It’s just one strong performance after another for us in Belgium this weekend. Pascal aces Q1 and storms through to Q2. Esteban, after only three practice sessions in the car, qualifies 18th and little over a tenth from Q2.
Qualifying, 2016 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix
Saturday 27 August
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Pascal MRT05-03 Q2 P16 11 laps 1:48.554
Esteban MRT05-02 Q1 P18 7 laps 1:49.050
Cracking job, Pascal. P9 in Q1, and through to Q2 for the second time this year. But, you seem disappointed?
“Well, I’m very happy that we made it through to Q2, of course; Q1 was incredible for us with P9. But unfortunately we had no new Supersoft tyres for Q2, so it’s a bit of shame, and I had to do my lap on used tyres. Q1 felt so good with new tyres, so you can see what was possible today; that last run was not our true pace. So it was a bit of a shame, but that decision has to be made much earlier in the year.”
You’ve looked in good shape all weekend. Could we see a strong race tomorrow?
“We’re actually in a very good position for tomorrow, in terms of our position on the grid and also with the tyres we have available for the race. Degradation will be high at this track, so we’ll be okay I think. And, yes, I’ve been very happy with the weekend so far. It’s all gone pretty much to plan and I’m looking forward to the race.”
How was your first experience of qualifying?
“Pretty tough, I have to say. I’ve been pretty happy with my pace generally but it’s not easy to start your F1 career more than halfway through the season. I need more time in the car and with the Supersoft tyre and even managing the traffic; that’s quite a challenge too with all the cars slowing down after their laps. It takes more experience than I have in three practice sessions to really extract the maximum out of everything. That’s something to look forward to with each new race though, improving step by step. I was very quick on the Soft tyre, so although I’m a little disappointed today, I’m also excited about what is yet to come.”
What about the race tomorrow, your first F1 Grand Prix?
“Tomorrow I will be the happiest guy on the grid. It’s my first race and I can’t wait for the whole experience of preparing for the race, the grid, lights out, pit stops – everything. Again, the race will bring its own challenges, as it’s my first one, but I’m really happy with the work we’ve done in practice. I’m happy on the Medium and Soft tyre, and with the long run pace, so I’m just going to stay focused on the goal, which is to have a strong clean race, get a good result for the team, learn a lot and have fun with it too.”
A word with Dave Ryan, Racing Director:
“Funny, isn’t it? Everyone has worked so hard to get to the point where we can get through to Q2 on pure pace, yet while we have achieved this with Pascal’s fantastic performance today, there is also a sense of frustration. Perhaps if we had believed in ourselves a bit more we might have managed our tyre usage slightly differently, such that we could have competed in Q2 with new tyres rather than reuse the same sets from Q1. However, that was how we chose to play it and as a result we’re looking very good for the race tomorrow, which is when it really counts. So, brilliant job Pascal and the team. That’s what we’re here for, so let’s keep it going!
“Esteban? Well, he has been absolutely mega! Yes, it’s his first ever Grand Prix, but that’s nothing compared to the fact that yesterday morning, at 1000hrs and the start of FP1, he drove our race car for the very first time and yet, here he is, 18th on the grid, having done a fantastic job all weekend. I’m sure he’s incredibly excited about tomorrow’s race, as we all are. His preparation has been perfect and his race pace is where it needs to be, so he’s ready for it and I am sure he will deliver.
“Congratulations to everyone in the garage and back at Banbury. Today is a big milestone but there’s still a long way to go, so let’s keep pushing!”