Saturday 9 April 2011 ¬
Car 1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: POLE POSITION (3rd Practice – P5, 1:37.175)
“It was a challenging weekend until qualifying today. I was happy with the car, but we never really got into a rhythm. Yesterday wasn’t as smooth as we hoped for, but we knew the car had speed, so the main thing was to keep believing in it. In qualifying everything worked out straight away. It was very close in the end with the McLaren guys, so I’m happy to get pole. Big compliments to the guys in the team – especially those working on KERS, they did a lot of work since Australia. If we wouldn’t have had it today, we wouldn’t be sitting here now, neither me nor Mark, so compliments to the guys – it’s a good reward. It’s very hot in the garage for the boys during this race, the air is pretty humid, so at least tonight they will get some good sleep ahead of tomorrow.”
Car 2 MARK WEBBER, Position: 3rd (3rd Practice – P2, 1:36.630)
“I knew it would be very tight; everyone was on a single pace after the first flying lap on the option tyre in Q3. It was pretty straight forward for us; you have to just drive as quick as you can when it’s like that. We can’t control how tight it is, to get a few tenths more, you have to just do your best. It was a better performance from me today compared to Melbourne and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m starting on the clean side of the grid and it should be an interesting race – I think there will be a lot of pit stops.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “A great team performance today. To get first and third on the grid after a fascinating qualifying session, which was really tight with the McLarens today, is a great start to the weekend. On the final run and under huge pressure, Sebastian delivered just enough to get pole. Mark also improved his time and for the team to take P1 and P3, sets us up well for tomorrow.”
(Renault) CYRIL DUMONT: “It was a tough qualifying session, tougher than in Australia I would say. We had to do some set-up work engine-wise in order to improve the car from yesterday, so we’re happy it was working well today. We have a one and three again for the start of tomorrow’s race, like last year – although then the drivers were the other way round. Hopefully we’ll get the same race result too – with a one and two finish.”
It’s a season of firsts this year. The first time Red Bull Racing will defend two world titles and the first time India will appear on the calendar. At Race 2, where a high number of pit stops are being predicted,we spoke to Darren Nicholls about…
THE FIRST TIME I… HELD THE LOLLIPOP IN A PIT STOP (Darren Nicholls)
“My first pit stop with the lollipop was in 2000, when I was chief mechanic on the race team for Jaguar. It would have been at the first race of the season, in Australia, which wasn’t good, because it’s one of the smallest pit lanes of the season! There’s not much room and invariably it gets very busy – you tend to get a lot of film crews running around.
My abiding memory is one of fear. It was terrifying, not only for myself, but because you’ve been entrusted with the safety of the crew – and your actions could contribute to the result. It was one of those things where you’re thinking ‘don’t put anyone in hospital’ and ‘do the best job you can’. The first time you do it, it’s not a pleasant feeling. I really can’t remember the driver, whether it was Johnny Herbert or Eddie Irvine, but I do remember it being a long walk out to get ready for the stop. You’ve got all these scenarios going through your mind. And you’re almost playing through the pitstop before you even take part in it.
Afterwards, I remember walking back into the garage and everything being like a blur, because the thing had taken, with refuelling in those days, about seven or eight seconds. You walk back in the garage and think ‘that was it?’. The only thing I can liken it to is last year, I was very fortunate to be nominated to go to the podium in Hungary. It was a similar experience to that. You know you’re up there, but it’s almost an out-of-body experience. You can see the boys down below and they’re celebrating, but it’s like you’re completely disconnected. It was a similar feeling.”
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.