Qualifying – Driver Interviews: Portugal 2020

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Qualifying Driver Interviews – Portugal 2020

Following on from the top 3 driver interviews following qualifying, let’s take a look and see what drivers (and team members) had to say following the qualifying session in Portugal.

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1st, 1:16.652

“I can’t tell you how hard that was today – we’ve got a great car, but you have to drive the nuts off it to pull out a lap and Valtteri has just been so quick here this weekend! I’ve been digging and digging and trying to find that extra time.”

“They communicated well with us and gave us the option of what to do at the end – I chose to do three laps to give a chance at beating his time and he chose to do one. I thought that might give me an opportunity and it worked out, getting better and better on the final lap.”

“This is a hardcore circuit, with places where you can’t see where you’re going because you’re just looking at the sky, so there are no references for braking points for example. It’s among the most challenging circuits I’ve been to, especially with this new surface that makes it hard to get the tyres switched on and working on both axles. It’s a big thank you to the team for the work this weekend, and to the fans who were able to come out today – it’s great to see their flags out there on track.”

Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:16.466

“That was a strong session for me until the final run. Based on the feeling from Q2, we decided to go for the medium for the last run, then it was a question of one timed lap or three timed laps of fuel in the car.”

“It’s always a balance: with one lap, you carry less fuel weight but might have a challenge with the warm-up of the tyre; that’s what I went for as it had worked for me in Q2.”

“It has been tricky to get clean laps this weekend and the final one for me was decent but not perfect – that’s the challenge of a track and a surface like this. So of course, a little disappointing not to be on pole after topping the times most of the weekend, but I will be fighting for the win from P2 tomorrow.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“That was a fantastic qualifying session, coming right down to the very final laps in Q3. We gave both drivers the choice of tyre and run length for the last outing in Q3 – they went for the Medium and Valtteri went for one timed lap, Lewis for three.”

“In the end, it came down to just a tenth of a second between them in a great battle, with Lewis taking pole on his final lap and Valtteri running a little wide in the second sector at Turn 8, until which point he had been slightly ahead on the delta time.”

“In any case, it’s set for an intriguing battle tomorrow: we don’t have too much information on how the tyres will behave, and both our cars will start on the medium compound; Verstappen on the other hand starts on soft, and has a fresh medium tyre for the race, which will give him some different strategy options. It’s looking like an exciting Grand Prix, especially with some rain showers in the forecast too.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 3rd, 1:16.904

“I’m happy with qualifying, my Q3 lap was pretty decent and third is a good starting position. This weekend we have seen the new tarmac make it quite difficult to get the tyres in the right window, which was the same for everyone, so it was a bit hit and miss but we are not too far behind Mercedes and there’s a lot to play for tomorrow.”

“I think the start is going to be important as I’m on the soft tyre while the others around me are on the medium but nobody has a lot of information about how the tyres are going to hold up.”

“We’ll just feel our way into the race and push hard as always and sometimes a bit of unpredictability from the tyres makes things more interesting. If it is also windy and raining then it will be even more of an unknown but I hope that whatever the conditions we can be in a good position to push Mercedes tomorrow.”

Alex Albon, 6th, 1:17.437

“I would have liked to be further up there but we can work from P6. I was pretty happy with my lap but the hardest thing for us was switching the tyres on as the track has been weird all weekend with the new surface and changing wind conditions.”

“In Q3 we decided to run out of sync compared to everyone else and I think I would’ve gone quicker with one more push lap on the medium tyre. We opted to change to the soft for the final run which is a very different compound in terms of how you maximise it so you have to readjust and change your driving style which does affect your rhythm slightly.”

“The weather is mixed for tomorrow and the rain is meant to be coming, so anything can happen. It’s a long run to Turn One and no one has really completed a proper long run yet so we’ll discover as we go along and make the most of the opportunities.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal

“I think we can be pleased with third and sixth with Max and Alex today in what turned out to be an unusual qualifying session with regards to track conditions.”

“Heading into qualifying there were many unknowns at this new circuit in terms of tyre performance and track evolution but both drivers showed good pace throughout and Max was unlucky to just miss out on splitting the Mercedes, who opted to qualify on the medium tyre.”

“Alex also progressed well throughout each session and with alternating tyre strategy between runs in Q3 he did well to respond and adapt to the changing conditions to secure sixth on the grid. I think tomorrow’s race will be very interesting with the possibility of inclement weather and difference in tyre strategies from those around us but I’m confident both drivers can progress well and produce a good result for the Team.”

Ferrari

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Sebastian Vettel, 15th, 1:17.919

“I’m not happy with today as I struggled a lot to put the laps together. It was very difficult to get the tyres to work and find a good rhythm. In practice I was happy with the mediums but in quali I had too many issues, probably because of the difficulty of getting the tyres up to temperature.

“Starting at the back of the grid is not ideal, as the traffic at this circuit will probably be a big problem. However it will be a similar situation to what we have experienced at some of the recent races. Unfortunately there’s not much we can change on the car and we will have to do our best from the back.”

Charles Leclerc, 4th, 1:17.090

“I am very happy with my lap and I think we managed to get everything out of the car today. Congratulations to the whole team for the great job they have done, both in Maranello and here at the track. The latest updates we introduced here have also added a bit of performance to our car and the last few qualifying sessions show we are heading in the right direction.

“Already yesterday, I had a good feeling about Saturday, while there are still various things we need to look at before the race. But I am very happy to have got through Q2 on the medium tyre, because I’m sure it’s the ideal tyre for the start of the race. In Germany we suffered on the soft tyres in the low temperatures, while here it’s not as cold and we have the mediums. I need to get a good start and if I manage that, I can be in the fight for a strong result.”

McLaren

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Carlos Sainz, 7th, 1:17.520

“A challenging qualifying for us trying to figure out the tyres and especially tricky as the wind picked up through each session.”

“Compared to the lap time in Q2 we simply got slower as conditions changed and the session went by. Nonetheless, we managed to put the two cars in Q3 again, which is a good result for the team. We aren’t in a bad position to fight tomorrow and we’ll try to bring the maximum points home.”

Lando Norris, 8th, 1:17.525

“A tough quali — I’m struggling a bit with the car this weekend, due to the difficult conditions of grip and wind. Maybe not as much as the others it seems, because we did a good job, but it’s been pretty difficult.”

“I haven’t had good balance the whole weekend and we struggled to feel confident going into any session, but I think we made the most of it and we do have a competitive car.”

“Maybe if we’d had another chance we could’ve improved, but it was tricky to get a lap together in the first place with the traffic. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow where we can fight for points, let’s see what we can do.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal

“That was a tricky qualifying session in tricky conditions. Getting the tyres in the correct temperature window was a challenge in every part of quali, as was finding the right gap on track in which the drivers could put together clean laps. In addition to that, it got more and more windy throughout qualifying which was an additional challenge. The drivers and the team executed the run plan very well and ensured once again we had both cars in Q3.

“We’ve had a competitive car all weekend here and starting tomorrow’s race from P7 and P8 keeps us in the battle with our direct competitors for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship. The target for tomorrow is to score good points with both cars. We’re looking forward to a great race on this exciting, intriguing Portimão circuit.”

Renault

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Daniel Ricciardo, 10th, No set time in Q3

“The track is hard to find a good balance on and I think the temperatures and wind changed quite a bit from this morning so that was also challenging. We had the small issue with DRS at the end of Free Practice 3, and I think our one lap pace wasn’t the best this weekend. We got through Q1, but it was really tight between a number of cars in Q2 and then I had my spin at the end of the session. I do think there was still a bit more in the car, so it’s a shame we didn’t get out and have a go in Q3, but the guys did their best to try get me back out. It’s all to play for tomorrow, so let’s see what we can do.”

Esteban Ocon, 11th, 1:17.614

“It’s a shame to be out in Q2 today, we seemed to have struggled a little bit with the car all weekend. We managed to get some decent laps in this morning, but it’s tricky to find a good balance here and it seems to be the same for everyone. The wind also picked up and the weather changed a little bit from this morning, so I think that added to the challenge today in qualifying. Let’s see what is possible for tomorrow, we have the free tyre choice and if we can get a good start we can still do well.”

The Formula 1 Girl 🙂

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