SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 6th, (3rd Practice – P11, 1:11.967)
“I got happier with the car as qualifying progressed and we’re in a solid position to start the race tomorrow. It’s hard to beat the Mercedes and Williams from where we are, but this is Brazil and anything can happen; weather can play a big role, it was supposed to rain today and it didn’t, but that’s Interlagos for you.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 9th, (3rd Practice – P5, 1:11.188)
” The day was going alright up until qualifying and then we lost a lot of pace. I went out quite early in Q1 and there was a bit of stuff on the track, so I thought it would get better and better but we didn’t find the pace we were after. I was surprised to get into Q3 after my lap in Q2. I felt better in Q3, but I was only a tenth or so faster; it’s bit frustrating. We should have finished better than ninth, we hoped to be in the top five after the pace we had in practice, but hopefully the car will be better in the race.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “It was a totally Mercedes-dominated qualifying; I think sixth and ninth is representative of where are on this track. Daniel lost some pace from this morning and Sebastian found some pace; we’re not up as far as we’d like to be. Hopefully, with a wet race tomorrow, we can have a stronger Sunday.“
THIERRY SALVI: “It was good to see both cars inside the top-10, but we were hoping for a little more in terms of pace. Interlagos is a very specific circuit for the Power Unit, with the low ambient pressure requiring the eTurbo to work harder. It’s important we manage that in terms of energy usage. The changeable weather conditions and temperature fluctuations both also played their part in making for a tricky qualifying session. Hopefully strategy will be a factor tomorrow, especially if we can make the most of a long run to the first corner. Both drivers proved in Austin they have no problem overtaking other cars!
Final Countdown – My 10 minutes before the race starts
The 10 minutes before the start of a grand prix are some of the most intense moments in F1… at least they are for many team members. However, this weekend Chief Strategist Will Courtenay confesses that the period just prior to the start is something akin to the calm eye of the storm, with the bulk of his plotting done well in advance of lights out…
The main part of my preparatory work is done on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday morning we run a lot of computer simulations predicting what’s going to happen in the race and what might be our best strategy. During the morning I’ll collate all the information and then I’ll sit down with the other engineers, the drivers and Christian and we’ll go through it and decide on our strategy.
After that I have a certain amount of software configuration I need to do for the race strategy software, making sure all the pit wall software is ready to go. I’ll also have a meeting with the Ops Room staff, to make sure that everyone is on the same page with regard to the strategy. I’ll also put together a cheat sheet for myself, a distillation of the plan that I can very quickly refer to during the race. So, to be honest the final 10 minutes are probably some of my quietest moments on a Sunday!
I’ll usually watch the laps to grid half an hour before the start but where I watch that from varies. Sometimes I’ll be back in the office, watching the TV feed just in case something unusual happens. If there’s a threat of rain I’ll be looking at the weather radar or if it’s already raining I’ll be looking at the conditions to see how wet it is and where the dry line is. Sometimes I’ll go to the pit lane to see what tyres other cars are going to the grid on as sometimes that can give you an idea of what their strategy might be. Other times I might just be grabbing some lunch!
So, 10 minutes before the race I’ll start the software. And once it’s active I’ll go to the garage where Christian and I will watch from one of the alcoves. We’ll watch the TV feed from there as prior to the start only two people are allowed on the pit wall, Team Manager Jonathan Wheatley and Race Engineering Co-Ordinator Andy Damerum. So, Christian and I will stay in the garage for the first half of the opening lap and then after that we’ll run across from the garage to take our positions on the pit wall. It’s a fairly relaxed last few minutes for me. We should have foreseen most of the things that might happen, so it’s actually quite a quiet time for me.