Sprint Qualifying - Brazil GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

13 November 2021 - 23:01
Sprint Qualifying - Brazil GP 2021 (...)

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin finished Saturday’s 100km Sprint qualifying event in 19th and 20th, respectively, ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix at Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil.

Schumacher and Mazepin started the third and final Sprint of the season one position higher up than their Friday qualifying classification, following Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ disqualification for a technical non-conformity related to DRS deployment.

As the race began, positions changed aplenty out in front with Hamilton starting his charge through the order. Both VF-21s started the Sprint on Pirelli P Zero Red soft tires – subsequently staying within a second of their rivals throughout the first lap.

With the Alfa Romeo team-mates touching up ahead, the result being Raikkonen pitching into a spin on lap 2, Schumacher and Mazepin each gained a position temporarily, with the Finn then overtaking Mazepin on lap 5 on the start-finish straight, mirroring the move a lap later on Schumacher.

As the focus of the Sprint turned to preserving life in the tires, Schumacher and Mazepin settled into a rhythm, posting consistent lap times, bringing both cars home safely to the checkered flag.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took his second consecutive Sprint win after defending from Max Verstappen for the majority of the race. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz completed the top three with Lewis Hamilton bouncing back to finish fifth after 24-laps.

Nikita Mazepin

“We went with the C4 tire, which was a bit of a gamble. I think the first few laps were quite good. I had the opportunity to come very close to Mick, we were battling for four corners side-by-side, I really felt that was the right time to react but unfortunately the rear tires were struggling by that point onwards. I tried to use my chance, it didn’t really work, but in the grand scheme of things it’s quite difficult for us at this track to battle with the likes of the Williams and the Alfas.”

Mick Schumacher

“Maybe in hindsight there was a faster strategy but we wanted to make sure we had a good start and a good first lap, which we still had, but we didn’t get by anybody. It didn’t pay off this time, but we have another go. Overall, it was a lesson in learning how the soft tires handled, and we know what we need. Nothing’s lost, the race is tomorrow.”

Günther Steiner

“An exciting start for us – we almost got past at least one Williams, but then it was just not enough. Starting on the soft tires was a good choice, we tried to get by, couldn’t do it and then we fell back, but the distance to the people close to us was smaller than normal, so that was encouraging and neither driver made any mistakes, nothing. They tried always to get on the limit with the tires and obviously we needed to manage the rears a lot because they overheated, but both came back with clean cars and ready for tomorrow.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“We had a terrible start today, I lost three positions into Turn 1 and just didn’t have the pace to come back at the Ferraris and McLaren. It clearly wasn’t the start of the race we expected, so we’ll look at what we can do better for tomorrow. That wasn’t the easiest day for us, especially as the last few laps on the soft tyre were really difficult. As you know, it’s never over until the chequered flag, so we’ll look at the strategy tonight and do everything we can to come back stronger tomorrow.”

*starting P7 after penalties have been applied

Yuki Tsunoda

“I’m not happy with today. I lost too many positions on the first lap and after that I couldn’t maximise the performance from the soft tyre. Due to the format this weekend, I haven’t completed that many laps here, but I learnt a lot from today that I can take away and look at tonight ahead of the race tomorrow.”

Guillaume Dezoteux (Head of Vehicle Performance)

“We completed a good programme this morning during FP2, managing to compare the medium and soft tyres on both cars. We also carried out our pit stop training, which is very useful for the drivers and mechanics, in preparation for the race tomorrow. The tyre choice for Sprint Qualifying was a complicated one and generated some heated discussions between us. For Yuki, it was pretty clear a soft tyre would help us to attack at the start of the sprint however the situation was less straightforward for Pierre. Starting from P4, we had to weigh up the risk between a strong start on the Softs or a more consistent race on the Mediums, with more performance available from the tyres in the last laps. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well for us. Both cars lost positions in the first lap, despite being on the softest tyre and once the situation settled, we were not seeing the pace we had expected. Pierre finished eighth, still in front of both Alpines, which is important for the race tomorrow, and Yuki finished 15th after losing a position to Stroll in the last laps. We will analyse the data in detail tonight to understand why we were struggling more this afternoon and what our approach for tomorrow should be. The race will be more difficult, as we are starting further back, but we still have a chance to score useful points.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“We started on the harder compound and as soon as I saw Valtteri was on the softs I knew it would be quite tricky to keep position, especially in these colder track temperatures. After the first lap we had good pace but it’s hard to overtake here and the tyres overheat a lot so there’s not much you can do so I ended up sitting behind. At the end of the day I always try to do the best I can and it was good to score a few points today. Tomorrow is the important day and it will be different when we have more options with pit strategies. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, it’s going to be quite a bit warmer so hopefully that will be better for us but it’s difficult to say at the moment.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“It was difficult to get past Carlos Sainz today, I thought I was going to get him quite easily, but I couldn’t get the exit right in the final corner and that effected my ability to pass him. We were expecting to hold them back at the start but that wasn’t the case in the end. The main issue I was having today was that Sainz was always getting a good exit out of the final corner while my tyres were overheating. The straight-line speed of the Ferrari was quite strong too. Tomorrow is the race that matters, there is still a lot to play for and we can take more risks than today. I could have made up that position today but it would have involved taking too many risks, more than I would like. I would like to move forwards in the race tomorrow, we will be pushing from the start and try to make the progress we want. It’s important to have a good starting position tomorrow and then work from there, I hope I can get through the Ferrari quickly and have good pace from lap one. We will learn from what we have done today and be stronger tomorrow.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, CEO and Team Principal

“We got two points today and they will be vital in the championship battle, so that’s a positive. Mercedes’ speed today is no great surprise, it has been coming for a few races now. In Turkey it started to appear and in Mexico their straight-line speed was about 14km quicker than us at the end of the straight. We saw it again yesterday, and in a straight-line nobody can live with them. But tomorrow is a different race. It looks like track conditions will be hotter and strategy will be key, we need to get a good start into turn one. We were on the medium tyres today and so we still have the softs to come, and as always in Brazil, anything can happen come race day. We’ve got to get our heads down and concentrate on what we do. We need to have both cars up there challenging for points. We are on the front row with Max and Checo is right behind him, so we are going to go for it and see what we can come away with.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“I made a good start and gained a couple of places, but we had to fight hard to stay there with fast cars, such as the McLaren [of Daniel Ricciardo], behind us. I was in the train of cars, benefiting from the DRS, which certainly helped. The race pace was decent but starting on the Medium meant that we were faster towards the end [compared with those on Softs]. I think it will be similar tomorrow. It is a long race, and we will need to fight hard to score points because there are some quicker cars, including Lewis [Hamilton], behind us.”

Lance Stroll

“We have moved up a place for tomorrow’s race, which is a positive. There was not a lot of action around us at the start, so we were still P15 after the first lap. Then, at the end, [Yuki] Tsunoda started to suffer on the Softs in front of us, while we had managed our Mediums pretty well. He lost DRS from the car in front of him and we got him on the last lap, so I think it was probably the right thing to do [starting on the Mediums]. It was tough to overtake today, but it is a long race and anything can happen at this circuit, so maybe there will be a few opportunities for us tomorrow. We will see what we can do from P14 and aim to make up a few places.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“Sebastian made a great start to be ninth on lap one, while Lance consolidated his P15 grid slot. Meanwhile, Lewis [Hamilton] was on an impressive charge from the back of the field, passing Lance early on and Seb on lap 15, which pushed Seb down to P10. There he remained until the end of the sprint, which result leaves him well placed to drive for good points in tomorrow’s feature race [P9 on tomorrow’s grid as a result of a five-place penalty for Hamilton]. Lance harried [Yuki] Tsunoda throughout all 24 laps, despite reporting issues with understeer and less than optimal traction, but Yuki defended well. Even so, Lance was able to force his way past on the final lap, so he will start tomorrow’s feature race from P14. Like Seb, he will be aiming to score points for us tomorrow.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team will start tomorrow’s São Paulo Grand Prix with Esteban Ocon eighth and Fernando Alonso twelfth on the grid after an exciting Sprint Qualifying at Interlagos.

Both drivers opted for differing strategies for the third ever Sprint Qualifying in Formula 1 history, with Esteban starting from tenth on Softs and Fernando in ninth on Mediums.

Esteban was quick out the blocks and gained two places during the opening lap after a bold and well executed move at Turns 1 and 2.

Meanwhile, Fernando – the star of the Silverstone Sprint in July – couldn’t recover from a difficult start and dropped outside the top ten positions on lap one.

A lap later, Fernando faced the two battling Alfa Romeos into Turn 1 and narrowly avoided the pair. He momentarily moved up to eleventh after a smooth pass on Antonio Giovinazzi, but a fast charging Lewis Hamilton took the position back with an overtake into Turn 1 on lap 8.

Esteban fell victim to the rocket Mercedes a few laps later and dropped down to ninth. For the remainder of the Sprint he managed his pace very well and secured ninth position at the chequered flag, but he will inherit eighth on the grid tomorrow with Hamilton’s five-place grid penalty.

Esteban Ocon

“Today was good and I think we had a strong Sprint Qualifying. I was happy with how the whole Sprint unfolded and we’ve put ourselves in a solid position on the grid for tomorrow. After a mega launch off the line we gained a few places through Turns 1 and 2 and then we were putting pressure on the Alpha Tauri ahead for most of the race. It was very positive today and it’s promising signs ahead of tomorrow. The car felt competitive so the aim will be to carry that forward for the main race. Our race pace looks strong, we have another free choice on starting tyre for tomorrow so we’ll assess our options and see what we can do in the race.”

Fernando Alonso

“We started with the Medium tyres and maybe it wasn’t the best for the race start, but we decided as a team to split the strategy. We lost a few positions into turn one and then found ourselves stuck in traffic for the rest of the Sprint. It’s difficult to overtake here and you need quite a big advantage to make progress. I think when you put the cars in performance order it’ll finish how you expect. And seeing Hamilton charge through the field it was perhaps more exciting for the fans to watch and shows what potentially could be done with the format. The points are on offer tomorrow so we can’t be too disheartened with the result today. What is clear is we need to make sure our start is good as that can make a big impact on the race.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director

“On the whole, it was a good Sprint Qualifying for us. While converting ninth and tenth on the grid to ninth and twelfth at the flag doesn’t look particularly good, for our championship fight it’s very promising as the pace of the car looked much improved and competitive. Both drivers felt their cars were quick and they were happy with their set-ups. We thought we would lose a place to Lewis [Hamilton] starting from the back, but he came through a lot quicker than we thought he would. Esteban had a flying start and from there he was tucked behind Pierre [Gasly] for the whole Sprint and with another two or three laps he felt he could have overtaken him. That bodes well for tomorrow because it’s a longer race and there will be more opportunities to get past him. Today gives us a clue for tomorrow. Recently, the Alpha Tauri has been too quick for us and while they beat us today, we were right there with them. It’s important tomorrow to outscore them – that’s our objective - and we’ll be doing everything we can to do that.”

Williams F1

 Nicholas Latifi finished 16th and George Russell 17th in today’s Sprint Qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix
 Nicholas lined up 16th and George 17th, both on the medium Pirelli tyres
 After both drivers lost a position to the fast-starting Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap, they both gained a place back due to a spin for Kimi Räikkönen later in the session and subsequently came home in the positions they started

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

It was a relatively straightforward day for us. We gained a place to Räikkönen through the Sprint Qualifying session and we did no damage to the cars. There was a good mix of tyre choices, with those starting on the Qualifying compound struggling by the end. We opted to start both cars on the Option, which was still going strong at the end of the race. Unfortunately, we needed another lap or two to catch Tsunoda and Giovinazzi. The race tomorrow will be held in quite different conditions to today’s session and the high track temperature will require more tyre management. We still anticipate a range of viable strategies tomorrow, which could make the race interesting.

Nicholas Latifi

We were lacking pace today in Sprint Qualifying so I couldn’t really challenge anyone ahead. If there had been one more lap, I could’ve possibly caught Yuki Tsunoda ahead but, having said that, we were struggling slightly with our tyres too. It will be a long race tomorrow but a lot can happen here in Brazil, so we’ll have to see if any opportunities present themselves and be ready to take advantage of them.

George Russell

I had a bit of a battle out there but unfortunately it was a pretty processional Sprint Qualifying session for us today. In these short stints, it’s hard to gain a big tyre difference that gives you a chance to overtake. I think there will be some different strategies tomorrow which will offer opportunities, but we’re struggling for pace overall this weekend so we will have to see.

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow picked up a point in the Sprint Qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix, courtesy of a nice third place for Carlos Sainz. Charles Leclerc finished seventh.

Ahead at halftime. In footballing terms, the Scuderia ended the first half of this weekend one-nil up compared to its closest rivals thanks to one point scored by its Spanish driver. The lead over McLaren is now 14.5 points and tomorrow, while it’s true that Norris starts ahead of Charles, who lines up in the same grid position as today, Ricciardo lost three places compared to his grid position this afternoon.

All to play for in second half. There is still the matter of 71 laps to determine the outcome of this weekend and the race will be tough and intense on this difficult and tricky track. Obviously, the main aim is to consolidate third place in the Constructors’ championship. The engineers will now be working hard to prepare for the race, making the most of the experience gained over the past 24 hours. One unknown factor will be the weather as it is expected to be much hotter tomorrow than this afternoon.

Carlos Sainz

That was a very good Sprint Qualifying for me after one of my best starts of the season. I feel starts are one of my strengths, and I have been working a lot this year to nail them with this car. Going for the Soft tyre was a 50/50 choice. We knew they would be good for the first two or three laps but from then on tyre management and defense would be critical.
I managed to find the right balance between pushing at the start and maintaining a stable pace after that. The slightest mistake and the Red Bull could have overtaken us easily as they had a much faster pace. It was very difficult to keep Checo behind, but I’m happy I managed it, because it gives us an extra point and a good opportunity tomorrow. The race will be tough, but I’ll try to keep up this pace and let’s see if we can hold on and bring home a good result.

Charles Leclerc

We still have some work to do ahead of the race to understand why we could not reproduce the good pace that we had on the Mediums this morning. The Softs may have been a small advantage at the start, but we expected the Mediums to be better later on. Unfortunately, the temperatures dropped at one point and we started struggling, especially with the fronts.
The race is tomorrow though, so our full focus is on that and we will work out where we can improve to fight our way up the order.

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

All in all, Sprint Qualifying went reasonably well for us, with one championship point to extend our third place advantage. Carlos drove a great race, starting with an incisive attack on the opening lap and then defending in fantastic fashion in his long duel with Perez, which went on for almost 20 laps. Thanks to a great job from the driver and the progress made with the car, especially since the introduction of the new hybrid system, he was able to stay ahead of a Red Bull that had the advantage of DRS and a tyre compound that in theory should have been better over distance.
We decided to start Charles on the Medium and he also got off the line very well, but then he was not completely happy with the car and dropped one place down from his grid position. He will regain that for tomorrow’s start because another driver has a grid penalty. Now it’s down to us to improve the car so he can get the very best out of it.
We can expect a very demanding race tomorrow but we are starting from a solid base in terms of our grid positions and the overall performance of the team and drivers. We have a clear goal for this final part of the season and we will do our utmost to achieve it.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN had mixed results in Sprint qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, as Antonio Giovinazzi made up one place from his starting position to finish 13th, while Kimi Räikkönen was 18th after having to recover from the back as a result of a collision and spin in the opening phases.

Both drivers, starting in 13th (Kimi) and 14th (Antonio) gained a place at the start and displayed good pace; a lap into the race, however, as they both overtook Alonso, they made contact with each other at the apex of turn one, resulting in a spin sending Kimi to the bottom of the standings.

The Finn was able to recover two places by the chequered flag, finishing 18th, while Antonio only lost one place, to a recovering Lewis Hamilton, on his way to 13th. They will start from these positions in tomorrow’s race, with the aim to make progress and be in the fight for the points.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“We did a good job at the start and things were looking promising until the contact between Antonio and Kimi. They had both made a good move on Alonso and it’s a pity they made contact in turn one, as that put Kimi right at the back of the pack. The rest of the race was pretty straightforward, as positions remained quite static until the end, so we could have had the chance to gain one place with both cars ahead of tomorrow’s race. The result leaves us with mixed feelings – we are happy with Antonio’s race, but disappointed Kimi was caught up in that contact and lost places.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“I had a good start and I thought I could make some more progress when I had the contact with Antonio. I went outside Alonso, he went on the inside and by the time we were at turn one, I couldn’t really see what was happening on the inside. We had the smallest of touches but that was enough to spin me around, that’s about it. Of course, this doesn’t help for tomorrow’s race. It won’t be easy starting from 18th but we’ll try our best to make up some ground.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“The sprint result wasn’t too bad, P13 is not the greatest but we can put up a good fight from there. I am happy about how the race went and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow. As for the incident with Kimi, it’s a shame we made contact: I don’t really know what happened – we were three-wide on the straight, I took the inside and then suddenly I saw Kimi on the outside. We touched tyres, I tried to avoid that but there wasn’t really anything I could do: I was on the inside and braked as normal. Unfortunately, I also picked some front wing damage, which gave me a lot of understeer in the last corner. Now let’s focus on the race: we’ll give our best, the race here in Brazil is always an exciting one so it’s hard to know what to expect.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

“A good day for us with two positions gained. One on a very important competitor, which is the Ferrari, and one on the AlphaTauri, so we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to score some big points tomorrow. There were some positives and negatives from today in terms of how the car was and how confident I was pushing the car. We’ll try to make improvements overnight and see if we can come out even stronger tomorrow. We did everything we could. Even though we didn’t quite have the pace of the Ferraris, we still managed to get ahead of one of them. We’ll try even harder tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“The start itself was alright but the inside line into Turn One got a bit bottled-up and the positioning wasn’t so good. I’ll have a look at that and make sure I get on top of it for tomorrow. We want to try to move forward, so we’ll see what we can do. I’ll learn from today and come back fighting in the race.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“Mixed results today in sprint qualifying. Lando had a good sprint, moving forwards, which was the objective, overtaking Gasly and Leclerc. Daniel unfortunately got boxed-in at Turn One and lost momentum and positions because of that, before being stuck in a DRS train for pretty much the entire race.

“Execution from the team was good today, and the positive is that, in terms of pace, we were in a position to fight with the cars around us. Points are on offer tomorrow, and we’re fully focused now on race preparation. We’re looking forward to an exciting São Paulo Grand Prix.”

Mercedes F1

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team won its second consecutive Sprint with Valtteri Bottas, while Lewis Hamilton charged from P20 to P5 at the flag.

 Valtteri claimed the lead at the start and then drove a commanding race to finish P1, taking his 20th career pole position.
 Lewis charged from P20 to P5 at the flag, meaning he will start the race from P10.
 The drivers completed 16 overtakes during an otherwise processional Sprint qualifying.
 Valtteri’s three points represented a valuable addition to the constructors’ championship.

Valtteri Bottas

Today the start was the key thing for me and I got a good one! We gambled a little bit with the soft tyre. We knew that it would be a benefit for the start and it worked and it was all about trying to survive until the end. It was quite tricky in the final laps but Max still struggled to follow in the corners, so I’m glad it worked out perfectly. The support here from the fans has been amazing here, so thank you as well to everybody who came out today!

Lewis Hamilton

Honestly, I had no idea what was possible today – I didn’t set a limit or a maximum. When I was at the back of the grid at the start before we pulled away for the formation lap, I think I might have been able to see like, 10 and I was like ‘okay, that’s my goal, I’ve got to try and get up as far as possible’ but then all of a sudden I was chipping away at it much faster and I really used a lot of different things for motivation today. I just never give up, you can’t ever give up. It has been tough today: while the team was working away, talking with the stewards, I was just trying focus on my work with my engineers and keeping the morale with my mechanics high and just focusing on the job at hand. Not thinking about it. Of course, it was devastating when I heard about the verdict but you can’t let that hold you back. You’ve got to keep your head down and keep going. I quickly reset, got my mind focussed on doing what I could do and just giving it my everything.

Toto Wolff

Sometimes after the greatest frustrations with this sport, you can forget the politics for a moment and watch great racing. Valtteri was totally in control today – a great car, the right tyres, good straight-line speed – and he was just brilliant, not letting the other guy close. As for Lewis, he made 15 overtakes to finish P5 and it was a fantastic drive. Looking at the penalty: the car was tested yesterday and then two hours before today’s race, we got the information that we had been disqualified. That was disappointing because there is a modus operandi in the sport, and we had a car that we do not consider was in breach of the technical regulations. In the past, we have seen teams given permission to repair this kind of failure, and at the last two race weekends, we have seen permission granted to make repairs to damaged wings during the qualifying session, which equally operates under parc fermé. We believe our wing was damaged on track but instead we were reported to the Stewards. After that, the Stewards did the job they were asked to and their argument needs to be respected; therefore, we decided not to appeal, also because it would have put the entire weekend’s results at risk, and we must take it on the chin and understand that this goes both ways. Looking to the Grand Prix, I believe we have a good car, and it was encouraging to see we can overtake, although it will be a different game tomorrow in hotter conditions. Lewis will start P10 with his engine penalty and Valtteri will be on pole and gunning for the win. It’s certainly a much more encouraging picture than it looked to be before the sprint race.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s been long, busy and difficult day but we finished on a high. A fantastic drive from Valtteri to secure pole for tomorrow. It was a calculated risk starting on the soft tyre but it worked well for us in the morning and the grip off the line helped us take the lead. Valtteri then had his work cut out to hold Max at bay with a tyre that ultimately has more degradation but he managed it brilliantly. Lewis had an equally impressive race; finding out that you have been moved from P1 to P20 shortly before the race starts is not an easy outcome to deal with but he attacked every inch of the way and has put himself back in contention for a strong result tomorrow. It was also encouraging to see the car working so well again, the conditions were quite cool and that may have helped us to follow closely but it certainly seems that we have good pace around this track. Winning these championships will be one of the toughest challenges we have ever faced but today reminds us why we must never give up.

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