• Indian Grand Prix

Who said what after qualifying in India

ESPNF1 Staff
October 29, 2011

Read what the drivers had to say after qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a prouctive day, being fastest in FP3 before taking pole position © Getty Images
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Ferrari

Fernando Alonso - 4th: "It was important to get onto the front two rows, as it's easier to fight for a good result from here. I don't think there's much of a difference between the two vertical lines of the grid because the ideal line on the start-finish straight goes down the middle, so both sides are quite dirty. In fact the dirt off the racing line could be a problem for overtaking with whoever initiates the move having to give it everything without hesitating. So far, this weekend has gone as expected and now we will try and do a good job tomorrow. It would be very nice to bring home one of the trophies that will be handed out to those who make it to the podium on Formula 1's debut in India. I came very close to the front row, which is a bit of a surprise. In recent qualifying sessions, we have not managed to get as close as this to our main rivals and already yesterday we looked reasonably competitive. Usually, on Sunday our performance level is better but that does not automatically mean that we will be fighting for the win. There are too many unknowns, even more than usual and then, we have seen how things can change from one track to another. In Suzuka, we came within a whisker of the win and in Singapore we were not competitive. We will be doing our best, that's for sure."

Felipe Massa - 6th: "What happened on my last timed lap was a real shame. Today, we had the potential to secure a good placing, as Fernando demonstrated and as can also be seen from the fact my sixth best time was set with a rather slow third sector. I came into Turn 8 and went over the kerb and the front right suspension gave way in the impact with the raised orange part, which in my opinion is too high at this point. It's a very fast corner, taken at around 215 km/h and it could be arranged differently. These are details that need improving for next year. I repeat, I am disappointed, because the car has been going well all weekend long. Now I find myself with one less set of Softs and with a broken front wing. It was the new one, which we had here for the first time and it delivered a bit extra in terms of performance. Tomorrow, overtaking will be difficult because of the dirt on track, but I think we will still see a lot."

Stefano Domenicali: "First of all, I wish to congratulate the organisers of this Grand Prix. Bringing Formula 1 to India is a great achievement and they and Bernie Ecclestone deserve the credit for it. This country is growing rapidly, even if there are sharp contrasts, but never before have we seen our sport welcomed with such enthusiasm and interest from the general public. As for qualifying, I have to say our car's overall performance was good: being less than a tenth off the front row - Vettel was once again untouchable - means that we are not looking too bad at this track. We are obviously disappointed for Felipe, who has been very quick all weekend: accidents like this can happen, but the important thing is that the driver is fine. Usually, our race pace is better than our outright performance in qualifying: let's hope that is also the case tomorrow and we can leave India with a good result under our belt."

Force India

Adrian Sutil - 8th: "We've been saying all week that this is a special race for us so I'm very happy with today's qualifying performance. We are so determined to do well here and today's result is the first step towards that. P8 is one of my best qualifying results of the season and I think it was the maximum we could achieve from the session. The balance of the car was excellent and I really enjoy this circuit, which seems to suit my driving style. But tomorrow is the important day and now we have to think hard about the strategy we will run. I feel very comfortable with the car and I think we will be more competitive than we were in Korea."

Paul Di Resta - 13th: "Starting P12 is a bit disappointing really, because we looked quite strong this morning. But I struggled with a bit of understeer in the high-speed corners and we couldn't fix it during the session. I think the conditions cooled a little bit, which maybe didn't help us because I couldn't get the balance quite where I wanted it. I feel that points are still achievable tomorrow and we seem quite strong on the longer runs. There's a hard task ahead, but I will stay focussed and try to do the best job possible in the team's home race."

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: "Another excellent day of track action at Buddh International Circuit and I'm delighted to see a Sahara Force India starting the very first Indian Grand Prix from the fourth row of the grid. The whole team has worked very hard to bring our final upgrade package here this weekend and I think that showed in our performance today. Adrian clearly loves this circuit and was on top form this afternoon. Paul has also been very strong, but unfortunately he lost the sweet spot he had with the car this morning and missed out on making Q3. Still, we know we have a strong car for tomorrow and I'm hopeful both drivers can be in the hunt for points. It's our home race and I hope all the fans will get behind Sahara Force India in what will be a spetacular and historic moment for India."

HRT

Narain Karthikeyan - 21st: "We got the potential out of the car and beat both of the Virgins and I am proud of it. I was up on my teammate but made a small mistake. Nevertheless, I'm very happy with the way I drove and the position I achieved. I think this was the maximum that we could get and the team did a fantastic job to get us ahead of Virgin. It's a fantastic sensation racing in front of my home crowd and for tomorrow I am aiming to finish in the best position possible."

Daniel Ricciardo - 22nd: "The position I achieved today was quite good, it's one of our best finishes in qualifying this year ahead of our rivals. I was a fair way ahead of D'Ambrosio which is nice. In FP3 we had some issues and couldn't do any preparations for qualifying, so we have to be very happy with the result. There are still a few things that we need to be on top of but we are always looking better for the race, I didn't think qualifying would be our strong point so I'm looking forward to tomorrow where I hope to end up ahead of the cars I beat in qualifying today."

Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "The track conditions were supposed to be better today and the third practice session started quite well. Narain and Daniel were doing an excellent job with the hard tyres and working on the cars' set up for the race. The feeling was good and the improvements that we were hoping for today's practice session were made. Narain also did well on the soft tyres but, unfortunately, Daniel had a gearbox problem at the late stages of the session that made us replace it for qualifying. Things worked perfectly in the garage and we managed to have everything ready just in time for an almost perfect qualifying session. Both drivers improved their times lap by lap. We could have gone quicker by putting the sectors together but beating both Virgins is satisfactory. It is a shame that both Narain and Daniel will have to start from the back of the grid after the 5 position penalty but I am confident that the two of them can have a good race tomorrow."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen - 19th: "I think I got as much out of the car as I could in quali and it's good to put in a lap like that right towards the end of the run. Honestly, I've been struggling all weekend to find a balance and put heat into the tyres, so to come out on Saturday and hook up a lap within 0.7 of Kamui feels pretty good. As the weekend's continuing the track's getting better and better and I have to say I'm really enjoying myself out there, so tomorrow will be fun, particularly as we've shown recently that we can fight with the cars in front throughout the race."

Jarno Trulli - 20th: "I was a bit unlucky with traffic on my quick laps and I think there were a couple of tenths to find but we were pretty close to pushing as hard as we could today in quali. We've taken a step forward since yesterday as the times show, but we know our qualifying pace doesn't reflect what we can do in the race so I want to make sure I can get back to the great race starts I'd been making a couple of races back and see where we end up tomorrow afternoon."

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: "I think we can be reasonably pleased with our qualifying performance here. Our drivers were close to the maximum on their quickest laps and even though they had a couple of issues with traffic and struggled to generate heat in both compounds of tyres, we finished Q1 close to the group ahead. We know we can fight with a number of cars in the race so the aim for Sunday has to be a repeat of our races in Japan and Korea and maintain the strong end to the season we have been enjoying over the last few races."

Riad Asmat, group CEO: "We did ok here. Both drivers have struggled a little with the tyres here but I think our qualifying performance today shows some of the hard work put in last night and this morning has brought us back to where we know we should be. Now we want to maintain the very good reliability we have seen all weekend and make sure both cars finish well tomorrow. I think the race itself is going to be a momentous occasion for everyone involved in the Indian Grand Prix and I hope the fans have something to cheer for, no matter what team they are following."

McLaren

Jenson Button - 5th "The car felt great this morning but I couldn't find any grip this afternoon, particularly on the Prime tyre. So we need to work out why we can't find that balance because I want to try to improve things for tomorrow.

"I struggled with traffic all afternoon - it was difficult to find a clear lap, and, when I did, I'd taken too much out of my tyres already. On my final run, I saw Felipe [Massa] heading into the gravel as I came up to him. I definitely would have been quicker on that run, but I got into the yellow flag zone, saw his car, spotted the smoke and backed out of it a little bit. I definitely lost time in the sector - the data showed that I was 14km/h down in fact.

"I hope I can take the car I had yesterday, as opposed to the car I had this afternoon, into the race. It felt stronger on high-fuel during Friday running, so hopefully we can find that again tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton - 2nd "To be able to split the Red Bulls on qualifying pace is something that everybody in the team should feel proud about. In fact, I've been really happy with my qualifying performance throughout the whole year - it's been getting more and more consistent. On my last run, I was only a tenth down going into the penultimate corner, but I chose to abort the lap and save the tyres for tomorrow as it's going to be a long race.

"It's a little bit unfortunate to have a grid penalty, but that's life. I think we've got good pace, but it's going to be a long race. Still, with the long, wide straights and two DRS zones, overtaking should be easier here than it is at some of the other circuits, so I'm optimistic about what we can do around here tomorrow.

"I also think it's cool that you throw up a bit of dust when you go off-line - that's how racing should be: there should be grass and dirt when you go off the track.

"Finally, I want to say a big thank-you to the organisers. This circuit is smooth, fast and flowing. It's beautiful, in fact; the facilities are fantastic and the people have been extremely welcoming. This is one of the best circuits in the world and it's definitely a race people should come to visit."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "Lewis drove very well in qualifying this afternoon, his best lap-time eclipsed by only that of Seb [Vettel], but he won't start tomorrow's race from the front row owing to the three-grid-position penalty he incurred yesterday morning.

"Jenson's efforts were frustrated in the last moments of this afternoon's qualifying session by yellow flags deployed as a result of Felipe's accident, causing him to lift during what would otherwise have been a pretty quick lap.

"But this circuit is a great racetrack, our drivers are brilliant racers, and I'm sure that both of them will be aiming to score very heavily tomorrow. As a result, I expect the first ever Indian Grand Prix to be a fabulous race."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg - 7th: "I'm pleased that we made a step forward today but we could perhaps have finished higher. In Q1, I hit a kerb quite heavily and damaged the floor which lost some of the car's downforce for the rest of qualifying. I was on my quickest lap at the end of Q3 but unfortunately I had to slow down for the yellow flag after Felipe's incident so that cost me some time. I will push hard to gain places tomorrow and have a good race on this fantastic track. I'm guessing it will be an exciting race and the Indian people should be proud to have one of the best tracks in the world of motorsport now!"

Michael Schumacher - 12th: "Qualifying today was not really very good for us. At first I hit some traffic, and then on my final run in Q2, there was again vibrations on the set of tyres which I used which was not helpful. Saying that, this certainly does not explain the time gap to Nico so we need to understand what the reason was for that and get on top of it. As for the race tomorrow, this should work out better for me, and my aim undoubtedly is to score some points. I'm not really sure which side of the grid will be the better one, so I will just take it from there and try to gain as much as possible."

Ross Brawn: "It was an exciting and tense qualifying session today. We got caught out a little in traffic on occasions which didn't help as it was particularly close out there. It's a shame that we didn't get through to Q3 with Michael, and he was unhappy with his final set of tyres. Nico did a great job, especially considering that he was struggling a little with the car yesterday, so all credit to him and his team for getting the car in good shape for qualifying. Our runs on high fuel this weekend have been encouraging so we are looking forward to the race tomorrow at this impressive new track."

Norbert Haug: "A good job from Nico today and a good qualifying strategy from our team with just one run in Q3 to save tyres for the race. Michael missed getting into the top ten by 0.018s and the gap to P8 was less than two-tenths which shows how intense the battle is. Our target tomorrow is to achieve the best possible result behind the top three teams and hopefully finish in the top six rankings which we achieved three times in the last five races. The new circuit and facilities here in Greater Noida are very impressive and it is very positive for Formula One to be present in such a vibrant country full of passion and friendliness."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - 1st: "It was an interesting qualifying session; a new circuit and a new challenge - obviously I'm very happy to be on the front row. I don't know if being on the left or the right side of the track (we are on the left), is really an advantage or not; there's not one side that seems to be the clean side, as we tend to run down the middle. It was a good battle and after the first run it was very close, so I knew I had to do a little bit better on the second. We decided to only do one timed lap each time, it was still a bit slippery, but overall I'm very happy. Tomorrow it going to be a long race, we start starting the best possible position, so we'll see what happens."

Mark Webber - 3rd: "This new venue has been a good challenge for us. It was tricky to work out the right strategy for qualifying. The tyres weren't easy for one timed lap, so we had to work out how to do the right strategy - lots of teams tried different styles to get the best lap time out of the car. The first sector was tricky to get right on one timed lap. I could have done better in the first sector on my first lap in Q3; I couldn't complete my second, as there were yellow flags after Massa's incident. Overall it's a good job for the team, we've come to a new venue, prepared well and we've laid a good foundation for a very good race tomorrow."

Christian Horner: "A great qualifying for the team to have established our 16th pole and a new record for the most poles secured by a team within a season. Also to have achieved a front row lock out after Lewis' penalty of yesterday has put us in the best position to start tomorrow's race. The dilemma was whether to do one or two laps, but in the end Sebastian managed to make two laps which were effectively good enough for pole. Mark running two laps on his first set of tyres in Q3 was the right strategy, so first and second on the grid is a great place to be starting the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at a circuit that has been a real challenge for the drivers and is a really exciting venue."

Renault

Bruno Senna - 14th: "That was definitely disappointing. The circuit evolved from this morning and the changes made to the car took me, I believe, in the wrong direction given the conditions of the track. I struggled a lot with balance and paid the price for that. I have one set of new soft tyres so it's going to be difficult tomorrow, but I'm hoping that maybe the temperature will be lower and then perhaps we will have a stronger day than today. I think the track has evolved more to suit other cars, but maybe we'll look better tomorrow at the start of the race, particularly on the high fuel load that we will have. The level of tyre degradation looked fine in FP3 so let's see how that leaves us for the race."

Vitaly Petrov - 16th: "It was a great feeling being top of the leaderboard at the end of Q1 this afternoon, and it was fully justified - at that point our pace was very good. I was a little bit off my times in Q2, and I wasn't able to better my Q1 time because I made a couple of minor errors on the last couple of corners. Combine that with the fact that the other teams' times improved and you have the reason for why I did not make Q3.Tomorrow's the first ever Indian GP so it is very much an open book in terms of what could happen. Even with my five place penalty, I remain optimistic that I can salvage a respectable result for the team."

Sauber

Sergio Pérez - 17th "This was obviously a very bad qualifying for me. After our performance in the third free practice this morning we were clearly expecting to do better in qualifying. The key problem was that we couldn't switch on the tyres to get them really to work. Knowing this, and given the fact that I had the grid penalty from yesterday, we decided to put only the used tyres on again in Q2, as it was better to save the fresh ones for the race."

Kamui Kobayashi - 18th "The pace of the car was certainly good enough for Q2, I was convinced about it and I also think our race performance should be alright. However, in qualifying it took me a lot of time to warm up the tyres, and then in the end I was unlucky. I had just started my final flying lap when Felipe (Massa) came out of the pit lane in front of me. Although there wasn't enough time left in the session for him to do another run he didn't give room. I am disappointed with today, but I will keep myself together and have a positive approach to the race. At least I have some fresh tyres left and this circuit offers opportunities for overtaking."

Monisha Kaltenborn, chief executive "We are obviously disappointed about the result, especially after free practice went quite well. Today, the whole team was not able to extract the full potential out of the car. The good thing, however, is that both drivers have two sets of new soft tyres left, which will put them in a position to attack in tomorrow's race."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, head of track engineering "Lately we have been falling into a difficult situation performance wise. Everyone in the team, in the factory and at the track has been working very hard to understand and fix these problems we have had since the last race. Despite having reviewed our approach quite a bit, so far it hasn't produced a significant improvement. We are definitely unhappy about the day. Still the race is tomorrow, and we will keep the motivation up and we will try to catch up as much possible."

Toro Rosso

Sebastien Buemi - 9th: "I am very happy for the team as they did a fantastic job and I congratulate them and thank them for it. Having both cars in Q3 is amazing. Now, I hope we can have a good race tomorrow, because there are no points for what we did today. The first race at this circuit is bound to be an interesting experience. It was teamwork that delivered today's result, with everyone giving their maximum since we arrived here in India."

Jaime Alguersuari - 10th: "I am very happy, especially for the team as we are both in good positions and Sebastien was really fast, right from yesterday, when I had some problems. Today he drove a brilliant lap. We solved my problems overnight so that I could also be competitive today. Tomorrow, we have a good chance of doing well starting from these positions and it could be useful in terms of the championship as our main rivals, the Saubers, are starting behind us. Strategy will be important and if we do everything right then maybe we can bring home a big points score. The increase in performance at this point of the season is down to the great job the whole company has done in developing the car. I am hoping for a top eight finish tomorrow."

Laurent Mekies: "A great performance from the drivers and the team today means we have both cars in the top ten on the grid for the first time since China. It has been a complicated task managing the situation of having massive track improvement from one session to the next , combined with the fact this is a new circuit for all of us. Our car is definitely getting faster as we approach the end of the season. We were quite happy with the progress we saw in Korea and today's performance is a confirmation that we are working in the right direction. This is good for everyone back at the factory and in the wind tunnel who are pushing hard on the development of the car. Of course, there are no points for qualifying and although today's result puts us in a strong position for the race, there are question marks over what the track conditions will be like and how much tyre degradation we will see. I expect it will be an exciting race for the spectators, with various different strategies coming into play and hopefully we can make the most of our opportunities and secure a good result, on our first visit to this fantastic track."

Virgin

Timo Glock - 24th: "A very disappointing qualifying for the team. We had a very good Friday yesterday, but today we have been very unlucky as fifth gear broke in qualifying and I could only do one flying lap. The first flying lap was already quite positive - the car felt okay and I didn't have any problems. We won't be starting where we wanted to be but I think we are quick enough to beat the HRTs and we kept a set of the Soft tyre back, so let's see what we can do tomorrow. Obviously, it's a real shame for me and my car crew, but that's racing."

Jérôme D'Ambrosio - 23rd: "It wasn't a great qualifying for me and it has been a difficult weekend to be honest. It feels like the car has been changing from one session to the next, which makes life pretty difficult because it's still a new track and there is the track evolution to manage as well. It was disappointing to find ourselves in a position behind HRT and as we've struggled they've been with us all weekend. It's a great track and I think it should produce some fantastic racing, so I hope we can improve our situation tomorrow. We saved an extra set of the Soft tyre, so that should help."

John Booth, Team Principal: "A challenging day overall with a great deal of disappointment on Timo's side of the garage. This morning he continued working through more set-up items, each being positive, so going into qualifying he was pretty confident of a good result. Unfortunately he was forced to return to the garage after just one flying laps and we are looking into what appears to be a fifth gear drive failure. We'll are making a decision as to how we address this during the course of the afternoon. In an otherwise very positive year in terms of reliability, this is very frustrating way to end the day. It is also the second issue of its kind, so we have to get on top of this. Obviously we have saved even more soft tyres than we intended to with our qualifying programme and Timo will no doubt be fully focused on achieving the best result possible. Jérôme struggled a bit with a changeable car balance between sessions. We'll work through the data with him to try to understand this."

Williams

Pastor Maldonado - 14th: "The track was getting better and better every lap today so you really needed to be on track at the right time. My engineers achieved that with our qualifying strategy and the set-up we had worked. We had good race pace in the last few events, and we are close to the top ten, so tomorrow we will fight!"

Rubens Barrichello - 16th: "I was happy with the balance of the car on the first set of tyres and set my best time with those. When I changed to the new set, the car didn't feel as hooked up and the grip wasn't really there which was strange. It should be a good race tomorrow; the cars around us seem to be very close, so let's see."

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Overall that was a reasonably pleasing day with both drivers doing well. Pastor managed to maximise the current performance of the car, qualifying in what will be P13, with Rubens close behind in P15."

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