2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

lewis-hamilton-pole-australia

2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

Location: Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia (Australian Grand Prix)

Session: Qualifying

What an exciting Qualifying session with a few surprises! The Scuderia Ferrari team looked like they had the pace to challenge for pole with Raikkonen looking quicker than his team-mate at times however during FP2 and FP3 – we really saw Hamilton pick up the pace, looking very strong and setting an all-time lap record of: 1:21.164

A bittersweet session for the Mercedes team who are on pole for the Australian Grand Prix however Valtteri Bottas will be receiving a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change following his crash during qualifying making it a long night ahead for the mechanics.

In the drivers press conference, the battle between Hamilton and Vettel is well and truly on – both seem determined to do well in the race tomorrow so it’s likely that we’ll have a great race on our hands.

Daniel Ricciardo also received a grid-penalty due to not slowing down enough during yesterday’s practice session (you can see what he had to say in this post here ).

Let’s take a look at what the drivers had to say following the 2018 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying session.

 MERCEDES – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

lewis-hamilton-australian-gp-2018

Lewis Hamilton – 1st – 1:21.164

“It’s the greatest feeling when you live up to your potential and you pull out a lap like I was able to. I’m not always able to do that but I was really happy with today’s performance.”

“Up until this point, I haven’t thought at all about the race. So tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll start to put my focus onto that. Last season, Ferrari ultimately did a better job on Sunday. But we generally learn from mistakes and scenarios like that, so I’m hoping we’re better prepared for tomorrow.”

“Ultimately it’s also how I’m able to manage the tyres at the start of the race. I remember Sebastian was really at my tail towards the end of my stint which forced me to come into the pits and then he continued on for several laps and I got stuck behind Verstappen. So I’ll definitely bear that in mind and try my best to make sure that I’m in a better position tomorrow.”

“I know how hard Valtteri has been working and I know the pain he feels right now, but he will recover. He was very quick through practice and he has been putting a lot of effort into growing as a driver and as a member of the team. I have all the confidence in him to pull through again tomorrow.”

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Valtteri Bottas – 10th – No time set in Q3

“I think I was just pushing a bit too hard. I went wide in Turn 1 and the kerb was still a bit damp. I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of Turn 2.”

“It’s very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car. It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race.”

“Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we’ll try everything we can. Maybe it’s a little easier this year with the added DRS zone, we’ll find out tomorrow.”

“We have a good car, so I’ll try to fight back the best I can. Once we get the car in the window, it seems like it’s really quick, so that’s something positive from today.”

MERCEDES TEAM INTERVIEWS

Toto Wolff – Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was an unbelievable final lap from Lewis to see him find so much pace. We didn’t change anything on the car from the first run of Q3, it was just a case of Lewis putting all the pieces together and finding the limit on that last lap, with everything on the line; and this is the result, a really impressive pole position to start the new season.”

“But it’s a garage of contrasting emotions today with a really unfortunate end to qualifying for Valtteri. It was a big hit and the boys will have a long job list to get the car ready to race.”

“It’s now about putting the incident behind him and recovering as strongly as possible.”

“We expect a very close race between the top three teams tomorrow; there is still a lot to do if we want to score a strong result in the race.”

James Allison – Technical Director

“While we are hugely disappointed for Valtteri, who wasn’t able to show what he could do in the heat of battle in Q3, we are delighted in equal measure to see Lewis take pole position by a decisive margin.”

“It wasn’t at all easy, with track conditions changing rapidly through the session as the track cooled off, but we believed that our car had some good pace – and it was lovely to see that performance emerge over the final lap of Q3.”

“It’s a first small milestone in our season, which reflects the hard work of our teams back at base in Brixworth and Brackley; but there is much still to be done if we wish to transform that pace into a decisive race result tomorrow.”

FERRARI – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

sebastian-vettel

Sebastian Vettel – 3rd – 1:21.838

“Yesterday it didn’t feel like everything was perfect, so today I am pretty happy that we could put both cars right at the front, very close to pole. I guess it’s a good shot.”

“The gap to Lewis is significant of course, and we don’t want to be so far behind. But the car today was getting better and better: I could feel it was coming alive during qualifying; on my last run I made a small mistake at Turn 13, but it’s ok as second and third position are good for the race and, as we have seen in all the past years, we tend to be closer on Sunday than we are in qualifying.”

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Kimi Raikkonen – 2nd – 1:21.828

“Today we did not really know what to expect from this first qualifying, it was a bit of an unknown. But then I was pretty happy with the car, the feeling was ok.”

“The gap to our rivals is probably bigger than we wanted, but it was not a very straightforward day either. This is a very special circuit in many ways, if compared to “normal” tracks, and these are the early stages of the season.”

“I think we have to wait for the next few races to have a clear picture and understand where the teams are exactly. For sure there are things to improve to go faster; I know there are areas where I could improve on my lap times.”

“This is what we have got today, a decent result in quite tricky conditions. Tomorrow we’ll put our maximum effort into the race.”

RED BULL RACING – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

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Daniel Ricciardo – 5th – 1:22.152

“The session itself didn’t go too badly, it started off pretty well and even in Q2 on the Supersofts we were looking good. I aborted the second run, but nonetheless we were looking alright.”

“In the last part of Q3 we just missed a bit in the first sector, I’m not totally sure where the time is so we’ll have to look at that. Overall, the car didn’t feel too bad, we asked for a bit more front grip but we’d used all the front wing we had, so there was no more we could do in Q3.”

“Obviously starting eighth because of the penalty is frustrating and I thought it was unjust. There are reprimands, fines and other things but to shoot me in the ankle before the season starts, well, I think they could have done better.”

“We’re the only ones in the top 10 staring on the Supersoft so hopefully that helps us and ideally the leaders have trouble making the one stop work with the Ultrasoft and we capitalise there.”

“It’s going to be pretty tricky to overtake so strategy will be key. The race pace looks pretty good and I’m looking forward to coming through the field. We’re obviously better than eighth so we will try and make it happen.”

“To be honest, I feel sorry for the guys in front of me tomorrow as they’re the ones I’m going to have to take my anger out on.”

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Max Verstappen – 4th – 1:21.879

“Even with a small mistake I really enjoyed Qualifying today. It’s difficult to say what I expected heading into the session but it should have been a little bit better.”

“I made a mistake on my last fast lap and went wide at turn 13 which lost me a few tenths compared to my previous run, we were still very close to Ferrari which is positive but maybe we could have been second.”

“Mercedes were quite far ahead as expected, had I not made my mistake I think I would have only been about half a second off Lewis which is closer than in the past.”

“All things considered and with the right strategy I think we can be competitive during the race tomorrow, with Mercedes I’m not sure but I think we can have a good fight with Ferrari.”

“We are hoping to go a bit longer with our tyre selection so if we stay out of trouble at the start we can settle in and have a strong race.”

“I am happy with the pace and feel for the first race weekend, so I’m hopeful we can improve and move forward from here, not just tomorrow but for the rest of the season.”

RED BULL TEAM INTERVIEWS

Christian Horner – Team Principal

“After the rain this morning we had a dry Qualifying, and it was certainly very tight between ourselves and the Ferraris.”

“Unfortunately Max on his last lap made a small mistake at turn 13 that cost him a couple of tenths otherwise the front row was potentially achievable today.”

“Daniel also did not have a perfect Q3, finishing in P5 and unfortunately with the penalty he incurred yesterday will be starting in P8.”

“We’ve elected to start on a different tyre strategy to our competitors and hopefully that will provide different options for tomorrow.”

WILLIAMS – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

lance-stroll-australia

Lance Stroll – 14th – 1:24.230

“We would have signed up for P14 coming into the weekend after Barcelona.”

“It was not ideal, as we could have improved on the lap in our second run in Q2. However, I got held up a little bit in the last sector and I didn’t have the tyres in the window, as the fronts were cold and that kind of cost me.”

“I felt good in the car and there was probably a little bit more in it. We are kind of in the mix for the points, depending on what happens. “

“We will see where we end up tomorrow.”

Sergey Sirotkin – 19th – 1:24.922

“There were big changes between the sessions. For sure I think we could have squeezed more out of the car, but it’s the beginning of a very long season so we should just analyse a bit more, analyse what we could do better and go onwards.”

“We need to be positive. We try to learn step by step and move forwards.”

WILLIAMS TEAM INTERVIEW

Paddy Lowe – Chief Technical Officer

“Overall, it’s a disappointing set of grid positions because I think actually there was more in both the drivers and the car. Both Sergey and Lance had reasonable first runs in Q1.”

“Sergey was improving in his second run but he made a mistake in the second sector which cost him the chance to get into Q2. Lance got into Q2 and did a very good first run.”

“He pushed it a bit harder in the second run, which should have improved quite a bit, but he made a mistake at turn three. So the grid positions could have been slightly better.”

“Having said that, we have got two young drivers, one of them a rookie and one only 19-years old, and I think they’re both making really good progress. At the same time the car is clearly not quick enough at the moment.”

“We haven’t done laps quick enough to get into Q3 which is our goal, so there’s clearly a lot more to do to develop the car in the weeks and months ahead.”

“Tomorrow is predicted to be dry. It will be a tough afternoon as there are a lot of difficult things to manage at this circuit. Being the first race of the season, one of the major points will be to get to the finish with both cars and that may well indeed be the best way to get points.”

MCLAREN – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

Fernando-alonso-australia

Fernando Alonso – 11th – 1:23.692

“After winter testing, you never know how the performance in the first qualifying will be, so it’s some kind of relief that the car is performing well and we’re more competitive than the last few seasons. This year we’ll have fun.”

“There’s a lot of potential to unlock in our car, and we haven’t yet been able to do this due to some little issues. I think McLaren will be quite strong in the coming races, which is a very positive start.”

“Apart from Toro Rosso, we’re the only top team that has gone through an integration process of a new power unit with the chassis, the systems and the set-up, so there will be performance that will come for free once we’ve adapted more to the Renault power unit.”

“I think our race pace is probably better than our qualifying pace, so we’re in a good starting position – P11 or even P10 due to (Valtteri) Bottas’ problem – so definitely some good points are the target.”

“Tomorrow will be probably one of the first races in the last couple of years where we won’t need to defend, and we will go for the attack mode. Also, the weather is still a factor for tomorrow, and if we have some showers it’ll be a great show.”

“I’m very positive and very optimistic about this season.”

stoffel-vandoorne

Stoffel Vandoorne – 12th – 1:23.853

“We’re a bit disappointed not to be in Q3 with both cars. It’s a shame as we showed some good promise yesterday in the dry during practice.”

“From our side, there is some work to do. The other midfield teams are close and have improved a bit since yesterday, it seems so we need to see where we lost out.”

“There was definitely potential there for us to make a good step forward today, and we’ve missed out on that. We have a good benchmark though and this is still very early in the partnership between McLaren and Renault, so there are still a lot of things that have to develop.”

“We know that through the season we’ll improve a lot as a team and as a package, and I hope that we can show that very soon.”

“Tomorrow is race day and there are a lot of things that can happen. Overtaking is difficult here, and as it’s the first race of the season there’s usually a lot of drama.”

“Compared to last year we’ve definitely made an improvement, and our race pace looks quite promising, so we need to be sharp and ready for anything.”

“The weather might play into it a bit too, so if we can have a clean race and stay out of trouble, hopefully there are some points on the cards.”

MCLAREN TEAM INTERVIEW

Eric Boullier – Racing Director

“Today was a bit of a mixed bag for us. We had a solid P3 session where both drivers coped admirably in the ever-changing conditions and continued to give us valuable feedback as the track evolved.”

“Come qualifying, the track was drying out further although clouds were once again forming, making track conditions difficult to read.”

“Fernando and Stoffel put in strong performances to ensure our comfortable progression through Q1. Q2 was already proof of what we expected from winter testing – just how close the midfield pack is in 2018 – and we knew it would be a challenge.”

“Both drivers were affected by traffic on a busy track, but also weren’t able to get the most out of the car today. We know from our analysis that there is more performance to be unlocked, and there was potential to be higher up on the starting grid tomorrow.”

“On one hand, we know there’s more to come from our package that we couldn’t maximise today, and in some ways we were hoping for more. However, on the other hand, we’re encouraged by how far we’ve already come over the winter period.”

“Now, the important thing is that we extract everything we have in tomorrow’s race, where our pace over long runs is what matters most.”

“If conditions are dry, we have the benefit of free tyre choice, and we’ll use that to our advantage as much as possible on Sunday afternoon.”

RENAULT – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

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Nico Hulkenberg – 8th – 1:23.532

“Given that I wasn’t feeling especially happy with the car I’m pretty happy with my qualifying position today.”

“The whole of qualifying was tricky for me and in particular my Q3 lap wasn’t as good as it could have been. We changed the car quite a bit after yesterday and the wet FP3 meant we didn’t have as much time as we’d like to validate these changes.”

“It’s a close field out there so there will be plenty to do in the race.”

carlos-sainz-renault-australia-2018

Carlos Sainz – 9th – 1:23.577

“We expected both cars to be in the top ten and we achieved this today, which confirms the good progress of the whole team. I had hoped to be a little bit higher than this, however the lap time didn’t come.”

“I’ll take a good look at that today with my engineers.”

“For tomorrow, I’m convinced we can move forward. It’s going to be tight but we have a good car and a good chance to battle with the cars around us.”

“I’m confident we can put together a competitive race!”

SAUBER ALFA ROMEO – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – QUALIFYING (Driver & Team Interviews)

marcus-ericsson-australian-2018

Marcus Ericsson – 17th – 1:24.556

“The work done overnight by the engineers on track and at the headquarters in Switzerland paid off. All in all it was a good qualifying today.”

“We have made good progress since yesterday when we were quite a long way off the competition. We should be proud of the work that we have put in since then because it made a big difference.”

“We are still not where we want to be, but today we were really close to Q2. We do have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are in the fight which is nice to see.”

“Overall, I am happy with the progress and I look forward to the first race of the season”

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Charles Leclerc – 18th – 1:24.636

“I had my first qualifying in Formula 1 today – so overall, it was an exciting day. We had a wet free practice session followed by a dry qualifying, which was not ideal as I could not practice for what lay ahead.”

“In qualifying, I made a small error in turn 4 which cost us Q2 – a shame, but it is the first round of the season, so it was still a positive learning experience.”

“Now, my focus is on making improvements going forward. Tomorrow, I will take part in my first Formula 1 race. I look forward to it very much.”

It’s going to be an exciting race!

The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

x x

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