Qualifying - Portugal GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

1 May 2021 - 18:14
Qualifying - Portugal GP 2021 - (...)

Williams

Qualifying Notes:

 George Russell qualified 11th and Nicholas Latifi 18th for the Portuguese Grand Prix
 George secured his best qualifying performance for Williams and reached Q2 for the third time this season. He continued to improve throughout both sessions posting his final time of a 1:19.109
 Nicholas made good progress throughout the session, posting his quickest lap with a 1:20.285

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

Today was much more difficult than we expected, with the tyre requiring subtly different preparation than yesterday. Fortunately, after a tricky FP3, we got it right when it counted and having got into Q2 once again, George was able to hone the preparation ready for a final push lap, which he was able to execute brilliantly. We are a bit frustrated not to get into Q3, however, we are in a strong position for tomorrow as the first car with a new tyre to start the race.

Nicholas was very unfortunate in Q1 and having recovered very well from a difficult day yesterday to be sparring with George at the beginning of Q1, it was frustrating to see him miss out on a final push lap at the end of Q1. He was very good today and like in Imola, his mental strength was exemplary. We need to review what we could’ve done better to help him as he prepared for his final push lap, but when there is such a variety of tyre strategies playing out, it is very difficult to manage all of the traffic.

We have had a good result today and off the back of a strong showing in Imola, this is very pleasing to see. The Team are working well together and are enjoying putting pressure on our competitors. There is a long race ahead tomorrow, but we have got George into a very good position to continue the push to score points. Nicholas too, although further back than he would’ve liked, is in a position to make good progress during the race.

George Russell

It was a great performance from us. I did not expect Q2 after this morning, yet alone P11 on the grid. We made it happen when it counted which seems to be the theme at the moment. It’s our best qualifying position in three years so I’m really proud. We all have our responsibilities, and as a team we did a really good job.

Tomorrow we’ve got to keep moving forward. We have a good race car – it’s fast on the straights, so let’s see what we can do.

Nicholas Latifi

Today was an improvement as we made some big changes overnight. However, it wasn’t the best qualifying for us, and I wasn’t able to get a clean lap at the end of Q1. I am still struggling with the car balance along with the track surface, as everyone is sliding around. It was a bit of a frustrating day, but the race is tomorrow, and we must focus on that.

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin qualified 19th and 20th, respectively, for Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, Round 3 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.

Both drivers exited qualifying at the end of the opening Q1 knockout round – with only the top 15 advancing to Q2. Mazepin and Schumacher had two timed stints utilizing a new set of Pirelli P Zero Red soft tires for each run. Mazepin clocked a 1:21.941 first time out, bettered by a 1:21.580 next time by only to have the faster lap deleted for exceeding track limits at turn one. Regardless, with his second set of softs on Mazepin dropped his best time to a 1:20.912 to place 20th. Schumacher ended qualifying just ahead of his teammate having banked a 1:20.842 on his first outing before improving again on fresh rubber to lap the 4.653-kilometer (2.891-mile) circuit in 1:20.452.

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes claimed pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix in Q3 – the Finnish driver earning his first pole position of the season and the 17th of his Formula 1 career. His fast lap of 1:18.348 beat teammate Lewis Hamilton by a scant .007 of a second.

Nikita Mazepin

“I felt like yesterday was a very difficult day for me as I just wasn’t very comfortable with the track or with the car. We then made small steps in the right direction this morning – which I like to see, they’re the ones that build foundation. Obviously, the wind has picked up here, which was something I didn’t want to happen as no driver likes wind as it makes the car balance very unpredictable, but the grip has improved since yesterday naturally with all the laps being put down. Overall, the car was feeling much better and I think that’s a good place to be – we were quite close to getting the maximum out of it.”

Mick Schumacher

“Looking at all the free practices I think we were set for higher, but I think some of the other guys and teams managed to make a step ahead with their second set and frankly we didn’t. It could be anything on this track – you get the wrong gust of wind at the wrong moment; you lose half a second in the first sector. I think in general we can be happy, we’re still making consistent steps forward with each race weekend. There’s a big improvement in ourselves and we should be happy with that. I’m feeling more comfortable in the car with every hour and every day, and that makes it easier for me to jump into the car straight away and be on the pace. That’s something that’s very positive and I’m grateful for the team for teaching me the necessaries to do that.”

Günther Steiner

“We had a good FP3, everything was going in the right direction. In qualifying we were a little bit short of not finishing 19th and 20th. I think we’re making progress and getting closer and closer; it just takes a little bit more and we’ll make it not to be last. It’s encouraging how the guys learn and hopefully tomorrow we make another step on that learning curve and finish the race with both cars. That is our aim.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“I am feeling happier after that session. We are starting inside the top 10 and will be in the middle of a big fight for points. There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us, but things are starting to click for me and become a bit more automatic, which is helping me focus more on my driving. I am still learning about the car, but today I felt more comfortable. The conditions were tricky – despite the sunshine – and the gusts of wind were quite unpredictable and made the car feel quite light. My final lap in Q3 was not the best. The wind direction had changed again, and I lost some time as a result, which is costly when the midfield is so tight. Overall, though, it was a better session for me. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll

“A difficult qualifying session and we did not manage to build on the performance level we showed yesterday. I was not very comfortable in the car today and I could not lean on it as much. The traffic at the end of Q1 also did not help and cost me some time on my second run. It is quite a change from yesterday, so we will go away and understand where we can improve and do better next time. Even though today’s result is disappointing, I think we will be stronger in the race. That has been the case in the previous two races. It is a track where we saw lots of overtaking last year and I will be pushing hard to make up ground tomorrow. With a strong first lap and a good strategy, I think we can score points.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“It was great to see Sebastian getting to grips with the AMR21 – literally – over the twists, turns, uphills and downhills of Portimão this afternoon. We made a few set-up changes prior to qualifying, and it seemed they worked well, because he was ‘on it’ throughout Q1 and Q2. In Q3, he was not as competitive, ending up P10. Lance was badly affected by traffic in Q1, and the tricky, windy conditions did not help him either; as a result, he just failed to get through to Q2. But he has been driving extremely well so far this year, he says he will be striving to score points tomorrow, and we think that is a legitimate ambition despite his P17 grid slot.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“Third is of course not what we wanted but it’s not too bad after I had a Q3 lap time deleted, which would actually have put us fastest even though I lost time with the snap at Turn 4. We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don’t think we are too far off. It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue. You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tyres on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tyre preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict. I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow. Our long runs have been ok and although it’s going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“It wasn’t a great qualifying on my side, it was very messy in terms of finding my rhythm and so I’m not entirely happy with my lap time. I wasn’t very happy with the balance and I just struggled a lot so it’s a shame we weren’t able to qualify higher. This track is all about the tyres and getting them to the right temperature which is very difficult. I tried everything in terms of warm up with my out laps, build laps, push laps but nothing seemed to work. The conditions with the wind made it more tricky and they probably suited the Mercedes better but we still have a good starting position and a great opportunity tomorrow so anything can happen. I think it will be a tight battle around us so I’m looking forward to that. We just need to put the pressure on the Mercedes and hopefully we can fight for a podium.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal

“It was a difficult qualifying session today, particularly with the very windy conditions, but both drivers progressed through to Q3 on the medium tyres which gives us better strategy options in tomorrow’s race where we lock out the second row of the grid. Max’s first run in Q3 was quick enough for pole but unfortunately his lap was deleted for track limits after a gust of wind at Turn 4 unsettled the car, causing him to run only millimetres wide. Max’s second and final run was then compromised by traffic so it was a rather frustrating third place for him. Checo did well meanwhile to recover from a little scare in Q1 after he briefly visited the gravel trap to take fourth alongside Max. Hopefully both cars can get a good launch and a clean run in tomorrow’s race to make life difficult for the two Mercedes in front.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team will line up with Esteban Ocon sixth and Fernando Alonso thirteenth on the grid for tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix after a challenging qualifying session in windy conditions at the Algarve International Circuit.

Both drivers started qualifying with a strong performance in Q1 and safely made it through to the next session, with Esteban fourth and Fernando thirteenth. Esteban required two runs, his second effort sealing his entry into Q2, with Fernando able to abort his second lap.

For Q2, Esteban showed he only needed one push lap and finished comfortably inside the top 10 with a 1min 18.586secs on new Soft tyres, which was good enough for fourth position.

Fernando sat on the cusp of the top 10 shoot-out on his first run on Softs and, although he improved on his second timed lap, it wasn’t enough to join Esteban in Q3, finishing the session thirteenth on a 1min 19.456secs.

Representing the sole remaining A521 in Q3 for the second race in a row, Esteban fell short of the top eight on his first push lap on new Softs with the wind picking up around the track. But the Frenchman pressed on and found a significant improvement where others couldn’t on his second lap, finishing the session in sixth to secure his best qualifying result since the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon

“I’m very pleased with that one! Thanks to the team for their hard work and dedication in recent weeks as it’s made the difference today. We made a good step between practice and qualifying, and everything worked really well. We aim to keep finding these improvements and carry this progress forward. We’re starting up there for the race, so that’s good news. We know it’ll be challenging tomorrow but overtaking is possible and there are some differences on starting tyre throughout the grid. The aim is to score points.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was not easy today and the weather conditions changed quite a lot from final practice. We lost something between FP3 and qualifying so we need to look at this and understand what happened. The good thing is we can choose the tyre we start on tomorrow and this gives us more options on strategy. Points are scored tomorrow, so it’s still all to play for.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“We’re very pleased with sixth position today for Esteban. He did a great job throughout all of the sessions today and was very consistent. The team also executed our plan in qualifying very well so we can be pleased with that. It was a pity for Fernando, but on the positive we do have some options for his strategy tomorrow. I think we are in a good position for the race and that’s when it all counts.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“I’m very satisfied with my Qualifying performance today, we seem to find this track more difficult than the last few, so to make it through to Q3 again was positive. We knew coming to Portugal that the characteristics of this circuit would be trickier for us and I think it’s been obvious since we arrived that we’ve struggled slightly with the different conditions, particularly the wind. The team have worked hard since FP1 to change the balance of the car but we’re not completely happy with it yet, so we’ll need to work more tonight to try to understand this more. Whilst I’m not completely comfortable in the car yet, I’m happy we made it through to the final Qualifying session, as it seems that our midfield competitors have made some steps forward this weekend, and I think we’re in a position to take some more points tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“This is my first time driving here and by the end of FP2 I think I’d adapted well to the circuit, so I felt really prepared ahead of Qualifying this afternoon. For me, the lap was good but the tyre just wasn’t there – I had no grip at all with the Softs and it almost felt like I was driving with the hard tyre until the final sector. It was a tricky Qualifying session today and I’m really disappointed, but I’ll analyse the data tonight with my engineers and see where I can improve. Tomorrow, hopefully my race pace will be better, and I will try my best to make my way up the grid.”

Guillaume Dezoteux (Head of Vehicle Performance)

“After a difficult Friday, the team have worked on extracting the most from our package for Qualifying today. In FP3 we saw we’d made a step in the right direction but getting the soft tyre to perform as we wanted was still a challenge. We made further adjustments to the car, as well as focussing on tyre preparation, for Qualifying and we continued to see progression with both drivers. Q1 wasn’t easy, with both Yuki and Pierre experiencing traffic alongside the difficult conditions. Yuki struggled a lot in Q2 and wasn’t able to make a lot of progress, unfortunately finishing in 14th. Meanwhile, Pierre was able to make it through to Q3 but never put the perfect lap together in the final session. Tonight, we will review the different race scenarios and the target will be to finish in the points. Last year Pierre had a solid race starting from the same position, so we are aiming to do this again. For Yuki starting further back, it will be more difficult, but we know he’s great at overtaking and hopefully he can make his way forward into the points."

McLaren

Lando Norris

"Reasonably happy with today. A little bit annoyed because we could’ve been a few positions further up – maybe three – and fourth on the grid, I would say. I can be confident in saying that. I got caught on my Q3 run two lap on the new tyre because of another car backing up in front of me out of the last corner, so I had to abort the lap quite early on, which was frustrating.

"Apart from that, I’m pleased with my performance today. The car was good. Tricky to drive, but fast, and I was still P7, surprisingly, so I’m happy. There are definitely some positives and we’ll see what we can do in the race tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo

“A frustrating day. We’d had a positive day yesterday, so I wouldn’t have bet on this today. I’m not really sure where it went wrong yet, we’ll have to look at it this evening. Q1 goes very quickly and we just didn’t get any clean laps in. The Medium tyre felt pretty good, and I was pretty happy. Then the first lap on the Soft was a bit interrupted by traffic at the start of the lap, and the end of the lap was just a little bit messy. We tried to go again but the tyre fell away really quickly and we just didn’t have the pace.

“P16 is far from where I want to be, so I’ve just got to figure it out, get some sleep and wake up tomorrow ready to do better.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“P7 and P16 is not what we had in mind today when we arrived at the track this morning. We’re definitely disappointed at the moment with the outcome of qualifying.

“Unfortunately, Daniel, after three good practice sessions when he felt a lot more comfortable in the car, couldn’t repeat the performance today in Q1, which unfortunately meant an early end to his qualifying. This evening, together with Daniel, we’ll analyse what happened.

“On Lando’s side, it was again great to see the potential of the car at this track with an in-form Lando behind the wheel. Ending up P7 feels like a disappointment at the moment, looking at the lap-time Lando did in Q2. The track got slower in Q3 and conditions were very inconsistent, but still a better position was possible. Unfortunately, on his final run in Q3 he got caught out by another car slowing in front of him, so he didn’t get a chance to set a time on the new tyres.

“On the positive side, it was again great to see the potential competitiveness of the car, which is a result of the continuous development and hard work by the team back at the factory. Those improvements in performance are very encouraging and we’ll take them with us into the race tomorrow.

“As always, we’ll put this disappointment behind us as quickly as possible and refocus again on tomorrow when points get distributed. We have two good drivers and a great team that will try to fight back tomorrow.”

Ferrari

Qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix turned out to be very close, as has been the case so far this season, with around a dozen cars all capable of fighting for a place on the third row of the grid. Saturday’s performance matched our expectations, with Carlos Sainz fifth and Charles Leclerc eighth and when analysing the result, there are a few positives to consider.

Both drivers in Q3. For the second time in three races, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow managed to get both drivers into the final part of qualifying. Today, only the two teams fighting at the front also managed this. Conditions were difficult, with low grip, constantly changing, because of the wind that varied in intensity and direction from minute to minute.

Leclerc starts with Mediums. Charles produced a great lap in Q2, managing to make the cut on the Medium compound tyres, matched only by the drivers from the two top teams. However, in the final part, the Monegasque immediately posted a reasonable time of 1`19”306, but was unable to improve on his second run. Starting on the Mediums, probably the best choice for the race, should give Charles an advantage, given that his nearest competitors will have to pit earlier than him.

Carlos confident. For the first time this season, there will not be a Ferrari on the second row, but it’s equally true that in the first two races, at least one of the drivers from the best performing teams had made a mistake, leaving fourth place up for grabs. That didn’t happen in Portimao and Ferrari was thus the third ranked team this Saturday. It was Carlos’ turn to shine in the final minutes, emerging as the best of the midfield pack on both his two runs and his time of 1’19”039 was good enough for fifth on the grid.

Carlos Sainz

“It was a very hard qualifying out here in Portimão due to the gusty wind and the tricky conditions but I’m happy with my session. When I was out on track I could feel I was driving well and we have been taking good decisions on the setup of the car all weekend.
The biggest positive for me is that my approach seems to be working fine and the feeling with the car gets better with every session. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but I think today was a good step and I’m happy about that, though I would have preferred to make it into Q3 with the mediums. My pace was good with that compound and if it hadn’t been for the traffic with an other car on the second push I think I would have been in a better position to make the cut. However, since I had saved one set of softs after a strong first run in Q1, we decided to avoid unnecessary risks and qualified to Q3 with softs. Once in the top ten, a good couple of laps gave us P5 for tomorrow.
Despite the tyre disadvantage for the race, I’m confident that with a strong start and tyre management from my side we can fight for good points. Lets race! Hasta mañana.”

Charles Leclerc

“My performance in Q3 was just not good enough today and I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be. Everyone was struggling in these conditions and I think I pushed a little bit too hard. Once you do that, the rear of the car starts to move a lot and that’s what happened on my fastest lap.
On the positive side, I did a good job going through on the mediums in Q2, which I think will be a strong point in the race tomorrow, especially at the start. We saw more graining on the softs during free practice, so I hope that this will give us an advantage with those around me all starting on the red tyres.
We are all really close so in the end, the one who makes the least mistakes will be the one to get ahead.”

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

“All in all, qualifying more or less matched our expectations after what we saw yesterday. Track conditions were very difficult to assess, with an annoying wind, but we secured a good result, getting both drivers into Q3, which only two other teams managed to do. Carlos did a great job today, especially in Q3, when he got everything out of the car.
Charles could not quite match that in the final part, but his good performance in Q2 means he can start the race on the mediums which, on paper, is a significant advantage in terms of strategy, compared to our closest rivals.
In this first part of the season, on all three tracks so far, in very different conditions, we have consistently been at the top end of the midfield, always getting at least one of our drivers ahead of the others. That was our goal in terms of outright performance and we have achieved it, even though we know we have to work hard to repeat it at each and every Grand Prix. Now, tomorrow’s objective is to convert today’s potential in the race.”

Mercedes F1

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team secures front row lockout for the Portuguese Grand Prix

 Valtteri claimed the17th pole position of his career and first of the season.
 Lewis was 0.007s behind in P2 to complete the lockout.
 Both drivers will start tomorrow on the Medium compound tyre, as will the two Red Bulls in the second row.
 Today marks the 75th front row lockout for the Mercedes F1 Team in the modern era.

Valtteri Bottas

We worked hard to figure out the issues I was experiencing in qualifying, we put things right and this is the result – it’s more like how it should be, so I’m happy. In the first two races, I knew the speed was there but my main issue was tyre warm-up. We’ve put a lot of focus on that, we learned some lessons and I always knew our hard work would pay off. The key was to stay calm, execute the plan and focus on the small details, particularly on the out-laps.

We’ve been stronger than expected which is a positive surprise but it’s only qualifying, I’m already thinking about tomorrow. We know the Red Bulls have a strong race car and we are expecting an epic battle.

Lewis Hamilton

Not that enjoyable of a session because I couldn’t get that many good laps in but I’m not too frustrated, I only did one good lap and that was in Q2. Of course I’d have loved to put more good laps together but it was tricky out there. It’s a slippery track, the tyres are hard so you need to do multiple laps to put temperature into them and it’s quite a peaky balance - it works for a second and then falls away very quickly, it’s on a knife-edge.

It wasn’t meant to be but Valtteri did a great job today and I’m just focused on the race. Now is the time to understand strategy for tomorrow and work out where the opportunities lie. It’s not an easy track to follow but we shall we see - I hope we have good enough pace to fight for the win, tomorrow we’ll go all in.

Toto Wolff

Qualifying was always our weakness in the first two races and now we’re back at the front. We have seen these kinds of performances from Valtteri in the past and today was a mega day for him. But I have no doubt, like I’ve always said, he can be right up there. Tomorrow we have two Mercedes with two Red Bulls just behind, good ingredients for a nice race!

Andrew Shovlin

Congratulations to Valtteri on his 17th career pole position; he’s looked solid all weekend in challenging conditions so it’s a very well-deserved result. It’s also a fine result for the team to be starting with both cars on the front row - the 75th front row of the modern era for Mercedes F1.

It was a fairly difficult session; it wasn’t clear whether the medium or soft would ultimately be the faster tyre and we also had to understand whether a preparation lap was better than going straight for lap one. By final qualifying, no one had come close to matching Lewis’s time on medium from Q2 so we decided to hedge our bets by running both compounds. As it happened, the track got much slower in the final minutes so tyre choice wasn’t important but we were just grateful that we’d done enough to secure the front row. We had wanted both cars on the medium tyre to start the race and on balance, we’re happy to have Red Bull on the same start-tyre given that we have track position. Our main concern will be the warm-up on that compound, the soft runners on the third row and behind will have a grip advantage that could last a lap or two so that may might things tricky.

Alfa Romeo

The third qualifying battle of the season saw Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN deliver a good turn of pace, with Antonio Giovinazzi going close to a place in Q3, finally settling into P12. Team-mate Kimi Räikkönen also made it to Q2, making it two cars from our team in the middle segment of qualifying, and recorded the 15th time in the standings.

After a tricky Friday, in which the drivers reported a challenging feeling with the car on low fuel, the team delivered the improvement that was required for the qualifying session. With an injection of performance into the C41, both drivers battled for a place in the top ten, eventually giving a strong account for the team.

The result puts us in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, especially in account of the good long-run pace displayed yesterday. It will be a long, hard battle on the up-and-downs of the Algarve, but we’re confident we’re going to be in this fight from the first to the very last lap.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“Putting both cars in Q2 was the minimum objective for today, and we achieved it: to fight for a place in Q3 with Antonio shows how much of an improvement we made overnight, so big credit to the team for turning our single-lap performance around after a difficult Friday. Antonio felt really good and delivered two strong laps in Q2 to finish only a little more than a tenth away from the top ten; Kimi was on course to have a similarly good time on both his runs, but unfortunately couldn’t get the lap together. Still, to have two cars in a battle for a place in Q3 is a positive step. We start tomorrow with free choice of tyres and aiming to be in the battle for the points from lights to flag: our race pace looked promising yesterday and we need to translate it into a good result.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“We could have got a better result today as we had made a step forward compared to yesterday, but unfortunately we couldn’t put a lap together in the final run. I missed one corner in both my laps on the last set of tyres in Q2 and P15 is what you can expect when this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow: we know it’s not going to be easy, but we will give our best and see where we end up at the end of the day.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“I am happy with P12, especially because it shows how much we’re progressing: we were very close to a place in Q3, but at least we can choose our optimal strategy tomorrow. The car felt much better today than yesterday, even though the conditions were still very tricky. We seem to have regained the pace we showed in Bahrain after some bad luck in qualifying in Imola, but now we have to make it matter on Sunday. We need the right strategy, a good start and a good race: our pace looked good yesterday, so we can have some fun. I am looking forward to it.”

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