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

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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday

Williams (  Juan Pablo Montoya - 1st, Ralf Schumacher - 2nd )

Sam Michael: "It was a solid job from the team to get both the cars onto the front row and it puts us in a strong position for tomorrow's race. The aerodynamic improvements we brought to this circuit are clearly another step forward. Also Michelin once again provided us with a very good tyre for the heat. We are obviously feeling confident going into tomorrow's German Grand Prix."

Gerhard Berger: "It was a trouble free and just perfect qualifying session for us. It is what you dream of for your home grand prix. We are obviously ideally placed for the race and we hope we will fight for victory here. But with these high temperatures, it is extremely difficult to predict how tyre degradation and general reliability will be over the race distance."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "Finally I've got my first pole of this season, It's taken me a long time to get it! It's the second time I am on pole on this track, after 2001. The car was working really good today and we've pulled together, got through a lot of hard work and it's paid off. I am also confident that we are going to have a good race tomorrow. In these conditions tomorrow's race will be hard both physically and mentally. It will also test the reliability of all the cars. Hopefully we can score some good points for both championships."

Ralf Schumacher: "I am pleased to be on the front row, especially because I had big understeer in the last two corners, which cost me some time. Thanks to the team who did an excellent job, since the car wasn't that perfect yesterday morning or this morning. Last year I was a bit unlucky on this track and I hope I ca make up for that disappointing race. Tomorrow the tarmac could be as hot as 55�C and in such conditions anything can happen."

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Ferrari ( Rubens Barrichello - 3rd, Michael Schumacher - 6th )

Jean Todt: "Once again we have witnessed a very closely contested qualifying session. Rubens' time was only beaten by the two Williams, which ran right at the end of the session. The qualifying result might not necessarily reflect how the race will turn out and I hope we will see a different order tomorrow. As usual, when it comes to the race, parameters such as reliability and car, engine and tyre performance will be key factors. We hope to notch up a good result for both championships and we know we are capable of doing so."

Ross Brawn: "All in all, it was a good qualifying session. I don't think we could have beaten the Williams, but I still feel we are in a strong position for the race. Our tyres seem to be consistent, which means we can face tomorrow afternoon with confidence. Having secured third place, Rubens will be able to get away from the clean side of the track. Michael did not get a good second sector, otherwise he would have been much nearer the front."

Rubens Barrichello: "The car is a lot better than yesterday and for that I have to thank the engineers and mechanics for all their hard work overnight and this morning. I was very close to pole, but I was on the limit and could not have done better and I did not want to compromise my race. Most of our improvement came in the third sector. The tyres survived well and I know they can do the same over a long distance.
It seems that the race could be almost as hot as Malaysia, but I know what to do to look after my tyres in the race. So, I hope to make a good start, keep up with the Williams and then we will see who can do consistently good lap times. It might not be looking quite as good as Silverstone, but I am still confident for tomorrow. I am aiming for the top step of the podium."

Michael Schumacher: "The handling of my car was not ideal this afternoon, so like yesterday, this was not one of my best qualifying runs. I lost time in the second sector and things just did not work out the way I would have liked. Sixth place is not great for the start, especially with the Williams on the front row. However, from a championship point of view, Raikkonen is alongside me so that is not too bad. However, we know that our car performs well in terms of consistency over a long run, so we will have to wait and see how things develop. As usual, I will try my best."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 4th , Fernando Alonso - 8th )

Pat Symonds: "Another extremely good lap from Jarno, and a well-deserved fourth place. Fernando had a problem with his car that seriously compromised his ability to qualify well. At the moment we are not sure what it is, but as he is eight kph slower on the straight, and because we have also seen a problem with the braking system, we will start looking there. In terms of the race, we still feel very confident with our tyre choice. Of course, it will be on the limit, but that is what racing is all about!."

Denis Chevrier: "Today's results are in line with our expectations, even if we can be a little disappointed with Fernando's position. We continued where we left off yesterday, with a well-managed programme. There are no changes expected in weather conditions for tomorrow, and I think we are strong enough in the areas that will be important during the race. Starting from where we are on the grid, we can legitimately hope for a good result tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli: "It was a pretty busy day, but the result is a good fourth place in qualifying. We tested a lot of things during the different sessions, and the car is well balanced. I am pretty confident that our race pace tomorrow will be competitive."

Fernando Alonso: "I had a clean lap but, in the end, it wasn't particularly quick. I didn't make any mistakes and I was relatively pleased with the car's handling. However, the lap time just wasn't there: we now have to take a long hard look at the data to understand where the problem is."

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McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 5th, David Coulthard - 10th )

Ron Dennis: "A difficult session for everybody, and the high temperatures, which I'm told will increase tomorrow, will continue to play a significant role. Tyre performance will be critical and our Michelins are performing well at the moment. We look forward to an interesting and very hot race tomorrow."

Norbert Haug: "Taking into account that Kimi will start the race from fifth but ahead of Championship leader Michael Schumacher his qualifying result is not too bad, and we will try to achieve the same in the race. Unfortunately David had to qualify in the T-car which affected his chances of achieving a better result. We will only see in tomorrow's race what the grid positions will be worth."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I thought my lap was OK but not quite good enough for a top three position. During the last couple of corners I got a bit too much understeer and lost a little bit of time, but things are not too bad. We are in front of Michael and you never know what strategy the others are on for the race. The Michelin tyres seem to be working well and I'm on the clean side of the track and have made a few good starts recently so it should be an exciting race tomorrow. It's very hot out of there and they say it will get even hotter tomorrow, but its not too bad once you are in the car working."

David Coulthard: "Until this morning's second free practice session everything was going according to plan and I felt we were making steady progress. Unfortunately I went off during the second session following a set up change, the effects of which we underestimated and had to qualify in the spare car. I was not as comfortable and seemed to be losing out at the low speed sections of the track. However I have started from the fifth row before and made my way up the field during the race so let's see what happens tomorrow."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 7th, Cristiano da Matta - 9th )

Keizo Takahashi: "Another very encouraging qualifying session for Panasonic Toyota Racing and I am overjoyed that we managed to get two cars in the top ten for the third time this season. Of course our new engine specification played a part in our qualifying results, but I would like to extend our thanks to Michelin for their competitive tyres and also to Olivier and Cristiano for a job well done. Tomorrow, we expect a very hot day but we are fully prepared to push hard in the race."

Olivier Panis: "It is good to see that we are continuing our good form with another top ten qualifying position. I am very pleased with my lap and everyone has worked well this weekend. I think we have developed a good stability within the team, which is being reflected in these positive results. This morning, we worked very well to develop the car and to find a good balance. Cristiano also did a good job and with both of us in the top ten things are looking good for the race tomorrow."

Cristiano da Matta: "Despite claiming another top ten grid position, I am really not happy with my qualifying lap today. The car definitely had a much better lap time in it, but I lost around half-a-second at the last corner. I was simply pushing a bit too hard and made a mistake. The car felt good and we improved the handling through free practice and again in the warm-up session, so it is frustrating not to be a bit higher up on the grid tomorrow, although we should be in reasonable shape in the race."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 11th, Justin Wilson - 16th )

Dr Mark Gillan: "While we should have been higher up the order today, we must respect the fact that we all have a very long, gruelling and what looks to be a very hot race ahead of us tomorrow. Our strategy for tomorrow is in good shape and we certainly do not blame our drivers for what was nothing more than commitment in action. Both drivers over-cooked the car and driving to the limit is what they are here to do, albeit sometimes it is easy to over-step the limit.
Mark was doing another excellent job until turn 16 where he ran too wide and lost a few tenths. Justin suffered from understeer in the last two corners and then in an effort to make up the lost time, pushed too hard. It is disappointing because it does not reflect the true pace of the car. Mark managed a 16.4sec lap this morning in the Free Practice sessions - almost three tenths faster than his qualifying effort and that's what we were aiming for this afternoon. Both drivers are some what disappointed with themselves but we'll pick ourselves up and focus on what will be a very tough race tomorrow for all concerned."

Mark Webber: "A relatively clean lap but I lost time in the penultimate corner that cost me around three to four tenths. I could have been up there with Alonso and Coulthard but that's one lap qualifying for you. There simply isn't any margin for a mistake and when it does happen, the price to be paid is high. We've done a lot of good preparation in the run-up to this session and it is disappointing not to have got the maximum out of it. On the other hand, if you don't push to the limits, you may as well go home. Today, I pushed but slightly over-stepped the fine-line. Nonetheless, we are running an honest race strategy for tomorrow and we'll endeavour to do our absolute best in the search for any points that the front- runners leave behind."

Justin Wilson: "Like Mark, I just pushed way too hard towards the end of the lap to give my lap time a push. I lost a fair bit of time in the last sector but that's where my inexperience with Jaguar and Michelin comes in. While I am not making any excuses, the fact is that I have never driven the car in anger until this weekend and consequently my knowledge of the Michelin tyre performance is limited given that I have come from a Bridgestone team in Minardi. Understanding what the car and tyres are capable of will take a bit of time but in the meantime, I am very pleased with the way things are going at Jaguar. The car is great to drive and I am certainly looking forward to going racing with it tomorrow."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 12th, Ralph Firman - 18th )

Gary Anderson: "Giancarlo drove a very good lap. We used the new spec engines for the first time and it obviously helped, which is a good thing. I'm quite pleased, the balance of the car seemed quite reasonable and I think we've got a good strategy for tomorrow. Ralph's car had a bit of oversteer, although I'm not sure what changed between warm-up and qualifying."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "The car today was better than yesterday and I did a very good lap, I honestly did my best. I'm pleased compared to yesterday and I hope to score points tomorrow it will be very difficult but we're going to do our best."

Ralph Firman: "Today was very disappointing. I had a good day yesterday but I couldn't capitalise on it, and ended up with a lot of oversteer in qualifying, although the car had understeer in warm-up. Let's see how we go in the race."

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BAR ( Jacques Villeneuve - 13th, Jenson Button - 17th )

David Richards: "On the face of it one would assume we're not too happy with today's qualifying positions, however our focus throughout the weekend has been on race set-up at a circuit where overtaking has historically been a strong feature. I'm totally confident that the tyre choice and fuel load that determine our strategy, together with the top speed that we demonstrated in qualifying, stand us in very good stead tomorrow."

Geoff Willis: "The car and engine are working well and we focused on race set-up today. Although we are having difficulty in making the tyres work for a single qualifying lap, over a run the car is very consistent and we have good top speeds. Since we made our tyre choice for the race rather than qualifying, we were expecting this afternoon to be tough, although we still hoped to have both cars in the top 12. Jacques dropped a couple of tenths towards the end of his lap but we are reasonably happy with his position. Jenson found that his car balance had changed considerably from warm-up and made a big mistake at the end of the lap, which dropped him down the grid. We now have to concentrate on getting the best out of the car in tomorrow's race."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Clearly both drivers were pushing really hard today. As Jenson proved at Silverstone, we can challenge for points from any qualifying position, so I'm looking forward to scoring more points in tomorrow's race."

Jacques Villeneuve: "The car is lively and the balance is not bad so I could push hard today. The hardest thing was to get temperature into the tyres for one lap because they take around five or six laps to really start working. I lost some time in the last two corners when I picked up a bit of understeer and the tyres grained a little. We had the choice of a tyre that was better on one lap for qualifying but which we couldn't race well, or a tyre that would get better with the race. We chose the latter and I think we'll see the benefit of that tomorrow."

Jenson Button: "It was a pretty terrible qualifying and very disappointing because the car is strong here. I had too much oversteer throughout the lap and the car was just skating around at the back. Then in the second to last corner I made a big mistake when I got a lot of oversteer and ended up running off the circuit. It's strange because we haven't made any changes from warm-up, when the car was quick and we still had more to come. I think that the track temperature increasing by six degrees probably had a big influence as that can really unsettle the handling. We should have been inside the top 10 today so this has compromised us for sure, but I'm confident that we'll be better in the race. I had a good race at Silverstone against all the odds so I'll have to pull another one out of the bag here tomorrow now!."

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Sauber ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 14th, Nick Heidfeld - 15th )

Peter Sauber: "This is the result that we expected after this morning's practice sessions. The weather forecast for the race tomorrow says that it's going to be very hot again, with an ambient temperature up to 34 degrees Celsius, and track temperature up to 50, so tyre performance will undoubtedly play a deciding role."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I am quite happy with my qualifying result. In contrast to yesterday I did a good lap without any mistakes. The first sector especially was good, and overall it was a good lap."

Nick Heidfeld: "I am not happy with my lap time. The warm-up went pretty well and things looked promising. I had problems finding a good balance this morning, but after trying scrubbed tyres in practice we were confident that would help for qualifying. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. This afternoon I had really bad understeer again, particularly in the first corner and the first sector in general, which ruined the handling."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 19th, Nicolas Kiesa - 20th )

Paul Stoddart: "In a day of somewhat mixed fortunes, Nicolas had an off this morning, which prevented him from taking part in the second free practice session. Despite this, he set a very creditable time in qualifying. Considering his lack of time in the car, I think it was a valiant effort. Jos, as usual, completed his full programme during the sessions and recorded the 19th fastest time, but with a fuel load that could put him in a good position for tomorrow's race."

Jos Verstappen: "I chose the harder compound tyre on offer because this morning we tried both compounds and the softer tyre ended up developing blisters. As a result of going with the harder tyre, we suffered a slight penalty in terms of our qualifying lap time, but we still managed to go as fast as on the hard tyres this afternoon as we did on the softer ones this morning. The car was reasonably well balanced for the qualifying run, and although the grip was good in the first sector of the lap, we were definitely losing grip over the remaining sectors. If we have heat like this tomorrow, then I think the race will be very interesting, bearing in mind the number of spins and incidents we had today. The main thing will be to bring the cars home."

Nicolas Kiesa: "At the corner just coming into the Mercedes stadium, I was slightly early on the brakes, and that's where I lost most of my time on the qualifying lap. The car was definitely better than me today -- I'm just not experienced enough yet with F1 performance to get to the limit of the car in qualifying. On the one hand, I was very conscious that I needed to set a time after yesterday's qualifying problem, and on the other, I wanted to get as near to Jos's time as I could. In the end, I was nearer than I thought I might have been."

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