MONACO GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:13.962): "I would have been on pole for sure today, without the problem on the final lap. I think we had a very good strategy for qualifying and the performance from the Michelin tyres was fantastic. So to lose my fastest lap through an accident for somebody else is not a good moment, but I suppose these things happen in Monaco... For the race, I am optimistic that we have a good set-up, and something more in the Michelin tyres that will help us against our rivals. The car was excellent today, so I hope I can fight for the win tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (5th, 1:14.396): "This qualifying session turned out pretty much as we expected, with a lot of traffic and then yellow flags on the last timed lap, when I found Schumacher in the middle of the penultimate corner. Fifth position is not what I had expected from qualifying today, but this is a long race where everything is possible. The balance of the car is good for the race, and the R26 has been easy to drive. I am still very confident for the race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "There was a lot of speculation before qualifying about how difficult the session would be in Monaco, and indeed it was a very fraught hour. A lot of judgement was needed as to when to use new tyres, but the management of the traffic was still largely down to luck. We were very pleased with the performance of the cars throughout the session, but extremely surprised to see Michael make a suspicious mistake at the end of the super-pole that looked as if it had come from a novice driver - not a world champion. There is no doubt that this cost us pole position, and both our drivers had their fastest laps spoiled. Nevertheless, we have Fernando on the front row, and Giancarlo in fifth position. The car has been quick and easy to drive all weekend, and the Michelin tyres seem to be relishing the hot conditions. Everything looks extremely positive for tomorrow's race."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "The most encouraging part of today's running, was to see our drivers take the strongest team result on the grid for tomorrow's race - even though we are certain it could have been even better, were it not for a very dubious incident involving Schumacher's Ferrari. The only thing we can now do is focus on the positives: we know the car has the pace to fight for the win, and we have completed a lot of incident-free laps in practice in preparation for the race. Overall, it has been a good day - with some disappointment in the final minutes of qualifying. We expect tomorrow to be even better."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th, 1:14.140): "I'm very happy with the car and was really able to push throughout qualifying. I believe that I could have claimed pole position, but then I hit traffic on my second and last flying lap - but that is Monaco. We are still on the second row and with a good start and a strong strategy we are definitely in with a chance for a good result."
Juan Pablo Montoya (6th, 1:14.664): "I struggled a bit with traffic as well as understeer, so could probably have qualified a bit higher up the grid. However we have a good car here and a strong strategy for the race, so we will see what happens. Third row is not the end of the world, and I'm confident that it should be a good Grand Prix which I'm looking forward to."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Our grid positions and race strategy give us every chance to leave Monte Carlo with good results. Both Kimi and Juan Pablo put in solid laps but struggled with the Monaco traffic .We all look forward to the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Following two best times in the first two parts and the fastest time of the weekend in the second session qualifying on pole position was possible for Kimi. He was hampered by traffic on his last flying lap, and that prevented him from achieving more. Nevertheless positions on rows two and three are a good basis for tomorrow's race."
Michael Schumacher (1st, 1:13.898):
Felipe Massa (22nd, No Time):
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Ferrari notes with great displeasure the decision of the race stewards, which is to delete the times set by Michael Schumacher in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. We totally disagree with it. Such a decision creates a very serious precedent, ruling out the possibility of driver error. Michael was on his final timed lap and he was trying to put his first place beyond doubt, as could be seen from the fact that his first split time was the best and could have seen him do another very good lap. With no real evidence, the stewards have assumed he is guilty."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director:
Jarno Trulli (8th, 1:15.857): "The team did a good job today but it was a tough qualifying session. We made some adjustments to the tuning to avoid a bit of understeer and the car reacted pretty well. It was hard work to find a good clear lap out there with the new qualifying format but we managed better than expected. At one stage in Q2 I was going even quicker when I was blocked by several cars in the middle of the lap, but we still made it through to Session 3. Then at the very end I was on the second of a two-lap run when I saw a yellow flag and the car in the middle of the track so I stopped my lap. In the end I'm happy with where I am as well as our race strategy. It is obviously difficult to judge a new car on this kind of circuit but first we have a tough Sunday ahead and I just hope we can run a good race tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher (11th, 1:14.398): "Our times were not impressive this morning because we have spent the whole weekend doing race set-up work so we were confident we could pick up the pace in qualifying. The traffic was not as bad as we feared going into the sessions with the 2006 qualifying rules so the team did well to find some relatively clear laps. So it's a reasonable job so far and with the race strategy that we have chosen and the tyres that we have, we should be strong tomorrow. It is a very long race and because you have to be 100 per cent concentrated all the time it certainly feels like it. But the challenge is to push to the limit for 78 laps without going over it."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "We were expecting a difficult morning because we decided to use the session to prepare for the race. So of course we were far back on the time sheets, but there were good reasons for that. We were effectively expecting to catch up this afternoon and that is what we did. As it turned out, it was less difficult than we expected to find clear laps. We were prepared to face any kind of situation and it went according to plan. Jarno's position is satisfying but he was blocked by yellow flags on his final lap while other drivers could continue their fast laps. It was a pity that Ralf just missed out on Session 3 but he is still in a decent position to do well in the race. We are happy with our tyre choice and now we have to look for a good result tomorrow."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:14.082): "Saturday has turned out to be a reasonable day for us. We qualified pretty well in 3rd position and I think we were maybe improving a little bit until we got the yellow flag due to Michael Schumacher's stoppage, which of course hurt everybody. Anyway, the crucial thing for us is the race and we want to get to the end and get some of the points that I think we deserve. It's been a strong effort from the team in the last few days. We now need to capitalise on this starting opportunity, at a track where qualifying is so important."
Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:16.636): "Q3 was not good for me today. I made it into the top ten and then traffic just prevented me from setting a faster lap. I was behind Coulthard when he was on a flying lap, but then he didn't let me by when I was on my flying lap, and basically spoilt my qualifying. It's a shame, because there was definitely more in the car today than a 10th place."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Mark did a fantastic job in qualifying and he will have a really strong race tomorrow. His last lap was almost two tenths faster before he had to back off to avoid Michael's parked car so he would have been on the front row. Obviously it's disappointing to have Nico in 10th position, he spent too much time in traffic. The car, tyre and engine performance is definitely strong here at Monaco. Our Bridgestone tyres are working well and we had no mechanical problems today."
Chris Jilbert, Cosworth: "A fantastic qualifying result for Williams and Cosworth. It's superb to have a Cosworth-powered car start from the second row of the grid here in Monaco and it is a great reward for a lot of very hard work from all involved."
Frank Williams, Team Principal (regarding Edouard Michelin): "WilliamsF1 has worked with the Michelin tyre company during two very successful periods in Edouard's career. The relationship with Edouard Michelin himself developed in the year 2000 when he maintained a close interest with our team. He was a far-sighted born leader and extremely approachable. The WilliamsF1 Team offers their condolences to Edouard's wife and children and to his entire family."
Rubens Barrichello (7th, 1:15.804): "It was crazy out there, just like everybody predicted. I was trying very hard to avoid getting in other people's way and they were doing the same for me, which was nice to see. I want to thank the team for a fantastic job today and making the right decisions and quickly. 7th is not a bad place to start tomorrow and it should be an incredible race."
Jenson Button (14th, 1:14.982): "The balance of the car was reasonable on old tyres but I had an unexpected amount of understeer when we switched to new tyres. I was quicker on old tyres than new. Right now we don't know why so we will have to look at the data but everyone knows that qualifying well here is crucial for the race and I'm obviously extremely frustrated to be starting so far back here for a race I felt confident we could do well in."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "On the one hand we are quite happy about the way Rubens' qualifying went. There were some anxious moments at the end of Q2 and once into the last ten Rubens got everything possible out of the car. Unfortunately Jenson was not able to break into Q3. Things were going reasonably well for him but he ended with an unexpected amount of understeer on new tyres. We suspect there are quite varied strategies going into tomorrow, even more so than with other races. Given the importance of qualifying here we would rather be further ahead on the grid, particularly in Jenson's case. Nevertheless we look forward to a good fight tomorrow afternoon when hopefully we can collect some good points."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "A difficult day for us with one car in the top ten and one outside. The Grand Prix in Monaco has a history of exciting and unpredictable races so I hope we will take full advantage of any chances that may come our way tomorrow."
David Coulthard (9th, 1:16.426): "I'm actually really pissed off. I've had no traffic all weekend and then, on my last flying lap, I got held up. Ninth is our position and I don't think it's the reward the team deserves for all their efforts this weekend. The car can go quicker and it would have been nice to have had a clear lap today. This circuit provides a real opportunity for us to get up the grid. No great surprise that Michael had to stop..."
Christian Klien (12th, 1:14.747): "The first session started pretty good. I improved a lot from this morning and was pretty pleased with my lap time. Going into the second session I thought we could get into the top ten, but when I went out on my first set of tyres, I had a problem with the brake system and had a very soft brake pedal. I managed to complete the lap and came back to the pits, where we tried to sort out the problem, but we couldn't fix it in time. It's frustrating as the car is pretty quick here and I think we could have gone for a top ten position."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "David continued his good form this weekend. He went comfortably through the first part on an old set of tyres, set the fourth quickest time in the second part and was confident going into the third part. Ultimately, we are disappointed with ninth. David got held up on his flying lap and otherwise, we know he would have finished higher than that, so it's a little frustrating. Christian had a problem, which we hope to rectify ahead of tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve (15th, 1:15.052): "It is very disappointing. We were competitive on old tyres and then when we put new tyres on to qualify we just couldn't use them."
Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:15.137): "I don't know what happened. I went onto the throttle and got no response. I don't know whether we would have made it into the top ten, but on that last lap the car felt quite good and I had reasonable grip."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Qualifying didn't come up to our expectations. The second sector was where both drivers lost most time, so they didn't get into the top ten where we hoped to be. The reason for Nick stopping on the track is being investigated at the moment, but the situation didn't have any impact on the result because top ten positions would have been difficult today."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "This qualifying result is not what we expected. Although it is always difficult here with the traffic, we hoped to get at least one car in the top ten. In free practice both drivers were happy with the balance, but with new tyres in qualifying Jacques complained about understeer. Exactly why Nick stopped we will only know when the car is back and we have analysed the data. In a race in Monaco anything is possible, so all is not lost. We will take advantage of any chances we get in the race."
Christijan Albers (17th, 1:15.598): "First of all, I have to thank all the guys in crew for keeping their faith in me and working hard to sort out all the problems we've had the last two races. Now we're focusing on moving forward - we're not looking backwards anymore. I'd also like to thank Toyota for the power they've given us here. I think tomorrow will be a difficult race, but today we had a lot of fun because we're quite competitive here. It was a shame that I struggled in the first two practices on Thursday, but we kept our heads cool, we learned about our tyres, and we made the right choice today. That's why our performance continues to get stronger, so thanks again to everybody."
Tiago Monteiro (18th, 1:15.993): "What can I say? The car has been great all weekend but unfortunately, I was blocked in three corners while attempting my fastest lap and I lost about half a second, so I'm pretty upset about that. The first run was good, considering the track conditions. My second lap was going to be even better, but as I said, I was blocked. It's frustrating for the whole team, because everyone worked so hard to get our pace up to where it is. We've shown so much potential and so much genuine improvement this weekend, there's no reason why we should be 17th and 18th. We really should have been in the second session. In any event, I have to thank my team for giving me such a well-balanced car all weekend, which is very positive and will be even more important come tomorrow."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "We can see that the gap to the front is continuing to close. I think we've had a good weekend so far. We have a good race set-up for both cars and the drivers are doing a fine job for us. Even though it would have been nice to get into the second qualifying session, we are still positive and confident for the race ahead."
James Key, Technical Director: "Obviously, we're a little disappointed, because the form was there this morning. We wanted to get into Q2, and there was a good chance of doing that today. Both drivers did very well. Christijan gave the best performance he's given so far this weekend and was only a few tenths away from getting into the next session. Tiago was very close, as well. He lost half a second to traffic on his quickest lap. But that's the nature of the circuit and the way things work here. I'm sure other people could also say the same thing, but we could have got into Q2. The pace was there, but luck was against us a little bit. We've got to come away from this pleased with our performance level. The gap was the closest it's ever been to the guys ahead, and its further evidence that our continuing developments and improvements are being realised at the track."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (13th, 1:14.969): "It's fantastic because Monaco is such a special race and we came here really motivated. At the beginning of the session I struggled a bit but then it got better in the second. This is a great starting point for tomorrow and I'm really happy. It was hard out there: you have to fight to avoid not only the traffic but also the walls. It's twice as hard as anywhere else. I enjoyed this afternoon. I love Monaco because you need balls to go within millimetres of the wall and that's what I love."
Scott Speed (19th, 1:16.236): "Montagny blocked me for my first two laps on new tyres and after that, my tyres were past their best and I was well off the pace with no chance of improving my time. So coming in before that part of the session was over did not make any difference, because Montagny was still in front of me. It's a shame because my pace was better than Tonio's at one point and he ended up thirteenth. I've had horrible luck in qualifying this season, just the worst. But well done to Tonio who did a great job today."
Takuma Sato (20th, 1:17.276): "Free practice went smoothly for us this morning. We tried both race set-up and performance runs and I was satisfied with the balance of the car. For Qualifying we were able to complete our planned runs, but unfortunately I got caught in traffic on my quickest lap, which is a little disappointing but normal for Monaco. However, from my point of view, we did the best we could during a busy Qualifying session. It is going to be a long and tough race tomorrow and I am looking forward to the challenge as anything could happen!"
Franck Montagny (21st, 1:17.502): "I think that this was my best Qualifying session since I started with the SAF1 Team. I tried very hard but unfortunately I had traffic on the first lap of my two runs, so I had to do my quick lap during my second run, but this went ok. The car is quite hard to drive and it is going to be a tough race for us, but I am looking forward to it."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I am happy with the progress that we have made so far this weekend. We have not made any errors during the practice or Qualifying sessions and I think that we reached the full potential of the car today. Both drivers did well to control the SA05's and even though our starting positions are at the back of the grid as usual, our times are improving with every race. A small mistake of any kind on this tough circuit could have caused big problems, but both of our drivers, the mechanics and the engineers have done a great job here. Our next goal is to achieve a two-car finish again and Monaco would be the perfect place to do it."