CHINESE GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:44.360): "It is fantastic to be back on pole for the first time since Canada. It was a difficult qualifying session, very busy and very complicated for all the drivers, but the Michelin tyres were fantastic and gave us exactly what we needed to do the job. Looking for tomorrow, nothing is certain with the weather, but I am confident we can be competitive in both conditions. We haven't done much dry running yet this weekend, but from what we have seen, the car seems to be very competitive. If it is wet, we know we are quick - but also that many more things can happen. Obviously, this is a great team result when the championship is so tight, but we haven't done the job yet. I will stay focused, concentrate on doing a good race - and race for the win."
Giancarlo Fisichella (2nd, 1:44.992): "The car has been quick all weekend, and I am really pleased to be on the front row with Fernando. This is a great result for me because I am in a good position to catch up Massa in the championship, and for the team it is the perfect starting point. The conditions were very tricky during the session, and I spun in the second session - so the pressure was on to get my lap done. After that, it was a question of repeating the performance in the third part, and making the most of the opportunity to qualifying at the front. I think we have a strong strategy, and good performance in all conditions. I am looking forward to a very competitive race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A qualifying performance such as this is always particularly satisfying, but with the championship so delicately poised, it is an extra bonus. Our grid positions give us the opportunity for a very good race tomorrow, but above all this weekend has shown that the Renault is very quick here, irrespective of weather conditions. This afternoon's session was particularly fraught, and the whole team is to be congratulated on a disciplined and faultless performance. Thanks are also due to our partners at Michelin. Fernando's pole position once again demonstrated the quality of the Michelin tyre in wet conditions. We had seen it in Hungary, and today reinforced it. Even more gratifying is the fact that we also appear to have an extremely competitive dry tyre."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "This morning's damp and changing conditions in practice left us unable to make our usual calculations as to the relative performance of our competitors, and we went into qualifying with less information than usual as to our overall level of performance. Today's qualifying session was equally difficult to decode, but we are extremely pleased with the performances of both drivers. On the engine side, we were pleased to see the new evolution of the RS26 V8 gave the drivers both the power they needed to be competitive, as the straightline speeds showed, and the driveability that is so important in wet conditions. The car has been working well since the start of the weekend, and Michelin have done an exceptional job. We now need to maintain our concentration, and focus on the most important part of the weekend - tomorrow afternoon's race. We start it from the best possible position."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 1:45.754): "It was a bit of a lottery in qualifying as it was really wet and slippery on track. However we did what we could and fifth is not too bad considering that I had traffic in the final corner which cost me a few tenths. The interesting thing will be to see what the weather will do tomorrow. I lost my mirror during the final qualifying session but didn't notice it, and it had no effect. Now we will see what happens in the race."
Pedro de la Rosa (7th, 1:45.877): "A very eventful qualifying where I was constantly battling to stay on track, and had a lot of near spins. At the start of my flying lap when my Michelin tyres were at their hottest and had the most grip I was blocked by a car exiting the pitlane. I had to run wide to avoid a collision, and it was about three corners before I was able to get past by which point my tyres had cooled off. However in general I'm happy with the performance of our car and the Michelin tyres which is why we were consistent timing wise throughout qualifying, which is always encouraging."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "The wet weather and a bit of on-track Shanghai traffic affected today's qualifying. However from grid positions five and seven anything is possible. The car and our Michelin tyres are working well, and we look forward to tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "These were extremely difficult conditions today which saw many drivers being caught out. With grid positions on row three and four we have a decent basis for tomorrow's race."
Michael Schumacher (6th, 1:45.775): "We did the best we could in these conditions as our chances were damaged by the rain and sixth was the best I could do. You could call it a damage limitation operation. We still have the race ahead of us and from the third row of the grid, we can still aim for a good result, given that in the dry, we have proved to be very competitive. This qualifying session has not compromised my chances of winning the world championship. Apart from tomorrow's race, there are still two Grands Prix to go and everything is still possible."
Felipe Massa (13th, 1:45.970): "This was definitely not a good day. First off, I was starting with the handicap that I would be penalised with a ten place drop down the grid after the engine change and then the weather conditions certainly didn't help me. Obviously we are hoping that we won't have a wet race tomorrow, otherwise we will struggle. However, in the dry, the car is good and if those are the conditions we race in, then I can still hope to finish in the points."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was a very difficult qualifying session because of the weather conditions that did not suit our package. Michael drove exceptionally well and sixth place is the best he could do. We have limited the damage but of course it is disappointing that we are unable to exploit the potential at our disposal, given how things went in this morning's free practice. Felipe also did his best, but because of his engine change, he will have to start from the back of the grid. However, one should never forget that the final word of a Grand Prix comes only on Sunday afternoon, after the race. Apart from the usual parameters - reliability, strategy, tyre performance, team work and driver performance - we will also have to take into account how the weather situation evolves."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "A great performance from Michael on a day when the rain made life very difficult for us. Compared with the race in Budapest, we along with Bridgestone have made progress in these conditions, but still not enough to be competitive compared to the best teams running different tyres to us. A shame as in this morning's dry free practice we saw that our package worked really well. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for only a slight chance of rain for the period of the race: honestly we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it turns out to be accurate!"
Ralf Schumacher (17th, 1:48.894): "That was a difficult afternoon for all of us as it was a real struggle for grip out there. Still, both Jarno and I were a bit unlucky with the red flag coming out at the wrong time, just when we were nearing the end of our fastest laps. The track got worse over the course of Q1 and by the end it was too wet to improve our times. There was obviously a lot of traffic too so there was a lot of spray, but that's just the way it is. If you're in the middle of the pack or at the back of a long line of traffic then it is very hard to see anything. But the fact is that in these conditions the other tyre competitor looked strong so we will have a lot of work tonight to prepare for tomorrow. The car was working well as we showed in the morning. It will be a long race tomorrow so hopefully the weather will suit us better and we can move up."
Jarno Trulli (18th, 1:49.098): "Of course we were not as competitive today as we expected. Still, I could have made it through to Q2 but for the red flag which came out while I was on my quickest lap. Nevertheless, it was clear that we were lacking grip. We went out on the standard wet tyres for our early runs, before switching to full wets for the final runs as the track got wetter. We were right at the limit so it was a difficult choice to make. By the time we went out after the red flag the track was very wet and there was no way to improve our time. Obviously we still have some work to do on our performance in these conditions. Tomorrow could still be a wet race so it certainly won't be easy for us but we'll try our best."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "Qualifying was a short story for us today due to a combination of two factors. The red flag came while both our cars were in the final sector of their quickest laps and we were in a position to considerably improve our lap times. At the same time, we obviously were lacking tyre grip today, which meant that we had absolutely no margin. Both drivers went out on standard wet tyres at the start, which was the right choice at the time before the track became much wetter later in the session. When the two drivers went out for their last runs after the red flag the line was much wetter. There was time for only one timed lap and it was impossible to improve because there was simply too much traffic. The weather remains uncertain for tomorrow, as it has been all weekend, with a high risk of rain. Obviously we would not look forward to a full wet race. But in this morning's practice session the track evolved from very wet at the start to dry by the end. We went out on race fuel at different times throughout the hour to understand tyre behaviour in all those different circumstances. That worked well so we should have a good idea of when to switch from between the tyres on a drying track. We have a hard race ahead but we will push hard to move up through the field."
Mark Webber (15th, 1:46.413): "Qualifying was no real surprise in today's conditions. As we saw in Budapest it is not easy when the track is wet. It makes it tough for tomorrow, even if it is a dry race as there won't be so much rubber on the circuit as we would have liked. Anyway, that's how it is, so we will just have to give our best tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (16th, 1:47.419): "It was quite difficult out there in qualifying today. Our competitors' tyres today were quicker in wet conditions. Where there was relatively less water on the racing line everything felt pretty good and I enjoyed myself, just like this morning when the track was dryer, but with the amount of rain we saw this afternoon, were not quick enough to make it into Q3. I hope tomorrow will be dry and we will perform better."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Given that we have performed well in the dry sessions here, today's qualifying in the wet was a disappointment. We managed to get through to Q2 and ran closer to Ferrari on the same tyres than we have for some while, but we will start tomorrow 14 th and 15 th and will have to see what we can do with strategy."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "No engine problems today for either Mark or Nico. Cosworth had no driveability or traction control problems in difficult conditions."
Rubens Barrichello (3rd, 1:45.503): "I'm thrilled to be back in the top three qualifiers again, especially after such a difficult session. This is a great result for the team with Jenson and I in third and fourth and setting exactly the same lap time. It was pretty treacherous out there and at times it was just impossible to push. When I did I spun off and thankfully the gravel slowed me just enough for me to land on the grass. I was able to keep the engine running so I could keep going. Aside from that moment we're looking pretty competitive in the wet and in the past the race has come my way many times in similar conditions. If that's the way the weather plays out I'll be happy but we have a car that works well either way."
Jenson Button (4th, 1:45.503): "I'm very happy with today's result, especially with Rubens and I posting exactly the same time. It's been a very interesting day in which the Michelins are clearly very strong in the tricky conditions. It's pretty slippery out there which made it tough going, but we're looking good I think and I have a good strategy so we should be able to look forward to a great race, especially for the fans."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "I guess we can say that we are in a good position going into the race tomorrow! The weather conditions in qualifying made it very difficult to predict when the track was going to be at its best, therefore for both Q1 and Q2 we elected to run for most of the session. In the end, Jenson and Rubens got into the top ten quite comfortably. On the final shootout both drivers did a great job again to qualify on the second row with exactly the same time, the best qualifying performance of our team so far this year. It is also worth noting that Michelin produced a great wet tyre for Shanghai, which was clearly the class of the field this afternoon. We were competitive yesterday and again today, which bodes well for the race tomorrow. The weather is expected to be as uncertain for Sunday as it was today which always makes the race more unpredictable and therefore more exciting!"
Robert Doornbos (10th, 1:48.021): "That was good. It's good for us when it rains, as it mixes up the grid a bit and the gap to the top teams gets a bit closer. And we did it. It's exciting to get through to the third session and it's good to know I'm going to wake up tomorrow and go racing. It's the first time I've run under the new qualifying format and it's definitely preferable to last year's when it was just one lap, it's more exciting for everyone to watch. I think we can do well tomorrow. The weather forecast isn't so good, which can be a help to us and maybe give us a good result."
David Coulthard (12th, 1:45.968): "The conditions weren't too bad to be honest. It was quite wet at the beginning of the second session, so I went out on a full set of wets to check what the time loss might be. We then got in a spot of bother but, as with all these situations, it wasn't due to just one thing. The first problem was that the count down in the car stopped working. I didn't have a pit board so couldn't work out where I was relative to the end of the session. There was also a radio problem, so when I was asking for the information I wasn't able to get it. By the time I did come in, there wasn't enough time to change the tyres and go back out. With the benefit of hindsight, all I needed to do was stay out, run round and I would have been quick enough to go through. Obviously I was wanting to get the maximum lap time possible and that caught us out."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "To finish tenth and twelfth on a track that favoured Michelin runners is disappointing. We had the potential to be better. David was unfortunate because he clearly had the pace to make the top ten but, unfortunately, due to a communication problem, wasn't on the track at the right time. Robert did a good job to reach the top ten in his first qualifying session for the team. We're not too far from the points scoring positions and that's where we'll be pushing to be tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:46.053): "Eighth position is a good result. Before the qualifying I didn't really believe we would make it into the top ten here. But then it went very well. The weather was good for us because the Michelin tyres are an advantage in the rain. In the second and quickest qualifying segment I was fourth, therefore, I was hoping for more in the final session. However, then the track was drying more and more and this didn't help our car. The important fact is we made it with both cars into the top ten and Toyota, our nearest competitor in the constructors' championship, is a long way behind."
Robert Kubica (9th, 1:46.632): "For me this is the fourth time in four Grands Prix in the top ten. It was a good qualifying, especially as we had a small problem on the car this morning, so I couldn't run and my experience at this track is several laps yesterday. The conditions were not easy and, as they were changing, it was difficult to get the right line. However, I think it is not bad for my first time here. We can't realistically expect another podium tomorrow, but we will just have to wait and see what the conditions are like and at least hope to finish in the points."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are happy about this qualifying result. For the sixth time this year and the third consecutive race both drivers have been in third qualifying. Of course the qualifying was influenced by the weather and, therefore, the tyre strategy. Our team made the right decisions in this respect as well. We believe from grid positions eight and nine we have good chances in the race."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "This performance today underlines the positive results from the recent races, and on top of that we have been in the top ten in the wet. We found a good set up compromise for these conditions, and perhaps the conditions in the race tomorrow might be similar to today. We can be optimistic for the race when we consider our strategy from eighth and ninth on the grid."
Christijan Albers (19th, 1:49.542): "In the rain we are just not quick enough so hopefully it will be dry tomorrow. I am looking forward to the race and hope that we can make the best use of the conditions and any events that take place during the race."
Tiago Monteiro (20th, 1:49.903): "It obviously wasn't a great day for any of the Bridgestone runners generally but for us especially we had a number of other issues. I felt that with these conditions we could have done a lot better. It's never easy but we will hope for changing conditions again tomorrow; it's at these sort of races where wet weather can be very beneficial for the team."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "Obviously we had high hopes for qualifying due to the weather conditions and the fact that both our drivers have been improving on the circuit all weekend. Unfortunately some issues that we can easily solve cropped up fairly early on and affected our ability to make use of the conditions and post some good times. The fantastic news about Ferrari agreeing to supply our engines next season has given all of the team a lift and I hope we can make some more good news in the race tomorrow."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "The weather made for some very interesting conditions today but qualifying clearly didn't go our way. We tried a particular strategy using the extreme wet tyres with which unfortunately both drivers struggled to find any performance. We will investigate other problems that Tiago encountered during the session and hope to find a solution before the race tomorrow."
Scott Speed (11th, 1:45.851): "I had a big aquaplaning moment on my first lap, then I spun and hit the wall coming into the pits and the guys had to push the car into the garage to check for damage, so just getting back out there was a surprise. The track was very wet, but the intermediate tyres were definitely the quickest choice except that the slightest bit off line and you were aquaplaning. There were like two little tracks appearing on the surface and you just aimed for them as you were braking and if you missed them, you did what I did. It is a great result for the guys in the team and a strong start position for tomorrow. We always said we wanted a wet race to give us a chance and so I'd like it to rain again tomorrow."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th, 1:46.172): "Unfortunately, there was more water on the track and the grip level changed and the car set-up was no longer quite the right one. Before that the car had been good but the extra rain meant extra oversteer. This was a particular problem in Turns 7 and 8 and I think that lost us the chance of getting into the top ten. I hope the weather stays like this for tomorrow as I think we can be competitive in these conditions."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:50.326): "It was a difficult day for everyone in tricky conditions. During this morning's practice session I tested wet and dry tyres, but we were not comfortable with the evaluation of the wet's. It was important that we completed the test though as in the end we had to qualify in the rain. At the end of session we also tested the dry tyre options and completed a few timed laps, which was good because I missed most of the running yesterday. Qualifying was like a lottery, with changing weather and track conditions which made it difficult to pick the right running time, and also a red flag situation. I am taking an engine change penalty on the grid anyway, but, wet or dry, I believe that we are ready for the race tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto (22nd, 1:55.560): "I'm really disappointed with my Qualifying result because I had confidence going into the rainy session from FP3 this morning. During Qualifying we changed our strategy and ran a new tyre evaluation. But on my fastest lap there was a red flag, so I had to come back to the garage. When I went out again there were only three minutes left and with so much water on the track there was no chance to improve on my time. Obviously the lap times are down due to the weather conditions, but my lap time today was not the best that I could have set. Whether the conditions are wet or dry tomorrow, I will just try to do my best."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "This afternoon's Qualifying was driven in very difficult conditions for everybody. It was hard for us to decide on the correct tyre choice for the session and then, just before the drivers went out for their attacking laps, we had a red flag situation. This was extremely bad timing for us and we did not qualify well, but hopefully we shall have dry conditions for the race tomorrow."