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Belgian Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
Patrick Head: "It was a brilliant job today from the team and the drivers. No one could have done a better job with the information from the weather forecast to take the cars out at the right time. After our front row in Hockenheim it was another perfect effort."
Gerhard Berger: "It was a typical Spa tyre gamble today. But under these changing conditions the timing of the team was perfect. We knew that we would have good chances under dry conditions, and both drivers have shown top performance in the very limited time they had at the end of the session. At the precise moment when the conditions were good enough for dry tyres, we were able to use the full potential of our package."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "The team was brilliant, I think everybody did a fantastic job and the car is working very well on dry tyres. Yesterday we had a big struggle on the set-up, but I had a good think overnight and it really paid off. I went through two different sets of tyres - we did the first lap to get us on the grid - but we knew it was going to get dryer and dryer. We went out to get our time on dry tyres and it really worked. This is a track I know quite well and like."
Ralf Schumacher: "No doubt the team can be very satisfied with today's result. What to do was not really an easy decision to take. At the end of the day it didn't work too bad! It is always under these conditions that you need a bit of confidence that the car is going well, and you need to have a clean and good lap. The circuit conditions became fairly even by the end of the session. But while the main line on the straight was already dry, in some corners, especially in turns three and four it was still wet."
Jean Todt: "As a spectacle, this was a very strange but interesting qualifying session. Our cars were the quickest of the Bridgestone runners. We knew the track would be drying out towards the end of the session with conditions right on the limit of fitting dry weather tyres. Michael took this decision himself, using the race car which had been set up differently to the spare. However, we operated both options, with Rubens continuing to run on intermediates. There was a clear gap to the quickest and another runner using the other tyre brand split our two cars. The changing weather conditions should make for an interesting race tomorrow. We can expect a good scrap for second place in both championships.”
Ross Brawn: "This session was all about being out at the right time on the right tyres. Maybe one more lap on dry tyres would have given us an improvement but I don’t think we could have got down to the times that the Williams did. At the end, we put one car out on intermediates and one on dry tyres and the latter seemed to be better. I think we did a reasonable job today and we are in a good position for tomorrow. Our opposition, in terms of those running on Bridgestone are quite a long way back, so we are looking forward to tomorrow’s race, when I believe the weather should be a bit more stable than it was today. Our intermediate tyres were fine and Michael was quickest for a long time. It was only when Williams managed to get onto dry tyres that they took pole position. Generally, I was pleased with the way our car worked. I think on a normal dry track there will not be such a big difference in tyre performance."
Michael Schumacher: "I had one car set up for the wet and one for the dry. I am not upset at only being third. We timed the runs right and I have the “Bridgestone pole.” To be honest it was very tight for us to run the dry tyres at the end. When I went out for the final run, I was not sure that it would be alright, but luckily it just dried enough. The weather forecast is for a dry race, which would suit me. After this afternoon, it would seem that the only conditions where we might have a problem is when the track just makes the final change from wet to dry."
Rubens Barrichello: "The result of qualifying was determined by the gradual changing condition of the track. I did both my runs on intermediate tyres. Looking at the quickest times, set by those on the other brand of tyre to ours, I don’t think that a change to dry tyres would have seen me manage to get on the front row. Anyway, I think I am in quite a good grid position and the race result tomorrow could all come down to the weather.”
Alain Prost: "We are delighted with this result for both Heinz-Harald and our team. We have achieved our best grid position so far this season. We were clearly hoping to set a good result on this track but it even goes beyond our expectations. Our car usually behaves even better in the race than in qualifying, therefore we can realistically hope for a good result in tomorrow’s race. This grid position shows how much Heinz-Harald’s experience, calm and commitment can bring to our team. I do hope that Luciano, who has been particularly unlucky recently, will benefit from the whole team’s renewed motivation. Congratulations to all the team for the great work done."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I am so happy for the team and for myself. To be honest I am really surprised that we could set such a good result here, on such a difficult track. After the difficulties we had in Hungary, we made some important changes in order to improve the balance of the car, and what we achieved today confirms that the potential is here. Today, as the track was improving quickly towards the end of qualifying, we took the risk to go for slick tyres in the last run and it paid off. We just made the right decision in the right moment and we are very happy. This grid position is already a reward for our hard work and I will give everything in tomorrow’s race, even though we know it might be a challenging and difficult Grand Prix for us."
Luciano Burti: "The fact that we had only one timed session this morning, due to the thick fog on the circuit, did not help us, since I had almost no running yesterday. The car was feeling quite good in practice, but after some showers fell at the start of the qualifying session, we knew the track would be improving constantly and that the best times would be set by the last drivers who would cross the finish line at the end of the session. We also opted for slick tyres for the last run, which was clearly the best strategy. Unfortunately a mistake was made in my tyre pressure adjustment and it cost me 30 seconds more in the box. This prevented me from completing a second fast lap before the end of the session, which would have considerably changed my final position, as Heinz-Harald’s improvement in the very last lap shows. We lost out this opportunity because our timing was just wrong."
Craig Pollock: "Qualifying
saw a great display of teamwork from us today. Jacques and his engineers
made a very good call and he qualified where he did because of that. I
feel very disappointed for Olivier - he suffered with steering problems
which were totally out of his control.
Jacques Villeneuve: "Today went quite well for us. The car was quick with both intermediates and dry tyres. My qualifying lap wasn't very quick - I took it easy because I didn't want to make a mistake. But then I missed the last lap by 10 seconds. The track really dried for that lap - there were another 3 seconds left because of the way the track dried. I'm disappointed that we couldn't do another lap at the end but it's still good to be starting in 6th position to try for a good result in the race. Tomorrow should be good. This year we've been quite good at calling what the weather does and hopefully that will help us."
Olivier Panis: "I’m disappointed with 11th position. Everything has been going well all weekend and I was feeling very positive about qualifying. I had an electrical problem and I’m frustrated that this spoilt the session for me. I think the team made the right decisions with the tyre choice because the conditions were changing all the time. Now we have to stay positive so we continue to improve for the race."
Ron Dennis: "Of course most drivers only had one lap on dry tyres to improve their times which the traffic and yellow flags made very difficult. The decision to leave David on intermediate tyres was made with all the relevant factors being taken into consideration. In the circumstances we were wrong but as always the race is tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "In these conditions everything could happen. It was a matter of being out on the circuit with the right tyres at the right time and we did not quite achieve that."
Mika Hakkinen: "I'm really disappointed as the timing of our change from intermediate tyres and dry tyres was not ideal. As a result I didn't have the confidence to go the limit everywhere on the circuit on my first lap with the dry tyres, which was my last opportunity to improve. I played it a little too safe and then didn't have any more laps to improve."
David Coulthard: "Its always a bit of a lottery in these sort of weather conditions where the track is drying all the time. Sometimes it has worked to our advantage like Hockenheim last year and Brazil this year but not today. I should have been out on dry tyres at the end, but with yellow flags and a car on the circuit the team didn't feel there was the time to make the change and improve. We are definitely not where we should have been. I will have to make the best of it tomorrow but it will be difficult with lots of cars to overtake and if the weather stays the same there could be a lot of spray as well. However I'm as determined as ever and my goal remains to win individual races."
Mike Gascoyne: "This is our best qualifying performance of the year and we are very pleased. We did not get the timing quite right with either car in terms of being on the track at the best moment, but on the other hand it is very easy to get it wrong in these conditions. If we had got the timing right with Giancarlo, who was on slick tyres during the final laps, we could have been even higher up. But we have been very competitive the whole weekend, making steps forward, and that is thanks to the team's hard work. Now we have to look to convert this into a good, points-scoring race performance tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "We are happy with eighth position, which was our target for today. During the morning session we worked out a good dry set-up and I was pleased about how the car performed in the wet, too. Personally I'm a bit disappointed because I think I could have been among the top five. Overall it has been a very good weekend so far and the goal for tomorrow is definitely to score some points."
Jenson Button: "We started on wets, but when it started to dry I thought it would be best to switch to intermediate tyres, which looking at my final times was obviously the wrong way to go. It's a shame that qualifying turned out as it did, because we had shown a good turn of speed in the final free practice session this morning. However for tomorrow's race I don't feel discouraged because on this unpredictable circuit anything can happen."
Niki Lauda: "We can't blame anybody or anything but ourselves. The Jaguar R2 was capable of significantly better times today, but we simply choose the wrong tyre. There really isn't much more to say. Given that I'm in charge of this team, the buck stops with me and I'll take the blame for this one! The debate on tyre choice is always a difficult one and today was no different. After much deliberation and with the facts at our disposal, we opted for the intermediates, but Williams and even Prost have proved that it wasn't the way to go. Pedro isn't placed too badly, but it's frustrating to know that the right tyre would have put both Jaguars into the top ten.”
Pedro de la Rosa: "Wrong tyres and going out at the wrong time – two simple requirements, but we got them both wrong today. I didn't get a good lap and while I'm starting the race from the fifth row, the simple fact is that we should have been way higher up the order. Frentzen did a brilliant job today and it just goes to show what can happen when you get a clean lap on the right tyre. Unlike Eddie, I am reasonably well placed to get something out of this race. Let's see what tomorrow now brings, but it could have been better today."
Eddie Irvine: "My first run was OK, but I then had to switch over to the spare car because of problems with the exhaust. My second run was unfortunately aborted because of Pedro holding me up! He obviously didn't see me, but it cost me a run. With the changing weather conditions it was becoming very hard to decide on tyre choice. We decided to go for the intermediates, but it proved the wrong choice. I understand that the two Williams' drivers changed for dry tyres right at the end and look what happened! Big shame to say the least. I'm very disappointed, but Spa is always a gamble. It just so happens that our gamble didn't pay off today and those who stuck with dry or wet tyres were rewarded accordingly. Starting a race at Spa from the front is hard enough, but from 17th place, it's a mountain too steep to climb. We'll give it our best shot, of course, but it doesn't get much harder than this.”
Peter Sauber: "To have both cars struck down by the same transmission problem at the same time is hard to understand and hard to accept. Ten seconds before the flag fell to end qualifying we had sixth and eighth places, but you needed to be out there running because the conditions were changing so quickly. Our problem prevented this, and we are now conducting an intensive investigation into the cause of something that has never happened to us before."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I had the same problem as Nick this morning, but this afternoon things were looking good once we had cured a small brake problem on my car. Then the transmission trouble came back and prevented me from completing my last run. It's disappointing, naturally, because we could have been very competitive here."
Nick Heidfeld: "Like everyone else I lost track time this morning because of the weather delays, but then the car developed a problem with fifth gear refusing to stay in engagement. Nevertheless, despite the loss of set-up time the car felt very good this afternoon and I was feeling optimistic until the problem recurred and I had to stop at Stavelot."
Trevor Foster: "We didn't think the track was going to dry out enough to switch to dry tyres, but grooves would have been the ideal choice for the last lap. It's very disappointing that we weren't able to make the most out of the track conditions and improve our grid positions. We now hope for a two car finish tomorrow to try and pull something positive out of this disappointing qualifying performance, but it will be a tough race.'"
Jean Alesi: "I'm very disappointed with my position. I went out on intermediate tyres towards the end of the session and in hindsight that was a mistake, as the track dried out for the very last lap. Grooved tyres would have been perfect and with dry tyres, I would have been able to improve my lap time and qualify higher up the grid. It's now very important for us to concentrate on setting up the car for the race distance and I'm still looking forward to trying to score some points for Jordan tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli: "It was a difficult qualifying as the track conditions were changing all the time. I made my first run in the wet on intermediate tyres and my lap times were quite competitive, but at the end of the session, the track dried out very quickly and I didn't have enough time to change to grooved tyres which cost me valuable seconds. The race is not going to be easy, and I am not happy starting from such a low grid position, but the car feels good so I am confident I can have a good race and just try to score some points for the team."
Graham Taylor: “Well we are pretty devastated by that result. Enrique was on a superb lap at the end of the session, knocking a lot of time of his splits. We could only hope that he had enough fuel to finish the lap and he nearly made it too. I think we can all learn a lot from today and will now work hard to make sure we are fully prepared for tomorrow's race."
Jos Verstappen: “What can I say? I was running on intermediates from the start and was making steady progress. The plan for my last run was to do two timed laps. On my first flying lap I was blocked by Irvine so we decided I should do a slow lap and then another quick one at the end but it went wrong as I missed the chequered flag by about three seconds! I have to say this is my worst ever qualifying result but I'm pleased to say we are in the race tomorrow.”
Enrique Bernoldi: “I started on wet tyres for my first run as it was marginal as to whether wets or intermediates was the way to go. I switched to intermediates for my second run and was able to improve a lot over my two timed laps. The track was steadily improving but it was still too early to run until the end of the session so I went in for more tyres and a fuel top-up. Unfortunately I was called onto the weighbridge with only five minutes to go so by the time I got back to the garage, time was very tight. The team changed my tyres but ran out of time for refuelling. My last flying lap was looking very good but I ran out of fuel at the Bus Stop Chicane so naturally I am very very disappointed.”Paul Stoddart: "Despite a tough qualifying session today, both European Minardi drivers will line up for tomorrow’s race. In what was an action-packed last half hour, both Fernando and Tarso failed on wet tyres to achieve a time within 107 per cent of the top runners, who were on grooved tyres. We now look forward to what is certain to be an exciting Belgian Grand Prix.."
Fernando Alonso: "It has been a bad day for us, first of all because we did not have the time to do a proper practice in the morning due to the cancellation of one session. Later, in qualifying, we were on wet tyres in the closing stages of the session when the track was almost dry, which caused us to be slower than some other drivers who went out on grooved tyres."
Tarso Marques: "Unfortunately, while I was on the third attempt to set my fastest lap, I found Ralph Schumacher’s car in front of me, which slowed me down. Then, on my fourth attempt, there was a problem with the rear suspension. We have just been informed that both our cars and the Arrows will be allowed to race, although we were outside the 107% threshold at the end of qualifying. We look forward to a better race day tomorrow."