MEDIA RELEASE/McLaren Formula 1 Team - Main Photo: Supplied The McLaren Formula 1 team have…
PRESS RELEASE/F1 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport – Photo: Supplied
After qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix today Valtteri will start tomorrow’s race at the Shanghai International Circuit from P3 and Lewis will start the Grand Prix from P4 on the grid. Both drivers completed one run on the UltraSoft tyres in Q1 then two runs on the Soft in Q2. In Q3, both drivers used two sets of UltraSofts with Lewis aborting his final run after realising he couldn’t compete with the faster Ferrari’s.
We came here thinking we’d be fighting for pole position but unfortunately that was out of reach. It was a pretty straightforward qualifying and it felt like I got everything out of the car. Maybe we didn’t get the tyres absolutely perfect for the lap but I don’t think it would have been enough for us to beat the Ferraris. That’s particularly disappointing because the gap to them is quite big. We definitely have work to do but tomorrow is a different day. Today it was really windy and cold, tomorrow it should be nice and sunny. We’ve been looking better on the harder compounds and we will start the race on the Soft, so maybe we can use that to our advantage. It’s a long race ahead and, as we saw last weekend, it will be close. On paper, this track is easier for overtaking than Bahrain, so hopefully tomorrow we can make up for what we lost today.
It’s been a difficult day. We started the weekend positively in practice, but the car went away from us today, the pace just wasn’t there. Ferrari have definitely improved over the weekend – maybe they didn’t quite show their true pace yesterday – but today they were rapid. We were half a second behind them in qualifying, which is why I boxed on my final lap because I knew I couldn’t match their pace. It’s not going to be easy to beat Kimi and Sebastian tomorrow, they’re the quickest on the straights too, so overtaking will be tough. We start fourth and I’m gonna have to fight from there. It should be hotter tomorrow, which could turn everything on its head. We’ll keep our heads up and keep pushing. The fans here in China have been amazing, I hope they know I’ll do everything to fight for them tomorrow.
It has been a complex weekend for us so far – on some laps, we have hit the window of tyre performance just right like on the final run in Q2; but more often it has felt like we were chasing that window, especially on the UltraSoft tyre where we have been lacking overall grip. On the other hand, Ferrari have been strong in all conditions and on all tyres and this afternoon’s qualifying results reflect as much. We can see a number of areas of difference on the GPS traces and we need to analyse those carefully. We expect the track temperatures to be much warmer tomorrow and we hope that we have anticipated that change in the right way with the set-up. Ferrari and ourselves will start of the soft tyres, which is a strategic variation to the cars right behind us, and should provide one more ingredient for an interesting race.