval, Esteban was first to set a lap-time with a 1min 32.139secs on new Softs – for eighth place - with Fernando following suit, 0.019secs behind. The second red flag of the afternoon from Mick Schumacher halted the remainder of Q1 with both drivers safely through to Q2.
With the Softs not a favourable starting tyre, Esteban and Fernando opted for the Mediums in Q2. Fernando’s first lap put him seventh with a 1min 31.566secs with Esteban marginally outside the top ten. Despite a small improvement, Esteban was unable to force his way into Q3 as he settled for eleventh.
Fernando was able to progress to the final shootout for the fourth time this season. An initial run on Mediums placed him inside the top eight, before he switched to Softs for a final attempt. With a small improvement on the second run, the Spaniard qualified ninth.
“It’s a shame not to get into the top ten but we know it’s all to play for tomorrow. After a good start to qualifying in Q1 with the car feeling good on the Softs, we just seemed to be lacking the pace on the Medium in Q2. It’s all about those small margins and it’s the difference between making Q3 or not. It’s frustrating now, but the weekend is not over. We’re just outside the points and we aim to score tomorrow. We have to think outside the box on strategy a bit, and we’ll give it our best.”
“I am happy with today and I think it’s more or less where we expected to be. Our pace looked good going into qualifying and then I felt we maximised most of our laps during the session with a few exceptions. It’s going to be very tight tomorrow and we are around some very quick cars all on the same tyres. Overall, though, I think we have to be satisfied with our starting position and the points are given out tomorrow, so we need to prepare for the race in the proper way.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was a very close qualifying today between a number of cars. Fernando did a good job in getting into Q3, while it was a shame for Esteban to narrowly miss out. The team has been strong all weekend and we want to carry this momentum forward and into tomorrow where we’ll try our best to secure a good result with both cars. We’ll assess how we can maximise any opportunities.”
“Tough quali, not really the position I was hoping for. I was aiming for just a little bit more, but we didn’t quite have the pace. The next few cars were a few tenths ahead. I felt like I could’ve been one or two tenths better on my lap, but I don’t think I could’ve been any more than one position higher. We weren’t quite quick enough to battle them today, but I’m hoping tomorrow we can work on a few things and come back stronger. There’s still a good chance for some points and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
“It was positive that we got through to Q3 on the Medium tyre, that was definitely a target. My final lap felt good, and it felt like we had enough pace to be better than tenth. I’m a bit disappointed not to be a bit higher up the grid, but it is what it is. We’re still searching for those extra few tenths over a single lap, so we’ll try to make something happen tomorrow. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the performance. Everyone’s fast right now and the times are so tight, so we’ll work to keep finding pace.”
Andreas Seidl - Team Principal
“It was a difficult qualifying session for us today, with a few challenges along the way. It was good that we progressed into Q3 with both cars on Medium tyres, and in the final analysis, we have to acknowledge that qualifying in P8 and P10 is pretty much where the car has been so far this weekend, in terms of pace. On the positive side, it’s pleasing to have both cars in Q3 again and our starting positions present us with a real chance to fight for good points tomorrow.”
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team will start the French Grand Prix with Lewis in P2 and Valtteri P3
— Lewis qualified in second place at the Circuit Paul Ricard, after exploring several balance adjustments throughout the weekend to put the W12 in a happier place for Q3.
— Valtteri will start in P3, with the two Mercedes drivers splitting the Red Bulls.
— Both drivers will begin the race on the Medium compound tyre.
It’s great to see the fans here and it warms my heart to see people coming together finally after this difficult period for us all. It’s been a really hard weekend trying to get the car into a happy place and you wouldn’t believe all of the changes I’ve made since FP1. Congratulations to Max, he did a great job today.
On long run pace I think the Red Bulls were a tenth or two quicker than us in FP2 but my car is in a much different place now so I’m just going to stay hopeful and do everything that I can tomorrow. Obviously in second you’ve got a fighting chance down to Turn 1 and there’s going to be some interesting strategy calls tomorrow. Maybe it’ll rain so we’ll potentially get to see the rain masters do their thing! We’re loving the battle so we’re just going to keep pushing, keep fighting, and giving it everything.
It’s been a strong weekend, for sure a lot better than a couple weeks ago and I was hoping to fight for the pole. The last run in Q3 felt good so I didn’t feel like there was much more lap time to make up, I think Red Bull had the edge in a straight line here which made the difference.
We are definitely fighting for the win tomorrow, we’re between the two Red Bulls with two cars against one so on strategy, we can be smart and bring the challenge to them. Nothing is going to come easy but we’re ready for the challenge tomorrow.
That was an exciting qualifying session and a solid performance to put our cars P2 and P3, with just a tenth of a second between them, but we weren’t quick enough to claim pole position today. We made a good step with Lewis’s car from yesterday, and he felt much more comfortable with the balance once he was running in qualifying; and Valtteri has bounced back strongly from a tough weekend in Baku. Like the cars around us, we will start the race on the Medium tyre, which will give us the opportunity to race hard tomorrow and hopefully put pressure on Max. The long runs yesterday looked closely matched, so I’m sure we’re in for a real fight all the way to the chequered flag.
There’s quite a gap to pole and our laps were pretty good in the end so second and third is a fair result for us. Valtteri continued build through the day from the solid baseline he’d established yesterday and Lewis managed to recover some confidence in the car after a difficult Friday; quite a bit of work has gone into fine tuning the balance and it doesn’t feel like there was much more to come.
The early parts of the session were a bit messy as we kept getting caught in a bunch of cars on the out-lap and struggled to get the tyres in the right window. By the end we had good track position and we looked pretty close to Max for the first half of the lap. Our main issue seems to be a loss on the straight from turn 9 down to turn 11 and by sector three we’re no longer able to gain anything back in the corners. We’ve seen many times this year that our race pace is better than our qualifying and we’ve shown that we can win races from behind so we’re still optimistic that we’re playing for the win tomorrow.
Scuderia Ferrari put up a satisfactory qualifying performance for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix. Carlos will start from fifth place and Charles from seventh. While the result might not get the fans excited, on a track that does not particularly suit the SF21, it confirmed that, once again, the Maranello team is the best of the midfield runners, at least on Saturdays, fighting behind the two teams that head the classification.
Starting on the Mediums. One of the key moments of qualifying at Paul Ricard was Q2, in which Carlos and Charles managed to make the cut running the Medium compound, so that they can start the race on these tyres, on level terms strategy-wise therefore with the others in the top five rows of the grid.
Uncertain weather. The 61st French GP to count for the Formula 1 World Championship starts tomorrow at 15 CET. Hot and windy conditions are expected once again, but there is a chance of a storm in the vicinity that could mix things up and produce some opportunities to be exploited.
Not a bad day for the team. After a couple of eventful Saturdays, it’s good to have a clean quali like today. We managed to extract everything out of the car and show the progress we have made at this type of track. From my side, I continue to adapt and learn from the different conditions and corners, and today I felt at home with the car no matter what compound I was on.
We are in a good position for the race tomorrow and we’ll try to maximize every opportunity. Yesterday our race pace was not bad, but I expect a tight battle with our main competitors. A clean first lap and a good strategy will be essential to leave France with a good result.
A tricky qualifying from my side. I didn’t do a good job of driving around the balance limitation of my car, which was on the front for me today. I will work to understand how I can adapt my driving style and manage this better in the race, although I think that we will feel it less tomorrow.
Overall, 5th and 7th place are good results for the team and in line with our expectations. Congratulations to everyone and to Carlos who did a good job today. The race pace wasn’t too bad yesterday. There is definitely potential to fight for good positions in the race, and it will come down to us putting it all together.
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
All in all, it was a satisfactory qualifying. We came here knowing that the hierarchy would be different to that seen at the two unusual tracks in Monaco and Baku and that the characteristics of the Paul Ricard circuit would not be ideally suited to our SF21. But once again, we were able to demonstrate that we are the best of those teams directly behind the two that are fighting for the championship. Furthermore, as in the three previous qualifying sessions, we got both our cars ahead of our direct rivals.
Carlos is having a great weekend, showing that he is making progress, and his qualifying performance was really good. Charles couldn’t get the right feel for his car, especially the front end, but on his final run, he still managed to get close to the third row that could have been within his reach.
Tomorrow’s race will be long and difficult, with tyre behaviour playing a crucial role. On this front, the top ten are all starting on the same compound so we will be fighting on equal terms. We know our race pace is not as good as we would like at the moment, but we will prepare well tonight and tomorrow and will continue to do so over the coming weeks, in order to give our drivers an ever more competitive package.