The intriguing part of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix was not only sector 3, it was all about who’s upgrades worked. No team stood still after the first fly-away races and they all brought some upgrades to this weekend’s race in Barcelona. Some more than others.
What I was slightly worried about are upgrades that may be working in revers and it seemed that perhaps Renault had gone slightly backward given that neither car made it to Q3. The slot normally held by Nico Hulkenberg (that P7-ish grid spot) was miraculously claimed by McLaren and Fernando Alonso. Nico and Renault explain why:
Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.17-02, Q: P13 1:21.397 FP3: P7 1:21.670
“The conditions in qualifying didn’t play in our favour this afternoon. It was very windy and together with the higher temperatures, it has had an impact on our aero performance. We didn’t change a great deal on the car from this morning as it was pretty decent, so the main difference from FP3 was the ambient conditions. I didn’t feel as happy with the car as earlier today, but that said, I’m very happy with the laps I put in, especially the last one in Q2 which was pretty sweet, but that was it for today. We will put our heads down, push hard and aim for a good race tomorrow.”
Jolyon Palmer, #30, R.S.17-03, Q: P17 1:22.401 FP3: P18 1:22.755
“This afternoon was very disappointing, certainly compared to yesterday when we were seventh and eighth. We were definitely missing performance and we need to understand why that has happened. The wind was very strong which certainly affects the cars, so we have to understand why our car seemed more susceptible to this. Now it’s time to work with the engineers in preparation for the best race possible tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
How was qualifying for the team?
Frustrating, as a couple of tenths would have put us in a more familiar qualifying position. It’s a very tight midfield battle and we were just the wrong end of it today. We had no obvious issues on either side of the garage or either end of the car, we just struggled for overall grip which meant we weren’t able to show better pace.
What are the considerations for tomorrow’s race?
There’s more tyre degradation here than we’ve seen at other circuits so there is potential for different strategy permutations. The obligatory Medium compound is notably harder and slower than the Soft tyre so this will present a challenge. As ever, we’ll be doing everything possible to move both cars forwards.