Driver reaction - Belgium Qualy
The men in the cockpits have their say
By William Esler. Last Updated: 01/09/12 7:13pm
The drivers give their reaction to qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, where Jenson Button took his first McLaren pole position.
Mark Webber: "I'm disappointed. We would like to have been higher up the grid to take the sting out of the penalty (5 places), but we'll have to see what we can do tomorrow. We weren't quick enough and couldn't challenge for the front row today; I was pretty happy with my lap but I think P5 would have been our maximum today. We have a long race tomorrow and there should be some good opportunities to come through the field. Clearly we're out of position a little and we have work to do, but the Team is a quality operation and we know what hard work is all about. We just need to keep pushing."
Vettel hoping for better performance
Sebastian Vettel: "I felt pretty good this morning, the laps didn't come together but the car felt good. There was nothing obvious that was wrong this afternoon, I was pretty happy with my lap, it was clean, but it just wasn't quick enough. It's a shame to miss Q3 by such a small margin, but that's racing. We've seen in the last races that our car is pretty good in the race so we will see what we can do."
Button - Pole almost like a win
Jenson Button: "It's been so long since my last pole position that it almost feels like a win for me!
"In fact, it's my first pole since Monaco 2009 - which was a race that I won - and it demonstrates that I can qualify really well.
"So I want to offer my congratulations to the whole team: it's my 50th grand prix for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes this weekend, so it's a great time to get a pole position for everyone at Woking [home of McLaren], at Brixworth [home of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains] and of course here at Spa.
"I'm surprised that the new rear wing is working so well, but the engineers also did a great job with the balance. And it's even more encouraging that we had good consistency through all three qualifying sessions. Nonetheless, nobody has done any long runs yet, so we still need to wait and see how tomorrow pans out.
"Can I still win the drivers' championship? Yes. We'll take it one day at a time, but hopefully we can get some good points tomorrow."
Damage limitations for Lewis
Lewis Hamilton: "Congratulations to Jenson! He did an excellent job and I hope he gets maximum points tomorrow.
"For me, today was a bit of a disappointment; but, since I'm still in the top 10, tomorrow will be about trying to make the most of things.
"The set-up wasn't perfect, but that was simply because we chose the wrong rear wing, preferring to stay with the version we used in Hungary. The wing we'd been using in FP3 this morning hadn't been working very well, so we opted to go back to the older wing which we thought would be the safer option. It was a collective choice: we thought the older wing would be quicker in qualifying, but in fact Jenson has shown the new wing to be very good indeed.
"Our side of the garage was a bit unlucky, but we'll do what we can with what we have tomorrow."
Alonso satisfied with sixth
Fernando Alonso: "This afternoon's sixth place matches our average for this year's qualifying sessions, which is 6.08 to be precise, therefore we shouldn't be too surprised at this result. Usually, on Sunday we go better than on Saturday, therefore we can be reasonably confident about the race, especially in light of the fact that a lot of my closest rivals start behind me, while another one, Kimi is not too far in front.
"If this result could be repeated tomorrow, honestly I'd sign for it now! Our aim is the podium, but I think a win is not within our grasp. It's true it is a very open race, partly because overtaking is relatively straightforward on this track. The fact we don't have data on tyre life is not penalising, as we are all in the same situation. Anyway, we know both compounds well so I don't expect any problems on this front.
"More significantly, clearly the fact we could not run much yesterday meant we could not optimise various aspects of the car, but in this case too, everyone is in the same boat. In fact, that could explain the difference in performance between drivers from the same team. The updates we introduced brought a benefit in terms of top speed, which is positive, also for Monza, where we race in a few daystime. The championship is very close and if you don't do everything perfectly, you find yourself down the back. That's why the smallest things matter and we always try to be super concentrated on the very smallest detail."
Felipe Massa: "Already this morning, I was struggling a lot in the second sector and, after the third free practice session, we made some changes to the configuration of the car, which unfortunately, did not change the situation much. I can't manage to drive properly in that part of the track. I can feel the car sliding in the corners because of a lack of aerodynamic downforce. Fernando also seemed to be suffering in some parts of the track, but clearly less so than me.
"In the first and third sectors however, I was competitive, both in absolute terms and when compared to my team-mate. Furthermore, precisely because of the difficulty I had in T2, I was a bit bothered about tyre degradation, especially as we had not managed to acquire date on their behaviour over a long run because of yesterday's bad weather. I definitely can't be happy with today, but now the important thing is to concentrate on the race.
"Everything could still happen, especially on a track where overtaking is possible. On top of that, there are so many unknowns relating to the behaviour of the car so we cannot rule out any surprises."
Michael Schumacher: "Well, what a pity today. I am really sorry for my fans but I am afraid I have to say that I got pretty much everything that we could from today. The car was not quick enough, and especially in the mid-sector we were too slow. We now have to take it as it is and try to do the best we can in the race tomorrow. We will have further steps coming soon, so we will go on fighting."
Nico Rosberg: "This weekend isn't really running to plan so far. Starting from the back of the grid tomorrow is really disappointing, although I had no chance to prepare my car due to the gearbox problem this morning. So it took a bit of a time to find the right set-up in qualifying and it didn't work out well at the end. I hope I can gain some positions in the race but I'm not overly optimistic as our car is not one of the quickest on this track. I will definitely push hard."
Button on pole in Belgium
Kimi Raikkonen: "It wasn't the easiest of qualifying sessions. The car is okay but it doesn't look like we have the speed that some others have and we were certainly not quick enough for pole today. The race is a different story. On the grid we're in front of of the guys who are ahead of us in the championship so we'll try to score more points than them."
Romain Grosjean: "That wasn't my best qualifying ever and I struggled a little bit. I had traffic in Q1 and I didn't feel as confident with the car as I would like. You can see how close it was in the top ten so I suffered from not having everything exactly as I wanted, especially on the softer compound. Missing yesterday's practice because of the weather didn't help either as any time in the car is always beneficial, especially for a long lap like Spa. I'm sure the car will be good in the race and we should have a good strategy."
Paul di Resta: "I'm quite pleased with our performance today. The car had pace this morning during practice and was working well on this track where you need lots of downforce as well as efficiency. My lap in Q2 felt very good and was about the maximum that was possible. In fact, I couldn't repeat the time in Q3 and I went a tenth slower, so that was the speed we had in the car today. With the grid penalty for Mark (Webber) I will probably start from ninth, which puts us in a great position to come away with some points tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I'm a little bit disappointed with the result today because I felt it was possible to make the top ten. There wasn't as much preparation time in the dry as I would have liked, but we were in reasonable shape this morning and made some good progress with the set-up. On my final lap in Q2 I didn't get the middle sector quite right, lost some time, and missed out on Q3. For such a long lap the times were very close today and just a tenth or two would have been enough to move up the grid."
Kobayashi on front row
Kamui Kobayashi: "I am very happy for the team and myself. We had felt quite positive before we came here, but I think it is fair to say we didn't expect to be second and fifth in qualifying. We have had strong races this year, but qualifying has been a weakness and the guys have done a great job to improve this. I want to thank them very much. After not having time to learn much in either practice session on Friday because of the rain, like everyone else our first dry running was this morning and after free practice three we knew we were quite good.
"I will be on the front row tomorrow and this is certainly nice, but we don't score points for that. The podium must be the target and to reach it we still have a long way to go. We have to get the tyre management and strategy right and cannot allow ourselves the smallest mistake."
Sergio Perez: "Second and fifth are really good qualifying positions for our team and I am pleased for the crew. Personally I'm not too happy because my last lap in Q3 wasn't perfect. I had the feeling the car was performing differently to this morning. In any case, the most important part comes tomorrow. It will be a very challenging race on a demanding circuit. I need a good start and I want to fight the people in front of me because I know the car will allow me to do that. I am definitely targeting another podium."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "I think that was a solid performance for me and the team today. We know where we are compared to the others, therefore even after a long break, we didn't expect to suddenly find ourselves in Q3. I think, personally, I did a good job. I have struggled a bit with qualifying since the start of the year, but race by race I have made progress and today, to finish ahead of my team-mate, shows that I am getting better at it.
"However, I made a couple of mistakes on my fast lap, so maybe I could have been a bit quicker. We plan to be aggressive tomorrow and grab any opportunity that comes our way on track. I would really like to bring home some points, but that might be rather difficult."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I don't think I got the best lap I could in Q2, because I'd done the same time in Q1. Normally you go quicker in Q2 and I was hoping to find more time but I did not manage it. Therefore I had hopes to be higher than sixteenth. But I am still in a positive frame of mind for the race. I have a feeling we can do better tomorrow afternoon as at times today, our pace showed signs of promise."
Pastor Maldonado: "This morning didn't go as well for us as we had hoped, but during qualifying I adapted myself to the car and the changing track conditions which were improving all the time. After Q1, I saw the potential so we just had to put it together for the rest of qualifying. Obviously, I am disappointed to be sixth following the penalty, but it's still a good result so I'm happy for the team. We will now prepare for the race and I am very much looking forward to pushing for a good result tomorrow."
Bruno Senna: "I'm slightly frustrated with qualifying as things just didn't seem to come together today. The spin was unfortunate and there seemed to be a bit of damage on the car from that. It's frustrating to be further back than we should be but we've scored points from those positions before, so we need to keep our heads up and make sure we do it again."
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Heikki Kovalainen: "It's been a bit of a tricky day. In FP3 the car had quite a lot of understeer early on but we managed to dial that out towards the end of the session. By the time FP3 finished the car felt ok but I was having issues with DRS and that was obviously costing me laptime. In qualifying I had traffic on the first run and couldn't lap as fast as I wanted to on the outlap.
"The tyres weren't quite up to temperature and that left me with one lap on that run to put in a time but with the tyres not where we wanted I wasn't able to get in a quick time. On the second run my outlap was much better but the only problem was with the DRS again. The guys had worked hard to fix it but it was still struggling to open and I could feel that in the car.
"Whenever I hit the button it felt like it wasn't fully activated and around a track like Spa that's going to cost you time. In the end the last lap put me into our usual position and for where we are right now that's about as good a performance as we could hope for."
Vitaly Petrov: "I had a pretty decent qualifying session and I'm pleased I could get that last clear lap in as the session ended. On my first run in quali there was quite a lot of traffic and that may have cost a bit of time, but I think I got as much out of the car as I could today, so for me that's ok. The race tomorrow looks like it will be dry but even with a clear track there are always surprises in Spa so I want to make sure I have a good clean race and can take advantage of anything that happens ahead."
Pedro de la Rosa: "I'm very happy with today's qualifying because we completed an impeccable lap. We went out with just enough time and did the three best sectors on the same lap; we risked it and it paid off. After the issues we had with the car this morning in P3, we made the appropriate changes and they worked well. We also qualified ahead of other cars and did so at such a complicated circuit, so that's even more satisfying.
"For us the times aren't important, it's seeing the improvement and not qualifying last that matters. There are some cars with upgrades finishing behind and that's positive."
Narain Karthikeyan: "I made the most of the morning session but I didn't have a good qualifying session as I constantly ran into traffic. I was on my flying lap right at the end of the session but on turn 15 another car hindered me and I was unable to finish it. But that's in the past now. We have to forget about today and think about tomorrow's race where we will fight, as always, to achieve the best result possible."
Timo Glock: "After a difficult Friday for everyone, which meant we didn't get any dry running, it was quite a jam-packed Saturday. FP3 this morning was my first opportunity to get a feeling for the updates and, as important, for the little change we made to correct the rear end instability problem I've had in the last couple of races.
"The team put a lot of work into that, so I want to thank them as I think we have improved the situation, although we have to see what transpires during the race. Qualy was okay; the first run was not great, but I could feel that I could maybe gain a bit more time because I made some mistakes in the first lap. In the second lap I lost quite a bit of time down the straight, due to the wind I guess.
"Things picked up from there and I was able to keep pushing from corner to corner, but then towards the end of the lap for some reason I lost the rear end again on turn in and lost some time, so we'll have to look into that. It's a real shame as we were looking good versus the next team today, but let's hope we can get it back in the race tomorrow."
Charles Pic: "I think we have made a very good step forward with our latest updates, but I am disappointed with how things went for me in qualifying. The first run was okay, but we had some room for improvement, then on the second run we had only one flying lap to play with and we hit traffic in sector 2, so I lost a lot of time there. Versus the competition, we had been looking very strong, so it is a little frustrating. Now we have to focus on the race and what we can do then to show what we have gained with the new developments."