Valencia: European GP Saturday Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:39.498): "I'm really happy with the balance - the car feels great, particularly in the slower corners. After winning in Hungary, we came here not knowing if the others would have closed the gap: clearly, we're still competitive. We haven't seen this level of performance for a long time: last year, I was able to do only one run in easy qualifying session but, this year, we've had to use every second of the sessions to get through. I managed a couple of very good laps today, so we'll start the race from a very competitive position - but a lot will depend on strategy and how the start goes. Congratulations to Heikki, he did a fantastic job - it's been very close between us all weekend, so this is great to see. We've got the front row to ourselves - and that's something we've all wanted for a very long time."
Heikki Kovalainen (2nd, 1:39.532): "Obviously, I'm pleased that I'll be starting from the front row tomorrow, but I made a mistake at the end of my quickest lap and could have gone a little faster still. I knew qualifying would be very close, and I was sure our car would be competitive, so I decided to really go for it today. As a result, I pushed just a little too hard - but it was a calculated risk and I lost only one place - and, even better, I lost it to Lewis. So we nailed the front row anyway. The guys back in Woking have done a lot of great work this week, since the end of the summer shutdown, and I want to say thank you to all of them."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "A truly brilliant result for the entire team - well done, everyone! As for Lewis and Heikki, well, they were both brilliant, too. They made things look relatively easy, but in fact the conditions out there today were very difficult for all the drivers: it was hot and humid, and the circuit is an extremely demanding one. Heikki was totally on it today - he really went for it and very nearly pinched pole position at the very end. Lewis did a fantastic job, too, and I'm sure both our drivers will perform very well in tomorrow's race."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A great result - nobody had fewer laps over the weekend so far, and nobody was faster than Lewis today. The lap time from his first outing in Q3 was strong enough that he could afford to abort his second attempt after two quicker sector times in order to save fuel for the race - a truly great job from Lewis. Heikki was only a friction - 0.034 seconds - slower and could have made the top spot as well: he was really strong from lap one on this track. Thanks to everybody in the team who worked so hard after the FOTA summer break. I have the feeling that in the week since even more work was done in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart than in three weeks of flat-out business before the summer break. Every one of us got the best reward today with this 'double pole' and only tomorrow the reward could be even better."
Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 1:40.144): "Honestly, this was one of the best qualifying sessions of the season, even if we are not as quick as those on the front row. Our final result will depend basically on how the start goes. It will be very important to make up a few places, because if we end up behind a slower car, then the race is compromised. I think we are reasonably competitive in race trim, as could be seen in Q3, while we are struggling a bit on light tanks. So far, it's been a good weekend and I am happy with the performance of the F60."
Luca Badoer (20th, 1:41.413): "Obviously, I'm a bit disappointed as it's never nice to be last in any situation, but I always knew it would be tough. As I've said before, this weekend is a sort of test for me and the team and that is how we are tackling it. However, I do feel the situation is better than yesterday as the more laps I do, the more confidence I gain and the better it gets. Tomorrow it will be important to finish the race and that will be my target. I feel good physically and I have no problems on that score. For sure, if I'd had two days testing under my belt, it would have been a different story."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Sixth place for Kimi Raikkonen can be judged as a positive result, because it probably reflects our current potential, while Luca's last place was widely predicted: returning to racing after so much time, furthermore on a track not known to him and one that is difficult to get to grips with, is a daunting task for him. Tomorrow, our race will be divided in two: on one side we will be aiming for a positive result to defend our third place in the Constructors' classification, which should be within our ability, while with Luca we will try and finish the race, to obtain sufficient experience to tackle the forthcoming rounds in a different fashion."
Chris Dyer: "Qualifying had two sides to it for us. It was a very difficult day for Luca, who continued the process of learning about the car and the track. Lap after lap his confidence increased, but it was not enough to get him off the last place on the grid. The situation was definitely not helped by the red flag in FP3 which cost him valuable time. On the other hand, Kimi performed well, especially in Q3, where he did a great lap. Starting from sixth on the grid is a solid base from which to have a good race tomorrow."
Robert Kubica (10th, 1:40.512): "If lately you have been starting from the rear of the grid, you cannot be disappointed with tenth in qualifying. We have to be realistic. I think today overall was a good day. Unfortunately I had some traffic on my final run and I made a small mistake. This cost me a few tenths. Scoring points will be difficult tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (11th, 1:38.826): "It is the sixth time this year I have just missed the top ten qualifying and come 11th by fractions of tenths of a second. Of course I'm a little bit disappointed, but on the other side it means we have freedom regarding the fuel we carry and I hope for a good race. Everybody in the team is determined to put in a good performance and show what they can do for the future. Our car is generally somewhat better and I think from P11 points are possible."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are satisfied with the qualifying result. Compared to recent races it was a step forward into the midfield, and this is what we had expected from our development package. With Robert we have got one car into the top ten and Nick in 11th is just behind. Q3 didn't go ideally for Robert, otherwise he could have finished even higher up. Congratulations to McLaren-Mercedes for having both cars on the front row. This proves how quickly things can change."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Our goal was to get at least one car into the top ten. With Robert we did so. However we expected to be in a better position. Nick missed Q3 only by the blink of an eye. Overall we took a step in the right direction with the aero update. Technically we had a qualifying without any problems."
Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:40.236): "It was very hot today and a tough session. At the beginning it seemed that we could be 3rd or 4th and then after Q1 we realized that we were not going to be as competitive as we thought. Of course, I'm not happy with 8th but since we had the same position in Q2 it seems that this was the limit of the car today. I'm disappointed for all the fans here for whom I would have liked a better grid position, but I'll do my best tomorrow in the race."
Romain Grosjean (14th, 1:39.040): "I am pleased to have made it into Q2 for my first qualifying session, especially as that was the objective I set myself yesterday. I want to thank the whole team who have been working with me and Fernando for all his helpful advice. To be fighting with the best drivers in the world is an incredible feeling and I'm really looking forward to starting my first Grand Prix tomorrow. I will give my maximum to get the best result possible from the race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We were expecting more in qualifying today even with the disrupted third practice this morning because the car seemed good and we thought we would be nearer the front of the grid with Fernando. Romain has continued to have a very sensible first race and he should be proud of his grid position on this difficult circuit. I'm sure he will have a strong race tomorrow."
Timo Glock (13th, 1:38.991): "That wasn't a good result. We struggled a bit for pace this morning in the short third practice and in the end we were just a couple of tenths away from being in the top 10, which is a pity. I was having trouble in first qualifying but in the second session the car wasn't too bad until the final corners when the rear tires dropped off quite a lot. I was pushing to the maximum but the tires didn't really survive. So we have to start again from 13th as we did in Hungary and try to repeat what we did there by finding a way to get into the points. It will be a difficult task but I will do everything I can."
Jarno Trulli (18th, 1:39.807): "I was expecting qualifying to be a bit difficult but not as bad as that. This morning the car felt reasonable even if we were a little short of grip. But it was much worse in qualifying; I really had no grip and there was nothing I could do. I just kept pushing and took a few more risks than normal but it didn't work out. I don't know why we struggled so much; it is a mystery to me. For the race tomorrow I can just do my best and see what happens."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "We can only be unhappy about that result as it is another extremely disappointing qualifying for us. In the last races we have shown that our race pace is better and gives us a chance to move up the field, although obviously that will be tough. Now we have to take a close look at all our options to see how we can fight back as we did in Hungary. Track conditions are changing continuously so we will look at the effect of that on the tires for the race and try to make the best of it."
Sebastien Buemi (15th, 1:39.514): "Even though I got into Q2, I'm a bit disappointed, because in Q1 I was sixth with a good lap time and then in Q2, we did not manage the tire situation well, especially on my "out" lap and I ended up doing worse than in Q1. Now we must look at what happened, because I think I might even have had the possibility to get into Q3. We are making progress."
Jaime Alguersuari (19th, 1:39.925): "I know what I am capable of and with this being only my second F1 qualifying session, I have to be patient. I am happy that even though this track is longer than at my first race in Hungary, the gap to the drivers ahead of me is getting smaller. I am feeling more confident in the car every time I drive it. It's going to be tough tomorrow as it seems to be getting hotter and hotter. I think I can do a good job in the race, bring the car home and hopefully end up at least in the top fifteen."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "Not much to say: we got one car through to Q2 and both cars have run reliably over the past two days."
Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:39.789): "I would like to be further forward on tomorrow's grid, but I think that's the most we could have hoped for, so I'm quite happy - especially after not doing many laps this morning. I'm quite confident about tomorrow, as we made a step forward for this morning and then another for qualifying. McLaren look strong and it's hard for the other cars to get close to them. We will see how quick they are in the race tomorrow, but starting in first and second position they have a good chance to win the race. We want to win too though, so we will see. I like this track, it's a bit more difficult for us to be at the top here - but it's a long and hot race tomorrow, so let's see."
Mark Webber (9th, 1:40.239): "We expected to have a tough qualifying session today and it turned out to be the case. We thought we would be in the top six or top eight, so it's not been the best day for us. It's one of our worst qualifying sessions for a long time, but let's see how we go from here. We'll fight like hell as normal, Red Bull knows how to do that, I hope we can get some points."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After a difficult P3 for Sebastian, when he lost an engine, it was a great effort from his side of the garage to get the engine changed and produce a competitive qualifying. The McLarens are too quick, their power advantage with the KERS here is significant, but we can be happy with P4. One tenth of a second for Mark would have made a big difference to his grid position - it would have been the difference between sixth and ninth - but with a bit more fuel in hopefully he can have a good run from there tomorrow. The key for us is obviously to finish ahead of the Brawns."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "It was a very tough Saturday, beginning with the engine failure on Sebastian's car, which is very bad for us. We changed the engine for him ahead of qualifying. We are not as quick as usual on this track and it's difficult for us. We did our best in qualifying and we know we have to focus on getting the best possible result in tomorrow's race. It will be a tough Sunday."
Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:40.185): "Qualifying was generally ok. I'm in P7 with quite a lot of fuel, possibly more than anybody else around me, so I have a strong strategy for the race. There was no point in trying to out qualify the cars with KERS because they will overtake me off the line anyway. I'd prefer to qualify behind them, have more fuel on board and then beat them in the race. This track suits our car so we could have a points scoring race tomorrow."
Kazuki Nakajima (17th, 1:39.795): "We had a failure on my car which caused the engine to cut out during Q1 so I didn't have a chance to show what we could do. It's a shame because I think we were strong enough to have been in the top ten today. We have a good race pace, so I just need to use that to my advantage and do my best tomorrow."
Rod Nelson, Chief Operations Engineer: "Today was obviously disappointing for Kazuki. We are still looking into the problem which stopped him out on the circuit, but we do know it wasn't driver error. We are reasonably pleased with where we are with Nico. He's on the clean side of the grid, which is a large advantage here. He'll have KERS cars on the dirty side next to him, but hopefully we'll stay ahead of them this time. We're happy with the strategy we've chosen."
Adrian Sutil (12th, 1:38.846): "We've been quick here all the weekend and everything is working very well. I'm really happy about the upgrades we've put on the car, the team is doing a great job. We've made a big step forward in the last couple of months and I'm really enjoying every session now. This morning was the best way to prepare for qualifying, but we knew it was not going to be possible to replicate this position. Conditions for qualifying were actually pretty tough with quite low grip and high temperatures but the lap times are very close - it seems to be a characteristic of this circuit. We were just a few hundredths from Q3 so we just missed out in the end. We are in a good position now though so it's a reasonable goal for us to say we want to score our first points here."
Giancarlo Fisichella (16th, 1:39.531): "I am very disappointed with this result as I felt I could have easily got through to Q2 today. Unfortunately on the last run I got caught in traffic on my first lap and then lost about six or seven tenths in the last sector on my second lap, otherwise I really feel we could have got through after the weekend we've been having so far. It's going to be a tough race."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "Realistically Adrian was about where we expected to be in qualifying today and we are pleased that it's demonstrated again our continued improvement of pace. It's frustrating for Adrian to have just missed out on Q3 by the smallest of margins especially after getting P1 in FP3 on a reasonable fuel load, and equally for Giancarlo at the Q1 cut-off. There's no doubt though that the car has enough performance here to race with the top ten and there's a chance of points tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (3rd, 1:39.563): "A great qualifying today but it was tough out there and of course I'm a little bit disappointed not to be on pole. We started the weekend well with a thorough job on Friday to get the best out of the set-ups that the guys worked on back at the factory. They did a great job and the car is in good shape with the tires working quite well here in the heat. I went for a slightly different strategy to Jenson with just one new tire run over two laps in Q3. The second lap was perhaps a bit too much for the tires which started overheating and unfortunately I lost the car on turn eight. I'm really pleased with third place though and it's great to have the car back to a competitive pace."
Jenson Button (5th, 1:39.821): "It was a pretty good qualifying session for the team today and the car felt strong throughout. Unfortunately I made a mistake at turn four on my quick lap which compromised my position as I had just the one flying lap on my final run in Q3. It's a shame as the potential was there for more but fifth on the grid is not bad at all. The car is feeling pretty good with fuel so we will see what the race will bring tomorrow. It's not a great circuit for overtaking but I'll be giving it everything for a good result."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a tricky session today with track temperatures escalating fast which meant we had to think on our feet and adapt our plan for Q3 during the break. This might have compromised our performance a little as Rubens' tires went off on his second lap whilst Jenson had only the one flying lap on his final run. However third and fifth places on the grid is a strong position to be starting from tomorrow and we are generally happy with the performance of the car this weekend so we can look forward to a good race. It was another good day for our engine partner Mercedes-Benz with three cars in the top three grid positions."
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