Villeneuve 'Quicker than Expected'

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve said he was not expecting to be as competitive as he was in today's qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Villeneuve 'Quicker than Expected'

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve said he was not expecting to be as competitive as he was in today's qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The British American Racing driver was involved in a massive crash yesterday and could only complete 11 laps in total. But the 1997 World Champion and his team recovered well for today's qualifying and Villeneuve managed to post the ninth fastest time ahead of the race.

"I had to abort my first run after the restart because Montoya completely blocked me, so it's lucky I managed to get a clear lap on my last run," said the Canadian. "There was still some time left in the car but not enough time left in the session to make the most of it.

"Top 10 is good for us today and the Suzuka engine had enough power to make a difference. The team have done a great job to salvage the weekend after yesterday's lack of running. We ended up being more competitive than we expected."

Frenchman Olivier Panis, on the other hand, was disappointed with his qualifying showing after posting the 16th fastest time. The veteran driver, who is competing in his final race for BAR before moving to Toyota next season, was hit by mechanical problems that hampered his progress.

"What can I say? I'm really frustrated because this isn't what I'd hoped for at my last Grand Prix with BAR," said Panis. "The qualifying session was very difficult anyway but when you get technical problems and cannot exploit your runs, you're up against the wall and there's nothing you can do.

"I hope the team can resolve the problem so it doesn't occur in the race tomorrow and I will do my best to finish the season on a more positive note."

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