Drivers report: Qualifying
Here is what some of the drivers had to say after the last qualifying of the year, including the Top 3
With the last qualifying of the year, both Williams are still at the bottom of the field as they finished 19th and 20th. Stroll, who became last, said: “That was not very good. I am pretty frustrated with it to be honest. I thought there would have been much more, but we were just pretty slow, and the car was a lot different from how it has been all weekend, so I was a bit caught off guard by that. I think we had a decent balance all weekend and now that has changed. I don't know what happened, but I felt the car was very much on the understeer side. It has been kind of oversteer all weekend and now the balance shift is massive and I feel a bit frustrated, so that was the story of qualifying.”
His teammate Sergey Sirotkin explained: “It was very tough. The lap took a lot more from me than it probably seemed from the outside. The weekend so far has been the worst of the year for me the way it was going, with the struggles I had and the amount of work we had to put in. I didn’t have any confidence going into qualifying, but I was really hard on myself and really motivated because I wanted to finish on a high.”
Another team which seemed to struggle a bid was Toro Rosso with none of their drivers making it through to Q2.
Pierre Gasly, who had some problems, said:"This was not the last Qualifying for Toro Rosso I would have wanted. Out of the last corner I came back on the throttle and lost power on the exit, I'm disappointed because the lap was coming together well. The car felt great and I was sixth-tenths faster, but then for the last two to three hundred metres there was no power. We had the pace to be around P12, so maybe not Q3, but to fight just out of the top 10.“
Brendon Hartley, who became 16th, said: "We knew it was going to be tight today, but I was P12 this morning so we thought at least Q2 was possible. To be 16th and just missing out on Q2 two weekends in a row is frustrating. The track conditions were really different compared to a few hours ago, so we probably couldn't get the most out of the car in Qualifying. We've put a lot of focus on race pace this weekend and there wasn't much between me and Pierre today, but I think we just weren't quite quick enough and I wasn't particularly happy with the balance of the car.”
A driver that will not be back next year is Fernando Alonso who finished his qualifying at P15. He said: “We weren’t optimistic at all about our chances of making it into Q2, as we haven’t been too competitive in any of the sessions so far this weekend, so it was a nice surprise. I was pushing quite hard on that qualifying lap – it felt good. Outside the car there’s a lot of things happening this weekend: a lot of emotions and a lot of nice touches here and there. Tomorrow when I put the helmet on and jump in the car I’ll treat it like the last one, and I’ll try to enjoy it and do my best.”
Another driver that hasn't got a cockpit for 2019 is Esteban Ocon, but still finished his last qualifying of the year on a high as he will start from 9th tomorrow.
The Force India driver said: “I am pretty pleased with the overall result tonight. My Q1 lap was really good and I think we really extracted the best from the car across the session. We missed out on track time in final practice, but it was a great effort by the team to get the car ready for qualifying and make Q3. There will be a threat tomorrow from the cars outside the top ten, starting on better tyres, but hopefully we can make our strategy work starting on the hypersoft. It will be a tricky one but it will be interesting.”
Sergio Perez couldn't make it to Q3 this weekend. He will start tomorrows race from 14th and said: “It’s been a poor weekend in terms of performance and there are still some issues with the car that we haven’t managed to solve. It’s hurting us over a single lap because the car is sliding too much and we’re really losing out. Hopefully it will be a different story tomorrow with a free choice of tyres for the start of the race. I’m targeting points, but it’s not going to be easy starting from P14.”
Red Bull seemed quite strong yesterday but only will start from 5th and 6th.
Daniel Ricciardo who will have his last race tomorrow for Red Bull, said: “I thought I had Kimi for fourth but he just got me by half a tenth. I would be happier with fourth than fifth but we got through Q2 on the ultrasoft which was our target. There is a big step, maybe one second between the ultra and the hyper so we needed to do more or less the perfect lap on the ultra to make it through Q2. It was very close and I was in P10 but the team made the call to abort the lap and we just made it through. My first run in Q3 was good and we looked very close but both Mercedes and Ferrari improved.”
Max Verstappen, one place behind his teammate, said: “I’m not overly happy with how qualifying went today. After the first run in Q3 I knew we needed to get the tyre temperatures down in order to improve the grip. We tried this for my final run but unfortunately they were still too high, this meant I aborted my flying lap as I was just sliding everywhere, especially in the final sector. The car balance wasn’t quite as good as it has been in previous qualifying sessions, I wasn’t able to get what I wanted out of the lap.”
The last pole position of 2018 went to Lewis Hamilton. He said: “The first lap wasn’t spectacular. There were some excursions and a bit of movement on the rear end. That last one, it started off quite calm and then just got more and more aggressive as I went through. And the last sector, as you see, the last sector was the killer for me. That’s where I really was able to make a difference. So I actually came around, I think, four tenths up.”
His teammate Valtteri Bottas will start 2nd tomorrow.
He said: “Personally, P2 wasn’t what I was expecting but for us, even though we have secured the Constructors’ title, we can still perform at a very high level as a team. Being one-two for the final race is good. I think I lost a little bit of time in Turn 17-18, it’s just very difficult to get it perfectly right. But he was performing well. It was tough to beat his time. There was a possibility for that but he did a better job on the lap.”
Sebastian Vettel, who beat his teammate, finished 3rd today.
He explained: “In Q1 I thought it was rally tight, so I thought maybe we would have a word to say. In Q2 I thought Lewis put a really strong lap in on the harder tyres, and I thought ‘whoa, this is going to be difficult’. But then the first run in Q3 I really had a good lap and it was very close again, but they must have had still some push in for the last run. I did improve, I think the track ramped up, but not enough to be a threat.”