2011 Malaysian GP, qualifying: Driver quotes 

Written by David on April 09th, 2011 at 1:33 pmLast Update: April 09th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Sebastian Vettel: “It was a challenging weekend until qualifying today. I was happy with the car, but we never really got into a rhythm. Yesterday wasn’t as smooth as we hoped for, but we knew the car had speed, so the main thing was to keep believing in it. In qualifying everything worked out straight away. It was very close in the end with the McLaren guys, so I’m happy to get pole. Big compliments to the guys in the team – especially those working on KERS, they did a lot of work since Australia. If we wouldn’t have had it today, we wouldn’t be sitting here now, neither me nor Mark, so compliments to the guys – it’s a good reward. It’s very hot in the garage for the boys during this race, the air is pretty humid, so at least tonight they will get some good sleep ahead of tomorrow.”

Mark Webber: “I knew it would be very tight; everyone was on a single pace after the first flying lap on the option tyre in Q3. It was pretty straight forward for us; you have to just drive as quick as you can when it’s like that. We can’t control how tight it is, to get a few tenths more, you have to just do your best. It was a better performance from me today compared to Melbourne and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m starting on the clean side of the grid and it should be an interesting race – I think there will be a lot of pit stops.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “That was a great session for us and I’m really pleased with how we’ve performed. After yesterday, I didn’t really know what to expect going into today’s sessions but the guys have done a great job to give me a car that is totally different to yesterday. As soon as I went out on track this morning I could feel there was a huge improvement in every area and we have had no reliability issues at all today so I was able to really push. I’ve enjoyed the whole day and I felt like I was able to get the best out of the car in all the runs. There’s still a bit more to come so I think tomorrow will be a really interesting race for us, particularly when you see how close we are to the midfield, and with the pace we know the car has in race trim.”

Jarno Trulli: “Today’s performance is obviously a lot more positive for the whole team. We had no issues with the car in either session and I think we got pretty close to showing what the car can really do. FP3 was very useful and we have also taken some good data from qualifying itself as we tried to get the best out of the car. The plan for tomorrow is to keep consistent and reliable, take our chances when they come and be there at the end. It is a long and very hot race where anything can happen but I think we are ready for it, so let’s see how it goes.”

Adrian Sutil: “The first qualifying session was not too bad I think and I felt quite positive. But we did not improve too much in the second session, which I was a little surprised about and we had a problem with a mis-shift. But I know the team is working hard to try and solve these issues before the race tomorrow.”

Paul Di Resta: “It was a very good job done by the team and equally, I think it was a very good lap by myself! We got more than I think we thought we were going to get out of it and I think that we have certainly closed the gap. But tomorrow is going to be a long race, in tricky weather conditions, but I am certainly getting more excited now about our progress with regard to improving our performance in the future.”

Timo Glock: “After Free Practice 3 this morning I’d say we had some problems as we couldn’t get the car to work like yesterday and we didn’t have the same speed. My Race Engineer and Performance Engineer worked very well together to come up with a good solution which ensured we got back the performance level that we had until then. I was a little unlucky on my second set of tyres when I hit traffic with Karthikeyan. I would have found a couple of tenths but this wouldn’t have changed our position today. We’ve done the best we can with the package so as ever we’ll be focusing on getting both cars home and making the most of every opportunity that comes our way – one of which may of course be the weather, as there is a chance of rain during the race.”

Jerome D’Ambrosio: “I’m very pleased with the job we’ve done today. It’s definitely a step forward and I did a much better job than in Melbourne. I’ve learned a lot. I’m very happy with how we’ve worked this weekend and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow – it should be very interesting with the weather and pitstops playing a big part I think. Overall I’m quite happy with this second Saturday. I’m making progress and I’m happy with that.”

Lewis Hamilton: “That was an almost perfect lap – I lost a tenth-and-a-half in Turn 14 – so we’re much closer to the front than we’d anticipated, which is positive for us. I’m really happy to be up on the front row. Hopefully, I’ll have a better start than I did in Melbourne, so we can have more of a fight and I’ll get a chance to compete with Sebastian at the first corner and for the first couple of laps. It’s looking like a three-stop race tomorrow. It’s been dry for the past two days, so I hope it’s dry tomorrow. Being on the front row certainly helps when it rains, and it also gives us more opportunities to take a step forward. I have no doubt that we can overtake Red Bull in the development battle – it’s just a question of when. We have to keep pushing to bring new components to the races; we can push this car to the maximum.”

Jenson Button: “I just wish Q2 had been Q3, but it wasn’t! I had a touch more oversteer in Q3, but that’s the set-up direction I chose to take. The balance was pretty good, but I hurt the tyres a little bit too much in the final sector, and that left me in fourth. It looks like it’s going to be a fun scrap tomorrow – we’re a lot closer to the Red Bulls than I think many people expected, and there’s a margin over the guys behind us, so hopefully it will be the four of us playing tomorrow. Our starts weren’t great in Melbourne. I hope they’ll be better in this race; we have a very good KERS Hybrid system, so hopefully it will help us and we can really attack into Turn One. I’m looking forward to tomorrow – the weather has held off for the past two days. And if it’s a dry race, we really should be able to take the race to the Red Bulls.”

Sebastien Buemi: “I am very happy with how qualifying went today, as it is the second time in two races that I have produced a good performance, improving lap after lap. Unfortunately, I had a problem in Q1, when the left sidepod came off, but the mechanics worked well to fit a new one very quickly. I am satisfied, because in twelfth, we are not far off the Mercedes and quite close to Q3 and so we must continue to work hard to improve. At least it seems we are on the right road. We changed the car a lot between free practice 3 and qualifying and it was the right thing to do, especially as these settings should also work well in the race. I think it will almost certainly rain at some point tomorrow, so finishing the race will be the first challenge.”

Jaime Alguersuari: “Finishing P12 and 13 is a good result for the team and I feel we have the potential to do a good race tomorrow. We got pretty much the maximum out of the set-up. Sebastien was again faster than me by a small amount, doing a good job. I feel we have a good set-up, whether it rains or not and I don’t personally mind if it is wet or dry in the race. The key will be to keep the rear tyres alive and make them last as long as possible and I hope we can bring home some more points for the team.”

Fernando Alonso: “We weren’t quick enough in Australia and we are not here in Malaysia either, at least not enough to fight for pole position. From what we have seen over these two races, there are two teams who have worked better than us over the winter and clearly we have to make some progress in terms of performance and there is no secret about that: we need to make a step of some quality, we need to be aggressive in our development to make up lost ground. At the same time, we have to stay calm and concentrated and, in the meantime, bring home as many points as possible, exploiting every opportunity that comes our way. The championship is very long and last year, we saw how the situation can change continuously from one race to the next. So, I feel this fifth place is a positive result, because so much could happen tomorrow, especially if it rains. Overnight and this morning after FP3, we improved the set-up of the car and I felt more comfortable than yesterday. I will start from the clean side of the track, which is never a bad thing. It’s difficult to make predictions for the race: yesterday we saw very high tyre degradation, so we can expect three to four stops. On Sunday in Melbourne, our pace was close to that of the McLarens and I was able to fight with Webber, but there in qualifying, McLaren was closer than they are here.”

Felipe Massa: “It was definitely not an easy qualifying, especially looking at the times the top four were able to do. We fought with the others but clearly, compared to the best, tomorrow, we will be running a defensive race. From a strategy point of view, if it’s dry we can expect three or four stops. If it really rained, then anything could happen and we will have to be ready for any eventuality. Today, the best result we could hope for was fifth: I was not able to do that, partly because I did not do a perfect lap, but at least I will start from the clean side of the track. We know we lack aerodynamic downforce: we are working on it, but only when we have made some progress will we be able to fight for the top places.”

Nico Rosberg: “The team have made some good progress here and I had a decent balance up to Q2 today. Unfortunately I lost that feeling in Q3, which combined with the rear wing issue, meant we weren’t able to get the performance out of the car which is frustrating. The car is better than we have been able to show so far this season but we don’t know exactly why we are not getting more performance at the moment. We need to look into today’s issues now and have a good think to see what can help us improve in the race tomorrow.”

Michael Schumacher: “We had some issues with the rear wing activation today and unfortunately that’s what compromised my last run in Q2. The car became difficult to drive, which is a real shame as it had been working very well during the earlier runs. The performance was much better with the wing, so of course we had to use it, and I would still say that we have made a step forward thanks to the hard work from our guys. We now have to concentrate on tomorrow’s race which we go into with the firm belief that anything can be possible.”

Kamui Kobayashi: “I’m quite happy with today’s qualifying. Of course I was hoping to improve a bit on my very last run, especially as, unlike in Melbourne, I had a set of new soft tyres left. But I think there wasn’t more to get out of the car today. Nevertheless the team had done a very good job improving it after some problems yesterday. We found some things overnight, in free practice this morning we still struggled a bit, but then we knew what to do. It was here in Sepang last year where I reached Q3 for the first time in my F1 career. The race will be very interesting, especially in terms of tyre degradation in the heat. I am certainly aiming for points.”

Sergio Perez: “I am a bit disappointed because we had the potential for Q3 if I had got my final lap right. On my second run in Q2 I was caught in traffic on my out lap. On the flying lap sectors one and two were fine, but in sector three I had no front grip and the car was understeering a lot. Now I hope we have a good race strategy as I’m still aiming for points which, of course, is not easy from where I am starting. It will be a demanding race, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Narain Karthikeyan: “We made it through qualifying which was our aim for today. The car is virtually brand new so it’s good to get some more mileage done, the more time we can get out on the track the better. I flat spotted my second set of tyres on turn one so it was hard to set a good time with them after that but everybody worked extremely hard and we’re delighted to be in the race. We marked Sepang on the calendar beforehand as one of the toughest circuits to get under the 107% time so it’s a great satisfaction to have done it. Now I hope to finish tomorrow’s race and get a lot more laps under my belt with the new car. They’re forecasting rain for tomorrow so you never know what will happen out there.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi: “It’s great for everyone that we were well under 107%. We proved that in Australia the problem wasn’t a matter of pace but a matter of time out on the track, we had half a day of testing compared to the three months other teams did. You can’t just gain mileage out of nothing. Now we have to work hard in the following months, in the next races to try and close the gap. This is just the first step for Hispania Racing, we’ve done a great job and we’ve improved the car a lot from Australia to now. I’m proud of the work done by everybody, starting with when they got the car on the ground in Australia and now having got it in good condition here in Sepang. We had a few minor issues both yesterday and today but that is normal when you’re working with such little time. I think we can still improve, I did a good lap and this is the result: we will be on the grid tomorrow.”

Nick Heidfeld: “I’m very satisfied as I think it’s the maximum we could have achieved, especially looking back at Friday where we didn’t do many laps at all and didn’t have a lot of time to set up the car. It got faster and faster in qualifying today, but I have to say in Q1 I took it easy then I pushed a bit over the limit in Q2 and lost some time there, but in Q3 I found the golden middle and it was a good lap. Of course, I was a lot happier with the traffic here than I was in Australia.”

Vitaly Petrov: “To get in the top ten today is a good result considering the track time we lost yesterday. We worked hard on improving the set-up in final practice and in the end I had quite a good feeling with the car. For the race, anything can happen, but it’s clear that looking after the tyres will be very important because the degradation is very high here. We will also have to watch what happens with the weather because there is a high risk of rain. I don’t mind if it’s wet or dry.”

Rubens Barrichello: “We don’t seem to have the pace we need in qualifying. We were stronger in Melbourne and so we need to analyse why and see where we are in the race. All things considered, my lap was ok, in fact it was probably one of my best laps around Malaysia but it wasn’t good enough to counteract the performance of the car today. Whether we get rain or a steady run in a dry race we’ll be going for points.”

Pastor Maldonado: “That was a difficult session and we definitely didn’t expect to be out in Q1. The car wasn’t feeling as good as it was this morning. I had a bit of traffic as well so I didn’t get a clean lap. We have a lot of tyres now for tomorrow and the car goes better on long runs than it does in qualifying. With a good strategy who knows what will happen. There’s no reason why we can’t get into the points. “

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