Both Renault and Force India drivers are in the top 10 for the Belgian Grand Prix, but there was more Honda woe for Fernando Alonso who scraped P11.
Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m very pleased with qualifying as I haven’t been able to get the set-up exactly where I wanted it, yet I could still get a P7 time when it mattered. We were still working on set-up today as I haven’t been able to find that sweet spot where everything’s working at its best. I still don’t think we found the best solution, yet I was very positively surprised that we could squeeze a P7 out of it. It’s a good effort from the team; tomorrow’s going to be a full race. It’ll be head down and pedal hard.”
Jolyon Palmer: “I’ve been in a really good place with the RS17 all weekend, easily the best all year. I’ve had strong confidence in the car, it’s felt really well balanced and we haven’t had to make many changes, so this bodes well for the future. We had a gearbox problem in Q3, which came after a couple of issues with a clutch sensor, so despite all that it’s a positive that we made it into the top ten for qualifying. Without the Q3 issue, P7 was definitely on the cards with the pace we’d shown. I’m hoping for points tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez: “I am a bit disappointed with my lap in Q3. I was close to Raikkonen in sector one, but when he aborted his lap in sector two I ended up being too close to him. As a result, I lost of a lot of aerodynamic load and that cost me a couple of tenths. I believe we had the pace to be ahead of the Renault today, but I still think we are in a good position for tomorrow. Spa is a place where anything can happen so it will be important to stay out of trouble and take the opportunities that come our way. The first lap can be really messy: not just in turn one but also at Les Combes, when the pack bunches up again. I think we can be strong tomorrow and I really hope we can get the result that the team deserves.”
Esteban Ocon: “I think a better result was possible today. From Q2 onwards I started to lose some grip and we need to analyse and understand what happened. I was three tenths faster on my Q2 lap compared to Q3 so we didn’t maximise things and I’m not totally satisfied. However, I feel confident about the race. The car is working well and we have a quick race car, especially in the first and final sectors. That will help us tomorrow. It’s a track that encourages good racing and I think there will be opportunities tomorrow and some close battles.”
Fernando Alonso: “In the end, today was a positive day for us, if you look at the overall performance. We were 1.5 seconds from P1 in Q2, and this for us is like pole position. However, at the end of the lap, because of an issue we didn’t manage to make it into Q3, but it could have been possible today. The team did a great job and we tried to take benefit from Stoffel’s penalty to help the other car take some slipstream on the straights. But, at the wrong time – in the last attempt in Q2 – we had a problem with the deployment, and I lost six tenths between Turns 11 and 12, so I aborted the lap because it was no longer possible to improve. We’ll start from P11 tomorrow – which here in Spa is a bit of a surprise for us anyway – and maybe being on new tyres and choosing the compound is better than starting 10th.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s been reasonably positive today – I’ve been preparing for the race all weekend because I know I’ll be starting from the back. Today was all about helping Fernando try to get both cars into Q2 and then help him with the slipstream, and that’s what we did. Unfortunately he just missed out on Q3, but now we have to focus on tomorrow. I know starting from 20th I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I hope I can rely on the usual Spa weather like I could yesterday in the practice sessions – that would definitely help us! We knew it was always going to be difficult to get into Q3 here. We tried everything we could today, I tried to help the team as much as possible, and it’s a shame that Fernando just missed out. It was good teamwork today. Fernando and I have a very good relationship – we’ve showed that in the past, and we’ve showed again today that we work really well together. I’m sure the situation will come where I’ll need his help! This weekend is so special for me – there are a lot of fans here, and I have friends and family here with me to cheer me on. It definitely gives me a little extra bit of motivation for my home grand prix.”