Team and drivers report from Chinese Grand Prix qualifying at Shanghai International Circuit, Round 3 of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship.
Jenson Button: MP4-28A-03
“Our aim was to be the first Prime-tyre runner on the grid – even if it meant qualifying 10th – and we did that. This was the best we could do with what we have. Nevertheless, I think we should be very happy with our qualifying performance: we don’t really have the pace of the front-running cars yet, but finishing seventh in Q2 was really satisfying. And to out-qualify both Red Bulls in Q3, and with a two-minute lap, was amazing! All the guys in front will be starting on grained Soft-compound tyres, and I think we’re going to see the high-fuel graining on the Soft that we saw in practice yesterday, so it’s going to be an extremely interesting race. The first 10 laps tomorrow are going to be eventful; if I can get a good start, I’ll hopefully be able to find some clear air in front of me, and then we’ll see what happens.
Sergio Perez: MP4-28A-02
“It’s been a difficult weekend so far. I really should have been in Q3 today – but I didn’t manage to find as much time as the others in Q2. That was frustrating; the warm-up of my tyres before my quick-lap wasn’t ideal, and I struggled to really pull everything together on the lap. Still, the tyres will be difficult and unpredictable for everyone in the race tomorrow. It’s going to a tough race, and a lot will depend on the strategy. I’ve got a great team behind me and I know they’ll do a fantastic job to give me the best possible strategy for the race tomorrow. We can definitely do a good job and score some good points.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“This was an extremely interesting qualifying sessions – for many reasons. Jenson drove beautifully throughout all three sessions: his seventh positions in both Q1 and Q2 showed that there is potential in our car, and that we can close down the gap to the leaders. Additionally, he comfortably got through to Q3 and then drove a disciplined lap, with one eye on tomorrow’s race strategy, to finish as the highest placed runner on the harder compound tyre. We believe that tyre choice in the race could be decisive, and feel that starting Jenson on the Prime gives us a very strong strategy for the race. Sergio was unlucky to just miss out on Q3. It’s been a tough day for him, but he’s a fantastic and committed racer, and I’m sure he’ll be doing everything he can to get back up and score some valuable points tomorrow. We’ve seen before just what he can do, and this weekend has shown that it should be no major impediment to start outside the top 10. He can definitely race strongly into the points.”