BRAZILIAN GP - SATURDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:11.567): "The target this afternoon was to be in the top five, so I am very happy with this position. Starting from the second row is perfect for our approach this weekend, and so far everything is going to plan. Obviously, the problem for Michael is another bit of help for us, not just for me but for the team as well in the constructors' championship, and we will take anything we can get. So things are looking better for us, for sure, but we cannot write him off and it doesn't change my approach. Tomorrow, my aim will be to get a good start and fight at the front. We know that the R26 has the pace to do it."
Giancarlo Fisichella (6th, 1:11.629): "The times are really, really close this afternoon, and I am not totally happy to be back in sixth because the target was the second row. Obviously, I am fighting with Massa for third place in the drivers' championship, so it means I have a harder job for the race. Considering what happened in Suzuka, I managed to finish on the podium starting from sixth, so we are confident that the car will have good race pace. It is a long and demanding Grand Prix here and there are usually plenty of incidents, but we cannot count on that. I will need an aggressive race tomorrow to try and beat Felipe."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Our day went reasonably to plan - the aim was to have the cars around the second row and we are in a good position. I think both cars are on competitive fuel loads relative to those around us, and they demonstrated strong pace in practice. Considering our targets this weekend, it is naturally pleasing to see Fernando starting ahead of his main rival. But we have sympathy for Michael's situation, and plenty of respect for him as well. We know that he can still be a danger to us from tenth position and we are not discounting him at all. Tomorrow's race has all the ingredients to make it a worthy finale to a thrilling championship."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "This morning's running in practice, coupled with the early stages of the qualifying session, made it clear that we were not able to fight for the front row. Once we had recognised this, the second or third row was our logical objective, unless we were going to seriously compromise our race strategy in a bid for glory. We did not do so, and as usual focused our work on tomorrow's race. We saw that the car was quick in the early stages of qualifying, and the performance was also there in practice, so we can be confident of a strong showing in the Grand Prix. From an engine point of view, the cars demonstrated competitive top speeds and we had no incidents on either V8. But this afternoon's qualifying session gave us another object lesson in how quickly the balance of power can shift, and there will be no complacency as we work towards our target tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:11.299): "This is a great result for all of us today. We did not turn the engine up till the final session so we were not sure where we would be, but I really gave it 100% on the final lap. For sure we will be fighting for the win now, it is going to be difficult, but our pace is strong in the long runs. It would be great to finish my last race for Team McLaren Mercedes on a high and we will be doing everything we can to achieve this."
Pedro de la Rosa (12th, 1:11.658): "I locked up as I was coming into turn one on my last lap and as a result I lost a lot of time. Unfortunately this meant that I have not made it into the top ten at a track where qualifying is quite important. However the car has felt good all weekend and I think that our pace tomorrow will be good. It is going to be a tough race starting from 12th but we are confident that we can improve and score some points tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A tremendous job by Kimi. Pedro tried a little too hard on his second set of tyres flatspotting one into the first corner. As a consequence he failed to qualify in the top ten. Generally our car worked well and a good result is possible tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A great qualifying by Kimi. With his first row grid position he has got a good basis for the race tomorrow. Pedro missed a top ten position by just one hundredth of a second when the best Michelin runner was half a second quicker than him."
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:10.680): "It's a dream for me to be on pole here at Interlagos, wearing the colours of my country while sitting in a Ferrari. I will never forget this day! I am very happy and I want to thank the team for having provided me with a perfect car. Tomorrow, I will do my utmost to win. I know it will be a tough race but everything is in place for me to achieve that goal. I am sorry for Michael who was really unlucky, just like in Suzuka. But I still believe we can get both our cars ahead of the others, which is vital if we are to win the Constructors' championship. My last lap? It was fantastic!"
Michael Schumacher (10th, No Time): "Of course I am disappointed, but these things can happen. At the start of Q3, the car had a fuel pressure problem and all I could do was cruise round slowly back to the pits. Now we have to find out how it happened and try and make the best of this situation. Sure, it's a big handicap starting from tenth place. The only good part of today is that Felipe is on pole which must be very satisfying for him here at his home race. I hope that tomorrow he can win the race."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was a bitter-sweet qualifying session for us. On the one hand we can be delighted with a great pole position for Felipe, which came about due to his talent and the clear superiority of the 248 F1- Bridgestone tyre package. On the other hand there is a great disappointment for Michael who was reduced to the role of spectator, sitting in the cockpit of his car in the garage, for the final part of the session, sidelined with what appears to be a fuel pressure problem. Without wishing to sound presumptuous, there is good reason to think we could have had two cars on the front row of the grid tomorrow. However, we find ourselves with one car on pole and the other relegated to the fifth row. Nevertheless, we know that anything can happen in racing, and one way and another, we experienced that ourselves various times this year. All we can do tomorrow is try and get both our cars out in front of all the others at the finish line."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "A great performance from Felipe. He had a great car and the Bridgestone tyres were performing very well, but he produced a performance over and above expectations and in Q3 he did a handful of really incredible laps. We are very frustrated about the problem that kept Michael in the garage for the final part of qualifying. It seems to be linked to fuel pressure, but now we need to find out exactly what happened. It's a shame as we could have had two Ferraris on the front row. But in my opinion we could still pull off a one- two tomorrow. The cars are performing strongly, the Bridgestone tyres mean we can do consistent lap times and the weather forecast for slightly higher temperatures should all work in our favour. And let's not forget that in the past, Michael has managed to win races starting even further back on the grid."
Jarno Trulli (3rd, 1:11.328): "It is obviously great to be up so high and it has been a good weekend so far for us. We have been pushing hard all season to improve the car and you can see from today that we have definitely made a good step forward. So far this weekend we have looked pretty strong so I am confident because the car is performing well and we have everything we need to have a good race tomorrow. Our Bridgestone tyres are looking very competitive so I am looking forward to tomorrow when I hope I can challenge for the podium. This year I have been close to the podium a few times and it has slipped away with a few laps remaining so it would be great to end the season with a top-three finish. However, our first target for tomorrow will be to take fifth in the Constructors' Championship and for that we will try to score as many points as possible."
Ralf Schumacher (7th, 1:11.695): "That was a reasonably good qualifying performance for the team. Jarno did a great job to get third place and seventh is a decent result for me too so both of us are in a positive position for tomorrow. From there we should be able score a good result here. Getting the right balance on the car this weekend has been a bit of a challenge but we worked at it this morning and found a reasonable set-up for qualifying. My lap in Q3 wasn't too bad, it was clean and I didn't make any mistakes but I simply was not quite quick enough to qualify any higher today. But I am looking forward to the race and I hope I can score more points to help the team secure fifth place in the Constructors' Championship."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "That was a good qualifying session but I would say it is as expected because yesterday we saw we were competitive here and this morning we were working towards the race so our position in third practice was not representative and we knew that. The cold weather conditions could have made it a little bit tricky as it is colder than usual in Brazil but we were expecting that from our weather forecasts and we were able to take it into account when we chose which two tyre compounds to use this weekend. Choosing which of those two to use was quite a difficult decision to make - but it certainly doesn't look too bad now! We had high expectations so we are quite happy with the outcome of the qualifying. Still it could have been a little bit better for both cars, we could have been even further up the grid but we are not complaining. It looks pretty good for tomorrow and we are pretty confident with the race pace."
Mark Webber (11th, 1:11.650): "It was a reasonable qualifying session for us. It went pretty well, but I would like to have grabbed another tenth or two on my last lap. I was probably trying a little bit too much, but I think both Nico and I squeezed quite a lot out of the cars today, although there's probably a little more left. It would have been nice to have made it into Q3 of the final qualifying session of the season, but that's where we are and we'll just wait for the race tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (13th, 1:11.679): "My qualifying session wasn't too bad, even if it is a bit disappointing that I didn't make it into the third session. There was so little missing so you think: if I had braked a bit later there, or if I had been a bit smoother there, I would have made it into the top ten! It's amazing how much you have to work on the details just to get those last hundredths out of the car; all through the session we adjusted tenths on the tyre pressures and halves on the wing holes. Despite that, I still struggled a little bit with grip during my last run and so we lost those hundredths of a second that we needed."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering: "I think that's about where we are at the moment. As it was, it was very close and a few hundredths of a second more from both cars would have pushed us into the top ten. I think we can race well from where we are, however, and what we want is a good, reliable race and, I hope, two cars finishing. If we get points, all the better."
Chris Jilbert, Cosworth: "It was a shame not to get the cars into the final qualifying session today. We enjoyed another trouble free day with the Cosworth CA2006 V8 engines and we will be ensuring that we maximise the available race duty cycle for both drivers for what may well transpire to be our 'grand finale' in Formula One tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (5th, 1:11.619): "I'm very happy - it's been a good day. The team has done a great job to get the car back to where it belongs after the issues that we had during practice yesterday. I was able to extract everything out of the car today and my last lap was really good, so I have to be happy with that. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow as we have a good strategy, plus we have two Brazilians in the top five which is very good for our home race."
Jenson Button (14th, 1:11.742): "We had a good car today so it's very disappointing to have the electronic problem and be starting the final race of the year from 14th on the grid. The issue affected the traction control massively and the car was undriveable at the end of Q1. The team tried to address the problem but there was only time for a quick fix and it didn't solve it. I obviously wanted to end the season on a high and we had a good opportunity to do that but now we'll have a bit of a battle on our hands to fight our way through the field."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are happy on the one hand and disappointed on the other. Rubens had a smooth qualifying session and pulled out all the stops in front of his home crowd, extracting all the speed we had in the car today. Jenson had an electronic issue that was costing him a lot of time and as a result he was unable to make it through to the final shoot-out. Assuming that we are able to fix the problem, the full extent of which has yet to be determined, we should have a strong race tomorrow given that both drivers are very happy with the car handling and have been competitive throughout the weekend so far. It should be an exciting race!"
Robert Doornbos (15th, 1:12.591): "We really wanted to attack in the last qualifying session of the year and I think we did that. The sessions are a lot of fun - you can really drive on the limit and get the maximum out of the car. I think I got the maximum out of the car today. We've gone through tomorrow's race in our minds set-up wise, and we're going to be pushing hard."
David Coulthard (19th, 1:13.249): "The balance of the car was the same as it had been this morning - and wasn't very good. On this type of track you need entrance stability in order to carry speed into the turns and I just haven't been able to find it. I've scored points from the back of the grid before and it's not over until the chequered flag, but clearly this makes it a lot more difficult to get a good result."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Obviously, it was a disappointing qualifying session for David who hasn't been happy with the balance of his car all day. Robert did a good job. We decided that he'd only do one run in the second qualifying session, due to knowing what our limitations are and the ten-place grid penalty we collected for Robert's engine change. Hopefully, we'll be stronger in the tomorrow's race."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:11.882): "I am quite happy because until qualifying the weekend had been quite difficult for me. I had problems with the balance of the car, which has now improved. This was because of set- up changes and that higher temperatures are better for the tyres and my driving style. The fact the Toyotas have been so strong in qualifying is a damper. The fight for fifth place in the constructors' championship will be extremely exciting for us."
Robert Kubica (9th, 1:12.131): "It is good to be in the top ten again, my fifth time in six races that is okay. Unfortunately on one set of tyres I locked the brakes on a bump and I could not use a second set. It will be a bit difficult for tomorrow's race, but it is still not bad. You have to have good pace here and I think we have a good consistent pace."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "That was an average qualifying, but it was not perfect. In the first part Nick had problems getting the tyres up to temperature and, therefore, was lucky to make it into the second and third sessions. Robert was on track to get a good time, but on his last timed lap locked the brakes, which prevented him getting a better position. The positive thing is we made it into the top ten again with both cars."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "It is good we have both drivers in the top ten of qualifying again, but we had hoped for better positions. We are now in a difficult position to defend fifth place in the championship, but we will do our best."
Christijan Albers (18th, 1:13.138): "I think we did the maximum we could do today, but it could have been better. We were good on the first run, but on the second, quicker lap we could have been even stronger but we lost a lot of grip in the final three corners. It was a bit of shame because the combination of the tyres and other issues meant we could have been much higher up the grid. I think we are still competitive against our rivals so we will see what happens in the race."
Tiago Monteiro (22nd, No Time): "The day didn't start very well with a two thousand dollar fine for crossing the pit lane exit. When I got out of the car the President of Spyker, Victor Muller told me that if I made it to the second session that he would cover it! Unfortunately I made one of the most stupid mistakes of my F1 career, obviously I was pushing hard as it was qualifying but I hit the curb on high speed corner 7 and spun the car causing it to stall. Its really frustrating as Christijan was only 3 tenths off P16 so I think we could have made it."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "Today was an interesting day for everybody in the team. Tiago made a very uncharacteristic mistake and Christijan looked like he made the best out of a difficult lap. We will see what happens during the race tomorrow but the world will be watching what looks set to be a thrilling finale to the World Championship, I hope that we can find a positive performance to take us into what will be a busy and important winter break."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a disappointing final qualifying session, we needed to be very close but came out at the wrong end of our rival group. Spyker MF1 is a team very much looking to the future at the moment, tomorrow is a long race and anything could happen. Both drivers have worked out a good strategy considering our position in qualifying and we look to see what transpires at the front of the field and with the weather conditions."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (16th, 1:12.861): "Getting through to the second part of qualifying has always been difficult for us. This time I did it, despite a few problems with my traction control and I beat Scott by just one thousandth of a second. It would have been good to get both our cars into Q2 for the last race. Even though they have resurfaced some of the track it is still rather bumpy and so it is hard to judge the turns and hit the right braking point. But I am looking forward to the race on this track that I consider to be one of the best on the calendar."
Scott Speed (17th, 1:12.856): "It was a good qualifying for us. This morning, we really improved the car from the first day. My compliments to the guys who sorted it out with lots of hard work overnight. I made a small mistake that might have cost me Tonio's ass but I got ninety nine percent of the potential of the car. Before we came here, I thought this might be our worse race, but now I think we have a chance to put up a fight, because the car is a lot better than I thought it would be. I'll be hoping to make a good start and pass a few cars on the first lap."
Takuma Sato (20th, 1:13.269): "It was good to have a close and competitive qualifying at the end of the season. Today, in free practice, we made good progress that we carried over from yesterday and we were happy with the performance of the car. In qualifying we improved our lap time again, but it was unfortunate that we could not beat our nearest rivals. However, I believe that we have a good race car and that we are in a good position for tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto (21st, 1:13.357): "This morning we improved the balance of the car from our limited running yesterday and made good progress on the set-up for qualifying and the race tomorrow. I am happy with my qualifying result today because I feel that I have been able to show my potential without any problems for the first time since Monza, so I am very happy and I would like to thank everybody in the team."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "Both SAF1 Team drivers did a great job today and their times were very close. I believe that our car is showing more of its true potential, but we still have a little way to go to match our nearest competitors. However, if you compare our times set today with those at the beginning of the season we have done a very good job. I would like to thank our mechanics, everyone at the factory, Honda and Bridgestone for their support this year and I hope that we can finish the season with a good result tomorrow."