AZERBAIJAN GP – QUALIFYING
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Position: 5th, 1:41.879 (Practice 3 – P6 1:43.614)
“The car felt very good during qualifying, I struggled a bit to get the tyres working in sector one but everything else felt like it was going in the right direction. I think we realistically had a shot at P3 today, which on this track would have been a fantastic result. The Red Flag didn’t really have an impact on me, I had just about completed my fast lap and then had a chance for one lap when the session was restarted, just like everyone else. On my final lap in Q3 I was going about three tenths quicker than my best time but then I lost gear sync in the second sector, it cost me a couple of tenths which was frustrating and meant we could not challenge for third. I’m hopeful we can get on top of these issues overnight and be ready for tomorrow. Once again Mercedes have made a big step today so I don’t think we can get close to them but we will be looking to challenge Ferrari come the race. It would be great to get on the podium and that is the goal.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 10th, 1:43.414 (Practice 3 – P4 1:43.287)
“It’s obviously frustrating when you crash but in Q3 you are trying to give everything and get that last little bit out of the car. I knew turn six was a corner where I could do better, I was trying to carry more speed but I lost the rear on the exit and hit the wall. The rear was coming round and I tried to drive out of it but it kept going. The wall kind of comes back round a bit so I hit it. It’s not the wall’s fault, obviously, I’m not blaming the wall! There was no other reason, I was just pushing hard and on the edge of the grip. Sure I’m not happy with the mistake but it’s one of those tracks. Part of me doesn’t like it right now but the reality is that I do like street circuits for these reasons, it shows when you are on the limit and you pay the price when you are over that limit. It’s a shame as I thought we could have been fighting at the front today but the time from Mercedes was really quick, they proved to be out of reach but Ferrari weren’t too far in front at the end. This weekend Max and I have been happy with the balance of the car and it is responding well so we have made definite progress. I’m not disheartened for tomorrow, I think so much can happen around here and even if it is a one stop race I’m sure we can make progress.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “After such promising free practice sessions it’s perhaps slightly underwhelming to be fifth and tenth on the grid. It’s a shame for Max as he was three tenths up on his personal best before losing a bit of time at turn seven and then losing synchronization with the gearbox which prevented any chance of an improvement. Daniel unfortunately clipping the barrier, that we know are pretty unforgiving out here, eliminated him from Qualifying on the spot. Qualifying in fifth and tenth we were certainly hoping for more than fifth and tenth but hopefully from those grid positions we can have a competitive race in what will no doubt be an action-packed grand prix tomorrow.”
Luck of the Draw
Everyone likes to say there’s no such thing as luck in F1 and that outcomes are the result of deep research, intense analysis and careful strategising. As our new quiz reveals that’s a complete load of old rubbish. We present our team personnel with a set of 50 questions, the order of which shifts with each race, they choose 10 and have to answer them, no matter what. Tough, easy, personal and just plain weird, what they get is down to the luck of the draw. This race’s lucky dipper is Head of Race Strategy Will Courtenay.
- What are the three things you can’t do without on a race weekend?
First would be my mobile phone, for staying in touch with the world, obviously that’s a key thing. What else? Tea; I drink a fair amount of tea. I try not to go overboard but I’m definitely more of a tea than a coffee man. And the final thing, I think, is probably sleep. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, particularly with jet lag, you’re in trouble. For example, my room in Canada was next to the gym and it seemed like every morning at 6am someone would drop all the heavy weights on the floor as hard as they could. Just a bit annoying.
- What’s the last number dialled on your phone?
It was a Chinese takeaway in my local village! I think we had a Chinese just before we flew here. My wife Sarah always has the same thing all the time – crispy shredded chilli beef, with special rice but without prawns. I normally go for some kind of Thai curry thing. We eat there far too often.
- Name one other skill you have aside from the thing you do?
I’m not bad at DIY. I wouldn’t say I’m a master craftsman but Sarah and I have renovated a couple of houses and we’re in the process of doing another. We get quite stuck into doing the work ourselves when we can. It’s a nice thing to do to get away from being in front of a laptop. It’s much more practical and hands on.
- What is the thing you most dislike about Formula One?
I don’t really dislike anything about it, but the thing that bugs me about the sport is that in my job, doing the race strategy, you put a lot of time and effort into planning and everything in advance. Then, in the race, you make a decision, which at the time is based on all the experience you have, all the analysis you’ve done, and something completely out of your control comes along and screws it all up. Of course everyone is wise after the event, but it’s very frustrating, because at the time it just isn’t clear. You prepare for most eventualities but there are only so many things you can plan for and if some crazy situation occurs you have to adapt. It is incredibly satisfying when you get it right but it’s hugely frustrating when it starts to get away from you. You have to try to not let it get to you during the race. I’ve had times in the past where you make a decision and it doesn’t work out and then you’re too busy kicking yourself and that leads to another bad decision and it starts to slip away. You have to just put the issue behind you immediately and plan for how to recover. It’s about remaining calm and moving on to the next problem and the next solution.
- What’s been your best race weekend?
That’s hard. We’ve had a lot of great results over the years. Winning in Monaco is fantastic. It’s a wonderful place to win and we’ve had some great times there. Our first win, in China in 2009, in horrendous wet conditions was memorable. To win your first race is amazing. One of my other favourites was Hungary 2010. Seb was very unlucky, he got penalised for dropping back behind the safety car, but we made quite an unusual call under the safety to keep Mark out in order to get him into free air and he really made it work. It was incredibly satisfying to make an edgy strategy call and it paid off really well.
- What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I had known how much opportunity exists when you are younger and how many life experiences there are that you can do. It’s very easy when you are young to think ‘I have tons of years ahead of me’ but then you settle into a job, you settle down and you buy a house and you have commitments. I’m always a little jealous of people who’ve chosen to go off and spend six months as a ski instructor, a year being a scuba instructor and maybe taken three or four years of their life to get stuck into something a bit different before settling down. Obviously we are very lucky with the job we do and we travel a lot and I have had great experiences. But I think it’s too late for me to suddenly take off and do something completely crazy.
- What’s your guilty pleasure song that you love to blast out when you are on your own?
I love a bit of early ‘90s rave music! I’ve got an old CD at home called ‘Rave ’92’ and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a got a few scratches and skips in a few places but it’s got some awesome tunes on it. I can’t listen to it when Sarah’s around but when I’ve got the house to myself, stick that on the stereo and turn it up.
- What would be your superpower?
It would be great to able to fly. It would be an incredible experience to be able to do that, just having that freedom would be amazing.
- If you could go back in time, where and when would you go?
I would love to go back to the dinosaur period. I think to go right back to when dinosaurs were around would be amazing. The world would be such a different place and to see those great big beasts roaming around would be fantastic. A real life Jurassic Park.
- Have you ever stolen anything?
Yes. Not recently! I remember I once stole 25p from my mum’s friend, which I felt very guilty about it. I also accidentally walked out of a branch of Woolworth’s with a pack of rubber bands, which I had intended to pay for but I got distracted by something else and I just walked out. I didn’t get caught, so up to this point crime definitely pays!