Qualy: Force India, Williams, McLaren, Renault

Esteban Ocon gets the better of Sergio Perez, who was blamed by Lance Stroll for prompting his early exit from Q1.

Force India

Esteban Ocon: “I’m feeling very happy after qualifying. The car has been fantastic since the beginning of the weekend, just as it was in Malaysia, and our result today shows the progress we have made recently developing the car. Whether it’s been wet or dry, the car has been quick, and we’ve only had to make small adjustments to find the performance. With some penalties for other drivers, it looks as though I will start the race from fifth place, so there’s a great opportunity to score some big points.”

Sergio Perez: “It’s been a really good qualifying session for us. The team did a great job despite the limited running, splitting the practice programme between both cars to find the best set-up. I believe we maximised the potential of the car and got the best result we could today, so I am happy. My final lap in Q3 was good: I lost a little bit of time in the final chicane and that cost me a place to Esteban. He’s done a really good job all weekend and together we have delivered an important qualifying result for the team. We were expecting a bigger fight in the midfield, but I am pleased we were this far ahead of our rivals and close to the Red Bulls. Tomorrow will be a long race but I think we can score a lot of points because our race pace is good.”

Williams

Felipe Massa: “I’m so happy with my qualifying. Q1 was a good lap, Q2 was a great lap, and Q3 was just a perfect lap, so I’m really happy with my result. We’re starting in a great position and you never know what can happen tomorrow in the race. We’ll try to get the best we can in terms of points. My lap time today was similar to when I was on pole in 2006, just the perfect lap, which gives you a lot of pleasure, so I’m happy with that.”

Lance Stroll: “That was not a good session. I didn’t get a lap time as I was blocked on both my push laps, by Perez and Gasly in the last chicane, and then we got the red flag, so I never got a time and there was no chance to make Q2. But that is how it goes and there is nothing I can do about it now, we were just unlucky with the traffic. The car felt good all weekend, so it is frustrating, but tomorrow is another day and with the penalties we will make up a couple of places. But that is not how we want to gain places, we want to show the potential of the car which we didn’t do in that session.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso: “Knowing that we’d be starting last after changing the engine last night, meant qualifying wasn’t too important for us. Still, despite the penalty, we wanted to have a normal qualifying session and push; we have so many fans here – so many Honda supporters – and I think we succeeded and did a decent job. Of course, the race will be much different, starting form the back it’ll be quite difficult to gain any advantage, but we’ll try to do the best we can to close up to the top 10. Points would have been a difficult target even on a normal weekend, but since we’re starting last, on a track with so many high-speed corners where you can’t easily follow the cars in front, we’ll need a lot of action in front of us if we want to make up some positions.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “That was actually a pretty good session for me. Not getting through into Q3 isn’t actually that bad because it means I can start the race on a new tyre tomorrow. Starting from ninth is pretty decent, and, on a new tyre, it should make for a good day. The limited running we’ve had so far this weekend has been the same for everyone, but we’re usually pretty strong at working out what the tyres are going to do, how long they’re going to last, and how to manage them efficiently. We’ll definitely be looking to benefit from that tomorrow. It still looks quite hard to decide between a one- and two-stop strategy, so we’ll also try to use that to our advantage. We’re not in a bad place – we can definitely race from this position.”

Renault

Nico Hulkenberg: “We struggled in qualifying and the car balance just wasn’t there, in particular with oversteer in the first sector. Generally, in qualifying you improve, but this time it wasn’t coming to us, so a top ten position slipped through our fingers. It’s not going to be easy tomorrow as the midfield is a competitive place to be. It wasn’t the qualifying we hoped for, it’s going to be hard work but we just need to do a good job to recover tomorrow. The package is good, and if we can have a good start everything is at play for the race; we can still score points.”

Jolyon Palmer: “Qualifying was okay, but the overall pace was a little disappointing for the team. The first run in Q2 went well and we were just out of the top ten, but on the second run, the car was sliding a bit and we couldn’t improve. The track was getting better so when you don’t improve, you fall down a long way. It’s a shame but we have to start at the back of the grid. I think we have more pace than the guys in front, so it can be a fun race.”

 

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