Qatar Grand Prix 2021 – Qualifying

Qualifying Notes
– George Russell qualified 15th and Nicholas Latifi 17th for the Qatar Grand Prix
– George continued to improve throughout Qualifying, setting his quickest time on his final run in Q2 with a 1:22.756 on the soft Pirelli tyres
– Nicholas set his fastest time on his penultimate flying lap of Q1 posting a 1:23.213, also on the soft compound tyres

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: We’ve had a decent day here in Qatar. Conditions in FP3 were better than we had expected, which allowed us to do some useful work ahead of Qualifying. The changes we made to the car overnight, and the change in wind conditions, both helped improve the pace of the FW43B. Both drivers were happy after FP3 and confident going into Qualifying.

We thought that on the Qualifying tyres it was tight between a single timed lap, and a fast-slow-fast combination. Both cars committed to multiple laps on each set in Q1. Whilst this didn’t quite work for Nicholas, it allowed George to progress to Q2 with two new sets of the soft Qualifying tyre available. We opted to run him on a clear track and allow him clear preparation laps. This worked well and although we couldn’t ultimately progress beyond P15, to get within a few tenths of a McLaren, a Ferrari and an Aston Martin was a decent result.

Our focus now turns to the race, which is likely to be run in near identical conditions to Qualifying. As a new track on the Formula One calendar, there is still some uncertainty over how the tyres will behave for the full Grand Prix distance and therefore what the optimum strategy will be. We are looking forward to a tight battle with Alfa Romeo, but based on our high fuel running yesterday, we haven’t lost sight of the cars immediately ahead of us either. We have seen quite a lot of damage to various cars over the last 48 hours and so tomorrow could be a long race of attrition and patience.

George Russell: I am pleased with the job we did today as we were a few tenths ahead of the Alfa Romeos, who are our main rivals, but unfortunately, we were just a bit too far from Q3. It was fun out there but it’s always a shame when you can’t make that next step, especially when you put in a strong lap. We were struggling to make the most of the tyre on the first lap but for Q2, we tried to maximise that one lap and we just couldn’t quite get the most out of it. I think it will be difficult to overtake tomorrow but it’s unique conditions here and a new track, so we’re looking forward to the race and let’s see what we can do.

Nicholas Latifi: Both the car and lap felt good today, and I really enjoyed driving this circuit; it was actually one of the most fun qualifying sessions of the year. It’s a bit disappointing not to see that feeling reflected in our pace, especially as I expect qualifying position will play a key part in the race tomorrow, but it’s a positive that we’ll be lining up alongside our main competitors. Looking ahead to tomorrow, overtaking might be challenging, especially in the last few corners, but we’ll see what we can do to gain those positions.

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