Esteban was SO close to displacing Sauber in Qualifying today, but a mistake in Turn 14 cost him dear. Pascal remains upbeat, despite a wretched time of it in the free practice sessions. He’ll be a man on a mission in the race tomorrow, as he fights to make the most of the car’s performance step.
Qualifying, 2016 Formula 1 Emirates Japanese Grand Prix
Saturday 8 October
Suzuka International Racing Course
Esteban MRT05-02 P21 1:33.353 9 laps
Pascal MRT05-03 P22 1:33.561 9 laps
Well done, Esteban! You seem happy and disappointed in equal measure, though. More in the tank?
“Quite a bit more in the tank, unfortunately. I made a small mistake in Turn 14, which I’m pretty unhappy with, and which could have put us ahead of Sauber. So it was pretty tight with them and I feel bad for the guys because everything on my side has been strong this weekend. I hope to make it up to them in the race tomorrow.”
How about another start like Sepang? That was awesome!
“Yeah, it was. That would be great. Turns 1 and 2 here are very different to Sepang though. It’s about man and machine and the team do a pretty good job of the starts, so I’ll give it everything I’ve got off the line and we’ll see. In the meantime, well done to the team. We’ve made good progress here that is not always easy for those outside to see, but I’m hoping it will come good in the race.”
Pascal, Lady Luck just not shining on you here this weekend?
“No, it’s true. Last night we had to change the gearbox, so I have a grid penalty, then this morning we had another problem that meant I wasn’t able to complete my qualifying preparation; I didn’t get to finish my soft tyre run. So it’s difficult to find the positives in the weekend so far. I guess the grid penalty doesn’t affect us from where we’re starting, but it’s still pretty disappointing.”
We know you’re not one for letting your head drop though. What’s the big comeback plan?
“No, I try to start every day as if it’s a new one, particularly on race day. I love the Suzuka track; it’s really nice and challenging, and the first sector in particular is awesome. It will be tough, but we need a good start, a good strategy, fast pit stops and some opportunities to come our way. We’ll push hard for a good result.”
A word with Dave Ryan, Racing Director:
“A good day for Esteban, who had a really strong qualifying and was looking good to get ahead of Sauber, had it not been for a small error that cost him a few tenths. Underlying that performance is a sure sign that we’ve improved since Sepang and that’s good to see, as it’s the product of a lot of work right across the team. What is less good is the fact that Pascal hasn’t been in a position to demonstrate that progress, his problems of yesterday having necessitated a gearbox change overnight and then a further setback towards the end of FP3 not helping his preparation for qualifying. However, as we all know it’s all about the race tomorrow and I’m sure we’ll see both drivers fighting to get the most out of the car’s full potential. Finally, a huge thanks to the team, who have been absolutely fantastic these past few races. It’s a real pleasure working alongside them and it can only get better as we develop further.”