Giedo van der Garde admitted he was thrilled to make it through to Q2 for the first time in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Caterham man judged the conditions to perfection in Q1 to fit fresh intermediate tyres at the right time, which allowed him to set a time good enough to put him into the second stage of qualifying for the first time.
In changeable conditions, the Dutch racer then ran as high as fourth in the second stage of the session having been the first man to switch to dry rubber before he was shuffled back to 15th place.
That still marked his best qualifying result to date, with the former GP2 racer ahead of the likes of Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez on the grid.
“I'm obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 timesheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony, Cyril and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today,” he said. “Honestly, it's a great feeling, but it's still part of the learning process for me. I've said since the start of the season that I'd make progress, and today showed how far we've all come in just six races, and there's more to come.
“In Q1 we went out very early as there were reports of more showers coming. As it turned out that wasn't the case, but we timed the stop well and had about four more quick laps on the inters at the end of Q1, enough time to put myself into Q2.
“Q2 started with a bit more rain, so we again went for the inters, but after one lap I thought it was dry enough for slicks so we boxed, went onto the supersofts and was the first car to make the switch. For a while we were looking at Q3, but that's not where we are performance-wise yet, so we're all really happy with Q2.
“Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams
cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I've had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything's possible. I finished on the podium here last year in GP2 and, while that's not going to happen this year, we will definitely be racing quite a few cars all afternoon.”
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul was pleased to see one of his cars in Q2 for the first time this year and insisted that Charles Pic
had been unlucky not to also make it through Q1.
“This is one of the good days, the best so far this year for our team,” he said. “Personally, I'm proud of the work everyone is doing to give us moments like seeing Giedo's name in Q2. He drove very well, showing how he much he keeps developing and how he's brave enough to be the first driver out there to make the call to go for it on slicks in what were still very tricky conditions on track. Both he and Charles have been driving very well all weekend, minimising the mistakes and pushing when they need to and Charles was unlucky not to join Giedo in Q2. However, he also showed his talent by being right in the mix in Q1 until the flag fell and with the pace and racecraft he's shown all year, particularly in Bahrain and Spain, he'll be right in the action tomorrow.
“This is another small step in our ongoing development, another reason why we are all here working so hard to be part of the show, and I want everyone in our team to use this as another source of motivation for Sunday and the rest of the season. We obviously have the main task ahead of us tomorrow, but days like this are why we're in this sport, and to have our first Q2 of the year when Tony's on track with us makes this a very special day.”