Saturday's Selected Quotes - China
Fernando Alonso - 1st: "It was a perfect lap, and I have been surprised at how good the car has been this weekend. The circuit has improved a lot, and we have made a lot of changes as well to improve the handling. We have been conservative in our developments for a lot of the season, but for these final races, we have been able to be aggressive and it is paying off. I am in a perfect position to fight for the win tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella - 2nd: "I am really pleased to be second, because I was struggling with the car this weekend and didn't expect to be on the front row. We did some changes at the last minute that really improved things, and I was quite pleased with the lap - maybe I was a bit conservative in the first sector, but I felt very confident after that. The new engine has performed really well, and we are on a good strategy for tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "After a season as successful as ours has been in 2005, this is a great way to finish the final qualifying session of the year, annexing the front row with Fernando and Giancarlo. Both drivers made progress with the balance of the car this morning, and were much happier by the time qualifying began. As always, though, we must think of qualifying not as a separate challenge in terms of our strategy, but as the first lap of the race. We will have to see how the strategies pan out tomorrow, but before this weekend, we promised to take the fight to McLaren and keep the pressure on them. Without a doubt, that is what we are doing."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "Qualifying is only the beginning of the story when it comes to getting a good result, but it is still a special moment to secure an all-Renault front row, something we have not achieved this season, and only once since Renault returned to F1 in 2002. I think our performance in Japan demonstrated we have made progress relative to the competition, and this qualifying session confirmed it again. We have worked well throughout practice to prepare for the race in our normal way, and the E spec of the RS25 has run without any problems at all. The numbers show we are competitive in terms of our straightline speed, and also lap-time. The fight against McLaren tomorrow will be tough, but we have taken advantage in the best possible way of Montoya's early running slot, and we are ready for a tough battle tomorrow."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "We are delighted to have scored Michelin's 100th pole, appropriately with Fernando, the first Michelin world champion since their return to Formula One. We now hope we can bring them another win tomorrow to crown a fantastic 2005 season for Michelin and Renault."
Kimi Raikkonen - 3rd: "We knew before qualifying that we would struggle to get pole position today, but I don't think we have anything to worry about. Our strategy should be strong and whilst the car was not perfect on the qualifying lap I'm confident that it will be as good as it has been throughout practice. Both Juan Pablo and myself are in strong positions to get the results we need to win the Constructors' World Championship."
Juan Pablo Montoya - 5th: "As a result of what happened in Japan last weekend I had to go out for my qualifying lap as number two which was really frustrating. The lap was OK, but there was just no grip. The circuit conditions continued to improve, so of course I'm disappointed as I know I could have probably been on the front row. My car is working well and if everything comes together I should be able to get the result we need."
Ron Dennis: "We came here to win the race and that is what we intend to do. As always it's strategy that counts. Both drivers did a great job, but a small mistake by Kimi possibly cost him a front row position. Juan Pablo's lap was exceptional considering the circuit conditions. The whole team is looking forward to tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "Our positions to start the race from could be a little bit better. However they are quite different from last weekend's. We believe that we have the right strategy, and there have been quite a few races in the past where we have won from lesser grid positions."
Jenson Button - 4th: ""I had a good lap and the car felt good, so I'm pleased to be on the second row for the final race of the season. We had a bit of understeer on the lap but generally the car has been great all weekend. We're not too far away from the competition ahead of us - only about 0.4secs - so I feel quite positive about the race tomorrow. I think we can all look forward to a great race, which I'm sure will be action-packed as the decider for the Constructors' Championship. Hopefully I can be part of that action and give the whole team a well-earned boost to end the season."
Takuma Sato - 17th: "It was a very difficult lap for me, not least because I was the first driver out on track and the circuit was incredibly slippery - very different to the conditions we had in free practice this morning. We have done all the preparation that we could and, as this is my final qualifying session of the season and my last for the BAR Honda team, I am determined to keep pushing for a good result tomorrow to express my thanks to the team."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are reasonably satisfied with our qualifying today. Taku was the first out in the session and as predicted he found very little grip; nevertheless we had taken this into account with our strategic considerations for the race. Jenson had a good clean run and we are cautiously optimistic for tomorrow, since he has been quite happy with the car balance."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "Not too bad. I think Jenson did a good lap and it was clear that Taku had problems by going out first. It has been a long and challenging season for everybody - not just the race team - and I want to have a good result to help our motivation during the winter. Next year must be better."
Michael Schumacher - 6th: "My initial feeling about my lap was that it was not very good, but when I look at the actual lap time, I have to be happy with that. It could have been worse and, given our strategy, we look to be in a good position for tomorrow. I don't expect to be quicker than those ahead of me on the grid, but given what can happen in the race, I think realistically, we can expect to fight for points between fourth and sixth place. On my lap, I made a small mistake, running wide at Turn 2, but it did not cost me as much time as I thought. Maybe the very best I could have done was to be ahead of Juan Pablo. But that would not have been much of an advantage as he will be quicker than me in the race anyway."
Rubens Barrichello - 8th: "It was a reasonable qualifying, even though the track was definitely not at its best when it was my turn to make my run. I am reasonably pleased. Maybe I could have been a few places further up, but all in all, this is okay. Tomorrow, I will give it my best shot to try and get the best result possible in my last race at the wheel of a Ferrari."
Jean Todt: "The final qualifying of the season and the last one for Rubens at the wheel of a Ferrari, did not throw up anything particularly surprising. Sixth and eighth places are pretty much what we could have expected. A more detailed analysis of this session would take into account the different fuel loads which the various cars had on board and the track conditions when each driver made his run. Reliability, strategy and tyre performance and wear will be key factors in tomorrow's race. For our part, we no longer have any particular targets in the two Championships. But we will do our utmost to close this very tough season in as dignified a fashion as possible."
Ross Brawn: "Both drivers produced reasonable laps, although neither of them was particularly clean, so maybe we could have squeezed a couple of extra tenths about. Nevertheless, pretty good and the tyres held up well for the full lap. I think the result for both cars is pretty much what we had expected before the session. We have a good strategy for tomorrow, so I hope that means we can pick up a few places in the race."
David Coulthard - 7th: "The car's brake balance seemed quite predictable this morning, although we put more aero in the car for qualifying, to counterbalance the understeer. Despite that, I didn't get it quite right going into Turn one on my qualifying lap, as I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The rear of the car was a little bit nervous on the warm up lap, so I took caution through Turn one and then built up my speed from there. The Porsche Supercup had run before, which meant the track was a little slippery, but it was the same for everyone and, overall, I'm quite happy with the time I set. Apart from the first sector, the rest of the lap was tidy enough, so hopefully we're going to have a good race tomorrow and get some points. That's how we started the season so that's how we want to finish it."
Christian Klien - 14th: "I think the track had changed quite a lot for qualifying from how it was this morning. The car's balance seemed out and there was a lot of oversteer, as soon as I turned in there was oversteer, meaning it wasn't possible to do a clean lap. I'm not happy with my performance at all and from this position it's going to be hard to do too much in the race tomorrow. But, I'll be pushing hard and doing all I can to get more points for the team."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Having lost a set of tyres following yesterday's puncture, Christian only had one further set available, which we decided to use in today's fourth practice session. In qualifying, David drove a good lap and set a competitive time. He's looked strong here all weekend and is now well placed for the race tomorrow. Christian had a bit of a scrappy lap and made a couple of mistakes, but he should be able to recover from that in the race and I think we're set for an interesting Grand Prix."
Ralf Schumacher - 9th: "This weekend has been quite a hard one for us because the car has been understeering and we have been struggling for grip. We had the same feeling in qualifying so it was hard work out there. The track was dirty and slippery so the lap was very difficult with more understeer and some oversteer. The lap time was still decent but it could have been a few tenths quicker. The race will be difficult but as usual we will be pushing hard for another points finish tomorrow in a bid to finish off the season on a good note."
Jarno Trulli - 12th: "There wasn't a lot I could do out there today. Unfortunately I've just found the car very difficult to drive all weekend. Yesterday we suffered from understeer and a lack of grip and those problems continued into this morning's practice sessions. In qualifying the track had changed a lot from this morning and it was very dusty and slippery for me going out so early. Those are the kind of conditions in which we have struggled the most. Tomorrow's another day and I will just do my best to gain ground in the race. If we can end the season in the points it would be a good result."
Mike Gascoyne Technical Director Chassis: "That was a reasonable result for the team after a good effort by the drivers. It's been a difficult day with a lack of grip and the drivers were struggling to find a balance with the car. That, combined with the fact that Jarno had to go out so early, means that given the strategy we have we can be reasonably pleased with our grid positions. We've found it difficult to get the tyres to work properly this weekend, so we will just have to wait and see how the track evolves for tomorrow in the race. Now we have to try to convert this result into getting two cars into the points."
Mark Webber - 10th: "It would have been nice to have finished the one-lap qualifying format with a clean lap and I was trying to do a really good one but in the last sector I braked a bit late before the hairpin and went wide, losing three or four tenths. It's a shame and it doesn't help for tomorrow, but still it was worth trying. Achieving a reasonable starting position was crucial for having a good race tomorrow. Having to start from10th position means that I'm likely to be held up in traffic for quite a while."
Antonio Pizzonia - 13th: "I was among the first cars out for qualifying and the track conditions were quite bad. It was dirty, which affected the car balance. Being out so early, I didn't expect to have the same amount of grip that I had at the end of this morning's Free Practice sessions, but still I was quite surprised by the lack of it. Anyway, it's going to be an interesting race, especially because there are several places for overtaking here. The first corner will be crucial tomorrow as it's a bit tricky but it's technically good. I like this track very much."
Sam Michael (Technical Director): "It was a disappointing qualifying session after we have been really strong in practice with high fuel loads. We struggled a little with our tyre warm-up, however we are happy with our tyre choice so I'm sure that our race pace will be good tomorrow. The final race of the season is going to be interesting with regards to the pit strategies."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "The outcome of qualifying does not reflect our expectations. Due to his early starting position, Antonio found a slippery track. Mark was doing well but his mistake in the penultimate corner probably lost him a place on the third row. There were no problems on the technical side."
Jacques Villeneuve - 16th: "That was a pretty bad lap. We were struggling with the handling this morning so we made some changes with the tyre pressures and temperatures and things like that, and they didn't really work out this afternoon. The car was just sliding around all over the place."
Felipe Massa - 11th: "With new tyres this morning the balance was still poor, so we took some risks with the set-up for qualifying and they paid off. The balance was much better and that was a really good lap. Almost perfect."
Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "After our performance in practice this morning we did not go into qualifying in a very optimistic frame of mind. But Felipe managed a really good lap for 11th place after we made some changes to his car. Jacques still struggled with his set-up, and I am sure he is disappointed with his lap."
Narain Karthikeyan - 15th: "I did a very good qualifying lap even though I have lost a little bit of time compared to this morning. Nevertheless we are satisfied with the balance of the car today. I think we have also chosen the right Bridgestone tyre compound for the race. Hopefully we can have a good Grand Prix out of it tomorrow."
Tiago Monteiro - 19th: "We have decided to go on an optimum strategy for the race so obviously we have made a few changes to the car and adapted everything to that strategy. It was therefore a more difficult car to drive as both the car and the tyres reacted differently from this morning. It was a bit of a surprise but in the end our times are not too bad compared to our competitors. We know we have a good strategy for the race and I am looking forward to it. Hopefully if we get any opportunities we could score some more points at the end."
Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "Narain and Tiago had very good laps today and the cars are on different strategies. Tiago has changed his strategy a little bit from this morning and his car felt a bit different, which probably cost him a position on the grid. However, for sure we should have been quicker than Minardi with both cars as we have been most of the year really."
Christijan Albers - 18th: "It wasn't a good qualifying session for us, and the track had changed a lot from this morning. We had an understeering car, and I also made several mistakes on the qualifying lap, so I'm not really happy with myself. Anyway, tomorrow is race day, and we'll work hard between now and then to try and achieve the best possible result."
Robert Doornbos - 20th: "It's been a busy day in the Minardi garage, as we had a gearbox problem this morning that reduced our available track time. Even with only a few laps running, though, I was able to find a good balance in the car, so we felt we were in good shape for qualifying. The lap started out well, as the initial sector time was good, but then I lost almost a second in the last sector, so we'll have to find out what caused that. We'll check the data and aim to make up for today with a good performance in the race tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Despite a gearbox problem with Robert's car in the first of today's two practice sessions, the team completed its technical programme in preparation for tomorrow's Grand Prix of China. Qualifying did not go quite as we had expected; however, both cars are carrying a heavy fuel load, which will hopefully pay dividends in the race."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director "This 100th F1 pole is a nice way to sign off my career. Life has changed considerably over the years - I remember in 1979 that we'd bring 12 sets of qualifying tyres per car to each race, six batches of two different compounds! We were very successful in those days but have also mastered the more restrictive regulations of recent seasons. "Our 'prime' and 'option' tyres will both feature in tomorrow's grand prix. Thus far we haven't been generating particularly spectacular first- lap performance - but our speed and consistency over long runs has been excellent."
Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities "Track temperatures still haven't reached the levels we were anticipating and our engineers have put in a fantastic amount of effort to fine-tune set-ups that improved operating conditions for our tyres. We would prefer slightly higher temperatures tomorrow, but in the circumstances I've been very pleased with our performance and would like to thank the whole group for its unstinting hard work. It is also fitting that we are celebrating our 100th F1 pole position ahead of Pierre's final race - a significant landmark at the end of a long and very distinguished career."
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: "Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello showed today that they have the potential for a good race tomorrow. Qualifying in sixth and eighth positions gives them a good chance. From a tyre point of view this circuit can be tough on wear but things look fine at the moment and we are not expecting to have heat durability problems. Ferrari look in reasonable shape for the race. For the Jordan and Minardi teams today was their last qualifying under their current banners. Narain Karthikeyan qualified a solid 15th which should give him a good start tomorrow. His teammate Tiago Monteiro ran wide in the last sector so today's time was not a true reflection of his time. I look forward also to seeing Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos have a good race tomorrow."
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