French GP - Saturday - Team Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:15.104): "I think starting from the first row is a very good basis for tomorrow's race. The team worked very well; improving in all the practice sessions and the balance of my car is extremely good. On my final lap in Q3 I braked a bit late into turn 15 and ran wide. Without this mistake the pole position would have been possible for me today - I had it there. With our strategy we should be in good shape and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (10th, No Time): "It has not been an easy day so far in terms of luck, but hopefully we can turn things around tomorrow. I had a brake sensor issue in this morning's practice which cost me some time, and then a gearbox problem in the final qualifying. It's a relatively new experience for me as I have had no problems for such a long time. We will look at the car when it comes back from Parc Ferme and take things from there. However anything can happen in the race, and we will work as hard as we can to score some important points. Also some people say it may be raining which will lead to some uncertainties which we might be able to benefit from."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "So far this year we have not suffered from any major technical problems during race weekends and it's disappointing that the first one ruined Fernando's qualifying session today. He had the speed to qualify on the front row. However with a good strategy he should be able to make up some positions in tomorrow's race, and with the suspected rain adding some unpredictability we may be able to turn this to our advantage. Lewis had a trouble-free qualifying, and his front row position should give him every opportunity for a strong podium finish."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We have had the best possible level of reliability throughout the season so far, but today Fernando had to stop with a gearbox problem. Sorry for Fernando, everybody in the team will give it everything to fix today's problem. With his speed, Fernando will still have a chance for a good result tomorrow. Lewis again showed a great and consistent performance, and he will line up on the front row of the grid for the fourth consecutive time which is a great achievement."
Giancarlo Fisichella (5th, 1:15.674): "This result shows we have made more good progress with the new parts we brought here for the car. My feeling is better now, and there is more grip; the result is that the gap to the leading teams has shrunk a little bit more. It is very motivating to be driving with the team at the moment, and seeing the progress we are making at every race thanks to the hard work at the factory and at the track. We know there is the potential for more too, so everybody is feeling confident. In terms of qualifying, I was struggling with understeer this morning in practice, and even through the first part of qualifying. But my engineers did a great job to find some adjustments, and the car got better. My final timed lap was very clean, and fifth is a good starting position because we have a good strategy. I'm looking forward to the race."
Heikki Kovalainen (6th, 1:15.826): "This has been a good recovery from yesterday, when I was struggling a bit with the car. The handling was good all day, and the times were competitive. I had a power steering problem in qualifying though, and that cost me time, especially in Q3. The car was pulling quite hard to the left, so it was very difficult braking and turning in. So for sure there was more time to come, but even so, the third row is a good starting position for me, equal to my best at the last race in Indy, and our performance shows we are going in the right direction. But it's a good starting point, now let's see what the race brings."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Once again, our qualifying result reflects the steady progress that the team is making. There is still some way to the front of the field, but at the moment, it's all positive news for us. Giancarlo had a generally good session, although some brake locking disturbed his runs. Unfortunately, Heikki had to contend with a more severe power steering problem, which certainly cost him some time. In spite of all that, though, this was our best qualifying result of the season and I am sure our strategies are sensible. We are hoping for a dry race tomorrow, and a straight fight out on track."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Our best qualifying result of the season, in the right place. Not particularly because this is our home Grand Prix, but because it's race number eight, and the steady improvement in performance follows on logically from race seven in Indianapolis, where we also got both cars into the top ten in qualifying. We are clearly still a step behind the top two teams, but the car is now quick enough to fight for the leading positions behind them - and small strategic details can make a big difference. The R27 has been easy to drive throughout the weekend, and the drivers' performances very equal. The top speeds are good, and both engines are performing well. It's a promising starting point for the tomorrow's race."
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:15.034): "I am very happy with this pole. On my first run in Q3 I did a good lap, while on the second, maybe I went a little bit over the limit in terms of getting the best out of the tyres and could not recover from that. Obviously, I hope that the run of wins obtained by drivers starting from pole continues tomorrow! It could rain, but I think we have a car that is good in any conditions. It is great to be back fighting at the front. Already at the Silverstone test last week, we saw that the car had improved, had more grip even on the opening lap and here we have found a good balance from the start of the weekend. In free practice and in the first two qualifying sessions, I never put together a clean lap, but I did manage it in Q3."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:15.257): "Of course I would have preferred to be in front of everyone, but third place is not so bad. We will have to see how the race evolves and the various strategies will work out. I am confident, because I know I have a car that is competitive over a race distance. On my final run in Q3, I made a mistake that probably cost me a place on the front row. I have a good feeling with the F2007, which is very well balanced and has been since the start of the weekend. It will be a very tough race and I will give it my best shot to bring home as many points as possible."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was a very close qualifying session, which ended with our two cars securing first and third places, with Felipe and Kimi respectively. Our cars have shown themselves to be competitive right from the start of this Magny-Cours weekend and this was confirmed for the first time today. However, we are well aware that while this year, the qualifying result seems to be even more important than usual in determining the final result, today's achievement is only the first step. The longer and more important one comes tomorrow afternoon. It will be a closely contested race, given how well matched are the teams. As usual in the race, the key factors will be strategy, reliability, as well as the work of the team and the drivers."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "It was a very exciting hour of qualifying, with a fine duel between ourselves and our main rivals. We are back to having a car on pole position after a period in which we experienced some difficulties in this part of the Grand Prix weekend. It is the result of all the work done these past weeks, both in the factory in developing the cars and on the track in testing. We know however that the race is the most important part of the weekend. The two F2007 are well balanced and everything is in place for us to do well. It is an important race because we have to reverse the trend in both classifications if we want to keep our hopes alive."
Jenson Button (12th, 1:15.584): "It's always so tight here at Magny Cours during qualifying and we saw that again today. We have made a step forward and the car is certainly better than at the last race in Indianapolis, although our position doesn't really reflect that. It's nice to be in front of some of our direct competitors in the midfield though. Looking ahead to tomorrow, our race pace is definitely better than our one-lap pace, you could see that in practice yesterday. We will keep working towards the race and I think we have a good strategy, so I am hopeful that we can have a better result tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (13th, 1:15.761): "The car was definitely better in qualifying this afternoon after I made some changes during morning practice when we weren't really happy with the set-up. We took a little bit of a gamble but it resulted in a more balanced set-up and I think we worked hard to get the most from the car today. We know that our long-run pace is strong so I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "Today's qualifying was very close, as is typical here in Magny-Cours and we missed out on a place in the top ten by only two tenths of a second. The latest developments brought the car closer to our direct competitors, so we are pleased to see that our progress at the test last week has translated well to the race track. Our race pace on high fuel loads is now more consistent which is promising for the race tomorrow."
Robert Kubica (4th, 1:15.493): "It was good, a positive weekend and I am happy the car is working well. I was happy about the balance of the car yesterday, and again today as we have improved it and this morning's lap times were very consistent. I think a better result than this wasn't possible, but I feel we are in good shape for the race, although I think Renault here are closer to us than we are to Ferrari. Overtaking here is very difficult and that was why it was very important to qualify in front. I think we have to make a good start and keep up our speed for the whole race."
Nick Heidfeld (7th, 1:15.900): "The qualifying was okay, but not particularly good so I am not completely satisfied with my grid position. On my last outing in the first chicane the rear was very nervous and the car was oversteering. Nevertheless, the balance of the car today was better than on Friday. My lap times from this morning didn't reflect the true performance because I had too much traffic. My back didn't cause me any trouble at all. It was a painful muscle cramp and this was treated successfully last night. Obviously Ferrari is stronger than us and Renault has caught up. For tomorrow the weather forecast predicts rain and I would welcome a wet race. We haven't had one for quite a while and I like driving in the rain a lot. It could mix up the field and provide good entertainment for the spectators."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "On his return Robert had a great qualifying. Fourth on the grid gives him a very good starting point for the race. Nick also made it to the final qualifying session, but his final fast lap wasn't perfect. Even more important than his grid position is the fact Nick didn't have any back pain. Seventh means he is starting from the clean side of the grid, so this is also a good starting point for him. We didn't have any technical problems during the entire qualifying."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "In the eighth qualifying session of the season we made it in the top ten with both cars for the eighth time - so we are very satisfied with the result. We had a trouble free qualifying, and it demonstrated that we improved the set-up of the cars after Friday's free practices. Robert is back as strong as ever and has a good starting position for the race. Unfortunately Nick didn't manage a perfect lap, but he has good chances as well."
Jarno Trulli (8th, 1:15.935): "That was a good qualifying session and I am pleased with the result. The team and I worked hard on the set-up in practice and I think we got it more or less right, so we were able to get the best out of the car in qualifying. I think I did a good job, and also the team did as well. It took some very good laps at the end of Q2 to get into the final session so I was happy with my performance there. Also in Q3 I think we got the maximum out of the car and my fastest lap was very, very close to the cars in front, just over a tenth away from sixth place. Now I am looking forward to the race. In Indianapolis I started from eighth and did a good job to finish sixth so I am hoping for another strong result."
Ralf Schumacher (11th, 1:15.534): "In general I am quite happy. We knew from the beginning that it would be a bit difficult to get into the top 10 but of course that was our target. In Q1 I had a good run and set two quick lap times so I easily made it into the next session. We got one car through to Q3 but the times were very close together in Q2 and I missed out by just a few tenths. My lap was okay but the middle sector wasn't ideal and I lost a little bit of time there. But I am still positive because anything can happen in the race with the cars so close together. We have to see who has the better strategy tomorrow and also who will manage their tyres the best over a race distance. I am optimistic and my goal is to score points."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "That was quite a good session for us. The first thing you have to say about today's qualifying was just how close the times were - only a tenth of a second or so difference could put you towards the front of the grid or quite a bit further down. You could also see a clear difference between the two tyres, with the soft tyre performing better today, although that is of course not necessarily going to be the case tomorrow. Both our drivers did a good job. Ralf performed well, particularly setting the seventh fastest time in Q1, but despite another good lap in Q2 he was unlucky to miss out by a narrow margin. Jarno again qualified well, despite a bit of an issue in Q1 when he thought the red flags were out and backed off, causing him to drop to 15th. But he had clean laps in the next two sessions, setting good times, and his final position is encouraging. Starting from eighth and 11th we are optimistic and our target is to get both cars into the points tomorrow."
Mark Webber (14th, 1:15.806): "The first qualifying session went pretty well, but in the second session I had a moment in the fast chicane on my first timed lap, so I aborted it. The second lap went okay, but it just wasn't quick enough. I just didn't seem to have the rear grip in the second session that I had in the first. We'll see how we go tomorrow."
David Coulthard (16th, No Time): "I had a problem with my car on my out lap, which the guys are looking into now. It's very disappointing as I think we were in reasonable shape this weekend. Everyone's working hard in the team to find the edge, that's the definition of Formula One, being right on the limit. Sometimes teams hook it up, as McLaren have this year, but they had reliability issues before now so I'm reluctant to be 'dummy in the dust' because I don't want to lose the attacking spirit that's in the team at the moment. Sixteenth isn't good, but that's what we have, so I'll do the best that I can from there."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Unfortunately, it was a very disappointing qualifying session for both drivers. David's looked competitive all weekend and it was unfortunate for him to have a suspected oil pressure related issue. For Mark, it didn't come together for him today, we need to work hard tonight and make sure we have a competitive race tomorrow."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "We are slightly disappointed today after qualifying. We have made it into Q3 in the last few races but we endured a more difficult session this afternoon. David had a mechanical problem that prevented him from entering into Q3 and Mark unfortunately was not able to make it either. We need to remain positive for tomorrow, it's the French Grand Prix, we will be racing in front of lots of our Viry colleagues, and we are determined to do a strong race ... but it will be difficult."
Nico Rosberg (9th, 1:16.328): "It is difficult here to get the lap right in qualifying because grip is limited. I managed to do a very good lap in Q2, one of those laps you get once in a while, but I was a bit disappointed by Q3 because something happened with the gearbox in the second to last corner and I lost a few tenths. If that hadn't happened, I think we would have been a couple of positions higher than I am. Expectations for tomorrow are, of course, for points and we are in a good position to score."
Alexander Wurz (18th, 1:16.241): "If you ignore the fact that I went out in the first round and I'm in 18th place, I'm actually much closer to my team mate here than I've been at other races and was only a tenth away from making it into Q2. I had a clean run and made no mistakes. I had a bit of a balance issue in the last sector, but other guys were suffering with that as well. I'm disappointed, of course, but I have to keep a cool head going forward into the race."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Disappointing session for Alex not to get through from Q1. It looked like he had the speed but he didn't manage to hook up the sectors. Nico was going well and should have been good for a higher grid position. Unfortunately, he had a problem with the electronics on his timed lap going into turn 15 and lost a lot of time. We'll look into that now and find out what the problem was."
Scott Speed (15th, 1:16.049): "I was definitely not expecting to repeat yesterday's performance. We like to keep our feet on the ground here at Toro Rosso! I had a good run in Q1 and then the track conditions started to be a bit more difficult for our car as it got more rubbered in. We struggled a lot with the front end, trying to get the front to grip in the slow speed corners and that problem was worse in Q2. The car balance in the high speed corners is good and quite driveable and it is easy to produce a consistent performance with what I think should be a good race car."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (17th, 1:16.142): "The main problem I had today was traffic and I had been hoping to be much higher up the order. We didn't get the right slot and paid the consequences. There was a big mess in the pit lane as our neighbours were coming in and out of their garage, causing a traffic jam. But my main problem was the Spyker ahead of me on the track that made a mistake a cost me a lot of time. I was three and a half tenths up on my first run time but I lost the chance of going into Q2 because of that."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "The cars ran okay today and were well balanced but with twelve cars within three tenths of a second, it does not take much to make the difference between the top of that group and the bottom of it. However, maybe there are signs of some progress since North America."
Christijan Albers (21st, 1:17.826): "Today was tough for the team. We tried out some different electronic systems, and some different things for me to feel more comfortable set-up wise. We are getting there, so it was better from this point of view, but as far as the team is concerned, we are not so happy to be as far away from the front of the grid. We still have to work really hard."
Adrian Sutil (22nd, 1:17.915): "Q1 was OK, I just did a safe lap at the start of the session. The car felt good and on the second run I wanted to push a bit more. It was much better than yesterday and I think I could have been about half a second quicker, but then I had a clutch problem and couldn't do any more laps. It might not have made a lot of difference, I could maybe have been P21, but our race pace is better and hopefully the rain will come so you never know what will happen."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A fairly disappointing Qualifying session, with neither driver able to improve on the second run. Adrian stopped with a clutch problem, but in a session that looked to be faster than the morning's, we weren't able to match these times in the afternoon. Although it certainly would not have changed our Qualifying position, it is frustrating not to be able to improve. With rain forecast for tomorrow though, the order could be mixed up so we now have to look to get the strategy right and put on a much better showing."
Takuma Sato (19th, 1:16.244): "It was a tough Qualifying. Everybody's lap times were so close and we just couldn't make it through to Q2, which is extremely disappointing. We made some progress over the weekend, but it wasn't enough to reach where we wanted to be. I think tomorrow will be a very exciting race because I believe that our pace is relatively strong. I am starting at the back of the grid, but I will try my best."
Anthony Davidson (20th, 1:16.366): "It was a bit of a frustrating day. I couldn't get out in the last run due to getting caught in the pitlane traffic. I had to let a whole group of cars go and because we were trying to find a gap meant that I crossed the line just a second too late to do my quick lap. The car was feeling like it had a nice balance this morning though and I was actually up on my time at the end of the session, which was a shame. But I think that we've got a good car for the race tomorrow and we'll see what we can do."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "Tough day. We knew that the closeness of the pack and the layout of this circuit would not do us many favours and it didn't. It was tight all of the way through; a couple of tenths here and there and we would have got through to Q2, but that would have been fortuitous I think. It was a shame for Anthony to miss out on his second run by just one second. Everyone came out of the pitlane together and he just couldn't get his nose in which meant that he got shuffled down to the back of the pack. It's going to be a tough day tomorrow."