Australian GP - Saturday - Team Quotes

Heikki Kovalainen, Australian GP 2007

Heikki Kovalainen, Australian GP 2007 

 © The Cahier Archive

McLaren-Mercedes

Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:26.493): "A great way to start the season for the team and I. We have worked so hard over the winter to get to where we are today and I would like to thank everybody for their efforts. There is still a slight gap to Ferrari but the improvements that have been made since the Bahrain test are fantastic. The car feels good. We made some changes this morning and worked on the set-up to prepare for qualifying and it seems to have worked out well. I'm also pleased that Lewis is right up there with me which put us both in the best position to score points for ourselves and the team. I can't wait for the race."

Lewis Hamilton (4th, 1:26.755): "I'm overwhelmed to be on the second row for my first Grand Prix. A huge thank you to the team who have worked so hard both here at the track and back at base. This weekend is what I have been preparing myself for during the past 13 years and I'm enjoying every moment. I think we are in with a good chance in the race. Basically I want to get a good start and then work hard to score as many points for the team and myself. I'm not going to make any predictions because anything can happen but so far so good."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Both drivers have continued their great work with the team throughout this weekend. Fernando clearly is an invaluable asset to the team and nobody within the organisation has anything but praise for Lewis' efforts so far in his first Grand Prix weekend. We are all looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Of course it was very important to start in the top five in this year's first Grand Prix, so I'm very happy with Fernando's and Lewis' grid positions. The team did a very good job today and both drivers were first class - my compliments to both of them. The race tomorrow will be very challenging as I think more than three teams will be fighting for podium finishes."

Renault

Giancarlo Fisichella (6th, 1:27.634): "As always, it was a tough qualifying session, but I feel we didn't achieve the maximum this afternoon. My position is pretty much as expected, behind McLaren and Ferrari, but I think I could have gained a place or two without traffic on my final timed lap, which slowed me down in the last three corners in particular. We had expected qualifying to be tough because we know the car's speed on a single lap is not as competitive as the long runs at the moment. Now, we need to wait and see what the race pace is like. We were competitive this morning and yesterday afternoon, so hopefully I can make up some ground at the start - and then fight for the podium."

Heikki Kovalainen (13th, 1:26.964): "The car was fine and the balance was good, but I just wasn't able to get the maximum from it on a single lap. I lost track time yesterday and this morning, and my times were a little bit off in every sector. Obviously, this performance is not good enough, but there is no point dwelling on it now. Starting from P13 is not ideal for my first Grand Prix, and I will need to race aggressively to get a points finish. That will be my target for tomorrow."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Giancarlo's qualifying position more or less reflects our competitiveness over a single lap at this early stage of the season. Having said that, there is no doubt that he could have gone quicker had he not encountered traffic on his fastest lap. Although he was definitely impeded and it cost him time, it was certainly not deliberate. As for Heikki, he experienced the full fury of an F1 qualifying session for the first time. He lost track time yesterday and this morning with minor technical problems, and I am sure that without them, he would have achieved a much stronger result - something we are confident he will do next time out in Malaysia. However, our focus now is on the race. We are certainly more confident in our race pace than we were before qualifying, and look forward to a much improved showing tomorrow afternoon."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "We had our first insight into the relative, pure performance of the teams this afternoon and, much as expected, it confirmed our position as outsiders rather than favourites. We were pleased to see no repeat of the fuel pressure problems encountered yesterday, and our top speeds suggest that the RS27 V8 engine is performing well. We have prepared thoroughly for the race in spite of the problems encountered this weekend, and we hope to see our relative performance improve tomorrow afternoon."

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:26.072): "A great qualifying, but a shame for Felipe who was not able to get the sort of result he should have done. I think our car is more competitive in race trim than over a single lap. Usually here the race can be full of incidents so it's impossible to know what could happen. If all goes the way it should, then we have a good chance, but it will be important to pick up as many points as possible. Tonight? I will sleep well, as always. Am I worried about Felipe's gearbox problem? You can never be a hundred percent sure, but I am certain the team will do everything it can to make sure that I have a car in the best possible shape."

Felipe Massa (16th, No Time): "What happened in qualifying with the gearbox was a shame, given the good car we had and the strong performance yesterday and today. So, we have to hope that this is the first and last time it happens this season. Tomorrow, my main aim will be to bring the car to the finish, trying to move up the order as much as possible. I am still confident because I know we have a car that is very good in terms of race pace. Of course it will be difficult to finish in the top places, but I will give it my best to at least try and finish in the points, going for every opportunity that comes my way."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "A bitter sweet start to the first weekend of the 2007 Championship. On the one hand there is satisfaction with pole for our new arrival, Kimi Raikkonen, while on the other hand, disappointment because of the gearbox problem that affected Felipe Massa in Q2. Up to that point, he had driven impeccably all weekend. Today, Ferrari showed it has the potential to be a front runner on a day that confirmed the pecking order we had seen during winter testing. The key parameters for the race are now reduced to three- strategy, reliability and performance - given that everyone has the same Bridgestone tyres. Today, we had the performance but not the reliability. Now we have to work out how to get the most out of the sporting regulations, particularly the one concerning usage of the two types of tyre."

Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "A great qualifying from Kimi, straight to pole on his debut with us. His car performed faultlessly as was his driving. However, we are very disappointed for Felipe who, because of a gearbox problem, was pretty much unable to take part in qualifying. Already, at the end of free practice we had seen that there was a faulty component on the F2007's gearbox and, as a precaution it was changed. Unfortunately, the problem reoccurred, which forced him to stop at the side of the track. Now we must look at the situation carefully to see how to remedy it and to try and make the best of Felipe's start position which is definitely not up to our expectations. As for Kimi, we will try to make the most of pole position, in the knowledge that we can expect a tough race, where reliability, strategy and team work will be, as usual, crucial."

Honda

Jenson Button (14th, 1:27.264): "It hasn't been a good weekend for us so far. Today it was difficult to judge how hard to push the tyres. At the start of the lap I was getting understeer because the tyres were not up to temperature, then later in the lap I was getting oversteer as the rears were going off, which just shows the issues that we have. I got the best out of the car today and right now we are where we are. We'll obviously do what we can for the race, then we have some work to do to start addressing the issues we have identified."

Rubens Barrichello (17th, 1:27.679): "I was expecting that we would compete in the second session today so I'm disappointed by our performance in qualifying. I had a problem right from the start with the car bottoming out much more than it has been at any other point over the weekend. That is something we have to look at for the race tomorrow. It was very close at the end of the first session with so many cars fighting to get through but unfortunately we just couldn't make it this time."

Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "We are obviously disappointed with the results from today's qualifying. The performance of the RA107 car is far from where we want and expect it to be. The drivers got the most of the car that they could today. We are working flat out at the factory to improve the car for the coming races."

BMW

Nick Heidfeld (3rd, 1:26.556): "It is very clearly a fantastic result for us to be third. I was sure we would make it into the top ten but more P5 or something like that. We had a good winter season, but you never know until you get to the first race. As regards reliability I am happier now after speaking to some people in the team, who explained to me what they had done to make everything work. On top of that we did a race simulation in Bahrain which worked fine. The car was not perfect today. In Q2 I was happy but with some fuel on board it was not that easy. From my view Ferrari is still ahead. We will only see tomorrow in the race how things are really going, however, so far I am really pleased."

Robert Kubica (5th, 1:27.347): "Performance wise I think we are where we thought we would be, and this is very good news. Also qualifying in general was good. In Q2 I had a very fast first run, but on the second lap I had traffic so couldnít improve. In the end this does not make any difference to the result. In Q3 I missed my final chance of another lap by just one second. But thatís racing. You have to take the risk, some time you win, some time you loose."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This was very pleasing. It was the strongest qualifying our BMW Sauber F1 Team has had so far. With this we have confirmed the performances we put in during testing. A big compliment is due to all the technicians in Munich and Hinwil. Our chances for the race are now very good."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "This was excellent and we are very pleased with todayís result. From the second and third rows of the grid we can achieve a good result with our race strategy. All the sessions of this first qualifying of the season were very exciting for us, and the pit crew worked really well. For Nick the timing of his last run with the softer compound worked perfectly. However, after the last pit stop Robert missed the chance to do the final lap with the same tyres by just one second. The timing was very tight because we really wanted to use the very last seconds of the session when the track is at its quickest. On the technical side we had no problems."

Toyota

Jarno Trulli (8th, 1:28.404): "We are all very happy because after a difficult winter of testing we came here without the highest expectations. So to have two cars in the top ten is a good result. I put in a clean lap in Q3 even if I must say the lap itself was not great. That means we probably still have a bit more potential in the car. We showed quite a good performance, better than we expected. Obviously it's not over yet and we need to race and we need to finish to score some points. But now we can look forward to tomorrow's race and do our best to come away with a good finish."

Ralf Schumacher (9th, 1:28.692): "To come away with 8th and 9th positions is much better than we expected at the start of the session so we are very satisfied. It was not a perfect afternoon for me. We had a gearbox control problem during Q2 so I could only put in one flying lap. Then I made some mistakes on my lap in Q3 so that is why we were pretty average on the times. But it had been a difficult start to the week and the start of the season is usually difficult. So after all that to have both cars in the top ten is a good achievement. We will now do all we can to come away with something from tomorrow's race. I've had some good races here in Melbourne so I hope there can be another one to come."

Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "These positions aren't exactly where we wanted to be but it's better than we expected given how the weekend has gone so far. We spent most of the morning on race preparation so that is why we showed our capacity to get into the top ten quite late. Ralf did a two-lap run in Q1 when we were on hard tyres and we planned to do several laps to account for possible warm-up problems. With the soft tyres there was obviously only one flying lap possible. In Q2 we had an issue with the gearbox control on Ralf's car that we solved quite quickly. Our target was to get into Q3 and when we achieved it we only had one set of tyres left, which is why we did only one flying lap. It would be an advantage to have two sets of tyres so we lost time. Still, it's a decent start and Jarno and Ralf did well. It will be interesting to see how teams manage the two different tyres tomorrow. One is difficult to handle with huge degradation and the other is consistent and quick. We are in a good position so we will push for a strong result."

Red Bull-Renault

Mark Webber (7th, 1:27.934): "I didn't think I'd be seventh, so it's great. We lost time with a transmission problem yesterday, but the guys worked really hard last night, did a good job and we've got something out of it. We've done a lot of testing over the winter break, but it's always interesting to actually get into the ring at the first race and see where we are. There's still a long way to go tomorrow, we have to see if we can deliver in the race - it should be an interesting grand prix."

David Coulthard (19th, 1:28.579): "The first and second sectors of my last timed lap were good, but I came through Turn 15 and there was a lot of dust and dirt on the track, which got on my tyres. I then went in to the last corner, went out of the groove and on to the marbles, so lost all the time I'd gained in the first two sectors. What should have been a fairly easy 'getting through' session didn't prove to be the case. I didn't expect to be nineteenth on the grid, but that's the reality, so now I'll focus on the race and see what we can get out of that."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was a very good effort by Mark and it's positive that he's starting in a good grid position at his home race. He certainly demonstrated that he's a cool customer in qualifying. David was unlucky not to finish his flying lap in Q1, which would have comfortably put him in to Q2. He's going to have a more challenging afternoon tomorrow, but he's got a good track record here and today's given positive signs that we're moving in the right direction."

Fabrice Lom, Renault: "The qualifying session went very smoothly for us and the engine performed well. As expected the competition was extremely close. We are sorry that David didn't make it past Q1, but we are pleased by the pace that Mark showed through the different stages. He was very impressive in Q2 particularly. For the first GP of this new partnership we set the seventh fastest lap time and we are well up the top speed charts too. It's a very promising result and we hope to confirm this good start in tomorrow's race."

Williams-Toyota

Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:26.914): "It was a bit difficult to get it right today as the car was quite loose, so I couldn't really attack and I made a few mistakes. It's unfortunate because it's about time all our work started to produce some results. Twelfth on the grid is obviously not what we were hoping for as we are all determined to get ahead of where we were last year."

Alexander Wurz (15th, 1:27.393): "It was interesting to see how the qualifying sessions work from a driver's point of view, I'd have to say it is fairly brutal. Naturally I'm disappointed not to make it into the top ten, but it would have been difficult to achieve this and on my last run I lost three or four tenths at turn 15 when I slid a bit wide. Yesterday we did some strong long runs, so the race is a different story, even if I have to start from 15th."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was obviously a disappointing qualifying session not to be able to get either cars into the top ten as we'd thought we had enough pace to do that from the practice sessions. We will need to look carefully at the data tonight to see if we can squeeze anything more from the cars for tomorrow's race. Our main target tomorrow is to be reliable and see if we can score some points."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Scott Speed (18th, 1:28.305): "The car was no better than yesterday, because we are not going to be able to improve this car until we get some testing behind us. We are throwing darts in the dark and on top of that my qualifying was completely screwed by traffic, when as I came past the pits there were three cars coming out the pits in front of me going into Turn 1. Also on my last lap there was some dirt on the track and I had a moment at Turn 14. Tomorrow, if I can keep the car within the white lines I will be happy."

Vitantonio Liuzzi (20th, 1:29.267): "When I came into the pits there was a problem with my fuel rig and I ended up going out for my second run with no fuel. But this was just one of a host of problems we seem to have at the moment, because unfortunately we had very little testing time before this season. We might have done a bit better without that, as we has to settle for my time in the first run. But I don't think we would have made it into the second session. We will have to work very hard to try and have a better day tomorrow for the race."

Spyker-Ferrari

Adrian Sutil (21st, 1:29.339): "I'm happy with laps I did and I think I could have even beaten Liuzzi's time, but coming through the last corner someone went off in front of me into the gravel and brought a lot of dust and sand onto the track so I had to be a bit more cautious through the turn. We might be at back but I'm happy with my laps, I didn't make any mistakes and hope for the best tomorrow in the race."

Christijan Albers (22nd, 1:31.932): "I'm disappointed to this far behind, but I don't think this time is representative of where we really are. I lost first gear in the first session and lost a lot of time when the guys had to change the gearbox, which meant I didn't get a lot of running on the softer tyre that we ran in Qualifying. As the tyres are now so important to the set-up and handling of the car, I could not get the best out of my laps."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "We pretty much qualified where we expected and with the time difference we expected. As far as Adrian is concerned, the day went to plan. We ran on the hard and soft tyres this morning and went for the softer compound for Qualifying. Unfortunately with Christijan this morning, we lost first gear on his first run and although he got out at the end of session, his running was seriously curtailed. This affected him quite badly in Qualifying as he had no real experience of the softer tyre and was unable to get the most out of the car. But the difference to the cars in front is not that great and we'll look to ensure that we have a good race pace to be able to pick up any positions we can in the race tomorrow."

Super Aguri-Honda

Takuma Sato (10th, 1:28.871): "What can I say, it was an absolutely fantastic team effort. It was a difficult day again as it was spitting with rain and a set-up change took longer than expected in the practice session so we only completed a few laps. During the whole of Qualifying the team worked well together, building up the car, step-by-step and things just went the right way. I was always going to be very happy if we made it into Q2, but I never imagined that we would reach Q3 - but we did, and it is a great feeling. Obviously this is just the start of the season, and we have a lot of work to do, so for tomorrow we just hope to have a good race."

Anthony Davidson (11th, 1:26.909): "It was awesome. I felt really on top of the car and what I did in Free Practice continued on in to Qualifying. I was really enjoying it and then I went off on my first attempt and I lost a little bit of time. On my last run I lost a lot of time in the last corner and I didn't set a good lap, but my next two split times were better than Taku, so I'm happy and generally really pleased for the team, but a little bit frustrated that I set my best time in Free Practice and not Qualifying."

Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "Fantastic news for the team. Again the weather interrupted the preparation for the final Free Practice session, but we got some good running in at the end and I think we showed ourselves to be in a racing state of mind. Come Qualifying, we tried to keep the boys as calm as possible, including ourselves, and we knew that if everything went our way we had a shot at getting through to Q3, but we weren't really expecting it. For Anthony to miss out on Q3 is the only disappointing thing about Qualifying today. To get Taku through to Q3 and to finish in the top 10 at the first race of our second season in the World Championship is just astounding. Everyone in the team, and back home at the factory in Leafield, did a fantastic job; the drivers drove very well and the Engineers got the cars balanced well. I would also like to thank all of our sponsors and partners Honda and Bridgestone Potenza."