Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying: Team & Driver Reports

NB: In the wake the Anthoine Hubert tragedy, we are limiting team reports to this all-inclusive single page as opposed to ten separate reports from each team as we tend to do.

This is what teams had to say after qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Round 13 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Spa-Francorchamps.

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will line up on the front row of the grid for the 64th Belgian Grand Prix, having dominated qualifying at the Spa-Francorchamps track. Charles was quickest with a time of 1’42”519, to secure his third career pole, after doing the same in Bahrain and Austria. This is Scuderia Ferrari’s 223rd pole, the 14th in Belgium.

Q1. Charles and Sebastian only needed the first run on Softs to make the cut into Q2, first and second fastest respectively. The Monegasque did a 1’43”587 and the German did a 1’44″109.

Q2. Both SF90s ran new Softs for their first Q2 run and Leclerc was again first of the Ferrari men to post a time, 1’43”376 followed by his team-mate who did a 1’43”506. These were good times, but both men decided to do one more run, getting down to 1’42”938 and 1’43”037 respectively to make it through to the top ten shoot-out.

Q3. Both drivers again did two runs. Leclerc did a 1’42”644 before getting down to a 1’42”519, while Sebastian went from 1’43”476 to 1’43”267, 15 thousandths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton, who was third quickest. This is the Scuderia’s 63rd qualifying one-two. The Belgian Grand Prix starts tomorrow at 15.10.

McLaren

Carlos Sainz, 17th: “Disappointing day. Another flag on a Saturday that doesn’t give us the chance to show our pace. There was definitely some lap-time left in the bag there at the end of Q1. We did the first run with the used rubber, and when we put on our new set of tyres and the engine mode for the second and final run, we had to abort due to the red flag. Together with the engine penalty it’s a frustrating day, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I prefer to look forward and fully focus on the race tomorrow. We’ll fight until the chequered flag as always.”

Lando Norris, 12th: “I’m happy with qualifying, happy with my performance and what we could do as a team. We were struggling a bit to find a good direction for the car throughout yesterday and today. I think we made a good step forward coming into qualifying from FP3. It was a bit hard to know how it was going to go, but we seemed at our most competitive in quali because so far we’ve been a bit behind everyone else. I think we made some steps forward but not enough to get into Q3. So, I’m happy with my lap and how everything went, but the grid position we’ll be starting from won’t be as good as we wanted.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We’ve been struggling to get more performance out of our package and couldn’t make any steps forward throughout the practice sessions. Therefore, qualifying outside Q3 was not unexpected. We were unlucky with the red flag for Carlos which denied him a second shot at Q2. We now switch our focus to race preparation, and we’re expecting a difficult race tomorrow. Still, we’re here to fight and with several grid penalties applied to various cars tomorrow, we could be back in a position to challenge for points.”

Toro Rosso

Jody Egginton, Technical Director: “As for our Qualifying, the setup changes we made overnight had improved the car and as such, we were able to set more competitive lap times in FP3. Although Dany was not able to close his best lap due to encountering some traffic, Pierre did, and we went into Qualifying with the expectation of having a reasonable performance. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Following poor first runs from both cars due to an issue with Dany’s car, and Pierre struggling with tyre temperatures, there was no opportunity to improve with the second runs due to the red flag. We now have a lot of work ahead of us tonight to try and recover as best as we can from the situation we find ourselves after Qualifying, making sure we are in a position to maximize any opportunities which may come our way.”

Honda

Technical Director, Honda Racing F1: “Max Verstappen qualified in a satisfactory fifth place for tomorrow’s race. However, he experienced a very brief moment of power loss on his first run in Q1, but we were able to change the settings to deal with this, so that he was able to complete the rest of the session.  The two Toro Rosso cars got no further than Q1, unable to do their quickest lap because of the red flag after Giovinazzi had a problem.  Albon and Kvyat were using the new Spec 4 PU as from yesterday, which means they have to start from the back of the grid, so today, they focussed mainly on race preparation rather than qualifying. This will be our first race running Spec 4 on what is a very demanding track for the PU, so our first target is to finish the race with all four cars. This is a track where overtaking is possible, so we hope they can move up the order.”

Haas

Romain Grosjean, 11th: “We got the best of the car today, both drivers, so that’s great. Since the beginning of the weekend we haven’t really been comfortable with the car. I think this weekend has showed some of the weakness we have, but that’s good as we have a very clear vision of where we need to go for the future – that’s the positive part. On the more negative side, I think our race pace isn’t there, so I’m a bit worried for tomorrow. We have an issue with tire usage, not because of the tires – we know they have limitations, but when you don’t have the downforce to go with it, it just makes things worse. Hopefully the changing weather will be to our advantage.

Kevin Magnussen, 10th: “I would say we can be happy today. After yesterday we didn’t expect to have any pace today, but on the other hand, you do have it in mind that things can turn on their heads overnight because these tires, for us at least – as we all have the same tires, it’s very difficult. We don’t seem to be able to work the tire in the right way for whatever reason, I don’t think it’s a lack of tire knowledge really, because I’m not sure anyone completely understands these tires, I think it’s just something somewhere in our car that doesn’t suit them. It can make all the work you do in the background a little bit irrelevant, as you can turn around with different results every day, every session. It’s a little bit frustrating, but today going P10, starting P8 tomorrow, we’ll take that.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: “I would have signed on for today’s qualifying positions if you’d offered me them yesterday as we were struggling. The team did a good job to get the car back. I don’t think there was a lot more in the car other than what we took out of it today. So, we will start eighth and ninth, which is fantastic compared to where we were yesterday. Tomorrow the weather will change and maybe we’ll get a little bit of attrition, and maybe we can take some points home.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: FP3 was a quiet session and we completed our planned programme with only a very minor interruption due to the red flag. Both drivers were happier with their cars this morning and only very minor changes were made ahead of qualifying. The qualifying session was very difficult with two red flags interrupting Q1. Of course, the first was for Robert’s power unit issue, which will mean that we fit a different power unit to his car for tomorrow. The second red flag meant that George, like everyone else apart from Verstappen, was unable to complete his second timed lap. We always knew that Spa would be a challenge for us and so it has proved. Although we will find ourselves further up the starting grid tomorrow due to a variety of penalties, it will nonetheless be a difficult race for both drivers.

George Russell: We knew before the weekend it was going to be a very different story to Hungary. It was a bizarre qualifying, I was only able to get one lap in due to the red flags in the session. It is how it is, and we will make the most out of it. We will be starting higher up the grid due to penalties, but it will still be a tough race.

Robert Kubica: I felt a lack of power on the back straight, but there was no strange noise. At first, I thought it was a deployment issue, but then I realised in the mirror that there was smoke. Unfortunately, that’s how it is in motorsport, it can happen. It’s a big shame because some other cars are taking grid penalties, so we could maybe have started further up. Now it’s important to evaluate what happened and move forward.

{Note some teams have not filed reports in the wake of the Anthoine Hubert fatal accident.]