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

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Saturday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 3rd )

Jean Todt: "It was a great qualifying session with very exciting moments, given that it is all decided on just a single lap. Having Michael on pole and Rubens in third place is heart warming, both for us and for our tifosi. Everything went well today; the car, the engine, the team, the drivers and the support from our technical partners, especially Bridgestone and Shell. However, this is just one step in a crucial weekend. Tomorrow we have another 53 steps to tackle before crossing the finish line at the end of a race which will play a key role in the final outcome of the season, given that there is everything to play for in just three Grands Prix."

Ross Brawn: "We must not get carried away, but this result is a great boost for the whole team. Both our drivers are on the clean side of the track, which could help us compete for good positions at the start. This result is a credit to everyone and a reward for all their hard work. We have been a bit under pressure over the last few weeks and this pole is fantastic for Ferrari and for Bridgestone. We have a great package at our disposal. There is no particular area in which we have improved since the last race: it down to all the work we have done with our technical partners."

Michael Schumacher: "It is a while since I have been on pole, but I guess this is the right time to do it. It is the nature of this sport that you go through ups and downs and in the last two races, we have been a bit unlucky and were not very competitive. Now, we have turned this situation around thanks to the hard work of everyone in the team and at the factory. Our President has helped us to focus on the problems we experienced in the last two races, but we have not been put under any extra pressure here. We have made improvements to all areas of the car, while Bridgestone has given us a very good tyre. For the race, it will depend on who has the most consistent performance package over the distance. Tomorrow we will see who has got it right."

Rubens Barrichello: "It is a pleasure to be here with two Ferraris on the front two rows, in front of our tifosi. This morning, I was not so happy with the car, but it was good in the warm-up. Then we did some work on the brakes and maybe they were not up to temperature on my run. I think this was the reason why I locked up the fronts. This meant I made a minor mistake in Turn 1 and lost speed in Turn 2. It is a shame as the car was good and the last two sectors were fine. I am hopeful of doing well tomorrow, as last week I did a lot of work to ensure the car is consistent over a race distance while still having good speed. It is going to be a long race."

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Williams (  Juan Pablo Montoya - 2nd,  Marc Gene - 5th - Replaces Ralf Schumacher )

Sam Michael: "It was a good qualifying session for the team. Juan produced a good lap, despite a little mistake in Ascari, which cost him pole position and he is well placed for the race tomorrow. Marc did a fantastic job today after jumping into the car at short notice."

Gerhard Berger: "It was the anticipated close dual between Ferrari and ourselves, and this will continue in the race. Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo are separated by just a fraction and Kimi R�ikk�nen is close behind ready to pounce. I am curious to know what fuel level each driver was carrying. Every test driver hopes to get the chance to compete in a race, even if on very short notice such as Marc's call-up this morning. Now is his chance to use this opportunity and he made an excellent job of it in qualifying."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I had a pretty good lap and saw the first two sector times on the dash that confirmed I was quickest. But then I had quite a lot of understeer, and I made a small mistake at Ascari when I went too wide, but I could not afford to be conservative. I believe we have a very good car and strong tyres for the race tomorrow even if I am starting from the dirty side of the track. Marc did an amazing job especially as he started first, and the track improved a lot during the session. I am looking forward to the race."

Marc Gene: "I thought I was still dreaming this morning when I was woken by a surprising call telling me that I was standing in for Ralf. I was fortunate to test on this track last week. It is also beneficial that besides my job of test driver, I have been busy racing in other series and I therefore have plenty of race practice. I hope I can support the team here in their battle for the Championship and I am sure that Ralf will be okay for the next race. However, my qualifying lap wasn't the best ever as I made a couple of mistakes in the first and second chicanes, but my best qualifying in F1 so far was 15th on the grid."

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McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 4th, David Coulthard - 8th )

Ron Dennis: "Hopefully our race strategy will further demonstrate our competitiveness this weekend. It should be an exciting race."

Norbert Haug: "A very good lap by Kimi. The fact that the all three title contenders are placed on the first two rows of the grid is a good basis for a great race."

Kimi Raikkonen: "A pretty good qualifying lap. 1:21.466 is the best time we have done so far this weekend, and the gap to the front is less than before, so I'm very pleased. Of course we would like to be on the front row, but everything is possible from the second line. I think we will be more competitive in the race as the car is working well, and we have a good strategy, so we will see what happens tomorrow -- I'm sure it will be a great race."

David Coulthard: "A reasonable lap where I set almost the same time as in the warm up. I was a bit cautious and there was no drama. I expected the track to get faster and faster as the session went on and it did. However I hope for a good start and with our strategy we should be able to maximise the situation in the race tomorrow."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 6th, Fernando Alonso - 20th )

Pat Symonds: "A great effort from Jarno, which has given us a better grid position than expected. The new Michelin tyres are performing very well in race trim, and this strong starting position gives us confidence for tomorrow. Fernando, on the other hand, was extremely unlucky. It appears there was a major electrical failure on his car as he started the timed lap, which effectively knocked out all the control systems. Without warning that this had happened, he lost control of the car as he exited the first chicane."

Denis Chevrier: "Mixed feelings for the team after qualifying. Jarno's performance has put us in a competitive position for the race, although Fernando unfortunately suffered an incident which will make things a little more complicated for him. Overall, I think we can note that our level of performance in race trim is better than we were able to show in Friday qualifying, and that at least one of our drivers can fight for points tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli: "It was a good lap and I am happy with the result, particularly here at my home race. Having said that, I think I could have gone a little faster: the car had the potential to be a bit quicker. I have got a good balance, and the new engine spec ran well: from the driver's seat, you can feel the difference. I am confident we can score points tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso: "There's not much to say really. I went into the first chicane as normal, but the car spun on the exit because the traction control was not working. As you would expect, I am disappointed, but tomorrow is another day. We know it is possible to score points starting from the back, so it's not over yet."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 7th, Jacques Villeneuve - 10th )

David Richards: "It's great to have both the cars back in the top ten and to have qualified so well versus our key competitors in the fight for fifth place. Both Jacques and Jenson have the opportunity to score well in the race, and I will certainly feel much more comfortable if we consolidate our championship position. Today's performance is a direct result of all the hard work that Honda and the test team put in last week here at Monza."

Geoff Willis: "It's good to have both cars qualifying in the top ten once again. After a disappointing session yesterday we had to spend a lot of time last night identifying the sources of the problem, and so made quite a number of changes to the car for today. This morning, Jenson was a lot happier with his car, Jacques rather less so. By warm-up, however, we were happy that we had a good set-up on both cars. We resisted the temptation to make any changes and were rewarded with a very good lap from Jenson and a solid performance from Jacques. We are confident that we have a good set-up and strategy for tomorrow and we'll be aiming for a points finish with both cars."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "That was a pretty good session - both drivers were pushing really hard and it's great to be back in the top ten. We're getting positive feedback on the latest evolution of the engine and things are going well. Our strategy looks okay so we've got a good chance to fight for a few points tomorrow."

Jenson Button: "I'm really happy with seventh. It's been a while since I've done a really good qualifying lap so it feels great and I'm really pleased for the team. It felt like a very smooth lap and that's what you need here. It felt like I hung it all together and it's fantastic to be starting from the fourth row of the grid, which is where we should be. Tomorrow is a crucial opportunity for us. We have a good strategy and can definitely get points, so we'll be pulling out all the stops to take us a step closer to fifth in the championship."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I'm quite happy with my lap; it was much better than yesterday. I made a small mistake in the second chicane when the brakes reacted differently to how they did during free practice this morning. The car wasn't working well earlier. We had a few problems and we just about got it right for warm- up, then as the temperature went up my car seemed to work better. If it's like this for the race we should be OK for a points-finish."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 9th, Cristiano da Matta - 12th )

Keizo Takahashi: "This qualifying result is satisfying for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team. I am pleased with Olivier setting the ninth fastest time, given that he missed one of this morning's free practice session due to electronic problems. Cristiano's car was not as competitive as yesterday, but I think both cars should be in reasonably good shape to challenge for points in the Grand Prix tomorrow."

Olivier Panis: "This weekend has been pretty difficult for me, so I am pleased with my qualifying lap today. We had some electronics problems in practice this morning, but everyone has worked well to improve the balance of the car for today's session. We are now in a good direction for the race and starting from ninth, I think we will again be in a position to fight for points tomorrow."

Cristiano da Matta: "Not a great qualifying lap for me this afternoon. I made a small mistake at Ascari and probably lost two or three tenths, which was a shame. Even so, the level of our performance today was not as high compared to yesterday's sessions and we need to figure out why. The Italian Grand Prix is a long race and quite tough, particularly in terms of reliability, but I am confident that we can reach the finish and get a good result."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 11th, Justin Wilson - 15th )

Dr Mark Gillan: "A productive day but the pace of the Jaguar R4 around this Monza circuit is not completely to our satisfaction. The team has done an excellent job today in working through a comprehensive programme aimed at race preparation. Both drivers also performed well and managed clean laps that were an improvement on their best times from the warm-up session.
As always, we have worked hard on our qualifying lap but we are very much looking towards the race distance as it will be tomorrow that the points are up for grabs. We have not suffered from any reliability issues today after what has been a good number of laps between both drivers. A tough race beckons tomorrow and it will be very interesting indeed to see the strategies of our competitors against what we have decided."

Mark Webber: "I am pretty happy with that lap. I do not think there was much more time left to extract from the car and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the race tomorrow. Monza has been a tough build-up for us and we are certainly not as quick here compared to some other circuits we have raced at this year. We are, however, learning all the time and trying to maintain the upward trend. Our problem here has been compounded a little by how competitive we were in Budapest. The car and tyre combination was strong and naturally the expectation level goes up but it is extremely hard to be on that kind of pace at every race. We are a little disappointed, yes, but anything can happen tomorrow. The tyre war is very close and it will be a tough fight tomorrow throughout the whole field."

Justin Wilson: "After what was a frustrating day yesterday, today has been much better. The track is certainly better without the strong winds that were evident yesterday and I am pleased with my lap given the strategy I am on for tomorrow's race. There was quite a bit of grip out there today but I was being careful not to overdo the lap. There is obviously more time in the car but it is very important that I generate the required experience with the team and discover fully the limits of the car. Unlike other circuits where overtaking is tough, the starting position here at Monza is not the be all and end all. Overtaking opportunities are plentiful and given that I have yet to finish a race with Jaguar, my aim is to make it to the end of 51-laps tomorrow."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 13th, Zsolt Baumgartner - 18th - replaces Ralph Firman)

Gary Anderson: "Let's wait and see what unfolds tomorrow!."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "It was a good lap and the car is better than it was yesterday. I hope to get to the end tomorrow because I haven't finished the last few races. It's going to be difficult to score points but it's my home Grand Prix and I'm giving it my best as always."

Zsolt Baumgartner: "I think qualifying was okay. I hope that tomorrow I can get in front of Verstappen and it's my goal to finish the race. In Hungary I couldn't do that, so I'm really looking forward to this additional chance to race in a Grand Prix."

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Sauber ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 14th, Nick Heidfeld - 16th )

Peter Sauber: "We prepared ourselves for Monza with great intensity, worked hard and invested a lot. Taking all this into account it is disappointing that this afternoon's results are rather modest."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I had problems with the tyres and couldn't brake as heavily as I wanted, and though my first two sectors were good I lost time with oversteer in the Parabolica. It's a shame we weren't able to make optimal use of our new aerodynamic package due to balance problems, because it was very promising in last week's test here."

Nick Heidfeld: "Already in the practice sessions this morning I was struggling with poor balance on the car and in addition to this mine had less top speed compared to Heinz-Harald's. Then during the pre-qualifying warm-up I experienced difficulties bringing the brakes up to optimum temperature so I opted to be a little cautious under braking during my qualifying lap. It then transpired that they worked fine and that I could have been more aggressive, which was frustrating."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 17th, Nicolas Kiesa - 19th )

Paul Stoddart: "On a weekend when 40 per cent of the field starting tomorrow's race formerly drove for Minardi, I'm pleased with the team's performance. Nicolas undoubtedly had the 'save' of the day at Ascari, and if not for that spectacular moment, would undoubtedly have finished ahead of a few cars. I believe we can build on P17 and P19 in tomorrow's race."

Jos Verstappen: "It was an excellent qualifying lap from where I sat -- it was a better time than I set in cooler conditions this morning. The car felt good and I was able to push hard. It was definitely one of my better laps this year, so we're still learning. I'm very happy with what we have done today, and hopefully the strong performance will continue tomorrow."

Nicolas Kiesa: "Coming into Turn 1, the braking power felt good, and as a result, I ended up braking too soon and lost time. It was early in the lap, so I knew I had to push hard to see if I could regain some of the time. I had a good middle sector and then, coming into Ascari, I had the car positioned perfectly for a good exit. So far during the weekend, I have gone through there with 97 or 98 per cent throttle applied in fourth gear, but as it was qualifying and I needed to go for the best possible time, I tried 100 per cent.
Unfortunately, on the way out of the corner, the rear stepped out and the car started to slide. I caught it, and didn't lose too much time as a result, but then I was slower down the next straight. Anyway, qualifying is all about taking chances, and I had to take a chance. If it had worked, I would have liked to see the time!."

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