2011 Chinese GP, qualifying: Team quotes 

Written by David on April 16th, 2011 at 1:03 pmLast Update: April 16th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Colin Kolles: “All in all today was a positive day. We did a lot of miles in the morning and in qualifying we could have done better but we weren’t able to put our fastest sectors together which would have meant that Tonio would have been three tenths quicker putting him in the 39′s, closer to the likes of Virgin and Lotus. We had no technical issues, so today we have taken another step forward. Tomorrow we will follow the normal plan, the updates will be ready for Turkey where we hope to be ahead of our closest rivals.”

Stefano Domenicali: “First of all on behalf of the whole team, I want to express our delight at the positive progress in the condition of Paolo Santarsiero, one of our mechanics who fell ill on Thursday with an aneurism in his head and was subsequently operated on at the Rui Jin hospital in Shanghai: I wish to thank the entire medical team who acted so promptly and efficiently in carrying out the procedure. Incidents like this make one realise what the priorities really are in life and puts everything else into perspective. Having said that, we are here to race and to try and be the best in our sport but, at the moment, we are not there. Here we saw gaps similar to the first two qualifying sessions of the year and we could not have expected anything different, given that our car is practically unchanged. We definitely can’t be happy about it, but we must try to close the gap and do our utmost in this very difficult period. In Australia and Malaysia we saw that our race pace is not bad compared to the others, apart from that of the championship leader, so we will see what happens here.”

Pat Fry: “Going into qualifying I would have said that the third row was the best we could aspire to because there are at least two cars that so far have proved to be quicker than ours. Today we saw that the Mercedes has also made a step forward and, honestly, we did not have sufficient pace to get ahead of it and we made the most of the opportunity that presented itself with Webber being eliminated in Q1. With both Felipe and Fernando we used the same programme in terms of tyre management and the series of runs: with our current level of performance we have to maintain a realistic and modest approach because we have seen that taking risks does not pay off. Tomorrow’s race will be very long and difficult and we will try to make the most of every opportunity.”

Ross Brawn: “The car has been much better this weekend and both drivers were in a good position going into qualifying today. It’s a shame for Michael this afternoon as it didn’t quite work out with the red flag and then his rear wing malfunctioned at the end of his crucial lap costing valuable time. Nico did a fantastic job this afternoon, firstly to get into Q3 in tricky circumstances, and then putting in a great lap on tyres which had already seen some usage just before the red flag. I’m pleased that we have stabilised the situation and made some encouraging progress this weekend. There is still a long way to go but it’s a start.”

Norbert Haug: “A very good lap from Nico and a thorough job from all our guys during the weekend so far. The gap to pole position is still big but at least Nico’s time is closer to the McLaren Mercedes cars at two and a half tenths behind P2. To start on the second row is a good reward for the team who have worked so hard and had a difficult start to the season. Michael had good speed in Q1 and posted a time that would have been good enough in Q2 to make it to Q3. Unfortunately in the second to last corner, Michael had a problem with his rear wing which we have to investigate. His long run pace yesterday did not look bad so there is a chance for him to finish in the points tomorrow. For Nico, we hope for a good start and of course it would be great to finish the race where Nico finished last year in China.”

Sam Michael: “Although not reflected in our result this afternoon, the qualifying pace of the FW33 has improved. After testing the new exhaust system throughout practice, we decided we needed more understanding of it before using it in the race. We therefore reverted back to the standard exhaust system on Rubens’ car. Our target for tomorrow is reliability and to be in a position to fight for points.”

James Key: “In general the third free practice went fine. The set up changes made over night improved the car and both drivers were much happier. However, qualifying was pretty eventful. Q1 was okay, but incredibly tight. Sergio’s laps were okay with him doing two runs, one on hard and one on soft tyres, while Kamui just did a single run. There was something like two tenths from eighth to 17th and, while Kamui’s lap was absolutely fine, it turned out to be a little bit too tight for the border to Q2. We felt we had the pace and the car to get to Q3, but Q2 was a bit of a drama with Vitaly Petrov stopping. The first laps didn’t come in particularly well, so we had to go again after the red flag. This was very tight because of the traffic and it was a bit tricky trying to get the tyres to warm up in those conditions. From where we are I still think we can score points, and it is a little bit of a topsy turvy grid so it will be an interesting race.”

Martin Whitmars: “We ran an extremely well-disciplined set of sessions today. After failing to extract the maximum from the cars on Friday, we made a significant number of improvements to the cars on Friday evening and quickly established a satisfactory pace in this morning’s practice session. We were then able to carry that performance over into qualifying – and second and third positions on the grid are a great reward for the effort we invested in getting our cars optimised for this circuit. Jenson’s lap at the beginning of Q3 was a fantastic effort and he therefore fully deserves his second place on the grid. Lewis drove a considered and intelligent final session, preserving tyres for tomorrow, and he is extremely well prepared for tomorrow’s race.”

Dominic Harlow: “A cooler day today and different atmospheric conditions have had a significant effect on the lap times compared to Friday. Our FP3 programme was normal and without issues and we completed a few additional laps for Paul to check the balance of his car. We achieved our first Q3 position of the year in P8, and so congratulations to Paul who also celebrates his Birthday today. I think that we were there on merit and the car’s improving pace is showing. Adrian also demonstrated this with his P11, just missing out on the third period of Qualifying. With the red flag, and having been weighed earlier in the session, he wasn’t able to complete a full second outing. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the race tomorrow and, of course, aiming to secure further points.”

John Booth: “We have recovered well from a difficult start to the weekend and are a lot closer to where we expected as a result. Timo struggled with the tyres and had a lot more to come. We’re hoping the set up will translate better to the race conditions tomorrow. Jerome did an exceptional job and everything went right for him. After a more difficult free practice 3 he brought it all back when it counted and he is really stepping up to the plate with each race. So generally a good few positives to give us some momentum for the race tomorrow when we’ll be looking to make the most of our encouraging reliability by bringing both cars home.”

Christian Horner: “A third consecutive pole for Sebastian and, as he wasn’t required to complete his second run in Q3, he was able to conserve his tyres for tomorrow. After a Herculean effort from all the team to get Mark’s car repaired and out for Q1, it was disappointing for both Mark and the team that he missed the cut. We elected to run the hard tyre for his second run thinking it would be enough, but unfortunately they weren’t up to the temperature to do it. Obviously with 20 / 20 hindsight, you would run the option tyre, but we felt it would be enough at that time. It’s one of those things, and it’s the first time we haven’t had both cars in Q3 for over a year.”

Cyril Dumont: “There is one word to describe today – ‘mixed’. An impressive display from Sebastian again – what pace, three races and three pole positions, so congratulations to him. Regarding Mark, we had a bit of a problem with KERS this morning and we weren’t able to use it in qualifying. Unfortunately he went out in Q1, but I have no doubt that he will do a strong race tomorrow and be back where he’s supposed to be.”

Giorgio Ascanelli: “Racing is a funny sport, given that on a weekend when our performance in free practice had not matched that in the first two races, we have ended up with both cars in Q3 in seventh and ninth places. The gaps in the midfield are very small and in general, we have not been that competitive, with Force India being on a par with us or even faster and Williams also closing in. In Q1 I think there were eleven cars within the same two tenths, which tells you how close it is. Our cars have run reliably and although what happened to Vitaly (Petrov) was unfortunate, I can’t say I feel sorry for him because it has given us a chance to be ahead. Can we stay ahead in tomorrow’s race? That’s another story. The weather forecast is currently stable, but if there was to be any rain or anything else unpredictable happening, then starting ahead can be an advantage. Yes, I would like to score points and starting seventh and ninth is better than seventeenth and nineteenth but, as I said, the midfield is so competitive that anything can happen over the arc of the 56 laps tomorrow.”

Thierry Salvi: “From the engine side we have made another step forwards. The improvements across the car from the beginning of the year are starting to pay dividends and we are now close to the optimum engine strategy. Even though we have a lot more work to do I think we are getting closer to unlocking the real potential of the car so we are pretty happy with where we are now, and the direction we are heading in.”

Mike Gascoyne: “A trouble free day but disappointing in terms of performance. In the cooler conditions we clearly struggled more with the tyres than last week and yesterday and we were some way off the level of performance we expected. However, we have seen that even in these conditions our race pace is much better and we are considerably more competitive so I think we can take the race to the midfield group in front and do ourselves justice.”

Riad Asmat: “We are realistic and we all knew when we woke up that the considerably lower temperature would mean we would struggle to replicate what we did in the yesterday’s practice. Despite that we have had a good weekend so far, pretty much trouble free, and I know from talking to a few of the teams just ahead of us that we are starting to play a part in their strategies as they know we are very close to being able to take the fight to them in real pace. So, even though the gap is a bit bigger today than we would have liked, it is still clear that our steady progress will pay dividends over the long term.”

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