Australian GP: Saturday Press Conference and Quotes
Sebastian Vettel - 1st
Lewis Hamilton - 2nd
Mark Webber - 3rd
Q. Sebastian, a totally dominant performance. Half-a-second faster than last year's pole position and you didn't even use the KERS button. You must feel on top of the world?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean it was a bit of a funny winter. A lot of things changed. The cars changed a lot. Winter testing has been busy and we all try and work our way around the tires, the new Pirelli tires, but coming here we were all surprised how well they were working on one lap and also what we have seen on Friday with a bit more fuel in the car was quite promising for Sunday, so we will see how we get on. Surely we have done the first step and starting the season that way is like you want to and it is just a good sign for all of us in the team. We have been working very hard to get that new car, the RB7, where it is now, so I think it is mostly down to the people back in the factory plus the people Down Under now preparing the car and making it ready. I think it was a pleasure today, quite fast, and I am very happy with the result. But if you look at the points we have zero points just like everybody else so we will have to see tomorrow.
Q. Lewis, eight-tenths off Sebastian is a lot but after the very poor winter testing you had I bet you couldn't even dream you'd be sitting on the front row for the first grand prix.
Lewis HAMILTON: Absolutely. I'm absolutely thrilled to be up here today. The guys back at the factory have done an unbelievable job. Really a massive step this weekend. The car is feeling fantastic. Of course, we still have a lot of work to do but I think we have really got ourselves on the right track and a great foundation for us to build upon. I know the guys back at the factory will keep going but a big thank you to everyone at home. Keep pushing.
Q. Mark, it was seven-one-hundredths-of-a-second between you and Sebastian here last year. It is a lot more than that this year. What went wrong?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah. Couldn't do the times today. I was disappointed, obviously, with my performance. Seb put in a very good lap. Obviously, disappointed to get bumped off the front row as well. Tried my best. Mystified to the gap to Seb, to be honest. I will have to go through it and have a look at where I can improve and go from there. So bit frustrating, of course, but credit to the team. The guys have done an incredible job. It is not the best day for me. The bar is high but I would like to have done better today but we still have to reflect on the performance of the team today and what they have done over the winter is a great effort.
Q. Sebastian, in the race tomorrow looking after the tires is going to be crucial. It is a step into the unknown really for all of you on these new tires. What are you looking for and what are the key indicators going to be for tomorrow's race.
SV: Well, I think the key is always to finish the race, to see the checkered flag. Last year, half-way through, we had to retire. But I am quite confident. We had a very, very good preparation in the winter. We hardly suffered any reliability issues. The car was reliable from the first minute and obviously not too slow, so things are looking good. But it is a hard race with the new tires. It is a bit racing into the unknown. We kind of can guess how the tires will behave, but in the end we have to see how it is and also racing all the others, having probably more than one stop, it will be quite entertaining for us as well. A lot of things that we need to keep an eye on and focus on, so looking forward, but today was the base and couldn't have been any better.
Q. Sebastian, that margin over the rest of the field. Does it come as a surprise to you?
SV: Yes. I just said it was a long winter and we all tried to find our way with these new tires, which always wasn't easy. Coming here, since Friday onwards, we were surprised how good the tires worked. It should be fine tomorrow. We were a bit afraid after what we have seen, the degradation we have seen in Barcelona, so that's positive and, car wise as well, we came here with a good feeling but never kind of knew where we would be. Even though the gap now might appear to be very big, it is a long season, a lot of things can happen and today no-one has scored any points. It is a good position to be in, it is the best position, pole position, so I am very happy with that. I think for all the guys who have been working very hard on that car, some were a bit, how can I say, surprised that not a lot of things changed in the car compared to last year but we have proven that things changed and we have done a good step. As I said we need to keep our feet on the ground and see how we get on tomorrow.
Q. James Allen just said you didn't use KERS? Is that correct and, if so, why not?
SV: We didn't use it in qualifying, that's correct.
SV: Not fully charged.
Q. You were particularly good in the third sector. Is that something you have concentrated on?
SV: Well, third sector I think, end of sector two, is just before the high-speed section, 11/12, so after that there is not that many straights anymore. We know that we are probably not the fastest guys on the straights for couple of reasons but in the corners we tend to do not too bad. If you look sector one, sector two there are some straights or more straights and maybe that is the reason. I don't think today, even though the result looks for some people quite clear, you know, I think we don't get over-excited what happened now. We have to keep on working and we want to improve the car. We have things coming up, good things coming up, so let's see what we can do.
Q. Lewis, a phenomenal effort by the guys to transform what was a difficult car into a front row car?
LH: Absolutely fantastic and superb effort from the guys back at the factory. It was a very brave and tough decision for us to kind of pull back from what we had been developing over the winter test and after the last test to decide 'okay, we are going to come back in another direction'. I think since I have been here we have never ever done that before but the results from the wind tunnel looked good and the guys worked harder than they have ever pushed before to get the components here and the car feels a huge improvement for us and a great stepping stone for us. A great foundation for us to really push on. I know we have got some good things in the pipeline from this base where we are but, of course, the gap. If he didn't use KERS, that is another half-a-second so that is 1.3 seconds, which is not normal.
Q. You talked about that margin. Are we going to see that margin eroded and how soon do you think you can do that as, obviously, the pace of development is massive?
LH: It is, yeah. We, as a team, have good development rate. I think over the years you have seen us come from quite far back and be able to develop a little bit faster than some others. At least we are in the fight and from there we can score good points, continue to work on our reliability and, of course, closing the gap is going to be very tough. It is a big gap still, but the car feels fantastic so I can't even imagine what he (Vettel) feels like round the corners.
Q. You were shaking your head when we were talking about KERS. Is that because you didn't use it or were thinking 'wow, without it'.
LH: No, I used it for half my lap and I ran out towards the end of the lap. I didn't have any more. No, I had probably, like, 40 per cent still left. That is a little bit of time but nothing which would get me close enough to them. That is a staggering lap time they did, so well done to Sebastian but like I said I'll catch you up.
Q. Mark, third, not where you hoped to be, but some people are saying that qualifying isn't quite as important as it used to be, due to the factors introduced to liven up the race. Do you agree?
MW: Well, today didn't go to plan for me, obviously. I'm not overly rapt to be third on the grid. Seb did a very very good lap time, so I need to... It's our first qualifying of the year. We've had some reasonable exposure with this car in performance runs, but today's obviously absolutely serious and everything counted, so we put everything forward. I wasn't in the fight for pole, clearly, so we need to address that and take it into tomorrow's race. You have a point, obviously. It's not like last year in terms of qualifying, how powerful it was, but nevertheless it's still important, you know. I would rather to be here than eighth or ninth. I think the most important thing out of today is that we can see the potential of the car. It's the first time that everyone's got into things. The team have done a phenomenal job, so I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow, get some good points and we will come away from here having learned a lot, as we already have done today.
Q. How unknown is the race tomorrow? How much are you going into the unknown?
MW: We got a snapshot on Friday, what we might expect on Sunday; there's still some questions, for sure but not as many as... We've had a reasonable build-up in testing. Seb and I had a smooth run on Friday so the team's got some good data to lean on, to go into the grand prix tomorrow, and obviously we'll put everything forward to get the best result for us.
Q. Can you beat Sebastian tomorrow?
MW: Well, it's never impossible, but unfortunately I've let Lewis onto the front row as well. Obviously I'm not happy with that for the team. It's a long season, so today you can be disappointed, of course, but we'll go into tomorrow's race hoping to get the best result possible and as the boys have already said, it's a long grand prix, a lot of things can happen.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Ralf Bach) Seb, do you think Melbourne is the best track for your car?
SV: I don't know. There are a lot of tracks to come, that's for sure. Last year we were competitive here, the year before as well. We seem to like the place. I like coming here as well, the track is a challenging one, it's quite rough in some places. It's a demanding track for the driver and the rhythm is right, so after one lap you feel happy, I would say, not that you don't feel happy at other tracks but I think here the satisfaction you get is quite good. You feel and you sense the speed around here, so that's something I enjoy a lot and obviously our car likes it as well. All in all, I think that's a good match. So far it has been quite good.
Q. (Ralf Bach) What I mean is that the aerodynamics are not that important here.
SV: I don't think so. I think aerodynamics are very, very important everywhere.
LH: That's the only place where's he's getting a gap to us, the aerodynamics, otherwise it would be even better.
SV: I think the bottom line is that we have a good package and we're happy to be where we are. We didn't really know, after the long winter, so that's a good and a positive surprise which we take on board. As I said, there are no points yet and there will be a lot of races and there will be races where it will be difficult for us to beat some other teams. We're not looking to those, but we go step by step.
Q. (Paul Gover) Mark, were you using the KERS in your car today?
Q. (Paul Gover) Would it have made a difference to getting you on the front row if you had been?
MW: Maybe. We didn't run it today for reasons we will keep in the team.
Q. (Joris Fioriti) Lewis, one week ago you were saying that you had a car that was far from being a winning car and a week later you come up with a very fast car which could be a winning car, so what happened? I don't understand.
LH: Well, I was never saying that the car was bad, it already felt better than last year's car. It was just lacking downforce. What downforce enables you to do is brake later, to attack the corners faster, to get on the power earlier so in improving your downforce you improve your minimum speed, so you can improve your kilometers per hour through each corner by ten kilometers. That's a lot of time, because you carry that all the way down the straights. So we've improved the rear end of the car which means that I'm able to attack corners a lot more, massively faster in the higher speed corners and so we've basically just fixed an area of the car which was lacking and it clearly shows, this weekend, that by fixing that one part, the rest of the car is working quite well around it. But we still have a lot of work to do, but it's really due to a fantastic job by the guys back at the factory.
Q. (Livio Orricchio) To all of you: are you surprised by Ferrari's performance?
SV: Yeah. I think they had a very good run in the winter. Yesterday it was a bit difficult to judge. I thought they're reasonably competitive and more or less there. I was surprised in qualifying. Q1 I saw that they put on some option tires already. It was quite tight for Felipe to get through - not tight, but he had one last shot. And then it's difficult to judge from the inside of the car what was going on, so that's really all I saw, more or less. After that, you focus more on yourself. In Q1 you have a bit more time to watch TV, I would say. Yeah, I was surprised.
MW: Well, yeah, a little bit but I think today it's pretty clear that people are still getting used to the tires and maybe it's not the right window for some people, so this is moving the lap times around a lot. I think we saw Nick Heidfeld go out very early. Some people are still finding their way. Maybe Ferrari are in that boat.
LH: Yeah, I think they've got a great car. I find these tires very easy to use, and obviously these guys have found them quite easy to use, but I guess some people down the field have not really been able to switch them on how they would like but this is very early, we're all learning as we go along. At the end of the testing, it was obvious that they (Red Bull) were the fastest, they were the championship winners the previous year, they were the fastest and won the last race, so clearly, rolling into next year, they were going to be the most competitive, so it was no surprise that they were the quickest this weekend. I would have thought that Ferrari would have been a bit closer to us but I think, again, it's just the tires. Maybe if they got the tires working they would be able to close the gap.
Q. (Matthew Cochinos) Mark, how hungry are you going into your home grand prix tomorrow?
SV: You'll have lunch before, no?
MW: Yeah, Seb said I would have lunch before the race! I think you want to do well at every grand prix, clearly. I think there's a little bit extra emotion, obviously, as both these guys can relate to: Germany for Seb and UK for Lewis. That's normal. Any sportsman competing in a big event at home, there's a fraction more emotion attached to it. It shouldn't really make you perform better, you've got to perform everywhere you go, but also keep in mind that it's a long season this year. You need to get off to a good start in the championship. I didn't put myself into the best position today but I've had tough Saturdays before and Sunday… it's a long, long day, so I hope I will see you guys again tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso - 5th "Clearly, we cannot be happy with this result, but we must not immediately make a drama out of it. We definitely did not get the most out of the car and we have to understand the reasons for that. Compared to what we saw at the tests, here we ended up much closer to cars that had been a long way off in Spain. We went well yesterday and we had a good feeling for the car, while right from this morning the situation changed, obviously for the worse. Now let's see how the race turns out. In testing and in yesterday's free practice, our performance over a long run was good and we were definitely closer to those who today seem to be a long way off.
Fifth place on the grid is not too bad and it means I am in a position to fight for a podium finish in a race which is still wide open, if you only think what happened last year, with Kubica starting from sixth or seventh and finishing second. McLaren seems to have made a good step forward, but you should not dismiss Mercedes either, who were impressive at the last Barcelona test."
Felipe Massa - 8th "We were less competitive than we could rightly have expected and there's no doubt about that. Sure, I did not think I would be fighting for pole, especially when you look at the very quick time that Vettel did, but I had hoped to be higher up the order. We had problems with grip on both the hard and the soft tires on a surface where the tires wear a lot less than we have seen in winter testing and they provide less grip on the first lap, or at least they do with our car.
Now we have to prepare as well as possible for tomorrow's race, when pure speed will not be the only thing that counts, with reliability and team work being especially important. My spin in Q3? When I came out of pit lane, I accelerated and the tires were evidently still too cold: the set was not damaged for the race, but it was definitely not a help on my only flying lap."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal "We definitely cannot be happy with the way things went in this first qualifying session of the season and there is no denying it. However, there is no point in immediately getting into a state about it. We have to work out why we were unable to get all the potential out of our car at the track, at least in terms of pure performance. From what we saw in winter testing and in yesterday's free practice, our race pace is not bad and we will try and make the most of that in tomorrow's race. This year, more than at any time in the recent past, strategy will hold the key, while reliability, as ever, remains the number one priority."
Pat Fry, assistant technical director "We were not on the pace at the end of the first qualifying of the season and we have to take that on board. We knew Red Bull was very quick, but they were even faster than expected and also McLaren were better than us. We had to already use the first set of soft tires in Q1 in order to ensure we got through to the next stage and we paid the price for that a bit in Q3, when we only one had one new set of Options. We have to study the data very carefully to understand what led to this situation.
Having said that, we still have the race ahead of us and that's where the points are given out. Reliability remains the key factor: we have worked a lot on this front over the winter and we hope to reap the rewards of that now. Compared to last year, we will tackle the race with a different strategic approach and there could be some surprises."
Adrian Sutil - 16th "During qualifying itself our speed was ok and better than expected. On my flying lap in Q2 I was only a few hundred meters from the finish line when I ran wide on the curb, lost the rear and had a spin. It is a shame because I was on for a 1:26.1 so I could have been in the region of P12. It's looking quite good for the race tomorrow; for sure we have opportunities to pass people with the rear wing and KERS, so let’s see how it goes."
Paul di Resta - 14th "I think if you'd have said that we would be starting the race from P14 going in to qualifying, we'd have been pretty happy. So for my first qualifying session I think we have to be happy with our result today and it gives me a place to build on for the future. I'd like to thank everyone in the team for their efforts and I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer "Today's standings built on our free practice results and gave us some additional information on the Pirelli tires. Australia is a race renowned for its high rate of attrition and we feel confident that our tried and tested KERS hybrid system and overall reliability will hold us in good stead. We have paid close attention to our tire strategy today as we believe that tire choice and management will impact significantly on performance throughout the grid tomorrow. Whilst it would have been preferable to qualify higher up the grid, we are targeting race points and look forward to getting the season underway."
Heikki Kovalainen - 19th "Unfortunately the rear wing was stuck in the high downforce configuration for the second run which definitely masked the real pace there is in the car. We've also struggled with getting the most out of the tires all weekend but I think the increased temperatures tomorrow will suit the car much more and we'll be in good shape to show what we can really do in the race."
Jarno Trulli - 20th "I've had a few issues with the power steering in practice but the team worked well to resolve that for qualifying and the car definitely felt better than it had this morning and yesterday. We'll clearly be much quicker when we can get the tires up to full temperature so it'll be an exciting race for us tomorrow and I think we'll be in good shape to push the guys ahead who we were much closer to in the warmer conditions in pre-season testing."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "Both drivers did a very good job in qualifying today, despite both of them being hampered by issues - Heikki had a rear wing problem which meant he couldn't improve on his second set of tires, and Jarno reported loss of grip on his second set so we clearly were not able to maximize the car's real performance today. However, I think that we have definitely taken a step forward in qualifying. We have been struggling to get temperature into the tires all weekend, and have had some issues with the power steering, but we made significant progress in qualifying. On the positive side the tire warm-up issues will be much better in the race and looking ahead I am very confident that we can get back to the level of performance we showed in winter testing as we continue through the early part of the season."
Tony Fernandes, team principal "I am happy with qualifying. Obviously we are paying the price of the limited running we had in testing, but I have to admit I was a bit nervous before the session and having seen where we ended up I am pleased with what both drivers produced today. We continue to learn all the time and as this is essentially a completely new car we have to work hard on a number of areas to help us achieve our full potential, particularly on tire management - the car looks like it has Malaysian blood as it clearly prefers hotter conditions! Despite that we are all looking forward to the race tomorrow, and with much more development to come here, in Malaysia and China, before we head back to Europe, I am happy with where we are today."
Jenson Button - 4th "I think we should be happy with this result. Q3 was a bit disappointing, however: I got stuck behind Nico [Rosberg], and Felipe [Massa] had a spin in front of me. It was all quite messy - the lap that I didn't complete in Q2 would have been quicker! So we didn't get the most out of our package in Q3, but it's nonetheless a massive step forward from what we had in testing, so we should all be very happy with what we've done so far.
And there's still a lot we can build on: the car is still in its early stages because we haven't done much testing. To be reliable and reasonably quick gives us huge motivation: everyone back at the factory should be really proud - they put in an awful lot of hard work to get us here today. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow: I had a good race from fourth last year, and I think I can have a good race from fourth this year, too. We ought to be positive and think we can challenge for the win tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton - 2nd "I was really happy with my lap today. The car felt fantastic, and I owe it all to the guys back at the factory, in the design office and those building components. They need to give themselves a huge pat on the back. It was a brave decision to make such a dramatic change to the car, and a superb effort to deliver that change. An amazing turnaround! However, although I was pleased with my performance today, my KERS Hybrid stopped working halfway round my final lap - I had 40 per cent left that I couldn't deploy - but that would have been worth only an extra couple of tenths. Still, it's good to know, because this car platform is now definitely something we can build upon.
Tomorrow is a long race and it won't be won at the first corner. We need to take home some good points from this weekend because we know our car will only get better. We still have some work to do, but I think the race is winnable from here - and I'll be giving Sebastian [Vettel] the race of his life tomorrow!"
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "Yesterday indicated that the car improvements we'd made in the past few weeks were significant, and today proved it. I therefore want to say a big thank you to all the guys here in Melbourne, and back in Woking, who have worked so hard to make those improvements possible. Lewis and Jenson, too, have done a great job this weekend - and the result, second and fourth places on the starting grid for tomorrow's race, is very encouraging.
"Actually, Lewis could have gone a bit quicker still, had he not suffered a KERS Hybrid failure. As a result of that failure, he lost not only the performance dividend that KERS Hybrid provides, but also had to cope with compromised brake balance resulting from the absence of KERS Hybrid. A double whammy, if you like. But the parc fermé regulations allow us to make the necessary repairs, and both he and Jenson will therefore be looking forward to taking the fight to Red Bull on the streets of Albert Park tomorrow afternoon."
Nico Rosberg - 7th "I'm disappointed as when I went to bed last night, I was hopeful of a good qualifying performance. In the morning, a few things didn't work on my car, but the team did a good job and almost all of the systems were working for Qualifying, so we need to find out what happened. I did make a small mistake in Q3 which possibly cost me a place but it hasn't quite come together for us this weekend. One good thing is that I will start on the clean side of the grid, and we will do our best to score some good points tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher - 11th "Clearly that was not an ideal start to the season, and I cannot deny that I am disappointed. It's not about that KERS only worked intermittently or that I could probably have made it to Q3, but it is because our performance did not turn out as we expected. From our testing experience, we were around the pace of Ferrari, however this did not translate today. We faced more problems here than at the test with several issues throughout the whole weekend. We now have to look deeply into it to understand why it turned out to be like this, because for the moment we are not where we wanted to be."
Ross Brawn, team principal "Without doubt, today was quite a disappointing qualifying session for the team. We expected to be more competitive however we haven't got the car working as well as we had hoped today. The fundamentals are good but we've had rather too many challenges this weekend to be able to get the most out of it. We are in good shape for the race tomorrow in terms of tire availability and the car looked pretty reasonable on the longer runs so let's wait and see what happens."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes motorsport president "From the first practice session onwards yesterday, we had some technical issues on both cars which handicapped Nico and Michael in setting up their cars properly. Michael had a KERS issue during Q2 which probably prevented him from progressing to Q3. Nico made a good step from the final practice session to Q3 but unfortunately locked the front wheel braking into the first corner going into his quickest lap. He pushed to the limit and I certainly will not criticize. Our performance in Melbourne so far has not been where we expected it to be after the last test in Barcelona. However everybody in our team will try to get a better result tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel - 1st "It was a funny winter; the cars changed a lot and testing was really busy. We all tried to work our way around the Pirelli tires and coming here we're all impressed by how they're working on one lap and also when there's more fuel in the car. It's promising for Sunday, so we'll see how we get on. We have made the first step and starting the season this way with a pole position is a good sign for the team. We've been working very hard to get the RB7 to where it is now - it's thanks to all those in the factory and those here, down under, for preparing the car. If you look at the points we still have zero like everyone else, so we need to see what happens tomorrow."
Mark Webber - 3rd "I was disappointed with my performance today. Sebastian put in a very good lap. I'm a little bit mystified by the gap to be honest, I tried my best. I'll have to go through it and have a look at where I can improve and go from there. It's frustrating, but credit to the team; the guys have done an incredible job. Obviously it wasn't the best day for me, but the bar is high. I would like to have done better, but reflecting on the performance of the team and what they've done over the winter - it's incredible."
Christian Horner, team principal "A great team performance. First and third for the first grand prix of 2011 is a very good start. Sebastian produced two stunning laps. Mark just lost out on the last run by less than a tenth to Lewis, but first and third on the clean side of the grid is a good place to be starting tomorrow's grand prix. It should be a fascinating race tomorrow, especially with the new regulations. We're delighted to achieve Pirelli's first pole position on their return to Formula One."
Nick Heidfeld - 18th "I'm disappointed to be starting the season from so far back. It wasn't an easy session and I had a problem with the KERS, which meant I had to change some settings, and that cost me one of my timed laps. Then, there was so much traffic and I tried to find some free space, but it didn't work out for me. It's bad luck, but I must try and put that behind me now. As we have seen with Vitaly, the car seems to have good pace and the race is wide open, so hopefully I can move forward and fight for points."
Vitaly Petrov - 6th "After all the hard work during a very tough winter for the whole team, it feels great to come here and qualify on the third row. There was a lot of pressure in Q3 because I only had one run, right at the end of the session. So there were no second chances and I'm glad I was able to deliver the lap. The car has felt good right from the start of practice and we've improved it constantly during each session. I think we are in a great position for the race and that we can fight for some points tomorrow. I'm not too worried about the tires because they have been working well for us so far and we have not seen the drop off that we saw during winter testing."
James Allison, technical director "We're all very pleased with sixth on the grid for Vitaly, but sad for Nick that a troubled session in Q1 saw him eliminated early on. P18 is certainly not a reflection of the pace he has shown throughout the weekend. It was very hard to judge from winter testing exactly where we stood in the pecking order. However I was really pleased with the way Vitaly improved the car steadily through the weekend and produced really consistent results in each part of qualifying. Still, there is a big gap to pole position and we need to work on reducing that.
From what we could tell during the pre-season, our car seemed to run pretty well on its tires, so hopefully we can make good starts with both cars and move forward during the race. It's too early to have a feeling on race pace, but I think we will be able to maintain and improve on our qualifying competitiveness. So far this weekend the tires have proved durable and consistent - much more so than we saw during testing - and that's the case for both the hard and the soft compounds. So perhaps the race might not be quite as frantic as we expected before we arrived here."
Kamui Kobayashi - 9th "Overall performance wise we are not too bad and now we see what we have done in the winter was okay. Of course there are still things to improve, but this is only the first Grand Prix and making it into Q3 is good. I want to thank the team. I only wish I had a set of new tires left for Q3, instead of the used set of soft tires, as then I think P6 would have been possible. However, I believe today is positive news and I'm very happy to give that to Japan."
Sergio Perez - 13th "My first qualifying started quite well with P6 in Q1, and this was mainly because in the third free practice I couldn't run on soft tires and low fuel as we lost a lot of time due to a hydraulic problem. In Q2 we were a bit tight on time after the yellow flag, and then on my last flying lap I had traffic in the final sector and could not get the most out of the tires. Today a better result was possible, and this is a shame. But generally I feel very comfortable and hope for a good race tomorrow with some points at the end."
Pater Sauber, team principal "Finally everybody knows where he stands and I must say I'm satisfied with where we are at the moment. No less important is the positive experience with both our drivers today. From Kamui we knew what he could do, but Sergio, our rookie, was a nice surprise."
James Key, technical director "We are obviously pleased that the progress we thought we made over the winter has been realized today in qualifying. But this is just the start of a long season. Kamui did a great job to get us safely through to Q3 when, unfortunately, we had to run used tires. So in the end he did not find the ultimate performance. Sergio was excellent, considering this was his first F1 qualifying and he had missed a lot of time with a hydraulic problem in free practice three. On his fastest lap in Q2 he had traffic, but nonetheless we are very happy with the job both drivers did. What really counts is the race tomorrow and it will be very interesting to see the unknown tire strategies that could be employed."
Jaime Alguersuari - 12th "I am quite happy, although I have to congratulate my team-mate on doing a better job than me. This is a good result for the team and promising for tomorrow, when my main target will be to score points. The team did a great job during the winter to produce a fast car and this is the first result of that, which I hope we can continue to improve on in the next few races."
Sebastien Buemi - 10th "I am very happy to be back in Q3, as we had not been there since 2009. In the end, I had no more new tires, but all the same, I have to say thanks to the team for doing such a good job and it shows we are on the right road. Let's hope we can continue to do well in the race tomorrow and from what we have seen of our pace in free practice, I think that should be possible. I could not have hoped for a better start to the season, being among the ten fastest cars on the grid. My quick lap was good and I don't think I could have done any better."
Giorgio Ascanelli, team director "Before the session, I expected to get this result. We are just a sniff ahead of Force India, with whom I expect we will be fighting all year. However, I am not going to cry about Adrian Sutil's misfortunes. When analyzing the result, we have to consider that Williams had a difficult session, while Sauber is solidly ahead of us. Seb and the team did a very good job, managing the tires, going out at the right time and generally running the session very well. People have been singing the praises of our car and this is a result of some bold choices we made on the design front. However, we are currently the eighth team and we will have to continue to work hard to try and stay ahead of the others. Jaime did a reasonable job and he has complained of understeer all day, which was not the case yesterday. Twelfth and so close to his team-mate is not a disappointment and we simply did not get the best out of his car today."
Timo Glock - 21st "The first weekend of the new season has been a tough test for us and today we got the chance to see where we stand and how we need to move forward. I had a new engineer and a new performance engineer over the winter and together with my car crew they have done a fantastic job in testing and this weekend. At the end of the day though, fighting for a time within 107% of the leaders is not what we're here for and we can see now where we are and what we need to do to progress. We are a really strong team and now we have to bring the car up to where we need it to be. As for tomorrow, the opening race of the season, we will be focusing on staying reliable and bringing both cars to the finish as the reward for everyone's hard work."
Jerome d'Ambrosio - 22nd "I'm very happy with the progress made this weekend and this has ensured we can look forward to the race tomorrow. On a personal level this was my first qualifying session and I was able to see exactly what was required and where I have to improve. I will use all the information - good and bad - to see what I need to work on so I can keep improving. But for now I am happy that things went our way today and I hope I can have a positive experience in my first Formula One race tomorrow."
John Booth, team principal "It's fair to say that there was some degree of nail biting within the team ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session. That's not the position we want to be in and fighting to stay within the 107% time is not our target - it should be a given. Just like last year we expected the first race to be a tough challenge, coming off the back of a winter of regulation changes. Qualifying was an affirmation of what we already know - that we have a lot of hard work ahead to bring the car up to where it needs to be. Having said that, Timo drove the wheels off the car to get the best possible result today and Jérôme is doing an admirable job in his debut weekend, so all credit to the drivers and the team for a very respectable opening weekend operationally as it's a huge step forward from where we were 12 months ago."
Rubens Barrichello - 17th "Today was unfortunate. I made a mistake, went wide and spun. We have to wait and see what our pace is, but it was quicker than we thought it would be. On another positive note, we've saved our tires for tomorrow which could be important."
Pastor Maldonado - 15th "I made it through Q1 fine and everything was going well. On the first set of tires in Q2, I had two yellow flags; with the second set, I had a big flat spot and had to abort the run. The session was exciting though! We need to improve a bit, but overall the car is good and I feel optimistic. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and I really think points are possible."
Sam Michael, technical director "We've had a troublesome day and although we have to improve the end result does not reflect our true pace. With Pastor's spin and the oil leak on Rubens' gearbox, the mileage we were able to cover in practice was considerably restricted and caused us to be conservative with some of our set-up choices for the race. We had another off in qualifying, this time with Rubens, but Pastor kept his head down and is now looking ahead to a solid race. Tomorrow's focus is firmly on scoring points with both cars. It will also be interesting to see the moveable rear wing working as intended and delivering some exciting overtaking!"
Feedback can be sent to email@example.com
Go to our forums to discuss this article