Belgian GP qualifying - Driver reaction
Plenty of euphoria - and plenty of disappointment too!
Last Updated: 24/08/13 6:03pm
The men behind F1's steering wheels have their say on a dramatic qualifying session at Spa.
Lewis Hamilton: "A fourth pole in a row just feels fantastic! The team did a great job to get the timing at the end of Q3 absolutely perfect and I was in exactly the right track position. I was so surprised when I came across the line to hear I was P1. I went wide in the first corner and I thought I was down on time from the read-out on my steering wheel. I just kept pushing and did a strong middle sector, then I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end so it was a great feeling. I hope we can try and fight it out tomorrow, whatever the conditions. The Red Bulls are still ahead of us in terms of performance so results like this feel even more special because I know I've got the absolute maximum out of myself and out of the car."
Nico Rosberg: "It was a very difficult qualifying session and unfortunately luck wasn't on my side today. When I took the chequered flag, I was quickest at that time, but the track quicker and quicker for the guys who had got the extra lap and eventually ended up in the top three positions, so I must be happy with fourth place on the grid. Our car seems pretty good in all conditions here this weekend which makes me hopeful of a strong race performance tomorrow afternoon.
Sebastian Vettel: "It wasn't clear if the first lap we did in Q3 was the lap on intermediate tyres - so it was hard to know where we were today. We went out on slicks to start, which was quite entertaining as it started to rain pretty heavily. We then went onto intermediates and it still wasn't clear what would happen. It looked like there was more rain coming, so we all rushed to get a lap, but then it stopped and the circuit came back very quickly. The last lap tuned out to be the fastest with the circuit drying. It was difficult to know how fast you could go, I saw Lewis catching and thought I could have gone a bit quicker here and there, but in the end it was quite close across the line. In these conditions anything can happen. I'm happy today; the boys did a good job with the change from slicks to intermediates which got us an extra lap and it was a good day for the team."
Mark Webber: "It was a difficult session to make all the right calls, but in the end I think we got most things right. I think it's very easy to look stupid in those conditions, but in the end we did most things pretty good I'd say. It's a little bit bizarre with the DRS going on and off in the session, but it's the same for everyone. It was a ballsy thing to go slower on the second to last lap to save the tyres, when you're still not sure if the track will improve for the last lap, but in the end it worked out and I'm happy to be up there for tomorrow's race."
Fernando Alonso: "When you end up ninth and tenth, clearly something has gone wrong and only analysing the data will be able to tell you what exactly, especially as the car was more competitive than in recent races. That's partly down to the updates introduced here, which we had been working on since mid-July, when it was clear we had problems. Bad luck definitely played its part, because if the cloud that appeared in Q3 had not moved just before the end of the session, then maybe those who were last at that time would not have improved.
"In the final part, I spun on my first lap, a mistake which definitely cost me, even if by my next lap at the same point, at Turn 14, I had already made up three seconds. I feel reasonably confident for the race, especially as the variable weather conditions mean anything can happen and it's not a given that one finishes where one starts. Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have
closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry. We saw that in Q2 and in the mixed conditions in Q1. Only the rain is the big question mark, because so far this weekend, we have never run on a track that is wet for its entire length".
Felipe Massa: "I am very disappointed with the result of this qualifying, even if I am well aware how difficult it is to make the right decision at the right time when the weather is very changeable. On my first run in Q3, I went out on the Mediums and, at the moment it began to rain, I had two options: return to the pits to refuel and fit a new set of intermediates, or try and only change tyres. I went for the second of these choices, hoping to benefit from the track being at its best, knowing I would only have one lap left to try and do a good time. Unfortunately, this choice did not pay off, because just then the rain eased off and the other cars encountered better track conditions at the end of the session. A real shame, as the car's been very competitive all weekend, but definitely today, we were a bit out of luck. Even if we are not starting from a good position tomorrow, the race is long and anything can happen. My pace is good and I hope to pull off some nice passing moves to bring home a good number of points".
Kimi Raikkonen: "When it was dry in the second qualifying session we were fastest, so if it's dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race; even though we will not start from a great position. The last qualifying session was wet and our car does not give its best in these types of conditions. Any lap which came right at the end of the session would have helped, but if it stayed dry it would have helped more. Tomorrow is another day so we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
Romain Grosjean: "It wasn't an easy session today with the changing weather and while it's good to be in the top ten, it wasn't exactly what we were hoping for. It was a big challenge to know what condition the track was in, to make the right decisions at the right time and to adjust the speed according to the weather. At the end of qualifying you needed to be on the on track at the right time. I'll work with the engineers later to assess why Kimi was a bit quicker in the dry, where we can improve in the wet, and options in terms of strategy. I'll give my best in the race tomorrow."
Paul di Resta: "Fifth place on the grid is a great result. At the start of Q3 I knew that I wanted to go straight out on the intermediates. It was a brave decision and the team let me go ahead with it, while the others chose dry tyres. I knew it was our best chance to get up towards the front of the grid and it paid off. It's a shame that the rain stopped a bit too early because there were only a few cars that were quicker than us in the wet and they just got ahead at the end of the session. The main thing is we are in a strong position for tomorrow and we will come back tomorrow ready to fight."
Adrian Sutil: "I'm feeling disappointed with how things ended up today because I think we had the potential to get a better result. In Q2 I was on my final flying lap a bit too early and the track was getting quicker all the time. So we should have waited a bit longer and I think that would have made the difference to make the top ten. Also, I had some traffic on my fastest lap and that cost me some time."
Jenson Button: "In the dry we were relatively happy with our pace, and in the wet I reckon it was a bit better still. I think P6 for us was an okay outcome, therefore. However, we're still lacking a little bit compared with what we'd hoped for here, which shortfall we suspect is the result of an aero efficiency issue. We'll have to analyse that thoroughly before Monza. But, going back to Spa, our timing was just a little bit off at the end of Q3, which enabled the top three guys to put in laps quicker than ours. Even so, the fact that there are three Brits in the top six is just great. Looking forward to tomorrow, if the weather is wet, or changeable, as we expect it to be, then things could get tricky for all the front-runners, because I think we've all used our supply of inters. Anyway, let's see what happens. It should be an exciting race."
Sergio Perez: "In tricky conditions like today's you have to be in the right place at the right time, and it's a pity we couldn't optimise our potential by doing that, because on a wet track our car is pretty strong and we therefore had a very good opportunity to qualify well here this afternoon. So I'm a bit disappointed, of course, because we went out a bit too late and thereby lost the 'window', preventing us from being able to put in a lap that would have moved us through to Q3. It's a pity, because the track was improving quickly at that time, and we'd have therefore been able to improve our lap time significantly. But that's racing - and tomorrow is another day - and our car should be reasonably competitive if it rains. So I'll try my best to make up for today's disappointment by scoring some good points for the team tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was a tricky day again qualifying in weather conditions like these. This morning I was struggling a bit on the medium tyre. Again this afternoon it wasn't' the easiest, but I guess that's the same for everyone with the weather, as it's always challenging. It was a wet Q1, which is always exciting, but I think we did a solid job there. We were only missing about three hundredths to get into Q3. P11 seems to stick to me. But it's a good starting point for tomorrow. I hope we have a good race pace, so that we can score some points."
Esteban Gutierrez: "I'm much happier with the car today. We were able to solve the issues we had in FP2 yesterday. Everything was looking good until the last part of Q1. We changed to a new set of intermediates too early, and that was the wrong choice. The track was drying and the tyres were gone after one lap, which was the main issue. There is not much we could have done at that moment, when the decision was already made, but I tried to do the best with what I had. In these weather conditions, it all comes down to the right tyre selection. Tomorrow will be a gamble too as the forecast is changeable. It will come down to the strategy, so we have to be very flexible, open to everything and very efficient. Whether it's a dry or a wet race, we need to get it right."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "What happened today is easy to explain, it was just a team mistake. These things shouldn't happen, but everyone gets it wrong now and again. It is very frustrating, as the car has been good enough this weekend to qualify really well in either the wet or the dry. As soon as I left the pits for the second time, I knew I was in trouble and I also had a bit of trouble with traffic, with some cars on slicks around me. Therefore, this was a clear missed opportunity, as I believe I could have been in the top five in the dry and the car was clearly working well in the wet too. It's going to take me a bit of time to get over the disappointment, but now there is no use getting angry and, in any case, I really believe I can still have a good race tomorrow and score some points. We can learn from this afternoon and ensure we don't make this mistake again."
Daniel Ricciardo: "That was down to bad timing more than anything else. We went out at the very start of the session and that went fine, with a wet track and the chance of it getting a bit wetter before drying out later. I believe we should have waited a bit longer before fitting the second set of Intermediates. We went out too early for that second run and by the second lap, the tyres were already worn and that was when the track conditions were at their best. Obviously, it's very frustrating, but now all we can do is put it behind us and concentrate on tomorrow. We have to learn from this and make sure we get it right next time."
Pastor Maldonado: "Today the changing weather conditions made it difficult to be on the right tyres at the right time and we went on to the intermediate tyre a bit too early. The lap here is very long and by the time I got to my second lap when the track was improving, the tyres had already gone and I couldn't be competitive. The cars race pace is quite good so we will be pushing hard to make up places and I still think we have an opportunity to finish in the top 10."
Valtteri Bottas: "It was a disappointing qualifying because we had the ability to be higher but we were caught out by the changing track conditions. We went out on intermediate tyres earlier than others but the track was drying faster than we expected and by the end we could probably have got away with being on dry tyres. We were also struggling for overall grip on the intermediates and we were sliding quite a lot in the corners and this was losing us time. It's a shame as there was a good opportunity to do well today, but hopefully the weather will be like this tomorrow as it gives us the chance to look at different strategy options."
Charles Pic: "Saturday started well for me. On the first FP3 run the car balance immediately felt better than either session on Friday, especially mid-corner so it was easier to put the car where I wanted it in the corners. Overnight we'd also improved the downforce levels so the whole package felt better. For run two we made a small change to improve grip and that also worked so we went onto the option tyres with a car that was working well and that carried through to the performance run.
"For quali the rain had started just before the session but it wasn't too heavy so we went straight out on a set of intermediate tyres which we had good pace on in the wet conditions. My first run was good and a dry line was just starting to appear when I came in to pit. Unfortunately I was then called to the weighbridge which cost us the time needed to do three laps with the set of slicks so the team made the call to stay on the inters for the second run and unfortunately it didn't work out. I'm obviously pleased for the team that Giedo made it through to Q2 but now my focus is on fighting for a decent finish tomorrow and with the weather looking like it could be as changeable as it was today we could have some good opportunities to fight in the race. "
Giedo van der Garde: "What a fantastic day! I'm so pleased for the whole team that we made our second appearance of the year in Q2, that we finished clear of the Marussias and start the race from 14th. It was a pretty brave call to be the first to go out on slicks and for the first lap it looked like it might not pay off, but then on the final lap of Q1 I had it all hooked up just right and finished the session the highest we've ever been in Q1.
"I have to say I didn't really believe it when my engineer Juan told me where we were - I was just at the top of Eau Rouge on the cool down lap and he said I was in P3! That was such a good feeling, for me, the team and everyone who's supported me. In Q2 we knew that if it stayed dry we'd be aiming for 14th and we went out on a set of mediums knowing we had to keep pushing as the track got better and better. I think there was maybe a little more laptime if we'd maybe started the run a bit later, but, realistically, not enough to go into Q3 so finishing 14th, over 0.5 seconds clear of our nearest rival was the target and we achieved it by good work from everyone.
"Saturday had started well after the guys did a good job on Friday night, making a number of changes to the car that meant I started Saturday with much better balance and with the oversteer we'd had on Friday gone. FP3 was a good session for me and we made further improvements on both runs on the hard tyres and on the mediums which were working pretty well on the performance run, but we knew there was still more to come in quali. We couldn't have dreamt it would come together well enough for Q1 to end with me in P3, but we took full advantage of the conditions today and 14th is a just reward for being brave and taking our chance."
Jules Bianchi: "Today is a fantastic result for the Team, who were so happy to be back in Q2. This was a nice feeling for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career. Things have been steadily improving for us over the weekend and I'm really happy that all the hard work paid off for us today. This result was not about luck because everyone was faced with the same dilemma at the end of the Q1 session; whether it might be too dry for the Intermediate tyre or too wet for slicks. On the first lap on the final run it was hard to make up my mind what to do; only the drivers could see what the track condition was really like and it was different from corner to corner.
"By the end of the lap I had decided just to go for it and stay on the Medium tyre and that gamble was exactly the right call. Tomorrow we line up on the seventh row, which will be a nice moment, but of course we don't really know what the weather will bring. We have everything to gain and we will make the most of every opportunity."
Max Chilton: "What a great day for everyone! Together with Jules I'm so pleased to help put the Team into Q2 again. It was such a tricky qualifying, and as we can see from the classification, it's difficult to make the right calls at a track where the lap is so long that the conditions are so different from corner to corner. When we switched to the dry tyre for the final run I was worried we may have made the wrong call and might have to switch back to the Intermediate but I also knew the track was drying quickly and we could easily make another wrong call by changing back. The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out.
"I'm happy to say it was the right call and we went on to enjoy a strong Q2, when my time was pretty pleasing given that on my final run I was fuelled for two timed laps. I can't wait for tomorrow's race now, rain or shine."