Qualifying – selected team and driver quotes

Fernando Alonso (5th, Q3 – 1:55.637)

“When it rains you never know how things will turn out as track conditions can get worse lap after lap and so that’s one reason for me to be pleased with the way qualifying went. Fifth place means I can start with the lead group and if I can stay with the leaders we can finish close to the podium. The opening laps will count for a lot therefore and we must try our absolute best to get a good start and to avoid battles, which in the last few races have seen us lose ground. Yesterday, the car was more competitive and that means we can hope for a better race than in the last three. I think that here in China, we have taken the first step towards improving; the car behaved well in all areas and is performing better on the aerodynamic front, thanks to the small updates we have introduced here and we have more power, having revised some settings on the power unit. Certainly, we are still a long way off the pace of the leaders, because they too are progressing, but we can hope to fight for better positions and more points.”

Kimi Raikkonen (11th, Q2 – 1:56.860)
“The past two days have been difficult, because after yesterday’s technical problem, this morning I also only did a single run, but overall, I felt more comfortable in the car. Unfortunately, on my last run in Q2, when I was on my quick lap, I lost a lot of time in the final sector and that meant I didn’t make the cut to Q3. The car’s handling was inconsistent, as it was stable in some parts of the track and less so in others. I had some problems with the balance and this had an effect on my performance. It’s too early to say what happened, but the time lost yesterday definitely didn’t help. Now I want to concentrate on tomorrow’s race and try my best to end this weekend with a good result.”

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
“The weather forecast for today proved to be right and a light but persistent rain had a significant effect on both sessions. In the morning, we chose to run as little as possible so as not to use up the rain tyres in order to have as many new sets as possible for qualifying and the race. Kimi unfortunately did not get past Q2. Yesterday he lost the first free practice session and today he was fighting with the balance of the car, especially in the slow corners. As for Fernando, he managed to get through the three parts of qualifying without any particular problems and fifth place on the grid tomorrow will mean he can be in the leading group. With him, we will try and exploit any opportunity to attack while with Kimi we will try and move him up the order to take as many points as he can. In both cases, the opening two laps will hold the key.”

Lewis Hamilton (1st, Q3 – 1:53.860)

“It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together. The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend. Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we’ll be hoping it’s a dry race to take advantage of the position we’re in. We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday. We made a lot of changes to the car and I haven’t yet had a chance to try them in the dry. It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I’m hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow.”

Nico Rosberg (2nd, Q3 – 1:55.143)
“I had two main problems today. I wasn’t totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second to last lap. Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner – but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two tenths slower. So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway. However, fourth place is not a disaster. I was quick on Friday doing the race preparation so I am still confident that there is everything to play for tomorrow.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
“Another wet qualifying session which doesn’t make life easy for anyone. We looked very strong on the full wet tyres at the beginning and the field seemed to close up as we moved onto the intermediate tyres. It was an exceptional performance from Lewis; he was in a league of his own today. Nico was very competitive and right there but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a clean lap on the final run and that’s what cost him in these difficult conditions. It shows how competitive it is at this time, as we had the pace to put both cars on the front row.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)
“Qualifying is always tricky when we’re running in wet conditions, which meant that it was even more fantastic to see Lewis deliver a great lap to qualify in pole. There’s a slight disappointment on Nico’s side because it looked like he had the pace. However, both of his laps in the final run of Q3 were compromised and he was unable to improve his lap time. However, overall it was a positive afternoon and a good job from the drivers and the team to get through qualifying safely and in good positions. Congratulations to Lewis on becoming the most successful British driver in terms of pole positions; it’s a great achievement.”

Felipe Massa (6th, Q3 – 1:56.147

“Today was a difficult day for us, as the weather was tough, but we got the most of out of it and showed that we have improved in the wet. It’s good to see forward steps. Tomorrow could be an interesting day as we are more competitive in the dry; it could make for a good race. To have both cars in the top ten once again is really promising, now we have to go and improve for the race tomorrow.”

Valtteri Bottas (7th, Q3 – 1:56.282)
“Today was a positive day for us as it’s clear we have made some improvements in the wet. The updates we brought here have helped in the dry but it’s good to see they have improved the car’s performance in the wet as well. It’s the right direction and it’s the result of a lot of hard work from the guys. We are still more competitive in the dry so we hope the race will be dry and we can finish higher than we are today.”

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance
“Sessions like that are never easy, but I am once again impressed with the day’s performance. To not be penalised by a wet qualifying shows that the work we have done has improved the handling of the car. The race engineers performed admirably and the crew performed well in difficult conditions, which is good to see. The drivers also did a fantastic job today and so overall I am happy. We still have some work to do with the car in terms of performance but it is good to see progress.”

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne (9th, Q3 – 1:56.773)

“I’m really pleased with my qualifying, it’s been a great lap. I’m happy with myself as all my qualifying laps this year so far have been good laps, without mistakes. This car is pretty difficult to drive in wet conditions, so to make it into Q3 even today is a big satisfaction for me and the team. You really have to make your perfect lap and I think I did. As for tomorrow, the weather forecast says it’s going to be dry, which is a much more suitable condition for our car, so we can expect a good race. In the long runs our pace looks competitive, so I will do my best to make a good start and from the ninth position on the grid, if everything comes together, we can definitely aim for some more points.”

Daniil Kvyat (13th, Q2 – 1:57.289)
“This was a very tricky qualifying session today and even though I gave it my all, I was not able to go any faster than this. It seems that I have lost a lot of grip between this morning’s FP3 and qualifying, so I’m eager to have a look at the data later on. Overall I’m disappointed with how things went today, but I’m confident we can still have a good race tomorrow, especially if it is going to be dry.”

James Key, Toro Rosso technical director
“The conditions for today’s qualifying were clear but totally unpredictable. There seemed to be a micro climate around the circuit so it was difficult to tell what was going on where. We had a plan but remained flexible and in the end this helped us cope well with the tricky conditions and the guys on the pit wall did a very good job. Q1 turned out as we had hoped for, even though we took a bit of a gamble, as we started on used intermediates. Jev did a great job getting through to Q3, as it was a tight battle in difficult conditions. Sadly, Daniil didn’t make it through to Q3, which is disappointing as he showed good pace so far today. We will have a look at the reasons for this, but still, P13 is more than adequate to start the race from. Assuming the weather will stay dry tomorrow, we should be able to have a strong race as we are more competitive in the dry than in the wet.”

Kamui Kobayashi (18th, Q1 – 1:59.260)

“As FP3 was wet and the grip levels were low everyone was being cautious but we managed to complete 12 laps, all on the inters apart from the installation. The car was okay, a bit too much oversteer but we did make some gains in braking over the two runs and finished the session without any issues.

“It was raining before the start of qualifying but the track conditions were right on the edge of choosing between inters and full wets so we went for the inters as that could have given us the best chance of springing a surprise in Q1. It was certainly pretty tricky on inters but the times were just about there with the wets on the first run so we stuck with them for the second run and went out to run to the flag. For the second stint the conditions were improving slightly, but still not enough for us to have a clear advantage on the intermediates, so ending up ahead of Bianchi in 18th and only three tenths from Gutierrez is probably about as good as we could have done today.”

Marcus Ericsson (20th, Q1 – 2:00.646)
“FP3 was my second wet session of the season and we started with the installation lap on full wets before switching to inters for the first run. That went ok but when I boxed we found a couple of issues with the power unit and an overheating front right brake that meant we could only complete six laps in the session.

“Quali was tough, especially considering I only had six laps this morning, but I’m relatively happy with how it ended up, especially as that was only my third ever session in the wet in F1! We went for the same strategy as Kamui and the car was a real handful on the first stint – I had front and rear locking in the braking zones and that was costing me a lot of time, plus I had some traffic issues on the first stint that also cost me time, but overall I’m happy I kept it on the track and finished ahead of Chilton.”

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader
“Over the day we’ve had some on-off issues with the ERS-K on Marcus’ car due to some gearbox control problems, but we feel we extracted the most from the Power Unit this session. Both drivers were able to use maximum power and energy recovery, but conditions were very difficult. Nevertheless we are ahead of both Marussias and feel we are well prepared to take the fight to them, and other cars ahead, in the race tomorrow.”

Jules Bianchi (19th, Q1 – 1:59.326)

“This morning I was really unhappy with the car but we made some changes in the break and they worked out perfectly for qualifying, even though the track was quite tricky with the rain. I was having a good battle with Kobayashi, trading times in the changing conditions, but on my quick lap I ran wide in the last corner and this meant that he was able to get ahead. However, we were very close, even with my mistake, so it looks like we can enjoy a good race tomorrow in what will be better conditions.”

Max Chilton (21st, Q1 – 2:00.865)
“I’m quite frustrated with that qualifying session. The car was really good in FP3 this morning, but I struggled with the balance in qualifying and couldn’t get a clean lap together. The conditions out there were quite difficult but I still felt that there was more to come had I been happier with the balance. Nonetheless, tomorrow is another day so I’ll take my frustration and try to turn that into another good race performance.”

John Booth, Marussia team principal
“Today’s two sessions saw mixed fortunes for the drivers, with Max very happy with his performance in FP3 and Jules in qualifying. Overnight Jules tried an experimental set-up for FP3 and unfortunately this didn’t work out particularly well in the wet conditions. Max stayed with a more conventional set-up from FP2, was happy in the session and had a very good lap on the first intermediate run in FP3. Over the break it was clear we had to change the set-up on Jules’ car back to his FP2 configuration, which was quite an involved change for the mechanics, but they did well to get the car back together in time for qualifying. It was always going to be a tough decision on tyres at the start of qualifying and it seems the track was exactly on the crossover between the intermediate and the extreme wet, with ourselves and Caterham trading lap times on the different tyres. In the end we stopped to fit the intermediate tyre and, whilst Jules lost some time on his lap which meant he just lost out to Kobayashi, Max struggled with the balance of his car compared to FP3. We will look into what happened with Max and spend the night preparing for what looks to be a dry race tomorrow.”

Adrian Sutil (14th, Q2 – 1:57.393)

“I am satisfied with today’s qualifying. Although the conditions were not easy, I am happy that we got through to Q2. This is a better performance in comparison to the last qualifying sessions. We were able to benefit from the wet conditions and it was better than under the dry ones. This is a small step and I hope we continue with this trend. There is still a lot to do, but it is great that we are not starting from the back rows. We can build on this. We did a lot of set-up changes for the wet conditions and we are satisfied with the performance of the car. Now we hope that we also have a good race tomorrow. If the conditions are dry for the race, I believe it will be difficult for us. However, we have to look forward and try to make up positions.”

Esteban Gutierrez (17th, Q1 – 1:58.988)
“Today we had tricky and difficult conditions. At the same time, I am frustrated as I could have made it into Q2.On my last lap I had an unexpected technical issue from Turn 6 on. The brake-by-wire went to the safety mode, so the feeling in the brake pedal and the brake balance changed. I had to deal with this issue through most of my last lap, but, nevertheless, I almost made into Q2. Unfortunately, I then made a mistake in the last corner. For the race tomorrow we have to be consistent and take advantage of every opportunity that comes up. This is the only way to push forward. We are still waiting for the car updates which will be in Barcelona. There we expect to make a step forward.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal
“This qualifying showed the technical measures we took for this race had a positive effect and point to the right direction. This was mainly reflected in Adrian’s result. Esteban suffered a technical problem, which led to him not making it through from Q1. Nevertheless, we were able to reduce the gap to our direct competitors. This gives us confidence for the coming races, where we will introduce further development steps.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara , Sauber head of track engineering
“This qualifying reflects more or less where we currently are. Adrian did a solid job and qualified 14th while Esteban was hindered by a technical issue with the brake-by-wire system, which we have to look into. Finally he just missed Q2. According to the weather forecast for tomorrow the conditions should be dry, so the picture could be different in the race.”

Romain Grosjean (10th, Q3 – 1:57.079)

“It is good to be in Q3. We have made good progress this weekend. Things went better this morning than in qualifying this afternoon and so we had maybe even higher hopes. I’m not sure why we didn’t feel as much performance this afternoon than in FP3. I also suffered with the tyres and the conditions change a little from this morning too but it has been a while since we’ve been in Q3! We are hoping for a good race for tomorrow and hopefully we can stay in the top ten.”

Pastor Maldonado (DNQ)
“For sure we are not happy to have missed qualifying. Tomorrow will be another day and the race is very long. I remain optimistic and I’ll do my best as always but it’s not a very good situation to be dealing with, but we are working very hard to keep improving. We saw Romain qualify in the top ten today and I was sixth fastest in the morning so we are making improvements.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
“It was a very mixed qualifying. Obviously we’re very sorry to see Pastor not taking part, and we’re sorry to him and all his crew. The engine developed a leak this morning in FP3 and we had to change it. There was just no way we could get it changed over in time for qualifying. For Romain it’s been a reasonable day – we had a very good FP3, and although qualifying was not as good as the morning session, it was positive to get through to Q3. I think we were hopeful of a little bit more, so we just need to understand where we lacked a little. Overall it’s pleasing to get the car back up where it should be. I think we can be confident of scoring well tomorrow.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“The performance of our intermediate tyre, which clears around 25 litres of water per second at top speed, was clearly shown by Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who reached 316kph – that’s 196mph – on the straight in conditions that were very wet indeed. We saw a crossover time of around 1m56s between the full wet and the intermediate, which underlines the work we have done on the wet tyre over the winter to bring it closer to the intermediate. These haven’t been easy conditions and the circuit is always very demanding on tyres but wear levels have been low: practically non-existent on the rears and just some light abrasion on the front, depending on the team.”

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo (2nd, Q3 – 1:54.455)

“I couldn’t have got anything extra out of the car on that last lap, I got everything I could out of it; for that I’m pleased and I got rewarded with a front row place for tomorrow. It took a while to get going in the session today, I didn’t have the comfort or pace that I was aiming for, but I got it at the end. I feel like I’m ready to get a good result, I know it’s never going to be easy but I’m prepared for the fight tomorrow and I’ll embrace it. I couldn’t have settled into the team any better to be honest, they made me feel at home very quickly and it’s helping me. I’m really enjoying the driving and it seems to be showing with the results. I’m really pleased. The team is closing the gap to the front and we’re getting better each race.”

Sebastian Vettel (3rd, Q3 – 1:54.960)
“In wet conditions, we have a bit more of a chance against Mercedes than in the dry. I think the conditions for tomorrow are forecast to be dry, but for sure we will try and do what we can. I think we are in the best position to try and give them a hard time in the race, so let’s see. We made some improvements with the car this weekend and I think the test in Bahrain helped, but we still have some work to do. I would like to be first of course, but I have a good position to start the race. Well done to Daniel today, he’s doing very well I have to say.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
“A great job from both of our guys in tricky conditions to split the Mercedes. Daniel and Sebastian progressed well through the two sessions to get comfortably into Q3. We knew sector three was always going to be our Achilles Heel here and again, even in these conditions, it proved to be the case; our straight line speed wasn’t able to challenge that of the Mercedes. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant performance by Dan again, to qualify on the front row. Sebastian didn’t have the cleanest second run in Q3, but both cars have great grid positions for tomorrow’s race with P2 and P3.”

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport
“There are always lots of things going on during qualy in these weather conditions; the compromise between drivability and ERS energy has to be constantly optimized. A lot of work is going on now to optimise the power unit package, with which the progression margin is huge. It was again very hard to stay close to the front, but both drivers did a fantastic job to secure second and third places today. We know that we’ve got more chances to win in wet conditions but we will push to get a big points haul tomorrow, whatever the weather. All in all a very good qualifying for the team.”

Jenson Button (12th, Q2 – 1:56.963)

“It’s always tough in these conditions – it was difficult for us to get heat into the tyres, especially with the low ambient temperatures we experienced today.

“I had tyre-shuddering during Q2: shuddering is what happens when you can’t get enough temperature into the tyre. The surface of the tyre is affected when you apply steering lock; the tyre doesn’t grip and it just jumps across the circuit.

“It’ll be difficult in the race tomorrow – we’ll be racing on a green track with no grip because of all today’s rain. So it’ll be about succeeding with the hand you’re dealt.

“So I really hope it’ll be dry tomorrow because in the dry I think we can have a fun race. We’re further back than we’d like, but there have been some pretty good results from this far back already this season.

“We’ll get out there and see what we can do tomorrow afternoon.”

Kevin Magnussen (15th, Q2 – 1:57.675)
“I’m pretty disappointed to have qualified 15th – it’s not great. I don’t really know what happened, we had issues with overall grip – I’m not sure if it was the tyres not being in the correct working temperature range.

“We’ll go back and look at things – I believe we’re better than 15th, so we clearly didn’t get everything right today. Still, we’re not fast enough and we need to find more speed.

“The team is doing a good job of improving things, but it just takes time. These things aren’t fixed overnight, but I have faith in the team. We’ll get there.

“We’ll see what we can do in the race tomorrow.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“To put it in simple terms, we performed poorly in qualifying today.

“We know our car is lacking in overall performance, but most notably it lacks sufficient downforce.

“That’s always a significant problem in any conditions, of course it is, but it becomes an insuperable handicap when it’s both cold and wet, as it was today.

“Then you get a downward spiral, because you can’t get enough heat into your tyres, and that’s what we saw today. Our drivers did their best, but in truth they were facing an impossible task.

“Having said all that, both Jenson and Kevin will drive their hearts out tomorrow in an effort to score as many points as they possibly can.”

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg (8th, Q3 – 1:56.366)

“A top ten result is always what we are aiming for in qualifying, so from that perspective I am happy to be eighth. It was very wet out there and I was struggling a bit with the car balance under braking, but all in all I think we’re in a good starting position for the race. Tomorrow’s weather should improve and we ran in the dry yesterday so we know what to expect and will adapt to any conditions. It will be interesting to see the tyre development through the race because graining is a classic feature of this track, but I’m confident we can work around it and make the tyres last.”

Sergio Perez (16th, Q2 – 1:58.264)
“It was not an easy session and the truth is that I’ve been struggling with the car balance all weekend. I think the wet weather today exaggerated those issues and it leaves me P16 and feeling a bit disappointed. I found it hard to generate enough temperature in my tyres and I was sliding around in each corner and especially under braking. The weather is expected to be better tomorrow so I am sure we can recover some ground and move up into the fight for points.”

Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal and managing director
“The wet weather has become a recurrent theme on Saturdays with three out of four qualifying sessions taking place in the wet already this season. We hoped the rain might play into our hands, but both cars struggled under braking and didn’t really find the rhythm in the wet conditions. So in that regard it was quite a disjointed session and Nico did well to make Q3 and qualify in P8. Sergio has not been comfortable with the car balance all weekend and the wet conditions today made things even more challenging. I think we can be strong in race conditions tomorrow and points will be the target, but it’s clear the battle for the top ten will be especially competitive here.”