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

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Friday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 2nd )

Jean Todt: "The outcome of this first day in Monaco can only be described as positive. The times set today mean that our two drivers will do their runs at the end of Saturday afternoon's qualifying, which should give us a slight advantage. This morning we worked extensively on tyre choice. As usual, Bridgestone has done a great job in providing us with the appropriate tyres. Now we must wait for the race to see where we really stand compared with our opponents.
Here, possibly more than at any track, chosing the right strategy is important, given that prior to qualifying, we must establish how much fuel to carry for Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We are confident that we have done a good job on a very unusual track. Both drivers did very well on a fascinating and demanding circuit. Both Michael and Rubens appear to have arrived here in great form."

Ross Brawn: "It was a good session, but the track conditions changed a lot throughout qualifying; not so good at the start, then gradually improving, before getting worse once the oil was put down. The car worked well and so did the tyres, which has allowed us to identify quickly our tyre choice for the rest of the weekend and both our drivers are satisfied with it. So, I think we will be competitive. Now we will have to concentrate on finding the right strategy for the race."

Michael Schumacher: "I am happy with my time this afternoon, because the track was quite slippery as I was only the second car to run. Right since the start of the morning session, my car has been very well balanced, which obviously helped me do a good time. It is always difficult to predict what can happen here in Monaco, but we can be confident for the rest of the weekend, as the car is working well and we have identified our tyre choice early, so now and on Saturday morning, we can concentrate on establishing the right fuel strategy for final qualifying and the race."

Rubens Barrichello: "I am pretty satisfied with this result. This morning, at the start of free practice, the car was not perfect, but then we made some changes and the situation improved considerably. It was important to get near the top today in order to be among the last to run in Saturday's qualifying."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 3rd, Jacques Villeneuve - 12th )

David Richards: "A superb performance from Jenson on a circuit that is so unforgiving and where pinpoint accuracy is absolutely essential. I'm encouraged that our combination of chassis and Honda engine is looking so competitive at a circuit that is so radically different from Austria, which suggests that we are now beginning to adapt to both extremes. It was unfortunate for Jacques that the marshals appeared somewhat over-zealous with the cement dust after Frentzen's engine failure, but I'm sure things will improve for him as the weekend progresses."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "I'm pleased with Jenson's performance today. We've been running well all day and have shown how competitive we are. Unfortunately due to some oil on the track Jacques couldn't make the best of his lap. There is still room to improve on the engine set up for both drivers so I'm confident we'll go well in final qualifying and the race."

Geoffrey Willis: "The team should feel very happy with its performance this afternoon. Despite the lack of Friday qualifying it is good to be able to demonstrate that we go into the weekend with a competitive package of chassis, engine and tyres. The circuit was very slippery this morning with both drivers complaining about a lack of grip, but we were able to improve steadily during free practice with the usual set-up work. We have brought new aerodynamic and engine developments here and we have been pleased with the performance of the car so far.
Jenson drove a good lap this afternoon despite losing some time right at the end of the lap with understeer. Jacques chose to use the T-car for qualifying but unfortunately, like many, was compromised by the oil and dust put down on the track following Frentzen's engine blow-up. We now have to work on race set-up and review our strategy for this often eventful race."

Jenson Button: "I'm really quite happy with 3rd. This morning the circuit was very slippery because of the new tarmac, especially on the new entrance to Rascasse. I got used to it pretty quickly though and I like it a lot more than previously. In qualifying the first corner was a little bit oversteery because I was trying to keep the tyres cool. I also had a little bit of graining in the last corner so I lost a couple of tenths there.
I went over the kerb really heavily in the second part of the swimming pool but it doesn't look like I suffered too much as a result, but the place where I lost quite a bit of time is in Rascasse where I had quite a lot of understeer. 3rd is a good basis for Saturday and at least we know we are competitive now. We can look at our strategy and know that we have more possibilities. It's good to see the car improving steadily with each new race. That's what you need to become a top team."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I went out for my lap right after Frentzen's engine had blown and there was oil and a lot of cement dust on the track. You have to accept that if you are going to change your line to avoid it, you're going to end up going slower. The car is quite competitive but we are going to have to look at the work Jenson has been doing, because there is very little information to work with on my side since we changed to the T-car for qualifying."

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Renault ( Jarno Trulli - 4th, Fernando Alonso - 14th )

Pat Symonds: "A day of mixed fortunes. Jarno's lap time is acceptable whereas for some reason, we could not achieve with Fernando the level of performance we had hoped for. Now we have to analyse the situation and fix it, so that in Saturday's qualifying we can close the gap between the two drivers and have both cars amongst the front runners on the grid."

Denis Chevrier: "Our results today are quite encouraging with a fairly good lap from Fernando and a perfect lap from Jarno, which confirm that our cars are competitive on this track. This was a productive day in which we gathered useful data in preparation for the race."

Jarno Trulli: "I had a good afternoon session and I am very pleased with my position. We managed to solve the problems that had hampered our work during this mornings session and thanks to the teams hard work the car improved considerably. We can expect a good weekend for us!."

Fernando Alonso: "It's always difficult here in Monaco to do the perfect lap: I didn't get the maximum today from my car but it's Saturday that's important and I'll make sure that I will do much better than today and be further up on the starting grid."

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McLaren ( David Coulthard - 5th, Kimi Raikkonen - 11th )

Ron Dennis: "Both drivers took a cautious approach to qualifying as a result of them not being particularly happy with the balance of the car during this morning's practice session. Kimi's lap was particularly bad as the team took a calculated risk with a set-up change to the car, which proved wrong. As always it's Saturday's qualifying which is important."

Norbert Haug: "The first qualifying session hasn't been our speciality so far this year. What counts more will be Saturday's session and above all Sunday's race."

David Coulthard: "A rather unspectacular qualifying lap as there is no need to push 100 per cent today as you don't want to take any unnecessary risks. However, I could have gone a bit faster but I lost approximately half a second in the last sector. We can still improve the balance of the car, so let's wait and see what happens."

Kimi Raikkonen: "Eleventh is obviously not brilliant but I would be more worried if I was in the same position after Saturday's qualifying. We still have some way to go with the set-up of the car and I'm confident that we can find further improvements."

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Williams ( Ralf Schumacher - 6th, Juan Pablo Montoya - 8th )

Sam Michael: "We have had a reasonable first day but there is some time to make up to the front row. We have made some changes since this morning's practice session and they were definitely in the right direction. We now have a basis to get the set up right for Saturday and we are hoping for a good session."

Gerhard Berger: "The first results don't really mean too much in Monaco. The grip of the track can change a lot before Saturday's Final Qualifying. The gap to the best Renault driver -- the quickest car today on Michelin tyres -- is about 1.5 tenths of a second which means that there's still some more to gain for us. Our drivers set similar times but I believe they both can achieve much more."

Ralf Schumacher: "After this morning's Free Practice, when things didn't go very well, we managed to improve the set up of my car for the First Qualifying session. I am really happy with my time today even if there's still some work ahead of us for the Final Qualifying. The entrance to the Rascasse corner, which has been changed since last year has improved and it now has a better flow. Definitely they did a good job. Also the newly asphalted parts are an improvement in fact all of the circuit could well undergo the same treatment!."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "We had a difficult free practice session this morning, but my car improved throughout it and I hoped I could get something better out of it this afternoon. I am definitely not happy with my qualifying position. The car wasn't as fast as it should have been and I also experienced a problem at the fourth turn where I could not slow down the car quickly enough, which made me lose some time. Let's see how we can improve for Saturday's qualifying which is definitely more important than today's."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 7th, Ralph Firman - 13th )

Gary Anderson: "We did a bit of work for this Grand Prix and the car seems to be a bit better in relative terms - I actually expected slightly better in qualifying. Giancarlo made a couple of mistakes on the lap, and here especially, you pay a price for it. I'm happy enough though as seventh is pretty reasonable. Ralph is the fastest newcomer so that's a great initiation for him. He hasn't really put a wheel wrong, there have been a couple of little brushes with the armco but no damage at all. That's pretty commendable, a good effort."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "The car's balance is not too bad here. I'm pleased with a top ten time, although I'm sure there was a possibility even to get on the second row today. My lap was clean but not fantastic, so I'm looking forward to final qualifying and the race."

Ralph Firman: "I'm happy with that. It's my first time here and I love the circuit. I feel really at home and can't wait to get out again on Saturday. I was cautious on the first two sectors because of the oil on the circuit when the session re-started, but I've got a pretty good pace, especially on the last sector. I think this could be my best chance yet of scoring points."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 9th, Antonio Pizzonia - 15th )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "A very pleasing morning for the team as both drivers completed their planned programme and worked on qualifying set- up with some good results. Mark posted the fastest lap time in this morning's free practice and it highlights the potential of the R4 around this difficult and challenging circuit.
Antonio had a slight incident when he clipped a guardrail but fortunately this only resulted in a damaged rim. Both cars and drivers were in good shape for the afternoon qualifying session and Michelin had provided a good and competitive compound. Frustratingly however, the session was stopped just before Marks' lap when oil was sprayed over certain areas of the circuit. Mark's lap time was affected as a result of the debris still on the track, but despite this he still posted a good time in 9th position.
Antonio lost a small amount of time on the first corner and after that it was difficult to make a comeback. Overall we are pleased with how the programme is going so far and after all, it is Saturday that we are concentrating on and with that in mind we will be working hard this evening to ensure that we extract the best from our package in the short one-lap window that we have."

Mark Webber: "The day started well this morning and I was able to complete a good programme with the team. We worked on rear mechanical set-up and of course qualifying set-up. At one stage during testing I did run wide but I took the precaution of going straight on and actually stalled the engine. The tyres are in good shape and I am pleased that we posted the fastest time this morning, particularly because I ended up having a slightly more challenging one-lap qualifying this afternoon that only placed me 9th.
The team did a great job on the car and we had some favourable conditions, but as always with this one-lap qualifying anything can happen and unfortunately as a result of oil on the track my lap time suffered. It is impossible to say where I would have been had there been no oil, but either way, it is Saturday that we are now concentrating on and we are looking forward to another good day on track."

Antonio Pizzonia: "Slightly disappointed with 15th but the circuit was somewhat slippery, particularly just before the swimming pool corner. I had achieved a lap that was one second faster this morning so I know that the car is capable of more. My morning session however was good and we did what we had planned, despite me getting slightly too close to one of the guardrails at one point. Fortunately there was only marginal damage to the rim and we continued without problems. I am however, encouraged by the pace of the R4 on the track and I am looking forward to getting back on track on Saturday."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 10th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 20th )

Peter Sauber: "I am very happy for Nick's result not just because he finished in the top ten, but also because he was able to produce his best-ever qualifying performance in F1 at Monaco and could clearly improve compared to today's morning session. As for Heinz-Harald, as we say in German he had the Bad Luck Bird on his shoulder this afternoon thanks to an engine problem which must await analysis now, after showing his driving strength and the potential of the C22 here this morning."

Nick Heidfeld: "My biggest problem this afternoon, of course, was the oil and cement dust laid down after Heinz-Harald's problem. Without that I could for sure have gone a lot quicker, as the car was better than it felt this morning."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "It's very disappointing not to have completed my lap this afternoon, because of an engine problem that we are still analysing. We saw how competitive the Sauber Petronas C22 can be this morning, and naturally I wanted to build on that. It's going to be tough starting qualifying first tomorrow."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 16th, Justin Wilson - 17th )

Paul Stoddart: "The European Minardi drivers can be proud of their achievement today, as they both put in faultless performances that culminated in them finishing 16th and 17th in the first qualifying session. The cars ran faultlessly, and Jos and Justin definitely got the most from their machinery. Hopefully, we can repeat this performance on Saturday, and then look forward to a challenging, and rewarding race on Sunday.
On a related point, many people will have noticed the new livery on our cars this weekend. I'm particularly grateful to Michel Perridon of Trust, for his continuing support of the team. Sponsors such as Trust International are invaluable when you consider the massive budgets that many of our competitors have at their disposal."

Jos Verstappen: "Obviously, it was more difficult in qualifying this afternoon than earlier today because of the track conditions. We only had one lap to work out how slippery the track was - and at relatively low speed to preserve the tyres for the qualifying lap - and that made it tough. As it turned out, the track was very slippery, and I had to use a different line in some corners compared with this morning. Even so, today we achieved our best qualifying positions to date, and that is good for the team and the sponsors. We'll see what happens on Saturday, as the track is likely to be different again, but hopefully, we can build on this for Sunday's race."

Justin Wilson: "Everything was fine for our first day of running at the circuit. I don't know if it was the changes we were making to the car or just that the track was getting quicker as the day wore on, but we seemed to improve with each run. The track was a bit slippery this afternoon, though, which definitely made the qualifying lap a bit entertaining. Generally, though, I've just been getting used to everything. I'm pleased with the way it's gone and that we've kept the car in one piece."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 18th , Cristiano da Matta - 19th )

Gustav Brunner: "I really don't think we should read too much into today's results. I am sure Cristiano was taking it a bit easy. It was his first time at this track and I am sure he was playing it safe. He has raced on street tracks in CART, so he should be able to get up to speed by Saturday when he can get more laps done. Olivier managed only 21 laps in this morning's session, and only one proper run on new tyres. It looks bad, but I am ever confident and the real picture will emerge on Saturday afternoon, when it counts."

Olivier Panis: "I am really disappointed with the start of this weekend. The car was really not very quick here today and I suffered from a distinct lack of grip. It is the same situation that we had in Austria, so now we need to work really well together to start to improve the car for the rest of the weekend. I tried to push on my lap today and I got a big oversteer in the Portier corner, which lost me easily one-and-a-half seconds, but at the end of the day that made little difference. We were simply uncompetitive today."

Cristiano da Matta: "Today was my first time racing on this circuit and I found it quite fun to drive, even if the time today was not very good. For sure I have a lot to improve in terms of driving this circuit but one hour is nowhere near enough time to learn a new track, especially one like Monaco. We have to maximise the 90 minutes of practice on Saturday morning to get more track mileage and we still have a lot of things that need to be done on the setting of the car."

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