A dramatic qualifying session saw Vitaly qualify in P10 and Nick in P16, after the Russian’s car lost power and halted what could have been a very strong session for the team.
• Vitaly’s car was halted when the air supply to the engine was cut off, causing the engine to lose power. At the moment we believe there is no reason to change the engine.
• Both Nick and Vitaly used one set of hard and soft tyres in Q1. Nick used two sets of softs in Q2, while Vitaly used one set.
Vitaly Petrov, P10, R31-01, 1:35:149
“I am very disappointed with what happened after having just completed a very fast lap which put me in fourth position at the end of Q2. The car lost power so I stopped on the side of the track. The track was getting quicker and my times were up from this morning, things were going very well. Because of the power failure, I couldn’t move off the track and so that was the end of my qualifying. The positive thing is the car was looking fast and I hope I can make up some ground tomorrow from P10 on the grid.”
Nick Heidfeld, P16, R31-04, 1:36.611
“It’s quite frustrating to be starting from P16 because I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of our pace. We were always going to do one run on the soft tyres in Q2, but the red flag made the last few minutes on Q2 very busy. You really needed to be first in the queue at the end of the pit lane because there was not much time to get around and cross the line before the end of the session. I managed to do one final lap, but I was stuck in traffic and I couldn’t get a clean lap. As I said, our race pace is definitely better than our grid position, but starting from P16 is not going to be easy. I think it’s a track where you can overtake so hopefully I can make a good start, like in the previous two races, and fight for points.”
Alan Permane, Chief Engineer: “We know our car is fast off the line…there’s no reason why we can’t bring two cars home in the points”
Alan, first of all, what happened with Vitaly’s car in Q2?
We are still investigating exactly what happened. It’s clear that he lost power and the engine died. We believe the air supply to the engine was cut off. It couldn’t be restarted and the car got stuck in gear, which is why he stopped on the track.
Nick was an unfortunate victim of the red flag – why was he running so late in the session?
Nick’s time from Q1 suggested that it might be difficult for him to make it through to Q3. That’s why we wanted to run right at the end of Q2 to take advantage of the maximum track evolution. As it happened, Vitaly’s car brought out the red flags at exactly the wrong moment, and Nick then got caught up in the traffic in the busy rush at the end of Q2.
Nonetheless, the car has looked quite competitive this weekend. That must give you some encouragement for the race?
I think we can expect to see our pace being relatively better in the race, even compared to Vitaly’s good qualifying pace. We know our car is fast off the line; we’ve got very good straight-line speed and the R31 looks after its tyres well. There’s no reason why we can’t bring two cars home in the points.
What is the situation with tyres for the race?
Our poor qualifying performance leaves us with more tyre options than we would normally have. We’ve effectively saved an extra set of soft tyres on each car, which are available for the race.
• Did you know?
The Shanghai International Circuit (SIC) was inspired from the Chinese character ‘shang’ – the first character in the name of the host city, which means “above