Driver reaction - China qualifying

The views from the cockpit after qualifying

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 14/04/12 11:54am

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The drivers have their say after qualifying in for the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

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Red Bull

Mark Webber: "The Q2 lap wasn't bad, but I didn't get the Q3 lap together as I would have liked. It's a bit all over the place with pulling a lap time together on the soft tyre, but I would have liked to have finished a row further up. The 1m35.7 in Q2 was a good lap, but I maybe tried to eek a bit too much out in Q3. It's frustrating. We know we have a good race car, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds tomorrow. It's very close and we'll keep pushing."

Sebastian Vettel: "There was no problem with the car, but I couldn't get the final few tenths. I was happy with the laps I did in Q2, but they weren't quick enough and we couldn't make it in to Q3. We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow and the car did feel good, so in terms of race pace we should do better tomorrow. We weren't fast enough and we have to accept it. We start from P11 tomorrow and see what we can do from there."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton: "Very big congratulations to Nico [Rosberg] today. We first met back in 1997 and were team-mates in 2000. We've been good friends ever since. When we were team-mates, we always dreamed of qualifying first and second together in Formula 1 - and it's crazy that we did that today..

"Looking at the race, we've got a good car but I'm going to have to work my way up through the field tomorrow. But as long as I move forward in the race, I'll be happy.

"I've set my car up to be at its strongest in the race. So, although Jenson and I are a little bit further back than we'd like, and we've got a bit of work to do, we can still make it. There's a good group of drivers ahead of us on the grid, but we're right with them in terms of race pace. This is a track where you can overtake, and we've got DRS too - so I'm massively excited about tomorrow."

Jenson Button: "In Q1, we went out on the softer tyre and put a lap on it when most of the other teams didn't. In Q2, I felt I had too much understeer, so we made a few adjustments for Q3. However, I could feel the temperature dropping in that final session: I think we just went out a little too late.

"Of course, that's a little bit disappointing, but our race pace seems to be very good. It's going to be tricky to get heat into the front tyres if it's cold tomorrow though - but then that's not unusual for me. But that's the way it is and I hope we can have a good race from fifth on the grid.

"Our aim will be to go for victory. That won't be easy, but we ought to be as quick or quicker than most of the cars in front of us in the race. The unusual one is Kamui [Kobayashi], who seems to have very good long-run pace."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso: "We knew this would be a difficult qualifying and that's how it turned out. We managed to get into Q3, staying ahead of Vettel by a few thousandths. Then, from Q2 to Q3, the wind changed direction and that was penalising. The car is what it is and the improvements we brought here are not sufficient to produce a jump in performance and so this position corresponds more or less to our current potential. Sure, we cannot be happy to be a second off pole position, but all we can do is work to try and close this gap. If we do enough of a good job then we can think about winning, otherwise not.

"But I remain optimistic: even in 2010, we were significantly behind the best, but all the same, we got to the final race leading the World Championship...The starting grid is very exciting and curious, with two Mercedes, one Sauber and a Lotus in front of the rest. We cannot permit ourselves to make any mistakes because we certainly don't have the best car: if we manage to operate perfectly, as we did in Australia and Malaysia, then we can think about bringing home valuable points."

Felipe Massa: "On the one hand I am obviously unhappy not to have made it through to Q3 but, on the other, I have to be pleased with my position if I consider where we were this morning at the end of FP3. In the afternoon, the situation improved, the car had much more grip and I managed to be more competitive, but I couldn't say exactly why.

"Probably the track conditions changed in a way that suited us. We hope to continue like this tomorrow afternoon and to bring home a good result: it's really needed right now! I so much want a normal race, a calm one in which I manage to do my job well and pick up some points. I still don't have any and the moment has come to remove this zero from the classification."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg: "It's a very special day for me because this is my first pole in Formula One, and the first for a Silver Arrow since 1955. Firstly it was a strange feeling because I was watching the end of Q3 from the FIA garage as we decided to save a set of option tyres for the race, and I couldn't do anything but watch! Seeing that I finished at the top of the timesheets and with half a second in hand made me the happiest man today. Thanks to the team, everyone here and in the factories, who have done a great job to develop and improve our Silver Arrow. We don't know what will happen in the race tomorrow, and it will be a challenge to stay in front, but for the moment, I will enjoy starting next to Michael from the front row which is also very special to me."

Michael Schumacher: "This really is a special day for our Mercedes-Benz team, having two Silver Arrows starting from the front row of the Chinese Grand Prix. It's a great result, and I am very happy for everybody. Congratulations to Nico, he achieved his first pole position with a just fabulous lap. I can easily respect he did the better job today, and I am happy for him. I am equally happy for Norbert, Ross and all the guys here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, who had to wait quite some time and have been so patient. We can only compliment their hard work.

"A big thank you to Daimler for always supporting us; we are doing all we can to bring the Mercedes-Benz name to the front, where it belongs. As for me, I am happy too, and obviously my ambition for the race is to stay where we are now. But tomorrow is another story, even if in terms of set-up we have prepared the car mainly for the race. We will definitely try and show a good performance, and I am looking forward to it."

Lotus

Kimi Räikkönen: "The grid position is okay but when you look at the times, I'm disappointed with the pace of the car today. We've gained a position after Lewis's penalty but the speed wasn't where it should have been, especially when you look at the pole time. We've tried some updates this weekend, but they haven't worked as we wanted so we've gone back to how the car was before. We go into the race less confident in the car than in the last two races, but knowing that we start from a higher position on the grid. Let's see what we can do tomorrow, we'll try to do the best we can and hopefully we can be higher up than we are on the grid, and that means a podium."

Romain Grosjean: "I have mixed feelings after today's session. After struggling a bit yesterday it's great to have both cars in Q3, but unfortunately after a terrible first run in Q2 we were forced to use up all our new sets of soft tyres before the final session. This meant there was no point trying to set a competitive time in the pole position shoot out which is a real shame, as our pace in Q2 was good. I feel much more comfortable with the car and I think that shows in the lap times today. The team did a great job to turn things around and get us back towards the top where we should be. I still have some fine tuning to do but 56 laps in tomorrow's race will certainly help that!"

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi: "I am very happy, the team did a great job. For quite a while we have kept saying we need to improve our qualifying performance, and I think this was a clear improvement today.

Apparently I will be starting from third position tomorrow because Lewis Hamilton had to change his gearbox. This grid position obviously means a lot of chances. However, I am not a dreamer and the target remains the same: score as many points as you can. We have a strong car, normally it is also good on tyres and I am looking forward to the race full of confidence."

Sergio Pérez: "It is obviously a good qualifying result for our team. Personally I must admit I even hoped for more than P8. After the previous runs had been very promising, on the final lap in Q3, when I was on a fresh set of soft tyres, I suddenly had understeer. I don't know where this came from. In any case it will be a tough race tomorrow and I will give it my best."

Force India

Paul di Resta: "It was a very close qualifying session, especially Q2 where finding a few tenths could have gained us another five places on the grid. My Q2 lap was good and I think I got the maximum from the car, but it only puts me P15, six tenths off the fastest time of the session. I'm still optimistic for the race because the car seems dialed in to the track and we looked strong during the long runs yesterday so I think we can race with the teams ahead of us."

Nico Hulkenberg: "It was quite a tough qualifying session for us, but I think the conditions had changed since free practice and I didn't feel as comfortable with the car. My final lap in Q2 was a little compromised by some traffic coming out of the pits, but I guess P16 reflects the pace we have at the moment and the fact that all the teams around us are very close in terms of one-lap performance. We will think hard about the strategy tonight and try our best to move forward in the race. I started P16 in Malaysia and ended up in the points so I will look for a repeat performance."

Williams

Pastor Maldonado: "We knew it would be difficult to get into the top 10 today but we were very close. I feel that our car will be stronger in the race so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We are in a good position to fight for points so it will be important to get a clean start and to have a good pace throughout the race."

Bruno Senna: "It was the best qualifying session of the year so far for me. The grid is so tight that the smallest difference in time can make a big difference in position, so it was tough. Our race simulation yesterday was good so I feel we are looking stronger for tomorrow. Of course I would like to be further up the grid, but I couldn't be closer to Pastor so it was a good team effort."

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo: "P17 is not going to put a smile on my face, as I had expected to do better today. I drove as hard as I could, but that did not produce a good enough lap time. With the package we had, I don't think I could have got much more out of it. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and then we must look at trying to improve our qualifying performance for the next race. We are not where we want to be, especially as before the weekend, we had expected to be closer to the top ten. At the moment we don't have the answers to what happened. This weekend, we had a few small updates but we also tried a few drastic measures in a way that required me to drive differently, so either we can make it work in Bahrain or we could go back to something we understand a bit better."

Jean-Eric Vergne: "I am not feeling good after that. I'm not really sure what happened this afternoon, but we lacked speed. My lap was not exceptional, but nor was it bad, so we have to try and understand why it was so slow. All we can do is try and have a good afternoon tomorrow and then improve the car for the coming races, because what happened this afternoon was simply bizarre. It's true that I got a good result starting low down the grid in Malaysia, but it would be nice to at least start higher up the order quite soon. I will feel better tomorrow morning and will look forward to seeing what the race might bring."

Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen: "I pretty much got as much as I could out of the car today. I made a small mistake in the final corner on my second run that maybe cost me a couple of tenths, but the car felt well balanced and there probably wasn't any more to come in Q1. On my first run I was blocked by Maldonado on the back straight, so we'll see what happens with that, but overall I'm pretty pleased with my performance so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Vitaly Petrov: "I've had a couple of issues today with finding the right balance, but on the second run in Q1 I had a pretty good lap and I think it all came together to put that time in. We know from the first two races we can fight on Sundays and we've looked relatively easy on the tyres, so with a good plan and a bit of luck maybe tomorrow can bring us something good."

Marussia

Timo Glock: "A very difficult Saturday for me today. The car was quite a lot better yesterday when I had a very good feeling with it. For some reason, this morning I picked up massive oversteer and we struggled with the balance. We couldn't get rid of the oversteer in FP3 so we had to make some changes for qualifying and I lost a bit of confidence in the car."

Charles Pic: "I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't able to put my best sectors together today, but I think we can be happy with the progress we have made with the car this weekend. The developments that we brought here have proved to be very good with the expected results and we can see this for sure in the gap to Caterham, which has closed again since Malaysia."

HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: "I think it was, by far, our best qualifying session to date. I've already said many times that we've got a lot of room for improvement, but the important thing is that we've cut down the distance with regards to pole position considerably, some four seconds from first, and that's very positive for us. We're bringing the difference down and, although we're not going to stop here, we've taken a step forward, so I'm very happy. In this qualifying session we've made various changes to the set-up and the car responded well and, even though this morning there was no way of making the car turn well, in the afternoon, once I got in I felt the car was better. Tomorrow we hope to fight, as we did in Malaysia and if we can finish a little bit higher, then even better."

Narain Karthikeyan: "In the morning we had some trouble with the suspension but we got it fixed in time for the afternoon. In qualifying I got blocked on my first lap and didn't clock a good time on the first set of tyres. On the second set I made a flatspot, so that's the reason I didn't do so well, but nevertheless we're comfortably inside the 107% and that's important. Tomorrow if it rains during the race that will benefit us, if not we'll have to try and do the best we can. The target once again is to achieve mileage and I'm confident that the car should be able to make it through the whole distance."

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