AUGUST 23, 2003
HUNGARIAN GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING REPORT
Needed: A truckload of magic for Ferrari (Updated)
The recent weeks have seen the development of a total domination of Michelin tires over rival Bridgestone. The gap is such that even Michael Schumacher and Ferrari cannot keep on the pace of the BMW Williams team in race trim. McLaren too has struggled, the MP4-17D apparently suffering from a lack of development in recent months because the team has been using its resources on the recalcitrant MP4-18 (which it seems will now become the MP4-19 next year). Renault is not bad but lacks engine power although the low centre of gravity of the cars is very useful at some circuits, particularly when it comes to getting the maximum out of the tires. Jaguar Racing has a good car and when everything is nicely tuned it is on the pace and Toyota has a car which can be good on its day.
The rest are in trouble because they are on Bridgestone tires. That, in essence, seems to be the state of play in F1 at the moment. This is all being dressed up differently by the spin-merchants within the teams but Formula 1 PR has a long way to go before it gets much credibility with the old cynics up in the Press Office. "Tomorrow is another day" is a tune which has been used too much in recent times. The message this year is clear: Bridgestone must do better.
In Hungary we saw that the trends have changed little. The wiggles of thee Hungaroring were made for Renault and right from the start of practice the team was confident it would do well.
"It may sound crazy," said Allan McNish, the Renault team test driver, "but I think you could see a Renault on pole here."
On Friday afternoon Jarno Trulli went quickest.
"I am happy with my position but not with my car," Jarno said. "We still have to do more to get a good balance."
Was the writing on the wall or was it just Friday bravado? Nowadays it is difficult to tell. On Saturday morning the Renaults were back where one would expect to see them and we had the Schumacher brothers up front, Ralf going faster than Michael. Rubens Barrichello was third fastest and Juan Pablo Montoya fourth. Was this really significant? It showed perhaps that at race pace things were different but then race pace would be decided when the temperature levels would be very different.
What did it all mean?
We went into qualifying... Bemused, bothered and bewildered. And came out at the end with not many answers. The battles for pole position this year have been close on occasion but at Hockenheim we saw a complete massacre in the race as Juan Pablo Montoya drove away from his rivals and won by a minute. He was aided by the fact that three of his closest rivals ran into one another and because Michael Schumacher was stuck in traffic but it was still a massacre and the signs were that Hungary would be a similar story on Sunday, except that Montoya might not be the man at the front. Ralf Schumacher seemed much more at home on the Budapest circuit.
What was clear was that Sunday would be about two things: grid position and strategy. The first is essential to racing in Hungary although this year there were big changes to the Hungaroring which it was hoped would increase overtaking. Would it work? No-one was quite sure. In the Formula 3000 race on Saturday we saw some interesting moves (some of which actually worked) and so there was a chance that we would have a better race than normal on Sunday.
The other issue is strategy and track position. Was it worth trading off a good grid position in order to have a car that would run further during the first stint than the opposition and thus enable a driver to make up places? There was the tire element and, of course, the basic need to make a good start. Offline the track was incredibly dirty and that could make all the difference at the start of a race.
Dust on the track is vital to success or failure in Hungary and thus it was no surprise to see Michael Schumacher on his slowing down lap on Friday going around the track, driving on all the dusty bits of track just to ensure that those following him had just as dusty conditions as he had dealt with. It was not perhaps the act of a great sportsman but we know that Michael is more interested in winning than he is in being feted as a saint-like figure.
He had no chance of pole position this year and in the end Alan McNish was right about pole position. Alonso was the man. The Renault team had some new versions of the Renault engine and that gave a little bit more power and Alonso's lap was neat and clean. H ewas on pole position. Perhaps on Sunday the engine would last the distance. Perhaps not...
Trulli was only sixth and complained that halfway around his qualifying lap the car had picked up oversteer and that was that. Trulli was a second slower than his team mate and that meant sixth on the grid. The implication was that Jarno's tires had not lasted perhaps it was down to the driver. Perhaps Alonso was able to nurse his tires slightly more and then hang on slightly better at the end of the lap.
"I was right on the limit towards the end," Alonso admitted.
The Renault team made all the usual noises about believing itself to have the right strategy but you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who believed that Renault would win on Sunday.
The favorite for victory would be Ralf.
"It was obviously a big relief that my 10 places on the grid penalty was cancelled," Ralf said. "The problem is that I am starting from the dusty side of the track and that is not the best place to be. Ralf admitted that he had been suprised by the speed of the Renault in the second part of the lap but the Williams team was quietly confident that the race set-up would reveal a different story. Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth on the grid, directly behind Ralf on the dirty side of the track and he admitted that he might have gone quicker if he had been willing to take more risks.
"I am fighting for the World Championship," he said, "and it is important that I start ahead of Michael. There are a lot of cars between myself and him. When I saw Michael's time I took it a bit easier than I needed to do because I knew his time was not good. Anyway, I think we have a really good race car so it is going to be interesting."
The smart money in the paddock was on another dominant display by the Williams-BMWs but with Ralf perhaps having the edge over Juan Pablo.
The surprise of qualifying was Mark Webber in third place and this was made all the more extraordinary by the fact that on Saturday morning Webber said that he intended to trade off speed in qualifying in order to try to get a consistent car in race trim. This has been a problem so far this year for Jaguar.
"I have taken quite a bit of a hit in qualifying to help the car in the race," he said.
Later on we wondered if we had written those words down correctly because Webber was flying in qualifying. There were no "issues" and mark drove the socks off the car.
"I don't want to do a lap like that again!" he said. "It was right on the edge. I really don't think I could have done any better than that. I knew going into the first corner that the lap had potential. The car felt good under braking and as I went through Turn Two I looked at my read-out on the steering wheel and saw that I was up on my quickest time from the morning."
The best news of all, however, was that Mark was starting the race on the clean side of the track and so it was logical to assume that unless he fluffed the start he would be in second behind Alonso at the first corner. The team did not pretend that it entertained any thoughts of victory but a good bag of points on Sunday was on the cards, which is what Jaguar needs as it fights for fifth place in the World Championship.
Justin Wilson also looked good and he ended up 12th on the grid. The team made some changes to the car before the qualifying and these were so good that they actually caught Justin out and he did not push as hard as he might have done. He was disappointed to be 12th.
"There was more time in the car," he admitted. "I just needed more time to extract it."
The performance of the two Ferraris was strange but nowadays one is getting used to seeing the red cars struggling. Once again Rubens Barrichello was faster than Michael but the feeling was that the two men had gone for different strategies although the indications were that Michael had actually made rather a lot of small mistakes as he battled with understeer. Barrichello ended up fifth and Michael eighth.
"That was the best I could do," Barrichello said. "The last three corners are the crucial ones here and it was difficult for us to find a set-up for them. I had too much understeer."
No Ferrari man will ever say "the problem is that the tires do not last the lap" but that was the reality. Rubens used his tires better than Michael and that showed in the lap time.
Michael was left to say that "anything can happen tomorrow" which is never a good sign. Still, when he is driving anything can happen... if he can get through the first corner without a shunt.
Whatever the case the message was writ large on the wall in the Ferrari garage: the tires need to be better.
The McLarens were seventh and ninth on the grid with Raikkonen ahead of Coulthard. The two were on the clean side of the track and it looked as though the McLaren strategy was to outrun the Renaults and Jaguar with a different strategy.
"I am reasonably optimistic," said Coulthard. "We have a strategy to stop later than the opposition and hopefully all those ahead of me will clear out of the way. I am on the clean side of the track and so I should be able to jump Michael at the start. This year the car has tended to race better than it qualifies so I hope I can have a good race."
David was four-tenths slower than Raikkonen but admitted that this was his fault as he gone wide in Turn Five."
But McLaren was confident of a good race.
"I very much doubt that the finishing order tomorrow will reflect the grid positions," said Ron Dennis. "It should be a great race."
That is easy to say when your cars are on Michelin tyres.
Completing the rout was Olivier Panis in 10th place in his Toyota. The team knew that Hungary would not suit the characteristics of the car and so the aim was to get a car in the top 10. Panis did it and admitted that all he wanted at the end of the race was some points. Cristiano da Matta was 15th but as a newcomer to the track he was not too unhappy about it. He felt his car was very nervous and so was extra cautious on his qualifying run.
The best of the non-Ferrari Bridgestone runners on this occasion was Nick Heidfeld who was 11th. He was a bit disappointed because he had made a mistake on his lap but the team felt confident that the car is improving even if the tires are disguising the fact. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was 17th and also made a mistake in the second corner. The two men had chosen different strategies for the race and so Heinz was hoping that he would be able to outrun his immediate rivals by having a longer first stint.
Jordan looked better than it has done of late until Saturday morning when the rear wing fell off Ralph Firman's car in one of the fastest parts of the circuit. The resulting accident was a huge one with Ralph taking a lateral G force of 46 when his car went into the tire wall. The impact was such that the posts supporting the barriers were knocked back a long way. Formula 1 safety once again showed just how impressive it is. The cockpit surround foam once again did the work, Firman's head hitting on both sides of the cockpit during the impact but the driver sustaining no serious injury. Jordan was a little shaken up by the crash but quickly recovered with Zsolt Baumgartner being drafted in to take over from Ralph. He was 19th which was pretty much what one would expect but Giancarlo Fisichella was 13th, which was not bad at all.
"I actually had quite a good balance for qualifying," he said. "It was a good lap, probably one of the best of the weekend so I am pretty pleased."
BAR was struggling with the opposite problem to Renault. The centre of gravity of the car (or specifically the engine) meant that the drivers were really having to work to keep the car going in the right direction, particularly as there was precious little assistance coming from the tires. The result was that by the end of the lap the tires were not in great shape and the times reflected it. Jenson Button was 14th, Jacques Villeneuve 16th.
"On the face of it, challenging for points looks a tall order," said team boss David Richards. "But we have proven before that we make the most of opportunities."
Or to put it another way: don't hold your breath, it is going to a drab Sunday.
That is the permanent state of affairs down at Minardi but because the team receives nothing special from Bridgestone they at least at liberty to make their feelings known.
"The car is very hard to balance and we badly lack grip. We had to use a heavy fuel load and we can only use the harder tires because the others will not survie a lap."
They would start 18th and 20th.
So Michelin had eight cars in the top 10, an excellent result again and all that Michael Schumacher can really hope for is to minimize the number of points that he loses to his championship rivals. That lead is beginning to look thin but with Michael there is always a bit of magic.
Unfortunately right now magic is what Ferrari needs... by the truckload.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 AUGUST 2003
1. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1m21.688s
2. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m21.944s (+ 0.256s)
3. Mark WEBBER (JAGUAR), 1m22.027s (+ 0.339s)
Q: Fernando, that was a fantastic lap, much quicker than you were able to do yesterday. Talk us through the weekend.
Fernando ALONSO: It is a difficult weekend always here in Hungary , it is a difficult track because it is quite dirty on Friday and it is difficult to test anything on the car. But from the beginning the Renault was very competitive, Jarno and I were competitive yesterday, this morning, and the pole for Jarno yesterday and this today makes a lot for the team and we hope tomorrow finishes a good weekend for us.
Q: It is going to be a difficult start here, obviously it is dirty and you are on the clean side of the track. How do you think the first corner is going to be?
Alonso: Well, as usual it will be very, very difficult and twenty cars are very close and the first corner is very tight but hopefully our launch control will work as usual and I hope to arrive in the first corner in first place.
Q: Ralf, I guess after the last couple of weeks you have had, being on the front row is a nice feeling for you.
Ralf SCHUMACHER: On one hand it is definitely a nice feeling, the team did a good job, we had difficulties this weekend for various reasons. Certainly being second I am not so happy with, especially with the fact that being on the inside on the dirty line is not the best place to be. But hopefully Fernando will be nice and kind to open the door tomorrow and then it will be a nice race.
Q: It looked like a good lap but sector two it seemed to drop away a bit.
Schumacher: I have no reason for that actually. Everything felt nice and clean, no problems at all. But certainly we will look at the data and see what happened.
Q: Mark, great result and interesting that both you and Renault were able to test on Friday at Hockenheim to perhaps do some preparation for this race.
Mark WEBBER: Well, I think Renault did, yeah, but we didn't really test any tires specifically towards this Grand Prix. But overall we are very satisfied with today's qualifying. It was a very, very nice lap for me to drive, it felt on the edge and it is not easy to do those laps with quite a bit at stake - you prepare yourself for the whole weekend and then if you make an error on that lap then you pay a big price so big thanks to the team. Now we want to get some points tomorrow and that has gone a long way towards that.
Q: Do you think the changes to the circuit this year is going to make overtaking easier here?
Webber: Well, it is not going to be any worse than it was, the old lay-out was very difficult because you braked into the first corner because the apex was a long way into the corner so yeah, potentially you can do something at the first corner but it is unbelievably dirty off line and the rubber on line even gets built up as the race goes on so off line is even more hazardous so we will see. Hopefully there will be no overtaking and we will finish like this.
Q: Fernando, the highest placed Bridgestone runner is in fifth place. It is looking pretty good for Michelin, isn't it?
Alonso: Yeah, again, this weekend Michelin has an advantage probably and I hope it continues like that until the end of the season. Nothing to say about the tires, they are working very well, very consistent in the long runs so I think we can be pretty confident for tomorrow's race.
Q: A very interesting grid, I think you will agree, Fernando, when you look at it?
Alonso: I didn't look at the grid but yeah, always very interesting. The new qualifying system makes the races more interesting and tomorrow will be a tough race. Obviously the temperature is very high and it will be tough for the car, for the drivers, and it will be interesting.
Q: Do you think there are multi-stop advantages here?
Alonso: I don't know. Tomorrow we will see. There are many, many things here. The heat, the tire wear, the strategy, the importance to have a good qualifying position because here it is very difficult to overtake and it will be a very interesting race from a strategy point of view.
Q: The cars have been good all weekend, both yours and Jarno's as well. Why do you think that is?
Alonso: I don't know why but all weekend we were very competitive. I am not happy with the balance because the track is very dirty and it is difficult to set up the car but I think we have less problems than the other teams. I don't know why. The chassis is doing a very good job here, the engine is performing very well as well, tires are fantastic so the whole package is working fantastically here.
Q: You mentioned you weren't happy with the balance and you said that yesterday as well. Are you still not happy with it today?
Alonso: No, it is better today. We found some good solutions, especially for the long runs we did this morning. We were quite happy and we are confident for tomorrow.
Q: Ralf, the highest placed world championship contender on the grid. That has got to be encouraging hasn't it?
Schumacher: Yeah, just on the wrong side. I tried very hard, but it did not work out. I don't know why the Renaults are so quick, I just don't like the idea that they are. I know certainly they did a very good job here this weekend and we have to accept that.
Q: You were very quick in the first sector, easily fastest overall?
Schumacher: Didn't run for the next two and that is what I don't understand. I am a bit surprised. It was a very good second and third sector in my opinion. It was nice, clean, no mistakes, but I certainly have to look into that.
Q: I was going to say the third sector seemed to be where you lost out a little bit.
Schumacher: Well, second as well but it is something that we are going to look into later.
Q: Do you think you are running the same tactics as Juan Pablo?
Schumacher: I don't know, but I am sure I have the right one.
Q: Looking at the grid it is interesting that the world championship contenders are scattered around below you?
Schumacher: It would be great if I could disappear and the two would stay in between, that would help me definitely. We will have to speak about that later how much they want for that!
Q: What do you think of the modifications to the circuit?
Schumacher: I think technically it was a bit more demanding before now. We have two more braking corners. From a circuit point of view I think they did a good job in doing what they did. They have given us one more overtaking opportunity. I think into turn 10 is not good enough yet but I understand there is a second phase going to happen for next year sometime. It is less bumpy so it is definitely an improvement from that point of view. Technically I like the old circuit more.
Q: Is it going to be easier to overtake tomorrow?
Schumacher: The straight is extended so I guess if you have a good exit out of the last corner then yes, it is easier.
Q: Even though of line is so dirty?
Schumacher: Well, yes, but once you are on the straight it doesn't really matter if you are off line. You just try to get your position for the first corner again.
Q: Mark, well done, third on the grid. That must be a great feeling?
Webber: Yeah, very satisfied. The lap was nice. I have really enjoyed driving here this weekend and I just wanted to do one more nice lap when it really counted so it was good to get that one in the bank. We had a rough time yesterday with a lot of things hurting us but we have done a really good job today and it is nice to be up the front of the grid. Obviously, overtaking is not easy and hopefully this gives us a good chance to get some points.
Q: You lost out a little bit in the final sector. Do you know where you lost the time?
Webber: Maybe a little bit in the last corner, not quite getting the most out of it there, but I haven't seen the sector times yet. But I don't want to do that lap again, I am quite happy with the lap I have.
Q: Third on the grid, as Ralf pointed out, not the dirty side?
Webber: Yeah, it's fine. I think the Michelins normally start better than Bridgestones anyway so, I mean, I will have Michelins all around me anyway. The Williams also will be very strong off the line even on the dirty line.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Fernando, on the first day you said you had very good vibe about Hungary , yesterday you said you couldn't even think about making pole. What is your prediction for tomorrow?
Alonso: Tomorrow is more difficult but here all weekend I was confident and yesterday I had a problem in free practice and I was not completely ready for qualifying. Today everything was much better. For tomorrow it is difficult to say but personally I hope to finish on the podium because after Barcelona I didn't finish on the podium any more and I want to have the same feeling again.
Q: Ralf and Mark, after almost a year of the new qualifying what is your view on whether it has made things more exciting for the fans?
Schumacher: Certainly, if you look from our perspective today it was a perfect thing but then I experienced myself in Austria if you mess up on Friday you pay the price for the whole weekend as Mark mentioned before. So as long as your lap is clean it is fine. It is more interesting for us and I am sure it is for the spectators to be able to watch a car for one lap and to see each difference but it can be very difficult.
Webber: I agree with Ralf. It is very, very demanding on the drivers and the teams. You have to have everything perfect for that one minute 22 or whatever it is and a lot rests on that for the weekend. How you are going to attack that lap is crucial to Sunday's performance. But I think all-in-all the one-lap qualifying has worked. There are also up sides to the old system, having a few shots at it, and in the last two minutes of the session the whole jigsaw fits into place. You could say this is a little bit predictable at some circuits but all-in-all I think it is quite a good step forward.
Q: All three guys, what are your thoughts on not being able to race at Montreal next year?
Webber: It is real shame because I would put it up there as one of the best organized races and you know it is always nice to go to Canada and the track is different. Okay, it is not a lot longer but you have a different set-up and I think everyone, including the mechanics, enjoyed going there, certainly for different reasons, but it was a good place to go.
Alonso: I think the same. It was a good place to go and I like the circuit there as well. I have nothing more to add.
Schumacher: Yeah, certainly it is a nice place but for various reasons, as I am sure you all know, it is better for Formula One to move somewhere else and if a circuit or country can't adapt to that then certainly Formula One is looking somewhere else and if you look at what is coming on the schedule next year it is an improvement.
Q: Ralf, if you are immediately in front of Montoya and he is in a better position in the championship, are you prepared to let him overtake you?
Schumacher: Well, actually team orders are not allowed anyway so what are we talking about? I am trying to do my race as good as possible.
Q: So that's a no then?
Schumacher: Well, I am trying to do my race and obviously since I have qualified in front of him I hope that I stay where I am.
Rubens Barrichello (5th, 1:22.180): "It was a rather difficult qualifying session and it was surprising to see Alonso and Webber so quick. I am happy with my own lap, as it was the best I could do,especially as I had a bit of understeer at the end of the lap. I am quite hopeful that our tire choice will be good for the race tomorrow. Given how dirty the track is here off the racing line, I think that fifth place might actually be better than fourth for the start. The changes to the track do seem to make overtaking a bit more of a possibility than in the past. A lot will depend on everyone's race pace and the different strategy choices. I am still in a positive frame of mind."
Michael Schumacher (8th, 1:22.755): "Obviously, I am a bit disappointed, because this morning and in the warm-up, I seemed to be on the same pace as the others and the car felt good. Now we have to try and understand why our qualifying time did not match our expectations. The outcome of the race will now depend on strategy, which is always the key factor at this circuit and the Scuderia has usually done a good job on this front. Anything can happen tomorrow afternoon, so now all we can do is look ahead."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was a disappointing qualifying. After this morning's free practice and the warm-up, I thought that getting both our cars onto the top three rows of the grid was within our grasp. Unfortunately, that is not how things turned out, with Rubens fifth - with the same lap time as Montoya - and Michael eighth. It is clear that in this situation, we can expect a difficult race, considering that despite the changes to the layout, there are few overtaking opportunities. We will do our all to get the best result possible."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "I am not very happy with the result of this session as I thought we were going to do better than we did. Michael did not feel he had the same level of grip which he had found during the warm-up and had too much understeer towards the end of his run. We did not really optimise the car and the tires for qualifying. It is disappointing, because up until now, the cars had been going well this weekend. Rubens had very good first and second sectors but then also had too much understeer in the third sector. Now we have to wait and see what we can do tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher (2nd, 1:21.944): "Being on the front row is obviously nice. It is obviously a big relief that my 10 places on the grid penalty was cancelled and I can actually start from the place I fought for. However, I am starting from the dirty side of the track which is not the best place to be. I was very quick in the first sector but lost quite a bit of time in sector two and three and the reason for this we need to investigate later, when we will have a look at the data. During qualifying my car felt ok, thanks to the team who could set it up at the best. I believe we have a good race strategy and also the hot weather conditions forecast for tomorrow should be helping us."
Juan Pablo Montoya (4th, 1:22.180): "The car felt really good during today's qualifying. I could have gone quicker than I actually did but after being very fast in sector one I took the conservative way and really paced myself because I wanted to make sure to get a good lap in. I am fighting for the Championship especially with Michael, of course, and the most important thing is starting ahead of him, tomorrow. I think we've got a really good race car and it's going to be an interesting race."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It looks like this starting grid promises an interesting race. We are reasonably happy with our qualifying positions. It is obviously good to be in front of our direct rivals in both Championships. We have a good strategy for the race and the race set-up works well."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are pleased with the qualifying result, although there were surprises at the top of the grid. Alonso was fantastic, especially in the second and third sector. Whereas Ralf set a faultless lap, Juan's was not as perfect. However, grid positions two and four do provide good chances for tomorrow's race, although it means that both our drivers have to start from the dirty side of the track."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th, 1:22.742): "Not too bad. I made a little mistake in the last sector at corner 12, which cost me some time. We improved the balance of the car from the warm up, and it feels good. I might have an advantage at the start tomorrow compared to Michael as I'm on the clean side of the track, and I'm also not too far away from Montoya. We will see what happens in the race, and at this circuit the first corner is especially crucial."
David Coulthard (9th, 1:23.060): "I had a small problem with the clutch when we were ready to leave the garage as it wouldn't clear. However the guys found a quick solution and ultimately we got out on time. We know from previous experience that our race pace should be good and I believe we have chosen the right strategy. In addition I'm on the clean side of the track which could be crucial at the start."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Traditionally it's been impossible to overtake at the Hungarian Grand Prix due to the nature of the circuit. It's therefore understandable that some of the teams have adopted extremely 'racy' strategies. I very much doubt that the finishing order tomorrow will reflect the grid positions. It should be a great race."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A grid which promises an exciting race. It will be interesting to see what influence the various strategies have had on the grid positions."
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:21.688): "It is a great feeling to get my second pole position. Our car has been competitive since the start of the weekend, and I don't see any reason why that should change tomorrow. I had some problems yesterday, but the mechanics worked hard to sort things out: I want to thank them, as well as my engineers. As for the flying lap, I didn't have any problems, but I was driving right on the limit towards the end of the lap. I think we are on the right strategy for tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to the race!"
Jarno Trulli (6th, 1:22.610): "Sixth position is disappointing after yesterday's result. I made some mistakes on the flying lap, which must have cost me three or four tenths, and the car also lacked grip. Nevertheless, sixth isn't a bad grid slot, and I think I can fight for a podium tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A great lap from Fernando to take a well-deserved pole position. Unfortunately, Jarno seemed to get oversteer in the second half of his lap, which compromised his time. It's a great shame, because the two drivers have been running at a similar speed all weekend. Not only does this put him down the grid, it also forces him to start from the dirty side of the circuit. In spite of the changes to the circuit this year, we still expect it to be difficult to pass, and therefore pole position is all the more valuable."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Firstly, it is pleasing to confirm the promise we demonstrated yesterday: we are competitive with the very top teams at this circuit. However, the gap between our pilots demonstrates that the balance between getting the right set-up and the correct rhythm is extremely delicate. Tomorrow, we will have to maintain our pace for seventy laps on a demanding circuit for both cars and drivers. The new engine spec also met our expectations, and it is a bonus to christen a new development by taking pole position."
Nick Heidfeld (11th, 1:23.621): "I'm quite happy with my lap time even though I made a bit of a mistake in the second corner. In general, this result confirms the improvements we have made recently to the C22. This morning we did some long runs and improved there, too, so I'm optimistic for the race tomorrow."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (17th, 1:24.569): "The car was oversteering quite a bit which made the handling difficult. I think to do better was not possible. My mistake in the second corner didn't actually cost me that much time, but we need to look at the data analysis before we can understand why I lost time in the second sector."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Nick was able to endorse the upward trend we have shown recently and was able to achieve a strong lap ahead of our two direct competitors, Jordan and BAR. Heinz-Harald couldn't use the potential of his C22 to the full. We are now looking forward to an exciting race, which is surely guaranteed when you look at the mix of the starting grid."
Giancarlo Fisichella (13th, 1:23.726): "It's been quite a good qualifying for us, with maybe the quickest lap of the weekend for me. We did a very good job, the lap was clean and the car balance was good. We did our best."
Zsolt Baumgartner (19th, 1:26.678): "It went quite well, I was quicker than Kiesa, although I was imagining to be in front of both Minardis, I'm not that far off Verstappen. I'm happy that I didn't make any mistakes on the track and this is a great opportunity for me. I'm upset about what happened to Ralph and pleased he's okay. I'm excited about the race tomorrow and want to finish without any mistakes. I'm the first Hungarian driver to race in Formula One and that's a big aim for my country because we've had a Grand Prix for eighteen years. Everyone's dream will come true now but I didn't think it would happen this soon, and at our home Grand Prix!"
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "A very trying weekend so far to be honest! Ralph had an accident very early on today and I'm pleased to say that he's fine, which is the most important thing. Things like that shouldn't happen but unfortunately sometimes they do. I'm very pleased for Zsolt that he is able to step in, having done the running here yesterday, he did a competent job given how few laps he's had. Fisichella did a good solid job. I think we've got a very good tire for the race, very stable and we are really looking forward to it. We're in a reasonable position to have a go at some points. Unfortunately for Zsolt he accidentally switched to the fuel-saving map on his timed lap rather than his in-lap - an easy mistake for a novice to make with so much going on - that possibly cost him a second."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:22.027): "I am very happy with that. It was a really nice lap and one that I enjoyed immensely. The track was getting a little quicker towards the end but nonetheless, that was a very clean lap. I knew going into the first corner that the lap had potential. The car felt very good under braking and as I went through turn two, I looked at my read-out on the steering wheel and saw that I was up on my quickest time from this morning. The team did an excellent job on the car and starting from 3rd on the grid is very important for us indeed given how closely fought the chase for the last few places in the championship is. The added bonus is that I am starting the race on the clean line and maintaining position into the first corner is the challenge. It will not be easy and nor will the race itself. The grid is certainly mixed-up with the championship fighters behind us and let?s hope for a good race tomorrow which rewards us with some much-needed championship points."
Justin Wilson (12th, 1:23.660): "My lap was an improvement on this morning and I am happy although it could have been better. There was more time in the car and I just needed more time to extract that. There is an awful lot to learn in what has been a short space of time with Jaguar but I am happy with progress to date. I am starting from the 6th row tomorrow and unlike Hockenheim, I want to avoid any dramas at the first corner and make it through to the end of the race. My mileage with the Jaguar is still very low and getting through a race distance tomorrow will be very valuable for the team and me. Anything above that will be a bonus."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A good day all-round that has seen us suffer no reliability problems and some pleasing results in the form of 3rd and 12th place on the grid for tomorrow?s Hungarian race. After a frustrating day yesterday we managed to achieve some good laps this morning that allowed us to work on our race strategy and balance. The qualifying pace of the car has been good for some time now but it was the race pace over the last couple of races that has let us down. I know that the team are working very hard to prepare the cars and it appears to have paid off today. Mark had a stunning lap and to be honest, there wasn?t much left that he could have extracted. With Justin we made a few mechanical changes to the car just before qualifying and these again appeared to improve the car?s performance. I know that Justin was slightly disappointed with his lap as he feels that there was more he could have taken from the package. With that said, we are pleased with where we are on the grid for tomorrow and of course we will be making the most of any opportunity to grab some points. Our aero package has improved dramatically since last year and coupled with the steps- forward taken by Michelin we are certainly more confident about the package that we have."
Jenson Button (14th, 1:23.847): "My lap was a little too messy I'm afraid so I'm not too happy. We made some set-up changes since warm-up but realistically I think I was pushing a little too hard and made a few mistakes. At the exit of the first corner I tried to get on the power as soon as I could but it just caused oversteer. In a few other places also I just wasn't as smooth as I could have been. I'm comfortable with our strategy for tomorrow but we really didn't want to be this far back on the grid. We have to just hope that the car can conserve the tires so they don't go off as quickly. It's a very difficult circuit to drive anyway but it's very dusty and the car is bouncing around all over the place. With fuel on board and the intense heat, tomorrow is going to be very demanding physically. We've demonstrated that we are quite good at fighting when we lose out on grid placings, but we have to take a hard look at what we can do to fight for something more tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve (16th, 1:24.100): "The car was much better today and the first two sectors of my lap were good, but we didn't manage to keep the front tires working until the end of the lap so the last sector was really poor. For the last four corners there was no front grip and that's where we lost all the time. It should be better for us in the race; the tires will take five laps or so to clean up and start working but after that the car should be quick. It's still going to be a tough race though."
David Richards, Team Principal: "We came here expecting to face a tough task and unfortunately today?s qualifying performance has rather proven the point. The race tomorrow will test everybody?s stamina and in this respect I feel confident that the car and our drivers are up to the challenge, although starting on the dirty side of the grid will not make their life very easy. Track temperatures are expected to be in the mid-forties, therefore tire endurance and general reliability will be critical factors. On the face of it, challenging for points looks a tall order but we?ve proven before that we make the most of opportunities."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Our day started reasonably well and we were expecting a stronger performance in qualifying after better practice sessions than yesterday. There is no denying that this is a poor qualifying result for the team. We have found a good balance on old tires but are struggling to get the car to work consistently in each sector for one lap. Jenson lost nearly four tenths in the middle sector as a result of errors and, like Jacques, suffered from far too much understeer in the last sector. We have had excellent reliability from car and engine so far and we know we will be stronger in the race, but we will be starting from the dirty side of the track so it will be a difficult."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Starting from 14th and 16th on the grid is going to be tough. However, I know Jacques and Jenson will push hard in the race - we must take every opportunity to pick up some more points."
Jos Verstappen (18th, 1:26.423): "It was a good lap and I have to say I don't really know what we could do to go any quicker. We have to be happy with today's result, bearing in mind the resources we have available to us. I think our strategy is the right one and we'll do the best we can tomorrow. It will be a tough race for everyone, I think."
Nicolas Kiesa (20th, 1:28.907): "We've simply run into a set-up problem with the chassis, which has resulted in a lot of understeer along with rear instability, and unfortunately, I don't have the information or the experience of Formula One yet to be able to assist in fully resolving it. We need to understand the problem in order to find the best solution. I'm obviously disappointed with this performance, but I'll just try to do my best in the race tomorrow with the main aim being to get to the chequered flag again."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Despite the hot and windy conditions today, both drivers did the best possible in this morning's interrupted practice sessions to prepare for final qualifying, the result of which was P18 and P20 for Jos and Nicolas respectively. I think tomorrow's race is going to be a test of both man and machine if these weather conditions prevail. Hopefully, if we stay reliable, we can score a point or two."
Olivier Panis (10th, 1:23.369): "I am really pleased with my lap. It was quite a strong run and I don't think we could get any more from the car. I made no mistakes and pushed to the limit, so now we have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. Top ten on the grid was the aim and we have achieved that today, so from there we are looking to score more points in the race - this is the what we need to achieve in the remaining races of the season."
Cristiano Da Matta (15th, 1:23.982): "Obviously that wasn't my best qualifying lap, but I decided to take a conservative approach after spinning a couple of times during the weekend. I have had some handling problems today with oversteer in my car and generally the grip levels have not been as good today as they were yesterday, which has affected the overall performance. From 15th on the grid, it's going to be a tough race, but nevertheless I'm going to push for points."
Keizo Takahashi, General Manager, Car Design and Development: "We came into this Hungarian Grand Prix expecting it to be the hardest of the four remaining races of the year, so I think that to get a seventh consecutive top ten qualifying result today was a good result. Going out second in the running order, Cristiano suffered a bit with dustier track conditions, but also had some oversteer, which affected his overall lap time. Olivier had a trouble-free lap to take tenth, achieving our top ten target for qualifying. I am hopeful that we can also achieve our race target, namely more points."
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