QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)


QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Location: China

Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit

Grand Prix: 2018 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix

Today, we had FP3 and Qualifying which saw Daniel Ricciardo just make it through to the session. Following on from their strong start to the 2018 Formula 1 season, Ferrari locked out the front row with Sebastian Vettel claiming pole for the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix followed by Raikkonen in P2 who also looked strong today.

Mercedes are slightly behind, not dominating as we’re used to, but this year – thing are closer than ever and it looks like we’ll have a battle on our hands for the race tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at what drivers (and teams) had to say following the session.

FERRARI – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Sebastian Vettel – 1st – 1:31.095


Sebastian Vettel: “It’s been a great result and I am really happy for the team. Today the car was amazing and it was great fighting for the front row with both cars on our own.”

“It was very windy and not easy to get the right feeling. However, when the car is quick and works, you get a lot of confidence and that helps. We didn’t expect to be so strong compared to our competition. We made some small changes today on our car, but it was pretty good yesterday already.”

“I made some mistakes during my first lap in turn three and six, where I had oversteer. The tyres here are very sensitive, so I knew that if I kept it clean, then the final part of the lap would be better.”

“I didn’t know what the others were doing, but I was quite sure about getting the pole because I think I was one of the last cars and so could profit from track evolution.”

“Tomorrow the weather should be sunny, which makes the asphalt hotter. We’ll see how it works, but I think we’ll be very close.”

Kimi Raikkonen – 2nd – 1:31.182


Kimi Raikkonen: “We have been pretty happy with the way things have been so far this weekend. Qualifying today was pretty close; we had two good laps, but unfortunately I lost some speed in the last sector and couldn’t improve. Obviously I wanted more, but tomorrow is another day.”

“We ‘ll start the race with the soft tyres and our rivals start with the same compound: that will be slightly different compared to the other cars and I think it will be better like this.”

“We did what we think is the best for us and is supposed to give us the best result in the end. Our aim is to win, first of all we need to do a good job tomorrow and take the most out of it. I think we have been ok in all the races so far; we have been extracting more out of the car and learning more about it.”

“We have been pretty consistent and happy with things, obviously we need to improve here and there but that’s a normal and never ending process.”

MERCEDES – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Valtteri Bottas – 3rd – 1:31.625


Valtteri Bottas: “We came here thinking we’d be fighting for pole position but unfortunately that was out of reach. It was a pretty straightforward qualifying and it felt like I got everything out of the car. Maybe we didn’t get the tyres absolutely perfect for the lap but I don’t think it would have been enough for us to beat the Ferraris.”

“That’s particularly disappointing because the gap to them is quite big. We definitely have work to do but tomorrow is a different day. Today it was really windy and cold, tomorrow it should be nice and sunny.”

“We’ve been looking better on the harder compounds and we will start the race on the Soft, so maybe we can use that to our advantage. It’s a long race ahead and, as we saw last weekend, it will be close.”

“On paper, this track is easier for overtaking than Bahrain, so hopefully tomorrow we can make up for what we lost today.”

Lewis Hamilton – 4th – 1:31.675


Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a difficult day. We started the weekend positively in practice, but the car went away from us today, the pace just wasn’t there.”

“Ferrari have definitely improved over the weekend – maybe they didn’t quite show their true pace yesterday – but today they were rapid. We were half a second behind them in qualifying, which is why I boxed on my final lap because I knew I couldn’t match their pace.”

“It’s not going to be easy to beat Kimi and Sebastian tomorrow, they’re the quickest on the straights too, so overtaking will be tough.”

“We start fourth and I’m gonna have to fight from there. It should be hotter tomorrow, which could turn everything on its head. We’ll keep our heads up and keep pushing.”

“The fans here in China have been amazing, I hope they know I’ll do everything to fight for them tomorrow.”

Toto Wolff – Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

Toto Wolff: “It has been a complex weekend for us so far – on some laps, we have hit the window of tyre performance just right like on the final run in Q2; but more often it has felt like we were chasing that window, especially on the UltraSoft tyre where we have been lacking overall grip.”

“On the other hand, Ferrari have been strong in all conditions and on all tyres and this afternoon’s qualifying results reflect as much.”

“We can see a number of areas of difference on the GPS traces and we need to analyse those carefully. We expect the track temperatures to be much warmer tomorrow and we hope that we have anticipated that change in the right way with the set-up.”

“Ferrari and ourselves will start of the soft tyres, which is a strategic variation to the cars right behind us, and should provide one more ingredient for an interesting race.”

RED BULL RACING – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Max Verstappen – 5th – 1:31.796


Max Verstappen: “We achieved a good car balance and feeling today so I don’t think we could have done too much more, I would say fifth on the grid is quite realistic and where we should have been.”

“I don’t feel like we got the maximum out of the engine in Q3, I think there would have been some time to find if we had. We are losing time on both of the straights which is hard to make up in other areas of the track, we knew the corners would be important but it was not enough to make up the difference.”

“In general it was not a bad Qualifying, Ferrari were very fast but we were not that far off Mercedes at the end. In the race they can’t use these engine modes so, based on the long run pace, we can be a lot closer to the guys in front.”

“We have a different strategy, it may be a one stop or possibly a two stop race and depending on temperatures and degradation things can change.”

“Hopefully we’ll have a clean start and then we’ll have to see if we can get up the field and secure a podium.”

Daniel Ricciardo – 6th – 1:31.948


Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m happy to have got out in Qualifying and I want to thank the mechanics for doing such a great job. I think they have broken their own record for an engine change several times and they did it again today.”

“It got to 2pm and the guys were saying get ready, but we didn’t think it was going to happen. I didn’t expect to get out but I was ready to go and excited when I did.”

“What happened this morning wasn’t the mechanics’ fault but they had all the pressure to put the new engine in the car in time and they did very well.”

“In the end it’s relatively close, we’re at the tail end of the top six which isn’t ideal, but I think with all things considered it wasn’t a bad afternoon and I’m just thankful that the team were able to get me out there.”

“I think they all start on softs in front of us tomorrow and from what I understand myself and Max will start on ultrasofts, so strategy will definitely play a big part and hopefully it can help get us up on the podium.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal

Christian Horner: “It was a fantastic effort from the crew on car three, assisted when possible by the car 33 crew to get an engine change turned around in such a short period of time.”

“There was a significant amount of work to get Daniel out for Q1 and everyone in the garage did a brilliant job.”

“Progressing through to Q3 in fifth and sixth is about where we are pace wise on this track in Qualifying trim, but hopefully we can be in a more competitive shape tomorrow.”

“We have a different tyre to start the race on so hopefully that will make things interesting.”

MCLAREN- QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Fernando Alonso – 13th – 1:33.232


Fernando Alonso: “We didn’t have the pace to make it into Q3 today. After we were P9 in Q1, we were a little bit more optimistic and thought we could make it into the top 10, but then in Q2 we weren’t quick enough.”

“We were P11 in Australia, P13 in Bahrain and here, and that’s where we are at the moment for qualifying. Not enough, we know, as we seem to be slow on the straights, but we have the potential to improve that.”

“Anyway, making it into Q3 would’ve meant starting the race tomorrow on Ultrasoft tyres, which I believe will degrade quite quickly on a hotter track due to the sunny weather forecast for tomorrow. So, in the end, I’m happy with P13 and a free choice of tyres.”

“Our race pace is a little bit better than our quali pace, so by taking good care of the tyres, and with a good start and a good strategy, points are still very possible for us.”

Stoffel Vandoorne – 14th – 1:33.505


Stoffel Vandoorne: “Today’s result is obviously a little bit disappointing, but we’re more or less in the positions we were expecting to be in.”

“Since the start of the season we’ve been around these places in qualifying, so this is how it is at the moment. There’s some work ahead of us to improve our performance.”

“On the positive side, our long run pace from Friday practice looks very promising, so we have something to play for tomorrow.”

“We’ll also have free tyre choice, which looks to be something pretty crucial again here and will make a difference. The higher temperatures expected for tomorrow will play to our advantage in terms of tyre degradation, as most people ahead of us will be on the Ultrasofts.”

“We’re looking to be ambitious again, take any opportunities, make no mistakes and have a strong race.”

Eric Boullier – Racing Director

Eric Boullier: “Given that the Bahrain and Chinese Grands Prix take place on consecutive weekends, we knew we wouldn’t be expecting a significant change in performance from one to the next.”

“Of course, since Bahrain, we’ve taken steps to adapt our approach to qualifying, but any direct improvement is part of a longer-term development plan that is in the pipeline for the coming races.”

“Nevertheless, the team has been meticulous in our preparation for every session this weekend using our learning from Bahrain and the data we’ve been gathering here.”

“Although we’re not expecting overnight miracles, we believe our race pace will continue to be more representative of our true performance.”

“As we know, the all-important result from any grand prix weekend comes in the race, and that’s where our focus firmly lies.”

“Tyre strategy will be key and having a free choice is a certain advantage over the cars further ahead of us. Our aim is to continue our momentum from the past two race days and bring home some more valuable points tomorrow afternoon.”

RENAULT – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Nico Hulkenberg – 7th – 1:32.532


Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m happy with that, seventh place again, which is probably the best we could do today. We achieved our qualifying mission and that’s a positive.”

“I’ve had a good feeling and good rhythm on this track this weekend and the balance of the car feels fine. Tomorrow is a little more challenging, the first stint will likely be on the shorter side for sure, but we have good pace on all compounds, so that makes me optimistic for the race.”

Carlos Sainz – 9th – 1:32.819


Carlos Sainz: “It’s good news to have both cars again in Q3, we did a reasonable job. We lost DRS in Q1 with a yellow flag so couldn’t go into Q2 with only one-set of tyres, which then meant I only had one new set of ultras for Q3.”

“We’re still not at one-hundred percent, especially in the slower speed corners, but it doesn’t worry me too much. Now I’m looking forward to the race, we’ll assess our options and see how things pan out.”

“Degradation is going to be a big concern but I’m sure we can start off with a good first stint and hopefully bring more points home.”

TORO ROSSO – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Brendon Hartley – 15th – 1:33.795


Brendon Hartley: “We had a little issue on my car yesterday but we solved that overnight, both of us have been struggling on this track compared to Bahrain.”

“There’s a number of contributors; the temperature is very different and the wind is very high here. We saw it in Melbourne as well, we seemed to suffer more when the wind picked up compared to the other cars.”

“In Bahrain, we had a stronger car and now we have to figure out why it wasn’t the same story here, but that just shows how competitive this midfield battle is. I think this track can promote some overtaking and a bit of racing and I believe the temperature will be warmer tomorrow as well.”

“In the race, things could completely turn around just because of the change in temperature and wind – that’s how sensitive these modern Formula 1 cars are.”

“I’m staying positive and I think points are possible from P15. All in all, I was pretty happy with the job I did today.”

Pierre Gasly – 17th – 1:34.101

Pierre Gasly: “It was a tough day today. Yesterday was quite positive for us finishing 11th and 12th, but we changed the car and since this morning I’ve struggled to find pace which made it difficult to put everything together.”

“We didn’t have much time to change the setup between FP3 and Qualifying, and in the end it was a difficult qualifying session.”

“I’m still learning a lot about the track, I think in the long run yesterday we looked OK in terms of degradation – so that’s positive – but starting 17th we will have to find a way to come back.”

“Hopefully we can understand what went wrong and find the pace again tomorrow. Yesterday we struggled a bit with the front of the car and today there were problems with the rear.”

“I would say we know in the long run we’re usually pretty good with the degradation, but tonight we need to understand why the changes we made didn’t work. We’ll try everything to come back tomorrow.”

SAUBER – QUALIFYING REPORT: 2018 Chinese Grand Prix (Including Interviews)

Marcus Ericsson – 20th – 1:34.914


Marcus Ericsson: “It was not the best qualifying session for me. We knew that it would be difficult to get into Q2 because we have been struggling quite a bit on the ultrasoft tyres this weekend.”

“My last lap was looking quite good until I locked up towards the end and had to lift off. We had a good race pace during the two practice sessions yesterday, which is encouraging for tomorrow’s race.”

“I look forward to getting into the fight, and will do the best job possible.”

Charles Leclerc – 19th –  1:34.454


Charles Leclerc: “Overall, I am quite happy with my day.”

“Even though a small error on my fast lap cost me some time, it was the first qualifying this year in which I am satisfied with my own performance.”

“So far, our race pace has been better than our qualifying pace this weekend, so it will be interesting to see what is possible during tomorrow’s race.”

Here are some photos from around the paddock today!


The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

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