Saturday's Selected Quotes - Chinese GP


Saturday's Selected Quotes - Chinese GP


Rubens Barrichello - 1st: "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. This is a phenomenal circuit with different lines through the corners which means it is easy to make mistakes. 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. We have a very powerful tyre that gives us a little bit of understeer and, when the track was green, also some graining on the fronts. But the graining time is getting shorter all the time so it will not be a problem tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher - 20th: "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."

Jean Todt: "Qualifying produced very different fortunes for out two drivers. At one end, we have Rubens in pole position thanks to a very nice performance and at the other, Michael is forced to start from the back row after spinning off the track. At the moment we have not found out what happened at the first corner on his qualifying lap. Obviously, we would have preferred to have an all-red front row for this inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, but getting pole is still a good result. Tomorrow, we can expect a difficult race given that we have one driver at the back of the grid, which will present us with a bigger challenge than usual. Our car, engine, Bridgestone tyre package is very competitive and we will do our utmost to put on a good show for the Chinese enthusiasts and also as a thank you to the organisers of this Grand Prix for doing such a fantastic job."

Ross Brawn: "It was a fantastic performance by Rubens, who did a great job. He worked hard on the car all weekend and I think we have a good set-up for the race. I think his strategy will also prove very strong. We are not yet sure what happened with Michael, who we think was also a strong contender for pole position. Now, as far as his race is concerned, we must regroup and recover and we have an interesting challenge ahead. But as we showed in Monza, we never give up. It should be a fun race tomorrow."


Kimi Raikkonen - 2nd: "The entire team is always pleased to be on the front row but at the first Formula One race in China it's particularly important for us all. 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. The important thing is that our package and the Michelin tyres are working well, and as we have a good strategy for the race I'm sure we are in with a chance of winning."

David Coulthard - 10th: "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 eight and nine. It will be a tough race tomorrow particularly from ninth position on the grid, but we will see what happens in the first corner."

Ron Dennis: "Kimi's qualifying was exceptional whilst David's relatively small error in the middle sector lost him several places. We feel that we have the right race strategy which coupled with our overall performance should put us in contention for a podium finish. I'm sure that along with all the other teams we hope that the race, irrespective of the outcome, is exciting, which would represent a small thank you for the fantastic facilities and support that the Chinese government have shown us."

Norbert Haug: "A good performance by Kimi. To be on the first row is a good basis for the race. The first Grand Prix of China is a significant milestone for Formula One in general and our team in particular, and certainly we will be focused on putting in a strong performance. David lost quite some time in the middle sector, otherwise he could have been two rows further up. This is the seventh race since we introduced the MP4-19B and on five occasions Kimi or David have started from the first or second rows. We still have to improve our reliability, but speedwise we are heading in the right direction."


Jenson Button - 3rd: "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. Generally I'm looking forward to racing here for the first time tomorrow in what should be a very interesting Grand Prix."

Takuma Sato - 9th: "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. Of course I am a little disappointed, but the circuit looks as though there will be some good overtaking opportunities, so overall I believe we should be in a strong position for the race tomorrow."

David Richards, Team Principal: "It was an exciting qualifying session and indicates that the race may well have a few surprises in store tomorrow. With Jenson in 3rd place we are confident that he is going to have a strong race, and as our key goal is to beat Renault he just needs to keep an eye on Alonso on the third row. I am sure that we will see the different tyre characteristics leading to a divergence of race strategies, and we are very satisfied with the performance of the Michelins over a race distance. Taku's ten place penalty puts him at the back of the grid, but he is in good company with Michael Schumacher, and I think we can look forward to the pair of them carving their way through the slower cars. The stage is set for a fantastic inaugural Chinese Grand Prix."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Jenson was much happier with his car in final qualifying than he had been in the morning's running. Although the car had been working well on longer runs it had been difficult to find a good consistent balance on new tyres so we are pleased to be starting tomorrow's race from 3rd place. After his lack of running on Friday, Takuma had a hard job to catch up but was pleased with his first run in qualifying. He lost several tenths in the last sector of his final qualifying run that probably cost him four places. Clearly our focus this weekend must be our championship fight with Renault. We are confident with our car performance but we will need to work hard to help Takuma with his ten-place starting grid penalty."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "Both drivers did decent laps and have given themselves the best chance they can for a good result. Unfortunately Takuma will have to start 19th because of the engine change yesterday but I want to target some points for him. Jenson, however, should be able to challenge for the podium."


Felipe Massa - 4th: "P4 is really good! For me it was almost a perfect qualifying session. The new Bridgestones worked so well straight away, and I was able to drive a lap without any graining. If it was this good for me in qualifying, I know that it can be stronger still when the track is in even better condition tomorrow, so I'm looking ahead to a competitive race. This is a fantastic result for the team, which just keeps growing and growing. It's a tribute to the work Bridgestone has done, but also to all the guys back in the wind tunnel in Hinwil and the crew here in China."

Giancarlo Fisichella - 7th: "Unfortunately for me the track conditions changed slightly since this morning, so right from the beginning of the lap my tyres grained and the car began understeering quite strongly. I tried to be easy on it in the second sector, but the understeer was still there in the final corners. Nevertheless, seventh place is a good starting position and I am feeling confident of challenging for points tomorrow afternoon."

Peter Sauber: "What a great welcome for us at this fantastic new venue. We have liked the Shanghai International Circuit right from the moment we first saw it, and now it seems that the feeling must be mutual! This is our best qualifying performance of the year and a wonderful result for us. Congratulations to Felipe and to Giancarlo, and thanks to Bridgestone for providing us with such a competitive tyre. And we must not forget too that this result was only possible because of the whole team's diligent and successful development of the C23. We look forward to a great inaugural Chinese Grand Prix."


Ralf Schumacher - 5th: "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. I have ended up in a slightly better place than we were expecting to be, so I am quite happy. Anyway, it's good to be back on track after such a long break and especially to be in reasonable physical shape too. I feel very well and I think we are going to have a good race tomorrow."

Juan Pablo Montoya - 11th: "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. It's a pity I could not get it right, because it's real fun to drive on this track, even if it has a couple too many slow corners! Anyway, it's going to be a long race tomorrow and we'll see what develops."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It has been an interesting qualifying session as it was the first one on this new circuit here in China. We had a trouble-free day in terms of reliability. Ralf did a good job for his first qualifying after his enforced absence of six Grands Prix. Tomorrow it will be interesting to see what race strategies have been deployed by the different teams and also to see the true picture of the circuit with regards to tyre degradation, brakes and the other normal parameters."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The qualifying session was exciting. The mistakes made by Gianmaria Bruni and Michael Schumacher showed that the circuit still has very little grip off the ideal line. Ralf felt very comfortable with both the car and the circuit on his come back whilst Juan Pablo was reporting handling problems.  With regards to the engines our first Chinese showing has been trouble-free so far."


Fernando Alonso - 6th: "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 - 13th: "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."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "There have been times this weekend when we have been further from the top of the timesheets than normal but I think our disciplined preparatory work has paid off. Fernando's grid position promises a strong race and we should also congratulate Jacques on a good performance. Single-lap qualifying is a difficult thing to get right when you have had limited time in the car, but his performance was good and we hope that tomorrow, his long distance pace will be even more competitive."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "It has been difficult throughout the weekend to get a firm idea of the relative performance of the different teams, and qualifying hasn't made things much easier. Several strategies are possible here and according to who has made what choice, the significance of the grid positions we see today could prove very different come the race. We believe we have done enough mileage this weekend to run a strong race tomorrow and fight against BAR. Let's see how things unfold tomorrow."


Olivier Panis - 8th: "I am quite happy to be eighth on the grid for tomorrow's race. With all three cars around the top ten in yesterday's free practice, we started the race weekend in a competitive way. The car has been looking consistent, although I had some trouble this morning with corner entry oversteer. We were unable to fix the problem immediately, but after the session I sat down with my engineers and checked the data. The changes we made to the car worked well for qualifying and I would like to say well done to everyone. Considering where we were this morning and where we are now, we have improved a lot. I am confident we can push hard in the race tomorrow."

Ricardo Zonta - 14th: "I do not think that final result does justice to our performance so far this weekend. The grip level was much lower in qualifying compared to this morning's practice sessions. I made a small mistake at the hairpin when I locked the front wheels, but I lost a lot of time in the final sector. I am not starting as high up the grid as I expected, but we have been quite competitive in the practice sessions, running regularly inside of the top ten, so I hope our race preparations will pay off. I have some work to do in the early stages of the race to make my way up through the field."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis: "Overall a very tight qualifying session. Having struggled this morning with grip levels and with the balance of his car, Olivier did a great job. I think he can be satisfied with his qualifying performance. He equals his best result of the season, which incidentally was in Bahrain, the other new circuit on this season's calendar, and also Indianapolis. Ricardo was happier in the free practice sessions this morning, but a mistake under braking into turn ten on his qualifying lap cost him several tenths-of-a-second. The car has been strong over the long runs and we are confident of our race pace. However, it would have been nice to have both cars starting from the top ten, which should have been possible today."


Mark Webber - 12th: "We enjoyed another productive couple of sessions this morning working on tyre preparation as well as qualifying and race set-up. The team has prepared well for this weekend and this is reflected in the mileage that we are covering. I managed to do 26 laps this morning and so felt comfortable ahead of qualifying. I am relatively pleased with my lap this afternoon although I lost the rear slightly in corner seven and just managed to grab it back for corner eight. It perhaps lost me two and a half tenths but despite this I am content with my grid position for tomorrow's race. Looking ahead to the race we will be looking for a competitive day as we have a good strategy in place and a reliable package. This new circuit is fun to drive as well as both challenging and technical and given the complexity of the first corner I think the race is going to be very interesting."

Christian Klien - 16th: "I was very pleased with the performance of the car this morning and managed to work through my practice programme focusing on tyre preparation as well as some aero work. The R5 was well balanced going into qualifying and I was hoping to qualify slighter higher than my 15th position. I was struggling to make the most of the car and so was disappointed not to come away with a better lap. The track is still dusty and the corners, particularly the first is demanding on both driver and car. However, we are still looking good for tomorrow as the car is good over long runs and has been all weekend. I am really looking forward to this first Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow, as I am sure that there will be lots happening on track and hopefully lots of opportunities to move up the grid."

Dr Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "We have made the most of our practice sessions this morning during which we worked on our new aero package amongst other things. Bjorn tested the aero package yesterday and given the results we have now put this on both Mark and Christian's cars. Both drivers also completed their tyre preparation work and did some good long runs focusing on balance and tyres. The set-up work was productive and we were encouraged going into qualifying. Mark, although making a minor error on corner seven, did a good lap and secured 11th place. Christian did not get as much out of the car as he would have liked on his final qualifying lap but again we are relatively pleased with his 15th position. We have worked hard in the build up to today and I am satisfied with our results. We have a good strategy in place for both cars and so we are motivated for the race tomorrow and very keen to go out there and show what we are capable of achieving."


Nick Heidfeld - 15th: "The car is going quite well at this circuit, it seems to suit the track. I learned the circuit pretty well and the engineers did a good job yesterday setting up the car. It felt good this morning and I'm quite happy with my lap - I didn't make any mistakes and the whole team did a good job. We had problems yesterday but we worked hard overnight and are in better shape now, with more than the usual number of cars behind us. I think the circuit is challenging and great fun, especially the first corner. It's outstanding."

Timo Glock - 17th: "The pre-qualifying lap was not perfect and I made a big mistake in turns 9 and 10. The car was nervous, oversteering in slow corners and with understeer at the end of the lap. In qualifying we had changed the car a little bit and it was a lot better. But again I lost half a second in corner 10. I feel bad because the first two sectors were really good and it's a shame that I lost so much time in the last sector. I think we are better prepared for the race. I love driving this circuit though, the first part is a bit tricky, but then there are some fast corners and the long straight and a hair pin. It's good fun and I enjoy it so I hope to have a good race."

James Robinson, Head Of Race And Test Engineering: "It's good to be ahead of a Jaguar, Ferrari and BAR as well as the Minardis through a combination of our work and the circumstances. The track conditions are ever-changing and that made setting the car up for qualifying quite a challenge. At the end of the day I think our Bridgestone tyre choice was fundamental, not only this afternoon but more particularly for tomorrow's race."


Zsolt Baumgartner - 18th: "We were struggling with some oversteer this morning, but gradually made progress with the chassis balance on longer runs, which will be relevant for our race performance tomorrow. The guys worked very hard today, as they had to make a lot of changes between the third and fourth practice sessions, as well as carry out an engine change. I’m happy that I made both my qualifying runs without any mistakes."

Gianmaria Bruni - 19th: "I did a good lap in pre-qualifying, and I was pushing very hard on my qualifying run when the car spun. These things can happen â€" it happened to Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari today, and it happened to me in a Minardi. That aside, though, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "We had expected to do a little bit better today, but sadly, Gimmi spun out of contention on his qualifying run. Prior to that, however, both drivers had good practice and pre-qualifying sessions, and we therefore look forward to tomorrow’s inaugural Grand Prix of China with a healthy mixture of optimism tinged with realism."


Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: "Another excellent performance from Rubens. It is great to see him on pole again - his second consecutively. What's more, the Sauber drivers both had very good qualifying runs. They should be congratulated as they have been running well all weekend. It is also a good indicator that Bridgestone's choice of tyres is suitable for this demanding circuit. Unfortunately, Michael had a spin which is a real shame because he too would have been up there with Rubens on the time sheets. But never mind, judging by his performance over the weekend I strongly expect him to be fighting his way through to the top of the field tomorrow."

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