Sat: Force India, McLaren, Williams, Haas

Date published: November 26 2016

Unexpectedly, Fernando Alonso did well to make it into Q3, while Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished comfortably in the top ten.

Force India:
Nico Hulkenberg: 
“I’m very happy and I think seventh place was probably the maximum result for us today. I’m pleased with my laps, especially considering the lack of running I have had this weekend, sitting out FP1 and missing half of final practice. Going into qualifying I thought it was going to be quite difficult, but we made good progress with the car during the session and I had the confidence to really push on all of my laps. Hopefully we can deliver more of the same tomorrow to end the season and my time with Force India in style. The cars ahead in the top six may be just out of reach, but we will give it a go and see where we end up.”

Sergio Perez: “I am pleased with the result for the team, locking down the fourth row of the grid, but I am not very happy with my performance because I know I could have done better. I had a bit of understeer on my last lap so I tried to change my lines to counter it, but it didn’t really work. I could have been in P7 with a perfect lap, but with Nico just ahead it’s still a great result for the team. I am looking forward to our last race as teammates and beating the cars around us to finish the season on a high note. I want to outscore our rivals because finishing fourth in the championship is a really important objective for us.”

McLaren:
Fernando Alonso: “
I think we have to be happy today: it was definitely a good quali for us. The conditions are always difficult here, because you practice in hot conditions, then head into qualifying when the track conditions are much cooler. That means you need to anticipate what’s going to happen, and make set-up changes a little blindly as you don’t really know how the conditions are going to change. Happily, our car felt competitive, and making it into Q3 and finishing 9th in the final qualifying session of the season is extremely positive. We capitalised the performance of the car today and we got everything we possibly could out of it. There are no big threats from behind us in terms of the championship, and it’ll be hard tomorrow to finish higher than the position we’re already in, so let’s just enjoy this final race and hopefully finish on a high by scoring some good points.”

Jenson Button: “It was good fun out there this evening – I enjoyed it. As the track cooled down, we needed to balance the car up with more front-end grip, but didn’t have anything left in the car, so the resulting understeer cost me a little bit of time. To be fair, however, 12th position isn’t a bad place to be for tomorrow: we get to run new tyres. With these tyre regulations, it’s often better to start outside the top 10 in order to best free up the strategy for the race. And I’d definitely rather have a good race tomorrow than a good qualifying today. None of the compounds last for long around here, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow – points are definitely possible.”

Williams:
Felipe Massa: 
“It definitely was not a very easy qualifying today, but I was happy with the result. To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the tyres but I just tried my hardest to set a good lap. I had a very good time in Q2, which was important. I definitely expected a bit more from my lap in Q3, but maybe I didn’t have as much grip in the tyres as Q2. We’re not far from where we expected to be and we will see what we can do compared to the other cars.”

Valtteri Bottas: “Obviously I would have liked to have been in Q3, but for some reason I couldn’t get any extra grip from the ultrasoft tyre compared to the supersoft. The car felt very good with the supersoft tyre, but I don’t feel like we got the most out of the qualifying tyre. However, tomorrow is a different game. P11 gives me a free choice of tyres for the race, so that can open up opportunities. Lately, Force India have been finishing races ahead of us so it would be nice to end the season with a good result for the whole team and for Felipe. There’s obviously a title battle on the line up at the front, so that could create quite an exciting race ahead.”

Haas:
Esteban Gutierrez: 
“It’s been quite a tricky day, starting with FP3 conditions where it was pretty hot. Obviously, it was important to understand how the conditions would change the balance of the car going into qualifying with it going into the night and temperatures dropping. I feel very grateful to have achieved this result for my team. My group of mechanics and engineers having been giving it their best efforts even though it’s quite an emotional weekend for all of us being our last race together. They deserve to have my best, and I’ll give them the best of my focus, attitude and performance.”

Romain Grosjean: “I’m disappointed with that qualifying session. Clearly, we were hoping for a bit better. We had a lot of problems yesterday and we were still hoping that we’d made the right decisions. We did as much as we could, but we need to get more understanding of the tyres. I think we’re spending too much energy just to get all four corners working. It’s the same for everyone, so that’s where we need to focus. We’ve seen that when we get things right, like in Brazil, we’re very fast. When we’re not, we’re usually around 14th and 15th. That’s the number one priority for now. For the race tomorrow, I’ve got no idea what to think. I didn’t get to do any long runs. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”