Sat team by team: Part 1


Sat team by team: Part 1

A day of mixed emotions for Ferrari. Rubens Barrichello took a well earned pole position as he set his sights on securing second place in the drivers' championship this weekend, while Michael Schumacher starts from the back row of the grid after spinning at Turn 1 on his qualifying lap.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: "I thought pole was possible, but I did not know what Michael would do and expected it to be close. Then he spun and I was really shocked, because he does not do that very often. As for my lap, the balance of my car was good and worked well on new tyres. I was especially strong in the second section, as I have been all weekend and the first section was also good. As for the race, it will be a new experience for everyone. The track is getting more rubber down all the time and I think we will see an interesting race with some overtaking."

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: "I am not really sure what happened when I spun. We usually have to fight some understeer in that corner and we had not changed much on the car since the morning session. At the moment, the data does not provide an answer, so we will look into it. I don't know if it was my fault or not, but if we don't find something on the car then maybe it is down to what is between the fuel tank and the steering wheel! It is hard to say what I can do tomorrow, from this position. One thing is certain, it will be a big challenge. I had to come through the field in Monza and honestly, I was hoping it was the last time this season that I would have to do that. Now, I will just have to try again. I am not angry, just disappointed."

Williams had looked to be in the hunt as Ferrari's main challengers on Saturday morning when Ralf Schumacher set the quickest time in third practice, but it did not quite have the pace when it mattered on Saturday afternoon. Schumacher, competing in his first race since the United States Grand Prix in June, did well enough to take fifth on the grid while Juan Pablo Montoya struggled with handling problems to set the 11th fastest time. He will move up one place on the grid, however, because of Takuma Sato's engine change penalty.

RALF SCHUMACHER: "I am positively surprised with my result because I didn't expect I would make it into fifth position. I found it quite difficult to set up the car this weekend and I am still having some difficulties in the first sector. It's good to be back on track after such a long break and especially to be in reasonable physical shape too."

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: "I must admit I have struggled a lot to find the right set-up on this track. My car is still quite hard to drive and somewhat unpredictable. My qualifying lap wasn't too bad but the handling of the car was not good enough and I could not set a good time. Ralf managed to do a better job with his car and his starting position shows this."

Kimi Raikkonen delivered exactly when it was expected to grab a spot on the front row of the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix, thanks in part to Michael Schumacher's spin. Team-mate David Coulthard was not as well placed after handling problems left him struggling for speed. He was 10th fastest overall but will start ninth with Takuma Sato losing 10 places because he changed his engine before Saturday practice.

KIMI RAIKKONEN: "The car has felt good right from the beginning of the weekend and I have really been able to push. The track conditions had changed a bit overnight, and we used the morning's two practice sessions to perfect the set-up and it worked. I made a small mistake on my qualifying lap coming onto the final straight, but I don't think it cost me enough time to have claimed pole position."

DAVID COULTHARD: "That was a tricky qualifying. I had oversteer during my pre-qualifying, and we made a few adjustments to the set-up of the car just before qualifying, but we couldn't improve the handling dramatically. I lost about four tenths in the middle sector especially in turns 8 and 9. It will be a tough race tomorrow, particularly from ninth position on the grid, but we will see what happens in the first corner."

Renault had a troubled morning as Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve struggled for grip around the Shanghai circuit. The team did much work before qualifying to resolve the problem and Fernando Alonso put in a supreme effort to hussle his R24 to sixth spot on the grid. Jacques Villeneuve was just four tenths slower but, with the midfield ultra competitive, he was 13th fastest - but will start 12th because of Takuma Sato's engine change penalty.

FERNANDO ALONSO: "I had quite a difficult day because when we began running this morning, the car's handling was very different to yesterday and much more nervous. We had to work on solving these problems, and that meant we did not really reach the car's full potential in qualifying. From my point of view, I did not make any mistakes on the lap - I was pushing right to the limit and it was definitely my best lap of the weekend in terms of getting everything right. I am much more confident for the race than I was before qualifying though: we have a good chance for tomorrow."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE: "I am slightly disappointed with my position - although the gap to Fernando is not so big. I was really in the wrong part of the grid and the small time difference translated into a lot of positions between us. I wasn't completely happy with the lap in qualifying, and definitely lost several tenths in turn 13 before the main straight. But we know the car is better on used tyres - which means we will be stronger in the race than we were today."

Jenson Button recovered from a lacklustre run in pre-qualifying to secure third place on the grid - crucially on the clean side of the track, which will be vitally important for the start. Team-mate Takuma Sato was always in for a difficult time, having had a new engine fitted after a blow-up in Friday practice. With more fuel on board he set the ninth quickest time. He will start 17th after Michael Schumacher and Gianmaria Bruni both failed to complete a lap time.

JENSON BUTTON: "I had a good lap so I'm pleased to be starting the race from the second row of the grid. I didn't have a great run in pre-qualifying; I had a few problems with the car but it was much better for qualifying. I don't think we could have got much more out of the car and I was particularly pleased with the last sector. The car is working very well and I think we have a good set-up and strategy for tomorrow. The important thing is that we have qualified well ahead of the Renaults which was our immediate target, so that gives us a good advantage off the line."

TAKUMA SATO: "It was a difficult day as we lost the whole of the second session yesterday, so I think that the team has done a really good job on all the requests for the set-up of the car. We have done the best that we could today and with a 10-position penalty we have had to work on our strategy to see how the best can be made of these difficult circumstances."

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