Italian GP - Saturday - Team Quotes
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:21.997): "It is great to get pole position; I have been doing some good qualifying laps at the last races but they have not always come together in the final session like it did today. The car has been working really well all weekend and we already had a good idea that we would be fast from the test. The team has really taken the opportunity between now and Turkey to focus and from their efforts there has been a definite step forward in our pace. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow where hopefully we should have the same result."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:22.034): "It was a good battle with Fernando throughout qualifying. My first timed lap wasn't the best, but I was able to improve on it for my final attempt. The result today shows just how hard everyone at McLaren and Mercedes-Benz has been working. We have all put our heads together and this has resulted in us locking out the front row. For the team I hope we can maintain these positions throughout the race tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Fernando has been really strong throughout this weekend and it was a brilliant, well deserved pole position for him. Lewis has not been quite as happy with the balance of the car, and in the circumstances therefore he did a great job. Whilst it is important to the team to be on the front row, we will now be concentrating all our efforts into repeating this performance tomorrow afternoon and rewarding everyone in the team for their tremendous efforts over the past few weeks."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "This double pole was a first-class team performance, with a gap of just 37 thousandths of a second between Fernando and Lewis. A great pole position from Fernando and our fifth 1-2 qualifying result in the last nine Grands Prix. We have the best basis for the race tomorrow and with the MP4-22's speed and our strategy we should be in a position to perform well."
Heikki Kovalainen (7th, 1:24.102): "This was another good qualifying effort from the whole team. The session went smoothly from my point of view, without any real problems. I was a bit lucky to make it through second qualifying by just a few hundredths of a second after I lost time when Barrichello went off track, but what goes around comes around and we have missed out by very small margins sometimes this year too. For the final laps, the set-up was working well and I was feeling confident with the car. I did a good first lap, and then went for broke on the second one and took a few risks. It didn't pay off, but I think Kubica was a bit too far in front today anyway, so I didn't lose any positions. We saw in Turkey that the picture can change between qualifying and the race, and hopefully we will see the same trend tomorrow. I will set my sights on trying to race with BMW."
Giancarlo Fisichella (15th, 1:23.325): "My qualifying session was ruined by Barrichello. He went off the track, and then pulled back onto the racing line as I was braking for the second Lesmo. I lost 0.27s there, and then more later on as I tried to make up the time. If you go off track, you cannot just pull back on at any point of the circuit without using your mirrors and ruin other people's laps. I am just so disappointed because the car was working well, andnobody wants to start their home Grand Prix from so far back. It is going to be tough but I won't give up, and hopefully we can use our pace to make up positions."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Heikki's qualifying position reflects precisely where we felt we were in terms of our relative performance. His car is quite nicely balanced, and using its tyres well, so we can expect a strong race from him. Giancarlo has been quick all weekend, and it was very unfortunate that he did not make it into the final part of qualifying through no fault of his own. One hopes that Barrichello's deliberate decision to pull back onto the racing line is recognised but even if it is, that is scant recompense for the victim."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Heikki's position on the grid is a fair reflection of our potential today. The times from practice this morning made it clear that the battle for places in the top ten would be very close, and that we would need everything to go perfectly to make it through with both cars. Unfortunately, that didn't happen today. We had hoped for better than seventh and fifteenth positions, but our challenge is now to make the most of them. The engines are performing well, and both cars are competitive in terms of top speed. Giancarlo will be hoping for some incidents ahead of him to make up positions, while Heikki will try and race aggressively against the cars in front."
Felipe Massa (3rd, 1:22.549): "I think third place was the best I could do this afternoon. We lacked a bit of speed to fight the McLarens for the front row but we know we are competitive in race trim, so we can be confident about tomorrow's race. The car is not bad in terms of balance, although it is a bit difficult under braking. I hope I get a good start and then play a good hand in a race that will be very tough. I will do all I can to bring home a good result in front of our fans."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 1:23.183): "The accident this morning certainly didn't help for qualifying, also considering the time lost in yesterday afternoon's free practice. I locked the wheels under braking and the car went right rather than left. At that moment there was not much I could do but accept that I would end up in the barrier. The McLarens were strong in the test and in free practice, so I don't think there was much I could have done about getting pole position. All the same I think we can get a good result given our pace over a longer distance. It definitely won't be the first time that we have had the odd difficulty in qualifying and then been very competitive in the race. I will do all I can to give our fans something to cheer about."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "After what we learnt at last week's test here and in yesterday's free practice, we expected a tough qualifying and so it was. On a single lap our rivals are very strong but we are aware that we have a very competitive race pace. The crucial factors for tomorrow's race will be the same as always: reliability, strategy, the work of the team and the drivers and consistency of performance. Clearly, we are keen to do well here at Monza in our home race in front of our fans and our employees who will pack out their own special grandstand."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "This was definitely a very difficult day. This morning we had Kimi going off the track, after he lost control of the car when braking on a bump going into Ascari. We found no signs of a mechanical failure and so we carried on working with Felipe. We fitted the T-car chassis with the engine from the damaged car but of course, the set-up was not perfect and also given the time lost in the last two sessions of free practice, Kimi's chances in qualifying were definitely compromised. We knew our closest rivals would have the edge over the single lap and Felipe, while giving it his all, could not get higher up the order than third. But we have a strong race pace and so we can be cautiously optimistic about the race tomorrow, where we will try to do our best, for us, for our fans and for our colleagues who are here supporting us."
Jenson Button (10th, 1:25.165): "I'm really pleased to have made it through into the top ten for the first time in quite a while. It took some time to really get to grips with the car this afternoon and it wasn't working well for the first few runs. However, we made improvements over the three sessions and got the best out of the car in the end. We've made changes to the front and rear suspension for this race, along with a different aero package, which is definitely helping us. Aero has been our main problem but we're not losing out too much with the low levels of drag that you need around Monza. The car is also looking after the tyres well which shows that it is mechanically sound. If I can get a good start from 10th tomorrow then we have to be aiming for the points. Strategy will be crucial and I'm confident we have a good race package, but it will also depend on the performance and reliability of the teams in front of us. This is a step forward and although we're unlikely to be scoring good points this season, it has given a boost to everyone here and back at the factory and is a small reward for all the hard work."
Rubens Barrichello (12th, 1:23.176): "We had the pace to get through to the final qualifying session so it was disappointing to just miss out today. My first flying lap was the one which really counted and I was already two-tenths up at Parabolica, but unfortunately I just got a little too close to Wurz and the car lost downforce which cost me some time. On the second lap, the tyres had gone off a little but I had to push hard nonetheless as we had a good chance of getting through. I ran wide at turn seven and lost the opportunity. When I rejoined the track it was in front of Fisichella, who was on his crucial lap. I'm sorry if I caused him a problem but I had nowhere else to go in that situation other than to get back on track. We have to look at our performance today as an improvement; the car felt good around here, and P12 gives us a chance to fight for a point tomorrow."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "After focusing on our race preparation yesterday, we concentrated this morning on our qualifying performance. We have been working very hard on the car in recent weeks, including bringing changes to the front and rear suspension and aerodynamics. This has been rewarded here with improved performance and the weekend so far has been very encouraging."
Nick Heidfeld (4th, 1:23.174): "I am happy to be on the second row of the grid and I have a good feeling for the race. On my final lap I made a small mistake in the last corner, perhaps it cost two tenths of a second, but the gap to third is six tenths so in the end my mistake didn't really make a difference. Normally I make good starts and hope it will be the case here as well, although I have to start on the dirty side of the track and, of course, the first corner has to be all right. It is a pretty long way to the first bend here, and you have cold brakes and very little wing, which we are not really used to. We all have to watch out."
Robert Kubica (6th, 1:23.446): "It was sort of business as usual, and we get used to this good position. We had the possibility, because of Kimi Raikkonen's problems this morning, to stay in front of a Ferrari, and Nick managed to do it so it is good for the team. Happily I am in good shape for the race."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This was a great qualifying result for the team. Nick was able to finish fourth on his last lap - just in front of Kimi Raikkonen. Robert was also quick and, as expected, is in the top six. The pit stop strategy, with two cars immediately after each other, worked perfectly."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "For the 13th time in a row we made it into the top ten in qualifying, and today it was quite easily. Our performance is good. I think we are in a strong position for the race."
Jarno Trulli (9th, 1:24.555): "It is great to make it into the top ten again but it was obviously a very tough battle to get there this time. The gaps between the drivers were very small so it was a fight to the last moment in every lap. I wasn't really expecting to get into Q3 but I was happy with my laps and with the result. I got the most out of the car and P9 is a good position to start from tomorrow. The weekend has actually gone pretty smoothly up to now and the team has worked hard to get the job done. Brakes and tyres are playing a major role this weekend and now we will have to get it right from the start tomorrow and try to get away without problems. Then we can push hard to convert this into a good result at my home race."
Ralf Schumacher (18th, 1:23.787): "That was a very tough day. It was a very tight session, with many cars putting in similar times around the mark to qualify for Q2. Just as yesterday Jarno and I put in similar times but he made it and I just missed out. Still, we were not as competitive as we had hoped. It's been a hard weekend so far for us here at this circuit. Our straight line speed is fine but braking is also important and you have to be able to ride the kerbs, which remains a difficulty. But it will be a long race and we still have some things to sort out with our tyres so maybe that can help us tomorrow. It will be a difficult afternoon from 18th but I will try my best and see what we can do."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "It seems that we are struggling at both extremes of the circuit ranking in terms of average speed. We had a hard time in Monaco and it's obviously been the same story here. It was a hard task to get into Q3 but Jarno put in two good laps at the end of each of the first two sessions. So he has a reasonable starting position for tomorrow but it was hard work. The lap times were very close throughout and Ralf was narrowly on the wrong side of the cut to make it into Q2. Now the race will be interesting tomorrow. We should see very different strategies because of the characteristics of the track and the way the tyres are working. So the outcome is quite open and it is difficult to anticipate what will happen. On our side we feel quite happy with our choice so we will go into the race with confidence."
Mark Webber (11th, 1:23.166): "We knew it was going to be very tight to get into the top ten today, we haven't been quick enough in the test, practice or qualifying. We're getting used to being on the bubble of the top ten. It's frustrating, I feel I did the best job I could today and the guys did a good job working on the car, but we're just not fast enough at the moment."
David Coulthard (20th, 1:24.019): "We lost oil pressure in the gearbox, which locked the rear axel as I was going down the gears into the first chicane and I spun off the track. We need to take the gearbox apart to see what the exact problem was. It was unfortunate timing for it to happen, but twentieth is now where we are for tomorrow."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Eleventh is a frustrating place to finish, especially as we were so close to being in the top ten, ultimately missing out by less than a tenth of a second. However, eleventh gives us the ability to pick our strategy carefully for tomorrow and will hopefully allow us to race the Williams, Toyota and Honda ahead. David unfortunately suffered a suspected transmission failure, which will need investigating fully."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "We are a little bit disappointed by today's qualifying. For the second race in a row, our performance was not fantastic and today we also had reliability issue as we lost David in Q1. The fight is still very tight but we lost some pace compared to our direct rivals which is disappointing. We know tomorrow's race will be long and that may work in our favour, but first we need to ensure both cars make it to the finish. We hope to make the most of our package in race conditions, but we know it will be tough."
Nico Rosberg (8th, 1:24.382): "Eighth is a good result. We're looking quick, which shows how well our Toyota engine is working at the moment. This will give us a chance for a good race tomorrow, in terms of not being overtaken and then to be able to overtake. It is a very tight grid, but we have a strong car and we're looking ok in terms of strategy as well. There isn't much difference between strategies here and it will be interesting to see what will work best in the race."
Alexander Wurz (13th, 1:23.209): "It went ok today but it was quite challenging out there. We made a few small set-up adjustments this morning which worked out well and the car was good. Unfortunately, on my flying lap in Q2, I locked my front tyres too much going into the first corner and that cost me about one and a half tenths. That was my chance to get into the top ten gone but, from my starting position we can choose our strategy and I'm optimistic we can get in the points tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Today went well for the team. It was another capable performance from Nico and Alex made it through to Q2 and did a good job to get 13th place. We didn't encounter any real problems at all, both the tyres worked well and we're in a strong position for a positive race tomorrow. Strategy will be interesting tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel (16th, 1:23.351): "This was definitely a good day for me as finally I had a good qualifying. Yesterday, we were struggling and I was not very happy with the car, but this morning we improved it a lot and we also seemed to have found the best way to deal with qualifying, as I really got the maximum out of the tyres. In Q2, the track improved and I improved, but I did not have any more of the Option tyre at that point. In the final sector, I might have lost a couple of hundredths, but overall for me this was a nice day."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (19th, 1:23.886): "I was a bit unlucky in that Wurz was going out on track just as I was on my final quick lap and it slowed me down a bit. I also then had traffic in the last two corners which cost me two or three tenths, otherwise I might have made it to Q2. Since this morning I seemed to be suffering with a lack of top speed compared to my team mate. We have improved the car a bit today, but it will be a tough race. As for tomorrow's strategy we will have to look at what the others are likely to do. However, Monza is usually a one-stop race as going down pit lane takes a long time, but nothing is decided yet."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "This circuit seems to suit us better than some of the others. Sebastian did a good job, while with Tonio, he never really got a completely clear lap. This morning he did a 24.2 and he could have replicated that easily. In terms of our strategy for the session, we decided that getting into Q2 was the main aim, which is why Sebastian ran out of his first choice of tyre for Q2. We did a total of five runs in Q1 between the two cars, staggering them to cover all the time slots and it so happened that Sebastian got the best one."
Adrian Sutil (21st, 1:24.699): "Everybody thought this session would be better but in the end the gap to the group in front was quite big. I had a good second run that was about two tenths quicker but unfortunately my fastest sector times were on my in lap to the pits. In general the second lap on the new tyres always seems to be better than the first and perhaps I could have been two tenths quicker, but for sure this would not have been enough to take another place. So we are still 21st and 22nd and are a little disappointed, but I think we can come back stronger tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto (22nd, 1:25.084): "We tried to do two timed laps in the first run, but then towards the end of the first outing I broke the front wing when the rear brakes locked and I couldn't control the car and went into the barriers. Fortunately though we could repair the car and do another run. I did a good lap time until the Parabolica but just before the corner I caught another car so I lost a lot of time in there. I can say that I am really unhappy for both myself and the team as we were OK in the morning and looking forward to Qualifying. I really expected more and a better result, but now it's happened and we have to keep concentrating on tomorrow now."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A disappointing Qualifying session where we still seem to be struggling to get one lap performance. When you look at our long run pace we seem very competitive, but when you take the fuel out we struggle to improve our lap times and once again went slower than we did this morning. We know we have to improve our Qualifying pace but I am sure the race pace will be much more competitive and we'll be able to race with the group in front."
Anthony Davidson (14th, 1:23.274): "It was a good Qualifying session following quite a difficult week so far and also the red flag in FP3 today which put us all out of the running for a while. This made it difficult to get a nice balance for the first lap in Qualifying, but as the rubber came to the circuit, the car kept improving and we got the finer details of the car balance right, enabling me to hook up a good lap again and take 14th position. To be above our nearest rivals again, and also a Renault, is quite an achievement, so I am chuffed with that."
Takuma Sato (17th, 1:23.749): "The car felt better today and there was good progress made from yesterday. In my first run in Qualifying I just went a little bit deep under braking into Turn One and thought that I could make up the time later. On the second run I was quicker, but unfortunately I hit the additional bump on the second chicane and obviously lost time there. But I think that we have progressed well over the weekend up to this point, so let's hope that tomorrow turns out to be a better day."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "Normal. The team recovered well from a disappointing Friday. The Red Flag in FP3 cost us one set-up balance run, but we still got most of the testing work done. It's just so tight out there. I know that I keep repeating myself, but it is so close on the time sheets, with just one hundredth of a second keeping Taku out of Q2. It was an excellent lap from Anthony just when he needed it and another very good run in Q2."