Qualifying: Team Talk – 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Qualifying: Team Talk – 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Grand Prix – 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Session – Qualifying

It’s the first race weekend of the 2019 Formula 1 season and today, we had the much-anticipated Qualifying session which saw Lewis Hamilton take pole position in a front-row lockout for the Mercedes team with Scuderia Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel, in P3 for the Grand Prix tomorrow.

Whilst Mercedes look strong, Ferrari are confident with the race tomorrow and in the words of Sebastian Vettel “we’ve won in Melbourne before, we can do it again….” meaning we’ve hopefully got a good race on our hands tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at what the drivers had to say following the first Qualifying session of the 2019 Formula 1 season along with images from the day.

Mercedes – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton: “I feel so fortunate to be in the position I’m in today. We had no idea that we’d have this gap to the others – we thought we were behind, we thought it was going to be a push so we gave it absolutely everything and more to arrive here with the best package and delivery.”

“Valtteri and I have been pushing the car to it’s absolute limits – we haven’t massively changed the car, it’s almost the same set-up which we had in Barcelona so this gap is really surprising to see.”

“This is the first time that we’ve unleashed the full potential of the car and I’m so happy to have a car that I can fight with – this is a really great start to the new season and it puts us in a good position for the fight tomorrow.”

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Valtteri Bottas: “I really enjoyed driving today, I was in a good flow and usually when you enjoy driving – it shows on the time sheets as well. My first lap in Q3 was pretty good and I wanted to improve in my second lap but I was stick in traffic on my our lap so my tyres were a bit too cold at the start of the lap.”

“Lewis did put in a fantastic lap – I think without the traffic it would have been a close fight for pole today. We didn’t expect to be this strong – we’re happy but quite frankly surprised to see that gap.”

“We came here not knowing where we’d be and actually thought that we’d be a bit behind Ferrari – we shouldn’t underestimate them, they looked very string in winter testing and have a quick car, even if they struggled slightly today.”

“At the same time, our team has done a really good job between Barcelona and here, constantly improving the car – today was good fun and we both got some nice laps in. Lets hope we can have a good Sunday as well – it’s a decent run into Turn 1 so hopefully I can get a good start, build a gap to the other cars and have a good fight with Lewis.”

Toto Wolff – Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

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Toto Wolff: “I’m overwhelmed to see both our cars on the front row – the team has done a great job in the past weeks, after a difficult time in testing and especially the first week in Spain. We’ve turned over every stone to find answers, to try and understand the car better.”

“It came together for us when it mattered and one result is not a reason to get carried away – not only is this circuit a bit of an outlier when it comes to performance but we have strong rivals in Ferrari and Red Bull and we know from experience in the past two years – the racing is done on a Sunday and that’s the day that counts.

“For now though, we can be happy with what we have delivered – the team for a slick job in the garage and Lewis for his 84th pole and Valtteri for showing all his speed and taking a very close P2 on the grid.”

Scuderia Ferrari – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel: “Starting tomorrow’s race from third is not too bad and the car is OK, even if it’s not exactly how we would like it and we are not as fast as we wanted to be. We’ll start from there and see what we can bring home.”

“This track is unique and conditions are different to what we experienced in testing. We have definitely improved the car overnight but obviously not enough to be in front of everyone.”

“In tomorrow’s race, we’ll have time to understand the car further – we will have to race as hard as we can and see where that takes us. After all, we are just 16 metres behind pole position.”

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Charles Leclerc: “I can’t say I’m happy with this qualifying result. After a good Q1 and a very good Q2, in Q3, especially on my second run, I made a few too many mistakes – especially in the first sector and I was unable to improve. I will try and learn from this and to prepare as well as possible for the race.”

“As for the gap to our main competitors, I have to admit that maybe we had expected it to be smaller, even if this is an unusual track which often throws up a different order to what we can see on a more traditional track.”

“On our side, I think there is still room to work on the car and the race is tomorrow which will be pretty long so I’m still aiming for a podium – I will definitely have to get a perfect start because overtaking is far from easy.”

Mattia Binotto – Team Principal

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We can’t say that this was the result that we were expecting – we are well aware that Albert Park is not an ideal track for us as it’s characteristics do not suit our car that well however, we must improve. We have gathered a great deal of information to identify the areas on which we must work.”

“As usual, Seb showed that he knows how to use every centimetre of this track and Charles got through his first real test – a few errors not withstanding.”

“Ahead of us, we have another 20 Qualifying sessions and 21 races so it’s a long day and we’re ready to play it.”

Red Bull Racing – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

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Max Verstappen:“I am pretty happy with the way qualifying went. After some of the difficulties we’ve had this weekend, especially this morning, I was a bit worried but the guys here and back at the factory have been working really well together to find a good set-up and I think we can be pleased with the second row.”

“It was really tight in Q1 and on a street circuit like this you really have to nail the first run. I was lucky to have that second lap on the board where I improved but it was really tight, especially as we only used one set of tyres, unlike many others.”

“I definitely felt the extra performance coming from the qualifying mode which is also very pleasing. It has been tricky finding a good balance and we are of course not where we want to be in terms of the gap, but we also have to be realistic and happy with this grid position.”

“Fourth is better than we expected going into qualifying. It’s difficult to say where we will be tomorrow and I didn’t get to do a full long run on Friday, but it looks like the tyres are holding on quite well, so as long as we get a clean start, we will find out what we can really do.”

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Pierre Gasly: “I had a bit of traffic in Turn 1 but apart from that, I was quite happy with my Q1 lap. We went for one run whilst most others went for two and it cost us.”

“I think we’ve been quite optimistic as we didn’t expect such track evolution and the pack to be so close. We’re not exactly where we’d like to be but session after session we’re going in the right direction.”

“There were not many overtakes at last year’s race so starting from where we are, it’s going to be difficult but we will of course try and make it into the points.”

“It’s a tough day today but we need to stay positive. For me, tomorrow will be all about gaining experience in the car and recovering positions.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal

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Christian Horner: “That was a very strong session from Max and an impressive lap in Q3 to qualify fourth. Splitting the Ferraris was an excellent effort on his last run and he’s getting our new power unit partnership off to a great start with Honda’s highest qualifying position in the current V6 era.”

“Unfortunately, Pierre, after a strong first lap didn’t improve on his second flying lap and with the circuit evolving and other cars electing to take another set of tyres, he just missed the cut.”

“Whilst that’s hugely frustrating for him, I’m sure he will recover and race hard from there tomorrow.”

Renault – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

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Nico Hulkenberg: “Making Q3 was definitely possible today. It’s unfortunate that we had a small problem, which cost us a shot at the top 10. I lost a bit of time on my first lap in Q2 through traffic and a lock-up, but we showed the pace was there for a strong result. We’re competitive.”

“We know it’s close and small margins make a big difference. We’re not in bad shape ahead of tomorrow and a strong race from eleventh on the grid is possible.”

“The car felt good with long-run pace on Friday and I’ve felt comfortable in the car all weekend. We have every chance to pick up points tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m clearly disappointed not to make Q3, especially as it was just half a tenth and that’s something I can find in myself – I lost a bit of time in the first sector on the last run.”

“We had the potential to make Q3 so when you don’t do the perfect lap, it’s frustrating. As expected the midfield is really close but I’m feeling optimistic for a strong result tomorrow.”

“I always want to do well at home, but we have to keep a cool head, have a good start and then attack when necessary.”

McLaren – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

Carlos Sainz:  “I had unbelievable bad luck out there today. I was on a very good lap that would have got us into the top 10.”

“Then I came across the Williams of Robert Kubica with a puncture in the last sector in the middle of the track at Turn 14, but I couldn’t avoid him and I dropped four tenths. It is what it is – I was in the wrong place at the wrong time – so it’s a shame.”

“We definitely had the pace to get through into Q2. We had a margin to be even stronger in Q2, but it was all out of our control.”

“Hopefully tomorrow our pace will be good for the race, and it’s positive to see the potential the car showed today. We know that qualifying is important here as it’s a difficult track to pass on, so P18 is a disappointing result. But, we need to stay positive and let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

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Lando Norris: “I loved it but I’m not going to get carried away! I was very nervous at the start of the session with it being my first-ever F1 quali and never having been here before. But I managed to put the laps together today – the team were fantastic.”

“Our aim was to get into Q2 but it turned out to be even better, and it’s a great confidence boost for everyone. It’s going to be a long, tough race and that’s what I must concentrate on now. Hopefully I can sleep okay.”

Alfa Romeo – 2019 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

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Kimi Raikkonen: “Am I happy? Yes and no. I’m a bit disappointed, as I think there is more in the car and we could have ended further up, but I never really put a lap together.”

“Now let’s get through the first two corners of the race without incidents and then take it from there.”

Antonio Giovinazzi: “The qualifying was ok. I put together quite a good lap in Q1. In Q2, the warm-up lap in my last run did not go as well. A small mistake costs you quite a bit of time in such a tight midfield.”

“We have a good car and race pace and will have the chance to fight for points in the race tomorrow. The strategy will be important as it is quite challenging to overtake on this circuit.”

“I will do my best to have a positive result for the team.”

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