SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 8th, (3rd Practice – P6, 1:26.290)
“I think realistically anything from P5 to P10 was maybe possible, but it was very close. It’s a shame when you miss a couple of positions by just a few tenths or so, but we knew it would be like that going into today. When the gaps are close you always think you could have gone quicker, but that was probably it in terms of what we could do today. We should be quicker than McLaren tomorrow, I’d say we’ll be about the same as Ferrari, while Williams and Mercedes will likely be a bit too quick for us, but we’ll look after ourselves and see what happens in the race.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 9th, (3rd Practice – P9, 1:26.482)
”Even though we expected a tricky qualifying, I’m still disappointed. Ninth is not something to get really excited about. Seb’s in front, but he’s only in 8th as well and as a team we would have loved to have been a bit closer to the top five. We knew we wouldn’t challenge for the front two rows, but we thought that maybe sixth could be possible. Fingers crossed we’ve got better race pace tomorrow and we’ll try and do something with that.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “It’s no great surprise for us to be struggling a little in qualifying today. To make it through to Q3 was a result in itself and so to finish eighth and ninth in qualifying, when there’s one Ferrari and other than all Mercedes powered cars ahead, is not a huge surprise. We’re confident we’ve got better race pace for tomorrow and strategy will be crucial; hopefully we’ll have a good start and strong first few corners.”
THIERRY SALVI: “We knew it would be hard for us here as we are down on power relative to the competition and it hurts a lot at Monza. Both drivers extracted the maximum from the car but it’s hard to recover that sort of deficit. We do know however that our long run pace is much better and our drivers will fight a lot for points. Let’s keep focused and improve every detail we can within the allowed power unit items to improve the one lap pace.”
Final Countdown – My 10 minutes before the race starts
A period of frantic activity, setting changes and nerves, the 10 minutes before the lights go out for the formation lap and start of the race are some of the most intense in F1. For Tyre Technician Jon Gates the final preparations are usually clear-cut… unless it starts to rain and there’s a last-minute switch.
If it’s a dry race, it’s pretty straightforward. It will either be the set of tyres we qualified on or the strategy guys will have made the decision on the starting set. I will have already checked the pressures on the starting set, made sure they’re correct and that the engineer is happy with them. We take them across on the trolleys, in blankets and when the car is on the grid we’ll remove the lap-to-grid wheels and they’ll be scanned to prove they’ve come off.
The starting tyres get fitted to the car within the 10-minute window, usually at around eight minutes before the cars leave the grid. According to the regs the wheels have to be on the car when the three-minute signal is sounded. After they’re fitted it’s largely out of my hands. They stay in the blankets until the last moment and then we’ll take off the blankets and I’ll race back to the garage when the cars leave the grid.
That’s a busy moment. There’s usually about a minute or so before the start and you have to be ready in the garage as there’s always the chance that you might have a first-lap incident or a restart. So while I’m on the grid I’ll have instructed my colleagues which set to put down in the garage, ready just in case of an incident. As soon as I get back to the garage my first job is to check that set to make sure it’s the right set and everything’s OK with those tyres.
It does get a bit complicated when you have very changeable weather. We’ll take a set of extreme wets and intermediates to the grid and if it starts to rain the engineer will make the call. If the weather’s obvious then it’s straightforward. Where it gets complicated is when you have conditions that are hard to call, is it inters or slicks, wets or inters? Is it raining at one part of the circuit, which often happens at Spa or is rain coming in the new few minutes? Then things can get a little tricky as the decision can be very last-minute. It’s still calm though. We have all the sets ready and we just wait for the call.