ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the Baku paddock following qualifying for the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton (1st): "The team has been working so hard in the last weeks to improve our performance so I must say a big thank you to everybody here and back at the factory. They have kept their heads down and been really open-minded to find new ways to try and improve; it's been great to be part of and that's what it takes to be a winning team. It was a very close qualifying session today and it took everything we've got to take pole. Ferrari were sandbagging until this afternoon and Valtteri has been driving exceptionally well; it's fantastic for the team to get the front row and I know everyone will be very happy. Qualifying has always been a strength for me but I've had some tricky sessions since Melbourne, so I'm pleased to be back in a good position with it. It has been a constant learning process with the tyres, getting them working in a very narrow window, but today we had them working. There is still lots of work to do tomorrow but this is a good way to start the weekend.''
Valtteri Bottas (2nd): ''Qualifying was good for me but not quite perfect - and it ended up very close on the final times. But for us as a team this is a perfect result with two cars on the front row. I had a mistake on the first run in Q3, which meant I only had one proper shot at it - that was a good run and, of course, if you do the laps again then you can always find something more. It was good to work the SuperSoft tyre a bit better today, it felt like a better tyre for us so we have made some good progress in that area. I am feeling really good in the car at the moment and, looking to tomorrow, I think we will be strong on race pace. I have some catching up to do overall in terms of the points, so I will be aiming to do as well as I can.''
Sebastian Vettel (3rd): "Overall, I think it was a smooth session. The car was fine and we didn't have much to do. We were quite ok this morning, trying to find the right direction. It was straightforward in qualifying and then in Q3 during my first run I locked up a little bit in Turn 1, so my first sector was already slow. I tried to recover and fight for pole, but it was not enough. I didn't have a great feeling on the tires, which have been different the whole weekend. Even if they look the same, they are harder. However, it's the same for everyone. Obviously, I am not entirely happy, but we expected Mercedes to be very strong here. P3 is not a bad place to start from. Tomorrow we'll focus on the start first, and then we'll see. It will be a long race and the tires will be challenging, too. Even if the start doesn't go in our favor, I think we always have a strong car to keep fighting. I think tomorrow it will be an interesting race and we'll be close; the same as happened in the last couple of races. I'm looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix and hope the people will enjoy it."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th): "It was a tricky qualifying, not the ideal one. In Q3, on my first attempt with the Supersofts, I made a mistake in turn 1 and went wide; obviously this affected my lap. At that point, I was in a position where I had nothing to lose, so we decided to try something else. The Soft tires felt pretty good in Q2 so we decided to use them in my last run. In the end we managed to do a decent job, but obviously we are not satisfied with the result. It's difficult to predict what will happen in the race and it's a bit of an unknown for me, considering I couldn't do the long runs yesterday. We'll try to make a good start and see how the race pans out".
Max Verstappen (5th): "We all know in Qualifying the others turn up their engines so we just have to try and keep as close as we can. You have to consider that from turn one to turn four is flat out now, also turn seven to turn ten. It is like having two more straights out there so relies even more on the engine power. We still have a good chance in the race as long runs look good, it is just a shame to be this far off on Saturdays. The updates have made a difference which is a positive and shows we are heading in the right direction. I had a moment in turn one on my last run which meant I couldn't finish it, I lost the rear and therefore ruined the lap. I think that lap could have been our best time but we still wouldn't have made the top three, perhaps fourth was achievable but fifth is not too bad. The conditions were very tricky out there, the track was unpredictable and it was unclear which tyre to go with. The supersoft and the soft are really close to each other in terms of performance so it's hard to choose a direction in Qualifying. Soft looks like the quicker tyre ahead of tomorrow over distance. This isn't usually a strong track for overtaking so maybe it will come down to the pit stops, or a bit of rain could mix it up. We will try our best."
Daniel Ricciardo (6th): "I really think we got the most out of the car this afternoon. I tried both the soft and supersoft tyre in Q3 but we have been more comfortable on the soft all weekend. At the start of Q3 I did a pretty good time on the supersoft, but for me I didn't think we could go quicker on that tyre, so I wanted to try the soft again. I went a bit quicker on the soft but not enough to make up any positions. It was strange, I think the colours are different, but the tyres are pretty much the same. I'm glad I tried both compounds, because if I did both runs on the super I probably would have wondered what the soft could have done, so I think we did everything we could. With the laps we put in I thought we would be more like a couple of tenths from pole, not six or seven, as our car didn't feel too bad which is a little frustrating. We are always a bit more comfortable on the long runs, so I would hope that our race pace tomorrow is better and we can challenge the four cars in front."
Esteban Ocon (13th): "I am a bit disappointed about our end result because we didn't really have the pace we expected. I was happy with how the car was set up and we can see the updates we brought here are working, but we need a little bit more to close the gap with the front of the pack. I am still feeling positive for tomorrow. We are not too far away from the top ten and our race pace is not bad. We need a good start and then we'll see what we can do. Last year I gained five places from start to finish and I'd be happy to do the same this year."
Sergio Perez (15th): "It was a disappointing qualifying session. Q1 was okay and the car and tyres were working well, but in Q2 we lost so much performance. It's really odd because we used the same strategy as we did in Q1, but the tyres behaved totally differently. We could not switch them on and the car was sliding around, which is why my lap was four tenths slower than Q1. I still hope we can fight back tomorrow and come away with some points."
Sergey Sirotkin (18th): "The car is difficult to drive, and mentally it makes you concentrate 200% on everything because it's so tricky. You saw this morning how difficult it was with cars going off. It takes a lot of energy from you just to drive. We didn't expect it to be easy and I'm waiting for the chance to test most of the new bits on our car. Yes, that was a bad session, but we have a long-term plan with a lot of effort from all of us, so I don't want one bad session or event to affect it. Everyone is working flat out and it will take time, but we will get there''
Lance Stroll (19th): ''I was on a much better lap, but I just lost it going for every little bit right at the end. I am not going to beat myself up when I know this is realistically where we are today. I was on an okay lap but nothing to get out of Q1, which was expected all weekend. We saw an improvement in Baku, but this weekend we are right back to where we were. I think it is something we just need to keep chipping away at, so hopefully we will get there sooner rather than later. The circuit here for sure doesn't suit our car.
Paddy Lowe, chief technical officer: "We didn't expect to be strong today after our performance yesterday, but we have actually made some progress overnight, even though that doesn't move us up the grid order. Our two drivers did a great job with the material they had to work with today. Unfortunately for Lance, he lost the car and caused some damage which we'll need to fix this evening. We've not done a good enough job and we need to come back in a better position. We're working very hard back at the factory on the problems that we understand, but this is yet to be translated to the track. There's a lot more to come as the upgrades we've brought here were never meant as a solution for our underlying problems.''
Nico Hulkenberg (16th): "We had some problems with the fuel system causing the pressure to drop which impacted on power delivery. This was very unexpected and we'll be looking into why it's happened. It will make our day tomorrow more difficult as we know overtaking is very tough around here. We'll have to work out a strategy and hopefully come through it. We're still aiming to clinch points. We'll try our best and race hard."
Carlos Sainz (9th): "It was a good qualifying! We've turned things around well since yesterday and the team has done a great job putting a much better and quicker car together. Yesterday we knew making Q3 was going to be very tough, but we worked hard, made changes and improved a lot. Tomorrow I'm confident we can have a strong race; we're in the top ten and the target is to keep scoring points. We're starting the race on the Soft tyre with an ideal strategy to hand. I'm looking forward to putting up a good show for my home crowd!"
Bob Bell, chief technical officer: "Carlos did a fantastic job at his home Grand Prix, especially setting his Q2 time on the Soft tyre, which we felt was very similar, if not a little quicker than the Supersoft. Nico had a fuel system problem and he wasn't able to put a lap together because of the fuel pressure drop outs. That's something we'll address. It was a session where we stayed flexible and reactive with our programme and Carlos stayed open-minded and flexible to do a good job with this. We started the weekend with the car not performing as wanted but improved it every day, so we're hoping for more to come tomorrow. We need to see what we can do for Nico with a free tyre choice and plenty of tyres in hand; it's still possible for a good result for him. Carlos' race is more straightforward, he will start on the Soft tyre and I'd imagine it will be a similar strategy to others around him."
Brendon Hartley (20th): "It was quite a big impact! We normally run a bit of kerb on the entry to Turn 9, but I took one or two centimetres too much and I just clipped the dirt area which flipped the car around pretty quick. The car was feeling good this morning, I didn't have a clean run at the end of the session, so the lap time didn't show the true pace we had. I'll try and stay positive. I'll have a good sleep and come back tomorrow fresh, anything is possible. I know the team started from the back of the grid last year and scored points, so that has to be the goal for tomorrow."
Pierre Gasly (12th): "I'm pretty happy to make it to Q2 and qualify P12. We've got some performance back which was important after the last two weekends in China and Baku, so I think there's positives to take from today. We knew coming here it would be a bit tough because we saw some teams with big updates, but the most important thing for us was to understand our package, and I think we got some good answers. We still need to analyse our performance but overall we're pretty happy. Things have been working better this weekend, we were in the top 10 twice in FP1 and FP3, and in qualifying we weren't so far off the pace, so it's encouraging to see we are coming back into the fight. The race will be long and we know how tyre choice and strategy can make the difference. We will have free choice with the compounds for the start of the race, so I think it's a good position to be in."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "It's a great shame that Brendon was unable to take part in qualifying after his accident in P3. However, the most important thing is that he is okay and will race tomorrow. There is extensive damage to the PU and so we have replaced it and sent the other one back to Sakura for a full examination. As for Pierre, I felt he drove well in qualifying and we expect him to have a good race from twelfth on the grid."
Romain Grosjean (10th): "Pretty good qualifying for the team - both cars in the top-10. Obviously, Q3 could've been better and I'm not super happy to start P10 but, in general, I think we're in a good position for the race and I'm happy for the team."
Kevin Magnussen (7th): "It was a really good qualifying. P7 for us is really pole position - it's the best you can hope for if you're not in a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull. I'm really happy with that. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and, hopefully, we can bring home some good points. It's a good position to start, and again, P7 is probably the best we can hope for if everyone finishes. It's still a very tight battle, but I think our car is strong, and we can be happy with where we are at the moment. We need to keep up the levels, continue to develop, and keep putting stuff on the car."
Guenther Steiner: "A very good day today. Finishing seventh and 10th in qualifying is a very good position for tomorrow. So, we just have to bring it home. That's our aim - get two cars in the top-10."
Stoffel Vandoorne (11th): "It's been a pretty good Friday for us. We had a very busy schedule in both sessions, with a lot of things to figure out across both cars, so it was pretty intense for the team but everything was very well-managed. "The first feeling was positive today - it's still too early to read anything as the midfield still looks really tight, but I think tomorrow will be the day that counts. The tyre compound selection also won't be an easy decision to make.
"The conditions were very tricky out there and we saw a lot of mistakes on track, but we all had to deal with the same things and I felt okay in the car. Tomorrow, every tenth and every little bit of performance we can squeeze out of the car will be important for qualifying. It will be up to us to put everything together. "The results today looked quite promising, but until we've pushed everything to the limit we won't know exactly where we are. We need to understand everything we've learned today, put the car in the best specification possible and see what result it brings. I hope this is the start of continuous progression, and that we can build our season from here."
Fernando Alonso (8th): "Making it into Q3 for the first time this season feels fantastic, and if you combine that with the fact we are at our home grand prix, it's a double benefit. I'm happy - we were P13 in the last few qualifying sessions, so P8 today is definitely a step forward. The top guys are still too high up so we need to close that gap, but I'm pleased that all the updates we brought here seem to be delivering as we expected. We just need new parts as soon as possible and to keep going in this direction. Every Spanish Grand Prix is special, and there are always a lot of emotions when you go out there and feel all the support. The fans are not giving you extra performance because they can't push the car, but they can motivate a little bit more so we seem to always perform a little bit better here. Hopefully tomorrow we'll put on a good show for all the fans. Maybe there'll be some rain around, and that could be very interesting. Over the winter we've learned that a wet track is very slippery here, so we could have a chaotic race and maybe out of any chaos we can benefit."
Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director: "Today's result is an important validation of the immense amount of hard work that is being put in behind the scenes to move closer to the competition ahead of us. I'd especially like to thank everybody back in Woking for their tremendous team effort in bringing all the new parts we planned to complete our updated package on time. Of course, Saturday doesn't offer any championship points. However, while not yet a cause for celebration, eighth and 11th positions on an aerodynamically-challenging track such as this mark our best qualifying session of the season so far, and is certainly the step forward we were hoping for on track to correlate with the evidence we saw in simulation. We've said many times that we can't expect miracles overnight, and there is a long season ahead of us, but we feel today's result demonstrates the first step for us in the progressive development of the MCL33. Time will tell, and the first real test of our updated package will come in tomorrow's race. The primary objectives are to race cleanly in this tight midfield pack, stay out of trouble and optimise our strategy to ensure we maximise our chance to bring home more points. Let's see what we can do from there."
Charles Leclerc (14th)
Marcus Ericsson (17th):
Mario Isola, head of car racing: "The top teams have chosen to start the race tomorrow on the soft tyre, which keeps their strategic options open. We also unusually saw plenty of strategic variance in Q3, with teams split between soft and supersoft tyres. Despite this, the times between all the top teams were actually quite close. Either one or two stops are possible for the race tomorrow, but this will obviously depend on degradation rates, which might be influenced by any rain that falls tonight. Whatever happens, there are already a number of interesting question marks that should hopefully add some additional tactical elements to a race that is generally quite dependent on qualifying position".