Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has taken the first non Mercedes-engined pole position of the hybrid era, thanks to a stunning lap of 1m43.885s in Q3.
“I’m happy to finish third considering the difficult day I’ve had compared to yesterday. I have been struggling all day with the set up of my car, finding the grip and the balance. It was difficult to make the car work as I wanted. We always try to do our best in a race weekend and here it seems to work. Some places seem to favor one team and some others other teams, this time we have been having a pretty ok weekend so far. Our aim is to improve for the race, tomorrow we’ll see how strong our opponents are, we’ll try to do our best and hopefully have a stronger race as a team.”
“Of course there are no points given today, but for the team, for all of us, this is a fantastic result! We had been waiting for so long for this pole to arrive, not just the team, but myself too. Perhaps I could have aborted the last attempt, but there was no much point in doing so, because I did not know what the others were doing and I felt fantastic, so I pushed to the end. Now I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow, knowing that it will be very difficult and challenging to master all the conditions that you experience in a race. But we are starting from the perfect spot. I wouldn’t mind to pull away at the start, but it’s going to be a very long race. There are so many small decisions you have to take, and it’s easy to focus on the big result and neglect the small details… So we’ll have to focus on tomorrow, because so many things can happen on the way to the chequered flag, with the safety car and so on, as we’ve seen so often in the past. Hopefully we can have the same speed tomorrow, and then it could be a very good day”.
It is what it is today; I enjoyed it out there but we just didn’t have the pace. We weren’t surprised with the pace of the Ferrari as it was like that the whole weekend. We don’t know the reason why we weren’t as quick today, we obviously didn’t get the tyres switched on like everybody else did, but we need to look into it. We haven’t lost any performance on the car compared to two weeks ago but the guys in front were just too fast today. Tomorrow is going to be hard; it’s difficult to overtake but I’m still excited, I’ll be pushing hard and will do everything I can to make up positions.
The pace of the Ferrari is very impressive, starting from P6 is really frustrating. I had no grip in the corners, which was very strange. But there is a lot to play for tomorrow. Firstly I will work on overtaking Lewis, it's very important for me to finish ahead of him. It seems that the front runners are also much quicker on high fuel from what we have seen on Friday. I tried a few things on the set up, but we didn't really find out why we are so slow this weekend. It's strange, until now we were quick on every track. But coming now to Singapore and seeing the difference to the quickest cars, is really not good.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
P5 and P6 certainly doesn’t reflect our expectations or the results we have been used to in recent seasons. Clearly, our car has not lost a huge amount of performance from one weekend to the next, but we just haven’t got to grips with the circuit this weekend. Already yesterday we were struggling and we just couldn’t pull out the lap time today; the drivers were on the edge and closely matched but we simply lacked grip compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, who were very impressive indeed. It looks like we have taken a wrong turn somewhere in the set-up or how we approached this weekend, but we will need to do some careful analysis to understand why that has happened. For now, our focus is a tough race tomorrow night. On a circuit which is so tough for the cars and drivers, and where overtaking is very difficult, we shouldn’t expect miracles tomorrow. It’s going to be a day for damage limitation.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
First of all, we must congratulate Ferrari and especially Sebastian on a fantastic qualifying performance today. Both Ferrari and Red Bull did a great job and that left us on row three of the grid, which are not the positions we have been used to recently. There is clearly something that we have not got right this weekend, as we have been off the pace since practice began yesterday – in spite of Lewis and Nico pushing the car right to the limit. We have been working hard on the problem through all three sessions, including final adjustments up to and during qualifying, but so far we have not understood the underlying reason for our lack of performance this weekend. We all know that the points are scored tomorrow, and we will be aiming to fight back in race conditions, but we also need to be realistic about where we stand this weekend.
Red Bull Racing
“It’s really nice to be back up here on the front row; it’s been a while and it’s a bit of coincidence that it’s Seb and I together, but it should be a good race. Qualifying was exciting and to have no Mercedes up here is a surprise, so we will definitely try to capitalize on that - it would be nice to be back in the press conference tomorrow! I’m really happy for the team as we have definitely made a load of progress, since Silverstone and particularly since Budapest. Today’s result backs up the confidence I had in the car. We’ll be aiming for the win, as that’s where the points are and the champagne is. Seb put himself out of reach, so we are second best for today and we’ll try and go one better tomorrow. It’s always a challenge here and you need to have confidence in the car, because it’s hot and physical and a test for the driver which makes it fun. I’m happy with the way the weekend has gone so far.”
“I’m happy with today’s qualifying. I think it’s a good place to start the race tomorrow. Obviously as a driver you always want more but we’ll do our best to get as many points in the race as we can. The red cars are looking strong but we will take the fight to them during the race. It’s a long race and we will have to be patient. The chassis is behaving really well and the team have done a great job with the car.”
“That was a great performance from both our drivers. Daniel lining up alongside Sebastian on the front row of the grid is the perfect place to be starting, backed up by Dany on the second row. Remarkably, we are ahead of both Mercedes, which is down to a great team performance. Hopefully we can now turn these strong grid positions into a good points haul tomorrow.”
“We had to work hard to get into Q3, both on the track in the session and working with my engineers beforehand. It’s something of a surprise that it all worked and we made it into Q3, so I’m pretty happy. I was pushing really hard out there today; I was getting up close and personal with some of the walls, but I think my wife will forgive me!”
“It was a tough session and we weren’t really able to get the maximum out of the tyres, which is something we’ve struggled with all weekend. Lack of grip was the main problem out there and it certainly made things slippery for us. Tomorrow’s the race and we can certainly recover some positions, especially as we will have fresh tyres relative to the cars in front of us.”
“It’s a bit disappointing not to make the top ten, but at the same time I’m confident we can have a good race from P11. For whatever reason we didn’t have the harmony or performance we expected and I wasn’t as happy with the balance as I was yesterday. I was chasing the set-up in final practice and we made some changes before qualifying, but we still couldn’t find the sweet spot. The car was quite snappy with some oversteer and it wasn’t easy to get a tidy lap together. For tomorrow, the strategy decisions will be critical and we’ve seen over the years how unpredictable this place can be. It’s always a tough race with high tyre degradation, especially the rears, and all the teams around us look quite evenly matched. We need to keep out of trouble and make the right decisions with the strategy.”
“I am disappointed as I think Q3 was possible. The yellow flag at the end of Q2 meant I couldn’t finish what would have been my best lap, which is a shame, but sometimes things don’t go your way. I don’t think P13 reflects our true pace because we’ve done a very good job so far this weekend and we are continuing to take big steps forward. For tomorrow, there is plenty to fight for and it’s a long race on a street circuit where anything can happen. Starting in the middle of the pack will be a challenge because overtaking is not easy here, but we will try and overcome this with a good strategy. We will need to be ready to maximise every opportunity.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering:
“We worked on the car last night to ensure we were in Q3 and in front of the midfield, but it's not where we need to be. As a company, everyone at Williams needs to work hard to ensure that we improve in situations like this. There are some fairly anomalous laptimes in qualifying today, so we can see that tyre management played a major part. The positive is that it's going to be a long race with lots of points to pick up, so we'll get as many as we can.”
“Given Friday, it's a good starting position for tomorrow. We always knew it was going to be challenging for us here and we improved from practice to get both cars inside the top 10. I'm pleased with my lap, I think I got everything I could from the car so it's a good result. This is a race where anything can happen and we are going to be there so everything is still open.”
“It wasn't an easy qualifying session. I made a mistake in Q3 and lost time that would have put me a few positions further up. We only had one set of new tyres for Q3 so I tried everything I could, maybe too much. The position at the end could have been much better, but this is not a fantastic track for us so we'll concentrate on getting the best we can from the race tomorrow.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:
“One of the most thrilling qualifying sessions of the year, which promises a lot in terms of strategy. Track temperatures clearly had an influence on qualifying, with temperatures progressively falling during the session. The result is a grid that has a distinctly different look to it from usual and that means that we should be in for an exciting grand prix tomorrow. Singapore contains so many differences compared to other races that it inevitably leads to a surprise or two, and we’ve seen that again tonight: in an absolutely stunning setting under the lights.”