Saturday's Selected Quotes - Imola

Kimi Raikkonen - 1st: "The car has felt really good all weekend here. I pushed as hard as I could, and I am pleased to finally have completed a good qualifying lap. The car suits this circuit better than the previous tracks. It will now be interesting to see how the fuel loads of the competition will influence qualifying and the race tomorrow. However I feel positive as we have demonstrated this year that we are strong in the race."

Alex Wurz - 8th: "I was very happy with my lap today as I did not make any mistakes. Unfortunately I was at a disadvantage as I was going out very early in the session when the track was very slippery. As a result my time was not as quick as the one I had previously achieved this morning. However I am confident that I can improve in tomorrow's qualifying and race as our set up suits this circuit well."

Ron Dennis: A great lap from Kimi which resulted in us having some margin over the provisional second row for tomorrow's qualifying. Alex put in a very professional performance coping well with the less than perfect conditions. Overall the entire team is moving forward, and a good result tomorrow is possible."

Norbert Haug: "An extremely exciting qualifying with a gap of just three thousandths of a second between Kimi, who drove a superb lap, and Fernando Alonso. Alex performed very well with his eighth place taking into account that he was out as the second driver when track conditions were still bad. Our speed is there so far this weekend, however we have to see how we compare in tomorrow's qualifying and race when we expect a close and tough competition. Obviously we have improved our first lap performance during our testing in Le Castellet last week, and the whole team got the benefit today. "


Fernando Alonso - 2nd: "We prepared for the race a little bit differently this weekend, not running many laps, but everything was ready for qualifying. Historically, this has been quite a tough track for our team and so it is a nice surprise to be not only competitive, but fighting for pole position. Looking at our rivals, it's not just McLaren and Ferrari that we need to take into account, but Williams and BAR too who looked very fast today - and will be tomorrow as well, I am sure."

Giancarlo Fisichella - 15th: "We haven't found an explanation yet in the data, but going into turn 15, the rear brakes locked and that caused major oversteer - I did everything the same as in practice, braking in the same place, so I don't think it was a mistake, but we are not sure yet. Obviously, it is very disappointing, because we know the car can be quick here, so I am hoping for a much better day tomorrow and some points."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Fernando did an extremely good lap: he has not done a lot of running this weekend, and to be able to attack the circuit so well after a limited programme is a credit to him. Giancarlo experienced major oversteer in turn 15, which cost him a lot of time. With the times being so closely matched, he has paid a heavy penalty in terms of grid position, but we know he is capable of driving a strong race on this difficult circuit tomorrow afternoon."

Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "It is disappointing to see our drivers so far apart on the grid. Fernando's lap showed that the car is competitive here, and that we have a well balanced package in terms of the car's handling and straightline speed. This afternoon's result showed how difficult an exercise single-lap qualifying can be, with seven different teams in the top seven, and we were among those who see our drivers in very different parts of the field. Giancarlo's position in the field leaves him little hope of improving his position in tomorrow morning's second qualifying session, and he will need to put in an aggressive drive tomorrow to make the most of the car's performance."


Michael Schumacher - 3rd: "I am very pleased with my lap time this afternoon, especially considering I went out quite early in the running order and given that, if we have a slightly weak spot, it is in the one lap performance. But it is clear we have improved in this area. Everyone in the team was very motivated to work hard having seen the performance potential of the F2005 in Bahrain and today's performance is a result of all their hard work. I think we can be in the fight for the win on Sunday, It will be tight and tough, but the opportunity is there."

Rubens Barrichello - 11th: "We have made a major step forward compared with Bahrain, both in terms of development of the F2005 and the Bridgestone tyres. We are definitely more competitive in relation to the others. On new tyres for qualifying, I was not as happy with the balance of the car as I had been in this morning's free practice on old ones. There is not much of a time difference between me and those directly ahead of me, so I still have the possibility of moving further up the grid order."

Jean Todt: "It was a very close first qualifying session with thirteen drivers separated by just over one second. Michael managed to get the most out of the car-engine-Bridgestone tyre package, while Rubens was not perfectly happy with the balance of his car and so was unable to set a better time. There is still a long way to go in this Grand Prix. We must make the most suitable choices for tomorrow's second qualifying session, when we run with the fuel load with which we start the race. Then come the 62 laps of this the fourth round of the season, when reliability and consistency in terms of tyre performance will be key factors. Given what we have seen so far, we have cause to be optimistic."

Ross Brawn: "We can be fairly happy given we did not have the best starting positions for qualifying. Michael in particular did an exceptional lap which gives us something to build on for tomorrow. I feel we can challenge for the win this weekend. Rubens still needs to find a slightly better balance on his car, although there is not much we can do as the cars are now in parc ferme. However, this morning, both drivers did very good long runs, which is encouraging for tomorrow."


Mark Webber - 4th: "I am pleased to have set the fourth fastest time. From my perspective, I didn't make any mistakes across the lap, but I could have done better in the first sector because I feel I braked too early for turn one, but I had a very good last sector, which balanced the lap. Thanks to the team who did a great job and prepared my car really well."

Nick Heidfeld - 9th: "I had to go out quite early for my qualifying lap, when track conditions were not ideal. My lap was average but I lost a bit of grip towards the end, but it was reassuring that I didn't experience any back problems at all today. I feel that my muscles have fully recovered after the problem I experienced during testing."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a reasonable first qualifying for us. There is not much difference between the top drivers' lap times so it will be tight tomorrow in second qualifying. The track temperatures on Sunday morning will play a big part. The FW27 is making good progress and handling well around the Imola circuit, especially over the curbs."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are relatively happy with our result today. Nick had to go out on track earlier than Mark and set good split times until the end of the second sector. Unfortunately he lacked of grip towards the end of his lap. Track conditions were good when Mark had his run. His lap was flawless and he deserves his good fourth position."


Jenson Button - 5th: "I am reasonably happy considering the position we started in for qualifying. My lap was going really well until the last sector, when I had too much understeer. At least it has shown that we are have made some big improvements and are on the pace. It would have nice to be on pole here, but if we are in the top five tomorrow I will be very happy because I think the car is strong enough for us to make the best of every opportunity in tomorrow's race."

Takuma Sato - 10th: "We had good pace in free practice this morning. We knew we were going to be affected by running early in the session with the track conditions certain to improve for the drivers running later. Although I struggled with grip a little, I am reasonably pleased with my lap and everybody's lap time in the top ten is so close together. Because of this, I feel that tomorrow morning I have a good chance of improving my position on the grid for the race. The two weeks' testing in Barcelona and Paul Ricard is paying off though and we are confident that we will be able to get our season started here in Imola."

Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director: "After very strong morning sessions, we had set our sights high for this afternoon's qualifying. However, we were also conscious that with early start times it was going to be difficult to get into the top positions. Both drivers had good qualifying laps and we are very pleased with the progress we have made generally since the last race. We now feel confident for tomorrow's second qualifying session and the race."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "With both of the drivers in the top ten it shows that we have definitely made good progress. I am looking forward to 2nd qualifying and the race tomorrow, as it will be very exciting with so many cars so closely matched."


Jarno Trulli - 6th: "That was a pretty good qualifying session for me, and I managed to put together a clear lap to keep up my record of top six finishes from first qualifying this year. Obviously we knew this would be a tougher weekend than the last two races, but we are still in a strong position on a very tight grid. Now we hope to capitalize on that tomorrow so that we can add a few more points to my season's tally so far."

Ralf Schumacher - 12th: "That was a very tight qualifying session. It was obviously not a perfect lap from me, and it ended up slightly slower than I would have liked. I took it slightly easy in the first sector, but apart from that it was a pretty clear lap with no real mistakes so we will have to take a look at the data to try and see where we lost time. Nonetheless I think our car performs well whatever the fuel load so I'm looking forward to the race and confident that we can push and make the points. That would be a good way to keep up our strong form so far this year."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis: "Overall that was a solid performance. It was a very tight qualifying session and both drivers did a reasonable job with the car. We don't seem to have quite the pace that we had in the last couple of races due to the nature of the circuit. But the car is still very competitive and it was a good qualifying performance from Jarno. Ralf was a little less happy with the car, which is a shame because it was very tight and one tenth would have picked up several places. Looking ahead to second qualifying we obviously have to look at strategy because a good choice could pick up several positions on such a tight grid. But so far the weekend has gone pretty much as we expected and now we have to look to get two cars into the points."


Felipe Massa - 7th: "I'm really, really happy with the work the team has been doing on the car, which has improved a lot since Bahrain. I'm also really satisfied with my lap. It was clean and I didn't make any mistakes, so we were able to show our true potential. But I'm very disappointed that we had to change the engine last night, so I have to lose 10 grid places. That's very frustrating. Without that I think I could have made an excellent race. But, even starting so far back, I think it will still be possible to do a good job, and even to dream of points."

Jacques Villeneuve - 13th: "This was a much better qualifying than I've had so far this year (Melbourne apart), and the new aerodynamic parts that the team has brought here have made a big improvement. Together with more work on the mechanical and electronic side, the car is a lot better. I made a small mistake which cost me a couple of tenths, and the way that things were this afternoon that cost me a couple of positions, but overall it was a much better day."

Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "At the beginning of the season I said that the C24 was not where it should be but that it had a lot of potential. I'm glad that we could make our first significant step here in Imola, and I am confident that more will follow.

"First of all, thanks to the team at Hinwil who are using our resources there to their optimum. And thanks to Felipe for an excellent lap. Jacques was also able to demonstrate the step he has taken this weekend, even though he was not 100 percent happy with his lap."

Red Bull

David Coulthard - 14th: "Not really a good one this afternoon. I was a bit cautious going into Turn 1, because Tonio had said he picked up some understeer there and if you overshoot there, you can lose about half a second. So although the rest of the lap wasn't too bad, I'd already lost the time. Generally, we seem to be struggling a bit here. On a more positive note, it's fantastic that the team has secured a Ferrari engine deal for 2006."

Tonio Liuzzi - 16th: "I am reasonably happy with my lap, but as I was going out first the track was really dirty. In the first chicane it was difficult and the car was tricky to stop when braking. But for the rest of the track it was good. I was quite happy but unfortunately we are too slow and also I actually think I might have lost half a second because of the dirt. "

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "14th and 16th - we would obviously liked to have been higher than this but with a creative strategy we can certainly move forward from where we are today. Tonio did a solid job on his Formula 1 debut as it is always a difficult job to go first on a dirty track after the Porsche Cup, but he drove maturely. David was slightly more unhappy with his lap, but as I said earlier we have a good strategy for tomorrow."

Günther Steiner, Technical Director: "Nothing else then expected - we are too slow and this is where we stand now in comparison with the other teams. It is not a very good position to be in when you consider our performance in the previous three races, and it is obviously difficult to get better. We have to have faith in our strategy and hope we can improve with this."


Narain Karthikeyan - 17th: "The track here at Imola is quite tricky as you need to use the kerbs a lot if you want to make a quick lap. I have lost a bit of time in the first sector but otherwise I think I did a decent lap. We have made some progress and if we keep making similar steps, we will improve. I am pretty positive for the rest of the weekend and I am looking forward to tomorrow."

Tiago Monteiro - 18th: "I am a bit disappointed with my lap. I made a few mistakes this morning in both free practice sessions and I lost maybe 40 minutes of running which would have been very useful. The car felt different with new tyres and low fuel so I had to get used to it while still pushing. Otherwise I am happy with the progress we have made on the car even though I have some catch up to do tomorrow."

Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director: "Today was a bit disappointing after yesterday's sessions. We expected to be slightly closer to the pace. Tiago struggled to get heat into his tyres; so he is not very happy with his performance. We will have to work hard for the race set-up tomorrow and try to bring the car home again."


Christijan Albers - 19th: "I'm a little bit annoyed with myself, as I made quite a few mistakes on the qualifying lap this afternoon, but I'm happy that we've been going quicker every time out so far this weekend. There is no doubt we have made progress with the car, which certainly felt better today with the changes we made, and I think we should be able to go quicker again tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the race, which hopefully, we'll be able to finish, and to next week's test, when we will aim to find more time in the car. Finally, I just want to thank the guys again. They've been working some really long shifts, and it's impossible to say too much about the huge effort they've been putting in."

Patrick Friesacher - 20th: "We found a little more grip today, and the car felt good. I think it has a lot of potential even though, so far, we have done such a small amount of running. There is more work to do on the set-up, but we are definitely heading in the right direction. As for the qualifying lap this afternoon, everything was going well until I slid slightly wide at the last chicane. If not for that, I think we would have had a reasonable time. Tomorrow is another day, though, and our aim will be to have a good second qualifying session and to finish the race."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Despite finishing today's first qualifying session in P19 and P20, all things considered, the Minardi Team has a lot to be proud of this weekend. The morning sessions were dogged by mechanical gremlins, which are to be expected when one considers this is the first serious running for the new car, but it is clear the Minardi PS05 chassis and Cosworth TJ2005 engine package shows significant potential, as evidenced by Christijan' second-fastest speed through the circuit speed trap this afternoon."


Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "It has been another day that underlines Michelin's ability to produce competitive tyres to suit a wide range of different cars. Ultimately, our seven partners have chosen to use two compounds in tomorrow's race, although there are no significant differences between them in terms of performance or durability.

"Designing tyre constructions for a circuit like Imola is reasonably straightforward, even if we have to bear in mind the excessive kerb use, but although these are the coolest conditions we have raced in this year it doesn't make it any easier to pinpoint the appropriate compounds.

"So far, though, everything has run smoothly. As we seek to maintain our unbeaten run, I anticipate that Michelin's tyres will deliver excellent speed and consistency - the hallmarks of our season to date."


Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: "We had two very productive morning practice sessions today during which we were encouraged by the performance of the specifications here this weekend. Michael posted the fastest and fourth fastest times respectively in those two early sessions which was a good indicator for us and he confirmed this competitiveness with the third fastest time in the first qualifying session. Rubens is still working on his set up at the moment but we expect he will be in the same competitive region tomorrow. We are working closely with all the teams to help them make the most of their race strategies tomorrow and certainly for Minardi, this weekend is all about gaining as much information on their new car as possible. Judging by the performances so far though, I think we have a good chance of giving our rivals a good fight in the race. Certainly after this afternoon's qualifying session things are looking good for the final qualifying session and race tomorrow."

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