Abu Dhabi 2019: Master Class Qualifying reactions

The 14 Master Class pilots share their thoughts on Qualifying

The first Qualifying session of 2019 was a nail-biter, made more exciting by the fact that the top three all collected World Championship points. Here's what they thought of today's flying...

Martin Sonka
“The points in Qualifying are very important, of course, because a point can decide a Championship. I more or less flew lines according to what I’ve flown before, and now it’s time to analyse. It’s definitely great to be World Champion, but that is not what’s in my head when I’m in the aeroplane. Then the only thing I’m thinking about is the plan. We’ll see if I still feel the same tomorrow, but there’s no extra pressure for me for the time being.”

Matt Hall
“Today doesn’t concern me, three points is not many when there are 200 up for grabs. We’re working on an issue at the moment, we thought we’d solved it for Quali, turns out we didn’t. We tried to solve it in Quali with a Band-Aid, it didn’t work and now we’re doing surgery. We are still confident we can win the race, but we were also confident that we weren’t going to win Quali. We’re happy with everything, we were hoping we weren’t going to have to do to the plane what we're about to do to it, so it’s going to be a late finish, but this will get us back on the pace.”

Michael Goulian
“The points in Qualifying really can help a lot toward the World Championship at the end of the year. It’s always very close late in the season, so every point you accumulate is great, and I’m excited to be here on the podium for the first time in the first race of the year. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The feeling is a lot like last year – the sunset, the weather, the way the aeroplane is flying, the way I’m feeling. Tomorrow is anybody’s race, and there are so many fast guys, and it’s so very tight, that you can’t make a mistake. And with the new G rule, it’s very easy to make a one second mistake."

Mika Brageot
“It’s good to be competitive even if it’s just Quali, but it makes a big difference in the minds of the team. From the racing perspective, we’re fifth which is good, but under our expectation as we wanted a top three, but it’s not a big problem. We’re going to keep it up, find a way to increase the performance in the Round of 14 and try to take a good result and a good ranking for the Round of 8.”

Yoshihide Muroya
“This is just three points, but at the end of the year maybe it’s going to be a big three points. It’s really important to collect as many Qualifying points as possible through the end of the season, and this is a really good start. We were sometimes struggling with over-Gs last year – we prepared a lot for that and for now it’s working out. My head-to-head against Nicolas Ivanoff tomorrow will not be easy – he has a fairly new engine – but I will stick with the same plan, same tactics, same lines, and we will see.”

Kirby Chambliss
“It wasn’t my best effort and what hosed us was that I made a mistake on the first one, but I know I needed to fly really fast after that because the times were really close. We would’ve been OK with the old over-G rules, because we were back under 10Gs in time – but it doesn’t matter because it’s a new rule and we’re trying to adapt to that.”

Ben Murphy
“Very satisfied especially after our Free Practice 3. We were scratching our heads after that one and decided to make a pretty dramatic change to the aircraft and swap the winglets, and they obviously worked. I’m happy we managed to get two penalty-free runs in Qualifying and that’ll be the tactic for tomorrow. You can see by the timesheets that it's going to be a super close race so the person who wins, is the person who doesn’t lose. If you pick up even a one second penalty, you are out.”

Pete McLeod
“While I thought I had earned two points in Qualifying today, it turns out that one of the magnetos on the engine had changed settings slightly since inspection earlier this week. There is a limit of 25 degrees ‘advanced timing’ for the engine. Despite the component being checked and sealed by officials, it had moved to 26 degrees – the other Magneto remained at 25 degrees (within limit). This is a phenomenon known as ‘drift’ and can occur as the component wears. As this is outside the limit when inspected in Parc Fermé, the Race Committee withdrew the points for second place. I’m still feeling good about my flying and the plane, and I’m looking forward to a great result in the race tomorrow.”

Juan Velarde
“I’m satisfied with the times and the way the team has been performing and how I’ve been flying, but unfortunately I had an incorrect level penalty on run number two, otherwise the time would’ve been really, really good. We’re in the middle of the table so it’s good."

Nicolas Ivanoff
“Qualifying was not a good one. The timing between the pilots is really, really close and it’s really hard if you’re not 100 per cent aggressive. You can lose time somewhere, and there’s only 0.5s between me and sixth place, so maybe I was too conservative. I have to take the maximum risk tomorrow. It’s going to be a good race."

François Le Vot
“I’m a little bit disappointed, it has been the case since last year that we begin very well in the training, showing that I am very well prepared before a race, but there is only a slight improvement on my performance, unlike the others. We need to figure out how I can improve at the same pace as my opponents."

Matthias Dolderer
“Now it’s all about 11Gs, so the one who can fly the best 11Gs, wins. I’m not pleased with that at all, it takes quite a lot away from the racing. It was exactly 11Gs according to our data, which sucks. Let’s see what the data says and if we can pull a little bit hard in the VTMs. I will probably go slightly conservatively, because that over-G rule moved me from second down to 11th.”

Petr Kopfstein
“We didn’t lean the engine as we would like to have done, because the engine is still in the breaking-in stage, so we did what we could. I felt like I was on the limit of the engine, so on the second run I ran even richer. We’re all pretty close to each other so I take it as a kind of good result. We’ll see if it was enough.”

Cristian Bolton
“It was a great day of flying, we were looking for something better of course, but in the end it was good. We already flew very close to 52-something so we should be able to it again tomorrow. We’ve already flown a 53.164s, which is a great time so tomorrow we just have to do the same.”

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