Saturday 3 September
Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Milan
Pascal MRT05-03 P14 1:23.315 14 laps *Will start P13*
Esteban MRT05-02 DNF 2 laps
Pascal, great qualifying again today. Happy?
“Really happy with qualifying, especially when you take into account how things were for us this morning. We were struggling, I couldn’t get a clear lap; it was frustrating as it wasn’t quite coming together then. But it did in qualifying, when it mattered, and definitely the pace was right there, perhaps more than we expected.”
You’ve split the two McLarens and will have Button, Sainz, Kvyat, Grosjean, Nasr, Ericsson, Palmer, Magnussen, and, sadly, your teammate in your mirrors at the start. Not a bad day’s work! That brings great opportunity but also some fierce first lap battles to look out for.
“Yes I’m very pleased that we’ve qualified ahead of those guys. It shows just how much we’ve achieved and although I got the most from the package today, there’s still more to find in the car that I hope we can tap into in the race. It will be difficult tomorrow; everyone has a Monza package for Monza! But we’ve put ourselves in the mix and from here we can have a very good race, maybe making the most of some opportunities. As for the start, Spa was disappointing – it was racing – but we start again tomorrow. The first two corners are very tight, so we have to watch out, but I’m excited and confident and I want to do a really great job.”
Esteban, sorry to say your qualifying was over before it really began there?
“Yes, the car just died. The dash went, the engine cut – I had no information. It looks like a repeat of yesterday’s electrical problem, but we’re taking a good look and exploring everything to make sure that doesn’t happen again tomorrow. ”
Aside from the two stoppages, another really positive weekend for you. You seem to be gaining in confidence with each new session.
“That’s what makes qualifying so frustrating, I guess. We know the pace is in the car; I’ve been strong here all weekend, particularly this morning, which is why we expected great things from qualifying. Pascal showed how strong the car is, so congrats to him. These problems happen though and now I have to channel that frustration and energy into the race. We need to be focused because anything can happen here, especially with the opening lap and the tight corners at the end of long straights. I think we’ll see a great race tomorrow generally and I hope for me and the team too.”
A word with Dave Ryan, Racing Director:
“Well, first off, apologies to Esteban. We let him down today with a repeat of yesterday’s electrical problem and that just isn’t good enough. Hopefully we can sort things out tonight and provide him with a reliable car with which he can again demonstrate his immense talent in tomorrow’s race.
“Pascal, on the other hand, suffered no such reliability problems and put in a superb performance this afternoon to easily make Q2 for the second race in a row to qualify 14th overall, splitting the two McLaren’s on the grid in the process. A great result for the team, but coming into this event, that’s about where we thought we would end up, so on plan really.
“Obviously qualifying is one thing, but the race is what it’s all about and that’s where our focus is now. It’s going to be a long night for our strategy guys, but that’s what they thrive on, so let’s see what they come up with tomorrow morning and we’ll take it from there.”