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

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Friday

McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 1st, David Coulthard - 6th )

Ron Dennis: "A disciplined performance from both drivers, the engineers and the team as a whole which not only gave us the on-track performance but perhaps more importantly resulted in a good balance for the rest of the weekend which may have the added challenge of variable weather conditions."

Norbert Haug: "A strong performance by Kimi and the entire team. We haven't been Friday qualifying specialists so far this year, which makes the fact that Kimi was fastest today and the only one who achieved a time under 1 minute and 30 seconds very pleasing."

Kimi Raikkonen: "The car has been perfect all day and we improved it even more for qualifying so I'm very pleased. The whole lap was pretty good and I made no mistakes. There is no doubt that the MP4-17D is quick, but it's a matter of making all the parts work together and for me not to make any mistakes and then we are there. I look forward to the rest of the weekend."

David Coulthard: "Obviously you always go into every session wanting to be fastest, but the important qualifying is tomorrow. The goal for today really is to be in the same group as our main opposition. There is nothing particular to say about the run, as my plan was to do a safe lap without pushing too hard."

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Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 2nd, Rubens Barrichello - 5th )

Jean Todt: "The result of this first qualifying session - with one car in second place and the other fifth - will allow us to take part in the second session in pretty much the same conditions as our closest rivals. We can expect a very closely contested weekend. As usual, the performance of the car-engine-tyre package will be crucial in determining the final result. On the first day of practice at this track we have seen rather more problems with front wings than usual, because of the changes to the chicane. This will require extreme caution, especially in the race."

Ross Brawn: "I am quite satisfied with today's result. The Bridgestone tyres are very consistent which means we can be optimistic for Sunday's race. I think there is still room for improvement on the car, given they were not perfectly balanced on a light fuel load. The key will be to see how our rivals' tyres last over a distance. From what we saw this morning, we might have an advantage."

Michael Schumacher: "All in all, I am happy with this result. I did a good lap, being a bit careful in the first sector before going flat out. The time isn't bad and puts us in a good position for tomorrow afternoon's qualifying. We are optimistic about the rest of the weekend. Obviously if the weather in the race is similar to what we have seen in the second half of this session, we would not be disappointed! The modifications to the chicane seem to work well, but the question of the bollards needs to be resolved."

Rubens Barrichello: "I am very confident for tomorrow. There is still a bit of work to do on the car, but I am optimistic. I had good grip on my lap, but the car was not perfectly balanced and because of this I lost time in the first sector. In any case I have managed to get a good position which will allow me to make my qualifying run towards the end of the session."

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Williams ( Juan Pablo Montoya - 3rd,  Ralf Schumacher - 4th )

Sam Michael: "It was a good Friday to start the weekend with. The improvements we brought to our cars are working and we are looking forward to having a competitive weekend. I am not too happy with some of the changes to the circuit as we saw a lot of car damage this morning. Hopefully there will be improvements for tomorrow."

Gerhard Berger: "Today's sessions showed that this track suits the Michelin tyres well. However, we cannot take into consideration the times set when the rain had started to fall. Both our drivers produced good laps and were almost identical in time and they both can be pleased with their performances."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am reasonably satisfied with my qualifying lap today, despite losing a bit of time in the first corner. I turned in and my car just understeered. I had suffered from some understeer during this morning's Free Practice too, but apart from that it was quite good and I believe we should be pretty strong for the weekend as we've got a great car. With regards to the new chicane, I must say that I preferred the old one as I think it was more exciting. We seem to be able to pick up the pace here, and this is what counts. We are aiming to be ahead of Ferrari and McLaren and I am confident we've got the equipment to do so."

Ralf Schumacher: "My flying lap was more or less all right and the car had quite a good balance. I didn't really get the last chicane right, which cost me some fractions. However I believe we are facing a demanding weekend here as McLaren seem to be very strong on this track. We still have a lot of work to do in order to improve the car's set-up for tomorrow and the race. With regards to the changes to the NGK corner, I must say I like it now more than it was before."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 7th, Fernando Alonso - 8th )

Pat Symonds: "In spite of changes made for qualifying, we still have not got the car working well at this circuit. We need to look at a lot of data, and study our models, to make improvements for tomorrow. If the wet conditions persist in the morning, we will have some difficult choices to make."

Denis Chevrier: "Already this morning, it was difficult to establish a reliable hierarchy of performance, but this became impossible after rain disrupted qualifying. On the engine side, we are pleased to note that the engines in each race car completed more than a race distance today. We now have to continue working on our preparation for the race."

Jarno Trulli: "I had a clean lap this afternoon. We worked throughout the morning on finding a good set-up, and the right solutions for the tyres. We both changed our set-ups before qualifying, and the result wasn't too bad. However, we are not looking particularly strong at the moment, and we have a lot of work to do tonight and tomorrow morning in order to investigate, and try to solve, the problems."

Fernando Alonso: "From my point if view, the balance of the car was the best it has been all day. We had a good morning, and managed to complete the programme without any problems, learning about the tyres and set-ups. My lap was good, with the car well-balanced and I didn't make any mistakes. I am quite pleased, but we are still a long way from our competitors, and we need to work tonight to try and find some solutions."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 9th, Ralph Firman - 14th )

Gary Anderson: "It is a bit difficult to judge where we are compared to everyone else because qualifying was split in two with the weather change. I have to say that we weren't looking very competitive with Giancarlo's time as far as dry weather conditions are concerned. As Giancarlo says, we need to improve our complete package chassis, engine and tyres. Ralph did a competent job in the conditions. He had to get a lap in to make sure he's not out first tomorrow, which is important - if it's wet tomorrow, as forecast, there will be a few cars out before him to move some water off the track!"

Giancarlo Fisichella: "For the first time in my life, I think, I've been lucky and my place in the starting order allowed me dry conditions. It was a good lap and the balance wasn't too bad but I was two seconds off the pace which is frustrating. It's a combination of tyres and our whole package."

Ralph Firman: "It's disappointing for me that it rained halfway through the session but I suppose it was inevitable that it would happen at some point this year and unfortunately I wasn't on the beneficial end of it. 14th place is okay as it means tomorrow there will be a few cars out before me and that should be a good thing."

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Sauber ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 10th, Nick Heidfeld - 13th )

Peter Sauber: "If we consider only this qualifying session then I am quite satisfied with the results. Although it started to drizzle in the final sector Heinz-Harald still performed well. Nick had to go out in the extreme wet yet still finished quickest in the conditions."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "On the whole it was a good lap until the final sector. The two previous sectors were good, but by the third it had begun to rain and the last chicane was quite slippery already and therefore difficult. I probably lost four tenths of a second in that sector."

Nick Heidfeld: "Because of the heavy rain which started after the first half of the qualifying session, I had to go out on extreme wet weather tyres but still had to struggle like several other drivers before and after me with serious aquaplaning on the track. Nevertheless, I think I made the most of it under those very difficult conditions. Having finished 13th is quite a good result given those circumstances, given that this was quickest in the rainy conditions."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 11th, Jacques Villeneuve - 20th )

David Richards: "The typically fickle weather conditions look likely to have a hand in the outcome of this race, and today set the tone with a difficult start to the weekend. This morning's free practice gave an indication of how much work the team and Bridgestone have to do under dry conditions here, although with a mixed forecast ahead of us it's anyone's guess what we'll be facing in qualifying tomorrow or the race on Sunday.
Jenson had already damaged a couple of wings at the chicane prior to qualifying, so he can't be feeling too happy with himself, and if it was going to rain for anyone in qualifying, it had to start seconds before Jacques went out on the track. Things can only get better."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "We expected to have both guys in the top ten today but we obviously didn't achieve that. Jenson finished just outside in 11th which is not too bad considering the damage to his front wing. But unfortunately Jacques, who was already at a disadvantage because of the weather, didn't manage a competitive time either."

Geoffrey Willis: "We were struggling for grip this morning despite being reasonably happy with the car balance, and we were not happy to find ourselves fifth and seventh out of the Bridgestone runners. Jenson's qualifying lap should have been better had he not hit the bollard in the chicane, breaking a front wing for the third time today.
Jacques was very unfortunate with the timing of his qualifying run because it had just started to rain, leaving us with insufficient time to make any car set-up change except to fit wet tyres. As he started his timed lap, the conditions had worsened dramatically and he spun off as a result of aquaplaning. By the time it was appropriate for the FIA to permit use of the extreme wet, we were already on our timed lap, effectively on the wrong tyres."

Jenson Button: "My lap had some potential but I made a mistake in the last sector; I hit the kerb too hard, then the bollard and broke the front wing. It's disappointing because I did the same thing this morning so I'm not particularly pleased with myself. Having said that we've seen before that bollards don't work and several people had the same problem as me today. The bollards just break front wings.
I was lucky in the sense that it was only spitting with rain when I did my lap, whereas it was starting to come down hard by the time the last six or seven runners went out. I was pleased to see the rain though because I think we're going to need that. Hopefully it will be wet for final qualifying tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve: "Webber, da Matta and myself were the unlucky ones today as we were the first cars out on a wet track. When I did my lap we were only allowed to change to wet tyres but the later runners were able to put on extreme wets. Halfway round, the wheels weren't even touching the ground; I was just floating like a boat. Normally when you aquaplane it's only for a tenth of a second or something, but there it was all the way down.
I'll be the first one to go out for qualifying tomorrow, which is never a good thing, so now we have to just keep working on the car as best we can and hope that the weather turns the same way as it did today. Our tyres aren't competitive here so that's the best we can hope for tomorrow."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 12th, Antonio Pizzonia - 18th )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "We are disappointed to have been on the receiving end of the weather today, especially since the other Michelin runners managed to get out while it was dry. That's one-lap qualifying for you and today, it went against us. We are, however, very pleased with our progress thus far. Between them, our drivers completed over two race distances this morning in terms of mileage and we have experienced no issues.
We worked on race preparation and tyre comparison work this morning and both drivers did an excellent job with Mark finishing 2nd fastest and Antonio 6th fastest. We were well prepared and looking forward to a good qualifying session but in the end, it was about damage limitation given the amount of surface water on the track. Let's hope for a dry session tomorrow and if we get that, our competitiveness will show through."

Mark Webber: "We were performing very well this morning and anticipating a good qualifying session but there is little you can do when it starts raining in the middle of your lap. There is always a risk of this happening with one-lap qualifying and it was only a matter of time before it turned against us.
That said, the rules are the same for everyone but it's a shame given the good work and competitiveness we demonstrated up until the rain came down. It's not the be all and end all and we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings now. Our lap times are very competitive in the dry and we just have to stay calm, focused and hope for track conditions that allow us to fulfil our true potential."

Antonio Pizzonia: "Not what any of us hoped for but what can you do! Our preparation going into the session was very good and the car feels very competitive around this circuit. The balance and tyres worked very well but given that I was the 18th man on the track today, the surface water by that stage was unbearable. The car was sliding around all over the place and it was also difficult to see because my visor was so steamed-up. The aim of the game was to get the car home and build upon the good work we achieved this morning."

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Minardi ( Justin Wilson - 15th, Jos Verstappen - 16th )

Paul Stoddart: "Today saw European Minardi drivers Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen struggle to find grip in the early sessions. Rain interrupted Friday�s first qualifying session, however, and thanks to our fantastic Bridgestone wet tyres, we were able to show the true potential of the Minardi chassis, pleasingly finishing in 15th and 16th places."

Justin Wilson: "We had the advantage of having several people go ahead of us in the wet, which helped us to assess the conditions and adjust the chassis. During the run, the car was good in wet trim, and I just concentrated on driving as smoothly as possible. I�m happy with the result, but we�ve still got a lot to do tomorrow. We�ll just keep working on it."

Jos Verstappen: "The car was quite good in the dry, but when it starts to rain, there are only so many things you can alter before a qualifying run, and you also have to assess how much risk to take in making those changes. Compared with Justin, I wasn�t as quick in the wet qualifying session, but I was quicker in the dry sessions this morning. In any event, sixteenth isn�t too bad for Friday, and it also means we don�t have to go out first in qualifying tomorrow. Personally, I hope for a dry session, and track conditions that are consistent for everyone."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 17th , Cristiano da Matta - 19th )

Ange Pasquali: "The fact that we had to run both cars in the wet conditions in qualifying is obviously very disappointing. We carried out such good work in free practice this morning, coming top of the timesheets, that it is extremely frustrating for the drivers and the team to have to endure the rain, but that is out of our hands. The weekend has only just started and we showed that we can be in a good shape around here. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

Olivier Panis: "We were not very lucky this afternoon with the wet weather, but there is absolutely nothing we can do about that. It was too wet to set any sort of decent time, so I just concentrated on getting the car back to Parc Ferm� safely. I want to remain optimistic though. We were very competitive this morning and I am extremely happy with the job everybody did this morning to get us in P1. Hopefully we will be able to recreate that sort of speed in tomorrow's sessions, especially in front of our employees, who are watching from the grandstands this weekend."

Cristiano da Matta: "We thought that we could get a time done in the dry conditions, so we opted for slick tyres for my run. The initial part of the track was actually quite dry but then I suddenly picked up a part of the track that was really wet and it was impossible to drive, so we decided it was safer to abort the lap. This morning was quite a competitive session and the car felt pretty good apart from a bit of understeer. I reacquainted myself with the N�rburgring quickly and I think that was reflected in my 9th position."

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What the teams and drivers said
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

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