Driver reaction - Japan qualy
The drivers have their say after a thrilling qualifying where Sebastian Vettel took his fourth Suzuka pole in a row.
Last Updated: 06/10/12 10:47am
The drivers have their say after a thrilling qualifying where Sebastian Vettel took his fourth Suzuka pole in a row.
Sebastian Vettel: "It was good we got the time on the first run, with the yellow flags coming out later. We had a phenomenal balance in the car and I had the feeling we could go with the track today. We only needed one run in every session, which doesn't happen all the time, but it's very enjoyable around here when the car works how you wish, especially on low fuel and fresh tyres. It's very special.
"Yesterday evening I wasn't too happy as I was losing time in the first sector, but I found my mistake and in today's practice session it worked straight away, I don't know why I didn't do it in previous years and it shows you never stop learning. Tomorrow will be interesting; it's hard on tyres here, so we will need to work to stay where we are."
Mark Webber: "That was a pretty solid session. We knew it was going to crank up in Q3, but I'll tell you, this place on low fuel with new tyres is something else. I was pretty happy with my first attempt, apart from the hairpin, but Sebastian had that couple of tenths and I thought 'fair play', it was a competitive lap from him.
"Overall both of us were very competitive in qualifying and that puts in good stead for tomorrow. All the hard work from the factory is paying off. The main day though is tomorrow, that's where the points are."
Jenson Button: "It was a good qualifying session - both my Q3 laps felt good.
"We've improved the car a lot since yesterday, when we tried a very low-downforce set-up to help with overtaking. We pulled back from that for today, and I feel a lot happier with the car.
"My gearbox penalty means it's disappointing to be starting so far back, though. Overtaking has never been easy around here - even with the introduction of DRS - and, that being the case, it's quite a surprise that the DRS zone has been shortened for this year.
"But I love racing around here. And because everyone's strategy could be up in the air tomorrow - because there's been quite a lot of tyre graining and blistering - things could still be a bit unpredictable.
"The championship is a long-shot for me, I know that, but I'd love to do well in front of the Japanese crowd; I'll be going for the win."
Lewis Hamilton: "Today's qualifying session was one of the most disappointing of my year. To be honest, I went the wrong way with the set-up and ended up with too much understeer. Until quali, the car had felt great all weekend, but I just couldn't make it turn this afternoon, and as a result I just couldn't extract the best from it.
"Jenson showed that the car itself is quite good though - he did a great job today - and our long-run pace wasn't bad yesterday, either.
"So you never know what's going to happen in tomorrow's race. It's going to be a struggle, but I'll be pushing my hardest with the set-up I've got, and I hope that, through good tyre management, I'll be able to overtake some of the cars in front of me.
"I'll be trying to get as many points as I can tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso: "What can I say, other than get angry about being unlucky? The yellow flags came at the worst possible moment, when I was coming into Turn 14. Up 'til then, my lap was great and there was every chance of setting the fourth fastest time of the day, which would have then seen me start from third on the grid.
"From there, the race could have taken on a completely different picture, but we have to accept what happened. We were unlucky today, so maybe we'll be lucky tomorrow! We are up against some very strong opponents, like Red Bull who are in front and there is also McLaren who are behind, so we will have to keep an eye on both sides of the track. I'm expecting a difficult Sunday: the main aim will be to finish - reliability is crucial- and bring home a good points haul.
"We changed a few things on the car compared to yesterday, but after FP3 we went back on our settings as we were not convinced about the changes. I am honestly more optimistic for tomorrow than I was for today, given that our race pace is usually better than our performance over a flying lap: let's hope that really turns out to be the case."
Felipe Massa: "I am very disappointed with the way this qualifying went. Up until the second run in Q2, everything was going well: the car felt very quick and I was happy with its balance. But suddenly, once we fitted a new set of Softs, I lost grip at the front, right from the first corner and it never returned throughout the lap.
"To miss out on Q3 by just 21 thousandths is a further blow. It's very frustrating not being able to get the right results when you know you can count on a good car. It definitely won't be easy making up places on a track like this, but we will give it our all and try and bring home plenty of points."
Michael Schumacher: "It was a shame that we couldn't do more today, after things hadn't looked too bad this morning, but we simply didn't get the performance together. Although we should also say that, knowing the high-speed characteristics of this circuit, we didn't necessarily expect to look in great shape here.
"Perhaps I could have made it through to Q3, because the data showed that I lost two-tenths in turn 11 because of traffic, but I wasn't quite sure what Hamilton was doing ahead of me. I saved a lot of tyre sets and in that respect got the maximum out of the situation. Now we need to wait and see what happens tomorrow. I will be certainly aiming for the best possible result, starting from the back of the grid."
Nico Rosberg: "It's been a difficult weekend for us. Qualifying in 15th place is not where we want to be although I will gain some places due to grid penalties. The times were so close today and it's disappointing that we couldn't make it through to Q3. Our pace felt better on high fuel, so hopefully this will work out well in the race and I can gain positions."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I spun. I was on a good lap and I was pushing - maybe a little too hard - and lost the rear. It's a shame as the car feels the best it has all weekend. If the car's good tomorrow we should be able to move forwards. Let's see what happens."
Romain Grosjean: "Yesterday we had two tricky sessions, so to have both cars in Q3 is a good recovery. We knew it would be very tight in qualifying and I think we could maybe have been one place higher with a cleaner run through the first sector, but the leaders were too quick today. We're lacking a little bit of downforce at the moment, but with a few minor adjustments overnight and the right strategy I think we can take home a good haul of points tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg: "The build-up to qualifying was quite intense because the guys were working hard to repair my car after the accident this morning. It was not a big impact, but the angle was unfortunate and there was quite a lot to fix - so all credit to the boys who got me out with enough time to set a time in Q1.
"The car felt good straight away and we made it through to Q3, which was always the target. We then took a strategic decision to save tyres so I didn't set a time. That opens up the strategy for tomorrow, especially because we knew I would get a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox. There's still a chance to get points tomorrow if we can make our strategy work."
Paul di Resta: "It was quite a tough session with traffic today and even on my quick lap in Q2 I was slightly compromised in the second sector. I locked a wheel and it may only have cost half a tenth, but that's how close the margin was to the top ten.
"I think given what happened yesterday with losing so much track time we can be pretty happy with our performance today. We have got ourselves up there, close to the top ten and in with a chance of points. For tomorrow it's clear that tyre wear will be a big issue for everyone, but hopefully we can use the strategy to challenge the people in front. There are some question marks going into the race because I've done no high fuel running, but we have data with the other car."
Kamui Kobayashi: "I am happy because I think I achieved the maximum possible today. On my last lap I lost a bit of time because of the yellow flag when I backed off and switched off the DRS.
"I want to thank the team for the big step forward they have managed with the car since Friday. In the beginning we were struggling with the new parts but now we have got it right. After quite a few changes to the settings the car is fast again.
"From where I am starting I should have a chance to fight for a podium finish, and it would be a dream come true if I could achieve my first podium in Formula One in front of my home crowd. But first of all I have to manage a good start, and then I should have more luck than in Spa this year where I started from the front row but got involved in an accident."
Sergio Perez: "My last lap in Q3 wasn't perfect but still good. I am very happy for the team that we have achieved such a strong qualifying result today. They have done a great job because initially on Friday here we were really lacking pace. It was a strong and speedy recovery and I'm confident tomorrow in the race we will be able to fight for another podium."
Daniel Ricciardo: "Without taking the grid position into consideration, this afternoon's session was great fun. Driving this circuit on low fuel and with the best tyre of the weekend- a new set of Options - is very enjoyable.
"Today, it was really just a fight between myself and Jean-Eric in Q2 because the others were a little bit too far out in front. However, it's not too discouraging, because on the positive side, we have definitely made progress since yesterday and if we can find another step forward for tomorrow, then hopefully we can sneak into the points again."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "I'm not so happy with today's qualifying as we have struggled to find the right balance on our car all weekend. For qualifying, maybe we went too far the other way in terms of set-up and when the balance is not right, you lose a lot of time in the high speed corners.
"But hopefully the race will be better tomorrow; it usually is. As for the incident with Senna, I was catching Glock on my flying lap and I had to slow because of that. I saw Bruno was coming very quickly and unfortunately he caught me at the chicane where there is not much room.
"But I knew I had to let him past and moved as much to the outside as I could, even though I knew I would not be in the best position to come out of the corner. After that, he slowed a lot and I had to pass him again on the straight, otherwise I would not have set a proper time."
Pastor Maldonado: "We've been working hard to make the car more competitive but for one reason or another, we just couldn't pull it all together today. We need to try to understand why, but tomorrow is going to be a long race so I'm quite optimistic. The gaps are so close and our longer run pace looks encouraging, so we aim to push for some points tomorrow."
Bruno Senna: "It was a frustrating qualifying session as I was held up on my final timed lap at the end of Q1 and couldn't post the time that I wanted. However, it's a long race tomorrow and although this track is difficult to overtake at, we've been in this position before and so we'll give it our best shot to score some points in the race."
Pedro de la Rosa: "Today I went out to give it my all and I'm happy with how it went. The team did a fantastic job and the car's set-up improved notably. In qualifying I did two good laps; the second one was even better, almost perfect, and tomorrow we will start ahead of Caterham and Marussia which is already a success.
"More so at a circuit like this one. We've got to be more than happy with what we've done. Tomorrow in the race we will go for everything. The important thing is to have a good pace, look after the tyres and finish strong."
Narain Karthikeyan: "In the morning the car was working very well and my first laps were fantastic but then I spun off and damaged my new floor so we had to go back to the old one. In qualifying I barely had any grip and on my last lap I went long at 130R.
"It wasn't a good qualifying session for me, but the car is performing much better and, although tomorrow will be a tough race, we will try and finish it in the best way possible."
Timo Glock: "All well that ends well, but FP3 was a difficult start to the day, a bit like Singapore. Here, we had an oil pressure problem with the engine and I couldn't run very much, which was a bit of a shame as we needed to do some fine-tuning due to the track temperature change; our car was quite sensitive to it.
"So I was a little bit worried going into qualifying blind again and as we seemed to have dropped a bit in pace. We had a good think between me and my engineers on what to do and I think the changes all worked out well for us. I had only one flying lap on my second run and there was a little mistake in sector 1, but the car was good.
"To be ahead of one of the Caterhams despite the challenges we have had makes me quite happy and now we will see if we can find some more in the race."
Charles Pic: "I am reasonably happy with my qualifying lap, and to have achieved our objective of getting ahead of one of the Caterhams. Having said that I think there is more to come from the car still and extracting that will continue to be a big focus this afternoon and evening.
"At the moment it feels that we are a little less competitive than at Singapore, so we will use the time before the race to see what we can to do make some more progress tomorrow."