Chinese GP Saturday Press Conference and Quotes
1. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
2. Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)
3. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
Q: What a surprise to see you here Sebastian! Another race, another pole. That is four in a row now.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah I mean obviously we did it again but I tried to keep reminding myself and the team as well that every single time it's tough. I don't think today was as straightforward as we probably planned, especially in Q2, I didn't feel 100 per cent comfortable. I had a bit of a mistake in the run I had in Q2. But I was confident and in Q3 we were able to improve by quite a lot. But, as I say, step-by-step. It all starts from zero again. Today we did a good job, one more time, but all that is eight meters tomorrow so we are looking to score some points tomorrow. It will be a long race. I think we can be as happy as we can be with the car, with everything around us. We had very good long runs on Friday so I think we have reason to feel good. But it is also a threat to feel too good. I pay attention so that does not happen and tomorrow is a new day and whatever happened today is not really of much of an importance except that we got a very good spot on the grid.
Q: Jenson, congratulations on your front row start. At any stage did you think it could be pole today or realistically were you and McLaren just chasing the Red Bulls.
Jenson BUTTON: I mean in the heat of the moment you always hope that it is possible, but the pace in Q3 was phenomenal of Sebastian and the Red Bull. In Q2 it looked like it was possible and that's why I chose to run with two tires in Q3 to give it a go and see if we can, but then I saw Seb's time and thought 'ok, we are maybe going to have to fight for second place'. But it's nice for me. This is my best grid slot of the year. From where we were on Friday I don't think either of us were happy with the balance and I think we have improved the car a lot and we should be happy with what we have achieved today. I think the team did a great job of really turning the car around over the last two days so big thanks to them. Also I had a little surprise when my girlfriend rocked up before qualifying so maybe that was a little helping hand.
Q: Maybe your girlfriend will turn up tomorrow Lewis to give you a helping hand. Third on the grid, but you only went out for one run in Q3. Was that, looking back to Malaysia, a result of what happened there where you flat-spotted one of your tires or what was the reason behind it?
Lewis HAMILTON: The reason behind it was clearly the last race showed how important it is to have fresh tires during the race. Obviously we would have a used option if we are doing a three stop. In the last race I only had two options I could use and then I had a new prime and an old prime. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of fresh tires so we are in quite a strong position. I have got the options I just qualified on, a new set of options and a new set of primes and a very decent set of options again. Just tried to increase the chances for the race as that is where it actually counts.
Q: Sebastian, you sat in the car for two minutes when you finally came into parce ferme before you were given the thumbs up to get out. What was the reason behind that?
Vettel: Well it was pretty easy. With the new regulations and the fixed weight distribution the FIA has the chance whenever they want to check that and unless I get a thumbs up and it is okay from an official that I can jump out of the car I have to remain seated. Otherwise, if I do it the other way around I might get into trouble. Maybe I didn't see him or didn't see the steward the first time so I ended up waiting and waiting until we clarified and someone said okay it is good to go out.
Q: KERS will be very important off the start tomorrow. Will you be running it as your team-mate has had a few problems in that sort of situation.
Vettel: Yeah it's true Mark (Webber) did not have a good day. Already this morning he had some problems and in qualifying it was quite a shame as I think the car is quick enough. He has had a tough weekend so far so it is a shame that we are not both up there. But I think he improved the last race pretty well from where he was after the first lap so I hope he has a good race. Looking at us our KERS was running and we were using it and we will be using it as well tomorrow from the start. It is important I guess against those two red or silver or whatever guys.
Q: Sebastian, it seems to have been an absolutely perfect weekend for you so far?
Vettel: I mean yesterday was very good. I think we had a strong day, no problems with the car and a lot of laps. We are very happy also with the pace we thought we had. Today, this morning, was smooth so compared to last weekend it was better preparation for qualy. In qualy I was reasonably happy, as happy as I can be, with Q1 and Q2. Then going into Q3 we were able to get even more out of the car again and I was very happy with the lap I did. Still it is difficult to judge. Second time this year we were in a good or strong situation with a big gap before the final run, but you never know. You know to a certain extent how much you pushed harder and probably where you gained the lap time to yourself compared to before but you don' t know how much the others have left. Lewis decided to do only one run so we went back out but as soon as we saw there is no threat we abort the run and came in so we were able to save the tires a bit. Overall very happy. It is not easy obviously. It all starts again from zero but people tend to forget that. I am very happy with the team at this stage, the way we all remain focused. I think we did a very good job today. We are happy but tomorrow is a new day so looking forward to that.
Q: We have heard a lot about tire management overall. Not just looking after the tires but having enough for the race itself. What's your situation as we heard from Lewis what his situation is?
Vettel: Yeah, I didn't count. I don't know how many sets he has left. Obviously he saved a set of options which can be important but the main thing is that you know your tires are in good shape and I think we did a very good job. We did what was necessary. In hindsight with the qualifying system we have had now for quite a while it is very easy to save a set of tires and then not making it and then you miss out more than probably starting the race with a set less or a scrubbed set rather than a new set. It is quite a shame for Mark as he was quick. He didn't really have a smooth weekend. He had some problems. I think in the end it was tight with the timing and he went out on a set of hards, of primes, and as you said tire management, the way you bring the tires in, can be important and the hard tire is probably not as easy as the option. Not much he was missing, but it is shame that we could not have both cars up there but looking at myself obviously very happy.
Q: Jenson, lucky overalls the red and white for China and the dragon on them as well. What do you reckon?
Button: I quite like these. I think they are pretty flash. It has been a reasonably good day for us. Yesterday I don't think we had the perfect balance. The car didn't feel bad but I don't think we were extracting the best out of it whereas today we made some good chances, especially overnight, and the car was a lot more consistent to drive. I think we pretty much extracted what we could out of it today so a big thank you to the guys for working hard and happy to be P2. It is the best qualifying of the year for me and a much better place to start the race from.
Q: You and Sebastian were the only two who actually did a second run. What sort of tire situation are you in and is the strategy fairly simple tomorrow. I remember in Malaysia you said the car came alive on the harder tire at the end of the race.
Button: Well I think when you have got a quick car like we have it is a lot easier to have new sets of tires. Obviously Lewis is in the best position in terms of tires but Sebastian and myself have done only two laps on our other set of options, the one that would have been new, so for me it was important to get position on the grid for the race. After Q2 I thought it was possible to get pole position. Obviously that was way out of reach but I thought there was an opportunity and I felt that it was better to use both tires in Q3 and get the best out of the car. Unfortunately the end of Q3 I couldn't actually go any quicker. I actually lost time on my last set so we aborted it. But we are in a good pace for the race and I look forward to it around here. It is always a fun place to race.
Q: Lewis, not so happy with the car yesterday, what about today?
Hamilton: Yeah, pretty much the same as Jenson. We made some changes and it seemed to go quite well today, so much happier with the car throughout qualifying.
Q: There have been new parts on the car, I understand it's a combination of what you've already been running and the new parts as well.
Hamilton: We haven't made much of a step this weekend but a step is a step so it's a positive at least, and we're quite happy with where we are. Obviously we need to make some more steps forward but I think there are some good things in the pipeline.
Q: Is the tire strategy fairly simple for you now, looking at last weekend and three weeks ago as well, or is it still very much a mystery?
Hamilton: The strategy is quite simple but obviously the race is never simple: you have the start, you have all the stops that you need to do, you have to look after the tires and so it's going to be very tricky again tomorrow but I really wanted to put myself in a decent spot, and I feel I am in a decent spot, and in a position to really have a good opportunity in the race because I didn't really have the best opportunity in the last race and that's what caused the result.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Wenfei Wang - Titan Sports) Sebastian, today this is the third successive pole position in the new season; are you satisfied with all the components of the RB7, including the KERS and the DRS? Do you think there is any more room for the car to be improved?
Vettel: Obviously I'm very happy to be on pole position. I think we can be as happy as we can be for tomorrow. As I said, we had a very good run on Friday so yesterday, free practice, I think we were happy with the car we had and with the long runs, also managing the tires. As I said, we're as happy as we can be going into the race tomorrow, with all the components on the car including KERS, so I was working without any problems today and yeah, I'm confident we will tomorrow. I think between Malaysia and here we have done another little step forward given that there is only very little time, so I'm looking forward to the race here. As Jenson said, it's usually quite exciting and a lot of things can happen, so it won't be an easy race and regarding the improvements on the car, the team is pushing as hard as they can. We brought a few things here. Overseas it's pretty difficult to react; I think once we go to Europe - I think it's the same for everyone - then it's a bit easier to bring the parts, customs are less strict. It makes our life or the team's life much easier. I think that to stay where we are now we have to keep pushing hard because I can assure you, people like McLaren, Mercedes or Ferrari, for sure they are not resting at this stage, so we have to keep pushing at least as hard as they do.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) Jenson and Lewis, as Sebastian said some minutes ago, he will use the KERS at the start. If he doesn't use it in the race, is it realistic for both of you to fight for victory with him?
Button: We don't really know what his pace in the race is going to be like. If he's a second quicker, it's definitely not possible to race with him, whereas if he's four tenths quicker normally and then we have KERS, it's possible. I don't know. We've got to see where we stand tomorrow. If you're talking about the start, there's a very short period before turn one, it's going to be very difficult to get past, even with KERS, if Sebastian doesn't run it, which I'm sure they will. But during the race, I think they're quick anyway. If you look at Malaysia, a lot of the race he didn't use KERS and his pace was still very good.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Jenson and Lewis, how motivated can you be knowing that doing your best you can only finish seven tenths behind Sebastian Vettel? He seems to be unreachable; he's been like this for the first two races and it might keep on being like this for a long time.
Hamilton: We're doing our best to catch up, you know? It's encouraging for us to have been on the first and second row for the first three races, considering where we were in winter testing. I think we're happier than we could have ever have hoped at this point of the year. It's clear, since God knows when, since 2009, that they've had a ridiculously fast car, a great job done by the team and Sebastian and so we are pushing as hard as we can to close the gap. It is possible but I'm sure it will take several races, probably, before we get to where they are now, but I'm sure they will also make many, many steps forward, so we will continue in the chase, and hope that our development rate can be as fast as theirs, if not better.
Button: Yeah, there are 24 of us on the grid and there's only one person that's ever going to be completely fulfilled with their race result and that's the way Formula One is, it's all about winning. We are in a better position than anyone else on the grid to challenge the Red Bulls. We should be happy with that and what we've achieved so far this year. This is a team that will never give up. They've fought for so many World Championships and they have the resources, they have the manpower and they have the passion to really fight for this and they will do everything they can to make sure that we catch Red Bull sooner rather than later.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) But personally, isn't it depressing for you that whatever you do it doesn't seem to get you closer?
Button: Yeah, but I've been racing in F1 for twelve years and more often than not there's a guy up the front - he was normally wearing red. It's the way Formula One is, it's a very competitive sport and if you look at the last five years there's been a different World Champion every year and we've got to try and make sure that this one in the middle here (Sebastian Vettel) doesn't walk away with it this year. But it's not depressing because you work as a team, you win as team, you lose as a team and we are just going to fight as hard as we can, to get everything out of this car and more and really take the fight to Red Bull which is tough at the moment but it's three races in, there's another 16 races to go - well, there's actually 17 races to go.
Q: (Yiying Shi - F1 Express) Sebastian, are you expecting it to be more difficult back in Europe as other teams will have big improvements?
Vettel: As I said earlier, we have to go step-by-step. As I said, teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, obviously they are not as happy as they want to be and they are pushing very hard, so to stay where we are, we have to push harder than them to stay there, so we are all aware of that. Since halfway through 2009 we have had a very, very competitive car and we enjoy running at the front but we still haven't forgotten how it feels to run at the back, not only finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, even further down. That's Formula One, just as Jenson says, it's competitive. Sometimes you might be in a comfortable situation, other times it will be very tight and other times you will be behind but then again, there are so many races left and so many things can happen. I can't predict the future. As I say, I'm happy as I can be at this stage but I can't predict the future, but I'm confident that we will have good races in the future as well, but first of all, there's a race tomorrow.
Q: (Stephane Barbe - L'Equipe) Jenson and Lewis, do you think the DRS zone is as interesting as it was in Malaysia?
Button: The line has changed. When I woke up this morning and got in, I noticed that the DRS position has changed on the circuit. It was 900-odd meters, now it's 750 before the last corner. 752 meters. It matters where you brake. Well, it doesn't really, does it? It's still pretty difficult to overtake round here, even with the DRS. A lot of it depends on the wind as well in terms of gear ratios. You've got to get a very good exit out of turn 13 to really tow up to the car in front and you've also got to be close enough to the car in front.
Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:33.706): "We have done it again, but every single time is tough. I think today wasn't as straightforward as we planned - especially in Q2; I made a bit of a mistake in the run I did then. In Q3 I was confident that we were able to improve quite a lot. Obviously today we did a good job, but it's just eight meters on the track tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I think we can be happy with the car. We did some good long runs on Friday and so we have a reason to feel good, but it's also a threat to feel too good - so I pay attention that doesn't happen."
Mark Webber (18th, 1:36.468): "It's a very frustrating day. We didn't have a smooth P3 or Q1 and we paid the ultimate price at end of the day. We thought we had enough to get through on the prime tires - we have the pace, but I couldn't get the tire working on my second run. We'll see what we can do tonight, but I can only go forwards. I can't remember the last time I was out in Q1; it was a long, long time ago, so it was a bad day for us."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A third consecutive pole for Sebastian and, as he wasn't required to complete his second run in Q3, he was able to conserve his tires for tomorrow. After a Herculean effort from all the team to get Mark's car repaired and out for Q1, it was disappointing for both Mark and the team that he missed the cut. We elected to run the hard tire for his second run thinking it would be enough, but unfortunately they weren't up to the temperature to do it. Obviously with 20 / 20 hindsight, you would run the option tire, but we felt it would be enough at that time. It's one of those things, and it's the first time we haven't had both cars in Q3 for over a year."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "There is one word to describe today - 'mixed'. An impressive display from Sebastian again - what pace, three races and three pole positions, so congratulations to him. Regarding Mark, we had a bit of a problem with KERS this morning and we weren't able to use it in qualifying. Unfortunately he went out in Q1, but I have no doubt that he will do a strong race tomorrow and be back where he's supposed to be."
Jenson Button (2nd, 1:34.421): "After Q2, I thought we'd have a shot at pole today, but, looking at Sebastian's final lap time, second place was realistically all we could do. Still, it's great that we got two cars into the top three - we really extracted the maximum from the package today. Overnight, we made some improvements to the car; I think there are still areas where we need to improve to challenge Red Bull, but I want to say a big thank-you to the guys in the garage and back at the factory, they've been working really hard and have given us a car that we can really build on over the next couple of races. This is my best grid position of the season; the car felt really consistent all afternoon and I got pretty much everything out of it. For tomorrow, I think our race pace will be a little bit closer to Red Bull than our quali pace. We can have a good race from this grid position."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:34.463): "We made some really positive set-up changes on Friday evening and I was much happier with our car today. In qualifying, Jenson and I were very close and we're both up there. Jenson did a fantastic job to put his car ahead of me, but I sacrificed a bit of my own pace to enable me to have a fresh set of Options for the race. We took the decision to complete just a single run in Q3. Of course, that was a compromise, but it means I'll have a fresh set of tires for one of the stints tomorrow. And last week's race in Malaysia showed us how important it is to have fresh tires for the race. Today's strategy should increase my chances in the race. It's always good to have a fresh set of tires in the bag, and I wanted to make sure I had options to cover everything. To be able to put on a new tire at the end of tomorrow's race will be a great positive and will help the longevity of the tires."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "We ran an extremely well-disciplined set of sessions today. After failing to extract the maximum from the cars on Friday, we made a significant number of improvements to the cars on Friday evening and quickly established a satisfactory pace in this morning's practice session. We were then able to carry that performance over into qualifying - and second and third positions on the grid are a great reward for the effort we invested in getting our cars optimized for this circuit. Jenson's lap at the beginning of Q3 was a fantastic effort and he therefore fully deserves his second place on the grid. Lewis drove a considered and intelligent final session, preserving tires for tomorrow, and he is extremely well prepared for tomorrow's race."
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:35.119): "I had not expected much more than this from qualifying. Fifth and sixth places represent the maximum we can aspire to in our current situation. We already knew all about Red Bull and McLaren, but here we saw an improvement from Mercedes, so the situation is now even more difficult. We are trying to improve our performance: we are a great team and we know how to react. Yesterday, we tried some new components, but it is still too early to use them in a race: we hope to make a significant step forward in Turkey. I would give the team 10 out of 10 for how they managed qualifying over these first three races: it is always very difficult to find the compromise between the need to take risks and being prudent and we have already seen mistakes costing some drivers dear in these three sessions. At the moment we should not be trying anything clever, instead keeping things simple. I think the podium is still within our reach. This year there are more variables, like the tire degradation and the use of the moveable rear wing, which come into play during the race, as we have seen in the first two Grands Prix. It could be a bit warmer tomorrow than today, so we will see if that changes anything, although I don't expect it to. Strategy will be very important in determining the final result."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:35.145): "It went a little bit better than in Malaysia, but we are still behind. Vettel's performance is not surprising, whereas Webber's definitely is. The McLarens are also quicker than us and Mercedes has improved and will be a very tough competitor tomorrow in the race. In Q2 after the red flag, I went out immediately to try and be first out and get a clear track. Perez was ahead of me but I passed him on the out lap and it was a good thing, because that meant I got a clean lap and improved my time. I really hope we will see a repeat of the Malaysian situation with a performance jump from qualifying to the race: if that was the case, then a podium might not be out of reach. The track has improved a lot compared to yesterday: there is more grip and the cars slide less, thus using the tires less and that will be a factor to take into consideration when working out the ideal strategy."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "First of all on behalf of the whole team, I want to express our delight at the positive progress in the condition of Paolo Santarsiero, one of our mechanics who fell ill on Thursday with an aneurism in his head and was subsequently operated on at the Rui Jin hospital in Shanghai: I wish to thank the entire medical team who acted so promptly and efficiently in carrying out the procedure. Incidents like this make one realize what the priorities really are in life and puts everything else into perspective. Having said that, we are here to race and to try and be the best in our sport but, at the moment, we are not there. Here we saw gaps similar to the first two qualifying sessions of the year and we could not have expected anything different, given that our car is practically unchanged. We definitely can't be happy about it, but we must try to close the gap and do our utmost in this very difficult period. In Australia and Malaysia we saw that our race pace is not bad compared to the others, apart from that of the championship leader, so we will see what happens here."
Pat Fry: "Going into qualifying I would have said that the third row was the best we could aspire to because there are at least two cars that so far have proved to be quicker than ours. Today we saw that the Mercedes has also made a step forward and, honestly, we did not have sufficient pace to get ahead of it and we made the most of the opportunity that presented itself with Webber being eliminated in Q1. With both Felipe and Fernando we used the same program in terms of tire management and the series of runs: with our current level of performance we have to maintain a realistic and modest approach because we have seen that taking risks does not pay off. Tomorrow's race will be very long and difficult and we will try to make the most of every opportunity."
Nico Rosberg (4th, 1:34.670): "I'm happy with our performance and it was a good day for us. It's clear that we have improved the car this weekend and I'm really pleased for everybody back at the factory who will have enjoyed watching that today. We're still not where we want to be but we have made progress and are closer to some of the guys in front of us, today at least. We have also worked hard on the race pace so there is every chance of a good race tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher (14th, 1:36.457): "What a shame for me today as we have clearly demonstrated this weekend that as a team we have improved a lot. Nico proved that strongly with his fourth place which was our realistic target. I didn't quite get my lap together in Q2 and since then we have found out that my rear wing was not functioning correctly as I was braking into turn 14. I am obviously hoping to have a strong start and that we have good race pace tomorrow so I can hopefully make up some positions."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "The car has been much better this weekend and both drivers were in a good position going into qualifying today. It's a shame for Michael this afternoon as it didn't quite work out with the red flag and then his rear wing malfunctioned at the end of his crucial lap costing valuable time. Nico did a fantastic job this afternoon, firstly to get into Q3 in tricky circumstances, and then putting in a great lap on tires which had already seen some usage just before the red flag. I'm pleased that we have stabilized the situation and made some encouraging progress this weekend. There is still a long way to go but it's a start."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A very good lap from Nico and a thorough job from all our guys during the weekend so far. The gap to pole position is still big but at least Nico's time is closer to the McLaren Mercedes cars at two and a half tenths behind P2. To start on the second row is a good reward for the team who have worked so hard and had a difficult start to the season. Michael had good speed in Q1 and posted a time that would have been good enough in Q2 to make it to Q3. Unfortunately in the second to last corner, Michael had a problem with his rear wing which we have to investigate. His long run pace yesterday did not look bad so there is a chance for him to finish in the points tomorrow. For Nico, we hope for a good start and of course it would be great to finish the race where Nico finished last year in China."
Vitaly Petrov (10th, No Time): "I am very disappointed with what happened after having just completed a very fast lap which put me in fourth position at the end of Q2. The car lost power so I stopped on the side of the track. The track was getting quicker and my times were up from this morning, things were going very well. Because of the power failure, I couldn't move off the track and so that was the end of my qualifying. The positive thing is the car was looking fast and I hope I can make up some ground tomorrow from P10 on the grid."
Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:36.611): "It's quite frustrating to be starting from P16 because I don't think it's a fair reflection of our pace. We were always going to do one run on the soft tires in Q2, but the red flag made the last few minutes on Q2 very busy. You really needed to be first in the queue at the end of the pit lane because there was not much time to get around and cross the line before the end of the session. I managed to do one final lap, but I was stuck in traffic and I couldn't get a clean lap. As I said, our race pace is definitely better than our grid position, but starting from P16 is not going to be easy. I think it's a track where you can overtake so hopefully I can make a good start, like in the previous two races, and fight for points."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We know our car is fast off the line...there's no reason why we can't bring two cars home in the points. We are still investigating exactly what happened. It's clear that he lost power and the engine died. We believe the air supply to the engine was cut off. It couldn't be restarted and the car got stuck in gear, which is why he stopped on the track. Nick's time from Q1 suggested that it might be difficult for him to make it through to Q3. That's why we wanted to run right at the end of Q2 to take advantage of the maximum track evolution. As it happened, Vitaly's car brought out the red flags at exactly the wrong moment, and Nick then got caught up in the traffic in the busy rush at the end of Q2. I think we can expect to see our pace being relatively better in the race, even compared to Vitaly's good qualifying pace. We know our car is fast off the line; we've got very good straight-line speed and the R31 looks after its tires well. There's no reason why we can't bring two cars home in the points. Our poor qualifying performance leaves us with more tire options than we would normally have. We've effectively saved an extra set of soft tires on each car, which are available for the race."
Rubens Barrichello (15th, 1:36.465): "I've been having a weekend of experiments. We tried a new version of the exhaust in practice; we do not fully understand it yet, so we went into qualifying with our original set-up. I was happy with Q1 but then we had the rush hour! On the restart, Sutil tried to overtake me going into the first corner which spoiled both of our laps. We've made progress since Malaysia so I'm looking for points."
Pastor Maldonado (17th, 1:36.956): "I'm a bit disappointed by the red flag because the lap I was on at the time was looking good. We could have fought for a place in the top ten today so it looks like we've made some improvements with the car. We need to keep working and concentrate our minds for tomorrow. I'm looking for some points."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Although not reflected in our result this afternoon, the qualifying pace of the FW33 has improved. After testing the new exhaust system throughout practice, we decided we needed more understanding of it before using it in the race. We therefore reverted back to the standard exhaust system on Rubens' car. Our target for tomorrow is reliability and to be in a position to fight for points."
Paul di Resta (8th, 1:36.190): "I could not have wished for more today and it's nice to get into Q3. After missing the whole of FP2 yesterday we knew that it was going to be difficult this morning, but we've got a small upgrade here and it certainly improved the performance today. Luckily I did my quickest lap in the second running in Q1, as I just struggled a little bit with balance in the others. Our race pace seems to be not too bad, so fingers crossed we can pick up some points again tomorrow as we have in the previous two grands prix."
Adrian Sutil (11th, 1:35.874): "It was a good qualifying and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow. This weekend has so far been much better than the last ones, with no real problems so it looks good for us. It was a little bit difficult at the end of the session when the red flag came out and I missed out on a final flying lap, but overall I am very happy and our car performance is improving well."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "A cooler day today and different atmospheric conditions have had a significant effect on the lap times compared to Friday. Our FP3 program was normal and without issues and we completed a few additional laps for Paul to check the balance of his car. We achieved our first Q3 position of the year in P8, and so congratulations to Paul who also celebrates his Birthday today. I think that we were there on merit and the car's improving pace is showing. Adrian also demonstrated this with his P11, just missing out on the third period of Qualifying. With the red flag, and having been weighed earlier in the session, he wasn't able to complete a full second outing. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the race tomorrow and, of course, aiming to secure further points."
Sergio Perez (12th, 1:36.053): "Generally we made some changes to the car and I feel much more comfortable with the handling now. This explains the improvements here in Shanghai from Friday to today, but also the comparison to Malaysia. Q1 was fine for me and then in Q2 the team did a good job getting me out at the front of the queue after the red flag, but then we had to wait a while and the tire temperatures cooled down. It is a shame because I think the changes we did for the final run would have paid off."
Kamui Kobayashi (13th, 1:36.236): "It is a shame not to be in Q3 for the first time this year. In Q1 it was really tight for me after I was stuck in traffic, and then was the last car to slip through into Q2. Then in Q2 I had a problem with the first set of soft tires. I just didn't have enough grip, and we have to find out why this was. On the second run I couldn't make the best use of the other set because, after the red flag, we had to queue at the pit lane exit and the temperatures dropped. Also with all the traffic obviously I didn't have the best chance to set a quick lap time. However, I believe points are still within reach as our overall performance is good."
James Key, Technical Director: "In general the third free practice went fine. The set up changes made over night improved the car and both drivers were much happier. However, qualifying was pretty eventful. Q1 was okay, but incredibly tight. Sergio's laps were okay with him doing two runs, one on hard and one on soft tires, while Kamui just did a single run. There was something like two tenths from eighth to 17th and, while Kamui's lap was absolutely fine, it turned out to be a little bit too tight for the border to Q2. We felt we had the pace and the car to get to Q3, but Q2 was a bit of a drama with Vitaly Petrov stopping. The first laps didn't come in particularly well, so we had to go again after the red flag. This was very tight because of the traffic and it was a bit tricky trying to get the tires to warm up in those conditions. From where we are I still think we can score points, and it is a little bit of a topsy turvy grid so it will be an interesting race."
Jaime Alguersuari (7th, 1:36.158): "I need to congratulate the team for doing a good job and choosing the right strategy to tackle this session. Getting Sebastien and myself into Q3 is definitely a success for the whole team as it was no easy task. We did not really expect to be there to be honest, looking at the speed of some of our rivals and the red flag in Q2 definitely helped us. Tomorrow I think there is a possibility to pick up a good amount of points and I am optimistic because today, we chose a car set-up better suited to the race than to do a quick lap in qualifying. It's true we are not used to starting from this position and I might have to run a defensive race and see how our tires perform, as this will again be a key factor."
Sebastien Buemi (9th, 1:36.203): "I am very happy for the team result, with two cars in the top ten. As for myself, I am a bit disappointed that, for the sake of half a tenth I have dropped from seventh to ninth. The team can be very pleased with this performance and with the result we have not seen for a while. Whatever the circumstances today, I know the team has worked very hard at the track and back at the factory to do the very best it can and in general we look much more competitive than we were last year. I hope it will be good enough to get us in the points tomorrow. It will be an important race for us, given we have these good grid positions. The first thing will be to make sure we get all the way to the end and if we do that, then I think it could be a good grand prix for us."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "Racing is a funny sport, given that on a weekend when our performance in free practice had not matched that in the first two races, we have ended up with both cars in Q3 in seventh and ninth places. The gaps in the midfield are very small and in general, we have not been that competitive, with Force India being on a par with us or even faster and Williams also closing in. In Q1 I think there were eleven cars within the same two tenths, which tells you how close it is. Our cars have run reliably and although what happened to Vitaly (Petrov) was unfortunate, I can't say I feel sorry for him because it has given us a chance to be ahead. Can we stay ahead in tomorrow's race? That's another story. The weather forecast is currently stable, but if there was to be any rain or anything else unpredictable happening, then starting ahead can be an advantage. Yes, I would like to score points and starting seventh and ninth is better than seventeenth and nineteenth but, as I said, the midfield is so competitive that anything can happen over the arc of the 56 laps tomorrow."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:37.894): "From my perspective I'm very happy with that. I left it all until the last minute and swapped to a one lap run, putting myself under a bit of pressure, but I put in a good final lap and got under 1.38. After FP3 we already knew we'd have a bit of a tricky qualifying session as the track temperatures were a lot lower than yesterday and that definitely affects our car. We're quite easy on the tires and when the temperatures drop we need to work harder to get them up to the optimum heat, which means we don't get everything out of them, but in the race conditions we're definitely stronger and you can see that we're steadily doing what we want which is to keep pushing towards the midfield."
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:38.318): "I am really happy from the driving point of view because I pushed hard out there today and said over the radio that I think I got as much as I possibly could out of the car today. I'm still working on finding the right balance but little by little we're progressing so I think we keep on doing a good job across the whole team and after a good weekend from the reliability point of view we should have a good race tomorrow."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "We are realistic and we all knew when we woke up that the considerably lower temperature would mean we would struggle to replicate what we did in the yesterday's practice. Despite that we have had a good weekend so far, pretty much trouble free, and I know from talking to a few of the teams just ahead of us that we are starting to play a part in their strategies as they know we are very close to being able to take the fight to them in real pace. So, even though the gap is a bit bigger today than we would have liked, it is still clear that our steady progress will pay dividends over the long term."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A trouble free day but disappointing in terms of performance. In the cooler conditions we clearly struggled more with the tires than last week and yesterday and we were some way off the level of performance we expected. However, we have seen that even in these conditions our race pace is much better and we are considerably more competitive so I think we can take the race to the midfield group in front and do ourselves justice."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "From the engine side we have made another step forwards. The improvements across the car from the beginning of the year are starting to pay dividends and we are now close to the optimum engine strategy. Even though we have a lot more work to do I think we are getting closer to unlocking the real potential of the car so we are pretty happy with where we are now, and the direction we are heading in."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd, 1:40.212): "Today was alright, we could've achieved more from the second set of tires but we got a strange reaction from them with a bit of under steer. We closed the gap with Virgin which is the aim, considering that we didn't use all the new development it was a positive qualifying session. Now we have to push hard for Turkey. I'm sure we can give Virgin a better race than in Malaysia. We have shown that in both soft tire and hard tire conditions we are competitive so the 107% rule should no longer be an issue. We have to now focus on developing the car and try to finish ahead of our main rivals."
Narain Karthikeyan (24th, 1:40.445): "The day started off well with the third practice session where the car went really well. I think that I could have gone quicker and done a better time. We have a better package and qualifying shouldn't be an issue anymore, our target is now to get closer to Virgin. I definitely need to get some laps under my belt, my aim is to finish the race."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "All in all today was a positive day. We did a lot of miles in the morning and in qualifying we could have done better but we weren't able to put our fastest sectors together which would have meant that Tonio would have been three tenths quicker putting him in the 39's, closer to the likes of Virgin and Lotus. We had no technical issues, so today we have taken another step forward. Tomorrow we will follow the normal plan, the updates will be ready for Turkey where we hope to be ahead of our closest rivals."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (21st, 1:39.119): "I'm very happy. What I take away from today is that I continue to improve, and although I still have a lot to learn, I'm going in the right direction. That's the most important thing for me. It's still the beginning and I have a lot to do, but the way I'm working - and how everyone in the team is working - is good and the results are showing that the direction we are following is the right one. It was a good Saturday."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:39.708): "Overall a better day than yesterday because we were at least able to complete our program, but we were not able to get the best result in Qualifying which is disappointing. I had some warm-up issues on the first run and the tires were not working really at all on the second, so I have to think the changes we made between Free Practice 3 and Qualifying were not for the better. I think overall we went a little too conservative, but who knows? That might help us in the race. We'll have a good look at the data now and see what that tells us, then look to a good strategy for tomorrow and aim for the checkered flag."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We have recovered well from a difficult start to the weekend and are a lot closer to where we expected as a result. Timo struggled with the tires and had a lot more to come. We're hoping the setup will translate better to the race conditions tomorrow. Jerome did an exceptional job and everything went right for him. After a more difficult Free Practice 3 he brought it all back when it counted and he is really stepping up to the plate with each race. So generally a good few positives to give us some momentum for the race tomorrow when we'll be looking to make the most of our encouraging reliability by bringing both cars home."
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