Pedro de la Rosa paid tribute to his HRT team after outqualifying Charles Pic’s Marussia and Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham at Suzuka. The Spaniard knows the serious business comes in tomorrow’s race but was keen to celebrate today’s result, especially as it was achieved in dry conditions.
“Today I went out to give it my all and I’m happy with how it went. The team did a fantastic job and the car’s set-up improved notably. In qualifying I did two good laps; the second one was even better, almost perfect, and tomorrow we will start ahead of Caterham and Marussia which is already a success, more so at a circuit like this one. We’ve got to be more than happy with what we’ve done. Tomorrow in the race we will go for everything. The important thing is to have a good pace, look after the tyres and finish strong”.
Narain Karthikeyan couldn’t repeat his teammate’s heroics and will start at the back of the grid with his day taking a turn for the worse in FP3 when a spin damaged the floor of his car.
“In the morning the car was working very well and my first laps were fantastic but then I spun off and damaged my new floor so we had to go back to the old one. In qualifying I barely had any grip and on my last lap I went long at 130R. It wasn’t a good qualifying session for me, but the car is performing much better and, although tomorrow will be a tough race, we will try and finish it in the best way possible”.
Technical Director Toni Cuquerella thinks today’s performance demonstrates the progress being made by the Spanish squad, particularly given the closeness to the leaders.
“Today we opted for a different balance to yesterday to make the car more neutral, with less understeer, and we got it right. Frankly we didn’t expect to come so close to our rivals at a high downforce circuit like this one and it was a pleasant surprise besides being a reward for a job well done. Pedro’s times were very competitive and he was in the 103.6%, which is the second best result in qualifying of the year. It was a shame that Narain damaged the new floor and had to come out with the old one. This result adds to the data we analysed and confirms that the aero upgrades that we introduced at Singapore are an important step forward. In tomorrow’s race, tyre wear will play an important role and the most probable thing will be to opt for a two or three stop strategy”.