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Sprint qualifying - British GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

17 July 2021 - 20:56
Sprint qualifying - British GP 2021 (...)

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“I’m quite frustrated this evening, it was just not what we wanted out there today. We started this weekend badly in FP1 and with only one practice session we couldn’t really react to that ahead of Qualifying, then today I’ve really struggled again. It’s very disappointing because I know the car has much more potential but so far, we just haven’t managed to get it working here this weekend. We will look at all the data tonight and try everything we can to make our way up to the points in the tomorrow’s race.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“I’m obviously disappointed with today’s performance, I’m not finishing in a position that I’m happy with and I’m then starting the race tomorrow from the same place. I feel that this weekend’s format is quite difficult for rookies, as you only have one free practice session before Qualifying, which is tough, but I hope the spectators enjoyed this new schedule. We’ve struggled with the performance of the car this whole weekend, so we just need to go away tonight and review the data so we can learn more for tomorrow’s race.”

Jody Egginton (Technical Director)

“Today was always going to be a challenge. With yesterday’s Qualifying not quite going to plan for the team, both cars were starting out of position in today’s Sprint Qualifying and that was always going to be tricky. As expected, a train of cars formed that we needed to make our way through and unfortunately, that just wasn’t possible today. It’s not been a fantastic day for us, so we’ve just got to see if we can recover it tomorrow in the longer race. It’s been difficult for us this weekend so far, compared to our normal performance, so there’s lots of data to review tonight and we’ll see if we can extract anything further from the car tomorrow.”

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin will start the British Grand Prix from 18th and 19th, respectively, having finished in those positions in Formula 1’s first-ever 100km Sprint qualifying event at Silverstone Circuit.

With the grid for Sunday’s 52-lap race being set by the classification from the 17-lap Sprint, Formula 1 ventured into new territory when the lights went out and the on-track action began on Saturday afternoon.

Schumacher and Mazepin started the Sprint in 19th and 20th following Friday’s traditional knockout qualifying session. Contact between the rookie pairing on the opening lap resulted in a spin for Mazepin at turn three but both cars raced on. Sergio Perez spun on lap six dropping the Red Bull Racing driver down the order, briefly promoting Schumacher up to 18th, but the Mexican clawed some ground back before retiring to the pits on the final lap. As a result, Schumacher finished 18th with Mazepin 19th at the checkered flag.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen won the inaugural Sprint – the Dutchman earning pole position for the British Grand Prix, his fourth consecutive pole and his fifth of the season, and three additional world championship points for the win. Verstappen beat home-town favorite Lewis Hamilton – the British racer securing second on the grid for Sunday’s race and two points. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third with the Finn claiming the final point on offer in the Sprint.

Nikita Mazepin

“I had a very good launch – one of my best starts this year. The nature of this track means I was on the outside of T2 and then the inside of T3. You try to carry the speed in but the car on the left has a better stopping power and you both try to make the corner but then I had to avoid my teammate. With the pace of the car we have this weekend, the best comparison I have is my teammate and I was a lot faster than him for the first part of the race and then a lot slower for the second part of the race.”

Mick Schumacher

“I think we could fine-tune it here and there to try and make it logistically better for us, to be able to change set-ups etc. – but I think for a first try, it was very good. I think for smaller teams it’s a bit tougher – we have less time, and we have fewer capabilities compared to other teams who have more people. Unfortunately for us, it was quite lonely out there but still interesting. Now it’s up to us to analyze what we can do better to be closer next time.”

Günther Steiner

“For me personally, this was a good experiment – but it’s not about what I think, it’s about what the fans think. If we come to the conclusion that they like it, then I’m all for it. Our day today was nothing exciting – more of the same I would say – but in the end it was something exciting for this weekend as we had a different format for the race weekend. We learnt something, we have something to think about and we keep a bit of excitement going.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“That was good fun. I’m of course happy to score the three points and it’s quite funny to have a pole position from the race as well but we will take it. Around here it is difficult to pass but we had a good start and a good fight with Lewis on the first lap. From then we tried to do our own pace but we were pushing each other hard right to the end as you could see the tyres were blistering which we all had to manage. Starting the race on lower fuel we could really push the cars hard through the fast corners, lap after lap, which means it is naturally hard on tyres but we all have the same to watch out for. We now can’t touch the cars for tomorrow and we learnt today that it is very close again with us and Mercedes. It seems that we are very quick in the corners and they are quicker on the straights so tomorrow it’s going to be a really exciting battle and the Team did a great job to manage the new format this weekend. I also want to say a big thank you to the fans. I know they are mainly here for the British drivers but it is still great to see them here cheering and all I want is a good battle with Lewis and everyone else tomorrow which should keep the fans entertained.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“It’s a real shame to have to retire from the sprint race today as the car felt quite good. It was a poor day for me and I can only say sorry to the Team as I lost the rear of the car while battling with Lando which ruined our day. I was in the middle of the corner, already picking up quite a lot of throttle and I think I got caught in a bit of dirty air and became a passenger really early in the corner. I avoided any contact but after the spin we had too much vibration on the tyres and that was it. The Team were worried about the damage that could be caused with the vibrations, and there wasn’t anything more to gain, so they made the decision to retire the car. We’re at the back of the grid tomorrow and it’s not easy to overtake here, but we look like we have a lot of pace in the car so you can be sure I will be pushing hard to score as many points as possible. It’s a low point for me, but tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to seeing what we can do.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, CEO and Team Principal

“It’s fantastic to be starting on pole for the British Grand Prix, which was achieved in a different way with Max winning the first ever sprint qualifying race. This marks our first pole at Silverstone since 2011 and breaks the Mercedes nine-year pole position streak. The race start was crucial for us and Max got a great launch off the line. We knew Lewis was particularly strong in Sector 1 so staying ahead down the main straight was particularly important for us, which he did and maintained the lead until the flag. It’s just a shame that we haven’t got Checo up there as well following that high-speed spin when he lost the rear in the dirty air. Thankfully Checo avoided the wall but the level of vibrations were so high we opted to retire him in order to fully check the car over and complete the necessary safety checks, once permission is granted, before the race tomorrow. You can see there was very little between us and Mercedes today, we were quicker in the corners where they were mighty in a straight line. The temperatures look set to sore and tomorrow’s Grand Prix won’t be a repeat in terms of tyre wear. The higher fuel loads at the start of the race mean the cornering speeds will be slightly lower, giving the tyres an easier workout in the corners at the beginning of the race, so it will be interesting to see how that affects things. It’s fantastic to be staring on pole position and I hope the fans enjoyed the action and a different format of racing today.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten on the grid after a sensational Sprint Qualifying performance from Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

Fernando put in an epic drive throughout the 17 laps, the first-ever Sprint Qualifying race in Formula 1, moving from eleventh on the grid to fifth on the first lap thanks to an inspired strategy call of using Soft tyres, a super start, and, a strong first few corners. Using the tyres to his advantage on the opening laps, the Spaniard held position until the McLarens moved through by lap nine. He then held Sebastian Vettel at bay with some defensive driving and measured tyre management to claim seventh at the end of the race and a strong position for tomorrow’s race.

Esteban also enjoyed a strong performance, moving from thirteenth on the grid to tenth at the chequered flag. The Frenchman also started on Softs and had a similarly impressive start into the first corner, passing Pierre Gasly off the line.

He inherited two further positions as a result of Carlos Sainz’s trip wide at Turn 6 and Sergio Perez’s pirouette at Turn 14. Esteban too had to put in an impressive defensive shift to hold off Gasly and a charging Sainz at the chequered flag.

The 52-lap British Grand Prix will start at 15:00 local time tomorrow in front of a sell-out crowd.

Esteban Ocon

“I’m pretty pleased with today’s Sprint Qualifying as we’ve gained three places for the race tomorrow and that means we’re starting in the top ten for tomorrow’s race. It’s where we felt we should be yesterday, so that’s positive. The call by the team to start on Softs was good and I had a quick start off the line to gain some positions. I enjoyed the new format; it was fun as it added some action and dynamism to the weekend as well as some uncertainty. Tomorrow we have a free choice of tyres again and that leaves the strategy box open with some flexibility on what we can do. We’re ready to race again and hopefully we can put on another show for the fans.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was a good session for us today and I had a lot of fun. I think we made the right choice starting on the Soft tyres and it’s a better position to start the race tomorrow. Our start was good and I climbed quite a few places from eleventh to fifth in the first few corners. We then lost a few positions back to the McLarens and held onto seventh at the end. I think the format was fun but I am sure there are some small improvements we can make. We’ll aim to carry this momentum into the race tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It was an exciting race for us, so a very positive Sprint qualifying all in all! We decided to start with new Softs, which was a calculated risk, but a good choice from the team. Fernando definitely made the most of the strategy; he did an incredible first lap, gaining six positions in half a lap and then he fought all the way through the race. With Esteban we also moved up a few positions, which is important for the actual Grand Prix tomorrow. It was a good job from the drivers and also the whole team and now we need to try to consolidate our positions tomorrow.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“I have enjoyed this unusual weekend format so far. It was interesting to have the intense moment yesterday evening followed by the Sprint today, which can go either way. For us, it went well and we gained some places for the race tomorrow, and some others lost ground. Fernando [Alonso] made up a lot of places on lap one – starting on the Soft tyres – and I thought he would struggle more in the final laps. I was close behind him, but could not make the move to overtake. This result puts us in a decent starting position for tomorrow [P8], which will be a very different race with the strategy options.”

Lance Stroll

“It was good to make up a little bit of ground in the Sprint, but I think we are still searching for the optimal car balance. It was challenging to make up any further places as the midfield bunched up and we ended up in a long train of cars. The positive is that the short race gives us more relevant data to go over and look to find the improvements we need. It is a long race tomorrow; anything can happen, plus the heat will be a factor, as well as the free choice of tyres, so I am looking forward to coming back stronger tomorrow.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“We achieved our objective in today’s Sprint – to make progress with both cars – which we did. Lance suffered poor rear grip but nonetheless did extremely well to earn a P14 grid slot for tomorrow’s race. Sebastian finished eighth, close behind [Fernando] Alonso, whose Soft tyres were shot by the end, but obviously there was no point in Sebastian risking a back-row start for tomorrow’s race by attempting to wrest P7 from Alonso, especially for no points reward. He will therefore start tomorrow’s race from a solid P8, from where he ought to be able to score points. From P14, over a full-distance 52-lap race, Lance, too, will be aiming to make up places and score points. Our objective must therefore be a double points finish at our home Grand Prix, proudly flying the Union Flag on both cars!”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN made an improvement in the first ever Sprint Qualifying session in the history of Formula One. Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi crossed the line in 13th and 15th respectively, a net gain of three positions, giving themselves and the team a better chance of scoring points in tomorrow’s race.

Starting with Antonio in 14th and Kimi in 17th, the team chose to split the strategies, with the Finn starting on the softer compound in the hope of making ground up in the opening stages. Indeed, that was the case, with Kimi climbing four places in the first lap; Antonio, on the other hand, had a difficult start and couldn’t make up any places.

The short race – 17 laps in total – didn’t offer many opportunities to mix up the standings, with no strategy and pit-stops at play, and it remained a cagey affair until the chequered flag. Still, with three places made up by the team overall, it’s a good step forward that allows us to be in a fighting position when we return to track tomorrow.

In a race spanning the traditional full distance, we can expect our race pace to keep us in contention for points. The Sprint gave us a helping hand, but we now have to finish the job.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

“It was an interesting first experiment with the Sprint Qualifying format, and to come away from it with a gain in terms of grid positions is definitely a positive. We knew the biggest chance to make up places was at the start and Kimi did really well to make the most of his soft tyres. Unfortunately, Antonio had some wheelspin and couldn’t produce one of his strong starts. After that, it was a matter of not losing the ground we had gained: we brought the car home with a result that equals what we would have had with two cars in Q2 on a regular weekend, so we can be satisfied as we prepare for tomorrow’s race.”

Kimi Räikkönen

“We are better off now than we were yesterday, so I’ll take it: I’ll be in my best grid position of the year and I have to be happy about it. We started on the soft, but I don’t know how much there really is in between the two tyres: in the end, it was important to get the launch right and stay out of trouble and we managed to do it, gaining some places. It’s still going to be a long race tomorrow: we will try to keep improving and bring home some points.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“It was quite an intense race, pushing from lap one to the flag, but in the end there wasn’t a lot of action after the start. Unfortunately my launch wasn’t great and I lost some places: then we had a decent pace but very similar to the ones in front of us, and that made overtaking impossible. In the end we only lost one place, so we are still in a good position for tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a better start and, with the strategy and a longer race, we can move up a few places.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

"A good first sprint quali race! I think we achieved everything we could’ve hoped for today. We got ahead of one of the Red Bulls, which is a quicker car, but we managed to beat them off the start and over the first lap, so it was a fun first-half. At the end, it was a quiet finish in clear air on my own. I think we now have a good reading on where we stand compared to the other teams, so we know what we need to try to do tomorrow. I hope the fans enjoyed the new format and it brought something different to the weekend. Let’s hope for the same again tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo

“That was quite good fun! It’s obviously over pretty quickly, but Alonso having a good start made our race a bit more exciting, so I enjoyed it! The first ten laps were busy, I thought that was cool, so I hope the fans liked it.

“I don’t know what it was like around us, but I hope the order changed up a little bit. I gained a position and start in a better place tomorrow than I started today. That was the aim for today, so I’m looking forward to going out and fighting for more tomorrow.”

James Key - Technical Director

“The weekend has been a learning curve with a new format based around sprint qualifying, but we’ve enjoyed the fresh challenges this has brought. Car specification was frozen for yesterday’s qualifying session, with the parc ferme conditions kicking in early this weekend, which left us with higher fuel levels and tyre compound assessment as the main focus for free practice this morning, both in preparation for the sprint quali and tomorrow’s grand prix.

“The sprint race itself went well for us, with a great performance from our drivers, who both regained a position after getting past the fast-starting Alonso, although this stopped us from making any further progress in the time left. However, we’re placed fifth and sixth on the grid for the race tomorrow and this gives us a good opportunity for some decent points.

“It’s been an interesting weekend so far – the new format certainly adds new elements and a different approach to what we’ve been used to. Being able to push the car for 17 laps flat this afternoon certainly generated a lot of close racing and I think it worked well. It’s great to see so many fans here at Silverstone – always a strong point of this race – and we look forward to seeing the same again tomorrow.”

Ferrari

Immediate impressions after Formula 1’s first ever Sprint Qualifying are positive. The 17 laps to decide the grid for the 72nd British Grand Prix to count for the Formula 1 World Championship provided spectacle and excitement for the crowd at Silverstone and viewers around the world. The outcome however was bitter-sweet for Scuderia Ferrari. Charles maintained his fourth place on the grid, but Carlos, who ended up being one of the stars of the show with a string of overtaking moves, lost several places after a collision with Russell in the early wheel to wheel stage of the race.

Fight back. After the incident, Carlos dropped to 19th but he didn’t lose heart and in just 12 laps he managed seven passing moves to get back up to eleventh place. He starts from that position tomorrow, in what will be essentially a continuation of today’s race, aware that he has the potential to move further up the order.

Indications. This afternoon produced plenty of valuable data in terms of the outright competitive level of the car as well as that relating to tyre management. From what could be seen today, with higher temperatures expected tomorrow, the Grand Prix will be very closely fought but also very exciting.

Charles Leclerc

I really enjoyed Sprint Qualifying today. Driving flat out for 17 laps is different to what we are used to and I had a lot of fun. One big difference is that you don’t have to think about saving tyres and can just go for it. I didn’t take any risks but had there been a good opportunity to gain a position, I would have taken it. It was a bit lonely from my point of view, but in a good way because I could keep up with the pace of the car ahead without it pulling way too much.
Overall, I have liked the format of the weekend so far. It gives each day something special to look forward to, especially on the Friday, where you have more to gain with qualifying than you would on a normal weekend. I think it makes things more exciting, for us as well as the fans.
The run on the Medium tyres was quite representative. Even if the fuel level was not the same as it will be for the race, it gave us a good picture of the balance. There is a lot of data to analyse tonight and to learn from for tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz

More than a Sprint Qualifying it was a “comeback stint“ for me today. I’m very far from happy because the car had good pace and I was looking forward to qualifying in a good position for tomorrow.
Unfortunately my race was heavily compromised at the first lap due to what I honestly think was George’s mistake. He locked up and hit me in the rear of the car, forcing me off the track and obviously sending me to the back of the field in P19. I wasn’t going to give up, so I pushed flat out for the rest of the race, did some good overtakes despite the difficulties at this track and managed to recover to P11. It was a strong comeback, but I would’ve preferred not to be pushed off.
Anyway, it’s part of racing and we still have tomorrow to try and make up more places. The car is ready and so am I. Let’s race again.

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

A good debut for Sprint Qualifying, which provided a show and some interesting points. For our part, Charles produced a great performance to ensure he starts tomorrow’s race from fourth, where he qualified yesterday. More importantly, he showed strong pace, running not far behind the three cars ahead of him.
It was a shame for Carlos, who dropped back from yesterday’s qualifying position because of a difficult opening lap and a coming-together with Russell, which he could do nothing about. It’s even more of a shame given that he had the potential to make up places rather than lose them. At least he put on a great show this afternoon!
These 17 laps have provided us with plenty of data to prepare for tomorrow’s race and that’s what we are concentrating on from now on. Before this weekend, we knew the difficulties we would face. From what we have seen so far, the work we have done is starting to pay off in terms of performance, both on a qualifying lap and over a long run. But we will only have the full picture after the chequered flag falls.

Mercedes F1

P2 and P3 for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team at Silverstone in the first ever F1 Sprint

 Lewis was jumped at the start by VER and despite fighting back strongly, couldn’t make the pass and will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix in second position.
 Valtteri started on the Soft tyre in contrast to the drivers ahead of him but without making gains in the opening part of the race, switched to tyre conservation mode to complete the 100km sprint.
 The Finn will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix third on the grid, the same position he achieved in Friday’s qualifying session.
 Lewis added two points to his Drivers’ Championship tally, losing one point overall to VER, while Valtteri added a useful point to his championship as he continues to close the gap on the drivers above him.
 The top of the Constructors’ Championship remains unchanged with Mercedes and Red Bull each adding three points to their account.

Lewis Hamilton

I did everything I could at the start with temperatures and clutch position but I still suffered wheelspin on the line so we’ll dig deep to understand what happened. I think it was great for F1 to try something new and even if the race wasn’t particularly exciting after the first lap for myself, there are definitely learnings we can take from today.

This season it’s been a struggle with certain elements of the car but we’ve done such a great job to get to the performance level that we had yesterday - Valtteri did a great job too and we’re definitely getting closer. The Red Bull is really difficult to follow on track and from yesterday’s high, it feels like a bit of a down but we’ll turn it around to find the positives and come out fighting tomorrow for the race.

Valtteri Bottas

Choosing the Soft tyres, we thought we might have a small advantage at the start but I couldn’t gain any places through the first few corners and from then on, it was important not to kill my tyres because the Softs are much more sensitive than the Mediums. I suffered some blistering but I could manage it well and I’m happy we tried something different.

It was nice to have another race today, obviously not as meaningful as tomorrow, but I hope the fans enjoyed it, even if personally I prefer qualifying to the sprint. Tomorrow will be an open race, it’s cool that we’ve got free choice of tyre compounds so we’ll see a mix of strategies which should make things interesting.

Toto Wolff

That was a pretty flat out first sprint race – it was a frustrating for Lewis to lose a point to Max this afternoon, but we saw that we had the pace to make it a very close race tomorrow. We will need to take a closer look to understand what happened at the start for Lewis – and I think if we had held the lead, we had the pace to finish in P1 as well because it wasn’t easy to follow. But it’s set up an interesting Grand Prix: there are two teams close on pace, we have Lewis and Valtteri in the mix at the front, and it looks like tyre strategy can play a big part in these temperatures as well. So we will be aiming to fight back strong in the Grand Prix proper.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s not ideal to have lost a place with Lewis off the start but we can take some encouragement in the car pace which is hopefully enough to put Max under pressure tomorrow. We also have two cars at the front which will open up some strategic opportunities. After the first lap there wasn’t much that we could do; on the same age tyres it was hard for Lewis to get close enough to attack and for Valtteri, he was doing a bit more management to cover for the fact he was on the Soft tyre.

Having the sprint race today does make it a little easier to plan for tomorrow as you’ve got a clear idea of everyone’s pace and how the tyres are behaving so we have a bit of work this evening to take the maximum learning from that. Our goal was to come here, to win and to close the gap in the Championship and I think from what we’ve seen over the last two days, that’s still an achievable target.

Williams

 George Russell finished 9th on track and Nicholas Latifi 17th in today’s Sprint Qualifying, which sets the grid for the British Grand Prix
 Unfortunately, George picked up a three-place grid penalty post-race for an incident with Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and will now start 12th on the grid
 George ran a good race, starting 8th on the grid on the medium Pirelli tyre. He lost a couple of positions at the start, but made up one when Perez left the track
 Nicholas started 18th also on the medium compound, he ran as high as P16, making up a couple of places in the opening stages

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

We’ve had a solid day and remain in a good position to start the race tomorrow. It was a shame to lose a few places with George, but nonetheless he will start the Grand Prix in a relatively strong position. Nicholas has improved his starting position too and both cars are in good condition.

Tomorrow will be hot, and this will influence the strategies that people will employ in the race. We have some work to do tonight to work out what is the best option for us, but we are confident that we can do that and consequently put ourselves into a position to deliver a good performance tomorrow.

George Russell

Overall, it was an interesting race, trickier than I anticipated out there keeping the tyres alive for 17 laps. It was very difficult keeping Esteban (Ocon) behind. The Alpine was very fast even on the soft tyre, but we finished ninth on track and my first time in the top-10 with Williams.

However, it is very unfortunate to get a penalty and I feel that it was a harsh decision. We are still going to be starting in a great position to fight for points tomorrow. We had a really strong race today; it is going to be long race and tyre management will be key, which will be the overriding factor into the result. So, let’s wait and see!

Nicholas Latifi

It was quite uneventful for me but definitely more intense than a normal Grand Prix. There isn’t a lot of tyre management given the distance, so you just try and go as flat out as possible. In the end, we were just compromised by our starting position as we were unable to attack any of the other cars, and just hanging on to that position. I am still frustrated from yesterday as we shouldn’t be starting where we are right now, I think it will be tricky to move forwards tomorrow and we will have to rely on a few opportunities to present themselves. It will be a long race, but anything can happen so we shall see.

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