Webber wows them!

Mark Webber, Brazilian GP 2003

Mark Webber, Brazilian GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Mark Webber surprised the Formula 1 circus by setting the fastest time in the first qualifying session is his Jaguar. The sessions was disrupted by rain which was coming and going and which eventually stopped but the track was still very wet and Webber's performance was an impressive one.

"It is one thing to do good times in testing but quite another to do it at a race," he said. "It is really good for the guys. The conditions were changing a lot and it was really a question of getting to grips with the tyres. I don't mind the rain but I didn't want to risk the car. It was just a matter of hitting the apexes."

Local hero Rubens Barrichello was second fastest having had less rain during his run than when his team mate Michael Schumacher was out on the track.

"I was surprised that Webber beat me," Barrichello admitted. "But when you are running in these conditions where the track is drying out you should expect this sort of thing. I enjoyed myself."

Michael Schumacher was less happy , ending the day in fifth place.

"The conditions were difficult but they were not unacceptable," he said. "The car was aquaplaning and that caused me to spin on out lap but all in all fifth place isn't bad."

Between the two Ferraris were the two McLarens with Kimi Raikkonen just faster than David Coulthard, both drivers being careful not to make any mistakes.

Sixth fastest was the last man to run in the session Olivier Panis in his Toyota and the team was very happy with that result as the team did not get much running time in the morning and both he and Cristiano da Matta opted for safe runs rather than fireworks.

Also showing well was Jacques Villeneuve who was seventh fastest but his team mate Jenson Button spun off during the session, demolishing two marker boards, which resulted in the loss of his rear wing. He was forced to abort the lap and so failed to set a time.

Another man to have an accident on Friday was Antonio Pizzonia who spun into the wall in the morning session when the track was very wet. "It was so dangerous," he said. "You could not go on to full throttle. The car just aquaplaned on the straight. There was nothing I could do." Pizzonia had to switch to the spare car for qualifying and his eighth place was impressive in the circumstances.

Completing the top 10 were Fernando Alonso and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

The two Williams-BMWs had a dreadful afternoon with Montoya going off on his run and losing aa big chunk of time and ralf Schumacher having a clean lap but not a very impressive one. Schumacher ended up 13th and Montoya 17th.



Q: First of all gentlemen a quick question about driver aids. The decision about driver aids such as launch control, traction control, etc, the ban has been put back to the end of the year. What are your feelings about that?

Michael SCHUMACHER: Great.

Q: You weren?t looking forward to the ban anyway were you?

Schumacher: Yeah.

Q: David?

David COUTLHARD: Ultimately it is the same for everyone whatever the rules are. We did actually test without the driver aids and were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the car and the engine so we weren?t too?as concerned as maybe before. I think as Michael said before there are, from a driving point of view, there are some genuine safety issues with having the driver aids help you with and I understand that the purists think it is not good for the drivers to get assistance when you are behind the wheel but the reality is that it makes you push harder in other areas. You know your entry into the corners, the way you carry the speed through the apex. I think you can be faster and more effective than in the past. So it just moves the way in which you drive, so with or without them you will have the same guys in the same cars at the front, you would maybe just see a few more incidents.

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I don?t mind. If they take them off, they take them off. I think it is a good thing to take them off over the winter because you get more time to work with the car and everything.

Q: Your not worried whether you have them or not?

Montoya: Not really no. They?ve done it for how many years without it.

Fernando ALONSO: For me it doesn?t really matter as well. I think as far as all the drivers have the same conditions and it doesn?t matter whether it happens after Silverstone or at the end of the year. But I think it is easy for the teams?leave the cars with electronics and for traction control and all those things and now to change mid-season it is maybe a little difficult for the teams because all the parts were all completely new?.I think it is a good change.

Q: Now this morning when it was very wet there was a bit of a movement amongst the drivers not to go ahead with qualifying and to?I don?t know what you were going to replace it with. Juan Pablo can just give us?bring us up to date. What actually happened? There were rumours you had a petition, that all but one driver signed, that all the drivers signed, that some drivers?.can you just bring us up to date with what happened?

Montoya: Everybody thought it was too wet at the beginning. I think we were a bit concerned with the tyres we had that it was going to be recklessly dangerous but you know it dried enough to run. I don?t know who signed and who didn?t to be honest, you better ask those two guys.

Q: David can you tell me how many signatures you had?

Coulthard: I?d prefer not to because it was something in confidence between the drivers so I don?t really think that is fair to say other than to clarify?it was really just to assist Charlie (Whiting) and those who make the decision as to the real conditions from the drivers? point of view because obviously he has to rely on driver comments and also the safety car comments, which is not quite the same as driving an ordinary car. But ultimately it wasn?t an issue and you know if the same situation arises in the future I think it is responsible of us to give the same advice to him and allow him to make the decision.

Q: Was he quite sympathetic to your viewpoint?

Coulthard: There wasn?t a position to make a decision because at the time of qualifying it was quite clear it was safe to run. The only way you can judge that is if we?re all standing there saying ?we don?t want to go out on the track? and he was saying ?yes?. As that situation didn?t arise really there is no point to discuss it anymore.

Q: But Michael, I?m sure you don?t want to get to that position again so what can be done to avert that situation in the future?

Schumacher: Maybe have a second rain tyre.

Q: And are the team principals sympathetic to that viewpoint?

Schumacher: I hope so?.From our side yes. I guess after the experience, whoever maybe voted to have only one tyre maybe sees the complication of it and has a different opinion now.

Q: You went out fairly early in the session. What were the conditions like in fact at the start of the session?

Schumacher: I think they were varying a little bit. I?m not sure whether I?m right to say I maybe had the worst rain around but there were drier and a little bit worse periods. It was still acceptable to run, I mean it was far better than what we saw this morning at the end of the session for example.

Q: You had a spin during the session, what was all that about? Just finding the limit?

Schumacher: No not too much, it was just aquaplaning ? off you go.

Q: So there was quite a lot of water about?

Schumacher: I think there were two issues. First of all there was water, probably enough to make me spin, and also this commercial break we didn?t mean there was a car in front of me to put a dry line, so everything was completely wet which made it an extra bit difficult.

Q: Fernando your team-mate seemed be at the forefront of this, he didn?t want to go out if it continued to rain. What were your feelings?

Alonso: For me at the beginning I started to think about?.we had quite a wet track at that moment because I went off this morning in the test session and also in the free practice. So the conditions were quite bad, but it was better to wait until 14.00 because the conditions changed a lot. In the end it was dry enough to do qualifying and we did it without problems, so it was okay.

Q: Juan Pablo the circuit has been partially resurfaced. Was the resurfaced part very slippery and have they eliminated the bumps?

Montoya: The bumps?you can?t really tell too much about the bumps in the wet. For us it was more slippery and you know I went off braking on the new surface. It?s the same for everyone isn?t it?

Q: David, on a different subject altogether, the new car is coming fairly soon. How badly do you need it? It doesn?t look as though you need it at the moment, two victories.

Coulthard: You answered the question for us. I think we can?t be too disappointed with the start of the season, but of course you hope and believe the new car is going to be quicker and you always take pace. It will be ready when it is ready and it is getting near to that time now.

Q: Michael what about the new Ferrari? There were rumours there was going to one at Imola or both at Imola. Do you know what the situation is?

Schumacher: I guess we will try to have two ready or even three

Q: How badly do you need that car?

Schumacher: Having a new car you would love to run it because knowing it is faster you would love to have it. But I think we still have a car, the 2002 car, which is still able to win races. Fast in Australia, probably not in Malaysia but we will see.

Q: Fernando since Malaysia I understand that your situation in Spain has changed quite a lot. Is that the case?

Alonso: Yeah, a little bit. After pole position and podium finish is the first time for a Spanish driver and you know in Spain we are a little bit crazy when we have a good opportunity. Yeah there were big repercussions after the race in Spain and I hope to keep this level to be a top eight, top nine driver all the year and to do a good season.


Q: What would be the best course of action to take on Sunday if we have the same conditions as we had today, given the fact that Formula One will be under the spotlight?

Coulthard: With reference to the levels of standing water that we had this morning, I don?t think we could run a normal race without the safety car and obviously that?s what the safety car is there for. You just wouldn?t be able to see (where you would be) aquaplaning, particularly as you come onto the last part of the start/finish straight. You aquaplane through there and in traffic, you obviously wouldn?t see where the puddles are. So the only sensible option would be to run with the safety car, I believe. I know it?s always a bit difficult for the public to understand and for you to express to the public why the best cars and the best drivers in the world would need to have a safety car to help them get round but somehow you have to convey to them just how difficult these things are, with the planks, how easy they aquaplane and with the one tyre rule, we would not be in the perfect condition for that type of tyre. You?ve got to take a tyre which will go from full wet down to full dry but that doesn?t exist so you pick something in the middle which is what we have.

Schumacher: Yeah, basically you will see what has happened in Magny Cours some years ago when we had these conditions, and even then we had rain tyres. When the conditions are too bad, you simply put it out and you go, whether it?s at the beginning, the middle or at the end, it depends whenever it?s necessary and in some conditions the safety car even has to slow down for us to be able to follow it.

Q: In those conditions, how much of a difference is there between the old wet tyres you would have had and the tyre that you?ve got here this weekend; just give us an idea of the scale of the difference?

Schumacher: I think in the very bad conditions that we saw this morning, not even a wet tyre would have helped us honestly.

Q: After a couple of races of the new qualifying system, how do think it?s going, both from your own and the public?s point of view?

Coulthard: I think it?s great. No. I miss the real feeling of pushing a car to the limit and developing that limit during the course of a session, but really it?s a bit futile giving me that opinion because these are the rules, so you go out, you finish your lap really before you?ve even started it. It?s over so quickly that it?s difficult to really get stuck into it. I?m told that it makes good television, but I?m not too sure if that?s ultimately for the long term good of the sport, what you ultimately need to have. You need to have a good feeling in the paddock; you have to have everyone who?s here believing in it and passionate about it for that then to be conveyed to the public, rather than the other way around. This is reality, it?s not fantasy.

Montoya: I think for me it?s gone pretty well. The first mistake I?ve done in qualifying was today and it was a good thing it was on a Friday and not Saturday. What David said, you?ve got to push yourself a lot harder for one lap in my opinion, but with the fuel difference I think you can get a pole position or you can be tenth depending on what fuel you?ve got, so from that perspective it?s a bit disappointing because, last year, I had seven poles and they were seven poles because we managed to get a really good lap and a really good car, really nice balance and everything. Well now, if you?re not quick enough you just take some fuel out and you would be in the front. It takes a bit of the excitement out of it, for us at least.

Alonso: I think it?s much better for TV. I saw the last race on TV when I got home and the qualifying system was quite exciting. But from the driving point of view, we miss pushing the car to the limit and finding the last couple of tenths to be in front, especially on Saturday. Friday?s qualifying with low fuel is more exciting for the driver than Saturday. Saturday, depending on what quantity of fuel you have in the car is not a fantastic feeling for the driver, but it?s like that.

Schumacher: Yes, I agree.

Q: You guys all drive for big teams but the little teams are struggling; how important is it for Formula One to have the small, independent teams on the grid?

Alonso: It?s very important. I think the small teams are important. They give you the opportunity to get into Formula One and then you prove with them that you have the level to stay in Formula One. It?s a good starting point for all the drivers, I think. Anyway, you know the sport; you have big teams, small teams, just as you have good players in football and bad players. It?s a normal thing.

Montoya: In my opinion, apart from Minardi, which everyone knows is a small team; I don?t think there?s any other team which you can say is really small. All the teams have got a lot of people working for them. Do you consider Sauber a small team, Jaguar a small team? They?re not small teams, they just haven?t done such a good job with the cars and they are further back on the grid than us. That?s what I think happens. The next one up is probably Jordan at the moment, but Jordan is not a small team, it?s been in Formula One for a long time.

Q: If there isn?t a clear situation on Sunday, with perhaps a safety car situation, do you think it?s fair to leave the decision of the race in the hands of the stewards? You are taking the risks, but you don?t seem to have the power to decide what should be done?

Schumacher: As long as the other people do consider the opinion of us, which does happen, as later on we have the drivers? briefing when we will discuss with the stewards and the people responsible what are our feelings. In the past, they have always considered this and it has improved the situation a lot compared with years ago, maybe.

Coulthard: Yes, I think there are many issues that have to be considered and obviously we drivers only consider our immediate position which is driving the track and the conditions. Whereas the organisers have to consider things like media, television, spectators so you have to find the right balance between the two. As Michael says, we give our opinion and then ultimately if we see that the track is safe to race, I for one will be out there because that?s the rules and you?re never going to walk away from the track alone, you?re going to be out there trying to score points.

Q: Generally speaking, looking back, can you think of times when you have been unhappy with decisions made, about the safety car coming out or going in too early?

Coulthard: I can?t recall off the top of my head. I?m sure there have been circumstances. Again, as Michael mentioned, there was some difficultly at Magny Cours two years ago, just the pace at which, difficult as it may be for some to understand, the pace at which the safety car can run in wet conditions sometimes can be quicker than a Grand Prix car, because it doesn?t have a plank running one millimetre above the ground and issues like that. These cars are designed to drive within certain conditions in the same way that a speedboat wouldn?t go round Interlagos very quickly, we don?t go across the Med very quickly.

Q: After two races, can you give us some ideal how your individual teams? technical approach has changed to the weekend?

Alonso: I don?t think the weekend has changed too much from the drivers? point of view. We are in the car, we try to drive as fast as we can and nothing more, but basically for the team it was a big change. Now, especially on Saturday, you have to prepare the car for the race because you cannot touch the car after qualifying and the way that the team approaches the weekend has been changed a lot but not for the drivers.

Schumacher: It does change because you basically have to decide everything on Saturday, what is optimum set-up for yourself for the qualifying condition and have a reasonable race pace, and the set-up is a very complicated thing, mechanical set-up at least. Electronics are still free to be changed but that is quite substantial so you need to put in a lot more effort with your engineer to do it in the time that you?re allowed to work in and that?s very short, the time that you have available. Basically, after qualifying, that?s it and it?s a day less than you had in the past.

Coulthard: The way you run your weekend, the time that you have available, the decisions you make; obviously the biggest difference is on Saturday afternoon, because after you?ve done your qualifying run, there is no more you can do other than a wing adjustment on the grid or reacting to a particular problem you may have just prior to the start. So it is a little bit strange. You have a long period from Saturday to, like Malaysia, a three ?o clock race start; you don?t drive the car again. I?m not quite getting as much from my money in the slot. I?m driving less during a Grand Prix weekend than I did in the past. More time standing around, sitting around.

Q: Is that somewhat frustrating, Juan Pablo?

Montoya: Not really. You?ve got a lot less time, as Michael says, to work on the car and you?ve got to try to get the car balanced quicker. Now you only have to worry about one real set-up and that is the race set-up, which is probably a good thing, because before you used to struggle to get both sometimes. It is pretty hard to come in with one session straight into qualifying; like today, rain, if it?s dry tomorrow you?ve lost a day of work. But what can you do?

Q: The team owners are meeting next week to review the rule changes. If there was just one rule you could change, which rule would it be?

Montoya: I would change qualifying probably, change the way qualifying is with the fuel and everything. Maybe one lap, to keep the show the same but then you can qualifying with real fuel level or something like that.

Coulthard: It probably deserves more thought than an instant reaction because I didn?t really think I have any influence over the outcome of the rules, but I think what Juan Pablo says is probably a good suggestion to get a little bit more feeling that you?re actually driving these cars in their quickest capabilities would be to have open qualifying and back what we had was good. Then the rest of the rules can stay.

Schumacher: Basically to have more time to work on the car, that would include having the possibility to work on the car after qualifying for the race and maximising your opportunity to both of the circumstances, because both have been a big challenge in the past and now it?s less of a challenge, in all honesty.

Alonso: I agree with Michael, to have a little more time to change something on the car, especially after qualifying because in races like here, when probably it will be wet again in qualifying, and then it might be completely dry in the race and a sunny day, what do you do? Do you start qualifying with dry settings and you take a risk, or do you take a risk for the race? It?s maybe a rule that is not fantastic for the teams, for the drivers and for everyone.

Q: Michael, do you have the feeling that you?re losing a big part of the fun of your sport during a weekend?

Schumacher: No, I wouldn?t say that the fun is suffering in an extreme way. I did prefer the work with the engineers and changing little things on the cars. I?m not talking about qualifying engines and things like this. I think it?s easy to stop that, but springs, dampers, bars and wing settings, just to maximise, just to optimise everything. That?s missing now, but on the other hand it?s the same for everyone and it?s still fun to do what we are doing.


Rubens Barrichello (2nd, 1:23.249): "This has been quite a tricky day with plenty of emotions. This morning we had too much rain for the tyres we have here. This afternoon the track was much better and I was able to push hard with the car. I am happy, even if I was surprised that Webber beat me. But when you are running in these conditions where the track is drying out, you should expect this sort of thing. I enjoyed myself out on the track and am happy with my position. Being in the top four is good enough for tomorrow, even if the second qualifying might be a lottery as we don?t know what conditions to expect."

Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:25.585): "The rain meant that track conditions were difficult, but not unacceptable, although it was aquaplaning which caused me to spin on my "out" lap. All in all, fifth place isn?t bad. Tomorrow I will do my lap in the final part of the session. Whether or not that will be an advantage we will only know during qualifying, given the uncertainty over the weather. I hope we can run in the dry tomorrow morning so that we can use free practice to prepare the car for Sunday?s race."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The rain was the main factor today. We were not able to do many laps and so, if the track is dry tomorrow, we will have to make the most of the ninety minutes of free practice to prepare the cars for Sunday?s race. As for tomorrow afternoon?s qualifying session, we can claim to be in a good position, given that both drivers will make their runs in the final part of the session. In theory, this is an advantage, but it all hangs on the weather. Rubens lost first place in the very last moments, when the track was probably a bit less wet, while Michael set the fifth fastest time despite running when the rain was at its hardest. Today?s grid reflects the spirit of the new regulations, which are designed to increase the level of unpredictability."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Weather conditions were the deciding factor today. Rubens did a super lap, in conditions where there was the right amount of water for the tyres we had. I think the regulation which says we are only allowed to have one type of wet tyre should be reconsidered, because it compromises safety. Michael caught the shower so he was not able to push so hard, but both drivers are in good positions for tomorrow, so I am fairly happy with our work today."


Ralf Schumacher (13th, 1:26.709): "It's very difficult to rate today's times. Qualifying was a weather lottery. Usually I don't dislike driving in wet conditions but on my fast lap the track was extremely slippery after it had again started raining hard a few minutes before. The balance of my car was not right in the slow and medium-speed sectors, but this is something we are going to work on now."

Juan Pablo Montoya (17th, 1:27.961): "I lost the rear of the car on the asphalt change, locked the rear tyres at turn six and went off track losing quite a bit of time. I obviously lost my flying lap there. ?The car felt quite bad on the new asphalt in the infield, anyway. Let's hope for some dry running tomorrow."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It is difficult to say where everybody is, due to the fact the weather and track conditions were changing during qualifying. Our positions to start from tomorrow are disappointing, of course. We have a lot of new chassis parts but we are not able to evaluate them under these conditions but we hope we can achieve this tomorrow morning."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Today's qualifying was ruled by weather conditions. In the first 30 minutes the track was so wet that the drivers were forced to drive as if they were running on ice. Juan Pablo drove over the limit and lost quite a bit of time as he went off track. Unfortunately Ralf was out on the track right when it was soaking wet. This cost him a better position. After the break the track conditions were better so that several drivers could qualify at the top."


Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:24.607): "To be third after my only timed lap of the day is not bad, but I guess the weather made things a bit more interesting. I went out for one lap during this morning's practice but was aqua-planing a lot and ended up spinning but didn't hit anything. I had gone out for another run towards the end of the session, but there was a red flag and we decided that was it. I was the first car out on the track for qualifying which is a disadvantage especially when it's as wet as it was today. You haven't had a chance to see what everybody else is doing and there are no tyre tracks. However we are close to the Ferraris so we will wait and see what happens tomorrow when it really counts."

David Coulthard (4th, 1:24.655): "You can't really say a lot about the car's performance today due to the track conditions being as difficult as they were during both practice and qualifying. I got a few laps under my belt this morning, but qualifying was all about staying on the track. I did run wide at turn 10 so to end up fourth is not too bad taking into consideration that we are in the same starting group as our main competitors for tomorrow's qualifying."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "An interesting qualifying session which reflected the variable track conditions. We seem competitive if the conditions stay the same for tomorrow."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Both Kimi and David showed consistent performances and our cars looked good in difficult circumstances. They had to go out as first and second and in the end they were among the front runners without having the best track conditions. What this really means we will only find out tomorrow as nobody knows whether the track will be better at the beginning or the end of qualifying."


Fernando Alonso (9th, 1:26.203): "I am quite satisfied with today's work. This morning we were able to do some work in view of the race, especially on set ups and tyres and this afternoon I was happy with my laptime. However, the track kept changing and it's difficult to say where everybody is. I am very optimistic for tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's race."

Jarno Trulli (12th, 1:26.557): "I am very happy with the way my car feels both on dry and wet conditions. Unfortunately during this afternoon qualifying my run was done under extremely wet conditions, but I still managed to set a reasonable lap time. The team has done a very good job all day and I am sure I will improve my position in tomorrow's qualifying."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "I am pleased that we were able to run this afternoon because before qualifying the weather conditions were quite bad. As far as the session is concerned, we knew that under the new regulations there is an amount of luck involved and we have to accept it. Jarno's laps were run on an extremely wet track and that resulted in a poor placement for him. But I am sure that tomorrow we will be able to reflect in qualifying our real potential."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "On the engine side we had a trouble free afternoon session, which was of some use because we were able to gather some data in wet conditions. However, due to the variable conditions, this cannot be considered a qualifying session but rather a continuation of this morning's testing."


Heinz-Harald Frentzen (10th, 1:26.375): "Generally I'd say things this morning were okay, given the conditions and the spin I had. The track was better this afternoon, but worse for my run than it was for some of those who ran before me. That's life. The balance was quite good and overall I'm happy with what we achieved today."

Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:27.111): "This morning I had a problem when my car suffered an hydraulic failure, so I didn't get much running time. This afternoon the car felt a lot better in the slightly improved conditions, but I was quite cautious, especially in the last long left-hander to the start/finish line."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The conditions didn't do us any favours today. First of all it began to rain more just before Heinz-Harald went out, then later it dried so that some rivals were able to go quicker."


Giancarlo Fisichella (14th, 1:26.726): "I'm not too happy with how it went. The car had a lot of oversteer during the lap and the grip was not good - I don't know why. I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow."

Ralph Firman (18th, 1:28.083): "We had quite a bit of oversteer and qualifying was only my second timed lap in the rain. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "I'm very disappointed. One way or another we weren't able to get on top of it today but we are working hard to make sure we fulfil our potential this weekend."


Mark Webber (1st, 1:23.111): "What can I say, an amazing day all-round! I started this morning with two long runs of twelve laps and the car was performing well. We worked on tyre comparisons and also race set- up and were pleased with the results. The heavy rain of course hampered the number of laps that we had hoped to complete but despite that we went into warm ?up encouraged. As a result of the session being stopped my fastest lap was not actually recorded, however, I am pleased to say that it was in qualifying. We were fortunate that the track had dried to some extent by the time I went out, however, the team have done an amazing job with the car and pole position today is just reward for the hard work that the team both here and at the factory have carried out since the start of the season. To be last out tomorrow is going to be interesting, lets see how it goes!"

Antonio Pizzonia (8th, 1:25.764): "It has been quite a difficult day for me today, with a few issues on the car this morning in testing and then my incident during warm-up. We were working through a normal list of tyre comparisons and race set-up when my car suffered a fuel issue problem that forced me to stop. The rain was not making my job any easier this morning when during warm-up I aqua-planned into corner and did some damage to the car. The team is now hard at work repairing what was my original race car so that I can have it as the T-car for the rest of the weekend. I qualified in the T-car that was fortunately set-up for me already this weekend, however, the T-car always feels slightly different from your race car. Despite that, I am very pleased with my 8th position here in Interlagos. Knowing the track already has made a huge difference, as I am far more comfortable behind the wheel here than I have been at the first two tracks of the season where the layout was new to me. I a looking forward to tomorrow, lets hope the home-fans are entertained."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Both drivers worked through tyre comparisons and race set-up this morning and despite Antonio being forced to stop with a fuel issue during the test session both drivers were satisfied with the data collected. Heavy rain forced us to keep the drivers in the garage for the last 15 minutes of testing however. Warm-up continued with heavy rain and unfortunately Antonio fell foul of corner four and aquaplaned into the side barriers causing extensive damage to the car. As a result he was forced to use the T-Car for qualifying and he did a sterling job in bringing the car home in 8th position. Mark was one of the last two drivers to qualify today and he did an inspiring job. The track conditions were difficult and although we knew we were competitive we are of course very pleased to be on pole. The team, along with Cosworth and Michelin have been working extremely hard since the start of the season to iron out the gremlins that we have been suffering. This result certainly gives the team a well deserved boost and of course we are already planning for tomorrow and working on race strategy."


Jacques Villeneuve (7th, 1:25.672): "I'm very happy with the lap. This morning we didn't run when the track was at its best because we had a problem and spent a lot of time in the garage. The same thing happened in Melbourne but it seems to work out for me in qualy so maybe I should just skip Friday mornings! The conditions were good so there was no problem there. A few of the drivers felt it was too dangerous to run this afternoon but we're here to put on a show and I think it was the right thing to do. After today though I'm sure everyone will see the logic in having more than one wet tyre option."

Jenson Button (20th, No Time): "It was a very eventful session for me! Quite scary really! I had a lot more oversteer than this morning and the car was quite snappy coming onto the main straight at the start of the lap. Then I had a big moment coming out of turn five when I put a wheel on the white line. I tried to catch it but with such a damp track it was impossible and I took out some trackside markers in the process. That obviously damaged the rear wing and with that hanging off I had no option but to abandon the lap. Despite the conditions today you still have to continue to push. The problem is that you don't really know where the limit is. The track was drier than this morning but there was still a lot of standing water. We definitely need more than one set of wet tyres for these conditions."

David Richards, Team Principal: "The most significant issue today was not about the cars or the drivers but rather the track conditions and the tyres. It does bring into question whether it is sensible to only have one wet tyre available to us, as determined by the new regulations. I'm sure this is something that will have to be looked at. Nonetheless, Jacques did a great job today and made it all look relatively easy, while Jenson escaped from what was a very spectacular moment."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Today was our first wet qualifying session and while conditions were quite variable, both our drivers went out during the wetter part of the session. Unfortunately Jenson put a wheel on the white line, lost the car in the wet and took out a couple of the braking markers. In doing so he damaged the rear wing and had to come in without completing a timed lap. We will be able to repair the car quite easily for tomorrow though. Jacques should be pleased with his lap, which put him fifth at the time. Unfortunately it failed to rain again and we were pushed down as the track dried! We don't have any issues with the car and both drivers are reasonably happy with the balance in the wet, so we'll have to see what tomorrow brings - the weather in particular!"

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Jacques put in a good lap this afternoon and did well to set a competitive time, despite the difficult track conditions. Jenson had a tough time which is a shame because he's done a good job today as he showed this morning by setting the third fastest time. Tomorrow should be very interesting for us because we've got one driver going out at the start of the session and one towards the end, and with the unpredictable weather that's maybe not such a bad position to be in. Only time will tell."


Jos Verstappen (15th, 1:26.886): "I didn't drive many laps this morning because the track was just too wet for much of the time, but that qualifying run was definitely on the limit. The car was really sliding around in what were very difficult conditions. I'm happy with the lap time and also with the work we have done today. We worked on set-up this morning in the dry conditions and know pretty much which way we need to go."

Justin Wilson (19th, 1:28.317): "It was definitely pretty tricky out there this afternoon, particularly on the new sections of tarmac - in fact, I nearly lost it at the start-finish line on the warm-up lap. The situation wasn't made any easier by the fact that the red flag brought out by Pizzonia's crash in the morning practice session prevented me from doing a lap of the circuit in the wet before this afternoon's qualifying session. I used the 'out' lap for my qualifying run just to try and learn what the track conditions were like. All in all, it wasn't a great result, but it was the best we could do today given the circumstances. We'll look to improve tomorrow."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today produced yet another exciting qualifying session and our hearty congratulations go to Mark Webber and Jaguar for what was a stunning lap. Both Justin and Jos completed a useful day's running and were able to work on their chassis settings in the morning test session. Both drivers completed their first qualifying runs without incident and we look forward to an interesting final qualifying session tomorrow afternoon."


Olivier Panis (6th, 1:25.614): "I think sixth place in qualifying is a good result for us considering the difficult weather conditions today. The track was a little bit quicker as it dried out towards the end of the session, but I do think we have a car that can qualify better. The balance of the car is quite good, but we had a problem with the traction control during the session and we need to work a bit on the settings. Once we sort this out, I think we are going to be really competitive, but I hope it stays dry tomorrow."

Cristiano Da Matta (11th, 1:26.554): "I feel a little disappointed with the qualifying result. I only had two timed laps on the track this morning and it has been nine years since I last raced here, so it is almost like a new track for me. We could have been in much better shape had the weather not affected free practice this morning. The track conditions were far from ideal and nobody really drives the same race track, because it is drying out all the time. I just hope it is totally dry tomorrow morning for free practice, so I can get lots of laps done and learn the track one hundred percent."

Gustav Brunner, Chief Designer: "Well, I think that the whole Panasonic Toyota Racing team should be very happy with these positions, 6th and 11th. We had no opportunity this morning to set the car up to fit these extremely wet conditions, so the boys did well. I would say the results were also very good, considering they were really safety runs. I want to pass on my congratulations to Mark Webber and Jaguar for a very impressive performance today."

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