AUSTRALIAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Giancarlo Fisichella (2nd, 1:25.635): "I am very pleased to be second for the race tomorrow, considering I made some small mistakes on my quickest lap. For me, the rain this morning was a bit worrying because I had lost set-up time yesterday, and I didn't get a chance to drive the car in dry conditions before qualifying. But we had made some good changes with the engineers overnight, and the car balance in qualifying was good. My second timed lap was faster than the first because the tyres were taking a long time to warm up, and second is a good grid position. The R26 has very good pace on the long runs, so if we get a good start, then I think we can be very strong tomorrow afternoon."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:25.778): "I am pleased to be third because this is my best qualifying position so far this year. Even so, we still didn't achieve our maximum this afternoon, because I had Heidfeld's BMW in front of me during my quick lap, and he made a mistake in turn 13. That meant I caught him very quickly, and lost about half a second in the last two corners. The car felt very good though, and I am pleased with the consistent handling balance. In race conditions, I am confident we will be extremely competitive."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It proved to be another very hectic qualifying session. In addition to all the usual factors, we had to keep a close eye on the weather this afternoon. We are satisfied with our results: Fisi put in another faultless performance, while Fernando was unlucky to hit traffic on his quick lap. Nevertheless, we have strong starting positions and there is certainly a possibility of some strategic differences in the race. We are expecting it to come down to a three-way fight between Renault, Honda and McLaren."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "This is a very pleasing result after a day that was complicated by inconsistent weather conditions. The weather this morning meant we learned very little of use on the engine side, as the track was never properly dry. We therefore had to make our choices on gear ratios and cooling levels based on yesterday's running. When it came to qualifying, we have achieved a very strong team result, and it was pleasing to see both cars run trouble-free. We can legitimately hope our race strategy will prove extremely competitive, so the mood within the team is very optimistic this evening."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:25.822): "My qualifying today was OK but not perfect. I think we could have gone quicker if we had managed to get everything working, but the changing weather conditions made things a bit more of a challenge. The race tomorrow should be exciting, and I think we are in with a good chance. It should be possible for us to get our package to work perfectly, so we will see what happens. I'm looking forward to it that is for sure."
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th, 1:25.976): "I'm quite disappointed as I think we could have been on the front row if I hadn't messed it up when I was on the new tyres. I came into Turn Five a bit too aggressively, hit the kerb and lost it, and that was it. However the car feels great and I know we have a strong strategy for the race, but I have just made things a bit more difficult for myself, but we will see what happens tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Considering our race strategy we can be quite pleased with the outcome of qualifying. The variable track conditions throughout today made things more of a challenge but the team coped very well adapting to the changing weather. As one can imagine we are looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "I think we have quite a good basis with Kimi's fourth and Juan Pablo's fifth places. The front row was possible taking into account that Juan Pablo was fastest after the first two sectors and Kimi is a little bit less than two tenths from the front row. However we think we are in good shape for the race."
Michael Schumacher (11th, 1:28.228): "Obviously, we cannot be satisfied with this qualifying. In the second part, I used two sets of new tyres, but I did not get the most out of them. Clearly, the few drops of rain did not help just as I was on my second attempt, but the main problem today is that we were just too slow. Now we have to find out what happened and try and do something to be quicker tomorrow. The cooling fan that stayed on the car when I left the garage? It happened right after the red flag and this is always a frenetic time, so things like this can happen. Tomorrow, it will definitely not be nice to start from this far back on the grid, but we will try and make the most of the situation."
Felipe Massa (16th, 1:28.868): "What happened was a shame, because I was on a good lap at the time I went off. I had gone into Turn 11 when I lost the rear of the car. I touched the kerb and I could not correct it in time and that was the end for me. Fortunately, the car was undamaged, which is the most important thing. It should have been a good lap, but now we have to accept this situation and do a good race, just as we did in Malaysia."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was a disappointing qualifying session. In the second part, first we had Felipe going off track after he clipped a kerb with the left rear wheel, losing control of the car. Then Michael did not manage to get the most out of his first set of tyres and, at his second attempt, a few drops of rain meant he could not improve. This result does not reflect our potential but we have to accept what happened. Tomorrow, despite the handicap of less than ideal grid positions, we will do our best to make up the ground we have lost today."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We struggled a bit this afternoon. Track conditions were not ideal for us and maybe the tyre we have chosen is the right one for the race, but was not ideal for the temperatures we saw today. Now we have to hope that tomorrow it will be a bit warmer, the track cleans up and the tyre works well. At the moment, we are not completely sure what happened to Felipe, so we will have a look at the data to find the cause."
Ralf Schumacher (6th, 1:26.612): "I'm delighted to have qualified so high and it's a good achievement for Toyota to be looking so good after the problems we have had. Yesterday was hard but already this morning our pace looked better so we're pretty pleased with what we have achieved today. It was a difficult afternoon, especially when the rain came down at the end of Session 2, but the circuit improved quite well in the last session due to the wind. The tyres felt good and the car was better than I expected on heavy fuel at the end. We've been struggling for grip but the last session was the best I have felt all season. Tomorrow depends on strategy but my target is to score points and we look pretty good for that."
Jarno Trulli (10th, 1:26.327): "It's great that we are starting to improve but this has been a very unlucky weekend so far for me. I'm struggling with the flu and I am completely blocked up. When I started qualifying the balance and tyres felt okay and even though I had a lot of traffic in both sessions I still managed to do good laps. Then at the last run when I was going even quicker I had an electronic problem and damaged my wing when I ran over some debris. Nonetheless, of course I am delighted about the pace we have shown here. It's good for the team and good for everyone that we have shown we can fight near the front - just a little bit unlucky for me. I've always performed well in Melbourne but I have also endured very bad luck. I hope that can change tomorrow and that we can score some points."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "We're reasonably happy with qualifying. Ralf put in a fine effort to qualify on the third row but we're disappointed for Jarno. We had an electronic problem that damaged fifth gear on the in lap of his last run of Session 2 and on his fastest lap he also had his rear wing damaged by debris. I'm sure he could have done well in Session 3 but because we wouldn't have had time to fix it, we didn't go out to give us more options for tomorrow from a strategy point of view. The red flags made this session quite exciting but it's the same for everyone and it fell reasonably well for us in terms of where we were at the time. The car has been pretty good all weekend so overall many thanks to Bridgestone for their support in bringing along a tyre that works so well in these conditions. We now have to look for a solid points finish with both cars in the race."
Mark Webber (7th, 1:26.937): "It was a pretty interesting session today, the heart rate is always there with these sessions! The car was really good on low fuel, but we perhaps didn't get as much out of it as we should have carrying more weight. Ultimately while our last runs were good, I would have liked to be a position or two higher on the grid. That said, I feel good about tomorrow and I think seventh isn't such a bad place to start the race from - all the strategies are 'in' the cars now and we'll see where we are tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (15th, 1:28.351): "Qualifying was really difficult today for a combination of reasons. I kept coming across traffic in Q2 but if I slowed down to make some space, my tyre temperatures dropped because of the cold weather. The main problem was caused by the red flag coming out, which made the second session very busy when it re-started and when I found some space on the track, it rained! It just didn't go my way this time, but I'll do my best tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We really expected to have both cars in the top ten today. Nico got caught by the rain, but it's the same conditions for everybody - we simply didn't get the job done with his car. Mark was good for another position on his last run, but he encountered traffic. We are confident of the car's long run pace for tomorrow and are aiming for points with both cars. The new tyre Bridgestone have brought here is working really well."
Sean O'Mahony, Cosworth: "It was an uneventful day on the engine front. The wet conditions this morning didn't show up any engine driveability issues as is sometimes the case. It was good to see the drivers using maximum revs again in qualifying and with the relatively low ambient temperature of 19 C, the delivered engine power will have been the highest so far this season."
Jenson Button (1st, 1:25.229): "It's a fantastic feeling to be on pole here after such a manic qualifying session for everybody. With two red flags and the rain shower half way through, it was very difficult to stay calm and get our thoughts together. That's exactly what we did though and I'm so thrilled for the team. This is a very special moment for everyone in Honda as it's the first pole since they returned to works team status. I know all eyes will be on us for tomorrow but we didn't get much running done in race trim today. We know we're quick over a lap but we will only know how competitive we really are when we leave the grid tomorrow. All we can do now is give it our very best shot, aim for a faultless race and make the most of every situation."
Rubens Barrichello (17th, 1:29.943): "I'm obviously very disappointed with how qualifying went for me today because everything was running much more smoothly for us and the team have done a good job all weekend. At the end of the day, I just lost out to traffic after the restart in the first session. We have a tough mountain to climb tomorrow but we'll see what we can do to challenge for points nonetheless."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are absolutely delighted that Jenson is on pole for the first time this season. Both car and engine were working well as a result of some changes we made overnight and he pulled out all the stops to produced a fantastic lap. However, all three sessions were nerve-wracking to say the least and at no point did we feel entirely comfortable with our position. It all started with the red flag in the first session, which unfortunately caught Rubens out on his new tyre run. Subsequently, his best lap was ruined by traffic and he ran out of time. Disappointing, but we know he has the pace to have a good race tomorrow. The excitement continued with yet another red flag prior to Jenson setting a time at all, but thankfully he was able to get a clear enough gap before it started sprinkling in the dying minutes of the session. That weather uncertainty pushed us into setting a lap time early in the third session, and once it was clear that there was no longer the threat of rain, we focused on getting Jenson into clear air for his last new tyres. The rest is history! Obviously this is the best possible position to be in going into the race but let's see what tomorrow brings!"
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Well done to Jenson for an excellent qualifying session. He reeled off some consistently quick laps before putting in a fantastic effort for his pole position. Rubens was unlucky to get stuck behind a slower car in the first qualifying session but still has every chance of a good race tomorrow. Both engines have been fine, and we're excited about tomorrow's race."
David Coulthard (12th, 1:28.406): "I'm annoyed with that because I felt confident with the car this weekend. I had more laps available as a consequence of not finishing in Malaysia and had a good run yesterday. I locked up in Turn 3 on my last lap and lost some time. But, there you go, at least now we have more choice over strategy for tomorrow. You never quite know what to expect here with the changing weather conditions, I could have stayed in Scotland to get rain and wind like this... It should make tomorrow interesting."
Christian Klien (14th, 1:28.757): "It was difficult today as I struggled to find enough grip throughout the qualifying session. The warm up performance of the tyres didn't seem as good as usual and I had a lot of understeer going into corners. As a result, I couldn't go back onto the throttle as quickly as normal. I made it in to the second qualifying and my final lap was going well, but then there was some rain on the last corner and I went wide, running over the kerb and grass. I lost half a second there and that was it."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "We'll ultimately finish up eleventh and thirteenth on the grid after the penalties are taken into account, which is a respectable but slightly disappointing performance. It was unfortunate for David to miss getting into the last ten, as he looked as if he had to potential to do that today. However, we're in a good strategic position ahead of the race tomorrow. We have the ability to pick our fuel load tonight and evaluate what our competitors ahead have done."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:27.579): "I am disappointed. After our very strong showing this morning as well as in the first two parts of qualifying, a significantly better result was possible today. But in the end I didnít have a fresh set of tyres available so eighth was the best I could expect."
Jacques Villeneuve (9th, 1:29.239): "Since I will lose 10 positions because of needing a new engine, we concentrated wholly on race strategy in the third part of qualifying, running a representative fuel load. I just did some laps to make sure I got a time and with Trulli not running I finished ninth, which means I will start from 19 th position. The race pace that we have is very good so I am still optimistic for tomorrow as Felipe Massa proved in Malaysia what it is possible to do even when you have to start towards the back of the grid."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "For the first time both cars are in the top 10. As we disclosed yesterday, we changed the engine on Jacquesís car prior to qualifying. As he will lose 10 grid positions, he only did one outing in the final part of the session to achieve a lap time. With the right strategy he should still have a realistic chance to be competitive in the race. Nick, meanwhile, is in a strong position."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Both cars in the top 10 in qualifying: this is very positive even though Jacques will be penalised due to the engine change prior to the session. The handling balance of the F1.06 is good, so we should nevertheless be able to challenge in the race."
Christijan Albers (18th, 1:30.226): "Obviously, I'm not pleased with where we ended up. I ran into some traffic on my fast lap. Actually, I was surprised, because the car that held me up was a Honda and I couldn't believe how quickly I came up behind him. But overall, it wasn't too bad out there. I was encouraged by the performance of the tyres - they were a lot better than the ones I had yesterday. The guys worked hard to solve our problems and the car as a whole was working much better. It's a shame that I spun this morning, because it would have been nice to collect some more information in wet conditions, but these kinds of things happen. This is Formula 1, after all, and there are a lot of electronic aids and other mechanical things that operate outside the driver's control. But, as I said, the car is improving all the time and I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."
Tiago Monteiro (20th, 1:30.709): "It was very annoying, because we were running smoothly all weekend, making steady progress, and then you get to qualifying, with only 15 minutes to make the cut, and we got impeded by traffic. On both tentative laps, I couldn't get up to speed because of slower cars ahead of me. The track had a lot less traction than yesterday because of the rain, but I'm just really annoyed that I couldn't get a run at a clear lap. It's really frustrating, because this heat wasn't indicative of our true performance. We could have gone a lot faster."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "It's obvious from race to race that the gap between us and the cars in front of us is getting smaller, so that's a positive sign. We're moving in the right direction and we will continue working hard to improve. Both our drivers are putting in strong performances and the team is also doing a good job. With this kind of effort, I'm sure we will see some better results in the near future."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (13th, 1:28.999): "I have to say I'm satisfied with how this session went, even if we didn't make it through to the final shoot-out. We were really so close, but the rain came at just the wrong time and stopped us from setting a time and before that I had trouble with traffic. If we had left the garage one minute before...who knows? But its clear we had the potential to be in the top ten. The car was much better today, so it will be an interesting race tomorrow as overtaking is difficult here."
Scott Speed (19th, 1:30.426): "I had a good start to the session even if as expected it was tough to warm up the tyres. The second run was better still until I lost the car in Turn 14. We're not sure exactly what caused that, maybe it was down to the tyre pressures we were running. Up to that point, I was on a lap that would have easily been good enough for thirteenth or fourteenth place. My final lap was also good enough for fourteenth but I did it crossing the red light. All the same, I think we have a good race car for tomorrow."
Gabriele Tredozi, Technical Director: "A very difficult day with the red flags and rain, but the whole team did a very good job. I'm a bit disappointed for Scott, because his performance was very good too, even if circumstances meant he did not progress to the second part of the session. But the car is fast and has a good balance for the race and we have also worked out a good strategy. The team is coming together and has improved a lot and we have a good basis for the future."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:32.279): "It was another difficult day for us. I lost about three-quarters of the practice session running due to a hydraulic problem, but the boys in the team did a great job to recover as much time as possible and get me out onto the track for a few laps in the wet conditions. The track dried out considerably for the qualifying session and I tried my best but unfortunately encountered traffic on my fastest lap. It would have been nice to make up a couple more tenths, but I think under the circumstances I am happy."
Yuji Ide (22nd, 1:36.164): "I was struggling to find the right setup of the car. I used two sets of tyres but they didn't warm up as I wanted it to so I went off the course few times. I couldn't get much grip for some reason so we will find out the cause of it and hopefully we could have a good race tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "The weather did not help us today at all and we had some problems throughout the day. We were not able to test set-ups for the car very much and Yuji spun a few times during qualifying. I must say today was the toughest qualifying for us so far. However, we shall discuss all of this in our overnight meetings and we should be able to have a better set-up for the race tomorrow."