McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were deeply disappointed by the red flag incident in the second qualifying session.
Fernando Alonso: “I think both Jenson and I could have got through to Q3 today: we had the pace, and we had been saving tyres and engine ready to go for it… until the red flag ended the session. It was massively frustrating not to be able to complete my final lap in Q2 – there really was a lot of potential in the car today. Let’s put it into further perspective: not too many races ago, we were just making it into Q2, now we’re frustrated not to be in Q3. That’s definitely a good direction in which to be heading. Finally, I slept like a baby last night: 10 hours without waking up once. Today I was full of energy. When I’m in the car, I still feel a small something through the corners and over the bumps, but I didn’t take any pain-killers today.”
Jenson Button: “Ironically, although it was neither successful nor popular, the qualifying system we used in the first two races of the year would probably have been better for us today! However, it’s just one of those things: we ran used Options [tyres] for our first Q2 run, then we waited until the circuit was at its best before fitting new tyres. Like a few others, we were caught out by the Q2 red flag, which was frustrating. Being just outside the top 10 has its positive side though: we can choose our starting tyre, and there are plenty of options with the three different compounds. The damp patch in Q1 was a little bit scary on slick tyres – I think a lot of people therefore kept their DRS closed, which is what we did. You don’t have any control of the car in those situations, but I still don’t think we needed the red flag. And, by the way, in the next few races, we will get through to Q3!”
Max Verstappen: “I think we’ve qualified in quite a good position for tomorrow, and to get into Q3 is always good. Of course, you always hope for more, but today it didn’t really all come together unfortunately. The conditions out there were quite tricky: the car felt a bit different compared to yesterday and the track was a bit more slippery. However, we are in the top 10 and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
Carlos Sainz: “I’m happy with my qualifying today as I’d say we couldn’t have got much more out of the car. It’s true that I lost a bit of time in the last sector, but to start from P8 tomorrow is not a bad result and we will try and go forward in the race. All in all, I’m also satisfied to have finally put a good qualifying session together from start to end this year, as during the previous two in Australia and Bahrain it’s something that I hadn’t been able to do yet. I think that tomorrow’s race is going to be very interesting strategy wise and I hope to fight for good points.”
Sergio Perez: “I am very happy with the car’s performance this afternoon. Even this morning, in the rain, we looked really competitive and to finish the day in seventh place is a result that shows the potential of our car. We made some steps forward with the balance overnight and we saw the result of that today. The track was slippery in places and it was very easy to make mistakes, but we kept our focus and came away with the result we deserved. It should be an interesting race tomorrow, with a few different strategic choices, and I am optimistic about scoring some good points. Tyre degradation will be one of the key factors in the race, but I feel we have a good understanding of all the compounds and can choose the right strategy.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “To be honest I don’t know what happened. We all saw that the wheel came off, but why and how, I don’t know. It was attached properly when we left the garage because everything felt normal. It didn’t feel loose and there was no indication from the steering. When it came off, it happened suddenly, but I was at low speed and could park the car quickly and safely. It’s disappointing because we’ve been competitive here this weekend and I would have liked to be out there during Q3. The race tomorrow is going to be interesting and hopefully things will work out a bit better than today.”