Japanese GP: Qualifying team notes – Toro Rosso

Brendon Hartley: “I was so happy with that! I was actually a bit emotional on the in-lap. I wouldn’t normally get emotional, but it was just the build-up of all of the effort we’ve put in and the struggles I’ve been having at times during the season. It was nice that today everything worked and went my way and I delivered when I needed to. It was a tricky Qualifying session with the weather, but the team played the strategy perfectly as we were on the track at the right time. To get sixth position on the grid in front of all the Honda and Japanese fans feels fantastic. Now I need to consolidate the points, but I’ll enjoy the feeling for the moment.”

Pierre Gasly: “It’s a fantastic result today, sixth and seventh for Honda in Suzuka is clearly a really good job compared with some of the others we had this year – I’m really happy for the team! It’s probably the best Qualifying for the team since the beginning of the year, and to do it in Japan is really special. Suzuka is difficult to overtake, so we really need to focus on the start. Both Brendon and I have felt good in the car all weekend so we’ll keep pushing as we have some fast cars around us. We’ll have to fight hard, but hopefully we can have a good start and give Romain a hard time in P5. Since the beginning of the season we managed to make it work and catch the opportunities we have had, so once more we need to stay focussed and really try to get the best result possible.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer): “It was a fantastic end to what’s been a challenging and tough day for us. Brendon had a pretty smooth FP3, his performance was very good even though the lap time didn’t necessarily show it. He knew there was a lot more in him and the car. The wind had a big effect as the strength was high, it made the balance inconsistent and different lap to lap, so he knew there was more to come from his side for Qualifying. Pierre had some calibration issues on his PU in FP3, which meant he didn’t get a clean lap in with maximum performance. So we weren’t able to give Pierre the best preparation for Qualifying, which was compounded with the issue we had yesterday. It was a challenging set of sessions in Qualifying due to the weather, but the team reacted well in each session to the conditions at the time and looking at the incoming weather. It’s fair to say throughout Qualifying, the drivers were on the right tyres at the right time and were on the track when it counted, the teamwork between the engineers, Honda, and the mechanics worked well today, and that’s a big part in the end result. Both drivers did a fantastic lap when it counted in Q3, then the rain came and locked the positions in, so overall it was a good afternoon.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director): “A fantastic performance from Brendon and Pierre and the whole team. To do it at Honda’s home race in front of all our fans makes it particularly special. We were able to fix the PU issue we encountered in Russia. I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to solve it. The team produced a very competitive car for Suzuka and ran a very good strategy in difficult weather conditions in qualifying, so that our cars will start from sixth and seventh on the grid. Today’s result is down to the efforts of everyone here at the track and all those who have worked so hard back in our facilities in Japan, the UK and Italy. However, the settings on Pierre’s PU are not ideal, so now we must study the data to see if we can do anything for the race. While we are very pleased with this result, it’s only tomorrow that we can score points, so we are staying focussed in the hope of rewarding our home fans with a strong showing in tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.”