Qualifying - Monaco GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

22 May 2021 - 17:53
Qualifying - Monaco GP 2021 - Team (...)

Williams

 George Russell qualified 15th and Nicholas Latifi 18th for the Monaco Grand Prix
 George Russell reached Q2 once again, posting a personal best on his final flying lap with a 1:11.830
 Nicholas continued to improve throughout his Q1 session, before finally setting a 1:12.016, his fastest lap of the session

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

The cooler conditions today meant the tyre behaviour was a bit different and this caught us out a little in FP3. However, we were able to regroup ahead of the qualifying session and get the tyres back into a good window. Nicholas found the limit in FP3 and damaged the car against the wall, but fortunately, the damage wasn’t too extensive, and his team did a great job to repair the car ahead of qualifying.

Qualifying in Monaco is always a fraught time, and this is especially the case when teams adopt differing tyre preparation strategies. We managed the situation well and both drivers got a good set of pushing laps amidst the chaos. Nicholas recovered well having lost the end of FP3 and was close to beating Alonso. George did well after a challenging FP3 and built up his speed as the session went on. He got almost everything available from the car in Q1 to qualify for the second part of qualifying. He continued to push the limit during Q2 but couldn’t quite find enough to better P15.

The race tomorrow will be difficult for everyone and as we have seen over the last couple of days, any driver can make a mistake at any time. Monaco is also tough on the cars, and opportunities will therefore present themselves. Our job will be to maximise any advantage that comes our way.

George Russell

That was the maximum today, and the Q1 lap was great. It is just exhilarating to get a good lap around here because it is not easy. It was very difficult in practice and I was struggling to get the confidence in the car, however in qualifying things seemed to come together. We knew that our car isn’t that well suited to low speed corners and we knew the Alfa Romeos could be quick. To outqualify an Alpha Tauri and an Alpine to get P15 is the best we could have done. It is an interesting race here; it is a difficult street circuit where a lot of things can happen. Tomorrow is going to be won and lost for everybody in the pits, so let’s wait and see what happens.

Nicholas Latifi

Firstly, I would like to say a huge thanks to the team for getting me back out there after the crash in FP3. Although that happened, I got all the references that I needed so I wasn’t lacking confidence going into qualifying. Today we had much cooler conditions and I struggled to get the soft tyres in the right window and the balance wasn’t feeling as good as Thursday. I felt there was more in there today as I would have liked to have been a bit closer to Q2, but nonetheless it was still one of the most exciting laps of the year so far.

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team will line up with Esteban Ocon eleventh and Fernando Alonso seventeenth on the grid for tomorrow’s 78th Monaco Grand Prix after a closely contested qualifying around the streets of the Principality.

In arguably one of the most demanding qualifying sessions of the season, Esteban narrowly missed out on the top ten shootout by 0.077secs with Fernando bowing out in Q1.

Esteban and Fernando started Q1 on Soft tyres and on their initial push laps found themselves around the cut-off of the top fifteen positions, separated by just 0.008secs.

As the track evolved with each passing lap, Esteban improved his lap time and managed to place his A521 firmly into Q2 on a 1min 11.740secs, proving good enough for tenth position.

Fernando also improved on his last run with a 1min 12.205secs, but it was not enough to progress to Q2.

Aiming to make his fourth Q3 appearance in a row, Esteban’s initial timed lap in Q2 saw him place just outside of the top ten positions on a 1min 12.313secs before improving by three tenths on his second run using the same set of tyres.

Refuelled and fitted with fresh Softs, Esteban embarked on his final runs of the session in twelfth. He improved on his initial run by another two tenths to move up to eleventh. Despite finding more lap time with a 1min 11.486secs, the Frenchman remained eleventh and fell just short of the top ten positions by 0.077secs.

Esteban Ocon

“It was very close today and starting in eleventh place is not too bad. With what we had; it was probably the best we could do. I was happy with my lap and driving in qualifying around Monaco is always enjoyable. We’ve not been as fast as we have been at the last couple of races, but we have things to analyse, which will definitely help us in the future. We’re in a good starting position tomorrow – it’s not perfect – but we do have a free choice on tyres. We’re a place away from scoring points and we’ll be ready to attack in the race.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was a tricky session today and it’s always a little bit messy in qualifying here as you’re trying to find clear space. I don’t think that was the cause for being eliminated in Q1 as we just couldn’t find the performance the whole weekend and we were expecting more from our package. It’s going to be very difficult starting near the back here in Monaco, but anything can happen in this race.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It has been a tough weekend so far as we tried to find more performance from the car. I think Esteban did a great job today and was very close to making it into Q3, missing out by a very small margin. It was unfortunate for Fernando not to make Q2. We have made improvements since Thursday – that’s for sure - but we are in a difficult position as it’s so hard to overtake here. Anything can happen in Monaco, though, so we remain positive for the race tomorrow.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“Qualifying around here is a lot of fun. I did a decent first lap in Q3 but the tyres weren’t quite in the window and I knew it was going to come down to the last run. My last lap felt really good as I was going into the tunnel, but because of the red flag I couldn’t finish it which was frustrating as I felt so comfortable in the car and I knew pole position was on. Obviously Charles is driving very well so I knew it would be tight but everyone back at the factory and here at the track has done an amazing job to get the car to where it is now, especially after we struggled so much on Thursday. I think it’s been a very good weekend so far, we recovered well from practice and we’re starting on the front row tomorrow, which is the most important thing in Monaco, so it’s not too bad. I can be quite happy with second after that red flag and now we just need to finish off the job tomorrow!”

SERGIO PEREZ

“I was making good progress throughout qualifying and then in Q3, the session I thought was going to be the smoothest, turned into the worst one. Things got really messy and it just didn’t come together. We seemed to go backwards and we didn’t make the progress we hoped or expected to. I was struggling a lot with the dropping temperatures so we changed our approach going into the final session and it just made it worse, and then on my final Q3 run I got traffic in the last sector so I lost the lap. We know how important qualifying is here in Monaco but we’ll try and do the best possible job we can to recover tomorrow.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal

“It’s obviously slightly frustrating not to be on pole and Max was on a mighty final lap, two and a half tenths up on his best and up on Leclerc, but unfortunately with the red flag we were unable to see the end of it. Our glass is half full rather than half empty though and to be on the front row in Monaco with Lewis in P7 is hugely important for the championship fight, so we will focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Sergio was just missing that last bit of confidence and was badly compromised in Q3, with three cars ahead of him at Rascasse costing him quite a bit of time. We all know he can hook it up around here and I’m sure he will have good pace in the race, but as we know it’s hard to make progress through the field so he will have a busy afternoon. There is a real opportunity to make an impact on the championship tomorrow and we have to make the most of that. So now it’s down to a good start and then it’s all to play for.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“I’m extremely happy with my Qualifying, I think we did the best with the car we had whilst others didn’t maximise their lap, and to Qualify where we have today is definitely a massive achievement. I’m very pleased with all the work the team has done, to give me such a strong car when it mattered, I think it was one of my best laps of the weekend and I’m so glad it all came together today in Q3. The car operates so differently here than at other tracks so it’s all about playing with the limits and getting as close to the walls as possible. We need a strong start tomorrow and to really work hard on our strategy. We obviously have fast cars starting behind us tomorrow, but we know how hard it is to overtake here in Monaco, so we need to stay focused and have a clean race. I think we can aim for good points and I really hope we can come away with a big reward for all the work the team have been doing. I still get an adrenaline rush driving round the streets here in Monte Carlo, it’s such a fast track with these cars and your concentration has always got to be super high. The feeling it gives you here, you don’t get that anywhere else, it’s the best feeling in life and that’s why it’s my favourite track. I’m loving the atmosphere, especially all the French fans, so to come away with a good result in front of a crowd again would be really exciting.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“This weekend has obviously been a challenge, having never driven in Monaco before, but I think my Qualifying lap was quite good and I was unlucky to miss out on Q2. We’d planned on doing three push laps but only managed two. Having to go to the weighbridge during the session affected our plan and then we hit traffic in sector two on my best lap. We have to analyse all the data and see where my weaknesses are compared to Pierre and then hopefully, I can improve to be able to fight with him in Q3. I think we’re definitely seeing improvements race-to-race though and I’m happy with the performance in the car.”

Jody Egginton (Technical Director)

“Following a reasonable Thursday here in Monaco, we had a bit more work to do on Yuki’s car today whilst with Pierre we were in quite good shape and he’s picked up where he left off today. We had a few set-up changes over the two days, just fine-tuning really and we had a fairly comfortable FP3, we just had to dial a little bit of understeer out of the car. It all came together for Qualifying, the run-plan suited us well and allowed us to control the traffic whilst the track conditions continued to evolve. Pierre was looking fast on his push run when the red flags came out but P6 is a strong starting position tomorrow and representative of where we think our car should be. Yuki’s weekend has been less smooth, he struggled a bit on Thursday and lost some track time but managed to recover well in FP3 today. He was still building up confidence during Qualifying and was unfortunate to not make it through to Q2, he was very close and for sure there’s more lap time in there. We’ll go away and look at all the data tonight and hopefully have a strong race with both cars tomorrow.”

Alfa Romeo

The big steps forward made by the team finally paid off as Antonio Giovinazzi claimed his, and the team’s, first Q3 of the year on the legendary streets of Monaco. It was a masterpiece by the team – the driving, the car, the timing from the pit-wall all coming together to produce a brilliant Saturday result that places us in an excellent position ahead of the race.

Having made a habit of qualifying to Q2 but having missed out on the top ten by tiny margins before, it was a relief to finally break into the final segment of qualifying. Antonio will start tomorrow’s race in P10, ready to fight from lights to flag for the points he and the team so thoroughly deserve. Behind him, Kimi will aim to make inroads towards the top ten, starting in P14 with his C41.

Monaco is a track with no margin for error. The race will be long and will offer opportunities and threats in equal measures. Tomorrow is another day and a new battle to fight but, for now, we just enjoy this first Q3 of the season.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“Today’s result is the reward for all the work the team put in since last year and a display of the big steps forward we have made since testing. We had been close to Q3 before and to finally place a car in it is a good result, but we haven’t brought home what we want yet. The race is tomorrow and we will need to deliver another performance like today’s to score the points we deserve. We are confident in our team and we know we can fight at this level, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“The car felt ok, even though I had more confidence in the tyres this morning. It’s easy to lose that feeling, especially around here, and it’s these small things that end up making a big difference in laptime. I don’t think much went wrong, we just weren’t fast enough in the laps that mattered. Of course, you always want to be higher on the grid, but we’ll need to make the best of it tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a bit of luck as you never know what’s going to happen. We need to survive the first few corners and then do our race.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“I am really happy about our first Q3 of the season. It’s a day in which we put all together and we finally got what we have been deserving for a while. We did everything right – the car felt great from the start of the weekend, the team sent us out at just the right time and we put the lap together when it mattered. The only regret is the red flag at the end, as I think that lap would have been good and we could have been even higher. I felt confident around here from FP1 and this feeling does so much on a track like Monaco. Tomorrow we need more of the same: a clean start, a good strategy and a good race. Hopefully we can bring home a good result and our first points.”

Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel

“On a track like this, you need confidence, and I think qualifying eighth is a good sign that we are making progress with this car. Already on Thursday, I had a good feeling with the car in practice, and today was just about building on that feeling and progressing in each session. In Q1, it was very tight because we only ran one set of Softs because I wanted to make sure we had a second set for Q3. It worked, but then we were not able to use them [due to Charles Leclerc’s crash], which was a shame. However, we can be happy about getting the car into Q3, which means we are starting inside the points already and, here in Monaco, that is crucial because it is so hard to overtake.”

Lance Stroll

“It was a tricky session. I did not quite have the balance in the car and I was not able to string a lap together. On my best lap, I lost some time in traffic behind [Lando] Norris, too, so that did not help either. Qualifying is very important here, so it is not an ideal result, but we will see what we can do tomorrow. If we make a good start, perhaps we can make some progress. Sebastian was able to get the car into Q3, which I think shows that we are in the mix for points when we put everything together.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“Sebastian finished an incident-packed qualifying session in a strong eighth position, having looked in good form here both today and on Thursday. His career record here at Monaco is sensational, in fact: two wins and five additional podiums so far. Lance progressed smoothly through Q1 into Q2, quicker than Sebastian in the initial stages of quali in fact. In Q2 he encountered some excess oversteer, which is not what you need on the ultra-tight confines of this notoriously tricky street circuit, and on his quick lap, he was also slowed by Lando [Norris]. Consequently, he ended up 13th, which was a pretty decent result in the circumstances. Overtaking is very difficult here, but we are still hopeful of a double points finish in tomorrow’s race.”

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher will start from 19th and 20th, respectively, for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, Round 5 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo.

A heavy crash in final practice for Mick Schumacher meant the rookie was forced to sit out the afternoon’s qualifying session – his VF-21 too badly damaged to be fixed and prepared in time to start Q1. The German had just sealed 14th overall in FP3 with a charging lap of 1:13.139 prior to the incident.

As the sole VF-21 in Q1 Nikita Mazepin utilized two new sets of Pirelli P Zero Red soft tires for his afternoon’s qualifying run. Logging a time of 1:14.728 on the second push lap of his first outing, Mazepin then made a quick return to the pits for his next set of rubber as the clock continued to tick down. A second flying attempt netted a 1:12.958 for the Formula 2 graduate – the team’s fastest time around Monaco this weekend. Mazepin placed 19th at the checkered to close Q1.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc claimed his eighth career Formula 1 pole position, despite crashing on his final run in Q3. Leclerc’s fastest lap of 1:10.346 delighted the fans in attendance and beat Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing by .230 of a second.

Mick Schumacher

“My feeling in the car was very good, and it is still very good. Looking at FP3, my first push laps were very competitive, and we were right up there with Alpine and Williams – that’s very good to see. Usually with those tires you can’t improve on the second and third lap. You never know what would have happened, but I think we were definitely in the fight with Alonso and Latifi, that would have been something. In general, I just over pushed the car. Frankly that’s it and I feel very sorry for the team. We lost a full session by missing qualifying. It’s very unfortunate, but it won’t put us down. We start from P20 and we still have a lot of guys we can overtake. This is a special track, a special venue, so I hope the race will be exciting. If we’re able to bring that excitement into the race, that would be great. If we can show our potential and some speed, and if we have some nice moves, that would be great too.”

Nikita Mazepin

“We’re a little frustrated as it’s not the first weekend where we seem to be quite strong at various times in a session, then for qualifying our competitors are able to extract the most. I was wary of falling into that trap again as obviously FP3 went very well for us. I knew that we’ve been doing a good job consistently throughout the weekend, but we perhaps don’t have as much available when it’s really necessary. I know that everyone on the team is doing their upmost best to extract from the car and we know where we stand. I think everyone did a great job today. Qualifying around here in Monaco is just very exciting. I’ve really enjoyed driving here, the whole atmosphere is very cool.”

Günther Steiner

“I would say FP3 looked pretty good for us – until Mick (Schumacher) had the accident on his fast lap. In qualifying, well obviously Mick couldn’t start with the damage he had, so we now get his car ready for tomorrow’s race. Otherwise, Nikita (Mazepin) did a good job. Our car is just not performing good enough, we are always disappointed, but we know the chances of where we end up are high. We will try to do our best tomorrow hoping that something strange happens in the race – by strange I mean something like rain, a safety car or whatever, we’ll take it all. We can maybe then try to get something out of that one. That’s more a hope than anything else.”

Mercedes

Frustrating day for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team on eventful Saturday in Monaco

 Valtteri is forced to settle for P3 after a red flag curtailed his final qualifying lap and brought Q3 to a premature end.
 Lewis starts in P7 on a difficult day with his car lacking grip throughout the session.

Valtteri Bottas

On Thursday and even in practice this morning, I didn’t have the greatest feeling in the car - we were still struggling with the tyre warm-up and mechanically, the car just isn’t made for tracks like this. But I think we maximised everything set-up wise for Quali, we made some changes and I felt comfortable. As qualifying progressed, I saw that we had a chance for pole position so it’s a shame I never got to finish the last run - I guess we’ll never find out if it was enough but it was a good lap up until the red flag, I was a tenth or two up.

It is great to see many teams out there competing at the front, it’s exciting and we are all pushing so much on the track, trying to make every small gain we can. I am sure tomorrow will be a tight battle.

Lewis Hamilton

The car didn’t feel too bad on Thursday but we made some changes and it felt terrible today, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board. From my point of view, I just had such a lack of grip out there, which then leads you to try to overdrive and start pushing to get more from it but to no end - it just doesn’t improve. So overall, a difficult day. Obviously Valtteri was able to get something out of the car but we have definitely had some problems today.

It’s almost impossible to overtake here and from where we are, that’s pretty much the case when everyone is running at the same speed. Saturday really is the day. I guess the minimum would be, hopefully, seventh and then we have got to try and somehow see if we can move forwards.

Toto Wolff

It was not a good day for us overall and we need to find out why we couldn’t get Lewis’ car in a happier place. It was a shame for Valtteri – he was two and a half tenths up on his final lap and had a great chance for pole but crashes happen here in Q3, it’s when the drivers are pushing the most.

For the whole day we struggled to generate grip with Lewis’ car and it cost him confidence in practice and that carried over into qualifying; we’ll work hard to understand why. With Valtteri’s car, he was happier in the morning session, could build confidence and his car seemed to be in a better window. Tomorrow will be a tight race, we need to stay patient and look for any opportunities to move forward.

Andrew Shovlin

A frustrating day for both sides of the garage. Valtteri was doing a great job and really getting everything out of the car, he’d been solid all session and had found quite a bit of time on his final run when the session was red flagged so he couldn’t finish his lap. Lewis had a more difficult time and was unable to build tyre temperature as well as Valtteri. We’ll have to look at that as there isn’t anything obvious in their setups to explain it.

P3 and P7 are not the positions where we wanted to be but the race pace and degradation will still be a feature of the race tomorrow and we’ve shown this year that we are good in that regard - hopefully we can use that to our advantage.

Ferrari

Today was definitely a very exciting Saturday at the Monaco Grand Prix, leaving Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow smiling, but apprehensive.

In fact, the Italian team was back on pole courtesy of Charles Leclerc, after its best qualifying performance of the past two seasons. The last time it happened was back in 2019 at the Mexican Grand Prix. On his first run in Q3, the Monegasque produced an almost perfect lap on his home track to set the fastest time of the day. However, on his second run, Charles overdid it, clipping the barrier at turn 15 before ending up in the guardrail at the outside of the next corner. This brought out the red flag to end the session a few seconds early. While waiting to find out the extent of the damage to the car, this is nevertheless Charles’ eighth F1 career pole and Ferrari’s 229th, its eleventh at this track.

Great SF21. Charles is the first Monegasque to start at the head of the pack in a home race counting towards the championship, although Louis Chiron did the same in 1936, before the world championship came into being. In fact, in what can be seen as something of a premonition, this weekend Charles is sporting a helmet design that pays tribute to his predecessor. Carlos Sainz also looked capable of taking pole, but will in fact start from the second row tomorrow, as he, along with several other drivers was trying to improve his time on his last run until his efforts were frustrated by the red flag. Today’s performance is a clear indication of the performance level of the SF21 at a track like Monaco. The complete package has been very quick right from the start of free practice, which has enabled the drivers to fight for the top places. The Monaco Grand Prix starts tomorrow at 15 CET.

Charles Leclerc

Mixed feelings today. On the one hand, being on pole here is amazing. I was quite happy with my fastest lap in Q3. The first sector wasn’t ideal, but in the second and third, I put it together. I knew I could do better but I pushed too hard on my final lap trying to improve. Unfortunately, I hit the wall and now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the damage won’t result in a penalty.

Of course, it is encouraging to see our performance, but I believe that it’s a bit of a one-off as the track suits the characteristics of our SF21 really well. That’s why we were so competitive today. We have to keep in mind that we are still not at the level of the two teams leading the championship, but for now, it does feel great to have extracted the maximum today.

Whatever the outcome, I will give my all tomorrow. It feels great to be at home and to see all the fans around the track. It’s Monaco, it’s very unpredictable, and also challenging for us drivers, especially in the race with so many laps. It’s a great challenge and we will try to put everything together to get a good result.

Carlos Sainz

Today was very frustrating for me. I’ve been driving well all weekend and I was very strong in qualifying. I felt confident with the car and I had a very strong pace. Unfortunately, my last attempt was a bit compromised with traffic during the preparation lap and then I didn’t have the chance to finish the flying lap due to the red flag. It was my first chance to put it on pole here in Monaco and lining up P4 is really frustrating. I’m not happy.

Tomorrow it will be tough to overtake, but I will do my best and I will try to maximize our chances. Well done to the team for giving us a strong car to fight up there today.

Laurent Mekies Racing Director

A great qualifying, albeit with the sword of Damocles hanging over the result, dependent on the state of Charles’ car. Whatever the final grid order, it is still satisfying to have one of our drivers on pole after what is the most difficult qualifying of the season. However, there is some disappointment that Carlos was unable to secure a better position, penalised – truth be told, as were other drivers – by the red flag caused by his team-mate.

We came to this event aware that we could do well, but we never got carried away. Our aim was to be just behind the two teams fighting for the championship, but we managed to do much better than that. The result was down to the talent of our drivers and the preparation work from the team both at the track and back in Maranello, as well as the support of our technical and commercial partners.

Tonight and tomorrow, we will stay focused on preparing as well as possible for the race, when the aim will be to reap the best possible result from what we have sown so far.

McLaren

Lando Norris

"Really good qualifying – I’m very pleased to be P5. We were only two tenths off pole and just half a tenth off P2 – which isn’t a lot – so it was really close. But I feel like I did a good lap and I don’t think there was anything more in it. I’m really happy – although knowing that by doing something different you could’ve maybe gained that half a tenth and quite a few positions is tough, but I’m still pleased with how we did. It was a good day. It’s been a good weekend for us, and we extracted everything we could out of the car. On my final Q3 lap especially, we took quite a few risks, but it all paid off and it was definitely one of the best laps I’ve done in my career. We did a good job today as a team and we just need to try to finish it off tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo

“It’s more confusing than frustrating at the moment, that’s the emotion I’m feeling. There were some laps that, for sure, were a bit messy which explained maybe a couple of tenths. Since Thursday we’ve made some progress and this was continuing throughout qualifying with each run. I had to stop at the scales towards the end of Q2, so we didn’t have the tyres as we wanted which put us on the back foot a little bit for the final run.

“Usually, you can feel when you’re a bit off the pace, but I haven’t had that, and I don’t feel like I’ve forgotten how to drive this track. I’m still getting up to speed with the driving style needed to get the maximum out of this car, and maybe that’s amplified here in Monaco. But, we know what we need to work on and we’ll keep pushing for the race tomorrow.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“A mixed qualifying result for us today. Lando continued to show strong pace and finished P5, a few milliseconds from P2, which is encouraging to see. Daniel, after a difficult start here on Thursday, improved continuously through the sessions today. He was put on the back foot for his final run in Q2 due to having to stop at the weighbridge, missing the right tyre preparation. Ending qualifying in P12 still puts us in a position with Daniel to fight for good points.

“Well done to the entire team for another very well-executed qualifying session. This is an iconic track, and we have an iconic livery to celebrate that, the field seems quite mixed up compared to what we usually see, and everything is set up perfectly for an exciting race tomorrow.”

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