Australian Grand Prix FP3 and Qualifying Report
"A stop-start session like today’s is tough for everyone"
Albert Park, Melbourne, Saturday March 16
SERGIO PEREZ, MP4-28A-06
|Q1||(on Full Wets then Intermediates)||1m44.300s||4th|
“Well, even though we didn’t manage to finish it, that was a really dramatic qualifying session, full of suspense and excitement.
“But, even though that uncertainty made things tricky for all the teams, I think our guys did a fantastic job. They kept calm and focused throughout the whole session, even in the gaps and delays, and as a result Jenson and I were always confident that everything was totally under control.
“We’ll have to follow a really tight schedule tomorrow – including a very short turn-around between qualifying and race – and that’ll be tough for everyone, especially the guys in the garage. Boys, I appreciate all your hard work in advance, okay?!
“Even so, I think the FIA stewards made the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3. The conditions were becoming too dangerous – in terms of low visibility as well as low grip.
“Tomorrow may be a tricky day for us, because our car isn’t yet as competitive as it’ll become, but our aim will be to score points with both cars so as to keep in touch with the teams who currently appear to be a little way ahead of us in terms of performance.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-28A-05
|FP3||7 laps||1m33.236s (+6.307s)||17th|
|Q1||(on Full Wets then Intermediates)||1m44.688s||8th|
“A stop-start session like today’s is tough for everyone. For us drivers, it means we have to build ourselves up for the challenge of qualifying again and again – a bit like asking Usain Bolt to get ready for five 100-metre sprints one after the other and aborting four of them.
“That level of disruption creates quite a lot of mental and psychological stress for any athlete – but it was even worse for the fans, who’d been waiting excitedly for qualifying all day long and who then had to sit in the pouring rain with no on-track action to entertain them. So I’m very sorry for them, because the fans are what all sport is ultimately all about, but I hope we can make it up to them tomorrow by putting on a really exciting race.
“Even so, I believe the FIA had no choice. It was the right call to postpone Q2 and Q3 until tomorrow, for safety reasons.
“Having said that, deferring the completion of qualifying until Sunday morning means that I won’t now be able to go for coffee on the beach, which is my traditional pre-race routine here in Melbourne. But, you know, maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because it means I’ll be able to keep my Sunday morning Melbourne coffee as a lucky charm, since I don’t think we’ll be quick enough to win here tomorrow, so my coffee-then-win record here will remain intact.”
MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Unseasonally heavy rain rendered today’s qualifying session unviable, with the result that we were only able to complete Q1. Q2 and Q3 will be run at 11.00am tomorrow morning, until which time all the cars will be held in parc fermé conditions.
“We started today’s Q1 session on Full Wets [tyres], but Jenson made the canny call to try Intermediates reasonably early, and immediately showed by neatly posting the quickest time theretofore that that was the way to go. Checo followed suit, and also recorded a fast and error-free lap.
“The weather is forecast to be dry tomorrow morning, and obviously we didn’t learn very much today about how our car will perform in the dry because it was so wet this afternoon.
“Time will tell.”