Michael Schumacher admitted that he benefited ‘a little’ from the red flags brought out after the accident for Sergio Perez during qualifying for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion qualified fifth today – his best Saturday result of the season so far – but suspects that P7 would have been a more realistic grid position if it was not for the long delay as marshals cleared the stricken Sauber.
ï»¿“First of all, I am happy to hear that Sergio seems to be well, which is obviously the most important news,” said Schumacher. “The incident reminded me a lot of what happened to Karl Wendlinger in 1994 and it shows the quality of the safety improvements the FIA have implemented since then, especially the side impact tests.
“As for my starting position, I benefited a little from the circumstances and probably P7 on the grid would have been more realistic. Having said that, our car looks better in race trim this weekend, so with another good start, I will try to make the most out of it.
“Overtaking is known to be more difficult here than at most other circuits, so it will come down to having the right strategy, especially because the tyres should last longer than in recent races and we can expect fewer stops. I think it will be an exciting race.”
The other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg had an accident similar to that of Perez‘s this morning in free practice, but narrowly missed the barrier that the Sauber driver collided with this morning. However, Rosberg missed all of qualifying and had to rely on frantic work from his mechanics in order to participate in qualifying at all. He finished qualifying in eighth place.
“I have to say a special thank you to the team and the attitude everybody had today after my accident,” said Rosberg. “This morning, I made a little mistake and lost control of the car but nobody was angry about that when I came back to the garage: the guys simply came up to me and said, let's go for it in qualifying!
“The circumstances in Q3 were a bit tricky because the red flag came at the worst moment for me. When we went back out, it was not possible to do a fast lap because the tyres weren't working properly, but I am still happy to have made it to Q3 after such a tough day. I also want to send my best wishes to Sergio and we are all pleased to hear that he is ok after such a big accident.”
Ross Brawn was reasonably happy with the qualifying performance, especially considering the challenges thrown at the team today. He also paid tribute to the safety of modern F1 after Perez’s accident.
“We have achieved a reasonable result with all things taken into account today,” he said. “The crash that Nico had this morning took a huge amount of effort from the boys to repair and I must pay tribute to the team for the fantastic job to get his car ready for qualifying. Nico's programme understandably didn't run very smoothly in qualifying and he suffered with the timing of the red flag. Michael had a much smoother day and did a good job of putting the car in fifth place which is an excellent result. I think we can look forward to a reasonable race tomorrow.
“We were all horrified to see the severity of Sergio Perez's accident, particularly as it was so similar in nature to Nico's crash this morning. It is a credit to the FIA and all of the teams that such progress has been made in terms of safety. It's one of those moments that really help us realise what a challenging sport this can be and how important it is to keeping improving our safety standards. We are all really pleased that Sergio seems to be ok.”