Drivers: 1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1m 45.390s; 2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 1m 45.457s; 3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m 45.571s.
Q: Fernando, a thrilling qualifying battle with the lead changing between you and Sebastian sector by sector on that final run but you did it.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, obviously it was not an easy qualifying...
We had very little running in dry conditions as it seemed to remain damp on some parts of the circuit during the weekend, so we arrived to qualifying not completely 100 per cent confident in the car in some of the corners. We build up the confidence in Q1 and Q2 and then in Q3 we tried to push at the limits. Both of my tyres worked really well and both attempts were similar in terms of lap time. Obviously in the car we don’t know what others are doing but I was quite happy with my lap. I did not know if it was enough to be on pole, second or fourth but I think we got 100 per cent out of the car today, so that was the main target for us.
Q: There was an engine concern for your team-mate Felipe Massa. You had to re-map your engine. What was the problem?
FA: Well, we tried to understand Felipe’s problem. Looking at the telemetry until the car is back probably we will not know, so we made some safe changes in the car just to avoid any risk. We were running with some experimental things here and after Felipe’s problem we went back to the standard ones. We had a problem the first time we changed it, so in Q2 we were running with the wrong maps in the car and we were lucky to get into Q3 and then in Q3 with the right maps the car was feeling better.
Q: Sebastian, you had a problem on the first run in the final part of qualifying. But where did it get away from you in the end?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it was a pretty messy qualifying for us. I think we had a very smooth practice yesterday and this morning. This afternoon never really got into the rhythm, always a little bit in traffic and I just did not get it into one lap as I did in practice. In the final qualifying session, Q3, the first run I misjudged the gap to the car ahead. You don’t want to let your tyres cool down too much and then after four or five corners I was already in the back of Michael (Schumacher). Therefore the first run was lost. Second run I was on a good lap, then in sector two, 11, 12, 13 I was slightly in the wall in the exit and lost too much time there. I could recover from it in the last sector but not enough. In the end I think we had the car to be on pole but unfortunately only second by a little amount of time. But anyway I think we have a very quick car for tomorrow and we should be in a very strong position, so good start. I don’t know about the weather. I think no-one knows. Then we see.
Q: Is this a bit of a surprise for you as everybody up and down the pit lane thought Red Bull had a big advantage here?
SV: Well, I think we have an advantage, yes, but as it turned out in qualifying the others were a little bit closer and we did not get it all together. Probably we should have gone quicker but would, should, could. Can’t change it now. Obviously I am not the happiest today to go to sleep. Fernando is probably a little bit happier. But it was tight. They did a very good job and as he said they got the maximum out and this is what we and I didn’t do today, therefore we are only second.
Q: Lewis, good result for you ahead of your title rival Mark Webber and just a tenth off the Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, not such a bad qualifying session. A bit of an improvement compared to Monza. I think we had perhaps a little bit more in the car but it is tricky out there making sure you found the gap. I cannot really complain. I am on the clean side of the grid and we have had the best starts for quite some time now, so fingers crossed that will continue tomorrow and it puts us in a good position.
Q: You have won here before. How do you see tomorrow’s race unfolding?
LH: I am sure tomorrow is going to be an extremely tricky race considering how long it took today for the track to dry. I am sure if it does rain this evening or sometime tomorrow it will never dry out. It takes so long. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain the whole day and it is not a problem but if it is wet, then we have got our work cut out for sure.
Q: Fernando, the momentum is with you and Ferrari. Can you keep it going tomorrow in the race?
FA: Well, obviously it is going to be a tough race. But we are in the best position to start. Pole will help in dry and wet as well in terms of visibility, so let’s try to take the opportunity. As Lewis said I think if it rains anytime during the day probably there will be some parts of the track that remain wet for the whole race, so it is a race to survive in a way as well. As I said, starting on pole is the best thing we can do. We are not too worried about wet or dry. We should be okay in both.
Q: Fernando, your second pole position this year. But tell us about the importance of pole position here.
FA: Well, we know that there are some circuits where pole position is important. This is one. If it is wet tomorrow it doesn’t count too much as it will be very difficult to see on the track. If it rains at anytime in the day it will be wet, so maybe pole means really less in those conditions as you can lose four or five seconds in one lap in those types of corners where they are damp. But it is the best position to start the race. The points are on Sunday afternoon, so in preparation for this Sunday afternoon you need to make a good Saturday and today we did.
Q: What about that first run? A lot of the time seemed to come in the final sector.
FA: Yeah, obviously different characteristics in the car. It seemed to struggle a little bit more in the second sector and being a little bit more comfortable in the third one. Also the behaviour of the tyres and how you prepare the tyres change the picture in terms of level of grip in the three sectors, so we knew that the third sector was giving us some performance there. That is something where we have normally been quick, in the third one, all weekend.
Q: How does that translate into the race itself? What differences does it make for the race?
FA: Nothing different. Obviously the main target is to be on the podium. At the moment Lewis and Mark are in front in the championship, so the target is to finish the race in front of them if we can. If we cannot finish in front we try to finish as close as we can to not lose more points. At the moment the job for tomorrow is to do that. Then when someone else is leading the championship we concentrate on those. But at the moment Lewis and Mark are the two in front.
Q: So a pretty satisfactory day all round?
FA: Yeah, we arrived here knowing that maybe Red Bull was very strong here. We saw yesterday a strong performance from them. This morning as well. Today our pole position is good for us. It is good news. One Red Bull is second, one is fourth here, so this is maybe a surprise for us.
Q: Sebastian, what happened on the first run?
SV: I caught Michael up quicker than I thought. Misjudged the gap a little bit. Probably took it a little bit quicker in the last couple of corners than he did and ended up already close when I crossed the line. I started the lap and thought ‘okay, we will be okay’. I counted to the first corner. It was around three seconds, two-and-a-half and caught him quicker than I thought I would, so I was stuck behind him. Not much I could do. Then for the second run I had a good beginning of the lap. In the middle sector I lost quite a lot of time in the complex 11, 12 and 13. Slightly hit the wall on the exit, so lost out. I tried obviously to finish the lap as I didn’t get a lap in before, so couldn’t risk too much in the last sector and missed pole by a little bit. Obviously we should have been on pole today by a little bit, so didn’t achieve our optimum. It was not a very smooth qualifying session with traffic here and there. Too many mistakes. But that’s how it is. Tomorrow is more important and starting second is not a bad thing considering that they did quite a good job on cleaning the circuit. Looking at other races, second is not as bad as the last couple of years, so we will see. As Fernando said if it rains tomorrow then anything is possible. I think we have a very strong car no matter the conditions, so we will see.
Q: You started second last year, what’s the difference?
SV: Yeah, I lost the position to Nico (Rosberg), I think, who was starting third. Obviously it’s not ideal, I would have loved to have been on pole but that’s not the case, so we have to be happy with second and I still think that if we go second or third into the first corner, depending on the conditions, we have a very good car and we are able to win, so we will see. Tomorrow is much more important than today.
Q: Lewis, I think you had quite a bumpy ride over the chicane on the second run.
LH: Yeah, the session was OK. The first lap I was much too close to Jenson, so in the last sector I think I was losing a bit of downforce but nevertheless, it was still quite a good lap. On the last lap I didn’t improve, it just wasn’t a good lap.
Q: You said yesterday that the Red Bulls were beatable; what are your feelings now?
LH: Yeah, well they are beatable, clearly. Fernando has proved that today and through qualifying. Clearly they don’t have the two second lead that they had at one stage this year, and so that’s a positive for us. I think myself and Jenson are doing a solid job, the team is doing a solid job, the car feels good and our long run pace is even better than our qualifying pace, so I feel that tomorrow we will have a good race.
Q: We were a bit worried about the yellow flag in Q2, did you see that?
LH: Yeah, there was a yellow flag in Q2 in turn five, and as I arrived, it switched off, it disappeared. The light was on and then it disappeared, and they told me it was clear as I went into the corner.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Question to you all: usually qualifying means 90 per cent of the race result on street circuits. Do you think that’s also the case tomorrow?
FA: Well, hopefully yes. I think it depends on the conditions. I think if it’s dry there is no doubt that it’s difficult to overtake here and like all street circuits, if it’s wet or if it’s half dry, half damp, anything can happen, because you can lose or gain a lot of seconds in two or three corners, so that will change positions very quickly in the first or in the middle of the race or whenever, so I think it will depend on the conditions, it will mean more or less the positions of the grid.
SV: I don’t think there’s more to add. It’s a long race here. The weather situation is completely open at this stage, so depending on when it will rain tomorrow it will be wet or half wet but surely it will be tricky. This is one of the longest races at nearly two hours, so it’s a very tough one too and a lot of things can happen. Sure, the further you are up in qualifying the more it helps but obviously the race can still change a couple of things. I think Fernando started here from 15th on the grid and won the race two years ago.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L’Equipe) Sebastian, you started from second last year. Is there a way not to repeat the same start, and how is the grip on the bad side of the grid?
SV: You’ve said it: it’s the bad side of the grid with probably less grip, we will find out tomorrow. But I think judging around the track and also the pit exit, obviously they have a new cleaning machine here for the asphalt which helped a lot throughout the weekend. OK, the water doesn’t disappear, but in terms of dust, I think it’s much better than it used to be for the last two years, so it should be fine. I think there’s a picture right outside here where you can’t even see the last five cars starting into the first corner because there was so much dust. It will be similar tomorrow but probably not as bad which should give us a good chance and we hope for a good start, see what we can do.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, how big were the concerns about the engine after Felipe stopped obviously with an engine problem and apparently an electronic problem? Has it anything to do with the underground (railway) which I think might have been the reason for upsetting the electronics in the past?
FA: We don’t know, I don’t know at the moment. When I was in the car they informed me that Felipe had some kind of problems in the car, I think electronic problems but I really don’t know what happened or what is the reason why it happened. In our car, it was running OK. I don’t know, probably the team knows something more now that the car is back.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, I would like to know if you have some new updates on your starting system and the same from Fernando?
SV: If we have the same system as Ferrari? No, I understood! Yeah, lately our starts were not as good as they used to be at the beginning of the season. We struggled a little bit to put consistent starts together, but we’ve done a little bit of homework and I think we should be more resistant tomorrow, even if the grip isn’t that good. I think that all in all, there’s nothing wrong with our starts, just the last couple of races, if you sum it up, sometimes we were a bit unfortunate. In Hockenheim we had some problem with the clutch, Hungary was OK. Silverstone I think we had the same start as the Ferrari behind us, just on the worse side, so therefore I don’t think there’s much to worry about. As I said, we have some improvements - nothing big, we don’t come here with new parts, so pretty much as we have been, just the set-up is slightly different.
FA: No, nothing new. We were happy with our starts so far.
Q: (Jose Carlos Carabias - ABC) Fernando, apart from the weather, what are you more worried about for tomorrow? The performance of your opponents or to manage to do everything with the starting system?
FA: There are no big worries for tomorrow. The start is OK, the pace is OK, the car is OK and the weather is OK, both conditions.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Gomez - Grand Prix Actual) Fernando, five years ago you became World Champion on a day like today. Is this a good present or do you want more?
FA: Well, I didn’t know it was today, the exact day. Obviously there’s no need for presents or anything like that but pole position is a good way to start tomorrow’s race and keep fighting for this 2010 Championship that has been up and down, sometimes in the fight, sometimes not, and if we want to be in the fight until Abu Dhabi we need to be consistent and finish the race tomorrow with strong points.
Q: (Sarah Holt - BBC Sport) Lewis, you have Fernando starting in front of you and Mark lining up behind you. Who are you going to be more worried about as you plot your strategy off the start?
LH: Neither. We pretty much have the best starts out of everyone now which is pretty good, so I’m hoping that will continue that way. As you saw, Jenson’s start in the last race was great and he was able to jump ahead of Fernando. Our starts aren’t bad, so we can’t really be too worried. I think tomorrow’s just about getting a decent start, whether it’s dry or wet and staying clean around the first lap. That’s the main goal.