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

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Friday

Williams ( Juan Pablo Montoya -1st, Ralf Schumacher - 19th - Time Disallowed )

Sam Michael: "It�s good to see the pace of the car on this circuit. The tyres are working well and will play a critical part of our race performance. Juan Pablo did a good lap, unfortunately Ralf made a mistake in the chicane so he will have to make this up tomorrow."

Mario Theissen: "In the first qualifying we have seen the expected close competition between Ferrari and ourselves. We had no technical problems. Monza is the last true power circuit of the F1 calendar and as such, it is a big challenge for BMW as an engine manufacturer. That�s why this circuit�s lay-out is our reference track for the dyno in Munich. The new engine for 2004, the P84, has completed this dyno test already in July. On September 4th during the Monza test we have also tested the P84 for the first time in its 2004 specification in the running car. This means we are ahead of schedule and very pleased with the test results so far."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I wasn�t very comfortable with the balance of my car this morning but we made some changes which put it back on the right track and I think we should be pretty competitive now. Before qualifying I wasn�t too sure about what the car was going to do but it ran as expected, which means we did a good job. We were quite quick in last week�s test here which makes us confident for the rest of the weekend. We should perform better tomorrow when the track will be cleaner. It�s obviously ideal to be ahead of Michael and Kimi, but what counts is tomorrow, not today, really."

Ralf Schumacher: "My qualifying today was compromised by a mistake I made just before the chicane. I simply braked too late and went straight on, which was my fault. The handling of the car was very good, which is promising for tomorrow�s qualifying and the race on Sunday. I have tested the modified tyres today for the first time and must say they are a step forward for us. Ferrari is very strong here as expected and we need to work hard."

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Ferrari ( Rubens Barrichello - 2nd , Michael Schumacher - 3rd )

Jean Todt: "Our drivers made a good start on this the first day of our home race, the Italian Grand Prix. Even though we have not set the fastest time, we have proved to be competitive with both Michael and Rubens who secured respectable start positions for tomorrow's qualifying session. We know we still have work to do to optimise all aspects of our package, but we believe that we have the potential to run successfully for the rest of the Grand Prix weekend. On an important weekend like this one, we also received the encouragement of the Cardinal of Milan, Monsignor Tettamanzi, here to give all his support."

Ross Brawn: "Track conditions were quite difficult this morning with the wind blowing in a completely different direction to last week. Running low downforce makes it difficult to find the right balance, but by the time we tackled qualifying it was looking reasonably good. Michael suffered a bit because there was some rubbish and leaves on the track when he went out. We had a pretty good idea about which tyre we wanted to race from the results of the test. We will now concentrate on that tyre to be in good shape for Sunday's race."

Rubens Barrichello: "I set quite a good time. There was a lot of wind which made the car rather nervous. We are very close to our rivals and I think everything is in place for us to go for pole tomorrow and to try to win on Sunday. This morning, we had a few problems, but we resolved them in time for qualifying. We have a good starting point on which to develop the car over the next two days. The Bridgestone tyres worked well and we have reaped the benefits of last week's test."

Michael Schumacher: "It was quite a good lap. The fact that, once again, I was first out on track was certainly not an advantage, even though this has been the situation so often this season. I am happy with the time I set and the position from which I will tackle tomorrow's qualifying session. I think we have a good base on which to work for the next couple of days. Now we have to see how competitive we are up against our rivals."

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Toyota ( Cristiano da Matta - 4th, Olivier Panis - 10th  )

Luca Marmorini: "I think 4th and 10th position in today's qualifying session is an encouraging start to the weekend. However, there is over a second between us and the frontrunners, so we have to keep our feet on the ground. Cristiano did a very commendable job and set the fastest first sector of the session. It was a shame Olivier could not do a similar time, but he nevertheless drove a respectable lap and had a very good second sector time. We are at over 70% full throttle at Monza - the most of the season - so it is tough on the engine. Things have run smoothly today, so I think we should be optimistic."

Cristiano da Matta: "I am very happy with my qualifying time. Since the first few laps this morning we have been more confident than we were at the test last week. I want to thank the engineers, who have all done a good job over the weekend to study the data from last week and to make the car stronger. It makes a difference to have driven the three days last week, because I have not had to spend time learning the track this morning and I have been able to get a good feeling with the car. Fourth place is certainly a good way to start the weekend."

Olivier Panis: "It has been a difficult day for me today, but I am generally quite happy with tenth place. I wasn't really comfortable with the car in this morning's session and we had a few small mechanical problems, so I decided to take the T-car for qualifying. In the end, there wasn't much difference, but we'll work hard on things tonight to improve the car for tomorrow. On a more positive note, I am pleased for Cristiano - he drove very well today."

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McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 5th, David Coulthard - 14th )

Ron Dennis: "Our drivers' comments sum up well the result of today's not so important qualifying session. The most vital part of the day was this morning's session, which confirmed to us that we should be competitive on Sunday. All the teams have worked hard and as a result I think we can look forward to a great race."

Norbert Haug: "Today's performance in the morning was OK, but our performance in qualifying was not. I think we will be more competitive tomorrow and on Sunday."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I wanted to look after the car, but it wasn't as good a lap as it could've been and not as fast as this morning's, but we should be OK for tomorrow. Fifth place is not too bad, everything seems to be working well and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

David Coulthard: "We had a productive morning session, but on my qualifying lap I made a mistake at the second chicane. The rear axle locked as a result of the automatic downshift cutting in and I had to drop my speed, which lost me a lot of time. Overall I think we are in reasonable shape and if we have a trouble free session tomorrow we should qualify well."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 6th, Justin Wilson - 15th )

Dr Mark Gillan: "We undertook an extensive tyre comparison programme during the two-hour test this morning and also worked on race preparation. We achieved a good number of laps and achieved some pleasing mechanical set-up work. Unfortunately, we suffered from a gearbox problem on Justin's car. The problem was corrected quickly and he went into the Free Practice session using his racecar that then suffered an engine problem during Free Practice.
All in all, he has not exactly had a smooth build-up to qualifying and suffered accordingly. Mark, however, did a superb job in qualifying and much better than we expected given that all the teams tested here last week for three days -- and four in the case of some. We will now focus all our efforts on race preparation and strategy. On behalf of everyone at Jaguar Racing, I would also like to add that Michelin's support and responsiveness in recent days has been nothing short of magnificent. A great job all-round considering that they partner five teams."

Mark Webber: "I had a rather difficult morning in preparation for qualifying and I am surprised at having secured 6th place today. The track is certainly a lot slower than when we tested here last week and while it's pleasing to have posted the 6th fastest time today, my focus is firmly on Sunday's race. That was a good lap but the wind here is a problem. The cars are running in low downforce trim and you really feel it in Ascari and through the Parabolica corners.
It also takes a while to arrive in 7th gear as you head towards the first chicane and judging the exact braking point is tough -- as we saw with Ralf Schumacher today. It's not easy! 
The one-lap pace is something we are usually very strong at but we have a fair deal of work ahead of us if we are to remain competitive over a race distance."

Justin Wilson: "A frustrating day that hasn't ended too well for me. My morning sessions were both compromised with a gearbox problem during the two-hour test and an engine problem in Free Practice. The track is slower and feels different to when we tested last week and I didn't get any low fuel runs prior to qualifying. This hindered me considerably, especially when it comes to understanding the limit of the car and tyres. Nonetheless, Friday qualifying means little and there is still ample time in which to make a difference this weekend."

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

Pat Symonds: "Surprisingly, the conditions this morning during the test session were better than those in qualifying, as we did not have to cope with the gusting wind that sprung up late this morning. This wind made it difficult for the drivers to understand the car, especially in low-downforce set-up. Having said that, the car appears to be reasonably balanced but as we were expecting, we need more grip and to reduce the amount of time spent on the straights in order to match our usual rivals. While we may not ultimately be as competitive on this circuit as we are on others, we have nevertheless spent time on our race set-up and are satisfied with the result."

Denis Chevrier: "We are in an area of the grid where a couple of tenths can make as much as four or five places' difference in terms of the final position. Although today's positions are not particularly flattering, we managed to learn what we wanted to during the morning and now have this evening and tomorrow during which to work on optimising our package. Given how close things were today, extracting the maximum from what we have available will be critical in order to qualify well."

Jarno Trulli: "A trouble-free day for me. The car is handling OK, but we still have some work to do in order to find more speed. Having said that, we are where we expected to be in the overall standings."

Fernando Alonso: "For my timed lap, the car was a little nervous in the chicanes and I had a bit too much understeer. With this low-downforce set-up, it is hard for us to be competitive with our usual rivals. For tomorrow, we must look to improve the overall grip of the car, close the gap to those in front and get a better grid position in order that we can fight for a good result in the race."

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Sauber ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 9th, Nick Heidfeld - 12th )

Peter Sauber: "Our ninth and 12th places demonstrate the continuation of our upward trend of the last few weeks. We believe that the potential of our C22 is not exhausted yet, and are trying very hard to realise it."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I had a good qualifying lap and I am happy with my time and the result. We made some set up alterations to my C22 for qualifying which gave it a better balance than this morning, and my ninth place confirms our recent improvement in form."

Nick Heidfeld: "I think we have changed the set-up a little bit too much between the practice session this morning and qualifying, which consequently made it harder to handle the car. In addition, the track surface was quite dirty after the break and the wind whirled leaves into the air. However, my time showed that we are on the right track."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 11th, Jacques Villeneuve - 13th )

David Richards: "We obviously need to try to understand where we lost time compared with free practice this morning, when we appeared to be as competitive as we were in last week's testing. I'm sure that tomorrow morning's two sessions will resolve this and we will be far stronger for the race."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Unfortunately we haven't managed to match the time we set this morning. However, we've got the potential to do well here and I'm looking forward to a challenging and rewarding weekend."

Geoffrey Willis: "This was a disappointing qualifying session for us today and we have a lot of work to do this evening. Following on directly from our test here last week it is often risky to draw conclusions until track conditions stabilise, however we were fairly happy with the car in the morning. Jacques lost a little track time at the end of the morning when we located an electrical problem. We are still optimistic that we can be more competitive during the rest of the weekend."

Jenson Button: "It was quite a good lap but I'm a little bit disappointed because I was quicker in free practice. There was a lot less grip out there this afternoon and I had quite a lot of understeer in the high speed corners. It's only Friday though and we're a little more optimistic for the rest of the weekend. There were quite a lot of fallen leaves and gusty winds out there today, so when the track picks up tomorrow we should be able to qualify in the top 10 quite easily. Last week in testing we found a tyre that is consistent and when all of those factors come together I'm sure we can do a lot better."

Jacques Villeneuve: "Today is not a very satisfying day because we didn't complete our programme in free practice this morning due to an electrical problem. Because of that we weren't able to run in qualy spec, so this afternoon it was just a case of trying to complete a clean lap to leave us in a reasonable position for the start of final qualifying. Hopefully we will get a better day tomorrow without any problems and that should make all the difference."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 16th, Zsolt Baumgartner - 17th )

Gary Anderson: "Giancarlo didn't go as quick as he did this morning, there was a drop off in the first and last sectors. Zsolt needs to keep learning and push harder, which is to be expected, but he did a reasonable job."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "It's frustrating and I'm disappointed to be three and a half seconds off the pace at my home Grand Prix. I used the spare car today because I felt there was some problem with my race car, maybe we'll fix it for tomorrow."

Zsolt Baumgartner: "I was quite happy with today and I'm pleased that I was able to do the same lap time in dirtier track conditions than this morning. I hope tomorrow I can do the same thing again or a bit quicker with a time closer to Giancarlo. That's the goal."

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Minardi ( Nicolas Kiesa - 18th, Jos Verstappen - 20th - No Time )

Paul Stoddart: "It has not been one of our better days. To be honest, this morning�s test session saw Jos get into the 1 min 23 sec bracket, which I felt was going to set us up for a good weekend. Sadly, it was not to be, with Nicolas losing most of the practice session to a gearbox problem, and Jos failing to leave the garage on his first qualifying run due to what appears to have been an electronic box problem. Tomorrow is another day, however, and we�ll aim to get back on track with our preparations for Sunday�s race."

Nicolas Kiesa: "Unfortunately, we had so many difficulties this morning, I only managed 11 laps, and virtually every one of those was interrupted by a problem. In the following one-hour session, I only managed two laps before the gearbox developed a fault. I went into qualifying this afternoon with just a very small number of laps under my belt, and none of them at anything like optimum performance. The track conditions and the weather changed this afternoon, with the wind really picking up, so I wasn�t sure what to expect on my qualifying lap � it was like going out for the first lap of the day. Anyway, I hope the team has got rid of all its bad luck today and that things improve significantly tomorrow."

Jos Verstappen: "The morning test session went well enough, but then we were slower in the official practice session, so we went back on our set-up and it would therefore have been interesting to see how we would have gone in qualifying this afternoon. Unfortunately, when we started the engine on my car for the qualifying run, it simply wouldn�t run properly. It is obviously very disappointing."

Gianmaria Bruni: "It was a good test today, from my point of view. I think I did a good job for the team and set competitive lap times in the process. Specifically, we tested a new design of engine cover and new side pod outlet covers today. We went for a low downforce set-up, and after setting a good time, Jos went 0.3 secs quicker. Still, for only my third time in a Formula One car, I�m happy with the result. I�m now looking forward to Indianapolis and the chance to learn another new circuit."

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What the teams and drivers said
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

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