Malaysian GP - Saturday - Team Quotes
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:35.310): "All in all I'm very pleased as I think we have closed most of the gap to Ferrari. We made some improvements overnight and also between running this morning and qualifying, and the car is working well. I think we can have a strong race tomorrow, but the heat and humidity makes it tough on everything and everybody, but we will push 100%. A lot of work took place at the test last week but also back in Europe, and the car has definitely improved so we are going in the right direction."
Lewis Hamilton (4th, 1:36.045): "The car is working well and I think we could have had two cars on the front row. However when I came to Turn 7 it had started spitting with rain a little bit. I had experienced this at the test last week and knew it could be slippery, so I eased off a small amount. Apart from that everything went smoothly, and I'm confident for the race tomorrow. I'm on the clean side on the track and will aim to make a good start."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "The team has been working hard since Australia both at the track and back at base on closing any possible gap to our main competition. Qualifying seems to indicate that we have taken a step forward but whether this is enough we will only see in the race. Both the drivers and the rest of the team put in strong performances in tough conditions. We look forward to the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A thrilling qualifying session until the very end and I'm sure the spectators, both here in Sepang and in front of the televisions enjoyed it. With two cars on the first and second row we equalled our Melbourne result. Fernando, Lewis and the team did a first class job. With all their efforts during the last weeks, it looks as if the team has taken a step forward. We now have to see what the strategies of our competition will be tomorrow to see where we really are with our race pace."
Heikki Kovalainen (11th, 1:35.630): "The grip levels were improving with every run, and I think we had the pace to get into the top ten this afternoon. But I didn't manage to put my best three sectors together into one lap, so it's a little bit frustrating to end up eleventh - and outside the final shootout. From a personal point of view, though, this was a much better qualifying session for me compared to Melbourne. I think our race will be with Williams, Toyota and Red Bull tomorrow - and I am optimistic that I can do a good job."
Giancarlo Fisichella (12th, 1:35.706): "The car has been tricky to drive all weekend: the balance is not too bad, but we are lacking grip, and that makes the handling quite unpredictable, which means it is hard to put a clean lap together. Just like in Melbourne, we are a long way from the leaders, and we know that we need to improve. Looking to tomorrow, it will be a tough race, as always - and we are starting quite far back. We need to make the right calls on strategy, and see how things unfold."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We felt we had made progress before this race but of course, the notion of competitiveness is always relative - and it is now clear that some of our rivals have made more progress on this circuit. Having said that, it is equally true to say that we didn't maximise our chances today. Clearly the overall level of performance is disappointing, but we now have to knuckle down and make the most of the situation we find ourselves in. We will look to take full advantage of our freedom to choose the fuel load for both cars, and race hard through the midfield pack tomorrow."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "From the team's point of view, the first thing we look for is equality of performance between the two drivers and, unlike in Melbourne, we clearly have that today. The midfield battle is exceptionally close, but we are not at the front of that group, and that makes life much more difficult. Starting from the second half of the field means we cannot realistically hope for a strong result, but we must nevertheless race well, and make the most of our opportunities. On the engine side, we were disappointed to suffer a recurrence of our fuel pump problems on Heikki's race chassis this morning, but qualifying ran smoothly - and we hope to see this continue throughout the Grand Prix."
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:35.043): "I am very happy with this pole. On my second run I had a bit of traffic but on the last one, I got a really clean lap and I got a hundred percent out of the car. At turn 7 and in the final sector there were a few drops of rain, but luckily it did not get worse and I was able to finish my run without any bother. Obviously, tomorrow I want to finish the race in the same position in which I start it. We know we are up against some very strong opponents and that this is always a hard race, both from the physical point of view and in terms of the stresses on the car. In these very high temperatures, it is like racing in a sauna, and the track became very slippery, but I was able to put together my best lap right at the last minute."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:35.479): "All in all, today's result is what we could have expected. The balance of my car was better than in yesterday's free practice, but still not perfect for a single timed lap. But it is very good over a long run and so I think I can be a frontrunner in tomorrow's race. The battle was very close but we saw already in Melbourne that the McLaren is competitive in qualifying. The heat? It's the same for everyone so it should not be a decisive factor tomorrow."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Today's qualifying was very exciting, with the fight going down to the wire between us and those who seem to be our closest rivals. The changing weather, with the threat of imminent rain, rather mixed up the programme. Felipe put in an extraordinary lap and I am particularly happy for him after his troubles in Melbourne qualifying. Kimi did a great job to take third spot. We have taken an important step towards our targets for this weekend, but the key part comes tomorrow. The race here will be particularly tough on both the cars and drivers because of the high temperatures. As usual, reliability, strategy, team work and the performance of the drivers will be the factors that decide the final result."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "A very exciting qualifying, closely fought to the very last moment! We are happy with the overall result, with Felipe on pole and Kimi starting right behind him. Qualifying was affected by the weather forecast and the risk of rain meant we had to change our plans slightly, especially in terms of how we used the tyres. The F2007 showed it has great potential and we are sure we can get the most out of them tomorrow, while well aware that it will be very difficult as we are up against very competitive adversaries."
Jenson Button (15th, 1:36.088): "I'm obviously very frustrated. We know where we are at the moment and we're doing the best with what we have, but qualifying 15th is still difficult to accept. We made it through to Q2 but the car isn't good enough to get us through to the final session at the moment. It was unbelievable how much grip I lost towards the end of the second session. So we start from the second half of the grid and we'll have to see what the race brings, but this is always a tough race and tomorrow will be no exception."
Rubens Barrichello (19th, 1:36.827): "There is very little I can say, I am so disappointed. Given our current performance level, qualifying well was always going to be a struggle but to find myself where I am is so frustrating. Immediately before the session we had the problem with my race car so I had to switch to the spare car. That car wasn't set up for me, so in many ways it was like starting from the beginning again. At least by the end of free practice today my race car was well-balanced but obviously I wasn't able to benefit from the small improvement we had made with that car this morning which is very frustrating. Starting from the back of the grid tomorrow I can only see what opportunities arise in the race and that is the best we can expect."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "Jenson's 15th place qualifying position is disappointing but unfortunately it reflects the current performance level of the car. Rubens' position is obviously even more frustrating and less reflective of the car's current capabilities. We found a gearbox problem on his race car shortly before the start of qualifying and we had to switch to the spare car, which is unfortunate as he had found a good balance this morning and this had put him closer to the pace of Jenson. Tomorrow will be a tough race and we now have to hope that the good work we did on Friday on race set-up can give us some possibilities to improve during the race."
Nick Heidfeld (5th, 1:36.543): "I am very happy starting from fifth on the grid. It was the best I could achieve today as the balance of my car is better, but still not ideal, so under the circumstances the result is fine. Timing was quite difficult in the session when the sky became darker and darker, and on my last outing in two of the corners the track was already slightly wet."
Robert Kubica (7th, 1:36.896): "The car is as competitive as it was in Melbourne and I could have been in the top five, but we made a mistake. In the end we could have had a better result, and that is what counts. After free practice I was happy with the balance, as I was after the last test here. The car improved because the condition of the track improved and, though we had a few problems yesterday, we did not have these in qualifying."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "After problems with the set-up yesterday, we are happy with today's free practice and qualifying. In Q3 we started sweating when we saw the first rain drops. Along with the rest of the teams, we changed to new tyres earlier than planned. Due to lack of time, Robert was not able to do another fast lap, otherwise we would have seen him with a better grid position."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Overall we are happy with the performance of the cars in today's qualifying, but certainly we are not enthusiastic. For Robert we were too late for his last outing, and if he had had the chance he would have improved at least one position. Nick asked for the harder tyres for his last outing and improved his lap time. In general the cars have a better balance than on Friday. It was exciting to have to be ready to deal with the risk of rain, and in such a situation we have to be spontaneous and ready to change our schedule."
Jarno Trulli (8th, 1:36.902): "That was a good result and again we were able to exploit the car in qualifying trim, which has often been the case. I missed some running this morning due to an electrical problem but I still had a better balance than yesterday. Now we have to see how we can do tomorrow. I'm confident because I've always done good races here in Malaysia and the car has always performed better here than at some other circuits. It's always hot here so this is an issue both for the drivers and the cars, as the heat can lead to mechanical and technical issues. But we were reliable in Australia so we can hope for more of the same. Obviously we now have to make the best of our positions and aim for more points."
Ralf Schumacher (9th, 1:37.078): "In general that was a good qualifying session for us and it's good to get both cars into the top 10 again. This weekend has been relatively difficult for me because there has not been much grip out there and I've had a few balance problems. That's why I've been struggling a bit but overall I'm happy. We've had no major problems and no reliability issues so we can look forward to tomorrow. The field is close together and it will be a long, hard race but our goal is to make the points with both cars. We are expecting a dry race but the likelihood of rain increases as the race unfolds. When it really starts to rain here you need to use the full wet tyre but the track can dry quickly so there will be a lot of activity around the pits which should be interesting for the spectators."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "It's good to have made the top ten again to confirm our results from Melbourne. We also have good news that we are close to BMW and quicker here than Renault. But we can't help but be disappointed because we expected to be P6 at the end of qualifying. Various things didn't work out but mainly we got it wrong with the weather forecast. We were expecting a shower in the last moments of Q3 so we brought our new tyre run forward and that cost us a few tenths. At the beginning of Q3 we also saw that we hadn't put the valve cap on Ralf's rear tyre. He was losing air so we had to bring him in for an unscheduled pit stop. Once again we have prepared more for the race than qualifying and we spent most of the morning on race fuel. Jarno didn't even put in a low fuel run in practice because of an electrical problem at the end of the session. The tyres are closer than they were in Melbourne and the second spec is easier to manage but there is still quite a no ticeable difference and the soft tyre is faster both over one lap and over a race stint. Now we must look for the best result possible tomorrow."
Mark Webber (10th, 1:37.345): "It would have been nicer to be a bit further up, but that's probably where we are. It was very tight in Q2, but we managed to put in a lap in that got us in to Q3. In the last qualifying session, we decided to pit early, as we thought it was going to rain. Ten minutes either way, and it could have been a good call, but you have to make decisions when you're out there and that's what the guys thought was the right thing to do at the time. We're in the middle of the field for tomorrow's race, so we'll see what we can do then."
David Coulthard (13th, 1:35.766): "I was reasonably satisfied with the car today, so it's a shame not have got into the top ten. We had a few problems through practice, but a couple of tenths would have put me in the final qualifying session. I didn't go quick enough on my final lap and lost the back end in Turn four. I think we've had fewer issues with the car here compared to Australia, and other teams have shuffled around the order too. Renault seems to have dropped down a little and Toyota has popped up, I think people are moving around in these warmer track conditions."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Mark again made it through to third qualifying session, with David narrowly missing out. We took a bit of a gamble in Q3 and went for an early run in the session as all the weather forecasts were saying rain was due, but unfortunately it didn't come in time and Mark qualified in tenth position. I'm sure he'll be able to race strongly from that position tomorrow. David qualified in thirteenth, meaning we have the ability to choose his strategy tomorrow ahead of the race."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "Qualifying went pretty smoothly for us. It was quite easy to get through Q1, then Q2 was very tight but Mark did an impressive lap and did just what he needed to get through. The car seems competitive thanks to some aerodynamic evolutions in particular and our engine worked without any problem today. We are satisfied with our pace although we know it will be a very close fight tomorrow. We will definitely be racing to score points!"
Nico Rosberg (6th, 1:36.829): "I don't think we couldn't have hoped for much better than P6 today. I am pretty pleased, especially because yesterday we seemed unable to find the form we had showed here at the test. However, since this morning, my car has been feeling better and everything started to go in the right direction. As the grip level rises, the car gets stronger, just like in Melbourne. Starting from 6th is a good position for tomorrow, even if the gap to those around me is tight. The most important ambition for us tomorrow is trying to maintain our consistency and continue gathering points."
Alexander Wurz (20th, 1:37.326): "Unfortunately in Q1 the car developed a problem before my final runs, so I was not able to set a time to get through to the following sessions. I couldn't select gears, but we are not sure yet why that is. It's a shame because this area of the car has been working faultlessly all the way through winter testing, on the dynos and into last week's test, but that's how it goes. Tomorrow I'll just have to see what happens and just make the best of it."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Well done to Nico who did a good job with the car to qualify on the third row, he's obviously pretty good round here as he showed in his second Grand Prix last year, and he showed it again today. I am sure he can race strongly from where he is and we have a good strategy for tomorrow. Unfortunately, Alex's car got stuck in a gear during Q1 which meant he didn't get a proper run in and as a result, he's down in 20th. We'll check the car this afternoon and correct the problem for the race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (16th, 1:36.145): "It's quite good to make it into Q2, but unfortunately we still do not have the pace to go to Q3. We are learning and improving every time we go out on track and we have already made a step forward from the last race and we will continue to improve. Tomorrow afternoon we will not have an easy race with the hot conditions, but today I think I got the maximum out of this car. I think we can run better in tomorrow's race than we did in the last one, because we are using a bit more of the car's potential, but it won't be easy."
Scott Speed (17th, 1:36.578): "We have definitely made a step forward with the car this weekend, which is good. But I did not manage to get everything out of it on my last run, as I made a mistake in the final corner. Without that, maybe I could have also got through to the second session. In any case, our pace is better, even though we have a long way to go. I think that as far as tomorrow's race is concerned, maybe we can run a bit more competitively than we did in Melbourne."
Christijan Albers (21st, 1:38.279): "After the disappointment of yesterday's runs, we changed the whole car overnight and I got my head a little clearer. My team worked flat out just to get the best out of the car, which seems to be suiting me more and more as we go through the practice sessions. I'm obviously not too pleased with the level of the Qualifying though, I made some mistakes, although I did make it up in other corners. From now on we can only go up and get better."
Adrian Sutil (22nd, 1:38.415): "It's been a difficult day today. We tried some different things to reduce the oversteer, but it seemed to be in the wrong direction and I wasn't happy with the overall balance. I felt I couldn't get the maximum out of the car and I had a few difficult moments. At the moment we are losing about a second to the guy in front over one lap but, as we showed in Australia, I think we will be much closer in the race."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Although being at the back of the grid is never a great result, we can see the aero upgrade we brought to the track has made a difference. It's just one step in our development cycle, and we will keep working on it throughout the year. This weekend though we've suffered being only team that hasn't tested at the circuit - we've been playing catch up too much and yesterday it was hard to find a clear direction to follow. We looked at everything overnight and Christijan found his car significantly better today and was much happier with the balance, Adrian less so, but with the experience we've now gained from these four sessions our race pace tomorrow can only be better."
Takuma Sato (14th, 1:35.945): "It was a tough Qualifying. Having had a difficult free practice session, I missed the opportunity to do the soft tyre run properly in FP3. Going into Qualifying you really need to focus, and I did the best I could but unfortunately, as a team, we made a mistake for the tyre choice in the first session which knocked my confidence, rhythm and lap time. It was very hard to go through Q1, however I re-focussed and we just made it through to Q2. We improved in the second session, but the whole of Qualifying was tough. We should be happy with our result today, but it could have possibly been better. We are where we expected to be because this is such a demanding circuit, so even though I am slightly disappointed, at the same time I am happy and looking forward to tomorrow with hope."
Anthony Davidson (18th, 1:36.816): "I'm a bit frustrated with Qualifying because I had traffic on my lap on the soft tyre. The first run was okay, my banker lap on the harder tyre gave me P12 at that time, so I was confident I could improve on that easily in my second run. But the Toro Rosso held me up on his out lap and my flying lap and that was enough to ensure that I didn't improve on my time and didn't make it out of the first session, which is a shame."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "It's quite strange having a disappointed feeling when you've got a car through to Q2. We did not enjoy the best run in Q1 from a traffic prospective, especially for Anthony. He's annoyed at one or two of the other drivers who did not pay enough attention to their mirrors when he was on his performance lap and that cost him time. We got Takuma through into Q2, which is fantastic, and it's where we believe a SUPER AGURI car should be. We are a young team and we are all growing up and need to take this on the chin and move forward."