2008 European GP (Valencia), qualifying: Driver quotes 

Written by David on August 23rd, 2008 at 10:42 pmLast Update: August 23rd, 2008 at 10:42 pm

2008 European GP, ValenciaNick Heidfeld: “Qualifying eighth is not perfect, but I think it was about the maximum possible today as the fuel load comes into play. In Q1 I thought it was déja-vu when Timo Glock was in my way. Our team informs us on the radio how many seconds behind us a fast car is, and when we have to let somebody overtake. Apparently this isn’t the case in every team. I was afraid my qualifying would be ruined, but luckily I was able to do a second lap straight away and it was good enough. Q2 was fine, as I was third fastest and could see the pace was there. Generally speaking I’m a lot happier with my car today. On Friday I was struggling a lot, but we have made a lot of changes since.”

Lewis Hamilton: “We knew we had a great car and we didn’t have any problems during qualifying. I felt really comfortable, and I decided to qualify with the option tyre. My first lap wasn’t perfect, and I lost almost one second compared with my second lap, but on my final lap everything went well. Second place on the grid is a good basis for tomorrow’s race. However, Felipe Massa was significantly faster in the first sector, and I hope we’ll be able to improve there tomorrow. Our team did a great job, and I’m confident we’ll be strong.”

Adrian Sutil: “The first run was OK, the track was improving and the grip level was getting better with every lap. On the second run I had a good lap, except for a small mistake in Turn 14 where I lost two to three tenths, but it was still not bad. Then on the last run I had some problems with the traffic on my out lap and couldn’t warm up the tyres, so they weren’t ready for the first couple of corners so I locked up in the first corner. That’s why I couldn’t improve my lap time, which was for sure disappointing as the final run is always the quickest and I couldn’t improve my time. So last on the grid, let’s see for tomorrow.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “This wasn’t bad. I am still having my problem of not finding grip on the “option” tyre, so we need to work on that. But I am happy that our performance is getting better. I’m really pleased to be in Q3 for the first time. It’s a good feeling as I kept waiting to hear that I dropped down to 11 or 12! What we have seen here is that, on a new track, some teams have worked in the right direction and some have not. The team did a good job of giving me a car that was one of the best today. Now it is up to me to get the most out of it in the race. It’s bound to be a tough race but I hope to be in a position to fight for points after making a good start.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “The balance of my car was good and we improved continuously throughout the sessions. However I’m a little disappointed with my fifth place on the grid as I didn’t make any mistakes and performed to the maximum. It’s now up to us to score as many points as possible and make a good start from the cleaner side of the grid. Our strategy should help us to gain positions during the race.”

Sebastian Vettel: “My best result ever so I am pleased, as it has taken a bit of time to improve on my P7 that I did in my first grand prix. It’s been a fantastic day for us. We made some changes to the set-up overnight and they all turned out to be positive. The team worked hard to make the most of the data. We didn’t expect to do this well here but it’s a good thing to have both cars in Q3. My last lap should have been a bit better, but I made a mistake in turn 12, locking the rear under braking. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground, because there are a lot of laps ahead of us tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the race when I think we have a real chance to score points.”

Fernando Alonso: “I am understandably disappointed with the qualifying session because I had other hopes for today. The race tomorrow will therefore be more difficult, but, as we are on a street course, anything is possible in the race. We must continue working hard this evening to try and work out the best strategy that will allow us to be ready for all eventualities tomorrow, such as a safety car period, which seems quite likely.”

Robert Kubica: “This was a very good Qualifying for the team and me. After some unlucky races lately the pace of the car here in Valencia is not that bad. However, there is still a small gap to Ferrari and McLaren. Qualifying went pretty smoothly, with only the weather a bit unstable. In the end there were only some rain drops in the second qualifying session, but this did not affect the result. The choice of tyres was pretty clear for me by yesterday: I went on the harder compound in Q1 and on the softer compound in Q2 and in Q3.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “Fourth place is not what I was looking for, but it’s definitely not the end of the world. I could have been higher up the grid but on my last run in Q3, I locked the wheels at a few points and lost valuable time: it was nothing dramatic, but at this circuit, a small error is very costly. I still think I can be in the fight for the win, especially if I manage to get a good start. We have a good car, which should be especially competitive in the race.”

Giancarlo Fisichella: “I really tried my hardest on that lap. I think I got the maximum out of the car and the best time we could do, and in the end we are only 1.3secs from the fastest time of the session. It just shows how close everything is now, but I don’t think we could have done anything more. It was a fantastic effort from the team and the car felt good. It could be an unpredictable race tomorrow, so let’s see how it goes.”

Nelson Piquet: “I am disappointed with my qualifying, and I could probably have set a better time this afternoon. I don’t think our result shows our true pace because Fernando also failed to reach Q3 when we both had the potential. I will now work with my engineers and prepare for an aggressive race to move up through the field tomorrow.”

Mark Webber: “We’ve struggled for speed for most of the weekend. It’s a new venue here, which brings variety to the positions, but we don’t seem to have the pace we had a few races ago, which is quite frustrating. There were a few laps I was pleased with, but we didn’t make it through to Q3.”

Jarno Trulli: “After our difficult practice yesterday, we completely changed my set-up for today. Then we had a gearbox oil pump problem this morning that meant I could not try it out. So in a way I was driving blind this afternoon but I used my experience, I concentrated very hard and I made it through into Q3. I made a mistake on my last run but I am still very happy with what we achieved today. I’m also delighted with the way the car is developing and the fact that we can always fight for the top ten and score points. That is again our target tomorrow. It’s important and realistic and it will be an interesting race. Here, more than anywhere, anything can happen and it should be a great event.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “It was a good qualifying for us as both cars are close in the midfield. It was a shame to miss out on Q3, but actually P11 is not a bad place to start the race from because we can select our fuel level. I’ll also be on the clean side of the track tomorrow so, all in all, it was a positive qualifying session for us.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s great to be on pole position, especially after the great disappointment of Budapest, but I’m well aware the race is tomorrow and so there is still a long way to go. My first run in Q3 was very good and on the second I made a good improvement in the first sector and that’s where pole came from. Today, the track was still very slippery, partly because of last night’s rain. After this morning’s free practice, I thought the harder tyres would be the most competitive in qualifying, but at the start of the session, I didn’t feel as comfortable anymore and so we went for the softer compound. The team did a great job in preparing for this event and I want to thank them for giving me such a strong car. I hope we can have a good race tomorrow.”

Rubens Barrichello: “It has been an incredibly frustrating day for us today. We were not able to find a balance on the car in practice this morning which affected our preparations for qualifying. This afternoon I particularly struggled with rear locking which cost me a lot of time as I wasn’t able to attack the lap. It’s very disappointing to be starting the first race here from so far back on the grid.”

David Coulthard: “I expected to be able to make it through that first part of qualifying. On my last run, I ran wide in Turn 5 and dropped about four tenths, although I pulled two tenths back, the net loss over the whole lap meant it wasn’t enough to go through. It’s just the way these qualifying sessions go. That was probably one my messiest sessions and I’m disappointed.”

Nico Rosberg: “It’s been a few races since we managed to get into the top ten, so this is a good result for us. We’d obviously always want to do better, but this shows we’ve made a step in the right direction and that’s satisfying. We had a better understanding of where we had to improve, so we’ve made those changes which gave us a more competitive car today. We have a good strategy for the race so anything is possible. Today has been positive which gives me hope for points tomorrow.”

Jenson Button: “It was a really disappointing qualifying today, particularly as we have been quick all weekend. My first run on the prime tyres was good but we simply chose the wrong tyre for my final run in Q1. I had no grip with the option and it just wasn’t very competitive for us. My final run was slower than my prime run, which shouldn’t happen on a circuit which is improving all the time. I’m really disappointed as we have improved the car but today we didn’t make the most of that.”

Timo Glock: “I don’t know what went wrong but I just didn’t get the lap together in the second session and that was that. We definitely had the chance to be higher, in the top ten, but it was a difficult qualifying in the end. For me the prime tyres seemed to work better but I struggled to get temperature into the tyres in the first sector of my last lap in Q2.  So it was just not my day today. I had a heavy cold overnight and didn’t feel particularly well, but no excuses. I think the car was good enough but it just didn’t work out. Of course we will do our best to make up positions tomorrow. There could be safety car periods so we will aim to make the most of our freedom with the strategy.”

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