MALAYSIAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Giancarlo Fisichella (1st, 1:33.840): "I want to dedicate this win to Pietro, a childhood friend of mine who died last Sunday. This is the best pole I have had so far. Last year it was thanks to the rain, but today, everybody was up there and fighting hard for it. The engineers made some changes to the car overnight that really improved the balance, and from the first run this morning, I could feel we had the pace to fight for the first two rows. After that, it was a question of doing the best possible job in the qualifying session, and performing to the maximum at the right time. We did it, and tomorrow, I will only be thinking about the win."
Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:35.747): "It was obviously a very disappointing qualifying session for me. Fisico showed what the car can do at this circuit, and I should have been up there as well. We had a problem with the fuel rig before the final part of qualifying, and I didn't have the performance on my lap with new tyres at the end. Even so, I am not actually in too bad a position, and I will gain a place before tomorrow. The package actually feels good, and we are consistent with our pace, so I am not ruling anything our for tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It was fantastic for Giancarlo to grab pole in a very busy and exciting session. His performance this afternoon shows not just the innate performance of the R26, but also his own personal strength of character to bounce back from a difficult weekend in Bahrain. Unfortunately, Fernando was unable to make use of the car's full potential through no fault of his own. We suffered a problem with the fuel rigs which has meant his car does not have the optimum fuel load in it."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "It is always very satisfying to be on pole, and Giancarlo drove an excellent lap this afternoon in the high-pressure moments of the final session. From the team's perspective, we are in a similar situation to that we encountered in Sakhir, as our two cars were unable to express their full performance this afternoon after the fuel rig problem encountered by Fernando. From the engine's point of view, we have not had any unexpected incidents, and our measurements show that the car is coping well with the hot conditions, in terms of our choice of cooling level and gear ratios. We are ready for an aggressive race tomorrow, and starting from the front row, we have every hope of fighting for the win. As for Fernando, we have seen on numerous occasions that he is capable of extraordinary performances from less than ideal grid positions."
Juan Pablo Montoya (6th, 1:34.916): "I am happy with our qualifying result today, and we will see tomorrow with the different fuel loads just how well we have done. Hopefully the Michelin tyres will continue to perform, so far they have been good, but it is a very long and hot race. We have worked intensively on the set-up of the car and I am much happier with it. I am looking forward to a good race tomorrow where we can hopefully be challenging at the front."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th, 1:34.983): "I had a little bit of traffic on my out lap at the end of the session which disrupted my flying lap. As a result I didn't do as well as I could have, but I am pretty happy with the result. The car could still be better but I think that we have a competitive strategy and we will still be strong in the race tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "We are very comfortable with the outcome of today's qualifying session and we look forward to our race strategy unfolding."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "With Juan Pablo starting in fifth and Kimi in sixth position both our cars are in good position for tomorrow's race. With our strategy we should be in good shape."
Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:34.668): "I'll be starting from the sixth row which isn't too bad considering the penalty inflicted for the engine change. We're satisfied with this position and obviously I hope to end up in the points. I'd be really happy if I could get a podium finish. Considering the circumstances, our objective is not to lose touch with the drivers who presumably will be fighting for the championship. The fact that Alonso and Raikkonen aren't too far ahead on the grid certainly helps me a bit. It'll be interesting to see whether overtaking will be possible and how much fuel the others have on board. During unofficial practice we have seen that our race pace is fine. It's a pity that we've lost ten places on the grid because of this engine problem, but I would rather try and bring home a few points than end up with nothing at all."
Felipe Massa (16th, 1:35.091): "Obviously I'm very disappointed because I was convinced that I had the potential to compete with the front runners. We chose to do only the first part of the qualifying session so as to be able and start the race with as much fuel as we want and in order to save our new sets of tyres and keep a fresh engine for the race. This morning, when I was running on used tyres and with quite a lot of fuel on board, I felt that the car in this configuration was performing excellently. Tomorrow is going to be difficult for me, but in racing you never know what can happen: perhaps a weekend that got off to a bad start could end up quite well !"
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Considering our decision to have Felipe start from the back of the grid, our qualifying session was basically with only one car. This decision was taken so as to let him start the race tomorrow with a fresh engine, lots of fuel on board and new tyres. Michael was also obliged to change his engine and he'll be starting from the sixth row after having gone well in qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be a very tough race with reliability and a consistent tyre performance being the decisive factors. The championship has only just begun but even if we are now going through a difficult moment with the reliability of the V8 engine, what is important is to try and pick up as many points as possible. All kinds of things can happen for us tomorrow, but this is true for the others as well."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "This is very frustrating for us. We have had various problems with the engine but we'll get over them. I'm convinced of that. It's a pity, because during all the winter testing we were very reliable. Considering the amount of fuel that Michael had on board because of the ten-position penalty, his qualifying session went quite well. The tyres seem to be very consistent in their performance. We can expect a tough race but we'll do everything possible to finish in the points."
Ralf Schumacher (10th, 1:34.586): "I'm obviously glad that we are showing a better performance here compared to Bahrain and especially that we're starting to get some information about how the tyres work. Obviously this afternoon was a difficult one for me because I suffered from major understeer throughout the sessions. This morning during free practice I tried some different directions with my set-up for the team. That meant I was unable to prepare my set-up for qualifying and the race as I normally would. Nonetheless I hope we can race well tomorrow. We will analyse the data and I hope we can sort out the balance overnight. That way we can look forward to a better Sunday afternoon than we had in Bahrain."
Jarno Trulli (13th, 1:34.702): "It was a pity how things turned out today because we were showing much better pace than last week. It would have been good to be in the top ten here and I'm sure we could have improved further. We didn't have any warning about the engine until it suddenly let go. That can happen - especially at a tough circuit for engines like Sepang after we put in so much mileage at Bahrain. But at least our pace is looking a lot better. We expected that but now we can be sure about that fact as we can concentrate on tomorrow. Now I'm looking forward to a good race. We're starting at the back but we had some pretty good long runs in practice so we will try our best. It will be difficult but anything is possible."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Ultimately that was a disappointing end to qualifying, but we also showed a lot of promise. The cars today looked much more competitive than we were in Bahrain, and the level of performance we showed is pretty much what we expected from the car before the season started. We made the tyre work better than in Bahrain by a combination of changes we made and the conditions here. Unfortunately Ralf's engine failure means that he couldn't improve after one lap of the second session. Jarno lost some set-up time this morning so we have to accept the blame for him not being in the top ten. Despite the results, it was very good to show that when we have the tyre working we have a competitive package. We now have to make sure we do that 100 percent of the time. Tomorrow we have to look for a strong performance and aim to pick up points."
Nico Rosberg (3rd, 1:34.626): "I am really pleased to be starting from the second row for tomorrow as it is important for me to make a good first impression. The team has worked well and it is very good to have this opportunity to drive a great combination of chassis, engine and tyres and start so far up the grid. Getting here has not been easy at all, but I have been working really well with my engineers and the team generally. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think we will be strong and maybe have a bit of an edge engine-wise. It might be tough in the heat for some drivers, but I didn't find the conditions in Bahrain a problem at all."
Mark Webber (5th, 1:34.672): "The team has done a really good job again bringing a competitive car here, so congratulations to everyone at Williams, Cosworth and Bridgestone. I think the drivers went well too. We decided to run right at the end of the last session and did pretty well. From what we did today, I think we look in pretty good shape for the race tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It's great for the team to have both cars on the second row of the grid in only the second Grand Prix with our new partners Cosworth & Bridgestone, especially on such an aero-dominated circuit. The qualifying session second time around was a lot calmer as we have had a chance to review the various strategies employed and we ran a slightly different strategy between our cars in terms of tyre use. Nico's lap was fantastic, particularly considering this is only his second GP. Mark drove well and will be well-placed to benefit in tomorrow's race. Everything looks solid on the car for tomorrow reliability-wise and our lap times on long runs look really strong, so we are looking forward to a good race. Just as in Bahrain, it's great to be the fastest Bridgestone team again."
Bernard Ferguson, Cosworth: "We're delighted that the promise seen in Bahrain is continuing and pleased of course to be third and fourth on the grid, even more pleased to have achieved this with the same engines as there have been a lot of changes elsewhere this weekend."
Jenson Button (2nd, 1:33.986): "The team has done a fantastic job to get us on the front row of the grid and I have to thank them for that. Things were looking a lot less positive yesterday when we were really struggling to find a good set-up. A lot of hard work was done overnight and tomorrow looks promising, but let's wait and see. This is always a tough race but I'm certainly looking forward to it."
Rubens Barrichello (12th, 1:34.683): "This has been quite a difficult day for me. I was still unhappy with the set-up of the car in free practice then we encountered an engine problem and had to change. It was obviously very disappointing for me to know that I would lose 10 places on the grid but we also decided to change chassis to see if this would give us a better chance for the race. I'm starting from towards the back of the grid which means tomorrow will be tough but I'll give it my best shot and see what the race brings."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are delighted with Jenson's qualifying session; starting on the front row certainly bodes well for tomorrow. The performance was a real team effort as not only did Jenson do a stellar job behind the wheel but our engineers managed to improve the car tremendously from yesterday. Unfortunately Rubens had a difficult day. We had to change his engine prior to qualifying after a small problem developed in the late stages of free practice and we were unable to adapt the set-up of the car to his liking. We will continue to work hard with Rubens and believe he can still have a good race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We had a tough day today but I am very pleased that we got Jenson on to the front row of the grid. I would like to thank the team for their hard work in making that possible. Regarding Rubens, he felt down on power at the end of this morning's free practice session. We located a problem and decided to change the engine, but we were obviously unable to work on the set-up before qualifying. We are very disappointed for Rubens but we will do our utmost to give both drivers the best possible chance in tomorrow's race."
Christian Klien (9th, 1:38.715): "The first session went well, I did a good lap and was P7, but then the second session was really close. I was on my first set of tyres and thought my lap was okay, but then I saw the others were quicker and I had to go out once more on another set of tyres, which we were saving for tomorrow. Then I could go quicker and that was enough to get to the last session. The final part was a bit frustrating. We stopped in the box early as it was so hot, and amended our race strategy for tomorrow."
David Coulthard (11th, 1:34.614): "The car was a good improvement over what we had in the morning session and each of my runs were pretty consistent. We had a problem with the left rear tyre before the last run so I sat for a long time without the tyre blankets on. The car didn't feel as good on that set and was moving around a little more. Unfortunately I was behind Christian and in front of one of the Williams so I couldn't get any clear space to heat the tyres up. I made a little mistake and dropped the two tenths that I gained in the first sector and that was it, game over. Of course you want to go as fast as you can, but all things considered I'm not disappointed. I'll be pretty much at the back of the grid anyway tomorrow due to the penalty."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A pretty positive day today - we qualified ninth and eleventh, but obviously David has his penalty that he has to take and Christian will move up a place, but on low fuel we certainly looked competitive. In the final session with Christian, we elected to take a strategic approach to the race rather than focusing on lap time. With Michael getting his penalty, eighth is a decent place to be starting from and we're looking forward to tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve (14th, 1:34.752): "Somehow we could not really get the tyres to work on a low fuel load. On old tyres we were quick this morning, but we didn't practice with new tyres then and didn't gain enough from them in qualifying. The result is very disappointing for us."
Nick Heidfeld (15th, 1:34.783): "Certainly I am not happy with the result. On my second run the first sector time was good. But for the second and third sectors David Coulthard kept driving directly in front of me. That was it. We gain a few positions on the grid because some others need to change their engines, so we'll simply have to make the most of our possibilities come the race."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Five to six teams were fighting for the top positions. They were much closer together than before. But we had still expected to make it into the top 10. In the end we missed it by a few tenths of a second. Jacques was not happy with his lap and complained about the level of grip. Nick got stuck in traffic on his quick lap. Nevertheless, I am convinced the new qualifying procedure is a winner for drivers, teams and the fans."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "A disappointing result. In the second part of qualifying the times were very close and in a situation such as that if you don't get everything just right, you are out. As we will make some places on the grid, we will adapt our race strategy accordingly."
Christijan Albers (19th, 1:37.426): "I really have to give credit to the team, because in spite of our qualifying positions today, they really did a great job. Everyone is working very hard to squeeze more and more performance out of the car, and the gains are coming, slowly but surely. Maybe not as fast as the big manufacturer teams but then again, Formula 1 has probably never been so competitive. A little rain tomorrow wouldn't hurt, either, because we know we have good 'wet' and 'extreme wet' tyres. That would be a great equaliser, from our point of view. Now we have to focus on running the best race we can, and I'm really looking forward to collecting as much data as possible to help us prepare for Australia and the rest of the season."
Tiago Monteiro (20th, 1:37.819): "The good news is that my back felt much better today. Our physiotherapist did a great job with the treatment last night, and I was able to drive with a lot less pain. We still have little bit of work to do to fight our way further up the grid, but we knew from the start that we would be at a disadvantage on a high-downforce circuit like this, where aerodynamics play such a key role. There will be at least five cars behind us on the starting grid because of engine changes, and I'm looking forward to mixing it up with them for as long as I can. Hopefully, our reliability issues have been solved and we can be there at the end. After all, just finishing the race here is half the battle."
Adrian Burgess, Sporting Director: "It's been a difficult weekend so far, dealing with a new engine formula, and being the second weekend of the first two-race cycle has been challenging for a lot of teams. We've had a few mechanical problems, which we're trying our hardest to get under control but then again, we're not alone in that regard and we'll be quite happy starting 15th and 16th on the grid tomorrow, if I'm not mistaken. We still have a lot of hard work to do, but if we can give our drivers two cars that can get to the flag, they'll have a good afternoon's race in front of them. We've just got to keep our heads down, improve the car, improve our reliability, and see where we end up."
Scott Speed (17th, 1:36.297): "We did not do anything wrong in terms of my strategy for tackling the session. But I had traffic on both my quick laps. Basically, we have not shown good pace here since the start of the weekend and that shows up most in qualifying. In terms of aero, we are losing out down the straight, but that is partly due to the restriction we run under to comply with the rules."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (18th, 1:36.581): "This was a difficult session and the car felt different to the way it did in the morning. On top of this, we misjudged the tactic for my car a bit and we had not left enough time. So when I went out on new tyres I missed getting my timed lap into the 15 minutes by about ten seconds, so although it was quicker it did not count. We did not change anything from the morning, so now we have to find out why it felt different."
Gabriele Tredozi, Technical Director: "It is disappointing that we did not get any further than the first part of the session, even though we got quite close to doing so. Even so, this should not reflect on the team or the drivers, who all did a good job this afternoon. On the plus side, I think we are looking good for the race in terms of our tyre and fuel strategy. The race here is always tough one and I think that could work out quite well for us."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:39.011): "I believe that we did the best job we could today and I think that we achieved the car's best performance. Unfortunately we are still struggling in the mid-sector due to understeer, but we are running reliably and will have both cars on the starting grid tomorrow which is great. This is a high down-force circuit so we knew that we would have a hard race in Sepang, but we shall do our best tomorrow and hopefully be able to bring our two cars home."
Yuji Ide (22nd, 1:40.720): "For qualifying the car ran better than it did this morning, but the balance is still not good enough. I went off the track during practice because I tried to push too much but during qualifying the handling of the car felt much better. It is hot but everybody is running in the same condition so it is not such a problem. I will talk to the engineers and see what we can do to improve the car's pace and I hope that I will be able to do better tomorrow and get to the checkered flag. I am really looking forward to my second race here in Sepang."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "There hasn't been a big problem with the car so far, so I am relatively happy. We tried different set-ups this morning for qualifying and the race and we have a number of directions to decide upon tonight. We still have a lot of small issues to solve however we are learning so much more about the car by fixing those issues. Our qualifying time is similar to that in Bahrain, but we have more data from the car, so I hope that we will do little better than the last race. Takuma has familiarised himself with the characteristics of the car and is handling it well. Yuji was running our new front wing this afternoon was trying to get the feel for it. He of course still has a lot to learn, but he is doing well and the team has been doing a great job."