Sprint Qualifying - Italian GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

11 September 2021 - 18:40
Sprint Qualifying - Italian GP 2021 (...)

Haas F1

Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher finished the second-ever 100km Sprint qualifying event in 17th and 19th respectively ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. With Saturday’s Sprint winner Valtteri Bottas taking an engine penalty in his Mercedes for Sunday’s 53-lap race, Mazepin and Schumacher will start 16th and 18th on the grid.

Schumacher and Mazepin started the Sprint in 18th and 20th following Friday’s traditional knockout qualifying session. A frantic opening lap and an early Safety Car period meant that at the restart Schumacher sat 15th with Mazepin directly behind in 16th – both VF21s running the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires. The Russian subsequently passed his German teammate on lap 4 to take 15th before the race began to settle down. Having later ceded positions to Russell (Williams) and Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Mazepin successfully held on to 17th ahead of Kubica (Alfa Romeo) at the checkered flag. Schumacher raced in 18th before he lost out to Kubica in the final laps to finish 19th.

Friday’s fastest qualifier Bottas maintained his speed to win the Sprint, and three world championship points, but his pre-determined engine penalty means the Finn will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will be the beneficiary of Bottas’ misfortune, the Dutch racer finishing second in the Sprint to claim two more valuable points to add to his title campaign. Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren finished third to take the final point on offer in the Sprint.

Nikita Mazepin

“I think we maximized our package today. I think our team could be in front of one of the Alfas if we do everything correct and we did. It looked like quite a hectic race from the beginning – loads of spins ahead and some dust – so it made for an exciting race for fans. From my side, I think we can still improve our balance because after one free practice yesterday and one free practice today, we haven’t maximized it yet, but we’re making the right steps in the right direction and that’s good.”

Mick Schumacher

“The pace was where we were imagining it to be. Following here seems to be very difficult – the tires overheat straight away, we slide and essentially we fell back a bit. Tomorrow is a new race, a longer race and with strategy you might be able to do something. Normally my starts are pretty good, I usually find the right way around.”

Günther Steiner

“It’s the second time we’ve completed a Sprint qualifying. We started the day with a good morning session with FP2. We went through all our tire work to find out which tires to use and when. The Sprint in the afternoon, at least where we are, it was quite interesting. Everything went well and we picked up a few spots for tomorrow – that’s the only thing we can do. In the end, we had a good day.”

AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda

“It’s a frustrating day. I had quite a good start and had gained a couple of positions before we headed into Turn 4 but unfortunately, I had contact with Kubica and suffered front-wing damage. After I came in to change it, I think I had a good recovery drive and was able to make my way forward. The car felt good today and the pace was quite strong, I really maximised the opportunity of the soft tyre, so I’ll take this experience into the race tomorrow. I think it’ll be difficult, but I will aim to make my way into the points.”

Pierre Gasly

“I’m obviously very disappointed, it’s not been a good day. We had a great start on the Mediums, I managed to pass Lando, and also Lewis. Then at the first corner I was a bit surprised by Daniel, I touched the back of him a little bit and damaged the front-wing. I didn’t initially know how bad it was, but it broke off completely and went under the car at Turn 3, I couldn’t turn anymore and went straight into the wall. The target tomorrow is of course to try and get into the points. I will watch the replay tonight and analyse the possible overtaking spots, as it seemed that it was difficult out there today to make up many positions. We know that anything is possible though, and we’ll try our best to come back tomorrow.”

Jody Egginton (Technical Director)

“After a solid FP2, today’s Sprint Qualifying has not been kind to either of our drivers. Contact with the rear of the McLaren damaged Pierre’s front-wing on the opening lap, which subsequently failed, sending the car into the tyre barrier. Pierre was out of the race on the spot. Yuki had contact with Kubica, which also resulted in damage to the front-wing and required a pitstop to replace it. This put him at the back, but he managed to recover a few places, which is one slight positive. Ultimately, we have been unlucky and not been able to make the most of the Sprint Qualifying. Looking to tomorrow, the guys are going to be busy repairing Pierre’s car for the race and on the strategy side we need to review the options to try and get our cars moving forward in the race, so that we are best placed if any opportunities present themselves.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team will start tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso tenth and Esteban Ocon twelfth on the grid after a tightly contested Sprint Qualifying around the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Formula 1’s second ever Sprint Qualifying got off to a chaotic start with Fernando and Esteban climbing one place each after Pierre Gasly ran wide at Turn 3 and retired from the race.

A Safety Car was brought out for the stricken Alpha Tauri and racing resumed once it was cleared. At the restart, Fernando immediately charged up to Sebastian Vettel ahead and, after a few looks, claimed the position from the German into Turn 6.

Esteban nearly followed suit but found himself stuck behind the Aston Martin despite a few attempts at the overtake, including a bold effort on lap 13 around the outside of Turn 4.

Both drivers then tried to take further positions but found themselves stuck in a DRS train around the 5.793 km circuit, taking the chequered flag in eleventh and thirteenth. The pair gain an additional spot for tomorrow’s 53 lap race, due to a grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas for an engine change, meaning Fernando lines up tenth and Esteban twelfth.

Esteban Ocon

“Today could have been better and we didn’t quite make the most of all the opportunities. We had a good first lap and I was a bit unfortunate with the run out of Turn 2 and then the Safety Car coming out just as I was making a move at Turn 4. After that we were following Sebastian [Vettel] the whole way and I couldn’t complete the move on him. It was one of those races where we could have probably gained more places. Tomorrow is the main race, which is longer and there will be more things happening with strategy also to come into play. We’ll be going for it to make our way into the points.”

Fernando Alonso

“We took two positions today and it means we start a little higher tomorrow so I am happy with that. I would have liked to have gained more, but it was difficult to follow closely here. If I was at home watching as a fan, then I would probably have enjoyed it because you get two days of racing. It’s going to be a race decided by small margins tomorrow, so we have to make sure our pit-stops and strategy are good.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“We managed to gain some positions in today’s Sprint Qualifying, which was our objective. Tomorrow we will start the race with Fernando in tenth and Esteban in twelfth and that certainly puts us in the mix to score some valuable points. We used the Softs today and this gives us some useful information to use for our strategy decisions tomorrow. It’s a much longer race tomorrow and we will be ready to jump on any opportunities ahead of us.”

Aston Martin F1

Lance Stroll

“That was a fun race today. It was not an easy decision to go for the soft tyre over the medium because, while it provides a better launch, degradation becomes a factor later on. We made a good start and gained some places in what was quite a tricky first chicane with all the tyre smoke and loose grass. I then had some good wheel-to-wheel racing with Checo [Perez] later on, too. He gave the position back to me a little later than I expected, which lost our DRS train and allowed [Fernando] Alonso to close in, but we were able to hold onto 10th. We will start tomorrow’s race in the mix for points and I think we can extract a little bit more pace from the car overnight. Overtaking is tricky here so strategy will be important, but I am looking forward to racing again tomorrow.”

Sebastian Vettel

“It was a tricky race for me. I made a good start off the line, but I had nowhere to go in the packed field of cars so I locked up into Turn One. As a result, I had significant flat spots on the front left and right tyre, which created a lot of vibration. It became a race of damage limitation. We will start in a similar position in tomorrow’s race to where we did today. As we saw this afternoon, overtaking can be difficult because it is hard to follow the car in front, but we will see what we can do and try to fight for points.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal

“Lance delivered a strong drive to P10 in today’s sprint, and is therefore well placed to score points in tomorrow’s feature race. Having said that, having cut the chicane while passing Lance, Checo [Perez] was decidedly canny in waiting until Lance had lost a tow from [Antonio] Giovinazzi’s Alfa before giving the place back; in so doing, Checo was then able to deploy DRS to repass Lance almost immediately. After a tricky lap one, and a race compromised by flat spots, Sebastian drove well to P12, and will also be aiming to score points in tomorrow’s feature race.”

Williams

 Nicholas Latifi finished 14th with George Russell 15th in today’s Sprint Qualifying, which sets the grid for the Italian Grand Prix
 George started 15th and Nicholas 16th, both on the medium Pirelli tyres
 Nicholas gained a couple of positions on lap one and ran in 14th for the majority of the race before taking the chequered flag
 George meanwhile fought back after losing places at the start, recovering from 19th to 15th once racing resumed following a brief safety car period caused by a first lap accident for Pierre Gasly

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

FP2 went well and based on that running we elected to start both cars on the medium compound for the Sprint Qualifying session. Nicholas made a very good start and was able to pressurise the Aston Martin and Alpine cars ahead. Unfortunately, the close following and DRS train meant that he couldn’t make further progress. George had a poor start and suffered some front wing damage, which upset his balance for most of the session. Despite the damage, after the Safety Car he was quickly able to recover to finish just behind Nicholas. We will repair his front wing tonight and both cars will start the Grand Prix tomorrow with their sights set firmly on the four cars ahead, all of which will hopefully be more vulnerable over a full race distance.

Nicholas Latifi

I think that was probably the maximum that we could have done today; it’s good to move up the grid for the race. Turn one was always going to be quite tricky, especially from the mid-pack backwards, but I think I managed to navigate my way through and avoid the first lap incidents. From then, I didn’t really have the pace to move any further forward and pass the Alpine ahead of us. I think tomorrow will be tricky as there are cars behind us who have better pace, but you never know what can happen in the race and we’ll take advantage of any opportunities that come our way.

George Russell

We made a poor start and off the line I got overtaken by a few cars. However, we then made a good recovery and I managed to pass some cars and fight back. The race was going alright, the pace felt good but we then had an issue with the front wing. I had massive understeer, and the car was not handling how it should have been which compromised the race. In the end I ended up in the same position that I started, this time behind Nicholas, so now we move onto tomorrow.

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“To be on pole tomorrow at a track like this is a real positive for us, we had a good start and the race went better than expected. We scored a few championship points and it’s great to be starting at the front tomorrow. I was giving it my all to keep close to Valtteri today, but I still expect a tough race tomorrow as Lewis is starting in P4 and they have a bit more pace than us, we know we are slower than the Mercedes here. I’m hoping for another clean start tomorrow so I can create a bit of a gap at the beginning, because I will definitely need it later in the race. It’s going to be an interesting battle and we’ll see what happens, we’ll keep pushing and try to make the most out of it.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“I think we have a good chance in the race tomorrow, we start P8 and there should be more opportunities to come through the field with our strategy. I was hoping to gain a few more places, but my start wasn’t ideal and it was pretty hard to pass. We need to work hard tonight to find some more pace, but I am looking forward to it. On the incident with Stroll, I just didn’t have anywhere to go so had to cut the corner to avoid hitting the curb and damaging my race, I gave back the position as soon as I was able to.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, CEO and Team Principal

“We are grateful to take the points today and the pole position. It’s the first time we will start from pole here in the turbo hybrid era and it will be important to retain that position through the first lap, as Monza is renowned for incidents at the first corner. We expect it to be a tough race. Sergio was the only driver who made an overtake after the safety car in that race, so he’ll make more progress tomorrow. It’s going to be a fascinating race and there will be a lot of debate about tyre choice for the start, is it a one stop, is it a two stop, the strategy guys are going to earn their money tonight. McLaren are a factor tomorrow and we cannot underestimate them, they are quick and their car is very efficient. We’ve got to get our heads down, focus on our own race and make sure that we get a clean start to make the most of this grid position.”

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz produced a solid performance in Sprint Qualifying, the highlight of Saturday at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The Monegasque got off the line really well and was thus able to get ahead of his Spanish team-mate and then move up to sixth when Pierre Gasly crashed out. Carlos crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in seventh place and the pair then maintained those positions to the chequered flag.

One row further forward. Compared to yesterday’s qualifying, Charles and Carlos will move up one row, from fourth to third, because one driver who qualified ahead of them has to take grid penalties. The 72nd Italian Grand Prix, run over 53 laps, equivalent to 306.720 kilometres, will start at 15 CET.

Charles Leclerc

“We had a good Sprint Qualifying and maximized our potential, finishing 6th and 7th. Due to Valtteri’s penalty, we will each move up a place and lock out the third row of the grid, which is the best we could have wished for.
I expect the race to be a tough one, because our competitors ahead have had a strong pace all weekend. Our job will be to score as many points as possible, and if we have a perfect race, we can put some pressure on the four cars in front.
Tyre management will be a key factor tomorrow, especially on the first few laps where you have to push and are at risk of tyre degradation. We have some useful data from today and will work on finding the best front-wing setup based on that.”

Carlos Sainz

“Obviously the crash in FP2 didn’t help our preparation for the Sprint Qualifying. My confidence with the car and around that section of the track was a bit compromised and after lap 1, I focused on regaining that confidence little by little. The start wasn’t ideal either, as I has to brake hard when Gasly went into the McLaren and I was stuck behind them, losing a position there.
However, I’m confident that tomorrow we will have new opportunities and we’ll do our best to score a good result. Last but not least, I want to thank our great team of mechanics for getting the car ready for the afternoon session. On to tomorrow.”

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director

“The result of Sprint Quali was pretty much in line with the performance level seen yesterday in qualifying. Charles and Carlos drove with great concentration for all 18 laps, aware that the slightest mistake could be severely punished on a track that is always demanding. It wasn’t easy for either of them, but they gritted their teeth for the final part of a day that, for various reasons, they had not tackled in 100% great shape physically.
Well done too to all the mechanics who, once again, worked with great energy and at speed to ensure our drivers could tackle this afternoon’s race without any problems. The result means that both cars start tomorrow’s race from the third row of the grid, one higher up than this afternoon.
We are well aware that the characteristics of a track like Monza mean we can expect a very tough race, but we will do everything we can to give our fans something to smile about, be they here at the track or at home.”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN made its home advantage count as it booked a place on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. Antonio Giovinazzi will start in P7 after a confident performance in today’s Sprint Qualifying, while Robert Kubica finished 18th after an early contact during battles on lap one.

Starting in P10, Antonio gained a place on Perez in the run to turn one – a position he was never to relinquish for the rest of the race – and set off in pursuit of the two Ferrari cars. Promoted to P8 after the exit of Gasly, Antonio ran a clever Sprint race, maximising the position he was in and confidently staving off the attacks of a resurgent Perez in the closing stages. A penalty to Sprint winner Bottas due to power unit changes means Antonio will start in P7 – his equal highest place on the grid and the same spot as he had claimed in Zandvoort, just a week ago.

Robert’s race was an eventful one: he was able to make some good positions at the first and second chicanes and seemed set on improving his starting position, only for a contact with Tsunoda to beach him in the gravel. The Pole managed to recover, re-emerging at the back of the field, with a damaged car but with his fighting spirit intact: he even managed to pass the Haas of Schumacher, finishing in 18th – one place higher than his Friday qualifying.

Today’s result gives us more than just a good grid position for tomorrow. It gives us the confidence in our means, knowing we can race in the top ten, keeping our rivals behind, in normal racing conditions. With so many fans in the stands wearing our colours, we want to deliver a special result.

Time to make our home advantage count.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

“The team delivered a really good performance under pressure to book seventh on the grid with Antonio – for the second week in a row. In a short race like today, we needed to keep out of trouble and capitalise on the opportunities and this is what Antonio did: he made up a place at the start, crucially overtaking Perez, gained another when Gasly crashed and then defended his place confidently when called upon. He really got everything he could out of this race and he’s set himself up to have a good race tomorrow. Robert was unlucky as his good start was nullified by the contact with Tsunoda, but he was able to keep the car going and bring it home one place higher than where he started. We have shown we can fight and keep up with the other cars at the front and the objective is the same for tomorrow. We want to have a good result, especially in front of our home crowd, and we’ve given us the best possible opportunity to do so today.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“I am really happy about today’s result, especially in front of our home fans, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We knew we had to be aggressive at the start and we did it, making up two places. We’ve given ourselves a good position to start tomorrow, now we have to finish the job and hopefully gain even a little more. Tomorrow will be a very different race, with a lot of fuel, stops and strategy coming into play: but we are confident. Our pace looked good earlier today and we have good straight-line speed to help us defend. We can go out there and do our own race.”

Robert Kubica

“The race didn’t start well for me: I don’t know what happened exactly, but I didn’t manage to pull off cleanly from the grid and lost a lot of ground. Paradoxically, that gave me a good opportunity to see what was going on ahead of me and I could place myself really well into the first chicane, where I gained a couple of places. Then I did a bit of a rally-style move into the second chicane, passing in the middle of two other cars. Unfortunately, I was then hidden by Tsunoda and I got stuck in the gravel. I was nearly switching the engine off, but then I told myself to try and apply some of my rally skills to come of out the gravel: don’t ask me how but I managed! For the rest of the race I had a lot of oversteer in the right-hand corners and I couldn’t really make up many places: I only understood why when I got off the car – the rear of the floor got badly damaged in the crash and that caused all the balance issues.”

McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo

“It’s really nice to be up there. We had a good start, that was important, but I knew we could. Our starts have been great all year, so we had the potential. I tried to get Max [Verstappen] in Turn One. I had a really good run – I was able to brake quite late, but he also had a decent run into the turn, so I tried to hang on the outside and then I could see that I was running out of room, so I had to come out of it. I think that’s where I got hit from behind. That’s just one of those situations but obviously I’m sorry for Pierre [Gasly]. It was nice to gain a couple of positions, and then we settled into a rhythm. I didn’t have the pace to keep Valtteri [Bottas] and Max in sight, but at least I was pulling away from the others. It was a lonely but happy third and a front row tomorrow. It’s not done yet, but it will be.”

Lando Norris

"Good sprint quali from us as a team. First of all, I think it was a good decision to start on the Soft tyre – it worked well for both Daniel and myself. We both gain a position tomorrow, and Daniel got a point today too, so that’s great for the team. I think it sets us up even better than we were expecting for the race. So, a positive day. I think the race pace is good as well, and we can look forward to hopefully some more points tomorrow."

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal

“Sprint qualifying today went to plan. Both drivers were able to use the Soft tyres to their advantage off the start-line and move up a place on the run to the first corner. After that they both drove a very controlled stint, to present us with excellent starting positions of P2 and P3 for tomorrow’s race, our best position on the grid since 2012. Daniel scored a point today, which is a nice addition, but the big points are distributed tomorrow. Maximum focus is now on preparing for the race, where we should have a strong car. My thanks to the whole team and our colleagues at HPP. They have all worked very hard this week and put the car in a very competitive window. We’re looking forward to an exciting Italian Grand Prix.”

Mercedes

A mixed afternoon in Monza for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in the second F1 Sprint of the season

 Valtteri won Saturday’s F1 Sprint after a strong performance from P1 in the 18-lap, 100km Sprint.
 Lewis suffered wheel spin off the line, lost three positions and finished P5; he will start the Italian Grand Prix in P4.
 The Finn will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid following a Power Unit change for a 4th
 Valtteri adds three points to his Drivers’ Championship tally and the Team’s Constructors’ Championship total.

Valtteri Bottas

A good day in the office for me personally, it was a clean race and I had the pace. Feels like it has been a while since I’ve finished first in a race, so I am very happy. I had a good start and a clean restart as well, so those things were key for me. The car felt good throughout, and it was great to finish P1 today and get some points as well. Unfortunately, I’m starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there, so I’ll be fighting. There are overtaking opportunities here so I hope I can make my way up the grid and have a good race for the Team. It won’t be easy, but we have the pace and with the right strategy we can make something happen. I’ll give it everything, I can promise you that.

Lewis Hamilton

Well done to Valtteri on a great drive. It was a frustrating day for me, with a bad start due to too much wheel spin and then not being able to recover from there. During the race, it was difficult to get close enough to overtake the McLarens so we’ll be looking into that as well. We lost valuable points today and we’ll need to work hard to take maximum points tomorrow. It’s not the outcome we wanted for today and we can’t afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the Championships. We have work to do to analyse today’s race and prepare for tomorrow. I hope we will be able to limit the damage, and I know Valtteri and I will come out fighting.

Toto Wolff

That was a mixed afternoon for us. Valtteri didn’t put a foot wrong and put in a really strong performance to finish first on the road. Of course, he won’t convert it into pole position because of the engine penalties, and it will be a tough race tomorrow to make his way back through the field because overtaking here is not easy, as we saw today. For Lewis, the outcome was decided by the start; there was too much wheel spin off the line, he lost positions and then in such a short race distance, there wasn’t enough of a performance delta to make back any positions to the cars in front. It’s not the outcome we wanted but there is still plenty to play for tomorrow in the race. We will spend the evening looking at our options on strategy with both cars, to make sure we take every opportunity to maximise our points score.

Andrew Shovlin

Well done to Valtteri for the win today; he kept it under control from start to finish. Unfortunately, he’s facing a rather different race tomorrow from the back but he’s got good pace so hopefully he can recover well. Lewis on the other hand had a tough afternoon. The start wasn’t great, we’ll look into what went wrong before tomorrow but despite being much quicker than the McLarens, he just couldn’t get close enough to pass. We’ll have a look at strategic options for Lewis tomorrow but the reality is that if we struggled to overtake the McLarens today we’ll face the same situation tomorrow and that’s going to hand Max a very easy win. We need to look at every possible opportunity as it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen, and it can often be an eventful race here, but we can’t afford to drop back in the first stint at the rate we did today.

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