MARCH 5, 2005
AUSTRALIAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Rubens Barrichello (12th, 1:45.481): "It was a tough day as it was difficult just to keep the car on the track. Myself and Michael faced the same problems, Michael even more than me. It will be impossible to recover all the lap time we have lost today in tomorrow's session. But we are in good shape. I think the new weekend format means that qualifying is less important in terms of its effect on the race and so I am still optimistic about our chances of getting a good result."
Michael Schumacher (18th, 1:57.931): "All I can say about today is that we were unlucky. The weather has so often played in my favour that I can accept it was not the case this time. I had seen the rain clouds approaching and I hoped they would stay away a bit longer, but it didn't happen and we only just had enough time to fit the normal rain tyres, when extreme wets would have been a better choice. Obviously this result will impact greatly on the race. All the same we will try and bring home some points or even something better. I don't think a podium is out of the question, but it will be very difficult. Who knows what the weather will bring tomorrow! The race is long and all we can do is try our best to remedy this situation."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This first qualifying session was turned into a lottery because of the changing weather conditions. On Michael's car we only just managed to switch from dry to rain tyres, but with the downpour that hit the track as he was on his quick lap, just doing a time was an achievement. Rubens went out on the extreme wet tyres and effected a damage limitation drive. Although there is a second session tomorrow, it is clear that today's result compromises our chances for the rest of the weekend. All in all, the new rule has introduced a further element of uncertainty and today that situation has been immediately confirmed. This state of affairs was down to chance and we can only accept the situation, even though obviously, we are not happy about it."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "The conditions absolutely worked against us and so there was nothing more we could have done. Given that the rain arrived just as Michael was about to go out, I think the guys did a great job to get the rain tyres on the car in time to send him out. We did not expect the rain to get so heavy so quickly. It takes around 2 minutes to do an "out" lap, and in that short time the track became extremely wet."
Jenson Button (8th, 1:41.512): "The weather conditions haven't exactly given us the best start to the first qualifying session of the season. Judging by the way the weather turned again after my run I was luckier than I thought I would be. The car was very bad this morning when the track was damp and we were off the pace. We changed the rear-end for qualifying and it was a big improvement. The weather has thrown things slightly for us but at least we know we are heading in the right direction again. I won't make any predictions for tomorrow though because I'd say today has left everything wide open."
Takuma Sato (20th, No Time): "It's been a very mixed day for us. The car stopped at the end of free practice with an electrical problem and the wet weather didn't help our progress. The track started to dry again early in the qualifying session but when it was time for me to leave the garage the rain started again and was very heavy. With intermediate tyres it was impossible to drive the car in those conditions. I tried my best in very difficult circumstances but there was nothing I could do. All I can do now is try my hardest from the back of the grid for the race on Sunday."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "In variable track conditions, this afternoon's qualifying was always going to be quite a lottery. With the track starting damp, Jenson's early position in the qualifying order put him at quite a disadvantage. Despite a good lap on wet tyres it dried very quickly and he was pushed down to eighth position. Just as the circuit had dried enough for several runners to use dry tyres, a heavy rain shower interrupted the running and no-one else was able to improve, fortunately leaving Jenson in a reasonable position for tomorrow's qualifying. However given the large time gaps between the positions, the new aggregate qualifying format it is unlikely to lead to substantial changes for tomorrow's race. Although today's running was difficult due to the mixed weather conditions and some car problems, we were fairly happy with our pace at the end of the morning and will now focus on our strategy for tomorrow's race. Takuma then followed out shortly after the start of the heavy rain on intermediate tyres, but with the car aquaplaning right from the pit exit he crashed at turn eight on his out lap. We will have to see from the level of damage whether we will repair his race car in time for tomorrow or use the T-car."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Taku obviously had no luck today - the weather in qualifying and he had an electrical problem in Free practice. Jenson didn't have much luck either. Having said that we have concentrated up to now on the most important part of the weekend, the race. So let's see what we can do tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (1st, 1:33.171): "I did a very good lap in difficult conditions: the track was still damp in lots of places, and I had to push right to the limit without going over it. Running on dry tyres in the damp always makes it difficult to find enough grip, but the car was well balanced for my lap. I am looking forward to tomorrow; with the unusual order today, the second qualifying session and race will be very interesting."
Fernando Alonso (14th, 1:47.708): "The conditions were almost impossible: even with full wet tyres, the car was aquaplaning on the straight and it continued raining until the end of my lap. I did my best to do a clean lap, but as I am likely to start in the lower half of the grid, it will be a difficult race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We had good and bad luck this afternoon: without a doubt, Giancarlo was on track in the best conditions in the session, while Fernando arguably suffered the worst. Nevertheless, the two drivers managed the conditions well and gave strong performances. We now look ahead to second qualifying and the race. We are expecting the rain to continue intermittently until the early hours of Sunday morning, which means there are chances that the circuit will still be damp for second qualifying - although we think it is unlikely to rain during that session. But it is certainly fair to say that the abnormally large gaps after first qualifying may lead to some interesting choices on strategy."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "If there was one thing we expected the first qualifying session to show, it was a first clear indication of the relative performance of ourselves and our rivals. However, because of the weather this afternoon, we do not have this information - and it is also important to stress that we have only completed half of the qualifying session. From a technical point of view, it was a trouble-free day and the widely varying track conditions throughout the day, from fully dry to fully wet, provided us with the possibility to collect information about almost every eventuality we may encounter tomorrow."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:36.717): "It was a tricky session today, with the track actually changing before my eyes. Not typical Australian weather, really! Anyway I am happy with my lap and I am happy I put it behind me when the track was drying. It's been tough to get the car right for qualifying, as you've got to pick the right tyre, the right tyre pressures, the correct balance and one lap is not easy on anyone, neither drivers or engineers. In such conditions it's very easy to look stupid, if you get it wrong. I can say now I am halfway through my qualifying attempt I am going to sleep well tonioght and will finish it off tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (7th, 1:39.717): "I wasn't happy with my lap because I went wide and consequently off track at turn 12, and lost quite some time there, but in hindsight I must admit it wasn't bad as the track was still dry. We decided to use intermediate tyres and that was definitely the right choice for the track conditions at that time. Let's see now what the weather conditions will be like tomorrow for the second qualifying."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Obviously it was an interesting day with the weather. Both our cars ran before the track was at its driest so we took intermediate tyres for both of them. With today's result we are in a good position for tomorrow's second qualifying. The reliability of our cars is good and we are looking forward to consolidate our position for tomorrow's race."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The first qualifying session of the 2005 season was a spectacular weather roulette the results of which were not representative of true car potential. Gaps from position eight onwards are so big that it is unlikely that the time could be made up in Sunday's qualifying. That means that we are going to have a very interesting starting line up for the race. Both our drivers achieved relatively good positions. From the technical side there were no problems today."
Kimi Raikkonen (10th, 1:44.997): "Unfortunately my run was affected by the weather, and we are all disappointed as we have been looking strong so far this weekend. The gap to the front is too large for us to achieve any major improvement in the qualifying session tomorrow. However in the race anything can happen so we will see. At least we were the fastest of the cars in the last part of the qualifying session."
Juan Pablo Montoya (11th, 1:45.325): "That was a real shame for us today, and I think the only guy who is really happy is Fisichella. I did my best but it was so slippery out there and the car went sideways a couple of times. We will of course do our best tomorrow and despite probably having to start the race far down we should have a good chance, and as today has shown anything can happen."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Obviously it's always disappointing when things out of your control influence the outcome of a qualifying session, particularly as we have been looking competitive so far this weekend. However we still have tomorrow's final qualifying session and race to look forward to where hopefully the track conditions will remain constant."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Today's qualifying was a lottery. However, Kimi and Juan Pablo made the best out of the difficult situation. They both performed extremely well. Tomorrow it's going to be exciting and conditions in the second qualifying could be the other way around."
Jacques Villeneuve (4th, 1:36.984): "The weather made things pretty difficult for us today. When it was my turn it was a very tough decision which Michelin tyre to go for. It was a choice between intermediates and dries, so we went for the latter. As you saw, it was slippery on them during my out lap but I was fortunate not to hit anything when I spun. After that I wasn't too aggressive on my qualifying lap. It was pretty good, so in the end I guess it was our lucky day."
Felipe Massa (19th, No Time): "There's not much to say. It was a clear decision to go for dry tyres by the time my turn came about, but it began to pour with rain literally as I came past the pits on my quick lap. It was very slippery, and of course there was no point to finish the lap. I just hope I am luckier in the race."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The first of the new-style qualifying sessions brought us the sort of weather challenge we have rarely encountered before. Jacques had to make a difficult choice on tyres and was the first to go for grooves, and he got the maximum out of the car. Felipe had an easier choice given the conditions, but then his run was ruined by the sudden downpour, so he had no chance."
Christian Klien (5th, 1:37.486): "In the final seconds before going out, it is always difficult to make your tyre choice in conditions like these. It was very wet and I was the eighth car out, but I made a late decision to go out on intermediates and think that was the right call. I went out not really knowing what to expect, but my lap was all right and I don't think I made any mistakes. Obviously it is difficult to say whether the chassis balance was better than before but I was happy with the set-up given the conditions. But this is just the start. I'll have to see how I do in tomorrow's final qualifying."
David Coulthard (6th, 1:38.320): "Although my position is good, my lap time was quite disappointing. My car had quite a lot of oversteer throughout the lap so I wasn't able to attack fully. If conditions had been like that during a test session I would have come straight back in, but obviously you don't have that luxury in qualifying - you just have to deal with it. Tomorrow is another day, though, and I'll do my best to finish and give the team some points in its first race."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "We were lucky with the weather conditions, which dictated the outcome of this session. However, having both cars in the top ten is a great start to the qualifying session."
Jarno Trulli (2nd, 1:35.270): "I could not have asked for a better start to the new season with my new team than to be second quickest in what was a very hectic qualifying. We were lucky with the track conditions, but even though I had a benefit, it was still a quick lap compared to the runners who were out in similar conditions. We have been working on different testing in the practice sessions and the car has been strong. The performance is certainly there. With the new aggregate qualifying rule, we have a big advantage today, so I hope to translate that into points in tomorrow's race. But first we have second qualifying in the morning and as we have seen today, anything can happen."
Ralf Schumacher (17th, 1:51.495): "It was a bit difficult today with the session turning into a real lottery for everyone. Some drivers got luckier than others and unfortunately I was one of the guys with the bad luck. The track was extremely wet and there was a lot of aquaplaning. With the new qualifying format and the huge difference in lap times, it could be that Giancarlo and Jarno will make up the front row of the grid tomorrow. Although it was a day to forget for me, it is obviously good for the team that Jarno has such a strong position ahead of the decisive qualifying in the morning."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A very eventful qualifying session that turned out to have mixed fortunes for us. Jarno got nearly the best of the track conditions, but I still think his lap was exceptional to be P2 with a significant time advantage over the drivers who went out for their runs at around the same time. That time gain will prove to be hugely beneficial for final qualifying in the morning. Unfortunately, the rain towards the end of the session left Ralf with some of the worst conditions and that made his job very difficult. We have to see what conditions we will have tomorrow but for Jarno it looks highly promising indeed and we need to look to get the car on the front row tomorrow."
Narain Karthikeyan (9th, 1:44.357): "Qualifying was a bit tricky for the rookies today as it was so slippery. I am happy with what I have done. Obviously I could have pushed a bit harder but I am learning step by step."
Tiago Monteiro (13th, 1:46.846): "It was quite tricky as you do not know what to expect and you have to push on your first lap out. However, the wet conditions were the same for everyone, but as a rookie it is not the easiest solution. I have made a few mistakes with braking and almost went out twice as I was pushing and trying to do my best."
Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director: "It was quite an interesting session with mixed conditions. We started out in heavy rain which obviously put us behind a little bit as the track dried, but then with the downfall, we had a bit of luck. It is a great start. It is nice to be 9th even though we would be very lucky to finish there tomorrow."
Christijan Albers (15th, 1:49.230): "I made a couple of small mistakes on my run this afternoon, but I think it was not too bad for my first F1 qualifying session, particularly as the track was so wet. Despite the fact we have no experience with the full 2005 aero package, I felt it was okay in the running we did today. We can certainly work with it."
Patrick Friesacher (16th, 1:50.864): "This is my first time at a Formula One race, and I have never done anything like it before. It was quite difficult, and I know I have a lot to learn. It is the first time we have run the car in full 2005 specification, added to which, it was raining and this is a new track to me. I particularly want to thank the guys - they did an awesome job to modify the car to 2005 specification in the time available. As far as my performance today is concerned, it is always possible to do better, but generally speaking, I am satisfied with what has been accomplished so far."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "After a traumatic week spent dealing with matters that could, and should, have been sorted out well before the Melbourne race, it was a great relief for Minardi to open its 2005 campaign and be able to focus on the racing. After a mammoth overnight effort, the team's mechanics were able to modify two PS04B chassis to 2005-compliant specification. It really does show the grit, determination and professionalism of the team. Both Christijan and Patrick are fulfilling their dreams of becoming Formula One drivers, and acquitted themselves brilliantly under the circumstances. This is particularly relevant when one considers that neither of them had driven the car in this specification before today, let alone in the wet. I cannot praise them highly enough for their support and courage over the last few days. Both cars ran faultlessly, and all things considered, I am truly proud of the drivers, and of the whole team, for what has been nothing less than a sterling effort."