HRT‘s Pedro de la Rosa described his qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix as average after he was out-qualified by team-mate Narain Karthikeyan for the first time.
The Spaniard will start from the back row of the grid, ahead of only Nico Hulkenberg, who failed to complete a flying lap in qualifying before a gearbox failure.
“In all honesty today’s qualifying session was average but the best thing was that the car performed better than in the morning,” said de la Rosa. “We improved our times but didn’t manage to complete the perfect lap which is required at this circuit.
“We lacked a bit of maximum speed with the second set of tyres and I looked for some slipstream but it didn’t work out and I wasn’t able to put all three sectors together. That’s how racing goes, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.
“Now we need to find the best strategy to gain some positions in tomorrow’s race, but I’m confident because the car has a good pace and is consistent so, even though it’s not easy to overtake, we will try until the end”.
For Karthikeyan, it was the first time he has out qualified any F1 team-mate since China 2005. He seemed happier than his team-mate after the session, understandably, but also had trouble when running his second set of tyres.
“We’ve had very good sensations since yesterday and the car performed even better today with the set-up changes we made,” said the Indian driver. “The performance was better with the first set of tyres, as we faced some problems with the second set, but I’m happy with the result we achieved. We need to continue with this good standard tomorrow and try to beat our main rivals in the race”.
HRT technical director Toni Cuquerella said both drivers performed ‘well’ today, and expects the team to competitive here in Italy.
“Monza is a low downforce circuit where we expected to have a good pace that would enable us to close the gap to the front. And that was the case.” he said.
“In the morning we worked on adjusting the set-up and in qualifying we opted for a level of downforce and gear ratios looking ahead to tomorrow’s race. Both Narain and Pedro performed well although neither improved their time with their second set of tyres.
“Monza is a circuit where the smallest of errors is very costly because the straights are very long. The data we have on the tyres makes us think that the most common strategy will be one-stop as it’s not a very demanding circuit for the tyres”.