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Teams’ reactions after the inaugural sprint qualifying

Teams’ reactions after the inaugural sprint qualifying, F1 Daily

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Formula One’s inaugural sprint qualifying saw drivers endure different fortunes at Silverstone today, but the new format did not fail to excite and impress as the field battled it out for the best starting positions for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix.

The biggest winners of the sprint qualifying were Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen with both ‘veteran’ drivers gaining four places compared to their starting position. While Max Verstappen’s brakes were on fire and flames were clearly visible as the Sprint began, Alonso was mentally on fire with the Spaniard gaining six places on the opening lap. With his car not a match for the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin, the Spaniard dropped two places back, but he still finished in P7 which was a four-position improvement over what he achieved yesterday afternoon.

There were happy faces at Ferrari as well. Charles Leclerc started from P4 and finished the race in the same position which was an encouraging performance on a track where Ferrari feared from a weak race pace. That was, however, not the CASe as the Monegasque was pulling away from the midfield and was even able to keep third-placed Valtteri Bottas in his sight. His team mate Carlos Sainz dropped back to P19 following a get-together with George Russell on the opening lap, but the Madrid-born showed an impressive recovery drive to move up the order to P11.

The inaugural sprint format was not ideal for the defending champion team Mercedes though. The Brackley-based outfit put Bottas on the soft compound in the hope that the Finn would pass Verstappen at the start. The plan did not materialize as the Finn was not able to make the move on Verstappen, who could benefit from Lewis Hamilton’s slow getaway from the line to jump into the lead.

Max Verstappen, 1st

“That was good fun. I’m of course happy to score the three points and it’s quite funny to have a pole position from the race as well but we will take it. Around here it is difficult to pass but we had a good start and a good fight with Lewis on the first lap. From then we tried to do our own pace but we were pushing each other hard right to the end as you could see the tyres were blistering which we all had to manage.

“Starting the race on lower fuel we could really push the cars hard through the fast corners, lap after lap, which means it is naturally hard on tyres but we all have the same to watch out for. We now can’t touch the cars for tomorrow and we learnt today that it is very close again with us and Mercedes. It seems that we are very quick in the corners and they are quicker on the straights so tomorrow it’s going to be a really exciting battle and the Team did a great job to manage the new format this weekend.

“I also want to say a big thank you to the fans. I know they are mainly here for the British drivers but it is still great to see them here cheering and all I want is a good battle with Lewis and everyone else tomorrow which should keep the fans entertained.”

Sergio Perez, 20th

“It’s a real shame to have to retire from the sprint race today as the car felt quite good. It was a poor day for me and I can only say sorry to the Team as I lost the rear of the car while battling with Lando which ruined our day. I was in the middle of the corner, already picking up quite a lot of throttle and I think I got caught in a bit of dirty air and became a passenger really early in the corner. I avoided any contact but after the spin we had too much vibration on the tyres and that was it.

“The Team were worried about the damage that could be caused with the vibrations, and there wasn’t anything more to gain, so they made the decision to retire the car. We’re at the back of the grid tomorrow and it’s not easy to overtake here, but we look like we have a lot of pace in the car so you can be sure I will be pushing hard to score as many points as possible. It’s a low point for me, but tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to seeing what we can do.”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd

“I did everything I could at the start with temperatures and clutch position but I still suffered wheelspin on the line so we’ll dig deep to understand what happened. I think it was great for F1 to try something new and even if the race wasn’t particularly exciting after the first lap for myself, there are definitely learnings we can take from today.

“This season it’s been a struggle with certain elements of the car but we’ve done such a great job to get to the performance level that we had yesterday – Valtteri did a great job too and we’re definitely getting closer. The Red Bull is really difficult to follow on track and from yesterday’s high, it feels like a bit of a down but we’ll turn it around to find the positives and come out fighting tomorrow for the race.”

Valtteri Bottas, 3rd

“Choosing the soft tyres, we thought we might have a small advantage at the start but I couldn’t gain any places through the first few corners and from then on, it was important not to kill my tyres because the softs are much more sensitive than the mediums. I suffered some blistering but I could manage it well and I’m happy we tried something different.

“It was nice to have another race today, obviously not as meaningful as tomorrow, but I hope the fans enjoyed it, even if personally I prefer qualifying to the sprint. Tomorrow will be an open race, it’s cool that we’ve got free choice of tyre compounds so we’ll see a mix of strategies which should make things interesting.”

Charles Leclerc, 4th

“I really enjoyed Sprint Qualifying today. Driving flat out for 17 laps is different to what we are used to and I had a lot of fun. One big difference is that you don’t have to think about saving tyres and can just go for it. I didn’t take any risks but had there been a good opportunity to gain a position, I would have taken it. It was a bit lonely from my point of view, but in a good way because I could keep up with the pace of the car ahead without it pulling way too much.

“Overall, I have liked the format of the weekend so far. It gives each day something special to look forward to, especially on the Friday, where you have more to gain with qualifying than you would on a normal weekend. I think it makes things more exciting, for us as well as the fans. The run on the Medium tyres was quite representative. Even if the fuel level was not the same as it will be for the race, it gave us a good picture of the balance. There is a lot of data to analyse tonight and to learn from for tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz, 11th

“More than a Sprint Qualifying it was a “comeback stint“ for me today. I’m very far from happy because the car had good pace and I was looking forward to qualifying in a good position for tomorrow. Unfortunately my race was heavily compromised at the first lap due to what I honestly think was George’s mistake. He locked up and hit me in the rear of the car, forcing me off the track and obviously sending me to the back of the field in P19.

“I wasn’t going to give up, so I pushed flat out for the rest of the race, did some good overtakes despite the difficulties at this track and managed to recover to P11. It was a strong comeback, but I would’ve preferred not to be pushed off. Anyway, it’s part of racing and we still have tomorrow to try and make up more places. The car is ready and so am I. Let’s race again.”

Daniel Ricciardo, 6th

“That was quite good fun! It’s obviously over pretty quickly, but Alonso having a good start made our race a bit more exciting, so I enjoyed it! The first ten laps were busy, I thought that was cool, so I hope the fans liked it.

“I don’t know what it was like around us, but I hope the order changed up a little bit. I gained a position and start in a better place tomorrow than I started today. That was the aim for today, so I’m looking forward to going out and fighting for more tomorrow.”

Lando Norris, 5th

“A good first sprint quali race! I think we achieved everything we could’ve hoped for today. We got ahead of one of the Red Bulls, which is a quicker car, but we managed to beat them off the start and over the first lap, so it was a fun first-half. At the end, it was a quiet finish in clear air on my own. I think we now have a good reading on where we stand compared to the other teams, so we know what we need to try to do tomorrow. I hope the fans enjoyed the new format and it brought something different to the weekend. Let’s hope for the same again tomorrow.”

Fernando Alonso, 7th

“It was a good session for us today and I had a lot of fun. I think we made the right choice starting on the soft tyres and it’s a better position to start the race tomorrow. Our start was good and I climbed quite a few places from eleventh to fifth in the first few corners. We then lost a few positions back to the McLarens and held onto seventh at the end. I think the format was fun but I am sure there are some small improvements we can make. We’ll aim to carry this momentum into the race tomorrow.”

Esteban Ocon, 10th

“I’m pretty pleased with today’s Sprint Qualifying as we’ve gained three places for the race tomorrow and that means we’re starting in the top 10 for tomorrow’s race. It’s where we felt we should be yesterday, so that’s positive. The call by the team to start on softs was good and I had a quick start off the line to gain some positions. I enjoyed the new format; it was fun as it added some action and dynamism to the weekend as well as some uncertainty. Tomorrow we have a free choice of tyres again and that leaves the strategy box open with some flexibility on what we can do. We’re ready to race again and hopefully we can put on another show for the fans.”

Sebastian Vettel, 8th

“I have enjoyed this unusual weekend format so far. It was interesting to have the intense moment yesterday evening followed by the Sprint today, which can go either way. For us, it went well and we gained some places for the race tomorrow, and some others lost ground.
“Fernando [Alonso] made up a lot of places on lap one – starting on the Soft tyres – and I thought he would struggle more in the final laps. I was close behind him, but could not make the move to overtake. This result puts us in a decent starting position for tomorrow [P8], which will be a very different race with the strategy options.”

Lance Stroll, 14th

“It was good to make up a little bit of ground in the Sprint, but I think we are still searching for the optimal car balance. It was challenging to make up any further places as the midfield bunched up and we ended up in a long train of cars. The positive is that the short race gives us more relevant data to go over and look to find the improvements we need. It is a long race tomorrow; anything can happen, plus the heat will be a factor, as well as the free choice of tyres, so I am looking forward to coming back stronger tomorrow.”

George Russell, 9th

“Overall, it was an interesting race, trickier than I anticipated out there keeping the tyres alive for 17 laps. It was very difficult keeping Esteban (Ocon) behind. The Alpine was very fast even on the soft tyre, but we finished ninth on track and my first time in the top-10 with Williams.

“However, it is very unfortunate to get a penalty and I feel that it was a harsh decision. We are still going to be starting in a great position to fight for points tomorrow. We had a really strong race today; it is going to be long race and tyre management will be key, which will be the overriding factor into the result. So, let’s wait and see!”

Nicholas Latifi, 17th

“It was quite uneventful for me but definitely more intense than a normal Grand Prix. There isn’t a lot of tyre management given the distance, so you just try and go as flat out as possible. In the end, we were just compromised by our starting position as we were unable to attack any of the other cars, and just hanging on to that position.

“I am still frustrated from yesterday as we shouldn’t be starting where we are right now, I think it will be tricky to move forwards tomorrow and we will have to rely on a few opportunities to present themselves. It will be a long race, but anything can happen so we shall see.”

Pierre Gasly, 12th

“I’m quite frustrated this evening, it was just not what we wanted out there today. We started this weekend badly in FP1 and with only one practice session we couldn’t really react to that ahead of qualifying, then today I’ve really struggled again. It’s very disappointing because I know the car has much more potential but so far, we just haven’t managed to get it working here this weekend. We will look at all the data tonight and try everything we can to make our way up to the points in the tomorrow’s race.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 16th

“I’m obviously disappointed with today’s performance, I’m not finishing in a position that I’m happy with and I’m then starting the race tomorrow from the same place. I feel that this weekend’s format is quite difficult for rookies, as you only have one free practice session before qualifying, which is tough, but I hope the spectators enjoyed this new schedule. We’ve struggled with the performance of the car this whole weekend, so we just need to go away tonight and review the data so we can learn more for tomorrow’s race.”

Kimi Raikkonen, 13th

“We are better off now than we were yesterday, so I’ll take it: I’ll be in my best grid position of the year and I have to be happy about it. We started on the soft, but I don’t know how much there really is in between the two tyres: in the end, it was important to get the launch right and stay out of trouble and we managed to do it, gaining some places. It’s still going to be a long race tomorrow: we will try to keep improving and bring home some points.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th

It was quite an intense race, pushing from lap one to the flag, but in the end there wasn’t a lot of action after the start. Unfortunately my launch wasn’t great and I lost some places: then we had a decent pace but very similar to the ones in front of us, and that made overtaking impossible. In the end we only lost one place, so we are still in a good position for tomorrow. Hopefully we can have a better start and, with the strategy and a longer race, we can move up a few places.”

Mick Schumacher, 18th

“I think we could fine-tune it here and there to try and make it logistically better for us, to be able to change set ups etc – but I think for a first try, it was very good. I think for smaller teams it’s a bit tougher – we have less time, and we have fewer capabilities compared to other teams who have more people. Unfortunately for us, it was quite lonely out there but still interesting. Now it’s up to us to analyse what we can do better to be closer next time.”

Nikita Mazepin, 19th

“I had a very good launch – one of my best starts this year. The nature of this track means I was on the outside of T2 and then the inside of T3. You try to carry the speed in but the car on the left has a better stopping power and you both try to make the corner but then I had to avoid my team mate. With the pace of the car we have this weekend, the best comparison I have is my team mate and I was a lot faster than him for the first part of the race and then a lot slower for the second part of the race.”


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