Reaction round-up: Spanish Grand Prix qualifying
Lewis Hamilton stormed to his fourth pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Brit was second to his team-mate in the first two sessions, before setting the fastest time in the top 10 shoot-out. Here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions following Saturday’s on-track action:
“I left the garage for Q3 and lost drive in second gear; I still had third gear and above so we thought we could do the lap with that, but by Turn 1 I had lost all the other gears, so we couldn’t continue. I was getting more in to the rhythm with each lap after missing yesterday’s sessions. It was quite close between the cars after the Mercedes and I think I could have had a go for P3 today, but we didn’t get that far. I’m of course quite disappointed.”
“Without putting too much attention on Mercedes, I’m happy with what I’m doing, so I think today was pretty good and I wasn’t too disappointed with the lap. I don’t really see how I could have improved much more today, so I think we’re doing the best we can, but now that we’re around third or fourth I want to close the gap to the silver cars. Sorry for Seb, he’s had a pretty rough weekend. I prefer it when we are both able to compete. Looking to tomorrow, then I think third is the best we can do. If Mercedes continue at the pace they had today then realistically we won’t catch them, so then third, although it wouldn’t be a victory, it would be really satisfying.”
“I had a good feeling throughout today and I quite enjoyed Qualifying. I had a good lap at the end but Lewis just did a better job in Q3. Starting second is a bit of a disadvantage but it’s such a long straight down to the first corner, so I will hope to have a better start than Lewis tomorrow and overtake him. It’s also a long race where tyre degradation will be a key issue so there may be some opportunities to take advantage. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’ll be giving everything to take advantage of this amazing Silver Arrow that we have at the moment and hopefully extend my lead in the Championship.”
“I’m overwhelmed to get pole position because I’ve had a pretty tough day in the car, particularly after yesterday went so well. I was really happy on Friday and we changed a couple of small things overnight, just the tiniest of tweaks. But it was a real handful today because track conditions had changed. Nico had a strong P3 and first two sessions of qualifying, so we were making small adjustments to the differential to try and make improvements to how the car was handling for Q3.
“On that final run, I really had to eke out everything and more from the car and myself to get pole and I’m so happy that I managed it. I’ve never won at this circuit and I would love to, because my support in Barcelona has been growing every year and I have some amazing fans here in Spain. We are going to give it everything we can tomorrow to get the win.”
“This wasn’t a good qualifying session, but the outcome was more or less what we could have expected on a difficult weekend, especially in terms of grip, not just for us but for all the teams. I’d definitely have liked to be starting from further up, but that’s how it went today, we weren’t quick enough and now we must think about tomorrow and try to make up some places to score as many points as possible.
“Of the updates we brought here, some worked, while others need further testing. There is a definite improvement compared to China, but we have some problems with the rear, despite the many set-up changes we made. Kimi did very well and I hope that both Ferraris can finish higher up. Now we must find the best strategy for tomorrow and try to get a good start. But above all, we mustn’t make any mistakes, because this race demands a high level of concentration.”
“We can’t be pleased with sixth place, because naturally we want to be fighting for the topplaces. But compared to the last race, we have managed to solve some problems and have improved the feeling I have from the car. Yesterday, the long run went well and, in general, we did a good job, but there is still much more to do, because we are not yet as fast as we would like to be. Tomorrow, the goal is to get a good start and then have a normal race. Of course, we will also need a good strategy and we will have to keep an eye on our tyre management. It won’t be easy, but we are definitely going to fight.”
“I had a big chance of doing well in the session but unfortunately I lost the car with big snap oversteer in the exit of the corner in turn 3. We need to have a look at what happened and work to get ready for tomorrow. We were quite competitive today in terms of pace and kept improving throughout the weekend. With tyres available for the race we can work on the strategy and hopefully recover places on Sunday.”
“It’s pretty tough for everyone out there – the track doesn’t have much grip, so we spent each session working away at the car’s balance to try and find something that works. We almost got there, but still had too much understeer for the final run. Still, it wasn’t too bad: we probably could’ve found a little more time within the set-up but it probably wasn’t going to be enough to make much of a difference.
“There’s going to be lots of sliding in the race tomorrow. We’ve done a pretty good job in that we’ve saved a set of Options for the race – I’m not yet sure what strategy we’ll adopt, but it’s good to have some leeway on strategy. We’ve definitely shown signs of improvement this weekend, although we’re still not yet where we want to be.”
“I think we finished qualifying more or less where we expected. Maybe a place in Q3 was possible, but I did not manage to complete my final run in Q2 because my preparation lap was not ideal. There was too much traffic and my tyres were not optimised, which is why I chose to abort my final quick lap and save the tyres.
“Coming here we knew this track would be quite a difficult one for us, but we still believe we can be competitive tomorrow. I think the race will be all about getting the strategy choice right because it’s so difficult to overtake on this track. Our race pace is looking promising so we have a chance to get back some positions tomorrow.”
“That was the maximum we could achieve today. Considering the difficulties I had yesterday, the team did an excellent job to put things right for today. We definitely still have issues which we have to solve, but being closer to the competition is motivating us. Obviously, we are not completely satisfied with today’s outcome, but with some more work we can find the last tenths to be in the top ten. We need to take out the positive and analyse the negative. For tomorrow it will be a big challenge because the track temperature will probably be quite high, and the tyres are difficult to handle under these conditions. As always, we will do our best.”
“It was part of the strategy not to run in Q2, save new tyres and prepare for an aggressive race tomorrow. I think it was a sensible decision to take. It’s true that this is not the best track for overtaking but I will do my best to pass the cars in front of me from the left, from the right, from everywhere, taking every opportunity to gain positions. The car has been a bit difficult to drive for the whole weekend, except for the long runs, so I hope for a good race tomorrow.”
“It has been quite a tough weekend up until now. I had to build a lot of confidence but it all came together when it mattered and I managed to get a good lap. We have made some set-up changes since FP3 and they worked well but it will be even better in the race. It’s difficult to overtake here and so qualifying is important. It’s going to be a close race behind the Mercedes and so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I’m really happy with that. I’m not sure we got the balance exactly where we would have liked it, but in the end my second quick lap was pretty together and it all came good when it counted. That session showed we have made a step forward with our new developments; there’s no doubt that we are closer to the Saubers – and to Q2 contention – and we’ve pulled away from the Caterhams by a good margin. As I say, there was definitely more to come from the car, so I’m pretty optimistic for the race tomorrow. I think we can have a good fight.”
“For me today’s been both good and bad. I’m pleased I’ve qualified ahead of my teammate for the first time this year, especially because it’s at a track I really like and one everyone knows well, but overall we’re obviously not happy with where we are with performance and we need to improve.
“The car behaviour is unpredictable pretty much the whole way round the track and that makes putting together a clean lap very difficult. Overall, we’re starting from the same bit of the grid as we have for most of the season and we have to focus on having a clean race, maintaining the much improved reliability we’ve had since China and grabbing whatever opportunities come our way. I want to leave Spain on a positive note and we’ll all do everything we can to give us the best chance of making that happen.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.