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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
Jean Todt: "This seventh pole for Ferrari and for Schumacher confirms just how competitive is our team and having Barrichello's car on the second row is also a very positive result in terms of the race. As predicted, qualifying came down to a fight between three teams. Even though Michael was unable to run in the second half of this morning's free practice, he still managed to be quickest this afternoon. Today, Bridgestone has given us excellent support. Rubens was unable to get the most out of his second set of tyres as he had to pit with a power steering problem, which was quickly sorted out. It will be a very tough race tomorrow and the key factors will be reliability, strategy and tyre performance.”
Michael Schumacher: "After losing half the morning with a hydraulic problem, we were not sure what to expect in qualifying, as I did not have time to run new tyres in the morning. It turned out that the car was well set-up for qualifying. I do not expect to see a repeat of Canada tomorrow, as our tyres are very good and consistent here. I think we have the better tyre for the weekend, but we will have to see what happens. I am not ruling out McLaren, because we have seen them struggle in qualifying before and then they are strong in the race. We developed the car well in the morning and during qualifying we made a further set-up change in between the runs and that made me quicker."
Rubens Barrichello: "Things did not go too smoothly in this qualifying session. I had to abort my second run with a power steering problem and the team started to set-up the spare car with my settings in case I was going to need it. For my third run, I stuck with my race car and I did actually manage to improve my time. However, on my last lap, the yellow flags came out and that stopped me from improving my grid position. At least starting ahead of our main rivals on the grid is a good thing for the race."
Patrick Head: "I think Ralf and Juan Pablo have both done a good job. We are probably in better grid positions than we expected before the weekend. We are happy with our choice of Michelin tyres and today's result shows they are making progress."
Ralf Schumacher: "We can be very satisfied having both cars in the top three. It is nice being on the front row again with Michael, but I am working on swapping places with him and hope soon to get my first pole. Over the entire weekend the car was better than expected, even though the race is not going to be easy for us. We hope for higher temperatures, which, as everyone knows, helps our tyres."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "We had a pretty good qualifying today, here we had no failures and things are going really well. We did a couple of changes at the end of the session to the car and they didn't really pay off, but we had to try. The car is working well although I had a bit too much oversteer to really push it. However, we had a fairly good day in total today and now I will try to get to the end tomorrow."
Ron Dennis: "Nobody in the team feel satisfied with our grid positions but the determination to do well in tomorrow’s race is undiminished. As is often the case in Formula One it’s a combination of problems that see us being off the pace today. Obviously the team will be working hard tonight to improve the situation."
David Coulthard: "We were unable to get the best out of the new tyres today and struggled to find a good balance. I had a lot of understeer, which affected my lap times. I think the season so far has illustrated that we tend to be quicker in the race than in qualifying. However it will be a challenge tomorrow as there are several cars between Michael and me."
Mika Hakkinen: "I’m obviously a bit disappointed as fifth and sixth are not ideal starting positions, but the race is not until tomorrow. We are not suffering from a specific problem and David and I have almost identical lap times. However I’m just not able to get the power down in the low speed corners without losing the rear so we have some work to do before the race."
Eddie Jordan: "Almost in every case each team had its drivers qualify close to each other and we were no different, taking seventh and eighth places on the grid. With the emergence of Williams, the fourth row is the best we can expect at the moment, but we've got to make sure we get some points tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli: "After this morning's practice I predicted we would be seventh and eighth behind the three top teams, so I am happy that my qualifying position is not worse than I had hoped. It was a difficult qualifying, though, with a lot of cars out at the same time putting dust on the track, so I had to abort my last two runs because of traffic. And on the last run there was also a yellow flag. I could have improved my lap time and been higher up the grid as there was more potential in the car, but I did the best I could given the situation on the track today. The car feels good, but I think it will be a tough race."
Heinz Harald Frentzen : "Eighth on the grid is a good result for me, coming back after missing the race in Canada and having the problems I had during practice yesterday. It's good to be back on the pace and back in racing, qualifying in the top eight. I was quite happy with the balance of the car today; of course, you always feel it could be better but I think that was enough for today and now we will concentrate on the race. I think we can do well here. More than anything, though, we want to finish and finish in the points."
Peter Sauber: "I am very, very happy to have both of our cars qualified in the top 10, especially here at the Nurburgring. The gaps between the teams are so small, and I believe that the power of our latest Petronas engine, which we used for the first time today, played a key role in helping to keep us ahead of our opposition. Thanks go to the drivers and to the team.."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I lost my last run when Coulthard went off in the last corner, but in any case a Benetton had gone off just in front of me so I probably wasn't going to improve. The car was much better today, though not quite perfect. If you look at the times in our group, we are all very close so every tiny bit helps. It's difficult to say what might happen tomorrow, but for sure we can fight for points again."
Nick Heidfeld: "The track was better today, and having struggled a little yesterday we were able to improve the car as well and it felt less nervous. Unfortunately I ran wide in the first chicane on my final run and wasn't able to improve further, but 10th on the grid is a good place to start."
Craig Pollock: "This was a very disappointing qualifying position today and much harder than we anticipated. We didn't get what we expected out of the car or the tyres. We are obviously in a difficult position to race from so we just need to work very hard overnight to make sure we give Jacques and Olivier two cars they can race with and to ensure we have reliability. This is a qualifying session that perhaps we'd like to put behind us for today but not forget about, because obviously need to do some work on our qualifying performance."
Jacques Villeneuve: "We improved the car quite a lot before the session and changed the set-up completely, so things went a little better than in practice. Sadly though, someone in front of me went straight into the chicane and I completely missed the corner; I lost two or three tenths just into the corner and that was the best lap. We're much closer in time to the two teams we are usually fighting with in qualifying - Sauber and Jordan - but we're not within a tenth of pole position so that's very frustrating. But something always happens here so we'll see for the race."
Olivier Panis: "I was quite surprised to find that the car wasn't the same as in practice earlier. This morning I was very happy and I was quite positive for qualifying but many things changed - the temperature and the track. We didn't find the best set-up for qualifying and we aren't very quick. Things are going to be difficult for us tomorrow so we need to work hard tonight. You never know what your chances are here - it's a very difficult circuit and it's very easy to make a mistake se we need to make sure the car is stable for us to push harder in the race."
Bobby Rahal: "I thought Eddie drove very very well and we have never been this close to our competitive group before. Other than Monaco, we are actually only 1.6 seconds off the pole time which around a circuit like this is a definite improvement. We are optimistic in that our race pace is always better than our qualifying pace. I wish we could have got Pedro going a little better and I don't know why we didn't at this stage. We still need to make the Jaguar R2 better and while the car has improved recently, our on-going development should close that gap even more over the next couple of races. We left our last run too late and while it didn't hurt us too much, it didn't help us either. An extra tenth or two would have moved Eddie up to almost eighth place and that level of competitiveness is what we are now aiming at. Let's see what tomorrow brings."
Eddie Irvine: "There was maybe another tenth to be squeezed out of my qualifying time but no more. The team worked very hard overnight and this morning in an effort to better adapt the car to this circuit but we still have a fair deal of work to do in terms of aerodynamic efficiency. Contrary to what we thought yesterday, the Michelin tyres are not the problem. We have, however, closed the gap with our key competitors like Jordan, BAR and Sauber. I don't recall being so close to that group before and it's disappointing to have lost my last flying lap through a yellow flag and maybe we should have started my final run a little sooner. We are, however, very well prepared for the race and as everybody knows, we have a good race package complimented with a strong racing tyre from Michelin. The new aero package has certainly made a difference in that we have never been so close to the midfield pack. We are usually half a second off that group and the gap is now down to a tenth.”
Pedro de la Rosa: "I'm not happy with my qualifying performance. My main problem is understeer that is manifesting itself badly through turns three and four where I was sliding around a lot. Finding grip is my biggest issue here and as the BMW WilliamsF1 have proved, it's not the tyres. There is probably a better set-up to be found and refined. The aerodynamic package is better than before but I am not getting the best out of the whole car."
Alain Prost: "Even though we expected our car to be a bit less competitive in qualifying than with race fuel levels, we are not really satisfied with today’s qualifying session, which did not take place in ideal conditions for us. However, the car has proved to be competitive on this track in race configuration and I feel rather optimistic for tomorrow : I think we should be in a position to finish the race in the points again."
Jean Alesi: "Unfortunately, my car never felt like this morning during qualifying and I suffered more oversteering with the first three sets of tyres than in practice. Besides, on my third and fastest lap, I had to overtake an Arrows and when I went out with the last set of tyres, it was right when there were three yellow flags waved and a lot of traffic. This is obviously not the kind of qualifying position I was hoping for but the first two days of practice give me confidence we can be as strong in tomorrow’s race as we have been in the last two Grands Prix."
Luciano Burti: "To be honest I am not really happy with this qualifying session. The car felt good this morning during free practice. I still had a good feeling in my first outing this afternoon, but my quick lap was not perfect and I felt I could be much quicker. Unfortunately, I had a fuel pressure problem on my race car and had to switch to the T-car which was set for Jean. Its behaviour was quite different and it was impossible for me to improve my first qualifying laptime. It’s a shame because we have been very close with Jean since the start of the weekend and I believe it would have been the same this afternoon without this problem. However, I am not worried at all for tomorrow"
Pat Symonds: "It has been a very mixed qualifying session for us. I believe Giancarlo's position shows the small and continuous improvements that we have been able to make with the car. These lay the foundation for the bigger steps we hope are on the way. With Jenson, however, we never managed to eliminate the understeer that has plagued him all weekend. His qualifying position does not truly reflect where he should be. We were pleased to see the track temperature come up a little today, because I think that helped us use our tyres better. We feel confident that our tyre choice will be as good for the race as it was for qualifying."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I am very happy with the result we achieved today working as a team; driver and engineers. We tried a few different set-ups and I'm pleased with the way things worked out. The chassis balance is good, but we could just do with a bit more rear downforce and the power increase we are expecting soon, would have been welcome today. Given how the car is at the moment, I think we have obtained a decent result."
Jenson Button: "This morning the car didn't feel too bad. There were a few things we had to change and we thought we had done it, but when qualifying came around we had a bit too much understeer and that stopped me getting a good time. The grip level at the track is quite low, but that's the same for every driver. Unfortunately, this has been one of those days when the car got worse rather than better."
Mike Coughlan: “That really was a disaster for us. We expected to be in 13th or 14th position so we need to have a very good look at our data to see why that didn't happen. For now though we will concentrate on our plans for the race and hope for a better day tomorrow.”
Enrique Bernoldi: “Well the qualifying session was okay for me, but only okay. I'm a little disappointed as this morning we were looking a lot more promising but as soon as the temperatures went up we lost a lot of grip and performance. We expected to be higher up than this.”
Jos Verstappen: “I'm very disappointed. We lost a lot of track time yesterday but thought we had made good progress this morning. This wasn't the case as we are actually slower than this morning as we just couldn't find the grip. As well as that we were slower on the straights compared to this morning. We have a lot of work to do.”Paul Stoddart: "In what turned out to be a rather uneventful qualifying session, European Minardi drivers finished the day with very creditable times. They may be starting the race P21 and P22, but their lap times are less than a second off the pace of the mid-field teams. We’re particularly pleased with Tarso’s performance today – it has to rate as one of his best in qualifying this year. A small mistake cost Fernando his third run, and he lost a little time in the garage while his mechanics checked out a suspected problem in the cockpit of his car, but he also drove well. The chassis now seems to have a good balance in race trim, so we will be looking for a competitive performance from both drivers tomorrow"
Fernando Alonso: "A good session for me. This morning, we did a good job trying further different settings and made useful progress. I had a trouble-free qualifying session. Unfortunately, my third run was aborted after I made a mistake, but this did not influence my performance. We believe we did the maximum we could today and I can say I feel pretty satisfied with my car’s behaviour."
Tarso Marques: "I am fairly happy because we improved my car a lot during this morning’s session. I feel sure that we could have done much more, however, if we had more time at our disposal. It is really a shame to have lost half of Friday’s free practice time. In the qualifying session, we improved by 1.5 seconds compared with this morning’s performance, which means there remains room for improvement. Anyway, now we will focus our efforts on tomorrow’s race."