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Saturday Qualifying Report – Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari

Red Bull:
Sebastian Vettel: “I’m pretty pleased. Yesterday I wasn’t very happy with my own performance and with the car and I didn’t feel that comfortable. Today was much better straightaway when we went out this afternoon, but this evening when the sun went down, I had a much better feeling and the car was more together. It came in my direction and helped us. McLaren looked strong throughout the weekend, but I thought if I get everything right then in Q3 then we might have a chance (for the pole) and that’s the way it came for us. I’m very pleased with the pole and it’s a very special one to equal Nigel Mansell as well. It’s a fantastic year and it’s not over yet, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Mark Webber: “I’m disappointed with my last run, it was a bit scrappy. We had to communicate more than normal during the out lap due to a few things we were managing, so that affected the prep a little. I’m disappointed as there is certainly more there. Sometimes you see Seb’s lap and you go, ‘wow you can’t do that’, he did a good lap for sure today, but I didn’t feel like I got the most out of it when it counted. It will be an interesting first sector, then we’ll get into the race from there. I think this track is traditionally pretty hard to pass on, so it’s likely to be down to the DRS zone and pit stops.”

McLaren:
Lewis Hamilton: “It would be nice to have had pole position, but that Red Bull, as always, is very quick in Q3! Still, we’ve got our car to a point where it works particularly well on certain tracks, and we always seem to go well here. To be as competitive as we’ve been this weekend is very encouraging – we’re on the front row so we can have a good race from there. And, for the first time in quite a while, my long-run pace was pretty good too, and I think we had more fuel on board than some of the other teams. I feel really good about tomorrow, in fact. I hope I have a good start – I really want to get into Turn One first. But, if I can’t, I’ll follow Sebastian [Vettel] as closely as I can, I’ll try my hardest not to let him get more than a second ahead, and I’ll try to get ahead through the DRS zones. Last year I started second but braked early into Turn One and let Sebastian have the corner. I’ve just told him that’s not going to happen tomorrow, though…”

Jenson Button: I haven’t really been able to find a balance that suits me perfectly this weekend. The car changed quite a lot for qualifying. In practice I’d been struggling with the rear end; but, during qualifying, I suddenly had great rear grip and masses of understeer – so the car felt completely different to me. Obviously, there’s only a certain number of things you can do during the qualifying session to counteract that, so we used everything we could to make the car work reasonably well, and I felt much happier as a result. Third isn’t a bad place from which to start – hopefully we’ll get one over on the Red Bulls tomorrow.”

Ferrari:
Fernando Alonso: “We are more or less where we expected to be going into the session. It’s not because this is the eighth time out of 18 qualifying sessions that I have ended up fifth. It’s that all year long, with a few rare exceptions, McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us on Saturday, while on Sunday the situation is usually different, with the gaps between us being much closer. We know we can fight for the podium, but to succeed, we will have to do everything perfectly, beginning with the start and our strategy. In Q3, I thought of doing just one run, but then the first one was not perfect and we preferred to try everything right to the end. I don’t think it would have made such a difference having a new set of tyres tomorrow, also because the degradation does not seem that high. Maybe the best time could have come on the second or third flying lap, but going down that route would have compromised our strategy, as we would have to start on tyres that were more worn than those of our rivals. I will start from the clean side of the track and hope to make up some places: the first lap is a good window of opportunity. The front wing? Mine worked well all weekend, but the team decided to move back with Felipe. In one sense it’s positive, because we will have an even greater amount of data to compare in order to get a good understanding of this new component. Tomorrow it will be interesting to see how the tyres will behave from the start to the finish of the race, as the temperature drops.”

Felipe Massa: “To be honest, I hoped for more from this qualifying. I struggled more than expected to get the best out of the tyres on the first flying lap: maybe it would have been worth trying a longer run with two attempts. As expected, today McLaren and Red Bull showed they have the edge over us. In the end, we are in the grid positions we can expect in this final part of the season. Sure, having to use the old type of front wing cost me something in terms of performance. In India, when we compared the two versions, I immediately felt the new one was an improvement, giving more grip and better stability under braking. Having said that, I don’t think I could have got a place on the two front rows. Tomorrow we will have to see what we can do. Certainly the DRS will help with overtaking, but we have seen on other occasions, even with the moveable rear wing, that it is not a foregone conclusion.”

Images © Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Getty Images, Reuters Pictures


All material and photos are copyrighted material and owned by their respective owners. Use or depiction of images or trademarks throughout this website is for illustrative and editorial purposes only.Images come courtesy of; ferrari.com, mclaren.com, forceindiaf1.com, redbull.com, mercedesgp.com, renaultf1.com, toyota, bmw-sauber, williamsf1, lotus, virgin, Daylife.com, getty Images/LAT and AP Photos.


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