DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 3rd, (3rd Practice – P2, 1:47.350)
”Coming into the weekend we thought that if we could be within two or three tenths of Mercedes then there was a realistic chance to stay with them in the race. We actually ended up closer to them than we thought in qualifying, so that’s good. If the start goes okay then it’s about trying to be smart and doing something with the strategy. If I can get close, then I’ll have a go, I haven’t been shy doing that this year, but it’s difficult on a street circuit. It’s close to home here and it’s nice to see a few Aussie flags in the crowd. Hopefully we can get a podium result for them tomorrow.”
SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 4th, (3rd Practice – P5, 1:47.711)
“I’m not happy with that final lap, I was pushing a bit too hard and didn’t get it all together, so I’m not entirely happy, but it is what it is now. I think pole could have been in our grasp. We’ll hope to have a good race tomorrow, with good pit stops and a good strategy and we’ll see what we can do from there. I think we have good speed, but everyone seems to have good speed here. It’s a long race, so we’ll see how the tyres work and what we can do.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “Second row of the grid for both of the drivers in a really tight qualifying was a really strong team performance. It was very close at the end and it was certainly the closest we’ve been to Mercedes in qualifying all year, so hopefully that bodes well for tomorrow’s race and we can put them under pressure.”
THIERRY SALVI: “After a hard start to the weekend, the quali result is a good one for the team and we start just behind our main competitors. Sebastian suffered from the lack of running after his engine change yesterday, but Daniel was able to complete his programme and was particularly quick today. Hopefully our cars will be even quicker in race conditions, which could give us more chances to reach the front tomorrow.”
Final Countdown – My 10 minutes before the race starts
A period of frantic activity, last-gasp changes and jangling 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. This time Team Manager Jonathan Wheatley explains why, for him, those final minutes are never a time for nerves.
It’s a set schedule for everyone. With ten minutes to go I’m still on the grid and I’ll give that 10-minute call to everybody. I’ll synchronise my watch with the time on the starting gantry and then I’ll start making my way back to the pit box, which, depending on where you are, might take 30 seconds or two or three minutes. I’ll then go back to the garage and make sure it’s laid out as it should be and then I’ll continue the countdown from the pit wall.
At about eight minutes to go we’ll be putting the drivers in the cars and then at six minutes to go we usually fit the wheels and torque the wheel nuts. With five minutes to go I’ll check that the safety car has left the grid because that means it’s a conventional start. The other reason I stay on the grid until the 10-minute point is that if it’s raining at that point and there’s just chance that it will be a safety car start I hang around to see what the safety car lights are doing at the 10-minute point.
If it’s a conventional start then at the five-minute mark the boys will start packing up the generators. At three minutes to go, the wheels need to be fully fitted and DRS will be officially disabled, so I’ll pass that message on to the engineers as well.
The two-minute point is the next call and that’s when the grid trolley leaves. At one and a half minutes to go we ready the blankets for removal and prepare to sit the car on the floor. At one minute to go we’ll fire up the engine and put the car on the floor. With 45 seconds to go we’ll remove the blankets and drape the blankets over the tyres again and at 30 seconds to go we remove the fans and tyre blankets and everything else connected to the car. At 30 seconds I also remind everyone about the 15 second rule, where everyone has to be off the grid.
I’ll watch the formation lap, making sure that everyone follows the rules and making sure our cars are in good shape and that all cars have left the grid. If another car is starting from pit lane I’ll have told the team that before they come back to the garage so they know to be cautious.
As I say, it’s a set schedule and pretty straightforward. However, if it rains a couple of minutes before the start or there’s a delayed start, that’s when it gets fun! It doesn’t matter how many times you tell people or how many written procedures you hand out, everyone seems to forget what’s supposed to happen, even though it’s the exact same countdown again.
The only time the schedule alters significantly is when you have one of your cars at the pit exit and one on the grid. The timings are very different as the pit exit car wouldn’t do the formation lap, so you would do fire ups at different times.
Do I get nervous before the start? Not at all. I have this ability to not get emotional on the pit wall during the race, in almost any situation. I’m good at controlling my emotions but I do kind of let them go after it, which is why I think I always look the happiest!