Saturday's Selected Quotes - France

Fernando Alonso - 1st: "I am delighted to be on pole, for the second time at this circuit, which I love. Even more, I am very pleased do it here in France for the team and all our supporters. The car has felt really good all weekend, after our work in testing last week in Jerez, and the balance was very stable on my lap, so I could attack all the way without any mistakes. Looking to tomorrow, I know that we have a good chance to improve the situation in the championship as Kimi will be starting quite far back, so I will be trying to score as many points as possible - but I also expect Ferrari, Toyota and McLaren to be very fast. This weekend, there are 6,000 people here from all over Renault, so it will be an important race. I hope we can deliver a good performance!"

Giancarlo Fisichella - 7th: "Obviously, I am a little bit disappointed with my position. The first and second sectors were quite good for me, but then I lost three or four tenths in the last corners, which put me further down the grid. Even so, I know we have a very strong car for the race tomorrow, so I am still feeling confident."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "The grid this afternoon is very close, much as we had expected and we saw with Giancarlo how a small mistake can prove costly on a single timed lap. We have both cars in the top six for tomorrow, and they were well balanced on the qualifying laps. We expect temperatures tomorrow to be much higher, but the cars are looking after their tyres well, and we do not anticipate this will be a factor during the race. All in all, this gives us a very satisfying starting point for the race."

Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "It is traditional for the qualifying session at Magny-Cours to prove particularly close-fought, and this was the case once again this afternoon. With this in mind, it is pleasing to be on the front row without having sacrificed any part of our race strategy in favour of qualifying performance. We completed our normal set-up and tuning work this morning in spite of the poor conditions, and results are visible in the performance this afternoon. We know that the car has very strong potential for the race, and with one driver ideally placed, and the other a threatening challenger on the third row, we are optimistic for the Grand Prix."


Jarno Trulli - 2nd: "It's great to be starting on the front row again. I'm very happy with my lap because it was very clean and very quick. The car has been handling well all day, which I have to say was a bit of a surprise. Yesterday I wasn't very happy with my set-up, and we were struggling. But we changed that all around this morning, found a new direction and found a much stronger grip level. The car is working well now. This morning we were quite competitive on the long runs too so I think we can be strong in the race. Everything is certainly looking good so far."

Ralf Schumacher - 12th: "It was a pity that I locked up on my way into the Adelaide hairpin because that lost me half a second. Apart from that, it was a reasonably clear lap and it was good to gain a few places despite going out first when the track was at its most slippery. Now we have to look forward to tomorrow and try and gain some more points out of the race, as I have often managed this year from similar positions."

Dieter Gass ­ Chief Race Engineer: "Obviously we are very pleased to have yet another front row position from Jarno. It's happened so often that we have to say that he did his usual lap performance, but it was very good. He looks quite strong for the race as well, especially starting from second. Unfortunately Ralf suffered again from being the first car out. He had a small lock-up on one of his wheels at the Adelaide corner which cost him some time. Without that he would have been in the top ten. So overall we can be very happy with today's work. We are confident with our race strategy so we are looking forward to a very strong race tomorrow."


Kimi Raikkonen 3rd: "It will be a tough race starting from 13th as a result of my penalty due to an engine change. The lap was OK. The car is working well, and there is really nothing more to do than wait for tomorrow to see what we can achieve in the race. I'm confident that we have a competitive package and a strong strategy, so points and even a podium are not out of reach."

Juan Pablo Montoya - 9th: "My lap time pretty much matches what I did during practice. I haven't had the pleasure of starting late in the qualifying session this year which always makes it more challenging. However, so far I have always been able to improve in the race. I think I can have a strong Grand Prix as the car is behaving well, and our strategy should be good. The temperature tomorrow is predicted to be a lot higher, which will influence things and hopefully help us."

Ron Dennis: "Taking into account the necessity for a race strategy designed to accommodate the 10-place penalty resulting from Kimi's engine failure yesterday his qualifying lap was sensational. This together with a good start should see him with a chance to take a podium position tomorrow. Juan Pablo suffered a little from being early out on the circuit and consequential lack of grip, but irrespective of this he too should have a strong race performance."

Norbert Haug: "Considering his strategy Kimi's qualifying lap was very good being one and half tenths from pole time. His engine failure on Friday meant that he has to start from thirteenth place instead of third in tomorrow's race with Juan Pablo in eighth. We have the speed for good results and we can achieve them despite starting from fourth and seventh rows."


Michael Schumacher - 4th: "We felt we could do well here and I will now be starting from third on the grid which is a good position, even though I had hoped to be fighting for pole. Even so, this is a better position than we have found ourselves in at most of the races so far this season. The important thing is that we are looking good in race trim and so I expect we will have a strong pace tomorrow afternoon. It will be a tough race and it will be interesting to see how the various strategies work out. Let's wait and see."

Rubens Barrichello - 6th: "I had a really nice lap during which I pushed to the limit and I am happy with my performance. The only problem I had was a bit of graining on my front tyres towards the end of the lap. We did not see this happen in the morning so it was unexpected and I had to lift off a bit in Turn 13 because I had understeer and that lost me a bit of time. I said we could have a good race if we qualified in the top three rows and here we are, so I can be optimistic for tomorrow."

Jean Todt: "It was a very closely contested qualifying session as can be seen from the fact that the top nine drivers are all within the same second. Thanks to the work we did last week along with Bridgestone, we were in a position to fight for a place in the top three rows. Obviously, there is still a question mark over what fuel load the other drivers were on and we will only have the answer to that tomorrow afternoon. In the race, the key factors will be reliability, consistency of tyre performance, the effectiveness of our strategy and of course, the ability of our drivers."

Ross Brawn: "We looked reasonably competitive over the single lap, which is something we have been working to improve on all season. Today, we were fighting for pole, but we did not quite do it although the fact we were in a position to fight for it was encouraging. Neither driver managed to do a perfect lap, which was a shame. Nevertheless, I think we will be competitive tomorrow when our tyres should work well and deliver consistent performance. The balance of the cars was much better today, but we did not manage to capitalise on that this afternoon, although we seem to have a good race set-up."


Takuma Sato - 5th: "I enjoyed my lap today and the car performed well. We have split the Renaults and the McLarens, so that is a real bonus for the team. I am very happy for everyone who has worked extremely hard in the run-up to this weekend and for carrying over the momentum from the last two races to this high downforce and very different circuit. It puts us in a good position for the race tomorrow and I am really looking forward to being on the second row of the grid and right in the middle of the action."

Jenson Button - 7th: "It was a reasonable lap and I think I did all I could to get the most from the car today. The circuit is in much better shape than it was this morning and the times are reasonably good for a qualifying session. I think that we are in a good position for tomorrow and that we can have a competitive race from where we are starting on the grid, as the car has been performing well this weekend."

Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are reasonably happy with our qualifying today. Both Taku and Jenson had clean laps and made the most of the car. The weather was quite different today which made for an interesting challenge setting the cars up this morning. If you look at the qualifying times it's easy to see how close everyone is, which should make for a very exciting race tomorrow."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "The track conditions were not so good this morning so we conducted most of our running in the second free practice session when the circuit had started to improve. Taku and Jenson did a very good job to make solid progress with the qualifying and race set-up and we are pleased to achieve such good grid positions as a result. Tomorrow should bring an exciting race and we are hopeful for a strong points finish for both drivers."


Felipe Massa - 10th: "That was not too bad, I think. I'm happy not just that I have a reasonable fuel strategy, but also that we have the right tyre choice for the race. I was a bit concerned about getting the best out of the tyres over one lap, but that was fine and with a top 10 start I believe I can have a strong race. The car is very good over long runs, and now I just need to make a good start. We have good pace for tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve - 11th: "Qualifying went very well for me, and I was faster than I expected to be. Considering my strategy, I'm happy to be within a tenth of Felipe. In the first high-speed complex I've had understeer all weekend, but on my qualifying lap suddenly there wasn't any. I had been expecting it, so I could actually have gone a little quicker had I known the car was going to be neutral through there, but elsewhere over the lap, apart from maybe saving a tenth under braking, there was nothing more to come. The car went really well. It was a good lap and I'm pleased with it, especially as I got the tyres nicely warmed, I'm in the top 10 and we have a good race strategy. It wasn't an aggressive one, so to be in the top 10 with a normal strategy bodes well for the race."

Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "This was a good qualifying session and we have both cars in the top 10 on the grid for the first time in 2005. This is especially satisfying as in the past the Magny-Cours circuit has not always taken a liking to us! Both drivers achieved strong performances that confirm that the upward performance trend of the C24 continues."


Mark Webber - 13th: "We have been trying to make the car go faster every session, but clearly we don't have the pace to be at the front here. The car is reliable and doesn't feel too bad, which is clearly positive, but this weekend so far has been a tough one for us. It's a shame but we will now work hard for tomorrow in order to try and get some points. I hope our strategy will pay off in the race."

Nick Heidfeld - 14th: "I would have thought we'd been a bit quicker today. The car felt good yesterday, especially in the high-speed corners, but we are not satisfied with our lap times. My qualifying lap was all right, even though I went out very early when the track was still slow. We should be stronger in the race, as has been the case at some other races this season, and this is what I hope for tomorrow. Also the weather for Sunday looks favourable for us, since higher temperatures are expected, and this should help our tyres."

Sam Michael (Technical Director): "Normally we would have hoped for a better qualifying result. We have made some progress on set-up but we have generally struggled here to get the best out of the car. Now we will see where everyone is once the strategies come into play tomorrow. It looks like it could be quite warm on race day. Our long runs during practice were reasonable so we will be fighting for points tomorrow."

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "As early as free practice it became apparent that our team wouldn't be amongst the front runners here this year. The lap times and drivers' comments bore out what was confirmed by today's qualifying result. Now both drivers need to try to improve positions during the race in order to collect a few points for the team. There is nothing special to report from the engine side."

Red Bull

David Coulthard - 15th: "I'm disappointed. I was hoping to produce a quicker time, something in the one minute 15s, but that's all we could achieve today. The track was a little greasy this morning, so I was being cautious. I dropped a couple of tenths of a second in the first sector, but where I really lost time was Turn eight, the downhill left-hander. The car felt more slippery on the track there than it had done this morning. The balance of the car has been working well all weekend, but we've been struggling to overcome some aggressive understeer."

Christian Klien - 16th: "I lost about half an hour of track time yesterday when I had an accident and damaged the car's new aerodynamic package. Luckily the team were able to drive new parts over from the UK, but as the guys were still working on the car this morning, I didn't drive in today's third practice. The team did a great job, but after losing so much track time, I don't feel as though I'm pushing to the limit through the high- speed corners yet. My lap time was reasonable I'd say and the balance of the car felt good, but my time is a little behind David's. We'll just have to see what we can do in the race tomorrow."


Narain Karthikeyan - 17th: "My time was OK, I think. I have made some mistakes, which cost me a little bit of time but generally it was a clean lap. We worked hard on the balance of the car and I am quite satisfied with the set-up we have found. Now we have to wait and see for the race tomorrow."

Tiago Monteiro - 19th: "It was a rather good lap, my best of the weekend so far. We have had so many problems since yesterday, which delayed the programme we wanted to follow and limited my track time. Therefore I did not really know what to expect from the car. However, I have pushed really hard and I am satisfied with my time. It was also different to run later in the session as the track was definitively cleaner, I hope we will be able to do this again in the season."

Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "Both drivers had good and bad parts about their qualifying lap. Narain had a good first sector but then he made a few mistakes in the middle and recovered in the last one. Tiago was not too bad in the first sector but then he made a mistake in the last corner. I think we are in good shape for tomorrow. As normal, we have concentrated on the race tomorrow and we are reasonably happy with our situation."


Patrick Friesacher - 18th: "I'm happy with today's qualifying. We did a good job and the car worked well apart from a slight problem with the downshift, which cost me a little bit of time. Generally, though, I'm pleased with the lap and with our prospects for the race tomorrow."

Christijan Albers - 20th: "It was a reasonable qualifying lap, although not perfect, and there were two oversteering moments that lost me time. I think we have a good strategy for tomorrow, however, so as usual, it will be maximum attack in the race."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today Minardi completed all its preparations for Sunday's French Grand Prix, with both cars performing well throughout the practice sessions and qualifying. It's interesting to see that there is really nothing between us and our nearest rival, Jordan, in terms of lap times, and we look forward to an interesting race tomorrow."


Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "Our partners have performed extremely well since the start of the weekend and today's result is a source of great satisfaction for the whole Michelin team. "This morning's rain affected the track a little. When conditions dried out, lap times weren't particularly slower than before but the circuit became more abrasive, so one or two teams briefly had graining problems although this was to be expected. Conditions have since stabilised and I think we will be in excellent shape for tomorrow's race."

Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities: "Our preparations were knocked slightly out of step by this morning's rain, but it was nice to have an opportunity to try our wet-weather products. They performed very well, although it was difficult to make many valid comparisons because relatively few cars did any serious running. "Our partners have chosen to use three of Michelin's four available dry-weather tyres in tomorrow's race. These all delivered exactly the results we expected in terms of performance and durability. Once again, it was gratifying to see Michelin's tyres working so effectively on a wide variety of chassis."


Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: "Unfortunately Ferrari didn't quite make pole today but we were certainly pleased to see both drivers in touch with the front runners and I'm looking forward to seeing the performance of the car-tyre package in the race tomorrow. The first of this morning's practice sessions was still damp from the overnight and early morning rain, resulting in very little running. Of the Bridgestone runners, only Minardi set a few timed runs because conditions were too dry for the wet tyres and too wet for the dry tyres. The teams were able to get some dry tyre running in the next session and we got a glimpse of the potential of our tyre performance in that session. Magny-Cours can be tough because of rear tyre degradation but I think we look in good, competitive shape at the moment. We have good consistency which will benefit all three Bridgestone teams."

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