Sat: Force India, STR, McLaren, Haas

Date published: April 30 2016

Sergio Perez will start the Russian Grand Prix from seventh on the grid, having qualified inside the top ten along with Max Verstappen.

Force India:
Sergio Perez:
“I am very pleased with our performance today and my final lap in Q3 was fantastic – just when it mattered. We were strong in Q1 and Q2; I was feeling very comfortable in the car and I was able to deliver great laps in each of the sessions. We are making good progress as a team and our pace over one lap is very strong: it will be interesting to see how we perform tomorrow because we have a fast car behind us and it will be a big challenge to hold our position. This is not a track that helps overtaking so there should be some nice battles. We have enough tyres to choose the best strategy tomorrow and I am optimistic we can come away with a nice result.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “It was a fairly straightforward qualifying session, but not with the outcome I wanted. I’ve not felt comfortable since I jumped in the car yesterday and it’s been a struggle to find the grip and performance we were expecting. We changed a lot of parts overnight and before qualifying, but it didn’t take us in the direction we needed. Obviously we can’t change the car ahead of the race so I think it’s going to be a tough Sunday considering how close things are in the middle of the grid.”

Toro Rosso:
Max Verstappen:
“I’m pleased and happy with today’s qualifying result. Especially after a difficult day yesterday, where we were struggling a lot, to come back and get through to Q3 is something I honestly didn’t expect. In addition to that, I’d say this is one of the most difficult qualifying sessions of the season: the track is very slippery and as soon as you brake a meter earlier or later, you immediately lose a lot of lap time and lock-up the tyres… So you really have to be very focused and that’s what I did to end up P9. For sure tomorrow’s race will be another challenge because we are all very close, but I’m ready for it and hopefully we can carry on scoring good points.”

Carlos Sainz Jr: “I’m disappointed with not getting into Q3 today, because we’ve been very fast the whole weekend and we had the pace to end up in the top ten. I was putting a good lap together in my last Q2 effort but in the last sector I found some traffic that slowed me down. I will go back to the hotel a bit angry tonight, but the positive thing is that we know that we have the pace and we can perform well tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to the race.”

McLaren:
Jenson Button:
“We were so close to getting into Q3 today – we had a good shot at it but ended up a tenth off. In fact, it was so close that we were just two tenths off eighth position in Q2 – and despite the balance not being quite there. I think both Fernando and I struggled with the handling – the car was understeering, which is difficult to resolve. There’s a tipping point at which, when you dial in more front-wing, the balance suddenly shifts from under- to oversteer – so we were being cautious in qualifying. Tomorrow won’t be the easiest race for us – the lap is 71 per cent full-throttle – but Turn Two is always tricky here, so my aim will be to stay out of trouble, pick up some places and then see what happens. I still think a one-stop strategy will prove tricky for most people tomorrow, so that should also make things interesting.”

Fernando Alonso: “The lap-times at the end of Q2 were very tight – the difference between 14th position and a place in Q3 was just two tenths. And, sadly, we’re at the back of that group. But that’s the way it is – I still feel that we’re missing the couple of tenths that would massively help us to overtake some of the other cars in this very competitive midfield group. While we weren’t in luck today, I definitely think we’ve shown ourselves to more competitive this weekend, and I hope we can recover tomorrow and fight for some points.”

Haas:
Romain Grosjean:
“It’s been a complicated weekend so far for us. We’ve been struggling with the grip and the car. It’s difficult to get the tyre to work on such a smooth asphalt. We’re progressing, we’re learning and doing the most we can do. I still don’t have the feeling I used to have earlier in the season with the car. We really need to analyse that. Then tomorrow’s going to be a long race with a lot of fuel saving. The tyres are hard to keep in the window, so it’s going to be challenging for everyone. Maybe we can try to be a bit more clever. Let’s do our best, let’s analyse and let’s keep having some interesting data. We’ll see where we are after the race.”

Esteban Gutierrez: “Qualifying was pretty hard. It was difficult to get the tyres to work here so it’s been a bit of a challenge. I was doing my best, with all the options we have available, to maximise everything but I’m not really satisfied with the result. However, we still have a race to do tomorrow. Hopefully a few surprises may come our way that will give us a chance to be up in the points. It’s probably not going to be very straightforward, as the pace is not as good as we want it to be, but we will definitely push hard and do our best to get there.”