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

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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday

McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 1st, David Coulthard - 9th )

Ron Dennis: "An excellent performance from Kimi resulting in a well deserved first pole position but a disappointing qualifying for David. We have not compromised our race strategy on either car, and as a result good finishing positions are more than possible. The continuos competitive performance of the MP4-17D puts the team in the enviable position of having the option to take an even more cautious approach to the race introduction of the MP4-18."

Norbert Haug: "A perfect lap and a career first pole position for Kimi after an exciting qualifying session. This is the third time this year he has been on the front row, but the two times before he was marginally away from pole. Today he is ahead with 32 thousands of a second. Our team did a great job and with the speed shown so far we have a good basis for tomorrow's race. From David's place on the grid a good result is still possible."

Kimi Raikkonen: "It's a bit of a dream and slightly better than the Canadian GP qualifying and to get my first pole position at Mercedes-Benz's home race is fantastic. The car has been good and fast throughout the weekend. It's pretty close at the front and I have been told qualifying was very exciting, but I didn't have any idea of what times the others did as I was just sitting in the car waiting to go out and not looking at the screens. We knew that if we got everything right we could do it and we did."

David Coulthard: "The balance of the car was not as good as in the warm-up. The car touched the ground a bit in some places, and I locked up at turn one, which cost me time. We will do the best we can in the race tomorrow, and I believe it will be a case of strategy and reliability."

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

Jean Todt: "We witnessed a great battle for pole position, with five drivers all within less than three tenths of a second. It is a testimony of the current high level of competition between the top teams, even though there is the question mark over the different fuel levels in the cars.
Nevertheless, right from the start of the weekend we have seen there is little to chose between the main protagonists in the championship. Having one car on the front row and the other on the third is a good result overall. Tomorrow's race should be very closely contested and reliability and strategy will be the key points. Bridgestone has done a very good job on the tyre front which means we can be competitive, given the importance of the tyres in Formula 1."

Ross Brawn: "It was a very spectacular session which puts us in a good position for tomorrow's race. We have worked hard all weekend and we know what to expect from our chosen tyre. It will probably be hot tomorrow which will make tyre performance crucial. The fact we are not on pole is not too worrying as we have shown that we can win even when we have not been ahead of the entire field in qualifying. Bridgestone has come up with good tyres and we have a very competitive car, so we have all we need to fight for the win tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher: "It was very close between the top few drivers, so I think it should be an interesting race tomorrow. I made a slight mistake, when I locked up a front wheel, which could have robbed me of pole. In terms of strategy I feel we have made the right decision, but we won't find out until the race. I think our lap times will be good tomorrow. In some ways, I would have been happier with third place, because being second on the inside line the track is a bit dirtier there and I could lose out a little bit."

Rubens Barrichello: "We made a major step forward with the car compared with yesterday and my time is very close to the pole time. It's a shame I am not further up the grid, but I am still confident about tomorrow's race, especially as last year I did not start from pole but in the end I still managed to win the Grand Prix. I can therefore be optimistic given that we know we can count on an excellent car-engine-Bridgestone tyre package."

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

Sam Michael: "Second row on the grid is definitely a good place to start the race from and we are quite confident that we will compete well. The cars are well set up and we have a good strategy for tomorrow's race."

Mario Theissen: "We have seen a very tight performance in today's qualifying as the lap times of the top three are within a tenth of a second. For the third time in a row Ralf and Juan Pablo have demonstrated an excellent qualifying performance which gives them every chance for a good race result tomorrow."

Ralf Schumacher: "We can be fairly happy about today's result. In the first and second sectors of my flying lap I was really quick but then I lost some advantage in the last part. However, 3rd and 4th are good positions to start from for tomorrow's race -- especially for me, as I will start from the cleaner side of the track.
We were expecting more difficulties here at the Nurburgring but today's result proves that we are working in the right direction with the FW25, especially because Kimi, Michael and myself are so close together. We have made the right choice of tyre for the race and I also believe Michelin have an advantage on this track. It's going to be a long, hot and interesting race tomorrow."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am obviously a bit disappointed as I was expecting something more from today's qualifying. The balance of my car wasn't quite as good as it was this morning and this cost me a place in the top three. However, I believe we're set to have a good race tomorrow. The car has been working very well in the last few races and I am confident we have a good strategy."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 6th , Fernando Alonso - 8th )

Pat Symonds: "We did not start the weekend in the best of shape, but a lot of effort by the whole team, including the drivers, has brought us to a much more competitive position. Bearing in mind the strategy we have chosen, and the good performance of our Michelin tyres this weekend, we feel we will have a hard but rewarding race."

Denis Chevrier: "This is a very fair result, which puts us in position to challenge our usual rivals tomorrow. We have learnt a lot since we arrived yesterday, and we now have the tools we need, as much in terms of speed as race preparation, to compete well. After a problem-free day, we are, as usual, confident for tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli: "I am definitely pleased with my position, and also with the team's performance this weekend. We have worked hard since yesterday morning, because we had neither balance nor performance when we began. After qualifying, however, our position is definitely promising; I now hope the race will be good to us tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso: "It was a good run for me: there were no mistakes, although the car balance still wasn't perfect. I haven't had any problems all day, and we worked hard to find the right compromise on set-up. I'm happy to be starting from the top ten tomorrow."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 7th, Cristiano da Matta - 10th )

Keizo Takahashi: "We are very happy with today's result. We achieved our objective by getting both Olivier and Cristiano in the top ten. After the unfortunate qualifying session yesterday in the rain, we did not lose faith in our abilities for today's qualifying session and we have performed very strongly all weekend. I am especially happy for all our employees in the grandstands who got to see such a positive result today. I think this is great motivation for everyone in the team at our home grand prix and we can be quietly confident for more championship points in the race."

Olivier Panis: "I am really quite happy with my lap. We have been very competitive all weekend and I think that everybody has worked tremendously hard to get the cars to go well around the N�rburgring this weekend. We had a good car from the first session yesterday, so it was a shame the rain prevented us from qualifying higher up on Friday afternoon.
Going out so early on in the today's session was a bit of a drawback, because I am sure the track improved as more cars went out, however having two cars in the top ten again is a positive result for the whole team. We are improving all the time and I reckon we are in good shape for a points finish in tomorrow's race."

Cristiano da Matta: "I am pleased with the lap today and with our performance over this weekend. We know we have a car that works well around here, as we proved in the practice sessions, and we have actually exceeded our expectations a little bit. We have operated well as a team and I am sure we can achieve a good result tomorrow.
Both cars have been on the pace since the first session on Friday and the Michelin tyres are working very well, which will be an advantage for us in the race. We have to continue in this way for the rest of the season and keep making this kind of progress."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 11th, Antonio Pizzonia - 16th )

Dr Mark Gillan: "A pleasing day which ended-up with pleasing qualifying performances from both drivers given their respective strategies for tomorrow. We have done nothing apart from focus completely on race set-up and race strategy and from that perspective, we are well prepared. Both drivers have done a good job so far this weekend, with their lap times getting better and better on each outing.
Tyre performance will play a big part in tomorrow's race and we have adopted a strategy that we believe will work well for us tomorrow. We have suffered no issues with the car all weekend and as long as we have reliability on our side tomorrow, we should be capable of a points challenge."

Mark Webber: "I am pleased with what was a fairly tidy lap. I braked a little too deep going into Turn 4 and that forced me to go a little wide on the outside of the corner. That said we are very pleased to have ended up in P11 given the focus that we have been putting onto the race for tomorrow. We've had to compromise a higher qualification position for this but everything looks good for tomorrow providing we have a hot race.
The balance of the car is very good and Michelin have again proved their worth - something they have been doing since Melbourne. They certainly have the upper hand in the tyre war right now and let's hope we can put all this to good use tomorrow."

Antonio Pizzonia: "Not the best I could have done but we have a good race car for tomorrow. I struggled a little this morning in trying to find a good set-up for the car and that is frustrating given how well we went in the dry yesterday. The balance of the car on scrubbed tyres is good and this will bode well for tomorrow but over one fast lap, it got difficult to handle in places.
It would have nice to have been higher up the order today but finding a good set-up on new tyres was difficult this morning. Our biggest enemy tomorrow will be the rain and as long as it stays dry, I can make an impact on the race for sure."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 12th, Jacques Villeneuve - 17th )

David Richards: "We have been struggling for grip in the dry conditions here all weekend and therefore Jenson's position in qualifying was probably as good as we could have expected. Jacques will understandably be disappointed with his qualifying position, but he usually fares better in the race and is confident with his set-up for tomorrow. Given the number of incidents that have occurred in the F3000 race here today, tomorrow's grand prix could be equally exciting and who knows what might happen?."

Geoff Willis: "It has been a difficult two days for the team as the car has clearly not been working well at this track. We had two very busy practice sessions this morning trying to find a suitable set-up and in the end we are substantially happier with the car than we were on Friday. A low-grip circuit like the N�rburgring tends to accentuate any weaknesses with the package and we are now focusing on these areas for the next race and test.
Jenson's qualifying lap was as good as we could hope for this weekend. Unfortunately, Jacques made a mistake in turn one which compromised his lap. The target for the rest of this weekend is to try to collect some points, which will be quite a tough challenge."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Jenson did a good job today, considering the fact that he hasn't been able to get the best out of his car so far this weekend. We're satisfied with the reliability of our engines and I believe the package is capable of delivering some points in the race tomorrow."

Jenson Button: "I'm pretty happy with my lap considering the difficult start we've had to the weekend. I had planned to be a little more cautious through the Veedol chicane but as this was qualifying I decided to give it some instead! I was pushing hard throughout the lap but we were still struggling for grip so the car was very twitchy.
It's been a tough weekend so far and we've had to try a lot of things with the set-up to improve for today. The balance isn't too bad now, we're just not quick enough. It would be nice to have some rain tomorrow but I don't think it's going to come. We'll just have to make the most of the strategy and do what we can from the sixth row."

Jacques Villeneuve: "Today was a bad day. It's never a good thing to go out first for qualifying but on top of that I had a bad lap. The car was sliding and I braked too late into turn one, locked the front wheels and lost a good half-second as a result.
We changed the set-up just before our qualifying run and it made a bigger difference than expected. We also ran a good race strategy fuel-wise so there were a number of reasons for us being slower, but even without the mistake we would probably only have been 15th today. I'm sure it will be a very tough race tomorrow because we'll be starting well behind where we normally should be and that will hurt us for sure."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 13th, Ralph Firman - 14th )

Gary Anderson: "Qualifying didn't turn out too bad. As always it's hard to know how we compare to the rest, with different strategies, so we're just doing what we think is right for us. Having two cars side by side on the grid is reasonable, as it just shows that is the pace of the car. Ralph's come on well since the beginning of the year, to be up there almost matching Giancarlo. He's less than three tenths of a second off and I think it's a pretty creditable position. We are hoping for a nice safe first corner, a good race and some points if we are lucky."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "Thirteenth is nothing special but we were able to improve the balance compared to this morning so it's better than it could have been. As I said yesterday, I don't think we are competitive enough. It's going to be difficult to score points in this race."

Ralph Firman: "It was disappointing that I lost a lot of track time in practice this morning as I think it may have cost me in qualifying. We haven't had any other problems and it's worked out really well all weekend apart from that. I'm quite happy with how qualifying went although I did made a small mistake on the lap. You can never get it absolutely perfect but you can always aim to get it better and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how we end up."

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Sauber ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 15th, Nick Heidfeld - 20th - No Time )

Peter Sauber: "Today required strong nerves! After two engine problems in the warm-up, the causes of which we are still analysing, Nick's car needed an engine change and Heinz-Harald had to switch to the T-car. Due to the new regulations it's not allowed anymore to do an installation lap with the T-car. Under those circumstance Heinz-Harald's result is gratifying.
In Nick's case we had to achieve the impossible task of changing the engine in 32 minutes. Already after 25 minutes we were able to fire it, and after 28 Nick was ready to go. This was fantastic, and a very impressive achievement. My sincere compliments to our mechanics - if only everything would go that well! Unfortunately Nick wasn't able to exploit this excellent work as an as-yet undefined hydraulic downshift problem was responsible for his spin in the first corner."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I had to change to the T-car just before the qualifying. We didn't have the chance to set it up properly and I had quite a lot of understeer. But with my result we are not far away from our target for tomorrow. It's a shame for Nick. I wish we had two T-cars available!"

Nick Heidfeld: "I have to say a big 'thank you' to my crew after they changed the engine in very little time just before the qualifying session. That was a fantastic achievement! Unfortunately, I then suffered from a technical problem with the downshift while braking for the first corner, so I didn't have a chance to make it."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 18th, Justin Wilson - 19th )

Paul Stoddart: "It was slightly disappointing not to be able to repeat our performance of yesterday; however, it is clear that Minardi currently needs wet conditions to show its true potential. As usual, both drivers gave 100 per cent, and we'll just have to wait until tomorrow's race to see if we can take something positive away from this weekend."

Jos Verstappen: "This morning, in the second session, we were struggling a little to find a good set-up, and then we lost some track time with a wiring loom problem just while we were trying different wing configurations. We then went in a direction with the chassis for the warm-up session that didn't really work, but we sorted it out for qualifying and the car was definitely better. I was reasonably happy with my lap time this afternoon considering the fuel load. This race track is obviously harder for us than the last one. We need more downforce to improve our lap times here."

Justin Wilson: "I'm fairly pleased with today's performance. I lost out a bit to Jos in the first sector of the lap, but we are running different wing levels. Overall, I've been able to push Jos a bit today, so I'm pleased with that. The car is well enough balanced now, but we are just lacking grip here. I'm happy with our strategy for tomorrow and we'll see how things go in the race."

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