BAHRAIN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:31.702): "A pretty disappointing result for me really. The qualifying session was very busy, like we expected, and as I had said before the weekend, it didn't change too much for me because the aim was still to complete three quick laps during the hour. The car felt good, and we didn't make any changes to the front wing or anything, but I made a mistake on my first timed lap at the end of the session, and that meant I had to do another one. Obviously, the tyres weren't in such a good condition by then, which meant I ended up only P4. Still, the second row is not too bad, we know the car is quick, so let's see what happens tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (9th, 1:33.496): "I am really disappointed to be only ninth. We saw the car was competitive in the two qualifying Heats, as we could set good times quite easily. Things were running smoothly, until I put the new tyres on and suddenly the performance was not there - I lost a lot of speed, and just couldn't do the times we should have been capable of. We don't know why yet, so we will be looking carefully tonight. Still, I think it was quite an exciting hour for the spectators with lots happening on track, and we have a good strategy. Even from ninth, we can have a strong race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "There was a lot for the teams to learn today to maximise their performance under the new rules and as always, we did some things well, and there is still room to improve on others. With Fernando, we fortunately left ourselves a safety margin at the end of the Super-pole session. This meant that when his first lap on new tyres was not competitive, he was able to continue on a second quick lap. Giancarlo lost speed as soon as he put new tyres on, and we do not yet know why. From a team point of view, we are on the second row with what we believe to be a competitive strategy which bodes well. Our main concern is with identifying and resolving the problem with Giancarlo's car before assessing his chances."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "We saw plenty of incident during the new qualifying format but in the end, for the Renault team, the deciding factor was once again the ability to extract maximum performance over a single timed lap - just like last year. Fernando made a mistake on his first lap and set his fastest time on the second, which puts his relatively high grid position in a favourable light. Things were less positive for Giancarlo, who did not have a normal level of performance at his disposal as his car lost speed during the final part of the Super-pole session. We will be investigating this closely tonight to find the reason. As for the overall picture, we find ourselves in a very similar situation to last year, with the same question marks at the same point of the weekend. I think the real picture will only begin to be clear after the first dozen laps of the race."
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th, 1:32.164): "I think we did a good job with the new format, and it ran very smoothly for me. I am a little surprised to finish so far up as we had not been looking good in the earlier sessions when I have been suffering from understeer, but that is what the car could do when it counted. I think we have a good strategy for the race, so we will have to wait and see what will happen tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (22nd, No Time): "There is not much I can say about today. It is very disappointing to not even complete one timed lap as I believe that the team had a good strategy for the new qualifying system, and I could have been amongst the quickest. Although it is far from ideal to start from the back of the grid, there are overtaking opportunities at this track, and I have done this before and still achieved good results. We will just have to see what happens in the race tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A painful first experience of the new qualifying. Our overall competitiveness is still difficult to judge as the fuel load used for the final qualifying still plays a significant role in respect of race strategy. Juan Pablo's set up is still not perfect and Kimi's car suffered a rear suspension lower wishbone failure which was caused by a manufacturing fault, which, after many thousands of kilometres of testing, is difficult to come to terms with."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "It is a shame that Kimi suffered from a rear suspension failure. In more than 8000km of testing we have not experienced such a breakdown. We have what we think is a good strategy and a solid basis for a good performance in the race and our speed so far looks OK."
Michael Schumacher (1st, 1:31.431): "Amazing result. To be honest I wasn't expecting to be on pole, I thought we might be in touch with the leaders but not in front of everybody, so it really is a wonderful surprise. I'm so happy for the team because they all worked so hard to achieve this result, especially when one considers where we were at the end of last season. What happened in 2005 really hurt and it forced us to react. We have worked very hard and I would also like to thank all the test team for what they have done during the winter months. It is always very difficult to reverse a negative trend but last year's troubles have had the effect of making the team even more closely knit together: this is the mentality that makes Ferrari such a special team. Today I've also equalled a rather special record, that of the number of pole positions set by Ayrton Senna: something I'm very proud of."
Felipe Massa (2nd, 1:31.478): "This is a day that won't be easy to forget. To qualify on the front row at my first race with Ferrari makes me feel very proud of myself and for what the team has managed to achieve. It's a pity that the traffic on the last lap prevented me from perhaps improving on my time: these are things that happen with this new qualifying format. Maybe next time it might be my turn to take advantage of the situation ! What is important is that now we have a competitive package right from the start of the season. Tomorrow it's going to be a difficult race: we know that our rivals are very strong but we'll give it everything we've got to try and bring home the best result possible."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Obviously this first qualifying session of the season is very positive for us. It's been since the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix that we haven't managed to put both cars on the front row of the grid. I am particularly pleased for Michael because today he has equalled Ayrton Senna's record of pole positions, and for Felipe who qualified on the front row for the first time in his career. Over the last few months the team has worked very hard and today we have seen the results of all this effort. I would also like to thank all our partners, especially the technical ones like Bridgestone and Shell. Now we have to face the most challenging part of the weekend, the race. During the 57 laps we will have to deal with all kinds of changing circumstances. Reliability will be the crucial factor. Even if it is undoubtedly early days yet before one can come to any kind of conclusion, it is certainly a matter of fact that now we have a competitive car-engine-tyre package that can compete at the highest level."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Obviously the final qualifying session was with race fuel so until the race starts to develop nobody can be sure where they are in the sense that we don't know what strategy the others were on. Knowing the fuel we have and the strategy that we have chosen, I'm quite encouraged by the performance today. It's a good start. If we can hold our positions on the front of the grid tomorrow, then I think we can expect a good race."
Jarno Trulli (14th, 1:33.066): "There wasn't a lot more that I could do out there today. In the first session I was on a quick lap when the red flag came out so I had to abandon that. When we started again we hit traffic so it was not very quick but it was good enough to make it through. The two laps I put together in Session 2 were both good laps and they were about as quick as I could have expected. From a driving perspective, the new qualifying system doesn't change very much in the first two sessions. You need the same kind of approach, putting together a lap when it matters with the track getting quicker all the time. Of course there is traffic that we didn't have last year so timing is important. Still, our performance shows that as a team we have a lot of work to do to make it up to the level of the top teams."
Ralf Schumacher (17th, 1:34.702): "It is obviously very disappointing that we just missed out on making it through Session 1 today. I was just starting a flying lap when the red flags came out. Then, when everyone went out for their quick laps I was at the back of the pack. I just lost the temperature in the tyres and I couldn't warm up the tyre again before my lap. That meant that I was sliding around for most of the lap and I was not particularly surprised that I didn't make it through to the other sessions. A disappointing day, then, that confirms that we have hard work ahead to force our way up the grid. But it is very early in the season and the full picture of relative performance will only emerge after the first few races."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "That was a disappointing qualifying session, especially given our performance this morning. After the red flag in the first session, Ralf got caught in traffic and therefore set a time that meant he didn't make it through that session. With Jarno we had reasonable expectations of qualifying in the top ten. But with the track getting quicker and quicker than this morning we didn't seem to be able to improve our lap times as the others did. So it is a disappointing result but it's all part of the learning process. We have to look to get both cars home to the finish tomorrow, hopefully to pick up some points and also hopefully to learn about the performance of the car in race conditions on our tyres. We're free to play with race strategy so we have to look tonight to have the best strategy to get both cars into the points."
Mark Webber (7th, 1:33.006): "Not a bad effort at all. We have still a lot of work to do but we could not really have asked for much more today, considering a few teams have been testing on this track in the last two weeks and have, of course, a better an understanding of the conditions here. We will learn a lot more tomorrow in the race, so let's see how it goes. The new format for qualifying is a bit of a mess for the drivers and the teams but hopefully it looked okay on TV."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:32.620): "I am not too unhappy about today's result, even if qualifying was a bit chaotic as it was a new format to everybody. Despite this, I still enjoyed myself. In hindsight, I could have performed a little bit better. The main mistake happened when I pushing very hard on a fast lap towards the end of the session, but I guess it happens. I didn't make the final part of qualifying which means I will be able to fuel the car as I wish. I'm looking forward to the race and hope I can do better."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was an interesting afternoon with the new qualifying format for the first time and a credit to all the parties - Williams, Cosworth and Bridgestone - to prepare well for all the changes. All the teams adopted many different strategies for qualifying and it will be interesting to assess the approaches taken. Nico was a little bit unlucky he didn't make it to the final session, but he's not in a bad place to start given our long run potential. Mark did a good job to finish seventh. We have strong long run performance and it will be interesting to see how quick everyone actually is tomorrow and what strategy teams choose."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "I'm pleased to say Cosworth had no engine problems throughout the day. It was exciting to see a new format to qualifying. The new system was quite a challenge, particularly for the drivers, but both did well and although Nico didn't ultimately make it into the final session, he did put in an extremely good lap in the first session."
Jenson Button (3rd, 1:31.549): "I'm reasonably happy with third place. We had a good qualifying strategy but it was difficult to be consistent and get good clean runs because of the track conditions. The wind was an issue again today but it was gusting in a different direction to yesterday, so the track was still a bit of an unknown quantity. Looking at how the new qualifying panned out, for me it was very exciting. It was non-stop for me in the car and it must have been great for the fans watching at home. Traffic is always an issue with this format but we'll get used to it I'm sure and I think the team did a great job of handling what must have been a very pressured session. On to tomorrow now when we'll see how everyone's fuel strategies play out. It should be a great race and I'm looking forward to it."
Rubens Barrichello (6th, 1:32.579): "I think it was okay to be 6th today because I was struggling big time with the set-up of the car through yesterday and this morning. We analysed the problem earlier today and we felt sure there was room for improvement, so we changed things for qualifying and it was a little better. Now we just need to see what the race brings tomorrow."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "From where we were standing this must have been one of the most exciting and tense sessions we experienced to date! It all started early with the red flag in Q1, that forced us to quickly adapt our running plan to ensure we were going to make it to the last elimination round, which we did and came very close to being on the front row. Jenson had to contend with traffic and did a great job fighting for pole all the way. Rubens wasn't entirely happy with the balance of his car, nevertheless is in a good position on the third row. Although we just went through our first qualifying session of the year, there are still a lot of unknowns in terms of strategy for tomorrow. As we said prior to the event, we look forward to the race when the picture will become much clearer!"
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "The new qualifying format was an interesting challenge! Both drivers showed their experience and did a calm and solid job. Until the other teams' fuel loads become clear tomorrow in the race it's hard to make a prediction, but I think we are in quite good shape. The engine is running well and we're looking forward to the race."
Christian Klien (8th, 1:33.112): "The new format is really challenging - there's a lot more pressure on you with the different heats. The first and second parts were pretty good and I was comfortable with the car's performance. The difficult part was the third one when I had more fuel in the car along and new tyres. The car's balance was altered and the heavier fuel load meant the braking points changed too."
David Coulthard (13th, 1:32.850): "It was obviously pretty tricky in the first 15 minutes when all the cars were queuing up after the session was re-started. In the second one, the car had too much oversteer and so, to be honest, I wasn't surprised that I didn't get through to the final ten. I wasn't comfortable with the car's balance and so couldn't attack the corners as I would have liked. Christian did well to get through though."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "I think that was respectable performance, we've got a reasonable strategy for tomorrow and, as it's the first time using new FIA regulations, it's going to be very interesting to see how the race turns out tomorrow. David being out of the top ten means he can now adjust fuel levels for tomorrow, which is beneficial, so I think he'll be in good shape. The team has all been working very hard all winter and throughout this weekend so hats off to them for all their efforts here today."
Nick Heidfeld (10th, 1:33.926): "To start with, it was great that I was able to make it to the final part of qualifying. It was quite tricky to find the right set-up this afternoon in order to get the best out of the tyres over just one lap. But that worked well for us in the first 15 minute session, better still in the second and even better in the final part. The first two sectors of my lap were very good, but then I pushed a little too hard in Turn 13. I braked late and as I came off the racing line I lost a lot of time. Otherwise I could have qualified as high as fifth, so naturally I am a little disappointed."
Jacques Villeneuve (11th, 1:32.456): "Our initial strategy for the second session was to do only one run at the end when the track should have been at its best, but then we changed to one run at the beginning and one at the end. Unfortunately I left the pits too late and could only do one lap before the finish, and today the time always came on the second lap."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This is the best qualifying format that we have ever had. First, two knockout rounds, and then a final session in which everything is at stake all over again. That was really great, an hour of intense action. This is exactly what was missing in recent years. It was also a good start for our new team. We had no technical problems whatsoever, and now it will be crucial for us to get the best out of our grid positions."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "The new 'knockout' qualifying format is pretty exciting! The timing of each run is the biggest challenge. Jacques got stuck in traffic and then just dropped out of the top 10 at the end of the second session. And Nick lost some time and therefore grid positions in the final sector of his last lap. But overall we are happy with our new car and its performance under the new qualifying regulations."
Christijan Albers (18th, 1:35.724): "We had some problems with the wind today, which made things quite difficult at times. The first run was not so bad, but on the second run I really had some problems with traffic. It was really just too busy during the warm-up procedure on the first lap, which in turn made the car feel a little bit nervous. That's why I wasn't able to improve on my time, which should have been somewhere in the one-thirty-fours, easily, so it's a shame. But I'm still looking forward to tomorrow, because even though we might be down a little bit on qualifying pace, I think we'll be stronger in the race. I have a lot of trust in the car and in the team."
Tiago Monteiro (19th, 1:35.900): "The changing conditions caught us a bit by surprise, so my first lap wasn't as good as it should have been. My front wing adjuster broke on that run, and then a subsequent technical problem in the garage prevented me from getting out in time and putting in a real qualifying run. Needless to say, this disappointed me, but worse things can happen. Now I just have to focus on having a good race tomorrow, and I'm sure everyone on the team will be motivated to do better."
Adrian Burgess, Sporting Director: "It was our first attempt at a new qualifying system and so far, we've seen a few strange events happen, which has been interesting for all of us. We're not particularly happy being 18th and 19th and we know we've got a lot of work to do. There's a lot of potential in the car, so I think there might an opportunity for us to do something tomorrow. We'll just keep trying to improve as we go on."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (15th, 1:33.416): "It's been a complicated and difficult qualifying as the track conditions were totally different to yesterday. This meant we made many changes to the set-up as the car handled very differently. Qualifying was a bit chaotic with the red flag, but although I'm a bit disappointed not to make it through to the final part of the session, we have planned a fairly conservative strategy for the race, which is the only thing that matters. I definitely like this qualifying format. It's already been exciting today."
Scott Speed (16th, 1:34.606): "I'm used to qualifying with all the other cars out on track at the same time, but all the same it did feel a bit different, this being Formula One, with a bit more pressure. The first part of the session went very well, although I got a bit held up at the end of it by Jacques. Then, in the second part, the tyre temperatures were not quite where we wanted them and I got pulled in to the weighbridge, which meant I didn't get a second run in. So, maybe we could have gone a bit quicker in the second part, but now we can play with the fuel load, which puts us in a strong position for the race."
Gabriele Tredozi, Technical Director: "It's been an exciting weekend so far, with a new team and today, the new qualifying rules. The new format definitely produced some excitement and unexpected situations with the red flag. It was a good show of the sort we have not seen for many years in qualifying. We can pleased with our overall performance and the cars went well. The drivers made no mistakes to put us in a good position from which we can now look at a wide range of strategy options for the race."
Takuma Sato (20th, 1:37.411): "Well done to everyone in the team - I am delighted with the result. Both cars qualified and we are on the grid for the race tomorrow, which was our target for this weekend of course, but is a great achievement by the team. We have to work hard on improving our performance going forward, but for now we have accomplished everything that we wanted to achieve so far this weekend and we hope that both cars have a good race tomorrow."
Yuji Ide (21st, 1:40.270): "Everything happened so quickly in the qualifying session; it felt like it happened in few minutes. It was so short that I didn't have time to be nervous or excited. My first F1 qualifying time is not fast and even though I am not in the last position, I am the practically the last! However, I am confident that I could get a higher qualifying position as the season progresses and I am very happy to be able to race tomorrow and will do my very best to finish the race safely. I am very grateful to the mechanics for their hard work in making sure that I am on the grid tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I am glad we will be able to have both cars on the grid tomorrow. Yuji had a hard time during the practice and the red flag made the situation tougher for him, but I am glad he will be on the starting grid. We have to move up step-by-step, and I am glad that we will be able to make our very first step forward into the F1 world tomorrow."