Filling up the middle order, Jenson Button made into Q3, while Felipe Massa pipped his team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the times.
Sergio Perez: “I’m very happy with our performance. It was very important to execute a perfect qualifying session and I think that is what we did. It was a mega effort by the whole team. The whole qualifying hour was very intense because you could see how close together the laptimes were for all the cars and I had to maximise each lap. I made a little mistake in Q2 on my last run, which could have cost me a place in Q3, but fortunately I managed to make it through. The result today means we are in a great position to fight for strong points tomorrow.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “I am quite satisfied with how today went and my starting position for the race. When the top three teams lock out the first three rows, seventh and eighth is the best we could have achieved. In the end, my lap was not good enough for P7: I felt a bit more comfortable and had a better rhythm at the start of the session and it fell away slightly in Q3 – perhaps the track cooled and that’s one of the possibilities we will try to understand tonight. Still, eighth is a very good position to start tomorrow’s race. It’s going to be really close behind the leaders: I hope we can keep up with the cars in front and take the opportunity if anything happens. Our priority is to stay inside the points and maximise what we can get out of this race.”
Jenson Button: "I really enjoyed qualifying! It’s never nice to be just 0.029s behind the car in front, but that wasn’t too bad – we were either going to be eighth or ninth, and we ended up being ninth. I’m happy with that. During Q1, I had issues with traffic; I had to out-brake Esteban Ocon into Turn Nine during my quick lap, and you shouldn’t have to be doing that during qualifying. I also had a little spin at Turn 14 when I lost all my downforce behind one of the Renaults. That first session was busy. Still, we’ve improved the car a lot since practice yesterday, but the team has done a great job to improve it. Qualifying was the first time this weekend that I really felt comfortable. Hopefully we can show well in the race – there’s no reason why we can’t fight the cars around us tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso: "In practice yesterday, we were comfortably inside the top 10, so there’s an element of frustration to find ourselves with useful performance, but facing a grid penalty ahead of the race. Hopefully, we’ve now stockpiled enough components for the remainder of the season that we no longer need to take grid penalties and start at the back. My running in FP3 this morning was particularly important – our aim was to conduct some long runs and gain some useful data for the race. In quali, we just ran for a few laps, with the aim to save as many sets of tyres for the race as we could. It’ll be interesting tomorrow to see how well we’re able to read the conditions and play the strategy. The new asphalt keeps improving quickly and, while it’ll be difficult to overtake 12 cars and get into the points, I think there’s still something more to come from us tomorrow.”
Felipe Massa: "I think qualifying was going well, but for sure we expected to finish higher up. I had the pace in Q2 and it was a big fight for a couple of tenths. Unfortunately, we are three places back on where it was possible to be. Anyway, the race is tomorrow and I really hope the strategy, the pace, the weather and everything can be in our favour and can help our race. We will try everything we can."
Valtteri Bottas: "That was quite a tricky qualifying session for us. I actually wasn’t very happy with the front end of the car, I felt like the balance was better in today’s practice, especially around turns six, seven and eight. I struggled with understeer and because of that I didn’t quite get a perfect lap in. It was very close and I’m sure tomorrow will be just as close. We do have a free choice of tyres to start tomorrow’s race, so our goal is still to have both of our cars ahead of Force India. I believe it’s possible. We can definitely score some good points from where we’re starting and I’m sure the understeer and balance of the car will be better for the race."
Romain Grosjean: "I’ve been struggling all weekend long to get the balance where we wanted, and finally we got a decent car balance. We had to change so much on the car, which is a bit strange, so we need to analyze a bit more deeply what happened. Eventually, I was pretty happy with the car. We had a bit of an issue at the end of Q1. We left the garage very tight on time, so the team asked me to push really hard on the out lap, which isn’t ideal for the tyres. But, we made it and everyone was pleased with that. In Q2 we tried something a bit different. It didn’t quite work as expected, but tomorrow is a long race so we’ll see."
Esteban Gutierrez: "Qualifying was very competitive. We worked all the way through FP3 trying to optimize the setup of the car and I was ready to go. I was saving all my energy for the last lap in Q2, which was going to make all the difference. I had a perfect lap, but I’m a bit disappointed as I took a lot of risks and tried to push much further than what was possible. I went a bit wide in turn 14 and that was it. I’m sorry for the guys as they’ve worked so hard over the weekend, but we’ll keep focused and I’ll be pushing all the way in the race."