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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
Sam Michael: "After a quite difficult practice the team managed to get it together for qualifying. This was really a good performance from everybody. Once again we are on the front row on a circuit well known for rewarding mechanical grip and downforce. Michelin once again produced tyres capable of putting us on the front row with only 0.009 between Juan and Ralf and we should have a good race tomorrow against Ferrari."
Gerhard Berger: "Before qualifying I knew we still had some cards to play, but I didn�t imagine we could take the whole of the first row from Ferrari. The pleasure is even greater. I wish we won�t experience any problems in the race, especially because in the free practices sessions we have worked very hard on this. If there is no rain, I think we look good for a strong race result."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am very pleased with today�s pole, especially because it came as a bit of a surprise. After this morning�s practice sessions we were not expecting anything higher than the second row, actually. We changed the car quite a lot from this morning but in my first run I made a mistake, the second went better and on my third run I got the pole. I still don�t know where the speed came from and I must admit that luck also played a part in my result. Tomorrow is going to be a hard race where I think the tyres will be a key factor."
Ralf Schumacher: "It is very good that we could achieve this great result after having struggled a bit this morning. It was planned from the start that I would have three runs, instead of the usual four. Juan hit back in his third stint, which meant that my strategy cost me pole position. This should make Michael�s life more difficult if he wants to overtake us in the race. I hope I will be finally able to step on the podium here at the Nurburgring."
Jean Todt: "We were expecting a close battle and that�s what we got. We have both cars on the second row and would have preferred to have done better. However, we are sure we can still have a good race. Michael had a transmission problem on his first out lap. This meant he had to take the spare car for the rest of the session and was unable to exploit all four runs at his disposal. Despite this, Michael was in the running for pole position right up to the last two corners on his third run. He missed it by a whisker and thus starts alongside his team-mate. It will be a tough race tomorrow and we will aiming to pick up as many points as possible for both championships. As usual, the tyres played an important role in qualifying and they will be even more important in the race."
Ross Brawn: "It was not a perfect qualifying session, but I still think it leaves us in a good position for tomorrow�s race. We will now have to investigate the cause of the transmission problem on Michael�s car, which meant he had to switch to the T-car. Initially, the balance on the spare was not as good and it took us a couple of runs to sort it out. We then had a shot at pole but it didn�t quite come together. However, I think we will be pretty competitive tomorrow; certainly close enough to have a good race."
Michael Schumacher: "On my first run, my race car got stuck in gear, which is why I had to switch to the spare. We fine tuned it during the session, but it is impossible for me to say if I would have been quicker in my race car. On my final run, I was briefly quickest, but I made two little mistakes at the two final corners. I pushed too hard and just overdid it. I have no excuses and but for those mistakes I could have taken pole. As for the race, we have started in worse situations, so I will just have to deal with it. I am not worried about losing position to the McLarens behind me at the start."
Rubens Barrichello: "I have to say I am surprised at the performance of Williams. This morning I was not entirely happy with the overall car-tyre package, so we made some changes which improved the situation. It was not enough to get me to the front, but I am still in a good position for the race. I am confident for tomorrow, as we have often shown that we our very competitive in race trim."
Ron Dennis: "Both drivers did a thoroughly professional job to qualify fifth and sixth. Of course we always aim for the front row but in the circumstances our positions will allow an interesting race strategy to be considered."
Norbert Haug: "Almost seven tenths behind pole position is still too big a gap, but we have been further away before, so we are aiming to improve in the race as we have done previously."
David Coulthard: "The third row of the grid is not a great surprise although the gap to the front is not as big as previously. We changed the set-up to make the car faster in the middle sector and consequently we had to compromise performance in the first part which had been our previous best but is not as essential. We have to further improve our qualifying performance, but the race is a different story, and if we make a good start and have the right strategy you never know what might happen."
Kimi Raikkonen: "We improved the car throughout the session, but it was just not enough. The set up was not perfect for my last run, but I doubt that we would have been able to gain a significant amount of time anyway. There is still some way to the competition, but it looks like we have started to close the gap a little, so we are going in the right direction. In the past couple of races I have been able to gain one or two places at the start, so we will see what happens tomorrow."
Pat Symonds: "A good qualifying session in which we achieved a reasonable balance on both cars. Unfortunately, we suffered from a little too much understeer and had a few too many problems with traffic to be able to put in the perfect lap. It's interesting to see that the top eight are all in team order, and we know what our targets must be."
Denis Chevrier: "Once again, we are pleased to have conducted a problem-free session in which we were able to complete the full planned programme. In the end, yesterday's positions were maintained this afternoon, and we qualified at the right level. Having said that, there is still a genuine gap to the competition in front, and it is all the more frustrating for being small. We now need to focus our efforts on closing it."
Jarno Trulli: "I'm very happy with my position. The whole team did a good job today and even though it is very close, I think we are where we should be. Although we achieved the best we could today, there is still some work to do to improve the car. Personally, I think we will be much more competitive in the race than qualifying; I'm feeling very confident for tomorrow."
Jenson Button: "I'm a bit disappointed with how it turned out, because the first run ended up being my quickest after I picked up some understeer on the second and third, even though we hadn't changed anything on the car. For my final lap, we made a small change to the rear anti roll-bar and it looked pretty positive in the first sector, where I was two tenths up. Unfortunately, I then got held up by some traffic and lost the advantage. Even so, I think we've got a decent set-up for tomorrow, and we should be in a position to run strongly."
Peter Sauber: "After the performance in free practice this morning we all expected a little better than ninth and 11th places in qualifying, but when you look at the times it's clear that tyres played a significant part this afternoon. We did a lot of race preparation on Friday, however, and I hope that we can profit from that investment in the race."
Nick Heidfeld: "I braked too hard and flat-spotted the right front tyre on my first run, and that created vibrations that never went away. Maybe it did some small damage, I don't know. After that the car never felt as good as it did this morning, but we made a small change for the final run and that was my best. I just pushed flat-out, it was the maximum I could achieve. Ninth is still a good place to start, and I'm confident for the race."
Felipe Massa: "We worked all the way through qualifying on improving the balance of the car, and we made a small but significant change for the final run which gave it a lot more grip. Much will depend on the start tomorrow, especially as the new first corner is quite slow, but my tyres have been really good all weekend and I think we are going to have a very good car for the race."
Ange Pasquali: "I think it is very good to qualify yet again in the top ten. This shows consistency in the work the team is doing this year. Mika and Allan both did a great job in qualifying. I am a bit superstitious so 13th is probably not the best position, but joking aside, we have to keep cool tomorrow, have a good start and be reliable."
Mika Salo: "The car was okay today with only some small handling problems. My best time came on the first run when the car was at its best. We found it difficult to balance the car after that - we came close a couple of times, but couldn�t quite get there. I am quite happy with 10th place though. We are now back to business after Canada."
Allan McNish: "Not a bad result. From a balance point the car was better again in comparison to both yesterday and this morning�s sessions. We had some intermittent problems with the electronics, which we need to work on before the race tomorrow. The car is much more comfortable than yesterday to drive, so it should be reasonable for the race."
David Richards: "It�s been a tough weekend achieving a good set-up for both cars. The improvement we were expecting from both the chassis and engine just didn�t materialise and Olivier�s lap was the very best we could have achieved under the circumstances. We�ve clearly got a lot of work to do overnight to see if we can improve on the situation for tomorrow�s race."
Olivier Panis: "After the practice session this morning, I knew that qualifying was going to be very difficult because our car wasn't that competitive. It was quite well balanced but difficult to drive. In situations like this, the only solution is to stay focused, roll up your sleeves and work hard in the debriefs to try to come up with a solution. I'm quite happy with 12th position because that final run was extremely tough but I managed to control every metre of the lap and get the time. I appreciate all the hard work put in by my engineers and the rest of the team because, together, we have been able to raise our technical performance significantly over the last two days. They rose to the challenge, which was the only way back from this morning. Now, we have to continue to keep pushing for the race."
Jacques Villeneuve: "Obviously I'm very disappointed to qualify 19th. I haven't been able to get the car to work all weekend and we just couldn't find a qualifying set-up today. We were slow all around the track but mainly in the first sector where I just couldn't get the car to work well. I drove as hard as I could but, to be honest, the car has been pretty undriveable and I don't understand it because Olivier seems able to get a lap time out of his. I have a new chassis for this race so we're not sure if that is a factor. Sometimes new chassis don't work properly, as we saw last year on a couple of occasions. I guess we'll find out tomorrow when we use the T-car so we can at least take that out of the equation. Tonight, we'll have to pull some hair and see what we can work out for the race. It's going to be very hard to achieve much from that position but we have to hope for reliability and take any opportunities that are presented to us."
Gary Anderson: "I�m a bit disappointed as our positions are not very good. We had a problem correcting understeer in this circuit�s long corners and also the car�s nervousness at high speed. Takuma did a capable job and got the best he could out of the car. It�s nice to see him get a break of good luck for a change."
Takuma Sato: "It was a tough qualifying session for both of us. Somehow we couldn�t really get the pace at this circuit, which is disappointing as everyone�s working really hard. I can push very hard in qualifying now and understand the way the session is going. I think I got all the performance I could out of the car today and although 14th place is a bit lower than expected, it was all we could do. I worked hard and am pleased to have brought a reasonable result to the mechanics and engineers."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I�m confused. I don�t know why but it�s been a tough session for us. There is something wrong because 18th is, of course, not the position we expect. We will look at the data and everything and hope for a better day tomorrow."
Graham Taylor: �We�re a bit disappointed with Enrique�s position as he should be closer to Heinz but, having said that, he was going a lot faster on his last run before he hit traffic. Heinz struggled all morning with balance but we came up with a compromise for qualifying which helped him to beat our immediate competition.�
Heinz Harald Frentzen: �I was still suffering from the understeer we have had all weekend so 15th was as much as I could do today. For some reason I am still losing time in sector one which is frustrating. We did a lot of work between free practice and qualifying and found some ways to improve the balance so we managed to jump a bit higher up the timesheets. Tomorrow should be a good race as I enjoy racing at the Nurburgring and our race balance is better than qualifying trim.�
Enrique Bernoldi: "We couldn�t get the balance right today which is a disappointment. I was only two tenths of a second off Heinz this morning but really lost out to him in qualifying. I also came across traffic on my last run which was better but �ifs� don�t count for anything so I have to look forward now to tomorrow�s race which I hope will have a better result.�
Niki Lauda: "A better result for us today than I had anticipated, particularly in Pedro�s case. He began the qualifying session with the T-car while the mechanics addressed problems on his race car which had manifested themselves during the morning warm-up sessions. First he suffered from a gearbox hydraulic pump failure and then an oil leak led to a small fire. It was quite a big job for the team to turnaround in time for qualifying and Pedro had no choice but to take the T-car. Midway through the session, Pedro�s race car was ready and given that he had only done five timed laps in it all morning, he did very well indeed to have posted that qualifying time. A tough race beckons, but we came here expecting a difficult weekend. Let�s see what surprises tomorrow�s race throws-up and whether we are well-placed or not to take advantage of any situations that may arise, particularly at the beginning through the revised first corner layout."
Pedro de la Rosa: "That was much better than I expected. I had done only five timed laps because of the problems we suffered on my race car. The team did an excellent job of correcting it in time and their hard work paid off. My race car felt better balanced and it allowed me to move up the timesheets. I was held-up, however, on my last run by a Renault that certainly cost me a couple of tenths. Given that South Korea had knocked my home country Spain out of the World Cup a few moments before qualifying, I couldn�t believe it when a Renault sponsored by a Korean company blocked my charge at the end. If you�re Spanish, there�s no getting away from the Koreans today! Tomorrow�s race will throw up the usual uncertainties and our aim will be to keep out of trouble and bring the cars home. After a race distance here, you never know what rewards might come your way from finishing."
Eddie Irvine: "That�s pretty much where I expected to be today. I picked-up a fair deal of understeer during the session and found it difficult to get onto the power in some places. My exit speeds out of corners are not very good and that�s indicative of this problem. This is one circuit where you cannot afford to suffer from understeer problems and combined with the aerodynamic issues on this car, a difficult qualifying session was always on the cards. Nonetheless, we will focus hard on strategy for tomorrow�s race to see what we can salvage from what is always an unpredictable event."Paul Stoddart: "It has been a day of slightly mixed fortunes for the KL Minardi Asiatech team here at the Nurburgring. Having set a scintillating, 14th-fastest time in the second of this morning's practice sessions, Mark further reduced his lap time in qualifying, but didn't pick up as many positions as we thought he might. Alex did a great job to improve his times very respectably and qualified comfortably for the race. The team and drivers look forward to tomorrow's Grand Prix at a track where anything can happen. A top-10 finish is definitely possible."
Mark Webber: "We did some useful work on the car this morning and that was reflected in our best lap time. As ever with Grand Prix weekends, however, you have to wait until qualifying to see how much more the other teams may have in reserve. I would also have liked to get a little more out of myself this afternoon - I was perhaps trying just a bit too hard in places. Overall, though, it was a good session, I learned a lot, and now we'll aim to have a strong race tomorrow."
Alex Yoong: "We improved the car from yesterday and had a smooth qualifying session this afternoon, steadily improving on our lap times from the morning practice. My seat proved a little uncomfortable during the qualifying runs, so we'll have a look at that and try to improve it, but otherwise, there's nothing particularly significant to mention. I'm feeling positive for tomorrow's race."