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2003 Austrian Grand Prix 
What the teams and drivers said - Friday  

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Friday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 2nd )

Jean Todt: "The day had a positive outcome and we are happy with what we have achieved. In this morning's free practice session we worked towards the race, looking for the best set-up, as well as carrying out the usual comparison of the two types of tyre available. Our drivers set the two fastest times in qualifying, which is encouraging for the rest of the weekend. Having said that, we know that this afternoon's result is only valid for setting the running order for tomorrow afternoon, when drivers will run the fuel load with which they plan to use for the first stint of the race. Bridgestone did a good job, giving us a very good tyre."

Ross Brawn: "We are fairly happy with the performance of the car, although being at the front today is not so relevant for the race. We are pleased with the tyres we have here and they worked well with the car, which is beginning to show the performance level we had expected of it. That is partly as a result of a very positive test session last week. Both drivers made small mistakes on their lap this afternoon, so there should be more to come."

Michael Schumacher: "I am happy with the work we have done today, as it all looks very positive. We are learning more about the car every time we run it and this afternoon it worked very well. I have the best possible start position for tomorrow, when of course the final qualifying outcome will be affected by the various fuel load options. So I think we can be confident for the rest of the weekend. As for the incident at the final corner, I just ran a bit wide, but luckily I managed to control the slide."

Rubens Barrichello: "It is great that Ferrari are first and second today, as it guarantees us the theoretical best starting positions for tomorrow's final qualifying. However, I was not perfectly happy with the balance of my car today, but I am sure we will be able to sort it out for tomorrow and definitely for the race on Sunday."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 2nd, Antonio Pizzonia - 9th )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "A super performance from both drivers. We were actually aiming to put both Jaguars comfortably into the top ten and the fact that Mark has put the car onto P3 is testament to how well it is working around this circuit. The grip wasn't great this morning when we first ventured out for the two-hour free testing session but as the rubber went down, so too have our lap times.
While the rain clouds have stayed away so far, the track temperature is a little colder than we expected and as we have seen all morning, quite a few drivers have been caught out by the general lack of grip. Nonetheless, our preparation going into this weekend has been extensive and our three-day test at Paul Ricard last week has played an important part in our performance here today. The points and prizes, however, are on Sunday and tomorrow we'll focus our efforts on race strategy. All in all, a very positive start to our weekend here and full marks to both drivers and the team for making the most of our potential."

Mark Webber: "We came here expecting a good and respectable performance given the amount of work we have undertaken and I am pleased with our start to the weekend. The Jaguar R4 felt really good all-round today. The balance, Michelin tyres and Cosworth CR5 engine worked in complete harmony to produce a higher qualifying position than any of us expected. I was aiming for a top eight slot but P3 is simply brilliant reward for all the hardwork going on in this team.
I really enjoyed the lap too but like anything in life, you always want more! The car is particularly good into the corners and this gives you extra confidence on the entry. To be the highest placed Michelin runner is very encouraging indeed as we head closer to race day and we'll do our homework in preparation for an optimum strategy. As we showed in Barcelona two weeks ago, a reliable Jaguar crossing the finishing line has the pace to score points and that's what we need more of this weekend. The early signals are good!."

Antonio Pizzonia: "I am pleased with my position but I felt I could have done better had it not been for a brake issue which has been affecting me all morning. It's not a new issue but because the brakes are safety sensitive, the team is working diligently towards finding a solution and this takes time. The car's balance, however, is very good around this circuit and I certainly wasn't pushing too hard in an effort to avoid unnecessary risk.
My familiarity and comfort is growing all the time with this car and I have more to give as we go into qualifying tomorrow. The Michelin tyres seem quite competitive and assuming we can carry the reliability into Sunday, there is nothing to stop us from making a serious points challenge this weekend."

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BAR ( Jacques Villeneuve - 4th, Jenson Button - 5th )

David Richards: "Both drivers can be very satisfied with an excellent start to the weekend. There is obviously a lot of further work to be done to put us in the best position for Sunday, but nonetheless itís always good for team morale when Friday goes this well."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Fourth and fifth is encouraging and overall we've had a strong day. However, we've got to make sure we get the best out of the package tomorrow and convert our speed into points on Sunday."

Geoffrey Willis: "We had a trouble-free session this morning and were able to keep to our program. The car wasnít very well balanced to start with but we were able to make good progress through the session. Clearly itís good to start the weekend in this position but Friday qualifying times are not always a good indication of relative performance. I think both cars will continue to go well here this weekend and we will now focus on getting the right set-up and strategy for the race."

Jacques Villeneuve: "It was a good lap and I'm happy that the car is working well. I knew we'd be competitive here but that's a little faster than I expected. We had a few problems this morning in free practice but we changed certain things with our set-up for qualifying and that did the trick. The car has been quick all season and we're making small improvements all the time, but it's quite cool here at the moment and the car seems to work better when it's not too hot.
I feel good. I like this track and I have great memories of racing here. There are some good overtaking opportunities so there is always a lot of action. Our strategy will determine how well we do through the rest of the weekend but we're looking better than we have in other races this season."

Jenson Button: "We expected to be quite high up in first qualifying here. So far so good. From the off though the car had far too much oversteer. We thought we had made a set-up improvement after free practice but I think we over-compensated and the car was too nervous at the rear. It's not a big problem, we just need to do some more work on the set-up. Over one lap the car is good but we'll have to work on the longer runs now. I'm reasonably confident at this stage and looking forward to a good weekend."

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Williams ( Juan Pablo Montoya - 6th, Ralf Schumacher - 20th )

Sam Michael: "Juan's car was not too badly balanced, even though there is still room for improvement. Ralf made a mistake into turn three, which leave us also with some work to do. But we are still optimistic for the weekend as the long run performance of our cars seems to be ok."

Mario Theissen: "In this morning's free practice, both the drivers completed their sessions without any problems, but in qualifying Ralf lost the car due to some oversteer. As a consequence he will start tomorrow's final qualifying first. Juan Pablo was expected to leave the garage after Ralf, but due to the red flag, he had to abort his lap and return to the pits and start again. Despite this, he managed to complete a clean lap and gain a good qualifying position for tomorrow. Both engines ran with no problems."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I had to abort my first run due to a red flag, but in spite of this, it seems like we have managed to get on top of the car and have figured it out a bit here -- we have re- discovered our feeling with the car, which is positive. The last few races it has been really hard for us but this session makes me think that things could go much better here. My qualifying lap was quite good even if had a bit too much understeer, but overall the car was easy to drive and I am pretty pleased with it."

Ralf Schumacher: "During my qualifying lap the car oversteered going into turn three. I could not control it and I spun off the track. There is nothing else to say as it was a driver error. My first sector time wasn't too bad but this is irrelevant. Although I am disappointed and today's time sheet doesn't clearly show it, I hope we can position ourselves between Ferrari and McLaren. It should be an exciting weekend."

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McLaren ( David Coulthard - 7th, Kimi Raikkonen - 8th )

Ron Dennis: "Inevitably on the first day of running the circuit cleans up throughout the session and the pace quickens, which coupled with a somewhat conservative approach to Friday's qualifying saw us finishing seventh and eighth. However as always it's tomorrow and the race that count."

Norbert Haug: "Friday's qualifying has not been our strong point so far this season and this is the case here in Austria as well. However more rubber and more grip on the track should help us tomorrow and on race day."

David Coulthard: "Today's time is a bit disappointing as I was faster in this morning's practice with more fuel. At the first two corners I felt that I was not really on the limit and as a result at the third corner, I tried a bit more and ended up with lots of oversteer. However we will see what happens tomorrow as I know there is still a couple of more tenths to be found."

Kimi Raikkonen: "Of course I would have liked to be further up the grid. I took it pretty easy in order to get a time and tomorrow we have more time to work on the set up and should be able to further improve the car. Today's qualifying is just a little practice before the real thing."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 10th, Ralph Firman - 19th )

Gary Anderson: "I'm reasonably satisfied with the top ten. Ralph going off was not a good situation but he was doing a reasonable lap at the time. It looked like he had a bit too much understeer through the last corner, got a bit wide and kept his foot in it which is what you need to do when that happens. He did everything right but it just didn't recover the way it should have done, I think without the accident he would have done a 1.09.6 or 1.09.7.
Giancarlo was looking good in testing and then during free practice we seemed to lose our way a bit. It was a bit difficult to know where we were, so adjusting the car was not easy. He did a competent job but there was probably a 1.08.8 or 1.08.9 in the car. Overall the day was okay."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "That was not too bad, to be honest, as the top ten is our target. The car was quite good in qualifying but curiously it was completely different from this morning so because of that although I did a clean lap, I didn't push to the limit. I'm sure we could have been a bit better so I'm quite confident for tomorrow. I hope to be in the top ten again and score some points."

Ralph Firman: "It's a shame. The car felt really good and I was pushing hard, but obviously too hard on the final corner. As I came through the corner I ran a little bit too wide and tried to keep my foot in to get a good lap time but I went on the grass and hit the wall. I'm disappointed for myself as I was on a good lap and I also feel sorry that the boys have got a fair bit of work to do repairing the car. It was pretty good this afternoon, a lot better than this morning, maybe because the temperatures dropped off. We have to try our best tomorrow - that's the important one."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 11th, Fernando Alonso - 13th )

Pat Symonds: "Although we had a very productive session this morning, in which we covered almost three race distances, we didn't maximise the advantage we should have got from it in this afternoon qualifying. However I believe we now have a good idea of how we could have improved things this afternoon and we should be able to apply this tomorrow to improve our competitiveness."

Denis Chevrier: "A disappointing performance this afternoon. Now we have to analyse what went wrong, knowing that both drivers encountered the same difficulty to get the best of the car in this circuit."

Jarno Trulli: "We have a lot of work ahead of us before tomorrow's qualifying, since, as we expected, this track does not suit the R23. However, the potential of the car is there, and it is simply a matter of finding the way to exploit it and I think we will be ok for the race."

Fernando Alonso: "We knew this is not the best circuit for our car, so I am not too surprised by my position today. Overall it was a productive Friday, this morning we worked on a series of things and in the afternoon, I had a straightforward lap, but going out third didn't help me too much as the track was not in the best conditions. I am confident I can improve tomorrow."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 12th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 15th )

Peter Sauber: "We could only partly transfer our positive results of the morning to qualifying. Now we must analyse the results from the data, particularly from Heinz-Harald's car, to find out why he was unable to match expectations."

Nick Heidfeld: "In the morning I was struggling with oversteer and the car didn't feel good. We made some changes for the qualifying which improved the balance of the car a bit. I am not satisfied with my position, but I'm a bit happier than I was in Barcelona."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "As I did this morning, this afternoon I had problems with the very low level of grip on the track and the car was very nervous. I wasn't able to attack. Now we need to analyse the data and find the reasons for this. I'm sure there is room for improvements."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 14th , Cristiano da Matta - 16th )

Gustav Brunner: "We have struggled a bit today to find any sort of good set-up on the cars. We made some changes after this morning's practice and the drivers did a reasonable job in qualifying with some handling issues that still need to be resolved. I don't think we should be too concerned. We have 90 minutes of practice tomorrow to make further progress. I think tomorrow's qualifying will be a different story - and that is the one that counts."

Olivier Panis: "I am not really satisfied, to be honest. We had a very difficult free practice with set-up problems and we didn't make really any changes to the car during the session. We made some adjustments for qualifying and I think the performance this afternoon was acceptable, but we still have a lot to do ahead of the race qualifying tomorrow. I am not too worried though. I think we can still realistically expect a top ten grid position, which will put us in good shape for the race."

Cristiano da Matta: "Today was my first time on the A1-Ring, and I suppose that could have something to do with the result, but I think the biggest reason why we are struggling right now is down to the set-up of the car. I believe there is still something more I can get from myself on the track, but the main part is going to come from the car. Since we started this morning, the set-up of the car just hasn't been working. Something with the balance of the car just isn't right. We haven't been able to find any representative improvements, so we have to keep trying."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 17th, Justin Wilson - 18th )

Paul Stoddart: "Today was an excellent start for the Minardi team at what is, sadly, possibly the last Austrian Grand Prix for the foreseeable future. After a disappointing Friday and Saturday in Barcelona, the changes implemented by the team seem to have paid dividends, with both drivers having an excellent Friday here in Austria and finishing 17th and 18th.
More importantly, they set competitive lap times that were within a few seconds of the front-running teams. Hopefully, we can build on this start, and make the 2003 Austrian Grand Prix a memorable one for European Minardi Cosworth. Both Jos and Justin did excellent jobs today, swapping ever faster lap times throughout the sessions."

Jos Verstappen: "I had a reasonable qualifying lap. The car had slightly too much oversteer, but it's quickest like that, and it also prevents too much wear on the front tyres. There was maybe a tenth of a second to be found in the lap time, but otherwise, that was pretty much it today. We did a lot of work in the two-hour session this morning, and the mechanics did a really fantastic job to get everything finished in the time available. We then concentrated on finding a reasonable chassis balance for qualifying in the one-hour session, and that certainly helped this afternoon."

Justin Wilson: "The car picked up a little bit of oversteer in the first qualifying run, and as a result, I just couldn't get the car settled in the middle sector. That cost me some time in the quick corners. We got through a lot of work in the test session this morning, though, and we'll see if that results in an improvement during the rest of the weekend."

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Main Austrian GP Page

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Friday Practice Results Report Results
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First Saturday Practice Results   Results
Second Saturday Practice Results Report Results
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What the teams and drivers said
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

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