Pascal Wehrlein: “We could not have expected to qualify for Q2 on this track”


Pascal Wehrlein will start P14 in Azerbaijan after the surprise of making it through to Q2 - Credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

Pascal Wehrlein surprised many, including himself by making it through to the second part of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Saturday, and felt his Sauber F1 Team have made some progress with his C36-Ferrari since Friday’s practice sessions.

The Mercedes-Benz protégé managed to escape Q1 by 0.017 seconds, and will start fourteenth on the grid once Carlos Sainz Jr takes his grid penalty, but the German admitted he did not expect to be quick enough to get through to Q2.

“I am happy with making it into Q2,” said Wehrlein. “We have certainly made a step forward in terms of the performance of our car since yesterday.

“My fastest lap was good from our point of view, and we could not have expected to qualify for Q2 on this track. As always, I will try my best to achieve a satisfying result on Sunday.”

Team-mate Marcus Ericsson did not have the same kind of speed in his Sauber, with the Swede ending up eighteenth fastest of those who set a lap time, although he does move up one place on the grid as well, this time thanks to Fernando Alonso’s grid penalties for an engine change.

“It was a tricky day for me, in particular in regards to the tyre management and the track conditions keeping the high temperatures in mind,” said Ericsson. “We did make some progress during FP3 during which we were able to narrow the gap between ourselves and the direct competition.

“In qualifying it was positive that we managed to get Pascal into Q2. Unfortunately, it was not enough for me, but it was still a step forward for the team.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to take some of this progress into the race with us tomorrow.”