F1 Sao Paulo - SAT - Qualifying - Difficult round for McLaren Mercedes in complete washout


Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct 17, 2009

With the set-up of both cars leaning heavily towards tomorrow’s anticipated dry conditions, and with MP4-24 lacking the overall aerodynamic grip of the cars with the highest downforce levels, neither Heikki nor Lewis were able to graduate beyond Q1 in this afternoon’s chaotic, rain-lashed qualifying session. Heikki will start tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix from 17th, while Lewis will line up 18th.

- MP4-24-03
P3 programme
- 1m25.685s (5 laps, 12th)
- Q1 - 1m25.052s (17th overall)

“These were some of the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in a race weekend. I like driving in wet conditions, but today there was so much aquaplaning that it was extremely difficult to keep the car on the track. Plus, there was very bad visibility when you were travelling in the spray of another car.

“This result shows that we still lack some downforce, so there was nothing we could do to go any faster. I hope the set-up will better suit us in different conditions tomorrow.”

- MP4-24-02
P3 programme
- 1m27.798s (4 laps, 17th)
- Q1 - 1m25.192s (18th overall)

“Today was one of the worst qualifying sessions I can remember. Our car didn’t feel good at all: for both Heikki and me, we couldn’t even go flat-out along the straights – that’s how little grip we had.

“It was a disappointing performance, but we did the best we could – I even had a small ‘off’ trying to push at the end and the car just let loose on me. We were running with a dry set-up, so it’s a lot stiffer than you’d probably want in the wet – and our shortfall in downforce, compared to some of the other cars, really shows in these conditions.

“I’m hoping the sun comes out for tomorrow so we’ll have a fighting chance of getting into the points, but starting 18th means your weekend is really on the back foot.”


Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“This was obviously disappointing for the whole team. Perhaps we concentrated too much on anticipating a potentially dry race tomorrow, and, consequently, we didn’t give our drivers a car that enabled them to graduate past Q1. Clearly, this was not what we’d hoped for, but we will be doing everything we can in tomorrow’s race.

“We won’t give up, and we want to score some points tomorrow by adopting perhaps a less risk-averse strategy than we otherwise would have done from positions further up the grid.”

Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“A great disappointment. It looks as if our cars were more surfing than driving on lots of water on the track and, obviously, as a team we didn’t give it the best possible shot during these difficult heavy rain conditions today.

“We certainly can’t blame our drivers for our struggle – they are proven rain specialists.

“In addition, I feel very sorry for our friend Sebastian Vettel, who couldn’t make it into Q2 either, which may have cost him his last chance of a shot at the title.”

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