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Friday qualifying - selected driver quotes 10 Oct 2003

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault R23B 
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka , Japan, 9 October 2003

Jarno Trulli, Renault (1st, 1m 30.281s):
"The car has been well balanced ever since we started running and, even though I had some technical problems this morning, we have been quick throughout. I managed to get in a clean, mistake-free lap and I now have to look to repeat that performance tomorrow: the new rules make things more difficult, but after having taken three Friday 'poles' this year, I would like to get one on Saturday as well before the end of the season. If we manage that, we will be in a very strong position for the race."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, 1m 30.624s):
"I did a normal lap, but within my limits: the day for taking risks is tomorrow. Our package is working well here and as Jarno showed today, we are very competitive. I feel confident for the rest of the weekend."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (7th, 1m 30.798s):
"I am happy with the handling of the car. It's a shame about the mistake at the chicane. I came in a bit too quick and had to brake very hard, losing around three tenths. On the old layout at this point, the braking area was a bit longer. Now it has a different feel to it, but I think the turns are more fun and flow better. Both this morning and in qualifying, the times of all the top teams are very close, so I think we can be very competitive for the rest of the weekend."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 30.464s):
"I am quite happy with my lap and my time, considering that, yet again going out first is a slight disadvantage. Although, here it was less penalising than at some other circuits. The car seems to be handling very well and is very competitive. Looking at the times, the top runners are all very close, which means that tomorrow's fight for pole will be good fun and the outcome will be hard to predict. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (9th, 1m 31.305s):
"There's some quick boys out there today and I am pretty happy to have got 9th place behind the front runners. It's awesome driving around this circuit on very low fuel. There are some big G-forces at work and it's a great playground for an F1 car. It's a very demanding circuit aerodynamically speaking and it puts a lot of pressure on engines too. It's going to be difficult to keep up with the big boys this weekend but our battle is against BAR-Honda, Sauber and Toyota - all of whom are chasing points and 5th place in the constructor's championship. We have begun our campaign well and I feel quite good going into tomorrow's decisive second qualifying session."

Justin Wilson, Jaguar (15th, 1m 32.291s):
"I am reasonably pleased with what is my quickest lap of the day. It's a very difficult circuit to master but one that I am getting the hang of. Sector One is particularly tough and there is absolutely no margin for error. The slightest foot wrong results in the car sliding wide and there is an awful lot of time to be lost and won through there. I suffered some minor niggles in the first session this morning but by the end of the second session, our preparation going into qualifying was very good. I generated a good amount of mileage today and there is still more time left in the car - something I aim to extract during tomorrow's critical second qualifying phase. Getting my first championship point at the U.S. Grand Prix two weeks was a great feeling but it leaves you with an appetite for more and given how close the constructor's battle is, both Mark and I will be making an aggressive charge for more points come Sunday."

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (10th, 1m 31.783s):
"With my 10th place we can be very satisfied. It gives us a good starting point in our defence of fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship. This morning we did some long runs which didn't leave a lot of time for set-up work, but we made some changes for qualifying which worked out reasonably well, though I still had some high-speed oversteer."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (12th, 1m 31.892s):
"I had great fun today, although the car was tail happy.
I like this track and I always enjoy driving here, but we still have some work to do on the set-up for tomorrow."

Ralph Firman, Jordan (17th, 1m 33.057s):
"It's great to be back here, it's like my second home and the only circuit this year that I know really well. I'm really enjoying it and it's only my second race coming back after the accident. I'm working well with the team and we've found a reasonably good balance but there's still more time to find, especially at the first corner, and our final position is a bit disappointing."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (18th, 1m 33.313s):
"It wasn't the best today. I made a small mistake at the last corner and lost maybe a couple of tenths of a second, but then we are three seconds slower than pole anyway. But, it's my last race with Jordan and I will do my best because it's important for us to score some more points. I'd like to do that for the guys because in two years with them, I've had a good time. Obviously this season has been a bit tough but nevertheless the atmosphere in this team is fantastic."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (13th, 1m 31.908s):
"We worked hard in this morning's practice hour, but we are unfortunately not yet at the competitive level we were at in Indianapolis. We are struggling a bit with the general grip and balance of the car, but I like this circuit a lot, so we will continue to tune the car to be quicker tomorrow. The whole team is giving maximum effort at this final race of the season, and we will do the best we can in front of all the Japanese Toyota fans."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (14th, 1m 32.256s):
"I am not really satisfied with the performance we have shown today. We could already see in this morning's practice that the car is not behaving as well around here as we had initially expected it to, so we have to check a few things overnight. It is not the easiest track to learn in just one hour, but it is a fantastic circuit to drive - one of the best I have driven at all season. It is our home race, so I am ready to push for a good result this weekend. I think we will be in better shape tomorrow."

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (2nd, 1m 30.343s):
"We changed the car quite a lot during this morning's Free Practice and the result was pretty good, which clearly shows we went the right way. Tomorrow's Free Practice sessions will be very important to us since we didn't have much running this morning due to some problems and we need some more time to improve our car. However, I think it is looking promising for us so far, also thanks to our Michelin tyres, which seem to be very good and can provide an important contribution to our performance. With regards to the revised track, I think they made a good job, just the 130R corner is a little bit too bumpy."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (8th,1m 31.201s):
"It was obviously very difficult for me to set a good time in today's First Qualifying due to the fact that I lost most of this morning's Free Practice session because of a gearbox problem. During qualifying, my car was not at all ideally set up nor was it comfortable to drive and I pushed as hard as I could. It's going to be quite a lot of work for us tomorrow to make up for the lost time and get it back together. However, Ralf's time shows that we have a good car and there's definitely much more to come."

Takuma Sato, BAR (11th, 1m 31.832s):
"I've had a fantastic first day with the team and really enjoyed working with them to prepare for first qualifying, especially with Jock Clear. This is the first time I've taken part in one-lap qualifying, so that was very interesting. I'm reasonably happy with my lap. I lost a bit of time in the first sector but there's plenty of time for improvement throughout the rest of the weekend. Today I just wanted to take things steady, work through my programme and establish a good footing with the team and engineers. To be honest, I'm still coming to terms with actually being here racing this weekend, but I'm pleased to have had a good first day and I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Jenson Button, BAR (15th, 1m 32.374s):
"It's really difficult at this circuit, especially when you aren't able to run many laps, as was the case this morning. I lost about 45 minutes as a result of an engine problem, and because of that, qualifying was a bit of a shot in the dark for me. There have been some substantial changes to the circuit this year and because of my limited running I haven't had the chance to work out where the braking areas are or to get the right balance; I had a bit too much understeer. I also didn't get the chance to run on new tyres or with low fuel. It didn't feel like a solid lap and this isn't a great start to a very important weekend for us. We have made it quite difficult for ourselves heading into tomorrow but things can only get better."

David Coulthard, McLaren (4th, 1m 30.482s):
"I'm reasonably happy with that lap and believe there is still more to come as the car is performing well. I was a bit cautious going into the hairpin and slowed the car too much, but what you lose on entry you sometimes gain on traction. The track layout means that it's important to get the right flow and a small mistake can upset your rhythm quite easily, but everything went well today. The chicane is very difficult as you need to find the line and ride the kerbs, so I think the drivers who took part in this morning's Free Practice had an advantage. I look forward to tomorrow's second qualifying and Sunday's race."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 30.558s):
"My lap today was OK, but there is still room for improvement especially in the first sector where I lost about four tenths of a second compared to the best sector time. The gap to the competition is less than it normally is in Friday qualifying, so we should be in reasonable shape for tomorrow and Sunday. I'm pleased with how the car feels especially in the second and third sectors, and I like the new chicane. At the end of the day we are here to do our best and that is what we will continue to do."

Jos Verstappen, Minardi (19th, 1m 34.836s):
"We did three runs trying different set-ups this morning, and eventually ended up coming back to close to the original. We also did the normal Friday tyre comparisons and on my last run, which should have been the fastest, a Renault blew up in front of me and spoiled the lap. The chassis balance was pretty good right from the start of the morning session, and all in all, I think we did some useful work today. As far as the qualifying run this afternoon was concerned, I think we did a good job with what we had. I was on the harder compound tyre compared with my team mate, as I felt it was the better option in high-speed corners, and this is very much a high-speed circuit. The car was at the maximum, sliding through the corners, and that is as it should be in qualifying."

Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (20th, 1m 36.181s):
"It has been a hard day, as this is a difficult circuit to learn. My qualifying lap was okay until I locked up the right front wheel braking for the last chicane and lost quite a bit of time. We made solid progress this morning, however, and we've got a good race car."