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Teams’ reactions after Portimao qualifying

Teams’ reactions after Portimao qualifying, F1 Daily

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The thrilling battle between Mercedes and Red Bull continued in the qualifying session for today’s Portuguese Grand Prix with Mercedes finding the better grip in the tricky weather conditions at Portimao, beating its fierce rival from Milton Keynes. Valtteri Bottas will head the Mercedes front row, followed by the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Pierre Gasly, 9th, 1:19.475

“I’m very satisfied with my qualifying performance today, we seem to find this track more difficult than the last few, so to make it through to Q3 again was positive. We knew coming to Portugal that the characteristics of this circuit would be trickier for us and I think it’s been obvious since we arrived that we’ve struggled slightly with the different conditions, particularly the wind.

“The team have worked hard since FP1 to change the balance of the car but we’re not completely happy with it yet, so we’ll need to work more tonight to try to understand this more. Whilst I’m not completely comfortable in the car yet, I’m happy we made it through to the final qualifying session, as it seems that our midfield competitors have made some steps forward this weekend, and I think we’re in a position to take some more points tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 14th, 1:19.463

“This is my first time driving here and by the end of FP2 I think I’d adapted well to the circuit, so I felt really prepared ahead of qualifying this afternoon. For me, the lap was good but the tyre just wasn’t there – I had no grip at all with the softs and it almost felt like I was driving with the hard tyre until the final sector. It was a tricky qualifying session today and I’m really disappointed, but I’ll analyse the data tonight with my engineers and see where I can improve. Tomorrow, hopefully my race pace will be better, and I will try my best to make my way up the grid.”

Valtteri Bottas, 1st, 1:18.348

“We worked hard to figure out the issues I was experiencing in qualifying, we put things right and this is the result – it’s more like how it should be, so I’m happy. In the first two races, I knew the speed was there but my main issue was tyre warm-up. We’ve put a lot of focus on that, we learned some lessons and I always knew our hard work would pay off. The key was to stay calm, execute the plan and focus on the small details, particularly on the out-laps.

“We’ve been stronger than expected which is a positive surprise but it’s only qualifying, I’m already thinking about tomorrow. We know the Red Bulls have a strong race car and we are expecting an epic battle.”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd, 1:18.355

“Not that enjoyable of a session because I couldn’t get that many good laps in but I’m not too frustrated, I only did one good lap and that was in Q2. Of course I’d have loved to put more good laps together but it was tricky out there. It’s a slippery track, the tyres are hard so you need to do multiple laps to put temperature into them and it’s quite a peaky balance – it works for a second and then falls away very quickly, it’s on a knife-edge.

“It wasn’t meant to be but Valtteri did a great job today and I’m just focused on the race. Now is the time to understand strategy for tomorrow and work out where the opportunities lie. It’s not an easy track to follow but we shall we see – I hope we have good enough pace to fight for the win, tomorrow we’ll go all in.”

Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:18.746

“Third is of course not what we wanted but it’s not too bad after I had a Q3 lap time deleted, which would actually have put us fastest even though I lost time with the snap at Turn 4. We struggled with the balance in Q1 and Q2 because of the track surface, and everyone is chasing grip, but we got to a decent level in Q3 so I don’t think we are too far off.

“It was really one of those sessions where you could end up in P1 or P3 out of the blue. You could do a lap which was pretty good and then put another set of tyres on, and if you had just a little bit of a different out lap and tyre preparation, with the lack of grip around here it makes a big difference and is hard to predict. I think we are still competitive and it will be different in the race tomorrow. Our long runs have been ok and although it’s going to be hard to follow with the grip levels we will first focus on a clean start and then put the pressure on.”

Sergio Perez, 4th, 1:18.890

“It wasn’t a great qualifying on my side, it was very messy in terms of finding my rhythm and so I’m not entirely happy with my lap time. I wasn’t very happy with the balance and I just struggled a lot so it’s a shame we weren’t able to qualify higher. This track is all about the tyres and getting them to the right temperature which is very difficult.

“I tried everything in terms of warm up with my out laps, build laps, push laps but nothing seemed to work. The conditions with the wind made it more tricky and they probably suited the Mercedes better but we still have a good starting position and a great opportunity tomorrow so anything can happen. I think it will be a tight battle around us so I’m looking forward to that. We just need to put the pressure on the Mercedes and hopefully we can fight for a podium.”

Charles Leclerc, 8th, 1:19.306

“My performance in Q3 was just not good enough today and I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be. Everyone was struggling in these conditions and I think I pushed a little bit too hard. Once you do that, the rear of the car starts to move a lot and that’s what happened on my fastest lap.

“On the positive side, I did a good job going through on the mediums in Q2, which I think will be a strong point in the race tomorrow, especially at the start. We saw more graining on the softs during free practice, so I hope that this will give us an advantage with those around me all starting on the red tyres. We are all really close so in the end, the one who makes the least mistakes will be the one to get ahead.”

Carlos Sainz, 5th, 1:19.039

“It was a very hard qualifying out here in Portimao due to the gusty wind and the tricky conditions but I’m happy with my session. When I was out on track I could feel I was driving well and we have been taking good decisions on the setup of the car all weekend.

“The biggest positive for me is that my approach seems to be working fine and the feeling with the car gets better with every session. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but I think today was a good step and I’m happy about that, though I would have preferred to make it into Q3 with the mediums.

“My pace was good with that compound and if it hadn’t been for the traffic with an other car on the second push I think I would have been in a better position to make the cut. However, since I had saved one set of softs after a strong first run in Q1, we decided to avoid unnecessary risks and qualified to Q3 with softs. Once in the top ten, a good couple of laps gave us P5 for tomorrow.

“Despite the tyre disadvantage for the race, I’m confident that with a strong start and tyre management from my side we can fight for good points. Let’s race! Hasta manana.”

Lando Norris, 7th, 1:19.116

“Reasonably happy with today. A little bit annoyed because we could’ve been a few positions further up – maybe three – and fourth on the grid, I would say. I can be confident in saying that. I got caught on my Q3 run two lap on the new tyre because of another car backing up in front of me out of the last corner, so I had to abort the lap quite early on, which was frustrating.

“Apart from that, I’m pleased with my performance today. The car was good. Tricky to drive, but fast, and I was still P7, surprisingly, so I’m happy. There are definitely some positives and we’ll see what we can do in the race tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 16th, 1:19.839

“A frustrating day. We’d had a positive day yesterday, so I wouldn’t have bet on this today. I’m not really sure where it went wrong yet, we’ll have to look at it this evening. Q1 goes very quickly and we just didn’t get any clean laps in. The Medium tyre felt pretty good, and I was pretty happy. Then the first lap on the Soft was a bit interrupted by traffic at the start of the lap, and the end of the lap was just a little bit messy. We tried to go again but the tyre fell away really quickly and we just didn’t have the pace.
“P16 is far from where I want to be, so I’ve just got to figure it out, get some sleep and wake.”

Esteban Ocon, 6th, 1:19.042

“I’m very pleased with that one! Thanks to the team for their hard work and dedication in recent weeks as it’s made the difference today. We made a good step between practice and qualifying, and everything worked really well. We aim to keep finding these improvements and carry this progress forward. We’re starting up there for the race, so that’s good news. We know it’ll be challenging tomorrow but overtaking is possible and there are some differences on starting tyre throughout the grid. The aim is to score points.”

Fernando Alonso, 13th, 1:19.456

“It was not easy today and the weather conditions changed quite a lot from final practice. We lost something between FP3 and qualifying so we need to look at this and understand what happened. The good thing is we can choose the tyre we start on tomorrow and this gives us more options on strategy. Points are scored tomorrow, so it’s still all to play for.”

Sebastian Vettel, 10th, 1:19.659

“I am feeling happier after that session. We are starting inside the top 10 and will be in the middle of a big fight for points. There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us, but things are starting to click for me and become a bit more automatic, which is helping me focus more on my driving.

“I am still learning about the car, but today I felt more comfortable. The conditions were tricky – despite the sunshine – and the gusts of wind were quite unpredictable and made the car feel quite light. My final lap in Q3 was not the best. The wind direction had changed again, and I lost some time as a result, which is costly when the midfield is so tight. Overall, though, it was a better session for me. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll, 17th, 1:19.913

“A difficult qualifying session and we did not manage to build on the performance level we showed yesterday. I was not very comfortable in the car today and I could not lean on it as much. The traffic at the end of Q1 also did not help and cost me some time on my second run. It is quite a change from yesterday, so we will go away and understand where we can improve and do better next time.

“Even though today’s result is disappointing, I think we will be stronger in the race. That has been the case in the previous two races. It is a track where we saw lots of overtaking last year and I will be pushing hard to make up ground tomorrow. With a strong first lap and a good strategy, I think we can score points.”

George Russell, 11th, 1:19.109

“It was a great performance from us. I did not expect Q2 after this morning, yet alone P11 on the grid. We made it happen when it counted which seems to be the theme at the moment. It’s our best qualifying position in three years so I’m really proud. We all have our responsibilities, and as a team we did a really good job.

“Tomorrow we’ve got to keep moving forward. We have a good race car – it’s fast on the straights, so let’s see what we can do.”

Nicholas Latifi, 18th, 1:20.285

“Today was an improvement as we made some big changes overnight. However, it wasn’t the best qualifying for us, and I wasn’t able to get a clean lap at the end of Q1. I am still struggling with the car balance along with the track surface, as everyone is sliding around. It was a bit of a frustrating day, but the race is tomorrow, and we must focus on that.”

Kimi Raikkonen, 15th, 1:19.812

“We could have got a better result today as we had made a step forward compared to yesterday, but unfortunately we couldn’t put a lap together in the final run. I missed one corner in both my laps on the last set of tyres in Q2 and P15 is what you can expect when this happens. We’ll try again tomorrow: we know it’s not going to be easy, but we will give our best and see where we end up at the end of the day.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 12th, 1:19.216

“I am happy with P12, especially because it shows how much we’re progressing: we were very close to a place in Q3, but at least we can choose our optimal strategy tomorrow. The car felt much better today than yesterday, even though the conditions were still very tricky. We seem to have regained the pace we showed in Bahrain after some bad luck in qualifying in Imola, but now we have to make it matter on Sunday. We need the right strategy, a good start and a good race: our pace looked good yesterday, so we can have some fun. I am looking forward to it.”

Mick Schumacher, 19th, 1:20.452

“Looking at all the free practices I think we were set for higher, but I think some of the other guys and teams managed to make a step ahead with their second set and frankly we didn’t. It could be anything on this track – you get the wrong gust of wind at the wrong moment; you lose half a second in the first sector.

“I think in general we can be happy, we’re still making consistent steps forward with each race weekend. There’s a big improvement in ourselves and we should be happy with that. I’m feeling more comfortable in the car with every hour and every day, and that makes it easier for me to jump into the car straight away and be on the pace. That’s something that’s very positive and I’m grateful for the team for teaching me the necessaries to do that.”

Nikita Mazepin, 20th, 1:20.912

“I felt like yesterday was a very difficult day for me as I just wasn’t very comfortable with the track or with the car. We then made small steps in the right direction this morning – which I like to see, they’re the ones that build foundation. Obviously, the wind has picked up here, which was something I didn’t want to happen as no driver likes wind as it makes the car balance very unpredictable, but the grip has improved since yesterday naturally with all the laps being put down. Overall, the car was feeling much better and I think that’s a good place to be – we were quite close to getting the maximum out of it.”


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