Japanese GP 2007
SEPTEMBER 29, 2007
Saturday Team Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:25.368): "A very good qualifying for me and also the team. I really like the Fuji circuit. We looked strong already yesterday during practice when it was dry. Obviously today's wet conditions made it a very challenging session particularly as this morning's free practice had been cancelled - this makes today's result even more satisfying. The car ran perfectly, and the team has done a great job in making sure we were as prepared as possible. My final lap was quite good. I managed to improve my style in a couple of corners which made a difference but lost a little bit of time in the exit of the last corner. Today's pole position is important, but tomorrow is when it counts."
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:25.438): "Today's qualifying was OK for me. Of course, pole position would have been better, but I am satisfied to start from the front row which will be a good basis for the race. I have always liked driving in the wet, so I enjoyed today's qualifying. It's very challenging, and I think it will be an exciting race tomorrow as our main competitors are incredibly close and have been both in the dry and wet conditions. The Bridgestone wet tyre has been working well for us today. Obviously I will do what I can to take the lead but also be sensible as it's not in anybody's interest not to finish the race. I am happy with the team's performance, and the work we have done so far this weekend and look forward to the race tomorrow."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A great result in today's qualifying for the team with Lewis and Fernando occupying the front row. Both did a great job in these challenging conditions and are happy with their cars. The team, both here in Japan and back at base, has put in a lot of effort in preparing for these final three races and I am pleased that all our hard work seems to be paying off. However the race is where it counts, but today's result has provided us with the best possible basis for either Lewis or Fernando tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Probably one of the most exciting qualifying sessions this season with Lewis and Fernando achieving the optimum result for the team in most difficult conditions when it is very easy to get it wrong. With a gap of seven hundredths of a second between these two, it was very close indeed. The fifth all Vodafone McLaren Mercedes front row and a total of seven pole positions is quite a good balance for this season. I expect a close fight for tomorrow's race; however, we had fast and consistent laps in Friday's free practice and a sound basis for the race tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (11th, 1:26.033): "It was a very tough qualifying session for me. The car's grip level was not great, but I could probably still have made it through if I had changed to my second set of tyres a lap earlier. But the main problem was the pace of the car in this configuration, which was not quite strong enough today. Tomorrow is another day though, and we have already moved up a position thanks to Rosberg's penalty. If the conditions develop in the right way, I think we can have a strong race."
Heikki Kovalainen (12th, 1:26.232): "The balance of the car was pretty good, and I did some good clean laps in difficult conditions, but the grip just wasn't there: the car was sliding on all four wheels in almost every corner. There's not much more to say, because our positions reflected our pace and we were not strong enough to get into the final part of qualifying. However, we know that we made some deliberate choices because the cars are now in parc ferme until the race, and hopefully they will pay off tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Realistically, the best we could hope for this weekend in qualifying was to finish seventh and eighth behind the three top teams. Instead, we will start from P10 and P11 on the grid, with the ability to choose our fuel load depending on the conditions tomorrow, which could be a real advantage as we see how the forecast develops. The level of downforce we ranwas perhaps a little lighter than ideal for today's conditions, which meant the drivers struggled for grip, but equally this could be very favourable tomorrow at a circuit where overtaking will definitely be possible."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Clearly, we are not happy to find ourselves eleventh and twelfth after a qualifying session run in difficult conditions, which other teams managed to exploit to their advantage. However, we know that the lap-times also reflect the compromise that each team has found between being competitive in today's wet conditions and putting in a strong race performance. Both cars were very competitive in terms of straightline speed, which suggests that our set-up was perhaps not perfectly suited to the conditions today - but this may well prove an advantage in different circumstances tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:25.516): "Quite a good qualifying session. I could probably have got a better grid position but I came up against a bit of traffic and also had a small problem with the electronic management of the gearbox which cost me precious time. Of course it was something of a gamble starting qualifying in the wet without having ever run in these conditions but it only took a handful of laps to find the right line. I expect tomorrow's race will be very tight. As we could work out from yesterday's practice, it is very close between us and our main rivals. Overall, the car worked well and I think I can be competitive in the wet or dry."
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:25.765): "Qualifying produced a very close fight between us and our main rivals. In Q1 and Q2, I was very pleased with the handling of my car but something changed in terms of balance on new tyres and less fuel, given that it gave me a bit too much oversteer. A shame, because even at the start of Q3 I was going well, but in the end, with new tyres, I lost time with this oversteer. All the same, fourth place is not a bad position. There are four of us in the same two tenths of a second and all sorts of things could happen tomorrow."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "A different qualifying session to usual, given that this morning, because of adverse weather, the final free practice session hardly took place at all. Today's result is further confirmation of just how close things are between us and our closest rivals, given that the four cars are all within two tenths, this time with ours on the second row. We are aware how important is the final result in terms of the Drivers' Championship and we will give it our best shot in the race. Apart from the usual factors - strategy, reliability and the work of the team and drivers - it is obvious that the weather will also play an important role. Today, with both types of rain tyre being used, we had further confirmation of the great job that Bridgestone is doing in its role as sole tyre supplier and I thank them for this."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Qualifying was a lottery in terms of defining car set-up. For sure, the session did not run as smoothly as oil. Several times, traffic did not help and we also had an electronic management problem on Kimi's gearbox which penalized him a bit in the final part of Q3. Having said that, we will have to wait until tomorrow to find out if the choices we have made, both in terms of strategy and set-up, are the right ones. Whatever happens, we can expect a very closely contested race."
Jenson Button (7th, 1:26.913): "I love these wet conditions! A really good qualifying session today and I am obviously pleased that we put in a strong performance at our home race and in front of all the Honda fans here at Fuji. They were pretty tough conditions out there with the track getting greasy towards the end and it was difficult to know which tyres to be on. The team did a great job in deciding our strategy and we definitely got the best of the car in Q1 and Q2. The third session was more difficult as we were running our race fuel levels but I'm happy to have qualified seventh but be starting from sixth on the grid tomorrow. The driver can really make a difference in these conditions so we will be hoping for a wet race as we have a great starting position and there is everything to play for at this end of the grid. I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow and if it is wet then we have a chance to score some points."
Rubens Barrichello (17th, 1:27.323): "I am very frustrated to have lost the chance to go into the second qualifying session by only 0.1sec today. The car was capable of a lot more performance in these wet conditions. Nevertheless I am happy for the team as Jenson did a good job today. It will be a challenging race from here but this track does have some overtaking opportunities so I will put up a good fight to do my best in the team's home race."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "In free practice this morning both Jenson and Rubens did only two laps on extreme-wets and reported that the wet track had good grip on those tyres. Then the session was aborted and we went straight into qualifying. This session was wet again and we decided to go for the wet tyres as with 22 cars on the track, the standing water would disappear quickly and then the extreme wet would probably overheat within just a few laps. Rubens was competitive at the start of the session but at the end of Q1, when the track became faster, he had a moment in turn five and did not make it through to Q2. Jenson progressed easily from Q1 to Q3. In the last session he qualified in an excellent seventh position but we are obviously even more pleased that he will be starting from P6 on the grid tomorrow due to Rosberg's engine change penalty."
Nick Heidfeld (5th, 1:26.505): "I am very happy with fifth. I hoped at the start I had a slight chance of catching one of the Ferraris in the wet conditions, but it didn't work out. Qualifying wasn't easy, but in general the grip level of this circuit in the wet is pretty good. During the final laps I couldn't improve, as the last set of new tyres degraded too quickly. The weather forecast currently varies, but if I had my choice I would wish for a race under wet conditions."
Robert Kubica (10th, 1:27.225): "It was not very good for me at all during qualifying. Unfortunately we missed some experience of running in the wet. I had graining and I don't think our timing was right in qualifying three. We now have to see how the weather is tomorrow, although on today's performance I would prefer dry."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The weather conditions today were very unusual. Nevertheless we have the usual picture for the first five starting positions. With Robert not everything went perfect in Q3, but Nick did well in all three qualifying sessions. The weather predictions for tomorrow are not clear. We have to prepare for a wet race and for a drying track. I think we can expect different race strategies tomorrow and, therefore, an interesting race."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "It was an unusual Saturday. After only being able to work on a dry set-up on Friday we did not have the chance to work on a wet set-up in today's third free practice. Nevertheless we got both cars into the top ten again. The fact that not everything works perfectly under these conditions is obvious if you look at Robert. Nick on the other hand has a good starting position. Because of the expected weather for Sunday we can look forward to an interesting race."
Jarno Trulli (14th, 1:26.253): "We pushed as hard as possible. The first session was pretty good in terms of car balance and grip. The conditions were acceptable but there was a lot of spray. We started with a completely wet track but in the middle of the second session it dried up a bit. I was actually more competitive in the wet conditions than at the end with a drier track. Tyre wear and the tyre pressures getting a little high at the end of the session made it hard, even though the track itself was getting quicker if you look at other people's lap times. We just couldn't set a better time. It is unfortunate and certainly disappointing but we will just have to see what we can do in the race. I hope we can get a better result tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher (16th, No Time): "The conditions out there were not too bad but visibility was quite poor. In general it wasn't a problem for us to drive but there was obviously not much grip and with the water on track there was a lot of spray. There's not a lot to say about the incident with Yamamoto at the end of Q1. I thought he had seen me. He moved to the outside and seemed to decide fairly late to turn in - I guess he hadn't seen me. I expected him to leave the door open and when he didn't that was it really. The car felt okay so it was disappointing not to be able to take part in Q2. It will be hard from where we are on the grid but I will do my best and hopefully make up some positions."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "Conditions were not ideal today but they were the same for everyone. Our qualifying session did not go well from Q1, with Ralf's crash. He spent most of the session in traffic and even considering that he was fast enough to make it into Q2. But he had a misunderstanding with Yamamoto on his last lap when he thought Yamamoto had seen him. So we lost Ralf, although the car is not badly damaged and it will be repaired for the race. Jarno also got into Q2 but on his last run the combination of tyre wear and pressures being a little bit too high meant he wasn't able to improve sufficiently to go into Q3. That was it - a bad result obviously. For the race, there is a high risk of rain tomorrow so anything can happen and we will do everything we can to improve."
Mark Webber (8th, 1:26.914): "That was a pretty good session for us. It would have been nice to be a bit further up on the grid, but at least we're in the top ten, I don't think we could have got much more from the car. The conditions weren't great out there, but it was the same for everyone and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
David Coulthard (13th, 1:26.247): "The conditions were very inconsistent through the first session - but, of course, it was the same for everyone. There was some light drizzle, so you had to try and get clear track at the prime moment for your tyres, which tended to be the second lap. Even a light amount of rain creates a lot of spray on the track, so if there's traffic you don't see the braking zone until about 200 yards from the end of the first straight. I had a lot of under steer for my final timed run and the car was performing badly under braking."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Mark has once again made it through to Q3, having easily moved through the first two sessions, we believe that strategically we're well placed with him for tomorrow. David looked set to join Mark in Q3 after his first run in Q2, but unfortunately he wasn't happy with the balance of his car for his last run and, ultimately, didn't improve his time."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "These were exactly the kind of track conditions we had been expecting for quite a long time, and they gave us the opportunity to take advantage of a difficult situation for every team. However the weather conditions were relatively stable through the second session and it's no surprise to see the fastest cars at the top of the times. Mark had a strong session and Rosberg's penalty means we have a real chance of a strong race. David unfortunately was not able to take the most of his package in the changing conditions but still has a real chance for tomorrow as the track conditions may be inconsistent then as well. Scoring points will be our target once again and we will try our best to make it happen!"
Nico Rosberg (6th, 1:26.728): "It was quite a difficult qualifying today, especially because there was almost no free practice this morning and we could have used this time to get the car right for the wet conditions. In the first two qualifying sessions this afternoon, my visor was misted up, so I could barely see where I was going. By the time I got to Q3, everything was sorted and it all went pretty well in the end. I am happy with the result but it's very disappointing because without an engine change, I would have been starting the race in a fantastic sixth place. I think I am going to do a rain dance in my hotel room tonight as I think a lot of rain tomorrow would help me from my starting position further back."
Alexander Wurz (18th, 1:27.454): "It was a really disappointing session for me as normally these kind of weather conditions really suit me. However, everything happened at the wrong time, I was called onto the weighbridge by the FIA, I had bad traffic and I didn't manage to run my full programme. Of course you get quicker with every lap, so with these problems, it just didn't work out today."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a really good qualifying session from Nico who once again delivered when it mattered, continuing his consistency in qualifying. Alex missed out after the first session -it's always difficult in changeable conditions. It looks like these conditions will continue tomorrow, so with Nico's fuel fixed and Alex's free, we'll get our heads down tonight to see what we can do to get in the points tomorrow. We had no reliability issues today."
Sebastian Vettel (9th, 1:26.973): "Definitely a good day and a great experience for the team to get to Q3 for the first time. Fantastic! It was difficult not having any free practice this morning and it was the first time for me driving this car in the rain this afternoon. It feels good and I looking forward to tomorrow now. I think if I had managed that final run, I could have improved by up to two places but we went for a last minute strategy change which meant I lost the last lap. When you start high up the grid you expect a better than usual finish position. Hopefully there will be some more rain which would help us and then we will see how far we can go."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (15th, 1:26.948): "This result is okay. We took a gamble in terms of set-up strategy and I set off with quite low wing, as if for dry conditions, while we put Sebastian on wet settings. We knew it would be difficult in the wet, but we are hoping for a dry race tomorrow for which we now have the right settings. Overall it was a good qualifying as I don't think I could have got more out of my car. More rear wing definitely helped Sebastian make it to Q3. But I am really positive about tomorrow if it is dry, so the real situation for me could be better than it seems."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "One car was set up for the wet and one for the dry, so the one set up for the wet is P9 and the other is P15! Probably we could have made it to P8, but we just missed the flag at the end of the session which was a shame. But both drivers performed well. In some ways, being in Q3 could actually give us a more difficult race. But let us wait and see as the outcome will depend partly on the weather."
Adrian Sutil (20th, 1:28.628): "Yesterday was much better than today. We had no real running in the morning in the rainy conditions, so it was hard to set-up the car. We hoped that we would go better but we had so much understeer in the high speed corners, there was no way we could carry the speed through. When the car is wrong it is difficult to do anything in Qualifying; you just have to live with it, but we will check what the problems were and work overnight to be ready for the race tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto (22nd, 1:29.668): "Today was a strange day as the morning session was cancelled after we had done just one installation lap and we had to go without any data into Qualifying. We tried the extreme weather tyres and I felt the track conditions might allow more grip with wets so we changed, but I struggled to get a good balance on the car and couldn't improve my times. It is a shame, but as always I am going to try to do my best in the race."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Today we had a very disappointing Qualifying session. After the running yesterday we expected to be much more competitive, but in the wet conditions we just had far too much understeer and weren't able to adjust the balance with the limited time. We now have to look to get a better performance for the race, but with the expected wet weather conditions tomorrow anything could happen."
Anthony Davidson (19th, 1:27.564): "It is disappointing not to get through to Q2. I felt that I did everything right with regard to tyre choice in the session. The car basically did not have the pace in these conditions, which is a shame as I felt as though I drove a clean lap and got the most out of the car. I hope that we have dry conditions tomorrow because we know the car worked well yesterday, so if it is dry we should be able to have a good race."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:28.792): "We were fortunate that we were able to run in Qualifying today with such foggy conditions. During the first few minutes my pace was competitive, but I wasn't happy with the balance and so came back to the pit. Unfortunately I was also called to the weigh bridge and that cost me a bit of time. However, in the second outing, we didn't have any grip at all and it was a real shame because if we could have kept up our pace from the first outing to the end we were looking strong. Obviously we need to understand why we could not improve our time as this is so important before our race start tomorrow."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "Obviously this was a disappointing Qualifying at our home Grand Prix. Takuma lost some time during the session going to the FIA weigh bridge, but both cars were on the right tyre at the right time. I think we just globally failed to capitalise today."