Qualifying Notes - Monza

PIRELLI

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:

“As usual, we saw an extremely tight qualifying session at Monza, with much of the field very closely matched. Qualifying is statistically very important at Monza when it comes to securing a race victory, so the strategy starts here. We’re expecting a one-stopper for the majority of runners, although two stops will be possible as well: the teams will no doubt be keeping an open mind on strategy, enabling them to maximise every opportunity that comes along. A damp start to the day meant that we saw the Cinturato intermediates in the morning, although these are not expected to be seen again for the rest of the weekend. With overtaking being far from the easy at Monza, strategy is sure to play a key role in the race tomorrow.”

MERCEDES (Hamilton P1, Rosberg P4)

LH:  “Ferrari did a great job. They're very close here and it'll be a good fight. In terms of my lap, it was good but not perfect. My Spa qualifying lap was definitely better. But the car has felt good all weekend and the crew have been fantastic as always. The guys in the garage did an amazing job to turn Nico's car around after practice. I don't know what the problem was but I'm not concerned for tomorrow. Pole is always a great feeling but there's a long way down to turn one and Ferrari are strong off the line. Last year I didn't have a good start and had to fight hard so nothing is done yet. We've shown strong pace in our long run simulations though so hopefully we can keep that up tomorrow in the race.”

NR:  “First of all, a big thanks to the boys in the garage for getting the car ready just in time for qualifying. I had a good session and my laps felt quite good. But unfortunately, after the problem in FP3, I had to run an old engine which had already been used for five race weekends so I had a small lack of power. With every kilometre you lose a bit of power and Monza is a power track where the engine has a big impact. It will be tough tomorrow, as I will probably also be a bit slower in the race because of that. But I will never give up. I have to fight for a great start and hope to overtake the two Ferraris in front of me quickly to give myself a chance of catching Lewis. So, a disappointing and unlucky afternoon - but there is still a lot to play for tomorrow.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:  “First of all, I want to congratulate Lewis on a fantastic pole position - his seventh in a row, which is close to record territory. He has been on strong form this weekend and showed that through every part of qualifying, too. But it's a bittersweet feeling today because of the problem we suffered with Nico. I want to congratulate the boys in the garage for an amazing job to change his engine between practice and qualifying, after we suffered the problem at the end of this morning's session. But it certainly sent Nico into qualifying on the back foot, using a power unit that has already completed five races, and he wasn't happy with the car balance either, suffering from quite a lot of understeer. In the circumstances, he did an excellent job. We didn't achieve our potential today and, as we saw, we have a very strong rival in Ferrari. We can expect an exciting but challenging race tomorrow afternoon.”

FERRARI (Raikkonen P2; Vettel P3)

Qualifying for Scuderia Ferrari’s home race, the Italian Grand Prix took place in sunny conditions after this morning’s rain, so that weather conditions more or less replicated what’s expected for tomorrow. Kimi Raikkonen will start from second on the grid with a time of 1.23.631, while Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel will start from third in 1.23.685 in front of the big crowd here in Monza. Lewis Hamilton took pole for Mercedes in 1.23.397.

KR:  “It was the best qualifying of the year, I’m happy for all the team and the people who support us. This was the perfect time for us: obviously we’d like to get such a good result at every race, but if I have to choose one it’s here. Today was a good day, it gives us a good chance for the race, but this doesn’t mean that tomorrow we can beat everybody. We need to do a good job. I’m a bit surprised because we knew our weaknesses and the layout of this track, but everything worked well and we were closer to Mercedes than we what we expected. It’s impossible to say what’s going to happen tomorrow, obviously our aim is to make a good start then go safely into the first corner, do the maximum and hopefully we’ll be able to challenge. We’ll try to do our best and see how it ends up.”

SV:  “I’m very happy, not entirely with my lap as I made a bit of mistake in Lesmo 1, but for the fantastic result it is for the team. It puts us in a great position for tomorrow: it’s a bit of a surprise to be so close to Mercedes today, but we have to wait and see tomorrow. We know that they will be very strong in the race and they will be the ones to beat if we want to win, but maybe with all the power from the tifosi we can have a surprise. This time is very different for me compared to the previous years I’ve been here: when you’re driving you can see people clapping and cheering, pushing and supporting you and it’s fantastic. Inside and outside the track there are so many fans: for us this is the most special race of the calendar.”

WILLIAMS (Massa P5; Bottas P6)

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering:  “From a championship point of view I am happy with the result. We stressed to the team that we needed to get Qualifying perfect today, and they have all done a great job to make sure we were competing for the front rows whilst keeping clear of the rest of the field. The cars have been set-up well for qualifying and the race. We will not give up tomorrow in the fight for the podium and can really help our championship with a strong result.”

FM: “Ferrari were maybe a little bit too quick today, and even with a perfect lap it would have been difficult to match them. I'm still happy with our performance and where we are. Power is very important on this circuit so we may be able to fight with Nico (Rosberg) but it is a long race. I have my sights on the podium but most importantly we must have a good race, scores some valuable points and make sure we make no mistakes.”
 
VB: “It wasn’t a perfect qualifying as I didn’t get a great slipstream in the final lap. I think fifth and sixth was the maximum as the Ferraris were just a bit out reach. Tomorrow is a new day and we will certainly do everything we can to challenge them. The race pace looks strong so I am after a good result.”

FORCE INDIA (Perez P7; Hulkenberg P9)

SP: “I am pretty happy with the job I did today in qualifying. I was able to improve my time in every session and each lap was pretty good. In Q3 I was a bit too optimistic and tried to get a tow from Kimi on the straight but it didn't work: it actually cost me a couple of tenths but in any case it wouldn't have been enough to be in front of the two Williams cars. The race will be hard, but our target should be to challenge Williams ahead of us. The b-spec car has been performing solidly in the past few races so I see no reason why we shouldn't be in a position to have a good performance tomorrow. A good start will be crucial as the strategy options are quite straightforward; one of the keys of the race will be tyre degradation, but I am confident we will be strong and score good points.”

NH: “It’s good to be in the top ten, but without the problems in Q3 there was the potential to be much higher up the grid. I just lost power on my in-lap following my first run on used tyres, which was caused by a problem with the fuel system. I made it back to the pits, but the mechanics had to push me back to the garage and we lost a lot of time. When we tried to restart the car, the gearbox was stuck in between two gears and I couldn’t select neutral in time to get out again for a lap on new softs. It’s a shame because I think sixth or seventh place was possible today. I’m sure we will fix these issues for tomorrow, but grid position is important here so it’s going to be a bit more difficult starting from ninth. The midfield is looking very competitive and some of the teams have stepped up their game since yesterday. We will have to fight hard to get the points we need.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal:
“We’ve shown a lot of promise since the start of practice and in that sense it’s satisfying to see both cars through to Q3. Sergio is up in seventh and did a good job despite not being totally happy with the balance of the car. Nico was just as competitive as Sergio and without the fuel system problem I’m sure he would have been several places higher up the grid. It means he’s out of position slightly, but with solid race pace he can hopefully progress tomorrow. The priority is to have a clean race and pick up good points.”

LOTUS (Grosjean P8; Maldonado P11)

RG: “It’s quite positive in way when you say that you are disappointed with qualifying in eighth position but it wasn’t a perfect Q3 session for us and we have to analyse why we didn’t have the pace to be further up the order. It’s a long race tomorrow and there are opportunities to overtake here so there’s definitely good potential for scoring a nice collection of points.”
 
PM: “For sure I was expecting to be in the top ten but I’ve been struggling to get temperature into the tyres and I didn’t get very clean laps in Q2 so we lost out by a very small margin. The track changed a lot from this morning and the warmer weather made the rear very nervous. In the race we have an extra set of fresh tyres and we are in a very strong position to fight for good points, I think the top five is possible.” 
 
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We have potential for a strong race.”