ITALIAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:21.829): "It was a day when I was lucky and unlucky. Obviously, the puncture cost me a chance to fight for the pole, with the damage it caused to the rear of the car. But equally, we had this problem at a circuit where we are competitive, and we can make up positions in the race. Things got very tight towards the end of Q3, and I had to really push to the limit on my out-lap to make sure I crossed the line in time. In the end, I did it with two seconds to spare. To qualify fifth after our problems is a strong start, and we know that our race pace is extremely competitive. Overall, once the damage has been fixed overnight, I think we can have a very strong race."
Giancarlo Fisichella (10th, 1:23.175): "I am only starting tenth, but I am still feeling confident. The car gets better and better on the long runs thanks to the Michelin tyres, and we know that will be of real importance in the race. I had a slightly inconsistent balance on my flying laps in the final part of qualifying, but it did not cost me a huge amount of lap time. Today's qualifying session was focused more on the race than on pure one-lap speed, and that makes me more optimistic that we can gain positions in the race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A difficult qualifying session, but one which showed everything that is good about the Renault team. We reacted quickly to Fernando's puncture, ensured the car was safe - and some quick work by the pit crew meant he was able to cross the line for his last flying lap with just two seconds to spare. In spite of quite severe damage to the aerodynamics at the rear of the car, Fernando was able to put in an exceptional lap to qualify fifth. Giancarlo seemed to struggle with an inconsistent handling balance in the final session, and tenth place is a little disappointing. However, the excellent consistency of the Michelin tyres this weekend meant we were not obliged to make any compromises on our optimum race strategy to generate qualifying performance. Without his puncture and the damage it caused, Fernando clearly had enough pace in the car to take pole. This is a race where we may well see some variation in strategies, so even starting from the third and fifth rows, I think we can have a very good race."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Naturally, we have mixed feelings at the end of a session like today's. Fifth and tenth are far from being the positions we had hoped for on the grid, but we know that in spite of the various on-track incidents today, the car has the pace to fight at the front of the field. Fernando showed remarkable composure to qualify fifth after such a disrupted session, and will certainly have high hopes for the race. Giancarlo struggled to show the same level of performance, but we need to see how the strategies unfold tomorrow. On the engine side, both V8s functioned faultlessly throughout the session - and Fernando's D specification met out expectations with its performance. It will be a long race tomorrow, but one in which we fully expect climb through the field."
Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:21.484): "A good weekend for us so far. I'm pleased to be on pole position, and it wasn't even a particularly good lap as I had two big moments in Ascari. I was not here at the test last week, but the team, Pedro and Gary did a fantastic job, and we have a very good tyre from Michelin. The race tomorrow will be tough, but we will certainly give it our best shot. I'm confident that Michelin is well prepared for the race. The car has been working well, and I want to remain at the front and look forward to achieving that."
Pedro de la Rosa (8th, 1:22.280): "A very good qualifying for Kimi, the team and me. I was lucky not to have any traffic in my runs and I'm relieved as I just made it into the final session on my last run, and it was a bit too close for comfort. The balance of the car was excellent even with the lower downforce configuration that we ran today. I'm looking forward to a strong race tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A strong performance by Kimi and the team. I'm pleased with the progress we have made since the test last week and continued throughout the weekend. We will see what happens in the race tomorrow but are confident that both Kimi and Pedro's race strategies will help to deliver a positive result."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A good pole position lap of Kimi's even if it's only two thousandths of a second to the second placed Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. This is the perfect basis for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix. This is Kimi's third pole in the last four races, and ideally we want to achieve the same result tomorrow. Pedro did a good job, he has to run the second race with his engine which is always a small handicap for any driver."
Michael Schumacher (2nd, 1:21.486): "The car worked well, running strongly and consistently and this is a good position to be in. But, it would have been nice to be on pole here at home in front of the tifosi and it was very close losing it by just two thousandths of a second, but tomorrow is the more important date. I am also happy for Nick, as it is nice to see another German on the qualifying "podium." Fernando? Of course it is better than if he was next to me or in front of me! It does not look too bad for the championship and it would be nice if tomorrow's result was like today's or hopefully even a little bit better."
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:21.704): "Fourth place is not so bad, but it's a shame I was unable to exploit the full potential available to me. In fact, on Q3 on my last run, I came up behind Alonso who was also setting out on his quick lap. I lost at least three tenths! It's a shame, because I felt capable of putting it on the front row. But, having said that, I think that our strategy and our package we can expect a good result, which will be vital in the fight for the two titles."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Qualifying was as close fought as it was exciting. The top six are all within half a second, which bears witness to how evenly matched it is, although we have to bear in mind the unknowns in terms of the various fuel loads. Michael drove a great lap, losing out on pole by just two thousandths. But what matters is his position relative to his rival in the title fight. A shame for Felipe, who could have been on the front row but for his encounter with traffic on his final run. We are perfectly aware just how important is the outcome of this race in terms of the fight for both titles. For our part, we know we can count on having a very competitive car and on the support of our technical partners, first and foremost, Bridgestone and Shell. The decisive factors tomorrow? The usual ones, which means reliability, tyre performance, strategy, team work and the bravura of the drivers. One element that is different here is that we can count on the support of our home fans who are here at this track in greater numbers than we have ever seen in one of our two home Grands Prix. Swelling their ranks are the members of our staff and their families and seeing them here cheering us on is very gratifying."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We were very pleased with the car at the test and also so far this weekend. We have a strong strategy and I think it will evolve well during the race, so I am very happy with the way qualifying went for Michael. However, I am bit disappointed for Felipe, because he got held up by traffic in Q3 on his second run. A shame, as he could have improved, because he was quicker in T1 and T2 than on his earlier attempts. But the cars are very good, the Bridgestone tyre performance is consistent and we can also count on the support of an exceptional technical partner in the shape of Shell, so there is a lot to look forward to tomorrow, especially when you look at where our closest rivals are."
Jarno Trulli (11th, 1:21.924): "I'm disappointed to have missed out on the top ten but we just didn't quite have the performance this afternoon. Still I'm really happy about the job I did in qualifying and I don't think I could have got anything more out of the package. This morning I seemed to be short of top speed and while we improved that for the afternoon it wasn't quite enough to make it into the top ten. Still it will be a long race tomorrow and I always enjoy racing in front of my home fans. I have always been competitive around Monza but often missed out on results. So I will push as hard as I can and hope to turn that around."
Ralf Schumacher (13th, 1:22.280): "That was certainly a bit more difficult than we expected although we already had some problems during practice. Our car has been difficult to drive this weekend and lacking in consistency and that's why we had a disappointing result in qualifying. After the heavy rain overnight the track was very low on grip during this morning's practice session. That continued for me in qualifying and I struggled to find the right balance in both sessions. Still, we can learn a lot from what happened today and tonight we will need to check what the problems have been. We have a long race tomorrow and it's possible to overtake around here. Last year we made up a few positions in the race so let's hope we can make up ground again on Sunday."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "It is obviously very frustrating to watch the other cars running around in Q3 without taking part ourselves. That was our second worst qualifying session of the year so we can't be happy about that. The positions were very tight and despite the fact that neither of our cars made it past Q2, Jarno was only 0.7 seconds off the quickest car. But we have clearly been less competitive than we expected, especially compared to this morning when we were in a similar position on used tyres. So we will have to look into what happened during qualifying. Ralf was struggling with stability under braking which is a key performance factor in Monza, but Jarno's balance was better so we have no clear explanation as to why we struggled. The only saving grace is that we are free to choose our strategy for tomorrow. Now we will have to analyse what will be the best approach but we will have a busy evening ahead as we prepare for the race."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:22.203): "I was pretty happy with the car, it felt good and I thought I could achieve a good grid position, maybe as high as 7 th or 8 th . I went into Q2 and normally the oversteer goes away as you go further into qualifying and we usually get stronger and stronger, but today the car went the other way. As the track changed during the session, I found myself lacking rear grip. However, we have good tyres for the race tomorrow and I am confident we can get a positive result."
Mark Webber (19th, 1:23.341): "It was a tough session for me today - I've never had too much of a problem with qualifying in the past, but today I couldn't find the car for some reason. I was struggling for pace and couldn't get close to Nico, even though I had saved new tyres for qualifying so it was a surprise - not quick enough, it's as simple as that!"
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It's a bit disappointing not to have the cars further up the grid because we have been competitive here testing and in practice. Nico got the best out of the car in qualifying, but unusually for Mark, he didn't make it through Q1. The car looks consistent on long runs, so we'll be looking to try and capitalise on strategy tomorrow and pick up some points."
Mike Janes, Cosworth: "There were no issues to report from an engine perspective from today's running. Satisfied operationally in terms of engine performance, practice today comprised of final checks in readiness for Sunday. Unfortunately, the outcome of qualifying was not as expected but we look forward to being able to make the extra engine duty available for this event to count towards a good finish tomorrow in the race."
Jenson Button (6th, 1:22.011): "I'm really pleased with how qualifying has gone today. We were a little bit apprehensive because we didn't get to run any new tyres in free practice this morning and when I went out in qualifying one there was a red flag, so we still hadn't run any new tyres by the end of that session. I got through Q1 and Q2 though and in Q3 the long run pace was very good, which bodes well for tomorrow. On one lap we still couldn't get a strong lap out of the car until my last qualy run when I put it 6th on the grid. I'm happy. I got everything I could out of the car and the most important thing is that we know we are competitive for the race, so a similar story to Turkey really."
Rubens Barrichello (9th, 1:22.787): "Qualifying went well today considering that I didn't do any running on Friday, so a top ten finish with both cars is pretty good. Our race pace is good and I think we're quite confident with the strategy, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Today was a much better day. Both cars ran well this morning and, as predicted, were handling well despite our lack of running so far this weekend. In qualifying both drivers did a great job to comfortably make it through to the last qualifying round and get the most out of the car in Q3. We suspect there are a variety of strategies at play for tomorrow with tyres and fuel. Our car is working well in race trim and we look forward to a good race."
David Coulthard (14th, 1:22.589): "I think we're all disappointed with our rate of development, and we're firmly at the back of the main group of cars on this type of circuit. Efficiency is very important here, which involves how closed you can keep the car to cool it, whilst making the car as slippery as possible on the straights and generating as much downforce as possible in the corners. Unfortunately, this type of track tends to highlight some deficiencies of our overall package."
Christian Klien (16th, 1:22.898): "I'm disappointed with that qualifying session. I hit the second kerb in the chicane a little too hard and lost the car when I was coming down from the kerb, I spun off and the engine stopped. We'll have to check the data to see why it stopped. It's frustrating, as we could have got a little higher than 16th I think. It's going to be a long race tomorrow and very challenging from this position."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Fourteenth and sixteenth unfortunately represents where we're at on this type of circuit. It's a shame Christian was unable to take part in the second session due to his spin. But, we'll focus on our strategy for tomorrow, should have a consistent race pace and our target will be to race with the Toyotas and Williams ahead."
Nick Heidfeld (3rd, 1:21.653): "This was pretty unexpected. The recent test was not bad, but we didn't know how we would go once we got here. I think this is my best qualifying lap of the year, although I lost time in the second sector. We opted for low downforce and it suits our car. Before we were quick in practice, but could not carry it over to qualifying. We have seen a change of trend in the last two races as we have been able to take this speed over to qualifying. I had a well balanced car and we made a good tyre choice, which was not easy as both types of tyres we have are good. The race will be difficult, but as I am starting third my aim is to finish third! As a new team we are very, very happy."
Robert Kubica (7th, 1:22.258): "This was another good qualifying for us. In all my three F1 race qualifyings I was in the top ten times, but I ruined my last lap time. At the first Lesmo I went wide and with the tyres dirty I was sliding a lot in the second Lesmo. I'm pretty optimistic for the race as I believe we have chosen the right tyres."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "That was a great qualifying for our team with the best result so far this season. For the first time one of our cars, with Nick driving, has made it onto the second row of the grid. Everything worked out perfectly for Nick. Unfortunately Robert made a mistake in the second sector on his final fast lap. Despite this, starting seventh is also a good position for him. It was very positive that in the second and third parts of qualifying we were equally as good with and without fuel. Compliments to the team here in Monza and also to everyone else working in Hinwil and Munich."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "After the third free practice we were optimistic about getting both cars into qualifying three. However, in the end it was a surprise to achieve such a great result. Nick did a perfect job and Robert delivered a strong performance. As well as that, the team played a crucial role in doing its job with the utmost precision. This result also shows we have increased the speed of our development, so were able to use a perfectly balanced low downforce package on this high speed track. Compliments to the whole team."
Christijan Albers (18th, 1:23.116): "I was expecting this to be a tough weekend, because everybody knows that top speed is not our strongest characteristic. But surprisingly, we're doing OK. True, we're 18th, which is nothing to celebrate, but if you look at the times, we are quite competitive. Going into tomorrow, we still have some new sets of tyres and we'll use them to maximum advantage in the race. We worked on our race set-up while we were here testing last week, so I think we will be fine tomorrow. I am very pleased with the hard work that the team has put in. All the mechanics, engineers, and people from Toyota have done a good job, so now it's up to Tiago and me to deliver the best result we can."
Tiago Monteiro (20th, 1:23.920): "I'm very disappointed with our qualifying performance today. We got hit by a couple of braking problems that we're working on solving at the moment. The balance and set-up are fine, and I was able to drive clean laps, but these little issues require further investigation. It's crucial that we get on top of them by tomorrow if we are to have any chance of having a good race."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "Our times are better than expected, actually. Considering that this is a track where you need a lot of engine power and low drag to be quick, the gap to the front is not that large. In that first session, Christijan was ahead of one Williams, and not very far from the Red Bulls and Toyotas. Based on this, we are reasonably pleased with our progress and optimistic of having a good race tomorrow."
Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager: "I thought we did OK, all things considered. Both drivers drove clean laps and came very close to cracking the second session. It was a shame that Tiago had a technical glitch that held him back, but I think that's probably the best job our guys could have done, because this is certainly one of the worst circuits of the season for us. But we've got a good strategy for the race tomorrow, and you never know - if luck runs our way, we might be able to come away with a strong result, which would be nice."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a difficult Q1 because of the red flag at the beginning, and the yellow flags at the end meant that Christijan and Tiago only got one flying lap in, whereas typically they do two to four. So that compromised us a bit. Tiago also had some problems that cropped up in qualifying but were not evident in the morning's practice session, so we're going to have to look at the data to see what was occurring there. In spite of this, both drivers gave it their best shot and we're pleased with their performances. It was never going to be our strongest circuit, primarily because there's a lot of straight-line running in Monza, and that has been one of our weakest points all year. So we didn't expect great things when we came here, but nonetheless, it's disappointing not to get at least one car into Q2. On the positive side, we know we have a good tyre for the race tomorrow, so we'll plan accordingly and try to make the most of it."
Scott Speed (15th, 1:23.165): "To be honest I was quite surprised to get through to Q2 here. P15 at Monza is not bad and if there are some reliability issues for others tomorrow, then maybe we can have a good race. The balance of the car has been pretty good since last week's test here and it is just in terms of our overall performance that we are losing out. The engine feels okay, pulling reasonably well down the long straight. I noticed there are more Americans in the crowd here than usual at a European race which is nice to see."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (17th, 1:23.043): "Since yesterday, I've had problems with the car set-up and that continued today. That is a shame as without that I think we could have made it through to the second part of the session. Obviously here on this fast track, the V10 suffers a little bit, but even so, tomorrow I plan to give it my best shot here, especially for all the home fans."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:24.289): "It has been a disappointing day. We completed our test here last week and did everything we could, but the car has just not been quick enough this weekend. The team has worked really hard and I believe that we have got the best performance out of the car, so from that point of view I am satisfied, but we need to improve. Having said that the free practice session this morning was encouraging, the long run pace was strong and so I think that we shall have a better day tomorrow and should have a strong package for the race."
Sakon Yamamoto (22nd, 1:26.001): "We completed a good preparation session for qualifying this morning, but unfortunately, on the second lap of my first run this afternoon, I got a puncture in my left rear tyre before Parabolica. It is disappointing as I could not go out for my second run, but still I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "Unfortunately Sakon had a puncture during qualifying, but on the positive side Taku and his engineers did a good job today. We are now only 2.5 seconds off the pace of the leaders and are becoming more competitive as we close the gap. Although our qualifying positions remain the same, our car is improving and we have made reasonable progress since our testing here last week."