Qualifying for tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix saw Nico Hulkenberg set the twelfth fastest time of the afternoon ahead of Sergio Perez in P13.
P12* Nico Hulkenberg VJM07-04
Q1: 1:40.273 Q2: 1:40.058
Nico: “It’s a very long and challenging lap here, and it’s not so easy to put a good lap together. I think we got pretty much what we could from the car because getting the most from the tyres today was a big challenge. If you pushed more initially, you paid the price at the end of the lap, so the secret was to find a balance across the whole lap. Having the five-place grid penalty tomorrow will be quite costly on this track because I think it’s going to be difficult to overtake – it’s only really possible down the two main straights. Hopefully I can make a clean start and use our race pace to score some points, but there is not that much you can do with the strategy because the tyre degradation is very low. We expect this race to be very demanding on fuel consumption so maybe that will open up some opportunities.”
P13 Sergio Perez VJM07-02
Q1: 1:40.723 Q2: 1:40.163
Sergio: “It is disappointing to miss out on a place in Q3 because the gaps were very small. My first lap in Q2 was very good, but in my second run I made a few mistakes which cost me two tenths and a place in the top ten. I think we will be starting pretty much where we expected based on our one-lap pace, so we will aim to move ahead and achieve a better position in the race tomorrow. In terms of strategy, we don’t expect big surprises. I think it will be an interesting race: overtaking won’t be easy so the start and the first few laps could have a big influence on the final result. The track is quite difficult and tyre temperatures will be a key element as the race progresses.”
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal & Managing Director
“A place in Q3 was out of reach today but the margins were very close and one or two tenths would have made the difference. The penalty for Nico is unfortunate and gives us an even bigger challenge tomorrow because of the limited strategy options on a circuit where it appears to be very difficult to overtake. However, it’s a brand new track, we’ve never seen a race here, and there are lots of unknowns that could play a role. So we remain optimistic of converting our starting positions into points and we will give it our all as usual.”
*Nico’s starting position is still to be confirmed by the FIA following a five-place grid penalty for fitting a new gearbox before qualifying. It is expected he will start from P17.