Saturday's Selected Quotes - Japan
Ralf Schumacher - 1st: "It's obviously an incredible feeling to take my first pole position for Toyota, and what better place could there be to do it than here at Suzuka, the team's home track and my own personal favourite. I'd like to thank everyone in the team for helping to make it happen both here in Japan and back at the factory in the Cologne. Obviously the weather worked in our favour but that doesn't often happen so I'm happy to take that slice of luck this time. The lap itself was difficult because of the changing conditions and far from perfect. The track was very slippery and that meant the car was hard to handle with lots of oversteer. But it was a reasonable time and I will certainly take it because it has put me on pole! Looking at the cars around us I'm optimistic that we can fight to convert this into a great result tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli - 19th: "The car has been very difficult for me to drive all weekend and I just haven't been able to get much out of it today. This morning was the first chance we had to try out the TF105B in the wet so didn't have long to work out our set-up for the afternoon. It was very difficult to drive but it had been the same in the dry yesterday, just very inconsistent for me. I know I wasn't the only one to go off at turn 9 but there was not a specific problem there the car had also felt awkward at the previous corner. Still, the car offers a big improvement when it comes to consistency over long runs so I will hope to be able to gain ground in the race. It's not the easiest circuit for overtaking but anything can happen."
Mike Gascoyne Technical Director Chassis: "That was a great result and obviously a great effort both by Ralf and the whole team. It's very special to take pole position here in Suzuka in front of all our fans and everyone from TMC which gives us so much support. It's also fantastic for everyone back in Cologne who worked so hard to bring the B spec car here. There was an element of risk in that, but to have it on pole position at our home Grand Prix on its first outing is a tremendous achievement. We obviously got lucky to some extent with the weather, but our forecast was predicting a shower at 13.42 and that is exactly what happened. It's 50 percent of a great result for us because Jarno unfortunately made a rare mistake and spun off. He'd been quick in sector one and I'm sure he could have put it close to the front row as well. So it will be difficult for him in the race but we have a competitive car so we will work hard to get him into the points. As for Ralf, with so many of the quicker cars so far back, we have to look to capitalise and win the race tomorrow."
Jenson Button - 2nd: "It's fantastic to be on the front row of the grid for Honda's home race here at Suzuka. I'm very happy with the position, if not the lap itself. We were lucky with the weather as the rain came soon after my run. The car itself had massive understeer everywhere and it was difficult to drive, particularly as we had not the run the wet tyre before this weekend. All in all we have set the car up well for the race, we have a good strategy and I hope to go really well in front of the incredible crowd of fans that we have here this weekend."
Takuma Sato - 5th: "I am very happy to have qualified in 5th position for my home race. The weather has been kind to us today and has given us a great chance for tomorrow. Although it started to spit with rain as I went out, it did not affect me that much. However, having not run the intermediate tyres today, I had very big understeer so I think I did a good lap. I really hope I have a great race tomorrow as the support from the fans has been fantastic."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We are delighted with our qualifying position today; having Jenson so close to pole and Taku in fifth at Suzuka is very promising for tomorrow. Although Jenson suffered from a lot of understeer during his run, he was still able to post a time just 0.04 seconds behind pole. Taku had a good clean run in slightly wetter conditions. Certainly the changing weather during the late stages of the session meant that the usual contenders are starting further back than normal, which will make the race quite interesting tomorrow. We have been quite happy with the performance of the car throughout the weekend and our strategy took into account the possibility of uncertain weather which makes us positive for the race."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "I think we have been a little lucky today but having said that both of the guys did very strong laps. Suzuka has had some fantastic races over the years and I think tomorrow could be one of the best. I would like to ask all our fans for their strongest support tomorrow and we promise to do everything possible to give them a good result."
Giancarlo Fisichella - 3rd: "I am quite pleased to be third to be honest. It was already raining as I left the pit-lane, and I knew the circuit would get worse as I did my lap. I was running on the normal wet tyres, which were the right choice, but the final sector was too wet by the time I got there. Otherwise, I think I could have got pole position quite easily, to be honest. But I am still happy with third, because we have a good strategy for tomorrow, and our rivals McLaren are a long way back. I will be aiming to get the best result possible."
Fernando Alonso - 16th: "Well, you would have to say that wet qualifying sessions haven't been my strong point this year! But seriously, the circumstances were very similar to Australia where I qualified when the track was wettest, and I am not too stressed - I just hope to do a good job like we did in Melbourne, when I was able to come through the field. Obviously, it is good for the Constructors' Championship that both McLarens are behind us, but I will just do my race, push to the maximum and aim to get into the points. Hopefully we can do something good for the championship tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Give or take a few minutes, the rain fell exactly as we had predicted, and brought with it the usual lottery in terms of grid position. It has made things very interesting for tomorrow, as our team is collectively in a better position than McLaren, with Fisico sat in a very promising third position. I would like to congratulate him on his lap, which was truly exceptional in difficult and worsening conditions. Looking to the race, Fernando will have a tough afternoon, much like the two McLarens, as it can be difficult to make up positions here in Suzuka; as for Giancarlo, he will be looking for a very strong performance."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "So far, the weather has dictated the pattern of this race weekend. Firstly, the changing conditions since yesterday morning mean we have almost no idea of the genuine performance of our competitors. And secondly, it has given us an extremely unusual grid for tomorrow afternoon. We expect dry conditions, which will inevitably mean that the race will be part improvisation, part inspiration from the drivers' point of view, as they will be running with chassis set-ups that we have had very little time to work on. From the engine point of view, preparations were a little fuller, as we have been able to run in every type of weather condition and map the engine accordingly. From a team perspective, we have come out of qualifying in better shape than our rivals, and now need to make the most of Giancarlo's advantageous grid position tomorrow."
David Coulthard - 6th: "I was a bit concerned that all the standing water on the track would prevent me from heating the tyres up properly for my qualifying lap, but actually it was not so bad. There's more understeer in the car when you use intermediate tyres rather than full wets, but you gain more rear stability meaning the car doesn't slide about as much on the entry to corners. Before this lap, we hadn't run the car on intermediates at all this weekend, so I had to just find the feeling of the car on the out lap. I don't think I could have done anymore being first out as I'd had no sight of the track beforehand."
Christian Klien - 4th: "That was good. The car was pretty difficult to drive as I was on intermediate tyres, which meant there was a lot of understeer and it was hard to keep the car on the track. But, I pushed hard and it's good to be in front of my teammate and the other drivers. The balance of the car felt good even through we were driving the car with a dry set-up, which we've got ready as it's likely to be dry for the race tomorrow. David was really helpful after his lap and came back to the garage to give me some good advice about the conditions."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Both drivers did an excellent job today. David had the handicap of having to go out first, on intermediate tyres, on what was still a pretty wet circuit. He did an excellent job, while Christian built on his performance in Brazil and delivered another strong lap. We were a little bit lucky with the rain shower at the end - it would have been nice if it had come two or three minutes earlier! But, it puts us in a strong position for tomorrow and hopefully we can look forward to a competitive race."
Mark Webber - 7th: "We ran on full wet tyres all morning due to the aqua - planing and since we switched to intermediate tyres for qualifying, the balance of the car was quite different and very difficult to drive to the limit. It was frustrating not to have a better car especially in the second sector which was very hard work. Anyway, the weather helped us at the end."
Antonio Pizzonia - 12th: "Track conditions were pretty different from this morning when we were running on full wet tyres when it was raining a lot. For qualifying we chose to go for intermediate tyres as the rain had stopped and I spun on my out lap because I was pushing hard in order to learn about the grip level. I was quite happy with the balance of the car this morning but we changed some things for qualifying and it didn't help too much. The car was very difficult to drive and unfortunately it didn't go my way today. This doesn't take anything away from the fact that I like this track, no matter if dry or wet, even if I am driving here for the first time. At the moment the weather forecast for tomorrow is for dry weather, so we'll see what happens."
Sam Michael (Technical Director): "Because of the wet session the grid is not representative, which will make an exciting race for everybody. The weather prediction for tomorrow's race is dry, so Friday's work on dry tyres has provided us with our information for the race set-up. We have brought some further improvements to the FW27 and they seem to be working well."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "Today's qualifying was a true weather lottery, from which the starting order for tomorrow's race was determined. Mark made the best of his situation and achieved seventh starting position. Antonio was driving for the first time on this track, which is outstandingly challenging even when dry, let alone in today's changing conditions and given the circumstances, he can be happy with his 12th starting position. Due to the rain falling at the end of the session, many of the favourite drivers have qualified at the tail-end of the field which promises a very exciting race tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve - 8th: "I had so much oversteer that I thought the lap was really slow until I saw the time. It felt like I was driving a rally car I was so sideways but that's the way I like it, at least over a qualy lap. If it was like that through the whole race it would be more difficult, but overall I'm happy with the way things went and it's looking good."
Felipe Massa - 10th: "Unlike Jacques I had massive understeer. I already knew I was in trouble after only two corners. We went for a 'safe' set-up for the conditions but went a little bit too far and I was having to wait ages before I could get on the throttle and get the car turned in. It was really difficult making myself be patient! But looking at where I will start, I have to say that the luck went our way this afternoon."
Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "Thanks to the weather gods both Jacques and Felipe were able to qualify in the top 10, which of course is always our aim. We are happy to accept this present, and are in good shape for the race."
Rubens Barrichello - 9th: "There are two ways of looking at my qualifying. On the positive side, I was probably one of the last guys to make my run when the track was a little bit better with not too much rain. However, on the negative side, it meant that we were out on track in conditions where our package does not perform as well as it did in the past. On normal wets, the balance of the car felt a lot worse than it did in the morning when we ran with extreme wets."
Michael Schumacher - 14th: "The rain arrived just as I had to start my run, which meant it was too late to fit the extreme wet tyres, so basically, all I could do was swim for home! In fact, in the first sector the rain was not so heavy that it would have justified the extreme rain tyres, although it certainly was on the rest of the lap. I think it is fair for to claim I was hit with bad luck today. This morning, we were very competitive, so in my mind, I was aiming for pole position. My accident in the morning was caused by a combination of riding the kerbs and aquaplaning. With a grid like this, it should be an interesting race tomorrow. I am happy for Ralf, who did a great job to take pole."
Jean Todt: "We are very disappointed with the outcome of qualifying. After this morning's free practice, we thought we would be fighting for places on the front two rows, but unfortunately, we find ourselves with one driver in ninth place and the other in fourteenth. Rubens did not manage to get the most out of his car, which was not perfectly balanced for the conditions prevailing when he made his run. Michael, who was very quick this morning before his accident, saw his qualifying ruined by the fact his turn to go out coincided with the moment when the rain intensified. The mechanics did a good job in repairing the car for this afternoon. The forecast is for a dry track tomorrow and so, looking at the grid, it is risky to make any predictions. All we can say is that, as usual, we will try and do the best we can."
Ross Brawn: "I don't know what we could have done today in these conditions. It was just a lottery in which we did not pull out any winning tickets. It's very frustrating. That was particularly the case with Michael, as the rain really got stronger just as he went out of the pits, which was very frustrating as this morning on extreme wets, before his accident he was very quick. It will be an interesting race tomorrow with the top four guys in the World Championship starting at the back of the grid. It could be interesting or it could spoil the race. That is the problem with the current qualifying system when the weather changes like this."
Narain Karthikeyan - 11th: "I am really happy to qualify 11th as this is Jordan's best qualifying position this year. My lap was clean and I genuinely beat some teams, which are normally ahead of us, in the same weather conditions. I was also second this morning on full wet conditions. It is a pity the track was not wetter to use the extreme wet tyres in qualifying, as they worked pretty well this morning and they would have been of a bigger advantage. The conditions were quite tricky because the track was more slippery and greasy than this morning as there was not as much water. I did not want to push too hard in order not to make any mistakes and I am satisfied with my time. Let's see now what the weather will bring for the race tomorrow."
Tiago Monteiro - 18th: "It was tricky conditions and it was the first time we went on intermediate tyres. The grip was slippery but not too bad in the "S "s but then, when I selected second gear in Degner corner, the rear wheels locked and I lost the car. It is a shame and it is very annoying, especially as after that, the rain started again and I could have qualified in a good position. Mistakes happen and I haven't made too many this year. I am really sorry for the team. Now we have to think about the race and I am confident we have a good strategy for tomorrow."
Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "We have had a good day today. Obviously the wet conditions suit us a little better than they do in the dry. Both drivers were very quick this morning in the wet. It is a shame we did not have more of a wet session, as we could have been a bit better. Narain had a good lap. Unfortunately Tiago made a small mistake and did not do a time but anything can happen tomorrow. Let's see what we can do."
Christijan Albers - 13th: "We had a really good car set-up for the wet, and our times were very competitive this morning. In qualifying, however, the track conditions had changed considerably, and on intermediate tyres, I just wasn't able to set the sort of time we were looking for. Even though I wasn't particularly happy with our qualifying performance, the weather conditions caused other drivers problems as well, and as a result, we have a decent grid position. We also have a sensible fuel strategy for tomorrow, and I'm therefore looking forward to a good race."
Robert Doornbos - 15th: "I think we were a little unlucky with the tyre choice, as it was just on the borderline between extreme wets and intermediates at the start of qualifying. What do you do? In the end, we elected to go with the wets, which probably weren't ideal for the conditions, but with the rain falling heavily again at the end of the session, and several drivers therefore not able to better my time, we will start the race in a reasonable position."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Despite very promising first and second sessions this morning, which saw both Minardi drivers firmly in the top 10, sadly, qualifying turned out to be a complete lottery courtesy of the changing track conditions. The mixed grid that resulted should make for an exciting race. I'm confident we have the correct fuel strategy, however, and it will be interesting to see what Suzuka has in store for us tomorrow in terms of weather."
Kimi Raikkonen - 17th: "The rain started falling heavily just a few minutes before Juan Pablo and I had to qualify, so the conditions were bad, and it was really too wet to do anything at all. It's a shame for the team that we suffered so much, but you never know what the weather will do tomorrow, and as we have seen in the races this year anything can happen. I'm obviously disappointed, but I didn't get penalised as much as I would have had to move ten places down the grid anyway. We will go out tomorrow and do the best race we can and then see where we are in the Constructors' standings afterwards."
Juan Pablo Montoya - 20th: "There is nothing to say really - the weather decided it all today. It is a nightmare as both Kimi and myself suffered despite finishing one-two in the last race, and it's important that we are at the front to fight for the Constructors' Championship. The team told me not to finish my qualifying lap as there would be more benefits from a strategic point of view by saving fuel. At least Alonso is at the back as well, but the situation from a Constructors' Championship point of view is far from ideal. However I'm sure we can finish in the points tomorrow, which is what we must aim for and I have started from 20th before and finished second."
Ron Dennis: "Initially it might look like qualifying was a disaster for us, but at the moment we are here to fight first for the Constructors' Championship and second to win the race, so with Alonso's grid position things are not as bad. We know that we have a quick package and a strong strategy, and this leads us to believe that at least if the weather stays dry we should be in a position to leave Japan with at least as many points as Renault."
Norbert Haug: "As a consequence of our one-two victory in the last race Juan Pablo and Kimi started today's qualifying session last. This meant that as a result of the intensifying rain they had the worst qualifying conditions - so it was more of a lottery than a competition. Kimi certainly suffered less than Juan Pablo as the penalty after Friday's engine change would have put him 10 places down the grid anyway. Nevertheless we will give everything in tomorrow's race in order to maintain our lead in the Constructors Championship."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "We have had an opportunity to test all three types of tyre during the past couple of days and I'm pleased to say that our intermediates and maxi-wets are working every bit as well as our dries. Track conditions didn't improve a great deal during the early part of the qualifying session, because cars were sending up great plumes of spray that simply settled back on the circuit. Conditions then deteriorated very suddenly - and very dramatically - during the final few minutes, so Fernando Alonso and the McLaren drivers took the wise decision to abandon intermediates in favour of maxi-wets. Ralf Schumacher was one of several drivers who put together an excellent lap in tricky conditions and I'd like to congratulate Toyota on taking pole position for its home race."
Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities: "Although we haven't done any dry running today, we accumulated plenty of valuable information on Friday - not least because teams completed a high number of laps in the morning session, in anticipation of the impending rain. We spent a little longer than usual poring over the data yesterday evening, but the teams have given us excellent feedback and facilitated the decision-making process. There might be more showers tomorrow morning, but we anticipate a dry start. That being the case, our 'prime' and 'option' tyres will both feature in the race."
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager: "We had a frustrating day today with ever changing conditions. We had heavy rain in this morning's practice sessions where we saw our extreme wet tyres perform very well. The Jordan and Minardi drivers benefited greatly from this tyre performance with Narain Karthikeyan in particular seeming to enjoy the conditions. Although Michael spun off in the third practice session, he had managed to set the fastest time beforehand. We are quite satisfied with our extreme wet tyre performance. Unfortunately, in qualifying, we saw a variation of weather conditions. The majority of the field ran in wet conditions but without rain. However, just as Michael was leaving the garage, the rain started again. He was on wet tyres but really needed extreme wets. He did his best under the circumstances and I'm pleased that he still managed to set a time ahead of those runners behind him who had the benefit of time to change to extremes. Tomorrow will be very interesting as the grid is completely mixed up. It could be an exciting race!"
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