EUROPEAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:29.819): "I had a very good lap today. We tried something a little bit different with our approach to qualifying, and it seemed to work well, so I am really pleased to be on pole for the first time this year. At previous races we have had problems with traffic or the fuel load, but today everything went smoothly and that made it much easier for me. I am looking forward to the race now, because I think it will be a good one. The Ferraris look very competitive, so let's see what tomorrow afternoon brings."
Giancarlo Fisichella (13th, 1:31.197): "All I can say is that I am really angry - as people probably saw from the TV this afternoon. For me, Villeneuve's behaviour was unacceptable. As drivers, we know that if you are on the out-lap, you give way to the guys coming past on their quick lap. But Villeneuve didn't move over, and held me up all the way through the final sector and I lost a lot of time. I had the pace to get into the final part of qualifying quite easily but instead, we have to make some compromises on our race strategy. Hopefully, though, I can make up positions tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It is great to be on pole position again, and particularly in the knowledge that we have an excellent race tyre and a sound strategy. Fernando used two sets of tyres for the final part of qualifying, and if his first lap was impressive, the second was stunning. We are expecting strong competition tomorrow, but it is shaping up to be a great race. As for Giancarlo, he was unfortunate not to get through to the final part of qualifying, because he certainly had the pace to do so. However, an incident with Villeneuve in Q2 ruined his chances. Nevertheless, he will start 11th after penalties have been applied, with a free fuel load. Bearing in mind his great performance after starting from the pit-lane at this circuit last year [NB: 6th position], I am sure we can work something out to help him gain some positions."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Fernando's pole position this afternoon is the best possible start to the weekend. We came here knowing a good grid position was important, and an exceptional lap from Fernando gave us just that. Giancarlo was frustrated to miss out on the final part of qualifying once again, particularly as he knew he had the performance today and because we had taken a more aggressive approach. However, in such a close field, the slightest incident can cost four or five positions, and that's exactly what happened. In terms of the two engines, everything ran smoothly once again, and the B specification unit is performing in line with our expectations."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 1:30.933): "I am happy with the result today as we were not entirely comfortable with the car in the Friday practice sessions, but today was much better, and I was able to push and get the best out of the car. Everyone has worked really hard and as a result the balance of the car has steadily improved. I am confident that we can definitely be competitive in the race tomorrow, but it is always hard to tell until we see how the strategies unfold."
Juan Pablo Montoya (9th, 1:31.880): "This was not a great lap for me as I was still struggling a little with the set up of the car. We had to change quite a bit to improve the handling of the car throughout the practice sessions which resulted in a compromise. However our race pace is generally strong and I think that we have demonstrated good speed in the first two sessions. It looks optimistic for tomorrow's race, as long as we get a clean start of the line, as overtaking at this circuit is possible."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "As the grip improved our tyre choice steadily came right, which was reflected in both drivers results in the first two qualifying sessions. Now we will have to see how our race strategy unfolds tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Certainly not the places on the grid we have aimed for, but the team and both drivers have worked very hard since yesterday and achieved good lap times in Qualifying One and Two. Tomorrow we will see whether our strategy will pay off."
Michael Schumacher (2nd, 1:30.028): "I am happy to be on the front row. We have been strong all weekend and so we can be optimistic about tomorrow's race. The fact that the Renault is on pole does not surprise me, but I think we have a great chance of fighting for the win. Naturally, strategy will be vitally important. I think we will see a very close race for the win and as you know, I like a fight."
Felipe Massa (3rd, 1:30.407): "This third place is a good starting point and I am pleased with my performance today. Our package works very well at this track and so I am confident for tomorrow's race, when I hope to improve on my performance in Imola. I am not surprised to also be competitive here at the Nurburgring, because the 248 F1 has proved to be strong right from the start of the season. Myquick lap was very good. With this qualifying format, you need to be very careful about choosing the right moment to go out on track and today, I waited for a moment in pit lane after changing tyres, in order to create a space between me and the cars that had gone out before me."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was a very closely contested qualifying session, which saw us come away with second and third places for Michael and Felipe respectively. Drivers, team, chassis, engine, Bridgestone tyres and Shell fuel and lubricants all worked well and this result should allow us to fight as front runners tomorrow. The decisive factors that will influence the final outcome are the same as ever: reliability, strategy and consistent tyre performance."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "I'm very pleased with the cars' performance and the balance that we had. We have made some genuine progress over the last few races and we saw that again here today. The Bridgestone tyres are very consistent which means we have a good tyre for the race and so I am optimistic for tomorrow. This afternoon, we had no problems, both drivers got clean laps, so it all points to a very exciting race tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli (7th, 1:31.419): "First of all I have to thank my team and all my mechanics, because yesterday we had a problem with the car, which we could not solve during the practice. They all worked hard through the night changing out the chassis to give me the chance to run well today and to avoid any problems. This morning went quite smooth and we built up confidence with the set-up during the session. I am really satisfied with the lap I did at the end because being seventh is a definite improvement on the performance we have had."
Ralf Schumacher (11th, 1:30.944): "The day started out quite positive during the practice session. The qualifying was a tough fight and I actually thought I would make into the last round. The car felt good, the grip was good, and we were hoping to make more of the session. Unfortunately I had a spin in Turn 1, and even though I went out again, I lost three tenths of a second time in the new lap. Now we will have to concentrate on gaining positions during the race, which will make for a challenging day tomorrow. Yet as in we saw in Malaysia, I am confident we can work our way up into the points."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "Overall today's results are encouraging for the whole team. We are quite pleased with the final outcome for Jarno, considering the concerns we had yesterday. He was really motivated and pushed hard during all three sessions. Unfortunately Ralf missed the opportunity to resume in the third qualification after having locked up the brakes in Turn 1. He will start midfield which will not cause a large concern, as we will adapt our strategy accordingly. With both cars running reliably without any issues, we are optimistic going into tomorrow."
Mark Webber (10th, 1:33.405): "Because of the grid penalty due to the engine change today, we obviously had to choose the right strategy for the race and I think our engineers have done the best job given the situation that we are in. We'll try hard in the race, but we couldn't really expect a huge deal more from qualifying. I tried to maybe go a bit too hard on my last lap and made a little mistake on turn three, losing a bit of time there, but I had nothing to lose, as I am going back anyway. I just scraped into the last ten while everyone else was obviously running on low fuel."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:31.194): "Again I missed those two little extra tenths that I needed to find in order to make it into Q3. With the grip increasing and only having one lap to fully exploit it, plenty of experience is very useful. Still, at least now I have the advantage of being able choose my fuel load for the race. I will be starting towards the back from where I will push. We have worked towards having a good race plan, so I think we can still do well."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "After morning practice we undertook engine changes on both cars which obviously changed our strategy for qualifying. Although this is a clear set-back in terms of start position and we will be starting the race from an unfamiliar position at the back of the grid, we are still determined to do everything we can to get the cars into the points. Our long runs in all the practice sessions have been competitive and that will help us in the race tomorrow."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "Cosworth identified some concerns with the engines after morning practice today and we could not therefore be confident of reliability. We have decided in consultation with Williams to change engines for both drivers prior to qualifying and we will unfortunately have to accept the ten place grid penalty for both cars. However, we took the opportunity to install the first upgraded 'Series 4' race engines and the session itself ran without incident."
Rubens Barrichello (4th, 1:30.754): "I'm very pleased with 4th place on the grid. It's another demonstration of how good the car and the team is and that we are making real progress. We now just have to keep our feet on the ground and focus on the race because I think we have a good strategy and we have shown good pace in free practice this morning. I'm looking forward to it."
Jenson Button (6th, 1:30.940): "I couldn't get a good balance, which is pretty normal for me around here! The car just didn't feel good so I wasn't feeling comfortable. I locked up in turn one which didn't help my last lap time, but it didn't cost much; it probably wouldn't even have been a place. I think we showed this morning that our race pace is there and we found a nice balance for the long runs, so we'll just have to wait and see what the race brings."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Both drivers sailed through Q1 but Q2 was a bit tighter, especially for Jenson. As a result, we were forced to do two runs to make sure he got into Q3. Once that mission was accomplished, we focused on making sure traffic wasn't going to play a part in Jenson and Rubens' fast laps. Rubens did a great job in Q2 and carried that speed over to Q3 placing him well for the start. Jenson was less happy with his car during the whole of qualifying but still managed to end up in the top six. As usual it is difficult to say what strategy everyone is on, but we feel we are in a good position going into the race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We have had a good day - we improved the car throughout the morning and we did a good job in the qualifying session. Both drivers are well positioned to have a strong race tomorrow."
David Coulthard (14th, 1:31.227): "My last lap was good until I lost some time on the last corner, so there's still some work to be done. I feel for Christian. It's always disappointing to get caught up in traffic, but it's unusual for such a timing error to occur. The red flag happened on my out lap, so we were able to rectify everything before I started my timed lap, but it's very disappointing for Christian, especially as he was going so well this weekend."
Christian Klien (17th, 1:32.901): "I'm massively pissed off. All weekend I've been quick, I was in the top eight this morning and it was a really good opportunity for me and the team to be in the top ten today. During a timed lap, my engineers told me there was a red flag, so I slowed down and prepared to come back to the pits. But I was then told to continue, which was very strange, as that normally can't happen under a red flag. So, I did another lap. My tyres were worn, but I was on for a good time until I came up to Sato. He didn't look in his mirrors and ruined my whole lap and whole qualifying session. For me it's a really shit day and makes the rest of the weekend pretty complicated."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Christian was extremely unlucky. When he was on his flying lap, the FIA timing screen crashed bringing on a red flag. It was immediately relayed to the drivers to slow down, so his lap was aborted. When it was clear that there wasn't a red flag, Christian started a second timed lap, but Takuma Sato blatantly blocked him, which cost him well over a second and any chance of moving into part two. It's a great shame, as he's been looking good all weekend. David looked as though he was on the bubble on his last lap, until a slight mistake in the last corner cost him a couple of tenths. It's frustrating to be where we are, but the potential's to be better. We'll move up two places due to the Cosworth engine changes, and tomorrow will be racing hard."
Jacques Villeneuve (8th, 1:31.542): "The plan today was to get in the top ten, but we were hoping to be slightly better than p8. We concentrated on our qualifying set-up for a change, which enabled us to start further up the grid. I think we can get in the points, but will have to see how our set-up lives in the race. Giancarlo Fisichella seemed to be really angry and I am not exactly sure what happened. I thought I was ahead of him and I was trying to get out of his way, maybe I slowed him down a little bit but I never thought he was that close to me. I will go and talk to him because it was not done on purpose."
Nick Heidfeld (15th, 1:31.422): "Of course I'm unhappy with my lap time and my position. The car was not bad, although in the second half of the lap I had some understeer and the overall grip was not ideal. I don't know why I didnít manage to record a better lap time as we definitely didnít have the difficulties today we had here on Friday or in Imola."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This qualifying was again a thriller, although the time differences were not as close as in Imola two weeks ago. Jacques was quick in all three parts of qualifying and was able to secure a very good eighth position. Nick didnít do well in the second part of qualifying and lost time through the whole lap, therefore, missing the top ten. However, for him this means we can adjust the race strategy. Technically both cars ran problem free."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Overall we are happy with our performance today. Jacques did a good job and, considering how tight the competition currently is, it is already a success to make it into the top ten for qualifying. Starting from eighth place gives us a realistic chance to get some points. Nick performed well in the first part of qualifying, but in the second session unfortunately he was not able to record a perfect lap. With the times so close, this can make a difference of several rows on the grid."
Christijan Albers (18th, 1:32.936): "We could have been into the second group today and maybe even higher, because the car was running really well. I mean, the first lap I did was reasonable but not great, so I knew I could do even better on the second lap. And then, on that second run, my steering display was showing that I was about six- or seven-tenths quicker through the first two sectors, so who knows? I might have been able to knock off a one-thirty-one. It's really a shame that it had to end that way, because I really believed that it was possible for us to show what we're capable of today. But we were hit by bad luck again, just as we were in Imola. Hopefully, we can overcome it tomorrow."
Tiago Monteiro (20th, 1:33.658): "Considering the problems we had yesterday today was much better: we had very good performance this morning, and the car was feeling much better, actually. Then, this afternoon in qualifying, as the temperatures rose, the car was feeling even more balanced, so I was feeling extremely encouraged. But I made a big mistake in Turn 6 on my first qualifying lap and unfortunately, I wasn't able to fully capitalise on the car's improvement on that run. But I thought I would have two runs, so I was focusing on making the most of my second chance. And then, inexplicably, we got penalised by that false red flag, which nobody seems to understand. I really hope the organisers have an explanation for that, because, in the end, it might not be a big deal for them, but it cost me my second run and a potential attempt to break into the second qualifying heat. My goal is to be in front of my team mate and as close as possible to the others, and this error cost me that opportunity, so that's a shame. But I'm still positive for the race tomorrow. At least we've sorted out the handling issues and have a pretty good balance with those tyres."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "We will look into what happened with that timing error, because I think it's pretty clear that we suffered the biggest disadvantage as a result of this problem. But anyway, more importantly, the time gap to the front is shrinking all the time. We're still not where we want to be, but you can be sure we will work hard to get there."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "This is an unusually disappointing outcome from what was looking like being a good session for us. Extremely disappointing, in fact, because we need things at this stage to go well for us to make progress and make it into the later stages of qualifying. Today, because of a split-second occurrence, it didn't happen. We would like, perhaps, everyone to give some thought to what could be done in the future to avoid that sort of unfair outcome from happening again. Maybe they should have allowed more cars into the second session to make up for it, or perhaps considered extending the first session - something that would have allowed us to complete the qualifying runs we'd allowed time for. But yes, obviously, we're disappointed."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (16th, 1:31.728): "We could not really expect more than this today, as we were pretty much at our limit. But the car performed well and I think we have a good set-up for tomorrow's race. With a few cars changing engines, we can move up a few places. The red flag worked against me in the first part as it meant I didn't use my second set of tyres. But it did not matter, as everything starts from zero again as long as you make it through to the second part."
Scott Speed (19th, 1:32.992): "That was really frustrating. In Imola we were unlucky with traffic and exactly the same thing happened today in qualifying. I think our pace was good but, once again we did not get the chance to show it. Hopefully, some time soon, I'll get a clean qualifying lap and someone else will get blocked, but this time, I had to pass Sato on my quick lap and then I got held up by a Midland in the last chicane, as he came into the pits. The red flag didn't really affect me. That's what this qualifying format is about this year, so hopefully, we'll get lucky one time."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:35.239): "We had a difficult start to the morning. We needed a lot of work to improve the balance of the car, but then as we suffered a brake related issue which required some time to investigate we were unable to complete the running we needed. The guys did a good job in solving this problem and we made a set-up change, then I was happier with the car balance for Qualifying. It is a shame that there was some confusion about the Red Flag situation during my second Qualifying attack, but I am feeling positive about tomorrow's race."
Franck Montagny (22nd, 1:46.505): "During the practice session this morning we found quite a good set-up for the car and continued with it in the afternoon, making only a small modification. But we encountered many problems during the Qualifying session. Firstly, when I had to stop at the FIA weight scales, there was a problem with the starter so during this time my tyres were out of the blankets and were getting cold. When I re-started and put on new tyres five minutes later, the red flag situation came up, so I could not make a lap time. It is a little disappointing as this was my first Qualifying with the team, but there were no major problems with the car and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "It was a very frustrating qualifying session and it felt like it ended before we could actually start. The red flag was out when we needed to go out at the end of first 15 minutes and Franck and Taku couldn't really have a good attack. Taku went out with a new set of tyres and when he was ready to make his quick lap with the second set, the red flag was out. As both SAF1 Team cars did not finish in Imola I hope that we will have another two-car finish in the race tomorrow."