JULY 19, 2003
BRITISH GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING REPORT
Barrichello holds on for pole
There was a Ferrari on the front row of the grid for the British Grand Prix - but it wasn't Michael Schumacher. And really that said it all, for qualifying for the race was a strange affair with the wind, tyres and fuel loads all playing a role to confuse the issues and obscure who was quick and who was just joy-riding. It was additionally bizarre because Rubens Barrichello was the second car to run on Saturday, having dropped the ball in a most unfortunate fashion on Friday, which left him with no time registered. It is rare indeed that these days that a time set in the opening minutes of qualifying survives being quickest all the way through the session. The winds of Northampton were blowing when Rubens was out but as the session went on they blew more and changed direction minute by minute making it impossible for the teams to predict what was going to happen. It was just a case of driving and doing the best one could and if the wind pushed you off or deprived you of downforce well that was the way of the world.
It was, as Rubens admitted later a long wait to see if he was going to be on pole position.
"It was just agony," he said. "It was much more difficult than any other time because it was just waiting, waiting. I don't think running at the beginning of the session was a disadvantage in terms of lap time but there was a lot more pressure to be 100% commited but not to make a mistake. It was a mind game."
When Michael Schumacher finally went out Rubens had to worry the most for what Rubens can do , Michael can usually do better. But up at Abbey a gust of wind or a moment of over-optimism gave Michael a little more speed that he wanted to have and suddenly Ferrari No 1 was on the dirt. It was all over. The tyres were covered in dust and through the last section of track the Ferrari was lacking traction. More time was lost. By the time Michael got to the line he was down in fifth place on the grid.
This was interesting enough but a more interesting question was why the Ferraris were back on the pace again after a string of races in which they have struggled against the Michelin men. Everyoen has been very diplomatic but it was clear that most of the problem was the Bridgestone tyres. The Japanese engineers and their European helpers have been stung into action by the humiliation of defeat. Ferrari has been working to try to solve the problem and bring an end to Michelin domination. But there were other elements involved in the Ferrari revival. For a start the car is well-suited to the sweeping high-speed corners of Silverstone, a circuit where Williams and McLaren were not optimistic for success. Both cars are aerodynamically inferior to the Ferrari (or at least they appear to be) and there was clearly an advantage there. And the Ferrari men had been pumping out new parts as well.
But the question that we could not answer was whether or not the pace could be sustained in racing conditions. If it rained on Sunday we knew that Ferrari would walk away and win but in the dry the battle between the top cars seemed tight indeed.
Both Ferrari drivers talked about how good the car felt but they all say that. Michelin may have looked beaten but Pierre Dupasquier suggested that it might not be as easy for Ferrari in the race on Sunday.
"We think we have made some good choices," he said. "The big thing will be the track temperature tomorrow."
And only those with magic wands and pointy hats can guess the English weather. Weather forecasting, even in Formula 1 circles, is rather less than a science.
But probably the result of the race would turn on that.
The nature of the circuit may also help to explain the second fastest qualifying because we had not really expected to see Jarno Trulli on the front row. And he was just a tenth slower than Barrichello. The Renaults have been substantially modified and as a result rechristened as R23Bs, although the chassis were as before. And the question that really needed answering was how much fuel was on board the blue and yellow machines. Fernando Alonso was sower but it emerged that he was running on different tyres to Trulli and so eighth was not a bad result for him. He thought his tyres would be the right ones for the race - but then they all did.
Trulli said that his lap had been almost perfect.
The second row featured a McLaren and a Williams with Kimi Raikkonen in the silver car. David Coulthard, alas, was back in 12th with the same story as we have heard at other recent races. DC hates the current qualifying format and knows that it is knocking holes in his career. If you cannot qualify well in the one-lap dashes you cannot race well. David struggles to go right to the limit of what the car will do. He doesn't want to throw his car into the hedge and so caution is used rather too much. It was a problem which Ralf Schumacher had earlier in the year but one which he has now apparently solved.
On this occasion David had a car wwhich was not handling well and he ran wide in Stowe and then locked up at Club. To his credit he managed to keep his head in gear and did well in the third sector but the result of it all was 12th and that was another blow to David who had been so quick on Friday.
Raikkonen had been the one in trouble on the first day at Silverstone but by Sunday the Finn and his engineers had the car going as they wanted it to go and the result was a nicely controlled lap.
The car is quick but the big question remains. How would the tyres last in the race? McLaren was confident that they had the package to beat Ferrari. Alll DC could hope for was another afternoon working his way through to take as many points as possible.
Williams was also struggling a little more than usual with Ralf Schumacher fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya seventh. The Colombian was not a happy bunny because on Saturday morning his car had been perfect. The change in conditions however meant that he had overteer and understeer and no traction and... and... and.
"We knew that this track was going to be a tough one for us," said Montoya. "The car was very difficult and snappy."
Ralf Schumacher had a better time of it with his car handling more or less to his wishes but it was still not easy although the Williams engineers were convinced that in race trim they had the package to beat Ferrari (Heard the story before?).
A change is as good as a rest and having Cristiano da Matta sixth on the grid was a breath of fresh air - and a big surprise, not least for the man himself because he was in the T-car having had a hydraulic pump problem on his own vehicle. This meant that da Matta did not really get to run in the warm-up before qualifying and so the engineers could not twiddle with the car that much. Amazingly this seemed to make the car better and Da Matta was delighted to be up there with the big boys. For much of the meeting it had looked as though Olivier Panis would be playing the role but when the frites were down his car went all wrong. There was oversteer by the bucketload and poor old Olive was down in 13th. No-one knew what had happened.
Despite the endeavours of Ferrari, the other Bridgestone runners still looked rather hamstrung by the tyres but Jacques Villeneuve employed a little of his colourful magic to take his BAR-Honda to ninth on the grid. This was another great comeback as Jacques had been dumped to the roadside in the morning when his Honda motor declared that it was really not interested in going on any more and would prefer to be shipped back to Japan in a box. The BAR spannermen then did a remarkable job to heave this recalcitrant V10 out of the car and slot in a twin. He was able to get a few precious moments out on the track at the end of the second morning session and then he went for it in the qualifying session.
"I don't think I could have gone any faster," Jacques said.
Jenson Button had been embarked on the same course of action when he arrived at Chapel. Perhaps the wind gave him a little extra help but he went just a little too far out over the kerb and Silverstone bit back. The kerbs out there are pretty mean and the speed and the angles of impact meant that the front suspension of the car was busted. Button realised that something was wrong as he watched bits of the car falling off and decided that the wisest course of action was to procede slowly to the pits. He would be starting the race from the back of the field.
There were a few glum faces down at Jaguar Racing too for Antonio Pizzonia and Mark Webber (in that order) were only 10th and 11th. The team had been aiming for two cars in the top 10 and so ambition was half achieved. The team blamed this on the fact that it has done no real testing at Silverstone while others pound around the track day in and day out. Webber reckoned that he was going to struggle with the tyres in the race.
The Saubers were pretty uninspiring as they have been in recent races and the two drivers ended up in 14th and 16th place the difference being that Heinz-Harald Frentzen was not upset by the wind as much as Nick Heidfeld. There was also the question of strategy. The two cars were on different strategies (as Sauber tends to do) and so the effectiveness of the plan would have to be assessed after the race.
The two Jordans were 15th and 17th with Giancarlo Fisichella ahead of Ralph Firman again.
Things were not great at Jordan.
"I am afraid we just have no grip and that is the beginning and the end of the story," said Gary Anderson. "It is down to a lack of development all round and basically we have more or less the same car as we started the season with. I feel sorry for the drivers. It is frustrating for them too."
As usual down at the back a second down on Firman were the two Minardis, separated as ever by a few tenths. They were more than four seconds a lap off the pole position team.
It was not a big surprise.
It had not been the most gripping session in the history of the sport but the result was certainly intriguing.
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - 19 JULY 2003
1. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m21.209s
2. Jarno Trulli (RENAULT), 1m21.381s (+ 0.172s)
3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (MCLAREN), 1m21.695s (+ 0.486s)
Q: Rubens, after yesterday I guess pole looked a long way away from you.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Well, yesterday was just a little bit of a mishappen in a way because it was a condition where nobody had the track exactly the same. I wanted to try things different and it worked out because I tried something completely new for that lap which taught me that it didn't work so I could start on a different route this morning. But having said that, there is a little bit more pressure for you to be out as one of the first guys and you cannot make the same mistakes. So at the end of the day you have to be committed 100 percent and forget about it but there is still a little bit of pressure so it is even more enjoyable.
Q: What is the feeling in the Ferrari team now because after the French Grand Prix there was a lot of talk of the work ahead of you, the work that needed to be done because of the pressure you are facing from Williams and McLaren, and Renault. Do you feel you have turned the corner now?
Barrichello: Look, Ferrari is a fantastic team, a fantastic group that works very well on its car. We have brought so many new items to this racing track, it is going very well, especially for me - I think Michael had a problem in qualifying. My car is running fast and I am very confident for tomorrow's race. Anything can happen. We are only going to know when we get it to Hockenheim if it is only for Silverstone because it suits our car, but I don't think so. I think Bridgestone did a fantastic job as well on the tires and everything on the car is better than the last race.
Q: Jarno, a fantastic performance in the second outing for your new helmet design, the first for the new aero package on the Renault. It has all come together.
Jarno TRULLI: Yeah, I am extremely happy but also surprised about my performance because I have been struggling all weekend with some trouble that stopped me improving my performance and car set-up. But then we got on top of it for the qualifying. It is good to be second, unexpected but it is the best way to thank the people who work in the team because we have a new aero package for this race and also an engine upgrade so the whole thing is working very well.
Q: How do you see the Michelin vs Bridgestone race tomorrow?
Trulli: I think it is closer than ever, probably. It will be an interesting race. A few different drivers on the first two or three rows so I think it will be a big battle.
Q: Kimi, a great result for you considering you were the only top team not to test here at Silverstone before the Grand Prix.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, because we were testing the new car in Barcelona and we haven't had any tests here this year. Of course that is not so good for us but that was the decision and it didn't cost us too much actually.
Q: Have you got the best out of the car or is there more to come?
Raikkonen: I think so we have got the best out of it. Yesterday we had a bit of a set-up problem, a little bit wrong front parts on the car, but today we started to find the way and we got it right for qualifying. I am quite happy with the car now and in the little bit longer runs it felt very good this morning so I think we are in good shape.
Q: Rubens, I thought the idea of the new regulations was that the person going early was meant to be at a disadvantage.
Barrichello: Well, to be honest with you, I think the only disadvantage I had today was kind of a little bit of pressure from yesterday. As I said before, it was, yeah at the end of the day you have a spin so it is a mistake, but more than that it was a mishappen because I was trying something different and the car really caught me under the circumstances that I couldn't cope. I was trying really hard. So it was a bit of a pressure to go out just after one car and try hard but it shows even more that I kept it cool. The car is working very well for me. The things that I have chosen in terms of set-up are working and I am extremely happy. Silverstone has always been quite good for me in those terms and I hope I can complete my good feeling tomorrow.
Q: It is interesting you say the pressure was on you. We always think the pressure builds as you get closer to the end of the session, later and later. You suggest that it is actually greater going?
Barrichello: Yeah, otherwise you would not do very well on Friday just to be first out but I think history tells you that the track gets better although it was very windy today and it was changing directions. We cannot say the track was better here or there, but when I went out it was very windy as well so at the end of the day, P1, fantastic.
Q: Especially after the problems you have had this weekend.
Barrichello: Yes. And day after another you have to keep it cool. After such a long time it is just a mind game, you have just to tell yourself so many times that you do it because you really love it, the car is good, first, second, last doesn't mean anything just go out and do the thing you like. The car was running well. I was hoping I could keep in the top three, the time was good since the warm-up, so it was just agony waiting for everyone to finish their laps. It was much more difficult than any other time because it was just waiting, waiting.
Q: What was it like watching Michael as well?
Barrichello: Michael, when he went wide I knew at that time he would probably not have beaten me. But it is a bit of mixed emotions because you tend to say don't beat me but go well, because it is a team spirit. At the end of the day, I don't know if it was a mistake or something but he went quite wide so I knew that?The one that got really close was Jarno . When he set the time in P2 and I knew that his car is quite good on the slow speed, that was a bit worrying but the rest I had a bit of a peaceful time.
Q: Jarno, well done. It appeared you did not have any mistakes. Was it trouble free?
Trulli: It was a trouble free lap but I am extremely happy about the performance because I have been, let's say, struggling a little bit with some problems in the car in trying to find out the best set-up. It wasn't easy. Yesterday in qualifying I suffered some problems and we got on top of it right for the qualifying, which is extremely good because it is the best way to thank the whole team, which brought a new aero package and a new engine update, so it looks like we are showing that we keep improving and pushing because we want to finish our season high.
Q: What did you change for qualifying?
Trulli: Many, many things compared to this morning. I have had trouble doing the warm-up so I couldn't really simulate my qualifying but, you know, I am an experienced driver so I kept cool and I knew I had a good car and it was just a matter of getting a good lap. And fortunately I did it.
Q: And it will be a good car for the race as well?
Trulli: Yeah, I am extremely confident for tomorrow because I feel like I made the right tire choice and in terms of strategy I am confident, very confident.
Q: Kimi, are you surprised with third on the grid?
Raikkonen: Yeah, a little bit. Actually I changed my overalls away already because I was not expecting to end up here. But no, it was good. We had had quite a lot of problems all weekend to try to find the set-up and I think this morning we started to get it better and better and then for warm-up it was quite good and we changed it still a little bit and it was perfect.
Q: One of our commentators described the lap as unspectacular, looked as though you were fuel heavy.
Raikkonen: Um, I think so we are in good shape for tomorrow. I think this is the best time I have done this weekend and it was the right time to do it. The car feels really good and I am very confident for tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Jarno, do you really feel that it's possible to win tomorrow?
Trulli: I think so. OK, Bridgestone now have got on top of some problems and now they are looking more competitive than they were for the last few races but with the new aero package and the new engine update, we feel that we can match the pace more, so it's a question of getting it right, get away from the first corner and try to be reliable and have a trouble free race.
Q: Question for Rubens; yesterday, for the qualification, you said you tried something new. Does it often happen often that you try something new for this very important moment?
Barrichello: No actually yesterday, I can say that it was the fact that I had a problem, that I stopped earlier, didn't allow myself to try the other type of tire. And because Friday is only about trying, I tried the other type of tire and it was just different in a way. We made it a lot better. At the end of the day, I was much happier but what happened yesterday taught me a hell of a lot in terms of set-up and everything, because the tire was really good.
Q: Question for Kimi ; do you think this position on the grid could be a good chance to reduce the gap in the championship?
Raikkonen: It's not too bad now but the race is a completely different story. Everybody saw that Michael made a mistake and I don't know but without that, he might have been very quick. But then it's difficult to overtake here anyhow and it's better this way than the other way around but we will see what happens tomorrow.
Q: Michael tried to beat you and in this project, he's now behind Kimi and Ralf Schumacher. How do you analyse that?
Barrichello: To be honest with you, I don't think he tried to beat me. At the end of the day, we go there not to beat someone; we try to be ahead of everybody. Of course, when you have your team-mate going quite well, it might have created some pressure, but I think Michael is already an old boy that has lots of experience. So I don't think he went there to beat my time. He did what he had to do. My lap was really good so in order for him to be on pole position, he had to try and if he hadn't gone on the grass we don't know if the lap would have been better; we don't know. We have to ask him.
Q: Jarno, this is the second time that Renault has been on the front row this year, but would you say that this is more important than in Malaysia?
Trulli: Well, it's always important to be on the front row. Definitely, this time has a different taste because we are approaching the end of the season and we are still proving that the team is growing up and is doing a good job. We keep improving our car. We've got, as I say, a new engine update, a new aero package, so we're not giving up. We know that we are comfortably fourth in the Constructors championship but we are still aiming for a better result for the end of the season.
Rubens Barrichello (1st, 1:21.209): "I was in agony waiting for the session to end! Yesterday, I made a mistake and also we had tried something completely different in terms of set-up which did not work. So today, we knew we had to work in a different direction. I am very happy with the car. Ferrari is a fantastic group of people who have worked very well on improving the car. We came here with lots of new items, the car is very fast and Bridgestone has done a fantastic job. I don't think running at the beginning of the session was a disadvantage in terms of lap time, but there was a lot more pressure to be 100% committed but not to make a mistake. It was a mind game. As for Michael, it was a case of mixed feelings, because of course I didn't want him to beat me, but at the same time I wanted him to do well for reasons of team spirit."
Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:21.867): "Naturally, I am a bit disappointed with today's qualifying. I made a mistake, slid and ran wide at Abbey and of course, driving on grass is not very good for traction! The current top runners in the championship; Ralf, Kimi and myself are close together on the grid, which could be important tomorrow. Given the overall performance of our car this weekend, I expect us to be consistent in the race and fifth place is not the end of the world, although it will make my life more difficult. It will be a long afternoon, so let's wait and see. Congratulations to Rubens: he was quick here in the test and all weekend, so his performance was not a surprise."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Seeing Rubens Barrichello topping the time sheet here at Silverstone is very gratifying. Michael ran wide off the track, which in the end prevented him from fighting for a front row position, but nevertheless fifth place is a good position from which to start the race.Tomorrow we can expect a tough and closely fought contest. We feel that our choices in terms of the Bridgestone tires and our fuel load for the start should allow us to bring home some important points for both championships."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Rubens did a fantastic lap, while Michael made a small mistake. I think that the track conditions might have been a bit more difficult towards the end of the session. Our chassis-engine-tire package has taken a significant step forward compared with the last few races. Bridgestone came up with new tires for us, both in terms of their compound and their construction. I feel everything is in place for us to have a great race tomorrow: Rubens starts ahead of everyone and despite what happened to Michael on his quick lap, he still has a good grid position."
Ralf Schumacher (4th, 1:21.727): "I believe we are well prepared for the race even though my qualifying result wasn't excellent, mainly due to the fact that I was struggling with the balance of my car, so as a consequence I am not too disappointed. Ferrari have again proved to be very strong here but nevertheless Michael is starting behind me on the grid. However, today's qualifying result was quite unusual."
Juan Pablo Montoya (7th, 1:22.214): "I am disappointed with this result because my car was very good and very stable this morning, and then it turned out to be not as positive in the warm-up and in qualifying. I didn't seem to have found the right balance as I was experiencing plenty of oversteer in some of the corners and generally poor traction. The car was very difficult to drive and very snappy. Now we must consider this in some detail before tomorrow. Anyway, we knew that this track was going to be tough for us. I am happy for Rubens who made it on pole, after he started so early on the session."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It was a reasonable qualifying session for the team but we are pretty confident that we are going to have quite a good pace in the race and a good strategy."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Starting fourth and seventh reflects the fact that both the drivers were not too happy with their cars during qualifying. Indeed, the first four rows of the grid are quite unusual . Furthermore, it's usually remarkably to see such a gap between team- mates. We will see in the race if this has something to do with different strategies as well as validate our true qualifying pace in the race tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:21.695): "I had already changed out of my overalls before the end of qualifying as I wasn't expecting to do the top three interviews. I'm very pleased with my lap as we were really struggling with the balance yesterday. We improved the car throughout practice this morning and even made a few more adjustments after warm up and the car felt really good. I'm confident of a good result tomorrow."
David Coulthard (12th, 1:22.811): "I was really struggling with the balance of the car. As a result I ran wide at Stowe, locked up the front under braking at Club and lost a lot of time. I was generally not hitting the apex of the corners, and we tried to make a few more changes after warm up but they didn't work out. It will be a challenging race for me in front of my home crowd. However I have started in similar positions before and still managed to finish in the points or even on the podium"
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Concentrating our pre-British Grand Prix testing schedule on Barcelona definitely made some of the initial set up work more difficult. Kimi's third place is a practical demonstration of the importance of a balanced car. David's lack of balance made life somewhat difficult for him. However both drivers and the team will approach the race with a view to maximize our points score."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A solid job by Kimi, and his third place is a good basis for tomorrow's race. It will be interesting to see who will be out for how many laps before the first pit stops. A shame that David will start from 12th position, but I'm sure the race will see him performing well."
Jarno Trulli (2nd, 1:21.381): "When I crossed the line at the end of the flying lap, my engineer told me I was second: I couldn't believe it! This is a fantastic result for myself and the team, especially as this is the home race for the guys from Enstone. We had some problems with the set-up this weekend, but everything was perfect for my timed lap. We're in a strong position for tomorrow, but of course, it is only on Sunday that you score the points."
Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:22.404): "The lap was OK. We had some problems with the set-up this morning: I'm not sure if it was because of the change in track conditions, but the overall grip was not fantastic. We tried some new things for qualifying, and they were an improvement. The race tomorrow is a long one and, starting eighth, I am in a good position to score good points."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "After a qualifying session like that, we have legitimate hopes for tomorrow's race. Weather is obviously still an unknown, but when you are starting from the front row, anything can happen. We might regret that Fernando is not closer to his team-mate, but he is nevertheless in good company on the grid. This weekend, we have also benefited from a new lubricant produced by our technical partner Elf, which certainly contributed to this performance. We know we are competitive; we know need to confirm it in race conditions."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A superb result for Jarno. He had struggled this weekend, but worked hard together with his engineers (Alan Permane and Nicholas Chester) to get the car right, and they made a good tire choice. He then drove a fantastic lap. Fernando is running a different tire, and reported a lack of overall grip. But in general, it's a very good result, we are on the right strategy, and we are looking to win the race tomorrow."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (14th, 1:23.187): "I think I had a good lap although I must admit that I made a mistake braking into Abbey, which is why I didn't hit the apex there. I already had a good warm-up and could improve my lap time thanks to a well balanced car. Today we had sunny weather, but I must confess that I'm hoping and counting on rain for tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:23.844): "I'm not quite happy with my lap. It was my most difficult qualifying of the year! I didn't get the balance of the car right and was struggling a lot. It was also very windy on the track which put things topsy-turvy. But we will see how it goes tomorrow."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We cannot be satisfied with the starting positions 14 and 16, but this is what we had to expect. In recent years Silverstone has had some turbulent races and this could make the Grand Prix tomorrow particularly interesting and the result difficult to predict."
Giancarlo Fisichella (15th, 1:23.574): "I did a good lap with no mistakes. The grid position could have been worse I suppose so although I would like to be further up the grid, I'm hopeful that we might be able to do something in the race tomorrow. You never know what's going to happen."
Ralph Firman (17th, 1:24.385): "It was a productive morning, although the car had a little bit of oversteer. We made some changes before warm-up and ended up with massive understeer which we didn't cure before qualifying. I didn't really want to change the car too much because I want to keep a good race car, but that compromised our qualifying performance. I'm quite disappointed with my lap time but have a good car for tomorrow so let's see how we fare in the race."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "That wasn't too bad compared to our expectations. For what we're doing, Giancarlo did a reasonable job and Ralph was fighting with a bit of understeer - round here that loses lap time. I think we'll find a bit of activity in the pit road tomorrow, perhaps more than you would normally expect at Silverstone. It's a hard race and a bit of a lottery to be honest but the tires look consistent so we'll have to see what unfolds for us."
Antonio Pizzonia (10th, 1:22.634): "I am happy about starting tomorrow's race from the 5th row of the grid but it could have been better for me. We suffered a problem on the chassis of my race car prior to qualifying warm-up session and I had no choice but to switch to the T-car. We have an optimum race strategy for tomorrow given the fuel and tire combination we have opted for and I am reasonably happy with the balance of the car. Today's qualifying wasn't helped either by the strong crosswinds across the circuit and I'm sure there are many other drivers who suffered the same. Nonetheless, we have had reliability on our side recently and given how hard this race can be on cars, we have a lot to play for tomorrow."
Mark Webber (11th, 1:22.647): "Not the best lap I have done around this circuit but you can't win them all. I not in the habit of making excuses and I certainly don't want to start now. Suffice to say that it could have been better but there is still a long race ahead of us tomorrow. There was probably a little more to be squeezed out of the lap time but that's one-lap qualifying for you. It's been a tougher than expected weekend for us so far and probably one the hardest weekends we have had this season. We have been scoring points regularly over the past few races but this one will pose a much tougher challenge for us tomorrow. The balance and set-up of the car is good but it could be better. I know there are thousands of Jaguar fans here this weekend and we'll just have to see what we can pull out of the bag tomorrow. It's not a conventional grid order for tomorrow's race and it will be very interesting to see how the strategies come into play."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "This morning's session was very busy for us as we worked through a comprehensive program, looking at set-up, balance, and tires. Both drivers had relatively good runs through the free-practice, despite Antonio suffering from a gearbox issue. Fortunately this was near the end of the last session and so it did not cost us too much time. The weather conditions, however, have been changing throughout the day and to be honest, we have been chasing for the optimum set-up. Qualifying was again in different conditions with the wind picking up nearer the end of the session. Both Mark and Antonio did a good job, although I know that Mark would have liked to have got a bit more out of his lap. As a result of a chassis issue on his race car Antonio had to swap at the last moment to the T- Car. Fortunately this was already set up for him and we were able to prepare it in time. I am pleased with our positions for tomorrow and taking our race strategy and reliability into consideration I will be looking to make the most of any opportunity to score points. However it is our home race and as history dictates anything can happen."
Jacques Villeneuve (9th, 1:22.591): "I'm very happy. Today's qualifying was much better. Normally this year we have had a good car for the race but couldn't qualify the car, but this weekend we seem to have both. We had an engine failure at the end of the first session this morning but the team deserve a lot of credit for turning around the engine change so quickly. It gave me five minutes' running at the end of the second session, which made a big difference for qualifying. They did an amazing job and this shows they're one of the best in the pit lane. The car performed well on one lap and it was also working well this morning on the long runs, so I'm feeling confident for the race. We changed our tire option overnight, which was a big help. Even though we are still behind Ferrari, the gap is not as big as it has been in previous races. Overall, I'm feeling optimistic for tomorrow."
Jenson Button (20th, No Time): "I'm very disappointed because the car was working so well. We changed a few things from warm-up and the high-speed corners felt great. We had a lot more grip and more speed through Copse and Becketts. You always have to push hard in qualifying so I thought I would push it a bit harder through the last corner before the Hangar Straight. I ran a couple of inches wide, hit the kerb at a different angle, there was a loud bang and I couldn't continue. We now know that the front left push-rod failed under the load which is surprising because we have done a lot of work on load-bearing in testing. It's obviously a great shame because this is my home race and the new car package has been working very well, so this was a good chance to have a strong qualifying position. We could have been right up there but instead we will be starting from 20th tomorrow. I'm sure we can salvage something though. At the Nurburgring we saw Heidfeld finish eighth after starting from the back of the grid, so all is not lost. We just have a lot of work to do tomorrow."
David Richards, Team Principal: "Jacques' lap was excellent. Both he and his team have worked hard all weekend to extract the maximum from the car, and P9 bodes well for the race. Jenson's suspension failure is highly frustrating for everyone as he was also on a roll this weekend. But who knows, tomorrow it might rain and he might not be in such a bad position after all."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "The track conditions were tricky this morning with the gusty conditions making it difficult to find a good set-up. Despite the engine problem on Jacques' car, he was generally happier with his track time than Jenson. We were able to find a good balance for both cars in warm-up and Jacques put in an excellent lap to a well-deserved ninth place. Unfortunately, Jenson ran slightly wide on the exit of Becketts, hit the kerb rather hard and the front-left push-rod failed. For Silverstone we bring specially-reinforced components and we are surprised that we have managed to exceed even the enormous loads that these parts are tested to. We are happy that Jacques has a good strategy for the race so we now have to think about how we are going to get the best for Jenson from the back of the grid."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "It's good to see Jacques qualify in the top ten despite the fact that he lost a lot of track time this morning due to an engine failure. The team worked fast to get him out at the end of the second free practice session, and Jacques did a good job this afternoon."
Justin Wilson (18th, 1:25.468): "We made some useful progress this morning, and I gained confidence with the car throughout the two sessions. For the warm-up, I wasn't quite happy with the car, so we made a small change and it was spot-on for qualifying. The lap itself I felt was neat and tidy, and I'd like to thank the guys for all their hard work. Okay, we're not at the front of the grid, but I'm happy with the way it's gone so far this weekend."
Jos Verstappen (19th, 1:25.759): "We made slight progress in the morning sessions today and have made some small changes to the car for the race, which should improve matters. We have chosen the harder compound tire, which we feel should be good for the race, but perhaps wasn't the best for qualifying. As for the lap itself, we ended up with more understeer this afternoon, because the wind changed considerably compared with the morning, but I think the track was slower, too. Because of the understeer, the car tended to run a bit wide in places, and that lost me time, so there was definitely room for improvement. The race tomorrow will be a tough one, as I have been suffering with a neck problem this weekend, but we'll just have to see what we can do."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Both European Minardi drivers put in a solid performance today, and despite lining up in P18 and P19 for tomorrow's British Grand Prix, the team is not unhappy, as the cars were carrying significant fuel loads. As usual, we are hopeful that, in the right circumstances, a Championship point or two can be had tomorrow. As this is Justin's home race, it would be particularly rewarding if he could take a point, especially considering the fantastic effort he has put in for European Minardi so far this season."
Cristiano Da Matta (6th, 1:22.081): "I think the effort was pretty good, given the circumstances. We had a problem with my race car during the warm-up, which meant that we got no running prior to the qualifying run and I had to switch to the back-up car. Consequently I had no knowledge of the track conditions with different wind and different temperatures, so I couldn't really tune the car for the session. Overall, I think the whole team has shown that we have a competitive package this weekend and to get my best ever qualifying result and a top-six grid position in the spare car is very pleasing. We are really in the hunt for points tomorrow."
Olivier Panis (13th, 1:23.042): "I had a big oversteer under braking in the last sector, which lost me a lot of time, but that happens occasionally when you are on the limit. I am not sure of the actual cause, so we need to go through the data to find out why this happened. Of course, I am not happy, but we have to remain focussed on making up positions in the race. We need to continue to push and aim for points - the car is certainly competitive enough. I want to say thanks to the team and well done to Cristiano for such a great lap today."
Keizo Takahashi, General Manager, Car Design and Development: "Cristiano did a great job and we are pleased for him getting his best ever qualifying result. When Olivier took to the track for his qualifying lap, the track conditions had changed a little bit from the first half of the session. He lost a lot of time in the final sector, but we don't really know why. In general our car performance has been very good in Silverstone this weekend and we hope to continue in this direction for the race. We have a really chance to get some championship points tomorrow, hopefully with both cars."