Driver quotes: Belgian GP qualifying




24 AUGUST 2013

Infiniti Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel

“It wasn’t clear if the first lap we did in Q3 was the lap on intermediate tyres – so it was hard to know

where we were today. We went out on slicks to start, which was quite entertaining as it started to rain

pretty heavily. We then went onto intermediates and it still wasn’t clear what would happen. It looked

like there was more rain coming, so we all rushed to get a lap, but then it stopped and the circuit came

back very quickly. The last lap tuned out to be the fastest with the circuit drying. It was difficult to know

how fast you could go, I saw Lewis catching and thought I could have gone a bit quicker here and

there, but in the end it was quite close across the line. In these conditions anything can happen. I’m

happy today; the boys did a good job with the change from slicks to intermediates which got us an extra

lap and it was a good day for the team.”

Mark Webber

“It was a difficult session to make all the right calls, but in the end I think we got most things right. I think

it’s very easy to look stupid in those conditions, but in the end we did most things pretty good I’d say.

It’s a little bit bizarre with the DRS going on and off in the session, but it’s the same for everyone. It was

a ballsy thing to go slower on the second to last lap to save the tyres, when you’re still not sure if the

track will improve for the last lap, but in the end it worked out and I’m happy to be up there for

tomorrow’s race.”

Scuderia Ferrari

Fernando Alonso

“When you end up ninth and tenth, clearly something has gone wrong and only analyzing the data will

be able to tell you what exactly, especially as the car was more competitive than in recent races. That’s

partly down to the updates introduced here, which we had been working on since mid-July, when it was

clear we had problems. Bad luck definitely played its part, because if the cloud that appeared in Q3 had

not moved just before the end of the session, then maybe those who were last at that time would not

have improved. In the final part, I spun on my first lap, a mistake which definitely cost me, even if by my

next lap at the same point, at Turn 14, I had already made up three seconds. I feel reasonably

confident for the race, especially as the variable weather conditions mean anything can happen and it’s

not a given that one finishes where one starts. Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least

we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in

the dry. We saw that in Q2 and in the mixed conditions in Q1. Only the rain is the big question mark,

because so far this weekend, we have never run on a track that is wet for its entire length.”

Felipe Massa

“I am very disappointed with the result of this qualifying, even if I am well aware how difficult it is to

make the right decision at the right time when the weather is very changeable. On my first run in Q3,

I went out on the Mediums and, at the moment it began to rain, I had two options: return to the pits to

refuel and fit a new set of intermediates, or try and only change tyres. I went for the second of these

choices, hoping to benefit from the track being at its best, knowing I would only have one lap left to

try and do a good time. Unfortunately, this choice did not pay off, because just then the rain eased off

and the other cars encountered better track conditions at the end of the session. A real shame, as

the car’s been very competitive all weekend, but definitely today, we were a bit out of luck. Even if we

are not starting from a good position tomorrow, the race is long and anything can happen. My pace is

good and I hope to pull off some nice passing moves to bring home a good number of points.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Jenson Button

“In the dry we were relatively happy with our pace, and in the wet I reckon it was a bit better still. I think

P6 for us was an okay outcome, therefore. However, we’re still lacking a little bit compared with what

we’d hoped for here, which shortfall we suspect is the result of an aero efficiency issue. We’ll have to

analyse that thoroughly before Monza. But, going back to Spa, our timing was just a little bit off at the

end of Q3, which enabled the top three guys to put in laps quicker than ours. Even so, the fact that

there are three Brits in the top six is just great. Looking forward to tomorrow, if the weather is wet, or

changeable, as we expect it to be, then things could get tricky for all the front-runners, because I think

we’ve all used our supply of inters. Anyway, let’s see what happens. It should be an exciting race.”

Sergio Perez

“In tricky conditions like today’s you have to be in the right place at the right time, and it’s a pity we

couldn’t optimise our potential by doing that, because on a wet track our car is pretty strong and we

therefore had a very good opportunity to qualify well here this afternoon. So I’m a bit disappointed, of

course, because we went out a bit too late and thereby lost the ‘window’, preventing us from being able

to put in a lap that would have moved us through to Q3. It’s a pity, because the track was improving

quickly at that time, and we’d have therefore been able to improve our lap time significantly. But that’s

racing – and tomorrow is another day – and our car should be reasonably competitive if it rains. So I’ll

try my best to make up for today’s disappointment by scoring some good points for the team tomorrow.”

Lotus F1 Team

Kimi Räikkönen

“If it’s dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race; even though we will not start from a great

position.When it was dry in the second qualifying session we were fastest, so if it’s dry tomorrow we

should be okay for the race; even though we will not start from a great position. The last qualifying

session was wet and our car does not give its best in these types of conditions. Any lap which came

right at the end of the session would have helped, but if it stayed dry it would have helped more.

Tomorrow is another day so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Romain Grosjean

“While it’s good to be in the top ten, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. It wasn’t an easy session

today with the changing weather and while it’s good to be in the top ten, it wasn’t exactly what we were

hoping for. It was a big challenge to know what condition the track was in, to make the right decisions at

the right time and to adjust the speed according to the weather. At the end of qualifying you needed to

be on the on track at the right time. I’ll work with the engineers later to assess why Kimi was a bit

quicker in the dry, where we can improve in the wet, and options in terms of strategy. I’ll give my best in

the race tomorrow.””

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Lewis Hamilton

“A fourth pole in a row just feels fantastic! The team did a great job to get the timing at the end of Q3

absolutely perfect and I was in exactly the right track position. I was so surprised when I came across

the line to hear I was P1. I went wide in the first corner and I thought I was down on time from the

read-out on my steering wheel. I just kept pushing and did a strong middle sector, then I could see I

was catching Sebastian towards the end so it was a great feeling. I hope we can try and fight it out

tomorrow, whatever the conditions. The Red Bulls are still ahead of us in terms of performance so

results like this feel even more special because I know I’ve got the absolute maximum out of myself

and out of the car.”

Nico Rosberg

“It was a very difficult qualifying session and unfortunately luck wasn’t on my side today. When I took

the chequered flag, I was quickest at that time, but the track quicker and quicker for the guys who

had got the extra lap and eventually ended up in the top three positions, so I must be happy with

fourth place on the grid. Our car seems pretty good in all conditions here this weekend which makes

me hopeful of a strong race performance tomorrow afternoon.”

Sauber F1 Team

Nico Hülkenberg

“It was a tricky day again qualifying in weather conditions like these. This morning I was struggling a bit

on the medium tyre. Again this afternoon it wasn’t’ the easiest, but I guess that’s the same for everyone

with the weather, as it’s always challenging. It was a wet Q1, which is always exciting, but I think we did

a solid job there. We were only missing about three hundredths to get into Q3. P11 seems to stick to

me. But it’s a good starting point for tomorrow. I hope we have a good race pace, so that we can score

some points.”

Esteban Gutiérrez

“I’m much happier with the car today. We were able to solve the issues we had in FP2 yesterday.

Everything was looking good until the last part of Q1. We changed to a new set of intermediates too

early, and that was the wrong choice. The track was drying and the tyres were gone after one lap,

which was the main issue. There is not much we could have done at that moment, when the decision

was already made, but I tried to do the best with what I had. In these weather conditions, it all comes

down to the right tyre selection. Tomorrow will be a gamble too as the forecast is changeable. It will

come down to the strategy, so we have to be very flexible, open to everything and very efficient.

Whether it’s a dry or a wet race, we need to get it right.”

Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team

Paul Di Resta

“Fifth place on the grid is a great result. At the start of Q3 I knew that I wanted to go straight out on the

intermediates. It was a brave decision and the team let me go ahead with it, while the others chose dry

tyres. I knew it was our best chance to get up towards the front of the grid and it paid off. It’s a shame

that the rain stopped a bit too early because there were only a few cars that were quicker than us in the

wet and they just got ahead at the end of the session. The main thing is we are in a strong position for

tomorrow and we will come back tomorrow ready to fight.”

Adrian Sutil

“I’m feeling disappointed with how things ended up today because I think we had the potential to get a

better result. In Q2 I was on my final flying lap a bit too early and the track was getting quicker all the

time. So we should have waited a bit longer and I think that would have made the difference to make

the top ten. Also, I had some traffic on my fastest lap and that cost me some time.”

Williams F1 Team

Pastor Maldonado

“Today the changing weather conditions made it difficult to be on the right tyres at the right time and

we went on to the intermediate tyre a bit too early. The lap here is very long and by the time I got to

my second lap when the track was improving, the tyres had already gone and I couldn’t be

competitive. The cars race pace is quite good so we will be pushing hard to make up places and I

still think we have an opportunity to finish in the top 10.”

Valtteri Bottas

“It was a disappointing qualifying because we had the ability to be higher but we were caught out by

the changing track conditions. We went out on intermediate tyres earlier than others but the track

was drying faster than we expected and by the end we could probably have got away with being on

dry tyres. We were also struggling for overall grip on the intermediates and we were sliding quite a lot

in the corners and this was losing us time. It’s a shame as there was a good opportunity to do well

today, but hopefully the weather will be like this tomorrow as it gives us the chance to look at

different strategy options.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo

“That was down to bad timing more than anything else. We went out at the very start of the session and

that went fine, with a wet track and the chance of it getting a bit wetter before drying out later. I believe

we should have waited a bit longer before fitting the second set of Intermediates. We went out too early

for that second run and by the second lap, the tyres were already worn and that was when the track

conditions were at their best. Obviously, it’s very frustrating, but now all we can do is put it behind us

and concentrate on tomorrow. We have to learn from this and make sure we get it right next time.”

Jean-Éric Vergne

“What happened today is easy to explain, it was just a team mistake. These things shouldn’t happen,

but everyone gets it wrong now and again. It is very frustrating, as the car has been good enough this

weekend to qualify really well in either the wet or the dry. As soon as I left the pits for the second time, I

knew I was in trouble and I also had a bit of trouble with traffic, with some cars on slicks around me.

Therefore, this was a clear missed opportunity, as I believe I could have been in the top five in the dry

and the car was clearly working well in the wet too.”

Caterham F1 Team

Charles Pic

” Saturday started well for me. On the first FP3 run the car balance immediately felt better than either

session on Friday, especially mid-corner so it was easier to put the car where I wanted it in the

corners. Overnight we’d also improved the downforce levels so the whole package felt better. For run

two we made a small change to improve grip and that also worked so we went onto the option tyres

with a car that was working well and that carried through to the performance run.”

“For quali the rain had started just before the session but it wasn’t too heavy so we went straight out

on a set of intermediate tyres which we had good pace on in the wet conditions. My first run was

good and a dry line was just starting to appear when I came in to pit. Unfortunately I was then called

to the weighbridge which cost us the time needed to do three laps with the set of slicks so the team

made the call to stay on the inters for the second run and unfortunately it didn’t work out. I’m

obviously pleased for the team that Giedo made it through to Q2 but now my focus is on fighting for a

decent finish tomorrow and with the weather looking like it could be as changeable as it was today

we could have some good opportunities to fight in the race. ”

Giedo van der Garde

“What a fantastic day! I’m so pleased for the whole team that we made our second appearance of

the year in Q2, that we finished clear of the Marussias and start the race from 14th. It was a pretty

brave call to be the first to go out on slicks and for the first lap it looked like it might not pay off, but

then on the final lap of Q1 I had it all hooked up just right and finished the session the highest we’ve

ever been in Q1. I have to say I didn’t really believe it when my engineer Juan told me where we

were – I was just at the top of Eau Rouge on the cool down lap and he said I was in P3! That was

such a good feeling, for me, the team and everyone who’s supported me.

“In Q2 we knew that if it stayed dry we’d be aiming for 14th and we went out on a set of mediums

knowing we had to keep pushing as the track got better and better. I think there was maybe a little

more laptime if we’d maybe started the run a bit later, but, realistically, not enough to go into Q3 so

finishing 14th, over 0.5 seconds clear of our nearest rival was the target and we achieved it by good

work from everyone.”

“Saturday had started well after the guys did a good job on Friday night, making a number of

changes to the car that meant I started Saturday with much better balance and with the oversteer

we’d had on Friday gone. FP3 was a good session for me and we made further improvements on

both runs on the hard tyres and on the mediums which were working pretty well on the performance

run, but we knew there was still more to come in quali. We couldn’t have dreamt it would come

together well enough for Q1 to end with me in P3, but we took full advantage of the conditions today

and 14th is a just reward for being brave and taking our chance.”

Marussia F1 Team

Jules Bianchi

“Today is a fantastic result for the Team, who were so happy to be back in Q2. This was a nice feeling

for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career. Things have been

steadily improving for us over the weekend and I’m really happy that all the hard work paid off for us

today. This result was not about luck because everyone was faced with the same dilemma at the end of

the Q1 session; whether it might be too dry for the Intermediate tyre or too wet for slicks. On the first lap

on the final run it was hard to make up my mind what to do; only the drivers could see what the track

condition was really like and it was different from corner to corner. By the end of the lap I had decided

just to go for it and stay on the Medium tyre and that gamble was exactly the right call. Tomorrow we

line up on the seventh row, which will be a nice moment, but of course we don’t really know what the

weather will bring. We have everything to gain and we will make the most of every opportunity”

Max Chilton

“What a great day for everyone! Together with Jules I’m so pleased to help put the Team into Q2 again.

It was such a tricky qualifying, and as we can see from the classification, it’s difficult to make the right

calls at a track where the lap is so long that the conditions are so different from corner to corner. When

we switched to the dry tyre for the final run I was worried we may have made the wrong call and might

have to switch back to the Intermediate but I also knew the track was drying quickly and we could easily

make another wrong call by changing back. The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was

undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out.

I’m happy to say it was the right call and we went on to enjoy a strong Q2, when my time was pretty

pleasing given that on my final run I was fuelled for two timed laps. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race now,

rain or shine.”

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