A round-up of comment after Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya
Fernando Alonso - 4th "I did a perfect lap: I reckon that if I tried to repeat it twenty times, I could not do better! When you do a lap like that it's hard to put into words what one feels: always being on the limit, in every corner is a really special feeling for a driver. I am very happy with this result, because we have never made it to the second row this year. Sure, pole position is still a long way off: today, Red Bull was once again out of reach and we must work hard to try and get closer. This morning we ran some set-up changes on the car that did not produce the results we were expecting, also partly down to the conditions changing in terms of wind direction. We went back to what we had before for qualifying and instantly it was better. In general, we have made a step forward in performance terms, thanks to the updates we have brought here. So far, in the races we have gone better than in qualifying and so I think we can be in the fight for the podium. It will be tough at the start because the McLarens always get off the line well and then they have one more new set of soft tyres than we do."
Felipe Massa - 8th "This was definitely not the qualifying performance we were expecting, but all weekend long we have struggled with the balance of the car: we would have needed to be perfect to start a bit further up the order and that was not the case. Let's hope that, on full tanks, the car works better and then we can see if we can get a good result. On a track like this it will not be easy to manage the tyres in the best way nor to find the best possible strategy. In Q2 we decided to stay in the garage, running the risk of not getting any further, because it would not have made much sense making the cut and then finding ourselves in Q3 without any new tyres: the outcome proved us right, even if we had hoped to make a better job of that opportunity. It is clear we suffer more than the others on the hard tyres. Overtaking? We will definitely see more than in the past at a circuit like this and that will mainly be down to tyre degradation."
Stefano Domenicali, team principal "This sport never stops throwing up surprises! This morning we had the worst FP3 of the year, with both cars struggling a lot and then we find ourselves commenting on our best qualifying position. Certainly, this fourth place was down to an incredible performance from Fernando, who drove a simply stunning lap in Q3: it is further validation, if one was ever needed, of why we have made the right choice in extending our relationship in the long term. Felipe was unable to find the right way to go in terms of set-up and he will start from the fourth row. So far this year we have seen that our race pace is better than it is in qualifying: let's hope it continues like this and that tomorrow we will manage to bring home a good result. It would be important for the team and for all our fans, of whom there are so many here, mainly down to the presence of Fernando."
Pat Fry, deputy technical director "A great lap from Fernando who managed to put everything together perfectly without even the slightest mistake. He was brilliant and this position is mainly down to him. We tried to manage tyre use in qualifying as well as possible, without taking risks at the start of Q1, before staying in the garage in Q2 so as to have the chance of a strong hand in Q3 with a new set of option tyres. We introduced a lot of new parts here, but the others have done the same and it seems the gaps have not changed that much: we have to do even better to catch up with the best. A track like this favours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce: that can be seen very clearly by analysing the best times in each sector. Our car is competitive in the first one, but we pay a very heavy price in the other two. That's where we must improve. As for tomorrow's race, a lot will depend on tyre life and on finding the right moment to change tyres. It will be a busy time in the pits and everyone will have to give it their best shot to be perfect and that includes the drivers."
Force IndiaPaul Di Resta - 16th "I don't think our position on the grid is that representative of our true pace this weekend. We took the decision very early on that saving tyres for the race would free up our strategy a bit. That means I've got two sets of new options and a set of new primes to use tomorrow. On paper that looks like the sensible approach so hopefully things will work out. How we use the tyres is also important because there's a big difference between the two compounds in terms of pace. Also, the prime being used here is much harder than usual and so it lasts a bit longer. I'm looking forward to the race and I'm sure we can come away with a better result than our qualifying performance."
Adrian Sutil - 17th "We switched back to our traditional aero package this morning because we didn't really have enough time to understand all the new parts that we brought here. So we went back to a package and balance that we were already happy with. We also know that qualifying is not as important as it used to be and that race strategy now plays a bigger factor in your race result. That's why we only ran the prime tyres during Q2 so that we could keep some new option tyres for the race. We feel this is the best approach for tomorrow and hopefully it will pay us back."
Robert Fernley, deputy team principal "We took the decision today to sacrifice grid position to be better prepared for the race. It means losing a few places on the grid but gives Paul and Adrian three sets of new tyres for the race. From P16 and P17 it will be tough to score points, but the races so far this season have demonstrated that there is plenty of room to make the strategy work to our advantage.
"We also reverted back to our older spec aero platform because we haven't really found the crossover we hoped to achieve with the new introductions. That's why we felt it was safer to stick with a known quantity. We will take another look at our new concept and try to develop it through for Monaco, but I expect it to be a phased introduction over the next two or three races."
HRTNarain Karthikeyan - 22nd "Yesterday and today have been very difficult, especially P2 and P3 where we drove with new parts and didn't have the right balance. After that I was a little bit worried about qualifying but we pulled everything together. We sat down and analysed the situation. I'm happy to be in front of our nearest competitors for the first time and also close to Tonio. I'm pleased to be in this position, especially since it's the team's home grand prix, now let's see how the race goes tomorrow".
Vitantonio Liuzzi - 21st "We can be happy about today's qualifying, there was some improvement with the upgrades, now we need to keep pushing for new updates in the next race. We are in the right direction to improve the car and the team as a whole. So we're doing well and need to work hard to make the next step. It's very positive to be in and amongst the Virgins, it's important for us to do a good race tomorrow for the home crowd. There's always a great atmosphere in Spain but it's even more motivating when you're driving for a Spanish team, you can feel the support and want to give something back to the fans by doing well. Hopefully we can get a good start tomorrow and have no issues with pit stops. It will be a difficult race as we've suffered a bit with the new Pirelli compounds".
Colin Kolles, team principal "Today's qualifying had some positives and some negatives. The positive side is that we were quicker than one of the Virgins and made some steps forward. The negative part is that we could've had both Virgins behind us but Tonio didn't have the best lap. My impression is that we made some progress and will make some more, let's see what happens in the race. We will use a strategy which best suits the car, not too different from the rest. We'll try and run as much as possible on option tyres".
LotusHeikki Kovalainen - 15th "This is obviously a great day for Team Lotus and I want to thank everyone here and back at the factory for working so hard to get us to this next step in our story. There is a lot more to come from this car and while we have performed really well today we can see that we can keep progressing and taking the fight to the cars around us on merit. With the work we did overnight and in FP3 I can feel that we have found a much better balance in the high-speed corners, and we can work more on how it feels in the low speed corners which is where I think we will find even more time, but for now this is a good feeling and puts us into a good position for the race tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli - 18th "First I want to congratulate to the whole team for getting Heikki into Q2. That's a great achievement for us and a sign of what's to come. For me the session was interrupted by what looks like an electrical issue that meant I was stuck in second gear when I went out for my first run, but we changed the steering wheel and I managed to get a lap in right in the last few seconds that still put me ahead of Rubens, so we'll start tomorrow from 18th and with the pace we have in the car in race conditions I think we'll have a good afternoon."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "That is a very pleasing result and thank you to the whole team for today's result. We took advantage of the misfortune that befell a couple of the other cars but Heikki did a great job to get the best out of his runs today, and Jarno put in a strong performance to get in a decent time at the end of Q1 after a gearbox problem cut into his first run. Now the important thing is to focus on having a good race tomorrow and learning as much as we can about the upgrades we have brought here over a race distance."
Tony Fernandes, team principal "I am so thrilled. It is almost unbelievable but this is a great day for Team Lotus and just reward for the effort that the whole team keeps putting in. I am so thrilled for everyone associated with our team. Heikki did a fantastic lap and the whole team worked together brilliantly to give him the chance to take his car into Q2, and on top of that Jarno managed to put in a great lap in the dying seconds to put himself into 18th place under a great deal of pressure. We have a lot of work to do so we are not going to get carried away, but it is important that we enjoy days like this and the feeling that comes with hard work being rewarded with this sort of result. As I keep saying, these small steps will keep us moving up the grid, so well done and thank you to everyone."
McLarenLewis Hamilton - 3rd "The Red Bulls look very strong, but I'm going to do everything I can to jump at least one - if not both - of them at the start. I hope I can attack tomorrow. When you start from the clean side of the grid, you automatically have a much better opportunity of getting a good start - and, this year, I've usually been on the dirty side, so tomorrow will be a bit of a bonus for me. Third on the grid is actually a perfect position - because, if you get a good start, you can slipstream the guys in front. My aim is to be P1 by Turn One! It doesn't normally go that way, but as long as I don't go backwards I'll be happy. When you're trying to eke every last drop out of the car, you sometimes lock the front wheels - and that's just what happened on my final lap. While the flat-spot to the front-left doesn't look perfect, we'll manage it by re-balancing the wheels, so it'll be fine. We've definitely made an improvement this weekend. We'll keep pushing: we don't give up, and with the DRS we should see some good racing tomorrow."
Jenson Button - 5th "I feel that I did a good lap, so I'm happy with that; my car got better and better throughout the session - I was only three-hundredths slower than Lewis. I was a bit unlucky not to be third, then Fernando got between us as well, so you can see how close it is out there. One major positive is that, like Lewis, I'll be starting on the clean side of the grid. Another is that, also like Lewis, I've got two sets of [Option] tyres that have only done one lap and another set that's brand new - that's going to be key tomorrow. Having your tyres in good condition makes such a difference - so I think we're looking in very good shape. There's a big difference between the Option and the Prime here, so there'll be some different strategies tomorrow. We'll be looking at the strategy tonight and I'm sure we can make the harder tyre work for us too."
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "We wanted to come through qualifying having retained one set of Option tyres for both our drivers, as did Red Bull, and it was for that reason that we were determined to tackle Q1 on Prime tyres. There's a big speed differential between Options and Primes here in Barcelona, so most teams had no choice other than to use Options in Q1, for fear of not making it through to Q2. Fortunately, by contrast, like Red Bull, we were able to conserve our Options. The final result at the end of Q3 was P3 for Lewis and P5 for Jenson - in other words good grid slots on the clean side of the track for both our drivers. In actual fact they may have been a little quicker had they gone out when it was less breezy, and had we been able to get our KERS Hybrid up to optimal operating temperature; but I don't think we'd have been quite as quick as the Red Bulls. To be clear, our KERS Hybrid is an excellent system, thanks in large part to the superlative work done by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, but we struggled to get it up to optimal operating temperature today. Even so, we're usually a little closer to the Red Bulls' pace in race trim than we are in qualifying, and we've got two brilliant racers in Lewis and Jenson, and as I say they'll start from the clean side of the track; so, all in all, let's just say that we're looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow."
MercedesNico Rosberg - 7th "With our focus on the race pace this weekend, it was to be expected that we might suffer a little in Qualifying. However I am not too disappointed with seventh place as we should be stronger in the race tomorrow, and I believe we can aim to be better than in Istanbul. I have one set of new tyres left which is good for us, and I hope that we can move up with the right strategy."
Michael Schumacher - 10th "Unfortunately in Q3, my KERS system did not work but we reacted in the best possible way. We took the decision to go out on prime tyres to be able to react if other cars did the same. As no-one did, we came in without setting a time so we can now choose our strategy for tomorrow. I will certainly try to have another of the good starts that I have made recently, make up some positions right at the beginning, and take it from there. With DRS and KERS, overtaking is possible even in Barcelona, so it is important to use your tyres well, and I still have a set of fresh tyres left. I will definitely try to make the best out of it."
Ross Brawn, team principal "We had a fairly good qualifying session today whilst being mindful of preparing for the race and being in the best possible position for tomorrow. We clearly couldn't have challenged the cars right at the front of the grid, however Nico did a very good job, and he is in great shape for tomorrow's race. Unfortunately with Michael, we incurred a KERS problem of a nature which made it difficult to think that he could achieve a competitive time, and therefore he did not complete a lap. This has the advantage of giving us maximum choice for his tyre strategy for tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, motorsport director "Michael's car suffered a KERS problem before his planned Q3 lap, and therefore we decided not to use another set of fresh tyres. Our strategy in qualifying concentrated from lap one on saving tyres for the race and that is what we have achieved today, albeit probably to the cost of a better place on the grid. Nico got the best possible result under these circumstances. We are sorry for Michael as he definitely would be starting further up the grid without the KERS issue. However tomorrow is the race, and our aim is to repeat what we have achieved in the last two races; to be placed in the top five at the finish line."
Red BullMark Webber - 1st "It was a good session. It was clear going into qualifying that we might have had a bit of a margin and would be battling for pole between ourselves today. You can never underestimate these guys though. We got through Q1 on the first set of hard tyres, which was good, and then in the crucial part of qualifying - in Q3 - it was just about getting the lap right. The lap was pretty good and I was just praying that my number went to the top when I crossed the line. It was a nice lap, a good battle with Seb and today was my day."
Sebastian Vettel - 2nd "We can't speak of disappointment, at the end of the day we made a good step forward. Barcelona is the place where everyone brings a lot of new parts and you're here to find out if they all work. I think we made a step, so did the others, but it looks as though we like this track and our cars feel comfortable here. Looking to qualifying, I didn't get into the rhythm immediately, so it was not the smoothest run, but I made it on the primes. In Q2 I felt much happier on the soft compound tyres, but unfortunately in the last qualifying I lost a little bit too much and I wasn't entirely happy with my lap. Mark did a good lap and a better job today. Let's see tomorrow, it's a long race and we saved a set of tyres. I think we will be on top of KERS for the race, the guys are pushing hard and we have proved our car has become quicker, so big compliments to the aero guys in the factory and everyone here. We are working hard on KERS. I didn't have it in Q2 or Q3 today, but I'm sure we will have it tomorrow for the race."
Christian Horner, team principal "A great team performance - it's great for Mark to get his first pole position of the year after a perfect final run in Q3. Sebastian did phenomenal job to join Mark on the front row without the benefit of KERS. The pair had a big margin to our opposition in qualifying, although we know it will be smaller in the race. It was a fantastic team performance, we're looking forward to tomorrow."
Vitaly Petrov - 6th "We have got to be happy with the result. The team made a big improvement today, and the result of my car reflects that. Things felt good, the balance of the car was fine and I was able to put in a fast time in Q3 to ensure that we got the car in a good position on the grid. I knew what we had to do today, and did it so I am pleased and looking forward to tomorrow. It should be another action packed race and strategy will be very important."
Nick Heidfeld - 24th (No time) "It was a challenging day, and there was not much more we could have done after the exhaust problem this morning. The was a small hole in the right exhaust and then it overheated. Then, when I heard a strange noise, the power cut out and there were flames so I had to stop. Since then, the team worked flat out to try and get me out for the qualifying session, but it was not to be. At least I managed to get a couple of laps on the hard tyres today, and during the race tomorrow I will need to push hard to make up some ground and get up the order."
SauberSergio Pérez - 12th "I had no particular problems on my last lap, but it wasn't good. Being 12th isn't too bad and I'm very positive for the race, but my run with the new tyres today didn't work out. This is a shame because I'm happy with the car and this is crucial for tomorrow's race. Compared to this morning, we have made a lot of set up changes and they work."
Kamui Kobayashi - 14th "On my last lap, when I was on new soft tyres, a Force India was in trouble in front of me, he made a mistake in turn ten and that was it for me. It is a shame because our new aero package is working well. We have clearly made progress and the car was definitely good enough for a place in the top ten. However, for the race we should be okay and dealing with the super hard tyres will be tricky for everyone."
James Key, technical director "It was a bit frustrating for all of us and not representative of where we want to be. Much like the last race, we need to come back a little bit tomorrow and try make something of it in the race. We made some good changes to the car overnight, and Kamui in particular was a lot happier with his car on newer tyres this morning. His pace looked pretty promising for qualifying so we didn't really change the car much for him. For Sergio there was a little bit of work to do to improve his balance a bit, but that was worked on between FP3 and qualifying. Otherwise FP3 was generally quite good and we were happy the pace we appeared to have yesterday had carried over to this morning, so making a shot at Q3 possible. We did just a single run on soft tyres in Q1. Then we did a quick lap on used tyres in Q2 and a single lap on new tyres at the end of the session. Unfortunately Sergio was just a bit shy of the top ten, while Kamui ended up being stuck behind a slower car for half a lap, so he unfortunately lost his time and was unable to progress from P14, which was set on old tyres."
Toro RossoSebastien Buemi - 11th "I am very happy with this eleventh place. We finished ahead of the Saubers and Force India and when you consider that as planned I will have some new parts for the next race, it is also a very good sign for Monaco. On top of that we have saved an extra set of new soft tyres for the race, because we opted not to try a second run in Q2, so at the moment everything is looking good. In some ways, it is better to be eleventh than tenth, because if I had made it to Q3, we would probably have gone out and used another set of tyres, but this way, I am on the clean side of the track with one set extra."
Jaime Alguersuari - 13th "The car worked well in the high speed section of the circuit, but in the slow ones, I did not have a good feel for the car, so we need to look at the data to see how to improve the car in Sector 3 before tomorrow's race. Overall, I am pleased for the team because the result for both of us is good and I think we can run a competitive race. We can expect a three pit stop strategy, because Pirelli's new Prime is harder than it was before. I am looking forward to having a good race at my home circuit."
Giorgio Ascanelli, technical director "I think eleventh place is a bit better than expected, because at the end of the day, Seb pulled out a magnificent lap. Jaime's position is a more accurate reflection of our standing, even if he did not get it quite right for whatever reason. It was a difficult session as the temperatures were higher and the car was tail-happy, so Jaime was unable to manage the tyres in the final sector, but like I said Seb did a superb lap with our aggressive choice of only doing one lap on that final run. With Jaime, it was not the right decision to give him another set of tyres for another run in Q2, but you don't want to upset a driver in the heat of battle when he tells you he can go quicker! We had some updates here and they are producing the results we expected. It involved a lot of work for a small step forward and I think they will work more effectively next weekend in Monaco as we now have a better understanding of them."
VirginTimo Glock - 20th "I think we had a good qualifying today. We had a bit of trouble with the first set of tyres as they didn't work as they should and I was a little worried. The second lap was pretty spot on I have to say, although I made a small mistake in turn 7 as I was pushing so hard. We spent pretty much the whole of Friday not being able to concentrate on set-up and it's been quite hard to get the old package working well again. We tried our best this morning and in the end it wasn't too bad in qualifying. Now we have to focus on the race and just stay positive as we chip away at improving the car step by step."
Jérôme D'Ambrosio - 23rd "It wasn't such a smooth day for me today. For some reason in the morning session we couldn't find the same speed that we had yesterday and then in qualifying I only really had one lap because I had a hydraulic failure during my first run. But even though it wasn't the most straightforward session, the team did a great job to fix the car and we are in the race, so let's see tomorrow."
John Booth, team principal "This morning Jérôme struggled to extract the same speed as yesterday from our race package, and his qualifying was then compromised by a hydraulic failure on his first qualifying run. The team quickly located the cause, a cut O-ring, and replaced it in record time, enabling him to get out on track, even though his time was not representative of either his or the car's potential. Timo had a better session, although he had slightly less rear grip than we expected on his first run, but a tyre pressure adjustment enabled him to set a quicker lap. As for the race tomorrow, a two-car finish continues to be our goal. We are operating both cars in a specification that complies fully with the technical directive regarding engine/exhaust configurations issued to the teams last week by the FIA. We will continue to refine our recent upgrade over the forthcoming races."
WilliamsPastor Maldonado - 9th "I am really happy for the team and all the guys. We've tried really hard to find a good balance all weekend. Yesterday's practice, particularly the first session, was really difficult for me. The car wasn't great so we took a bit of a risk and decided to run the new rear wing in qualifying. The car seems more competitive, but we still need to keep pushing and improve. I am happy today."
Rubens Barrichello - 19th "I knew we had a gearbox problem as soon as I went out in Q1 as it felt strange. I think there is a big positive in saving a set of tyres, which is one way of looking at it, but having seen where Pastor finished, we could also have had a good shot inside the top ten. I will be pushing to be there tomorrow."
Sam Michael, technical director "That was a great effort by Pastor today to put Williams back into the top ten in qualifying. The next step is to get some points. We had a gearbox problem on Rubens' car so we're looking into that now. He's fairly low down the order but, taking into consideration our pace and the fact that he will have new tyres, he should be able to make good progress. Thanks to everyone at the factory for their efforts in getting the new rear wings out here. We still have a lot of work to keep progressing."