Italian Grand Prix 2011: Drivers’ qualifying reaction

We bring you the best of the drivers' reaction from Monza after Vettel took pole on Saturday

By Gareth Llewellyn
sebastian vettel
Vettel is 92 points ahead in the championship Photo: Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Racing

sebastian vettel

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull – Pole)

“We are surprised how competitive we are here and thought it would be much closer. We weren’t sure if the tyres were best for the first or second lap, but I made a bit of a mistake on the second. For the second run, I knew I had a bit more time in the car as I did the first lap on my own. For the second, I had one or two cars in front, which always helps here. That said, we would never have thought we could have got pole here, on this track which didn’t suit our car for the last two years. This year, the car is very good and I’m very happy. Apart from the wing level, the most important thing to have here is balance and we’re good on that this year. I felt very comfortable going into qualifying and throughout the session I could feel the track getting quicker. I simply went with the track and that is the secret, if there is any.”

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren ““ second)

“Clearly, we’re very competitive – Jenson and I both qualified in the top three – but Seb [Vettel] was mega-quick today. In Q1 and Q2 we were pretty close to him, but he pulled out another half-second in Q3. It was an extremely good lap. Still, I’m happy to be starting on the front row – after Spa it gives me another opportunity to be right up there in the race and to bag a lot of points. Above all, I want to finish, of course; but I reckon I can get a good start from where I am, and, if there’s an chance to get into the lead, I’ll take it. We’ve improved all weekend, and second and third is a good result for the team. In fact, we have a good chance to get our first one-two of 2011 tomorrow – I’m optimistic.”

Jenson Button (McLaren ““ third)

“I was pretty happy with my first run in Q3, but I thought I’d be able to squeeze another tenth or so out of my final run. But, on my second attempt, I went a tenth down in the first sector and never really caught that up for the remainder of the lap, so I aborted it. Third is usually a pretty good place to start – it’s on the clean side of the track – but around here it can be pretty tough to find a way past the first two cars on the run down to the first corner. But we’re focused on tomorrow, the team is in a good position, and we can definitely score some good points. I think we’ve correctly chosen the appropriate drag and downforce levels, and the right gearing too, so we should be happy with the work we’ve done so far this weekend. I don’t think Red Bull will have it all their own way tomorrow. I think we’ll be in the mix, which is what the fans want to see.”

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari ““ fourth)

“Fourth place is possibly my most common result in qualifying this season, so I definitely cannot be surprised at this performance. Usually, in the race we go better than in qualifying, therefore this grid position could provide the basis for a podium finish, which is our realistic target for tomorrow afternoon. Fighting for the win? I think it will be very difficult, even if this year’s races have often thrown up surprises. I will try to make up some places at the start, which could make the race even more interesting. It was not easy to find the right balance on the car this weekend. We made a lot of changes to the set-up after each session and again this morning we were not satisfied. Then unexpectedly, in qualifying, the car improved and was more stable under braking and easier to drive, to the extent that we were always in the top four or five positions in each session. Clearly the higher temperatures helped, otherwise we would not be just a few hundredths off the McLarens, after being over two seconds away in Spa qualifying. We hope it will be equally hot tomorrow: it would be great to get a result to delight all our fans who will be in the grandstands.”

Mark Webber (Red Bull ““ fifth)

“I think I made it a little bit difficult for the team today in terms of my run plan, I wasn’t completely clear, so it wasn’t the best Q3. The tyres were certainly strong enough for the first lap, so two runs was the way forward I think, but ultimately I didn’t get enough out of the car on the tyres on one run only. We were managing the KERS too, as we had some issues on the last lap, which is never ideal but in the end we got fifth position. We know it can be an interesting first lap here, so I’m going to push as hard as I can. I have a good car for the race; so we’ll see how we go.”

Felipe Massa (Ferrari ““ sixth)

“All things considered, it was a good qualifying, though definitely not an easy one, because we knew there were some very quick cars out there. The result is pretty much in line with our expectations going into the session. We worked well, trying to fine tune the car in one session after the next. In Q3, on my final run, I had got a good tow behind Michael, but then, I pushed a bit too much and lost precious time at the second chicane and the Lesmo corner. Maybe I could have been one or two places further up, but definitely nothing more than that. Tomorrow, I expect the race will be very close and difficult and rear tyre degradation will be one of the key factors. As usual, strategy will be decisive and I hope I can do well. This is a very important event for Ferrari and we are keen to give our fans something to cheer about. The target? A place on the podium, but I know it will be very difficult.”

Vitaly Petrov (Renault ““ seventh)

“I am extremely pleased to qualify in P7. It was a tough start to the practice session this morning, as we had a few aero issues to cope with. The team then came into the qualifying session having prepared a very good car for me, and they made the right decisions. It looks like we have brought the right downforce package to this race, although we will have to wait until the race tomorrow before we see full evidence of that. We are very, very happy to be lining up on the grid with both cars right up where they should be, and I’m optimistic of having a good race tomorrow.”

Michael Schumacher (Mercedes ““ eighth)

“Qualifying today went mostly according to plan. I don’t think we could have taken much more; maybe I could have ended up one place higher. I didn’t have an ideal fast lap as I tried to use the slip stream from Lewis but then he locked up in the second chicane which made me lock up too. However I will be on soft tyres tomorrow which should be better for my race. As our race pace looked quite good yesterday, I was more focusing on the race and trying to use the tyres in the right way. For tomorrow, I will try to get a good start and take it from there.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes ““ ninth)

“I’m happy with today’s qualifying and the compromise that we made to be strong in the race tomorrow. The performance in Q2 shows that the car is working well here, and we saved two sets of options which is good. I’m the only driver who took part in Q3 who will be starting on the hard tyre, so it will be interesting and should help me a lot at the start of the race. I think it will be a really good race tomorrow.”

Bruno Senna (Renault ““ 10th)

“I am satisfied with my performance because this was only my second qualifying session this year, and it was definitely a close shave getting into Q3. I was glad to have Vitaly as my reference today because I was struggling to find the right braking points in Q1 and Q2. I put a very respectable lap together at the end of Q2, and I was pleased that I was able to handle the pressure and slot into 10th position. If I had ran in Q3, I would have needed to use two sets of tyres, so I’m glad I was able to save them and hopefully that decision will stand me in good stead come tomorrow’s race. I would also like to thank the team for providing such a competitive car this weekend.”

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