Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso catch the eye in P5 and P6 respectively after penalties are applied; Felipe Massa accuses Carlos Sainz of deliberately ruining his qualifying.
Sergio Perez: “I am very pleased with today’s result, especially given how difficult the last couple of weekends have been for me in qualifying. It was a good fight to get into Q3 because our rivals were pushing us really hard, but I managed a good lap in difficult conditions to be sixth – the maximum we could hope for today. I have to say ‘thank you’ to the team: we went through everything to understand how the latest upgrades on the car work because I seemed to struggle a bit in qualifying at the last few races. The engineers have worked so hard and today’s result proves our pace. I am pleased to be back on form and I am looking forward to the race. It was quite cold today and we expect a much warmer track in the race, so managing the tyres and being on the right strategy will be especially important. Perhaps there could be some rain too – you never know in Brazil, which could help us have a nice battle at the front.”
Esteban Ocon: “It was not a perfect session and I just missed out on making Q3. The margins are always tight here and a few hundredths would have made the difference. For whatever reason we didn’t make our usual step between Friday and Saturday, and that’s one of the reasons we were not as strong as we should have been. I was also struggling with putting all the sectors together over one lap because I was gaining time in sector one, but losing grip in sector two. It feels as though we just didn’t get the most from the tyres when it mattered in Q2. On the positive side, I will move up a place on the grid with Daniel’s grid penalty and I have a free choice of tyres for the race.”
Fernando Alonso: “I’m happy with P7 today, particularly because it was a difficult qualifying. Conditions were very tricky: you see drops of rain on the visor, and that takes some confidence away even when the asphalt is completely dry. So you have to trust what the car is doing, and commit to the corner even though your mind is saying something different. Yesterday, we weren’t completely happy with the balance of the car and with the performance, but today the car stepped up and we were more competitive. P6 is a fantastic starting position for scoring points, but we know that Hamilton and Ricciardo will come back very strongly tomorrow. I’ll try to defend as much as I can even though tomorrow we expect a very sunny day and completely dry conditions, so it’s not going to be easy to hold on to our position. A little bit of rain is always welcome for us. We seem to be more competitive in damp conditions, but being in the top 10 tomorrow is our goal. Saturday has been great, let’s see what Sunday brings.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I’m not 100 per cent satisfied with today – it was a bit of a strange session for us. My qualifying started well and I had good rhythm straight away in Q1. I had decent pace and I was going quicker with each run. In Q2, I had some difficulties getting the tyres to work and I’m not sure why that is. With the final set of tyres on my last run we didn’t really manage to improve, and we need to delve into the data later to see if we can work out why. It’s been very difficult to predict the weather this weekend. It’s always a bit better for us when the weather is mixed-up, so we’ll have to wait and see what the conditions are like tomorrow. We’re starting 12th so let’s see what’s possible. If I reflect back on Friday, our long-run performance looked quite strong, so hopefully we can take those positives into the race. We know it’s always difficult for us to overtake, but from where we’re starting there’s always a chance for points. If we can get a good start and drive the perfect race maybe it will be possible.”
Felipe Massa: "I was happy with qualifying until Q3 where I lost a lap because a driver disturbed me on purpose. That is really disappointing. I think if you make a mistake it’s ok but it wasn’t a mistake. I am really disappointed. It was raining a little bit on the last lap and I didn’t put it together. I was locking up and I’m not starting in the position that I should be."
Lance Stroll: It was a tricky day missing out on FP3 and not doing any running until qualifying, so it was always going to be hard. We got helped by the red flag, but I was starting from zero today. It was just very hard. The car felt good, but I just made too many mistakes trying to find the limit of the car on the couple of laps I had. It has been a difficult weekend up to now, but tomorrow is a new day. We will have a penalty for changing the gearbox, but we will take it from there."
Nico Hulkenberg: “That was a good qualifying effort today and I think it was as good as it gets from the car here. We had some nice laps at the end of Q3 so I’m happy with that. Of course, I would have liked there to have been a little more rain to mix it up a bit, but that wasn’t to be. The name of the game tomorrow is to get to the chequered flag and to get points. We have reasonable race pace so it should be a good battle with Force India, McLaren and Williams; let’s see what happens.”
Carlos Sainz: "It was a good day. I’m feeling more confident with the car and today was definitely a step forward from previous sessions. There’s still scope for improvement and adaptation, but to be in Q3 for the third time with my new team is a positive experience. Points are definitely the target tomorrow. It’s going to be an interesting race with Hamilton and Ricciardo fighting back, but we have the pace, so we just need to keep pushing.”