Belgian Grand Prix: Post-qualifying driver quotes

Each driver gives his view after one of the most unusual qualifying sessions of the year.

Giancarlo Fisichella – Force India (1st, Q3 – 1m 46.308s):“This is one of my favourite circuits, I did well in the past and I was sure we would be competitive again this year. I didn’t expect to be on pole though! It feels just great, like a dream. I am so happy for myself, for the team, for the mechanics, the engineers, who have done a fantastic job. They did a great step forward for Valencia for the last race considering our budget and our resources. This morning we had a small accident when I hit a rabbit, but my engineer said it would be lucky and it was! What a result. I am now not only looking for points, but for more. We’ve got this far we need to finish the job!”

Jarno Trulli – Toyota (2nd, Q3 – 1m 46.395s): “I am very happy to be on the front row again. We have always known that when things go right we have a very competitive car and all weekend we have looked extremely strong. In qualifying I was always in the top two, even though in first qualifying I took it a bit easy. I did a very quick lap in third qualifying and second place gives us a great chance tomorrow. We dropped the downforce a bit yesterday and spent most of the time balancing the car. Then we made a small change to the set-up this morning so I had better handling and traction for qualifying and it worked well. Also, I spent most of the weekend driving on race fuel so I am very happy with how things have turned out and it is looking pretty good for tomorrow. I have to thank the team who have worked really hard to improve and get a result like this; I dedicate it to all my mechanics.”

Nick Heidfeld – BMW-Sauber (3rd, Q3 – 1m 46.500s):“Today s good result is obviously very important for our team. After BMW announced it was pulling out of the sport we are working on securing the future for the team in Hinwil. Nobody has given up in this difficult period of time and today s qualifying result is a reward for it. We did our homework in practice, made several changes and I m quite happy with the balance of the car. I think the fact that the 2009 cars are run on a medium downforce level here for the first time this year might be the reason for the grid being very different to previous races. In Q2 I firstly got stuck in traffic and then at my second outing I had a set of tyres which wasn t as good, therefore I knew I would go faster once I was in Q3. I still wouldn t mind a wet race tomorrow – even though I m third and we did not take it into consideration in terms of fuel load and downforce level.”

Rubens Barrichello -Brawn GP (4th, Q3 – 1m 46.513s): “I’m extremely happy with our qualifying performance today and the second row of the grid is a great starting position for the race. The results today have to be one of the biggest surprises of the year and it’s great for Giancarlo Fisichella to be up there on pole. It’s good to see that the ‘old-timers’ still have it! I took the best out of my car today, particularly in Q2 which was one of my best laps around Spa, but that was only enough for sixth position in that session. We’ve been quite aggressive on the strategy and the race is wide open tomorrow so I’ll push as much as I can and we can get a good result from here.”

Robert Kubica – BMW-Sauber (5th, Q3 – 1m 46.586s): “Even yesterday we had a good feeling as we were quite competitive. When we changed the engine before this morning s practice session, I immediately started losing speed on the straights. Unfortunately we were not able to solve the problem before qualifying. This is a bit unlucky as we have a very competitive car for the first time this season. I hope we can solve this issue by tomorrow. I expect a tough race tomorrow as the pack is close together.”

Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari (6th, Q3 – 1m 46.633s): “Of course I would have preferred to have started from further up the grid, but I think we did our best today. We knew it would be hard to be at the front, but all the same, this is a good position, especially as the gaps between the front runners are pretty tight. With more fuel on board, the car handles better than on a light load and that was the case again in this qualifying session. Such an unusual grid makes it even harder to make any predictions for tomorrow and we will have to make the most of any opportunities that present themselves. The final outcome will depend a lot on the first two corners after the start. The fact the car handles differently at various sections of the track can be explained by the lack of aerodynamic downforce we have this season.”

Timo Glock – Toyota (7th, Q3 – 1m 46.677s): “Today was a good result for the whole team and it is a nice feeling to be fighting at the front again. My lap was pretty tidy so overall I am happy with it; we have worked hard on improving the qualifying pace and we got our reward today. The team brought a new aero package to this race and it seems to be working well. From the start of the weekend we believed we could be strong here because the car felt quick throughout practice and it’s great to carry that speed into qualifying. We had good race pace in Hungary and Valencia so I am optimistic for tomorrow. I hope to finish in the top five; it will not be easy but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull (8th, Q3 – 1m 46.761s): “It was quite an interesting session – and not the best for us obviously; eighth and ninth will be tough tomorrow on the grid. Unfortunately I made a mistake on my last flying lap in Q3. I lost the rear going into Turn 14, which leads on to the back straight and lost all the speed, so there was no point in completing the lap. The results were quite a surprise today; I don t think anyone expected Fisi (Fisichella) to be on pole.”

Mark Webber – Red Bull (9th, Q3 – 1m 46.788s): “That was a strange session – we expected to be more competitive than that. Fisi on pole! A great day for them, but we were surprised by that. A lot of the guys were too quick for us; it shows you just never know in this game. It should be an interesting race tomorrow. We had to change the engine before qualifying, but that wouldn t affect our result and we were pretty confident going into the session. We put in a new engine as we had to make some checks on the one that we used this morning, but it looks like it is okay.”

Nico Rosberg – Williams (10th, Q3 – 1m 47.362s): “We have really struggled all weekend but we managed to get the best out of Q2 and finishing 10th was possibly the best we could achieve carrying quite a lot of fuel. We have a good strategy and therefore I think we can fight for some points tomorrow. It was a very strange qualifying session here today, I think maybe the way the teams are using their tyres is making quite a difference.”

Adrian Sutil (11th, Q2 – 1m 45.119s): “This is an unbelievable day for the team. Congratulations to Giancarlo: it was an amazing result for him and such a good boost for the team. We’ve worked hard so the guys really deserve it. For me, it was quite a good session but I’m still a little bit disappointed as I couldn’t use the soft tyre set effectively. The hard set was much better on my car – we don’t know why but we will look into it for sure. Normally we should have been Q3 – as Giancarlo showed – but from 11th I still think points are possible. We are quite good on the long run pace, the car feels good and it was from this point of view I am quite happy.”

Lewis Hamilton – McLaren (12th, Q2 – 1m 45.122s): “We did the best job we could today. We d always known the car would struggle in the mid-sector corners: being one second down in the mid-sector shows the true downforce level of our car. We expected that we wouldn t have as good an aero package as some of the others – we just didn t know to what extent. I guess today we found out. But I m not too disappointed – this year has been a rollercoaster ride for everyone, but I m enjoying it still and I love driving this track. My plan for tomorrow is a points finish.”

Fernando Alonso – Renault (13th, Q3 – 1m 45.136s): “Today we just weren’t competitive enough and we struggled in both Q1 and Q2 where I did my maximum but still missed out. However, it was an unusual session today as we had big competitors knocked out in Q2. Tomorrow this should make for an interesting race and then there is always the weather which may play a role. So we will not give up and will do our best to fight back tomorrow.”

Jenson Button – Brawn GP (14th, Q2 – 1m 45.251s): “I didn’t expect to qualify in 14th position today but we really struggled with grip levels, particularly on the softer tyre. The car hasn’t felt quite right all weekend and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any more out of it today. Rubens and I are usually very closely matched but he was quick on the option and I wasn’t so we need to look into the reasons for that. I just couldn’t find any grip on the softer rubber so the rear end felt unstable and I had no confidence under braking, particularly in the middle sector. It’s strange as our set-ups are different but not by much. It’s going to be very tough in the race from here but at least we have more time to choose our strategy. We need to get it right and see if we can score some points tomorrow.”

Heikki Kovalainen – McLaren (15th, Q2 – 1m 45.259s): “This morning, we started to become a little surprised by the pace of some of the other cars. We were struggling in the high-speed corners a little more than in either Hungary or Valencia, where the circuit configurations are slower. We expected today to be tough and our results show we are still lacking in high-speed efficiency, downforce and straight-line speed. Still, it was very close today; there was quite a bit of traffic in the session and, with just a couple more tenths, we could have made it into Q3. I ll be racing hard tomorrow and I feel confident we can go forwards from here. Nevertheless, we know where we are and we re not down because of this. We ve shown progress compared with Silverstone and we ll keep pushing to improve on our issues.”

Sebastien Buemi – Toro Rosso (16th, Q1 – 1m 45.951s): “I had a good first run on the option tyre, but with my second set I had a bit of traffic on my warm-up lap and I didn t get my flying lap together. Then at the final braking point I locked up my rear wheels and so the lap was spoilt. Even though we knew it could be difficult to get to Q2, I am disappointed with my performance. Finding the right compromise on set-up is difficult here between running low downforce for the fast sections and having enough to deal with the slower parts. As for the race, we need to look closely at our tyre strategy as both types of tyre work well here.”

Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso (17th, Q1 – 1m 46.032s): “It was always going to be tough to get into Q2. We were lacking speed on the main straight in Sector One and Sector Three, but I did a good time in Sector 2. The main thing for me is that I am making progress: in Hungary I was last on the grid, then Valencia 19th and today I am 17th, so it s getting better. Hopefully, I can work my way up to pole one day! I still need to build up more confidence with the carand the tyres in the quick corners.”

Kazuki Nakajima – Williams (18th, Q1 – 1m 46.307s): “We struggled here yesterday in practice, but Nico managed to either drive very well or find a set-up direction that I didn t. I hope I can learn something from the progress he made today and have a better time tomorrow in the race to make up for today s disappointment.”

Romain Grosjean – Renault (19th, Q1 – 1m 46.359s): “It was a difficult session today as there was a lot of traffic. I was blocked on a couple of my quick laps by a Toro Rosso and then my last quick lap was ruined by the yellow flag. However, the car has been good all weekend and I really love this circuit so I will give my maximum to move forward, finish the race and gain more experience.”

Luca Badoer – Ferrari (20th, Q1 – 1m 46.957s): “I m not happy, because this morning, at the end of free practice, I had hoped to make it through to Q2. Unfortunately, partly because of traffic and partly because of a few small problems, I didn t manage to put together a perfect lap. I was counting on doing so on my final run, but there was the incident with Vettel which then led to me going off the track and that put an end to my qualifying. I have made another step forward in terms of performance, but it s still not enough: for me the hardest thing is getting into a rhythm and finding the limits of the car. Unfortunately, there s no opportunity to do the testing that would put that right. I am sure that tomorrow, I will perform better than I did in the Valencia race. I will try and do my best.”