• Indian Grand Prix

Who said what after qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
October 26, 2013

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

It was a strong day for Mercedes © Getty Images
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Charles Pic - 21st
"We started FP3 with the usual first run on the prime tyre and after the changes we made overnight I was much happier with the car. The front grip was a lot better and the car was now constant through the high speed sections - basically behaving more normally. We did still have some work to do improve entry stability on turn-in and on mid-exit, but overall it was a good step from Friday. The final time on the softs, on the second run, showed the progress we'd made overnight and even though the session was delayed at the start, it was still a good session.

"In quali the track had a bit more grip but on the first run I couldn't fully exploit that so we took a bit of front wing out and went for one quick lap on the second run. Unfortunately I was stuck between a couple of cars on that lap and couldn't find the space to put in the time we know is in the car, so ended up 21st."

Giedo van der Garde - 20th
"I was really happy with how the car had performed yesterday and it wasn't too much different at the start of FP3. I did have a bit of understeer in turns 10 and 11 so we added a bit more front wing to help with that, but overall it was still OK. On the performance run I was having issues with the front tyre warm up and a bit of understeer in the middle sector, so we made a couple more changes for quali to deal with that.

"We went for two runs on the options in quali and my first run was ok but there was definitely time to find, particularly in the middle sector. We had planned to go for two quick laps but it was clear we could find the time with just one so we went for it and my lap was pretty close to getting as much as I could from the car. The tyres weren't quite working at full performance in sector one, so maybe there was a tenth or two there, but sectors two and three were close to the maximum. Tomorrow we know we have the race pace to pull away from our nearest rivals, so we'll see how it works out."


Fernando Alonso - 8th
"Before qualifying we looked at what might be the best strategy and it was very difficult to choose between two possibilities of equal worth. Using the Soft tyres in Q3, we could have aspired to a better starting position, while the Mediums would mean running a race with no traffic, because if the softer compound follows the pattern we have seen so far, then those starting with it will have to stop very early, around lap six. This would put them behind a group of cars that will stay out until lap 30. It's true that at some point, I too will have to fit the Softs, which will signal a more difficult moment and we must be prepared for that. On Friday, I did fifteen or sixteen laps on them, while today just three and that's why it's absolutely impossible to say how it will go tomorrow. Only after the chequered flag will we know which was the right choice. The good thing about this decision is that, in putting two cars in the race on different strategies, at least one of us, me or Felipe, should be in a position to help the team in its goal of finishing second in the Constructors' World Championship, which is our priority now".

Felipe Massa - 5th
"I'm reasonably pleased with this qualifying, even if I didn't manage to put together a perfect lap. Unfortunately, I lost time in the second sector and maybe this cost me one or two positions, but we are in the ballpark and we will do our best. Unlike my team-mate and some others, I chose to qualify on the Soft tyres, because at the Nurburgring, I had made a choice that didn't pay off. It will be interesting to find out who has made the best choice and the answer to that could come after the first stint. A lot will depend on the behaviour of the tyres: even if today, the Medium seemed undoubtedly the longer lasting, the evolution of the track and its consequent improvement in terms of grip could limit the degradation on the Softs. Tomorrow won't be easy, because with cars on different strategies, anything can happen. I will try to pass Webber at the start, hoping to profit from the fact he is on Medium tyres. I hope I've taken the right decision which will allow me to have a strong race".

Pat Fry, engineering director
"Tyre performance continues to be a key factor here in India, in free practice and qualifying, where it dictated strategy choices for the whole grid. Tomorrow's race will definitely be determined by car performance, based on what the tyre choices are for the start. We went for two different scenarios, even if the pace they can produce on the softer tyres will be decisive for both drivers, at first for Felipe and then at some point in the race for Fernando. This weekend we have heard a lot of talk about graining and blistering, two phenomena that have a negative effect on tyre performance and they could become two key factors in tomorrow's race. Consequently those who will start on the Softs could have to pit earlier than planned for their first stop. However, those that start on the Medium will be favourite, even if later on they will have to work out the best moment to fit the soft compound. The race looks like being particularly compelling in terms of strategy and, making the difference as usual, will be how competitive the cars are, their reliability and the efficiency of the work in the pits".

Force India

Paul di Resta - 12th
"I think we can be satisfied with the job we've done today. My lap in Q2 was very good, although I made a small mistake in the second to last corner, so I was maybe a couple of tenths away from the perfect lap. It definitely feels like we've made some progress recently and my confidence is growing with the way the car is working at the moment. Going into our home race we are only a couple of places away from points, so we're in the mix and if we can deliver the right strategy we should be able to come away with something."

Adrian Sutil - 13th
"P13 is more or less the position I expected today. The balance was not perfect for my last run and I was suffering with some understeer, so maybe I could have been a couple of tenths quicker. As a team we are P12 and P13 so I think we're still in with a good chance of scoring points. The strategy options are quite limited because the medium tyre is a very good race tyre, more so than the soft. It's our home race and I really enjoy this track so I hope we can put on a good show tomorrow in front of the Indian fans."

Vijay Mallya, team principal
"The indications from yesterday's practice sessions suggested that we were looking slightly more competitive than in previous races, and I think our performance today confirms that. The times in final practice showed the progress made overnight and it's encouraging to hear that the drivers are feeling more confident with the car, which is what we've been missing recently. Both drivers felt that there was a little bit more performance in the car, but I don't think it would have changed our overall grid positions. We will approach tomorrow's race with points being the clear goal. It's something we have achieved for the past couple of years and I'm optimistic that we will have the race pace to take the fight to the cars around us and deliver some points in our home race."


Kimi Raikkonen - 6th
"It wasn't an ideal qualifying session and I'm still having some problems with understeer, but the car did feel better overall than yesterday. The tyres have to be managed over a full lap for qualifying so we are where we are on the grid. We'll see what happens tomorrow and I'll try to do as well as I can. Overall, the car feels slightly better than in the last few races; still not where we want it to be, but slightly better."

Romain Grosjean - 17th
"We took a gamble once again to try just one run on the prime tyres in Q1, and although it's been a successful tactic for us recently it didn't pay off this time. The times were much tighter than expected and ultimately we made a miscalculation with the cut-off time. It's easy to look back and think what might have been, but we made the decision together and unfortunately in the end it was the wrong one. It's tough to overtake here so it's going to be a long race from seventeenth on the grid. We'll have to pull off something quite special with the strategy to take anything from there, but of course we'll analyse the options overnight to see what's possible. For sure we won't be leading after the first corner this time, but we'll do our best."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director
"How was qualifying for the team? In hindsight we made the wrong call with Romain. We expected him to progress quite comfortably through Q1 on the medium tyre and unfortunately this wasn't the case. Clearly, he's starting a long way out of position and will need a strong charge through the field to make it into the top ten, but we're extremely confident that he'll be able to do so. How far into the points he can progress will depend on the start and our management of the tyres. It was a reasonably straightforward session for Kimi with no real dramas. He'll be the first to admit that qualifying hasn't been going to plan for him recently, and he's about where we expected him to be after free practice this morning. As always we're confident that his race pace will be exemplary, so we're anticipating a very strong race from him starting from sixth on the grid."


Jules Bianchi - 19th
"This morning I was not so happy with the car balance but we seem to be on top of it again and my qualifying was good. We have been very close with Caterham all weekend but I am pleased to finish ahead of them today. I think we look set for an interesting race tomorrow, so it is difficult to make any predictions, but obviously I would like to hold my starting position relative to them and maybe some opportunities may arise as well."

Max Chilton - 22nd
"It has been a difficult weekend with the car balance and at a circuit where you really need to be on top of that to push with confidence. This morning I was a little happier but in qualifying it didn't work out as well. Having been closer to the group on my first run, I wasn't able to improve enough on my second. I'm a little more confident in my race pace, so we will work hard overnight to see what we can do to optimise that."

John Booth, team principal
"FP3 didn't go quite as well as we had expected and some of the changes that we had made overnight following FP2 did not seem so positive. With the shortened final practice session we had to concentrate on collecting enough data and giving the drivers a good feel for the car, rather than making lots of changes during the session. With Jules we made did make some reasonable changes going into qualifying, as he was the least happy of the two drivers, and these do seem to have worked out well for him. After his first run Max was happy with his car, however he wasn't able to achieve the improvement anticipated from his second run. Jules expected a big challenge from van der Garde today, but in the end he came out on top. It is good to be starting the race ahead of the Caterhams but I'm sure up and down the field we are expecting an interesting time of it tomorrow."


Jenson Button - 10th
"Running the Prime in Q3 was probably the best strategy call for the race. Of course, that hurt, because my heart was telling me that I ought to be out there [in Q3] on the Option. Our qualifying runs on the Option looked really good - I was quickest in Q1 - but the Prime tyre didn't work as well for us. I found it more difficult because I couldn't get any temperature into the tyre, so I was about half a second off in the first sector on my run in Q3. Still, running the Prime was probably the right thing to do, and I'm sure it's the best tyre for tomorrow. I'm looking forward to an exciting, eventful and unpredictable race."

Sergio Perez - 9th
"Ninth was probably the best we could have achieved this afternoon. It was always going to be difficult to beat Fernando [Alonso], but I might have been able to achieve it if I'd done one more lap on the Prime. But we need to look after the tyres for tomorrow, so that wouldn't have been the right thing to do. Clearly, we're on a different strategy to most of the other cars, so it'll be very interesting to see what we can do on the Prime tomorrow. There are four other cars inside the top 10 starting on the Prime, so we'll be looking to take the advantage if the Option-runners pit during the early laps tomorrow. I think we have a good chance in the race. Our long-run pace looks pretty strong - so, with a good strategy, I think we can do well tomorrow."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
"Qualifying today was clearly dominated by the teams' tyre considerations for the race tomorrow. It's always tempting to take a short-term view - if we'd gone for the Option tyre in Q3, we could potentially have been halfway up the top 10 - but I don't think we'd be headed into tomorrow's race feeling comfortable had we done that. Fundamentally, it was about doing the best thing for the race tomorrow. And, if the experience of the last few days is borne out tomorrow, then we're probably happy that we're not starting the race on the Option. For tomorrow, we've very much focused on putting ourselves in the best possible position for the race. We've got two very good racers, both of whom have shown impressive flashes of speed this weekend, so I think we're looking at a competitive showing tomorrow."


Lewis Hamilton - 3rd
"I'm pleased with third place today as it's been a tough weekend to get the car set up and squeeze as much performance as possible from it. The team have done a great job to make progress since Friday and I'm delighted for everyone to see both Nico and I in the top three today. It was a good lap although I lost maybe a little bit of time at the last corner. Of course, tomorrow is what counts and the race will be difficult with the different strategies and tyre choices. We'll hope for a good start, get rid of the softs early and then focus on pushing as hard as we can on the primes."

Nico Rosberg - 2nd
"We have tried a lot of different things in the practice sessions this weekend to try and find an extra one or two tenths and I found a good set-up with my guys so I'm happy with our work so far. I just wanted to qualify 'best of the rest' today so I'm really happy with second place and starting on the front row. The race will be tough against Mark tomorrow, though, as he has the quicker car and is on a different strategy, but we'll give it our all. For our team, the most important thing is to score as many points as possible so we can secure second place in the Constructors' Championship at the end of the year."

Ross Brawn, team principal
"That was as good a qualifying session as we could have hoped for. It built to a nice crescendo in Q3 and we made the right moves, managed things well and put in our best laps at just the right time having saved a new set of option tyres for the end of Q3. Obviously, we are committed to starting on the option tyre with both cars but we have them in good positions and can be pleased with that achievement this afternoon. It's been a pretty tough weekend getting the car set-up right so far and the engineers and drivers have together done a thoroughly good job. Now we need to finish that job with a strong race tomorrow."

Toto Wolff, executive director
"Second place with Nico and third with Lewis are satisfying positions after a pretty challenging weekend so far. It's fair to say that we probably wouldn't have been quite so high up the grid if everybody had run the option tyre in Q3, but equally we would not have been far off. The engineering team has done a good job to dial the car into the circuit, which continued to ramp up strongly during the qualifying session. The mix of strategies in the top ten will make for an interesting race tomorrow which could only unfold at the very end."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - 1st
"The car felt good all weekend and it just got better as the track improved. The car was amazing; it's a great circuit, I really like the flow of it, especially around the middle sector with the high speed corners. If the car behaves the way you want it to through that section then you're always then going to enjoy it, as we did today. It's a great result for the team; Mark is on a different strategy, so we'll see what the race brings tomorrow. We have been getting a lot of questions about the Championship this weekend, but we'll keep doing what we've done in the past, just focusing on every single step - we won't change that for tomorrow, or the next couple of races. We've worked hard to get here and tomorrow is a long race. With the strategy, I think it's always tricky do the right thing, but we have a good package so we should be in good shape."

Mark Webber - 4th
"We thought it was worth trying something a little bit different with the strategy today, so that's why we ran the primes in Q3. We thought we would probably be a bit further back than the second row to be honest, so it turned out to be a good session for us. It's not easy to manage the primes when you just get a look at them in Q3, but I think we did a good job and we didn't leave too much out there. We're in a good position to capitalise on a different approach tomorrow. The option tyre (used by the first three cars) shouldn't last too long and we'll be on a different strategy. That said, I'll still have to use the softer tyre in the race at some point, so let's see."

Christian Horner, team principal
"A great team performance. We took a strategic approach to final qualifying with the two cars running on different tyre compounds. It was a fantastic first lap by Sebastian to secure the pole position, his third in succession here. Mark backed that up with fourth and, as the first of the hard tyre runners, he's in a very strong position. It's a terrific result for both cars for tomorrow's race, where they'll be effectively running different strategies; it should be a fascinating grand prix."


Nico Hulkenberg - 7th
"Overall it was quite a good qualifying. P7 is a good position for tomorrow, and I expect a close battle with the McLarens. They chose a different approach by qualifying on the hard tyre, we qualified on the soft, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. In the race we have to see how we get on with the soft tyres, as they didn't look too good in free practice yesterday. Since then we have improved the car, so they should last a bit longer. The long runs on the medium tyre looked good."

Esteban Gutierrez - 16th
"Today, I think, we had good pace and managed to fix the issues we had yesterday. However, I struggled to feel comfortable with the track. It's very slippery. Overall, it has been a complicated weekend, but we managed a good Q1. The car was handling really well and we were in a good shape for Q2. Then went over the kerb and the hit was quite hard, that distracted me quite a bit. My neck started to hurt a lot and now I have to take care of that to be ready for the race tomorrow."

Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal
"We knew that qualifying wouldn't be easy. Once more, Nico put in a flawless performance and will start from P7 in the race tomorrow. Esteban has been struggling to feel comfortable with the track the whole weekend, but managed to get a good time in Q1. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to match that in Q2 and will now try to drive a flawless race tomorrow. The aim for Nico is to get as many points as possible."

Tom McCullough, head of track engineering
"The overnight changes we had made to the car gave a much better balance in FP3 on both the medium and, more importantly, the option tyre for Nico. Esteban had a difficult FP3 in the morning, not being able to get a clear lap on the option tyre. After a strong qualifying one he was not able to replicate the time in qualifying two. With Nico getting into qualifying three again, starting seventh, the strategy we have chosen and our race pace, our aim is to score points again."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne - 14th
"I can be reasonably pleased with my fastest lap, as it was pretty clean, even if I lost a little bit of time on a kerb, but nothing too serious. It's very close in our part of the field and we did a good job overnight and this morning to improve the car and there's only a few tenths between a whole group of us. I think tomorrow in the race, with the Option tyre not lasting very long, there are plenty of choices we can make relating to strategy and I feel confident we can fight for a points position finish."

Daniel Ricciardo - 11th
"Honestly, when I crossed the line, my engineer came on the radio and told me I was currently P9 and I thought this could be good, but a few corners later I had dropped to P11. So I was a bit disappointed, even if I think I probably got the most out of it. We had a pretty intense morning, after I went off and damaged the car on Friday, which meant I didn't do a long run. So we tried to do that today and as a result, we had to neglect our short run work a little bit. All the same, we did a good job in qualifying and being eleventh, I get a free tyre choice for the start, although I know some of the top ten opted to do their final runs on the Prime."

Laurent Mekies, head of vehicle performance
"A super-tight qualifying, after it was already clear from yesterday that you had ten cars virtually tied together on lap time. We have ended up P11 with Daniel, half a tenth from making it into Q3. It is very close and both our drivers did a good job this afternoon, as Jev is only a couple of tenths down on his team-mate, but three places behind him. I think we have recovered some pace today and are genuine contenders in that very big mid-field. We will have a very tough fight tomorrow, as you can expect if you have ten cars within three tenths. We worked on our race pace this morning with Daniel, as we were unable to do so on Friday and here too, we feel we have made progress. We can look forward to an exciting race tomorrow."


Pastor Maldonado - 18th
"I was faced with traffic twice on my first run in Q1 on the soft tyres, once in the first corner and also again in Turn 10, which compromised my qualifying as you only really have one chance to get a clean lap on the soft tyres because the degradation is so high. I am usually able to recover some positions in the race and the car is more competitive on long runs so I'm confident we can move forward tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas - 15th
"It was very tight out there today. In Q1 we managed to make the most of the car and the balance felt pretty good. In Q2 we were compromised a bit on our final run as there was a big queue of cars on the out-lap and the tyre temperatures were a little low at the beginning of my flying lap which cost me some time. We could have gone a bit faster, but having said that, the cars in front of us still have better raw pace so this qualifying result is a fair reflection of where we are this weekend. We will be working hard tonight to make further improvements to the set-up so that we can challenge for a better position in the race."

Xevi Pujolar, chief race engineer
"We had to change our run plan in FP3 as the session was delayed and shortened due to poor visibility, but the car balance was improving on both tyres in line with the track conditions. We knew it would be extremely tight in qualifying with getting the tyres in the correct temperature window critical to getting a good lap. Unfortunately Pastor was hampered by traffic on his first lap in Q1 and didn't have enough time to cool the tyres down ahead of his second flying lap which compromised his time and left him 18th. It worked well for Valtteri in Q1 as he had good track position for his second lap on option tyres and made it through into Q2. In Q2 he came across traffic in sector 3 on his out-lap so the tyres weren't up to temperature for the start of his flying lap and he qualified 15th. The soft option tyre is especially sensitive to blistering and graining with the medium being more robust. So we expect to see a number of strategies in the race with team's opting to run the soft tyres at different stages of the race, which will open up more opportunities to gain positions."