Force India and Williams show big signs of improvement as Fernando Alonso qualifies in a familiar P13 position.
Esteban Ocon: “It has been a very strong day for us. The car is working well and it’s been very enjoyable to drive. We’ve made good progress improving the car and we have been quick in every session. Today we were the fourth fastest team and we really deserved this result. Tomorrow is a big opportunity and we need to make the most of it. We saw last year what can happen here with safety cars and incidents so we need to be patient and stay out of trouble.”
Sergio Perez: “I am pretty happy with our performance today. It’s been a good day for the team even though we probably had the pace to be further up the grid. I don’t think we fully maximised our performance and it was a very complicated qualifying session. There were so many yellow flags and the wind made things very complicated, which is why there were so many errors. I couldn’t get a proper clean run until Q3. The race tomorrow will be all about being in the right place at the right time and making the most of the opportunities as they arise. The track suits us and I believe there is plenty of potential to make up a few more places. Days like these are a great motivation for everyone in the team and show we are making progress. We were the top team in the midfield today but it’s tomorrow that really counts.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “We lost some time this morning so we can be pleased to get both cars into Q3. The balance in the car doesn’t sit quite where I would like it to, but some race weekends are like that and we can be happy that we gave it everything and tomorrow we will do the same to make up positions. The gearbox penalty is pretty bitter in this way, but we need to come back with the best strategy and fight hard. The good news is that you can overtake here and know there will be safety cars, so let’s see what we can do.”
Carlos Sainz: “It was a decent qualifying for us. I missed the perfect first sector but getting both cars into Q3 again shows good consistency and effort from the team. Tomorrow we need to have a clean start and target to stay in the points again. It could be another chaotic race so we need to be ready to maximise our chances.”
Lance Stroll: "I am really happy with that. We have obviously made a step forward this weekend compared to the last couple of events, but on the other hand it's a little disappointing not to get into Q3 by such a small margin. However, I am still very happy with the job we have done and a big thank you to the team. It might have been possible, but tough to throw a Red Bull out of there. It was such a difficult qualifying with the yellow flags in Q1 and I never did a lap until the last second on old tyres, so I was lucky to scrape through, and then happy with my lap in Q2. This track has a bit of everything – high speed, low speed, walls, drama – so it is a good one. It would be nice to see more tracks like this, as it really tightens things up a little bit and we see other cars that normally don't have any problems getting out of Q2, starting to struggle. It is very different to anywhere else we go to and is a lot of fun."
Sergey Sirotkin: "It’s a good recovery. We knew there was potential from the session earlier today. I need to thank the team a lot as they were really flat out, doing a perfect job to make sure we got out on track. I’m very happy that I can thank them with a result like this. I still feel like there’s a bit more laptime. I’m not sure if it would be enough for Q3, but it would be much closer than where we are. We’re moving forwards, we’re making progress and doing a great job. Now we see that in the results. Thanks to everyone for this and we’ll keep improving."
Fernando Alonso: “Qualifying still isn’t the strongest part of our weekend, but a lot usually happens during a street race, and at this track in particular. There’s no room for mistakes around this circuit: it’s very windy, dusty, the walls are very close, and you cannot push or over-drive the car. It’s also a mentally tough race, so I think tomorrow is going to be both crazy and fun at the same time. This weekend, we seem to have improved our top-speed compared to previous races, but we’ve also compromised some grip in the corners. Still, during Q2, the wind picked up a little, and we were losing speed along the straights due to the headwind. Tomorrow, that wind should be even stronger, so it’s going to be important to race among a group of cars to stay in the fight. This is the third time in a row where I’ve qualified 13th, and we normally seem to score good points from that position. Hopefully tomorrow will be another one of those good days.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s been a bit of a tough weekend for me. During practice, it seemed like, whenever I was on-track, I was in the wrong place, or encountered a yellow-flag at the wrong time. In fact, Q1 was probably the first session this weekend where I finally managed to complete a quick-lap. In the end, I was much happier with the car; we still lack a bit of top speed, so we really need to follow another car to benefit from their speed, and I missed out on that on my final lap. Still, our race performance looks better than qualifying. We’ve seen so many incidents under braking this weekend; and that’s a real strength of our car, it feels very good under braking, and that’s a key requirement for the race. I think we can pull together a good race performance tomorrow.”