08 OCTOBER 2016
JAPANESE GP – QUALIFYING
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Position: 5th*, 1:31.178 (Practice 3 – P4 1:32.784)
“Not such a bad result in qualifying but I think the whole team expected a bit better. We wanted to be in front of the Ferraris, we were very close but the balance of our car wasn’t quite right. In the low speed corners where we are usually very strong it didn’t quite work for us today, this could be the changing conditions but I’m not entirely sure. Staring fourth on the grid tomorrow gives us a chance of a good result so we can still be positive. Our race pace looks ok but everyone looks quite strong at the moment so it is quite unknown how tomorrow will play out. It will be hard to overtake here and like you can see from qualifying it is very close, I expect the same during the race. If we can have a good start like in Malaysia then we can achieve a good result. We will all sit down and work through this evening to make sure we are as prepared as possible for the race.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 6th*, 1:31.240 (Practice 3 – P2 1:32.394)
“To be honest I was hoping for a bit more from qualifying. We knew it was going to be close with Ferrari and we were hoping to get in front of them but they had good pace. It’s a little frustrating as we were losing time down the straights and we need to find out why. I felt like I was doing all I could and I think the lap itself was okay. In the second last lap, I think I found a little bit more in Sector 1 but I felt like it hurt the tyres in the last part of the lap. I’m happy with our long run race pace and should have similar pace to Ferrari, we expect them to be our real rivals in the race. We also expect Mercedes to be conservative and turn down their power in the race, so we’ll see what happens. We’ll gain a position through Sebastian’s penalty, starting P5 is better than P6 and hopefully we have a good battle on our hands.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “An extremely tight qualifying where both drivers extracted the maximum from the car. They were very competitive in Sector 1 today, unfortunately we lost a bit of time in Sector 3 on some of the more power dominated areas of the track. Nonetheless, we qualified in fifth and sixth, which will become fourth and fifth tomorrow, and hopefully we can take the good race pace we had in free practice into the grand prix.”
*Car 33 will start P4, Car 3 will start P5, due to penalty for Car 5
Road and Track
We ask some of the people who make our team tick to pick out their favourite moments and machines in motorsport and on the road. This time it’s our Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin.
1. What was the first race you ever attended?
It was the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in 1987. I can’t remember who won but I remember what happened to Alain Prost, because I was following him at the time. He was on for a podium finish but his car broke down on the last lap. I was quite a latecomer to motor racing. I wasn’t into motor sport at all until around the time I was studying for my final exams in school.
2. What’s the most beautiful road car ever made?
I think it’s the Renault Alpine A110. I know some people choose really exotic cars that you could never see or touch or drive. I think the Alpine sits at the right level in terms of beauty and what it represents. It’s super expensive these days but you could say it’s nearly there; you could almost do it.
3. What’s the most beautiful race car ever made?
The Brabham BT55, Gordon Murray’s super slim car [which raced in 1986]. It was ridiculously slim and flat but beautiful. It wasn’t particularly successful but it just looked fast. And it was completely different.
4. What was the first road car you owned and was it any good?
It was absolutely rubbish. It was a Fiat Panda 1.1litre. It was 1990. I used to work in Indycar and in my first year they were asking me what car I owned, and one guy pointed out that one cylinder on his pick-up truck was bigger than the whole engine of my car.
5. What car do you own now and why did you buy it?
OK… I own a 20-year-old Lexus. I only bought it because when I moved back to Europe from the States I just needed a car, any car. A friend happened to be selling this car and I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s got four wheels and it goes from A to B’. But I would like to point out that I’ve got his Caterham as well. I still drive the Lexus. I know, it’s sad, but it just does the job. When you’re away for a couple of weeks like this and you get back to the UK, you just want something that starts, and it is does the job, which is something that can’t always be said about the Caterham.
6. When you were first getting into motorsport who were you a fan of?
It was Alain Prost because he was winning everything at the time, he was French and he just showed the right way to go about racing I think. But I’m like my colleague Dan Fallows, we’re engineers, so you follow the drivers but also the team and the people behind the car. So I was a great admirer of Gérard Ducarouge, who passed away last year. To have these Frenchman doing really well in a very British team, Lotus, that’s something that inspired me a lot and helped me on the way to doing what I do today.
7. What’s your favourite circuit, in F1 or outside the sport?
I’ll go for Laguna Seca. It’s a beautiful track. It’s a lot shorter, but it’s a bit like Spa, it has a lot of elevation changes. I won my first championship there as well with Jimmy Vasser [for Chip Ganassi Racing]. The surroundings are just beautiful – Monterey, Carmel – these small former fishing villages that are really nice and picturesque. Indycar was fantastic then – you had three or four chassis manufacturers, three or four engine suppliers. The size of the teams was reasonable, so you could touch everything – a bit of aero, vehicle dynamics and still race engineer at the weekend – so in terms of learning your craft it was fantastic. Also on any given Sunday you had a shot of winning the race. It was really competitive.
8. What’s the thing in motorsport that you’d most like to achieve but haven’t?
I think the most difficult thing for an engineer is to understand what it’s like to drive an F1 car. You can drive your road car, drive like a lunatic and go too fast in a corner and say ‘oh yeah, I clearly had understeer there or oversteer there’. You get the gist. I know the vehicle dynamics and I understand the physics. But understanding the whole experience – the physicality, the athletic aspect, the subtleties of how the car behaves, all the little cues a professional racing driver gets, to be able to relate to that on a holistic level would be great.
9. What’s the one that got away throughout your career?
I’ve never won the Indy 500. I got fairly close. I’ve done it probably five or six times and the last time was with Bruno Junquiera [in 2005]. He was leading the race and he overtook a backmarker [A J Foyt IV] who didn’t see him and he put Bruno in the wall. He broke his back and it put him out of racing for a long time. It compounded the misery. The way he was driving, the way the car was going, we knew we had a good shot. It was a bad day: we didn’t win, the driver was really injured, and the rest of the programme was compromised. It really sucked.
10. What would be your race number and why?
Number five. I don’t know why people say anything other than number five. I remember going through it with Sebastian in that year when you had to pick. Because he was champion he could have been number one but he wanted something different. I remember going through the statistics and apart from number one, number five is the most likely number to win the championship. I know, it’s such an ‘engineer’ thing to do. There were emotional reasons to choose that number and statistical reason to do it. So I called him up and said ‘have you picked a number yet’ and he said ‘well, it’s got to be number five, hasn’t it’. It was a 10-second discussion. What other one could you choose? The numbers don’t lie.
11. If you had an Aston Martin for a day where would you take it and who would you be with?
I’ve read the answers of the other people who’ve done this questionnaire, and it’s all very nice, they’re taking their wives and their children – it’s beautiful. But I’m not doing that. I’m not going to take anyone. I’m not a very good driver and I don’t think there would be very much in it for them, being dragged around all day by a bad driver. I’ll keep it to myself and just take it to a historic race track such as Le Mans or Spa and just drive around – even if I have to drive on normal roads around the track.