Saturday's Selected Quotes - Belgium
Juan Pablo Montoya - 1st: "That was a nice and smooth lap. I was sitting in the car when I saw a few drops of rain and was thinking 'oh no'. However I think it just stopped when I went out and didn't affect my lap. The car was working well despite us only having limited time to work on the set-up, but we seem to have found the perfect balance between speed and grip. To get the front row is fantastic for both Kimi and I as it's just what the team needs at the moment. I think it will be an interesting race tomorrow, and I'm sure the weather will play some sort of role. From where I'm sitting it doesn't matter whether it's wet or dry, so let's see, and I'm sure it will be exciting either way."
Kimi Raikkonen - 2nd: "To have both Juan Pablo and myself on the front row is great and I'm really pleased. Second place is good, and we will work from there to get the best result we can. The car seems to be working well in both wet and dry conditions which is reassuring as it seems like it's going to rain tomorrow. My lap was OK, but I was not on the limit as there were a few drops of rain. I'm confident of a good result for myself and the team tomorrow - we have definitely given ourselves the best possible basis today."
Ron Dennis: "It goes without saying that the entire team is pleased with the outcome of today's qualifying. Both Kimi and Juan Pablo performed well, and the team's disciplined efforts during the changing weather conditions so far this weekend paid off. We are all looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow, and we are confident that with our strategy we will be in with a strong chance of success no matter whether it's wet or dry."
Norbert Haug: "A perfect result and a great job by Juan Pablo, Kimi and the team, well done for the front row. Everybody made the best out of the limited running we have done so far this weekend. Taking our strategy into account we should be well prepared for tomorrow's race. However you will only see where you are in comparison to the competition once the race unfolds, and we see how the weather develops."
Giancarlo Fisichella - 3rd: "Obviously, I am disappointed about the engine change I had this morning, because this was a good qualifying for me. I had a nice lap, and the balance of the car was better than this morning. From what we have seen this weekend, we seem to be quite strong, and maybe closer to McLaren than we expected on Friday. Obviously, I will be starting from the midfield, but with the speed of the R25 here, I think I will be aiming for the podium again: it felt good last weekend, so I want to repeat it!"
Fernando Alonso - 5th: "I am pretty pleased with the position. At least we managed some running today, so we could enjoy driving here at Spa and start working on the technical programme. We made some changes before qualifying to improve the balance, and that worked well. It was a clean lap, so now I am in a good position for tomorrow. Things seem closer between us and McLaren than they have been in the last few races, and although it will be very difficult to beat them, maybe it's not impossible. We need to concentrate on the race now, and do a perfect preparation to be able to fight at the front and keep the pressure on."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It is a real shame for Giancarlo that after such a wonderful qualifying lap, he must lose ten spots, but those are the rules we play by and we accept them. Fernando's lap was equally strong, but now we need to see what differences there are in the race strategies up and down the pit-lane, while also keeping an eye on the ever-unpredictable Ardennes weather."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "With so little running this weekend, it has been difficult to get a clear idea of our speed relative to the competition, and the technical choices we have made are inevitably estimations as much as decisions based on accumulated evidence. On the sporting side, we obviously regret that we had to take the precaution of changing Giancarlo's engine, which leaves us with a sole representative at the front of the grid. However, there appears to be every hope of having a strong race tomorrow: the gap to our competitors is small, and we will be aiming to score plenty of points with Fernando. Obviously, Giancarlo won't be fighting at the front in the early stages of the race, but we have given both drivers the car they need to fight from the first lap to the last - which should help Giancarlo in the battle to work his way through the pack."
Jarno Trulli - 4th: "I honestly think that was a great lap. There were a few spots of rain during my first sector so I couldn't quite push as hard as I would have liked. But in general the car felt very well balanced so it was possible to push right to the limit, and that's what I did. Every sector of this lap is difficult but it felt quick, so I'm happy with where we've ended up. We've spent the weekend working to adjust the car for the tyres. We hope we've made a good choice and it means we are feeling confident about the race whatever the conditions. We're expecting a wet race so the spray could make life difficult but we all just have to get used to it and try our best."
Ralf Schumacher - 6th: "That was a reasonable qualifying lap given that I've found the car slightly difficult to drive this weekend. We went backwards and forwards with the tyre choice all morning and we changed the tyres just before the session, so that made things difficult. But it was a clean lap and both Jarno and I are happy to be starting so high up the grid tomorrow. There were a couple of spots of rain on my lap but that had no effect on the time. There could obviously be a lot more rain in the race so that could make things harder but hopefully being quite near the front of the grid there will not be quite so much spray. We'll be pushing hard for more points to close the gap on Ferrari."
Dieter Gass Chief Race Engineer: "That was obviously a very difficult day given the conditions that we have had all weekend. Yesterday's rain made it hard to do much preparation and we had the threat of more rain hanging over us throughout qualifying. But the whole team has worked very well in the most testing of conditions and we are happy with this result. Both drivers did good laps and we are as high up the grid as we could have expected to be. We feel we are very well prepared for the race so we're looking forward to another strong Sunday."
Michael Schumacher - 7th: "We said that we did not think there would be much of an improvement after Monza and so today's performance is pretty much what we expected. We did the best we could and it seems that I will start from sixth place, which is okay, although I would have preferred to stay seventh on the clean side of the grid. If it stays dry, we can only hope to fight for points, so obviously I prefer if it rains as that would make the situation more open. Today, we ran the car with a bias towards a wet set-up, which is reflected in the lack of top speed."
Rubens Barrichello - 13th: "Given that we have opted for a very conservative race strategy, I do not think that twelfth on the grid today is too bad. We have to see what the weather will do tomorrow. Taking all the possibilities into account, I think I have a chance of scoring points tomorrow."
Jean Todt: "There were so many unknowns going into this session and there still are. We were expecting rain, but it did not come and so in terms of the gap to the best, we are in a similar situation to the one we have seen in the last few races. In analysing today's result, one also needs to take into account the different choices in terms of set-up and strategy, based on the weather forecast, which is suggesting there is a strong chance of rain tomorrow afternoon. Honestly, I hope this turns out to be accurate. It would allow us to see if, such a long time after the last wet Grand Prix, the Ferrari-Bridgestone package has still got the edge in these conditions, or if we will still suffer from the heavy penalty of lack of grip that has made this season such a struggle."
Ross Brawn: "I am slightly disappointed with this performance, as I thought we could make a little bit of a step up this afternoon, from what we saw in the morning. I suspect the track was a bit slippery. We would not complain if it is wet tomorrow. Rubens is a bit further back than we would have liked, but let us hope he can move up a bit if and when it rains tomorrow. We did take the possibility of rain into account in the way we set up the cars today, but they do not have a full wet set-up."
Jacques Villeneuve - 14th: "All round the lap my rear brakes were locking and I had no rear-end grip, so I was fighting the car the whole way. It's disappointing because I've been quicker than Felipe so far this weekend and even though we didn't change a thing on the car after practice this morning the balance had gone away by the time I did my qualifying lap. I have no idea why."
Felipe Massa - 8th: "That was a really good lap! The balance was good and I didn't make any mistakes. This morning the car was oversteering a bit, especially on old tyres, so we gambled a little and made some changes to the set-up which worked really well for qualifying. It was definitely a step forward. Now I'm looking forward to the race. There's a high chance of rain tomorrow, but we are in good shape whatever happens."
Willy Rampf (Technical Director): "Due to the uncertainty over the weather tomorrow we hedged our bets and went for different strategies for each driver. We had to compromise between getting a perfect set-up for qualifying and trying to second guess what the weather might do, but Felipe and Jacques both did very good jobs and I think we are in reasonable shape now whatever conditions we have for the race. We can approach it with confidence."
Jenson Button - 9th: "It was tough because in free practice this morning I had a big problem with my front wheels locking into the first corner and the Bus Stop. It hasn't been great coming straight from practice into qualifying and I was probably a little too cautious under braking. It was OK; better to play it cautious, brake early and be safe rather than sorry. I think we're going to be pretty good in the race so we'll just have to see what the weather decides to do tomorrow. We can get some good points from where we'll be starting."
Takuma Sato - 11th: "Obviously by running so early in the session I knew that I would pay the price a little in terms of the later drivers benefiting from the track evolution. The conditions were a little low-grip which made the lap difficult. The weather has made preparation for the race quite challenging but it has been the same for everyone and I think we have done the best job possible to achieve our full programme this morning. It looks like the weather will be tricky tomorrow also but we will be flat-out whether it's raining or drying. We have a good strategy for tomorrow and we are determined to do a good job."
Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director: "Today was quite a busy day for us, which I am sure was the case for everyone else. We crammed into one day what we usually achieve in two. From what we can observe, there are lots of different strategies at play with regard to varying levels of downforce, fuel load and tyre choice, since there are more variables this weekend than we usually encounter, not least of all the weather. Although we would preferred to have qualified further up the grid, we will have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether the choices we have made for the race will benefit us in the long run."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "The better weather allowed us to work through most of our revised programme and do the necessary work on set-up and tyre choice. We're disappointed not to be starting further up the grid, and hope our strategy will enable us to improve from here in tomorrow's race."
Mark Webber - 10th: "I am reasonably happy with my qualifying today, even if I lost a bit of time in the last sector, at the Bus Stop corner. We have a good set up for tomorrow, but obviously it's a bit of a lottery here, as it all depends on the weather condition. It's much more penalising to have a rain set-up on a dry track than the other way around and this track is definitely one of the most challenging for the engineers. We hope we'll manage to score some points tomorrow, as we did last week in Monza."
Antonio Pizzonia - 15th: "Qualifying went not so well for me. I am quite surprised with the lack of grip I had. After this morning's free practice we made some changes to the car but they shouldn't have affected the balance of the car that much. It was hard for me last week in Monza, to get used to everything so quickly, but I am in a better situation now, with some mileage under my belt already. Anything can happen during the race here in Spa, with such a crazy weather. It would be nice to collect some points tomorrow as a gift for my birthday."
Sam Michael (Technical Director): "It was good weather day today after all that wet practice yesterday. We have used this morning's session to finalise the wing level and make our tyre compound choice. We had no mechanical issues. It was a good qualifying lap from Mark today. Now we will wait until tomorrow to see what strategy everyone is on and look forward to a strong race. The weather prediction shows there is still some rain about tomorrow."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "After the heavy rain we had on Friday, track conditions today were fine in both free practice and qualifying. The main job for all the drivers this morning was to carry out the set-up work they couldn't sort out yesterday. Mark did all right, whereas Antonio was not happy with his qualifying lap. We will see in the race how good their starting position really are. We had no technical problems."
David Coulthard - 12th: "It's not been such a great weekend for us so far, due to the changeable weather. We had limited time on the track yesterday and, as a result, we're a bit on the back foot now. Neither Christian nor myself know the car well enough to push flat out here. We can nail the fast corners no problem, but on the medium speed ones we're struggling to know how much momentum we can take through the turn. I definitely think the car was capable of going quicker in qualifying than it did, but following yesterday's lack of track time, we didn't have the confidence to push. It's going to be difficult to get points here and the best chance for us will be if we see some varied weather tomorrow."
Christian Klien - 16th: "Not my best qualifying lap of the season. We didn't have much time to set up the car because of yesterday's rain. The balance of the car was not so good in the morning practices and I was struggling with understeer. We made quite a lot of changes between the final free practice and qualifying session to try to improve things, but I think we went in the wrong direction and I wasn't able to push as hard as I'd have liked. For tomorrow's race, everything is open. It's hard to know what the weather's going to do here so I'll be concentrating on staying on the track and making no mistakes - in Spa you never know exactly what's going to happen."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was a clean and tidy lap from David, who did his best to optimise what was achievable with his car today. Christian was not too happy with his car's balance and lost some time in the middle sector. Unfortunately, that allowed some cars get between himself and David on the timesheet, so he's got a bit of work to do tomorrow. But, we've got a good strategy and who knows what the weather's going to do, so I still think we have a chance for points."
Robert Doornbos - 17th: "It was great to have done a good lap in front of all the Dutch fans who are here at Spa. Along with Jordan, we have our own little Grand Prix within the Grand Prix, and it's good to have been the fastest of the four cars. We took a bit of a risk with the strategy, so I hope it's going to rain tomorrow. Whatever happens, we'll try to do the best job possible for the fans."
Christijan Albers - 18th: "I'm pleased with my lap. It was not an amazing lap, just a normal, solid lap, and I was glad to stay on the track, as I had a little off in qualifying at Monza. Considering our race strategy, I'm happy with the time. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today saw both Minardis put in solid qualifying performances to end up P17 and P18. Interestingly, an analysis of the times indicates we were on the pace with the Ferraris in both the first and third sectors of the lap. Overall, then, we're pleased with the way things have gone, and look forward to tomorrow's race."
Narain Karthikeyan - 20th: "Considering the fact that I was the first out on the track in qualifying this afternoon, I had a decent lap but unfortunately the limited track time we had yesterday affected us a little bit today. The circuit conditions were pretty similar to this morning and the balance of the car was better. Rain is expected for tomorrow's race, so hopefully it could be a good Grand Prix for us."
Tiago Monteiro - 19th: "I'm not really satisfied with my lap time even though I had a relatively clean lap. The EJ15B clearly has some potential but we definitely need some more running time as yesterday we only did a limited number of laps. We still have the race ahead of us and I'm looking forward to that; especially as it is supposed to rain tomorrow and we may have chance to do well."
Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "The times today do not look great on paper but tomorrow is another day. We expect the conditions to be completely different and we are focussing more on the race than on today's results, so let's and see what happens tomorrow."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "It was quite a tense qualifying session, because we felt a few spots of rain just before the final five cars set out to complete their laps - and they were all Michelin runners. Fortunately for them, the conditions didn't deteriorate and the grid has a fairly conventional look. "The lack of running yesterday obviously hindered our routine, but we were able to do some excellent preparation work this morning and our prime and option tyres showed a good blend of speed and durability. Our partner teams have chosen to use both in tomorrow's race. "It remains to be seen what effect the weather might have during the next 24 hours, but Michelins prepared for this Grand Prix with absolute confidence."
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager: "Not an easy day to decide the race specification today as there isn't much data available from two, forty-five minute sessions. Fortunately it was dry this morning enabling the teams to do their tyre comparisons but due to yesterday's rain the track was quite green still. We saw an interesting qualifying this afternoon with Michael setting a reasonably competitive time. He may only have set the seventh fastest time in the end but his second sector was good to see as this is the sector which can indicate grip and the potential of the car and tyres for tomorrow's race. I expect Rubens will be stronger tomorrow and there is also a high chance of rain for the race in which case I expect all our runners to use the Bridgestone wet tyres to good effect."
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