Australian GP: Driver Saturday quotes

By on Saturday, March 17, 2012

Australian GP 2012, Qualifying

Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber: “We knew there were some quick guys out there - McLaren and Mercedes especially and Roman did well too. Everyone always thinks we have special bits to keep coming back, but this year it’s opened right up. I didn’t have KERS at the end of the session, which affects your rhythm during qualifying – it’s a shame as it’s been faultless all winter. I’m pleased with my lap in Q3. We can still get on the podium tomorrow, but we have some fast cars around us, no question about it.”

Sebastian Vettel: “It’s the first qualifying of the year, so it’s always difficult to know what to expect, but I think what we saw today was not a surprise, the lap times were close. We would have loved to have been closer to the front, but in Q3 I wasn’t happy with my lap. I made a mistake at the beginning and lost some time, so that was down to me. I could have been one or two places higher, but that’s how it goes. We are not
starting at the front, but we are not starting at the back either, so it’s far from disastrous and regarding the car we know what we need to do. We have a long race ahead of us tomorrow and a lot of opportunities, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: “I’m massively proud of my team. We’ve been working incredibly hard throughout the winter: we’ve never given up, and everyone has just kept pushing and pushing. We’ve had some tough years, but everyone in this team wants to succeed: to be the best. I’m proud that I was able to do the job for them today. My first lap in Q3 felt pretty special – at the end of it, I felt it’d be surprising if anyone could push ahead of that. I tried even harder on my final run, but braked a little too late into the first corner and spoiled the lap. After that, I was just hoping that nobody would go any quicker. I just love qualifying, especially when you get the lap just right; when it all flows, the tyres work and you hit the sweet-spot everywhere. It’s like heaven. Today we showed that we not only have the most beautiful car in Formula 1, but also the fastest! Of course, there’s still a long way to go tomorrow – looking after the tyres will be key – but we’re in the best possible position to have a strong race.”

Jenson Button: “Lewis nailed a great lap in Q3, but I think the whole team is really happy to have both cars on the front row – it’s been a long time coming to have the two of us there together. You always want to be first, but I couldn’t quite do that today. Nevertheless, I think we both want to thank the team – it’s a big vindication of how far we’ve come this winter. And that’s been crucial: having a good winter can really make the difference. We still don’t know exactly how strong our car will be in the race, but yesterday it appeared to be consistent and looked after the tyres during the stint. Tomorrow will be about getting the tyres to the right working temperature and looking after them across the stint. Tomorrow is the important day, and today is about making life easier for tomorrow. Still, this has been a great day for everyone in the team.”

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

Fernando Alonso: “It went like this: I got a bit on the grass under braking, the car took off on its own and I found myself in the gravel. I had managed to keep the engine running and was hoping the marshals would be able to push me back on track. I had done my time on used Softs: maybe with a new set I could have made it through to Q3, but I would not have been able to fight for the front rows. Today, we lacked performance, especially because we did not have enough aerodynamic downforce and we are still lacking in top speed. Tomorrow we will be racing defensively and will try and do what we can, hopefully making the most of having four sets of new tyres. Let’s hope for a good start in order to catch those who are a few rows ahead of us and then fight with them to the end. Here, at the end of qualifying last year, we were 1”4 off the pace, while today, in Q2 it was 1”, therefore hypothetically one could say we are more competitive than we were back then. Sure, there are other teams that have made progress, but I think we have plenty of room for improvement. In Malaysia, we will have the same car, therefore the situation won’t change much. We will just have to see how it will adapt to the track characteristics there. It’s true our target at the start of the year was to fight for the win right from the beginning and we have not managed that, but this will be a long season and all we can do is work on improving performance…There’s no point getting angry as it does not serve any purpose.”

Felipe Massa: “I am very disappointed: this is not the start to the season I was expecting or hoping for. It was difficult right from the start of FP3: the balance of the car was never what I wanted and I never managed to get a clean lap. I was always lacking grip, both on the Mediums and the Softs and I suffered with oversteer on entry and understeer on exit. I don’t know why, but the car seemed to be worse than in winter testing, maybe down to the characteristics of this circuit. Now we will try and do what we can in the race tomorrow. It will not be easy, because I will start from a long way back, but I will give it my all. I don’t think we’ll be able to do just a single stop, but will have to try and make up the ground lost today in
qualifying. Clearly we are behind, maybe more than we had expected and there are other teams that have improved a lot compared to last year. We must work to find the right direction for developing the car.”

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Michael Schumacher: “The first qualifying session of the year proved to be as tight a competition as we had all hoped for. I am certainly happy with our performance which is a huge step forward, considering where we were in qualifying here last year. I can only thank the guys for all of the hard work that they have achieved over the winter. I also think it is important to stress that Mercedes-Benz have always believed in and supported this project, and I really hope we can deliver the results we all want. We have to take this step-by-step as the competition is very tight, so now we have to continue to work hard.”

Nico Rosberg: “We are happy to see that we have obviously improved the car over the winter. It seems that we can be strong in the race as well from what we learned during practice this weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t get the most out of it today. I didn’t quite find the right set-up as we have a lot of new things on the car and it will take a few races to get it working perfectly. I also made a small mistake on my last lap which cost me some time. Seventh place is still a good position though and I will be doing my best to move forward tomorrow.”

Lotus F1 Team

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today didn’t go quite as planned. There’s no issue with the car; I made a mistake and there was a communication issue so the timing wasn’t right to get another lap. It cost us a good qualifying position but that’s how it goes sometimes. We should have easily been in Q2. It’s not the best start but we’ll try to put it right in the race. There’s plenty of speed in the car. The steering was fine. It’s not perfect for exactly what I want but it doesn’t affect my driving. For sure we can do better than 18th tomorrow so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Romain Grosjean: “Today is like a dream come true. I only really discovered the Albert Park circuit in the dry this morning and I didn’t know what to expect. When I heard my position over the radio I just could not believe it. This third position shows one thing: you must believe in your dreams and hold on to them, whatever happens. Very few people still had faith in me after my first life in F1, but we’ve all worked very hard to
start a new adventure and I’m very happy to be able to put a great performance in right from the start of the season. Thank you also to the team for designing such a nice, tidy and quick little car. I will not get carried away because, as the saying goes, you don’t score any points on a Saturday. We all know that Melbourne can be a very tricky race. I hope we can keep going like this all season long and in the end it will be a nice story."

Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: “It was a great start to the season for the team today. We have shown that we are competitive, and we now need to keep pushing. The car has been improving throughout the weekend, and we need to keep going in that direction. It’s now down to our pace and strategy for tomorrow’s race.”

Bruno Senna: “It’s a bit of a lottery when you go into qualifying without having had a full day of running on Friday, but the car feels good. Pastor qualified in the top 10 which is a really good sign for the team. I wasn’t particularly happy with my lap, but it’s the first qualifying session of the year. We have 19 more to go and I am sure with a little more experience, everything will come together. Tomorrow is a different day, so we will see what we can do.”

Sahara Force India

Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m very happy with today’s result because I was not sure we would be able to make Q3. We did a good job after FP3 to improve the set-up and I’m feeling much more comfortable with the car now. Obviously going into the race there is some uncertainty because we haven’t really done many runs on high fuel here because of the wet sessions yesterday, but all the teams are in the same situation. It’s the same case with the tyres because we will still be learning about them tomorrow and discovering how long they last. It should be an exciting race and I’m looking forward to it.”

Paul Di Resta: “It was quite a difficult session and I never quite got it together. I think my out lap was compromised by traffic and, as a result, I didn’t get the tyres in their working range, which hurt my quick lap. So there’s a lot of work to be done tomorrow and I need to work hard tonight to see if there’s anything that can be done overnight to improve things for tomorrow. Over the winter our long run pace has looked quite strong so hopefully I can move forward in the race and challenge for some points.”

Sauber F1 Team

Kamui Kobayashi: “This is obviously disappointing. In Q1 I was really happy with the car and the grip and, of course, it felt great to have set the fastest lap. But then on my second run in Q2 with another new set of soft tyres I just could not find grip. I have no explanation for that, it felt totally different. I also had traffic in the last sector, but the main surprise was the lack of grip. Thirteenth is not really a nice position to start from and it doesn’t reflect the potential of the car. However, we will try to achieve the best possible result tomorrow.”

Sergio Pérez: “We made some set-up changes to the car today and in Q1 I was busy adapting my driving style a bit. In Q2 I knew exactly what to do but then I could not shift anymore because of a gearbox problem. It is a true shame as there was a lot more to come from the car and from myself. Starting from 17th will make it very difficult to get a good result on Sunday. I will do my best.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo: “That was nice! The ambition at the start of the weekend, as far as qualifying was concerned, was to get into Q3 and we have achieved that. Before we got to Melbourne, we did not have a clear idea of how our pace would compare with the other teams. In fact, I thought Q3 might have been a little bit out of reach, so this was a really positive result for me and for the team. We should have a strong race as we are in good shape, so it will be a case of trying to get the best start possible followed by a good opening lap and see how we get on from there. It will be a bit of a new experience for me compared to last year as this is the first time I start a Grand Prix from as high as the mid-field. Today, we have laid the groundwork for Sunday and Jean-Eric is not far behind me, which will keep me on my toes, so as a team we can be pleased with the work we have done.”

Jean-Éric Vergne: “That was not bad I think, even if it is a bit disappointing to have missed out on Q3 by a very small margin. I got a very good lap in Q1, a bit less so in Q2. But I still have a lot to learn at this stage and the main thing is that everything went well and I am enjoying all the new experiences. There are many positives to be taken from the way qualifying went and I feel we have a car that should work well in tomorrow’s race. I am looking forward to it – it should be fun. My target for tomorrow? To score some points.”

Caterham F1 Team

Heikki Kovalainen: “I'm reasonably positive about today. We didn't get everything we could out of the car in Q1 but it felt better this afternoon than it did in FP3 and on my last quick lap I was held up by an HRT which probably cost me something like six tenths, but around this sort of circuit that's one of the issues you have to deal with. There are quite a few positives to take out of today, the main one being that we know we're much closer to the cars in front than where we finished last year, and now we have KERS and a better package overall, so I think tomorrow's race could be really interesting.”

Vitaly Petrov: “For me that was an ok qualifying, maybe not quite what we had hoped for but we know there's more to come. We obviously lost time yesterday, and today the performance run was cut short in FP3 with a hydraulics issue, but I pushed as hard as I could and I think my engineer and I are finding out more about how to fine tune the setup for me every time I go out on track so the more time I spend in the car, the better I'm feeling.”

Hispania Racing F1 Team

Pedro de la Rosa: “We did all we could today. The team put in a great shift and just making it to today was an accomplishment for us, because these days have been very hard for all of us, including the drivers. But there’s a lot of room for improvement and, although it’s true that we have to change many things, we know what they are, so all I can say is that we need to be patient. I already said it when I arrived on Wednesday, this is a test for us, it’s our preseason. The downside is that we’re doing it in front of the cameras because everything is more evident. We should have done it before but we lacked the time, so now all we can do is work for Malaysia and the following races and focus on the important areas to make the car quicker.”

Narain Karthikeyan: “We knew it would be tough coming into Australia but today’s result is hugely disappointing for any driver, there’s no doubt about that. We can try and come up with excuses but, at the end of the day, we lacked preseason running time. We were up against it from the word go and yesterday’s weather wasn’t good which resulted in us losing a lot of dry running, hurting us badly. We’ve had a lot of issues with the car, which is something normal during preseason, but the problem is that this weekend was our own particular preseason and we were fighting against the clock. So there’s a fair amount of work to do and hopefully we can improve and move on from this.”

Marussia F1 Team

Timo Glock: “Free Practice 3 was my first chance to drive the car in stable conditions and it was clear that we had a lot of work to do on set-up. We had a big programme for practice, and qualifying actually, and we made a lot of changes, all of which were the right ones and made us a little step better each time. I am very pleased with what we have achieved so far. Mechanically I’m very happy with the car and everything is working well. We’ve all had a great lift but we have a long way to go and plenty of hard work to do to make the car quicker. The baseline is right but we have a lot of catching up to do. I have to say though that I am looking forward to the future and it feels great to have fun driving a Formula 1 car again!”

Charles Pic: “Today has been non-stop and we have had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. Everyone has worked so hard to get us to a good position for qualifying and the race, and I would like to thank the whole team for their support, which has been incredible. We haven’t had the best preparation and there is more to come that we don’t even know about yet. I’m happy for today and for the team. Tomorrow is another day and I have to keep pushing hard for the race. I am very excited but I want to stay focused and leave the weekend knowing I got everything I could ask from myself in my first race.”


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