Sat: Red Bull, McLaren, Merc, Ferrari

Date published: April 16 2011

Sebastian Vettel claimed pole in China, qualifying ahead of the two McLarens, Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari drivers…

Sebastian Vettel claimed pole in China, qualifying ahead of the two McLarens, Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari drivers…

Red Bull:
Sebastian Vettel: “We have done it again, but every single time is tough. I think today wasn’t as straightforward as we planned – especially in Q2; I made a bit of a mistake in the run I did then. In Q3 I was confident that we were able to improve quite a lot. Obviously today we did a good job, but it’s just eight metres on the track tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I think we can be happy with the car. We did some good long runs on Friday and so we have a reason to feel good, but it’s also a threat to feel too good – so I pay attention that doesn’t happen.”

Mark Webber: “It’s a very frustrating day. We didn’t have a smooth P3 or Q1 and we paid the ultimate price at end of the day. We thought we had enough to get through on the prime tyres – we have the pace, but I couldn’t get the tyre working on my second run. We’ll see what we can do tonight, but I can only go forwards. I can’t remember the last time I was out in Q1; it was a long, long time ago, so it was a bad day for us.”

McLaren:
Jenson Button: “After Q2, I thought we’d have a shot at pole today, but, looking at Sebastian’s final laptime, second place was realistically all we could do. Still, it’s great that we got two cars into the top three – we really extracted the maximum from the package today. Overnight, we made some improvements to the car; I think there are still areas where we need to improve to challenge Red Bull, but I want to say a big thank-you to the guys in the garage and back at the factory, they’ve been working really hard and have given us a car that we can really build on over the next couple of races. This is my best grid position of the season; the car felt really consistent all afternoon and I got pretty much everything out of it. For tomorrow, I think our race pace will be a little bit closer to Red Bull than our quali pace. We can have a good race from this grid position.”

Lewis Hamilton: “We made some really positive set-up changes on Friday evening and I was much happier with our car today. In qualifying, Jenson and I were very close and we’re both up there. Jenson did a fantastic job to put his car ahead of me, but I sacrificed a bit of my own pace to enable me to have a fresh set of Options for the race. We took the decision to complete just a single run in Q3. Of course, that was a compromise, but it means I’ll have a fresh set of tyres for one of the stints tomorrow. And last week’s race in Malaysia showed us how important it is to have fresh tyres for the race. Today’s strategy should increase my chances in the race. It’s always good to have a fresh set of tyres in the bag, and I wanted to make sure I had options to cover everything. To be able to put on a new tyre at the end of tomorrow’s race will be a great positive and will help the longevity of the tyres.”

Mercedes GP:
Nico Rosberg: “I’m happy with our performance and it was a good day for us. It’s clear that we have improved the car this weekend and I’m really pleased for everybody back at the factory who will have enjoyed watching that today. We’re still not where we want to be but we have made progress and are closer to some of the guys in front of us, today at least. We have also worked hard on the race pace so there is every chance of a good race tomorrow.”

Michael Schumacher: “What a shame for me today as we have clearly demonstrated this weekend that as a team we have improved a lot. Nico proved that strongly with his fourth place which was our realistic target. I didn’t quite get my lap together in Q2 and since then we have found out that my rear wing was not functioning correctly as I was braking into turn 14. I am obviously hoping to have a strong start and that we have good race pace tomorrow so I can hopefully make up some positions.”

Ferrari:
Fernando Alonso: “I had not expected much more than this from qualifying. Fifth and sixth places represent the maximum we can aspire to in our current situation. We already knew all about Red Bull and McLaren, but here we saw an improvement from Mercedes, so the situation is now even more difficult. We are trying to improve our performance: we are a great team and we know how to react. Yesterday, we tried some new components, but it is still too early to use them in a race: we hope to make a significant step forward in Turkey. I would give the team 10 out of 10 for how they managed qualifying over these first three races: it is always very difficult to find the compromise between the need to take risks and being prudent and we have already seen mistakes costing some drivers dear in these three sessions. At the moment we should not be trying anything clever, instead keeping things simple. I think the podium is still within our reach. This year there are more variables, like the tyre degradation and the use of the moveable rear wing, which come into play during the race, as we have seen in the first two Grands Prix. It could be a bit warmer tomorrow than today, so we will see if that changes anything, although I don’t expect it to. Strategy will be very important in determining the final result.”

Felipe Massa: “It went a little bit better than in Malaysia, but we are still behind. Vettel’s performance is not surprising, whereas Webber’s definitely is. The McLarens are also quicker than us and Mercedes has improved and will be a very tough competitor tomorrow in the race. In Q2 after the red flag, I went out immediately to try and be first out and get a clear track. Perez was ahead of me but I passed him on the out lap and it was a good thing, because that meant I got a clean lap and improved my time. I really hope we will see a repeat of the Malaysian situation with a performance jump from qualifying to the race: if that was the case, then a podium might not be out of reach. The track has improved a lot compared to yesterday: there is more grip and the cars slide less, thus using the tyres less and that will be a factor to take into consideration when working out the ideal strategy.”