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Final qualifying - selected driver quotes 27 Sep 2003

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren celebrates pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, USA, 27 September 2003

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (1st, 1m 11.670s):
"I'm obviously very pleased for the whole team that we managed to get pole position today. It's quite an important one and the fact that my two Championship contenders are a bit further down can only be good for the battle. I think the session was exciting to watch for the fans around the world, and we want this race to be the same. We haven't done as much running as we would have liked but nevertheless I felt very comfortable in the car during my qualifying lap. I'm looking forward to the action tomorrow and believe we can put in a strong performance, but it's a long race and anything can happen. At least we are starting from the best spot!"

David Coulthard, McLaren (9th, 1m 12.297s):
"I made a slight mistake when I ran a bit wide at turn four which was caused by a small amount of understeer. At turn eight I experienced some oversteer, but that didn't cost me too much time. Even from the fourth row of the grid everything is possible, and I look forward to tomorrow's race. Congratulations to Kimi on his great lap. Let's hope that it stays like this in the race."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 11.794s):
"I was hoping for pole position as the car has been good all weekend.
My flying lap was a good one, even though the car felt a bit different to the way it did in the warm-up and was loose all the way round. It was quite windy this afternoon, which I am sure affected everyone, so I had to gamble a bit on the car's set-up in the hope that it will be good for tomorrow. So, I did not have the quickest car in terms of its performance this afternoon. I am sorry I am not in the race for the title where the battle is still very much alive. The crowd here is fantastic, just like in Brazil and Monza and hopefully they will see a good clean race. Personally, I love a challenge and I will be trying to win tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (7th, 1m 12.194s)::
"This was a very average qualifying session for me today and naturally, I am not at all satisfied with the way it went. I am not clear what was going on, but the car was sliding too much and I could not find any grip. At least seventh place is on the clean side of the track which is better than being on the dirty inside line and I will be interested to see what strategy the others have adopted for the race. In terms of the championship, my closest rival is only three places ahead of me, so this is not a disaster and so, with Kimi on pole the title race is a bit more open now. The important thing is to understand what went wrong this afternoon. Now we will just have to wait and see what I can do from that position on a track where overtaking is possible. I hope that, by the end of the race, I can give the tifosi something to cheer about."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, 1m 12.087s):
"We have improved the car since this morning, and I was happier with the handling than during practice. Nevertheless, it still feels nervous, with understeer in some corners and oversteer in others. Still, I will be starting from a competitive position tomorrow. I know the title contenders are close by me on the grid, but I will be looking to make up positions at the start and drive a normal race. I don't want to disrupt the fight for the title and the surest way of doing that is to finish in front of them."

Jarno Trulli, Renault (10th, 1m 12.566s):
"Firstly, I want to thank all the mechanics, who did a fantastic job to get the car ready after my accident in the warm-up. As for the qualifying lap, nothing felt quite right: I made small mistakes all the way round the lap, and I perhaps had some trouble adapting to changing track conditions. It is disappointing to start from so far back, but we have already shown this weekend that our package is very competitive. We have chosen a good strategy and I am intending to drive an attacking race tomorrow."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (17th, 1m 13.798s):
"This morning I had a problem with the gearbox and didn't get enough laps done so the car was not good in terms of set-up today. Grip is poor and the set-up we have chosen is more suited for wet conditions in case tomorrow is wet, which is what I'm hoping for."

Ralph Firman, Jordan (18th, 1m 14.027s):
"It feels really good to be driving here in Indianapolis after five weeks out of the car and it's quite exciting as there are only two more Grands Prix to go. We have been struggling for the ultimate lap time today but that's just where we are with the car, we have problems with grip, and we're struggling with balance and the lower downforce set-up. There is a lot of oversteer on turn-in and understeer through the long corners, it's a bit of everything really. I had a pretty good lap with no mistakes, and did the best I could under the circumstances. Unless it rains I think we might struggle to score any points, but it's been pretty showery the last few days so we may get lucky."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (3rd, 1m 11.920s):
"This is a brilliant result for the entire team. I have not started a race on the second row of the grid since the Grand Prix in Argentina back in 1997. I am looking forward to having some fun in the race tomorrow alongside some of the most competitive drivers in the field. We have had a mixed season in terms of results, but it is fabulous to see the rewards of our non-stop efforts. I know that we are not yet in a position to fight for victory, but we have a good car and I expect to pick up a lot of points tomorrow to try and catch BAR-Honda and Jaguar, our nearest rivals in the championship."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (9th, 1m 12.326s):
"All things considered I think my lap today was okay. Unfortunately, I had to switch to the spare car at the last minute because the engine was overheating during the warm-up session and we didn't want to take any risks. The T-car was set-up for me anyway, but even so you always lose out by some tenths-of-a-second, which is critical when the field is as tight as it is here. For tomorrow's race things should be pretty good; the car has been running strongly all weekend, so I think that if the weather stays dry we should be looking for points."

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (13th, 1m 13.083s)::
"I'm happier with my lap today than I was with yesterday's in comparable conditions. The car felt better balanced. Unfortunately the tyres had begun to grain before the end of my lap, otherwise I could have finished in front of Villeneuve."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (16th, 1m 13.447s):
"I must confess that this was not one of my best laps. I lost my line a bit in Turn Six and went slightly off track. It was quite slippery, and the incident naturally cost me some time. We are nevertheless within our target, but it is still annoying, of course. We changed the car quite a bit for qualifying, and it is set up well for the race."

Jos Verstappen, Minardi (19th, 1m 15.360s):
"It felt like we had punctures on the qualifying lap, the way the car was sliding around. I just couldn't do anything with it. As soon as I really began to push, the rear just started sliding away. In the end, it was just about survival, keeping the car on the track and completing the lap. I'm obviously disappointed by how the car felt in qualifying today, and if it's like this for the race, we will have a problem. Hopefully, though, we will find something overnight to improve the situation."

Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (20th, 1m 15.644s):
"The track conditions definitely changed between this morning's practice sessions and this afternoon's qualifying run, which meant the car's handling altered noticeably. I was pushing hard and the rear of the car stepped out, losing me probably three tenths of a second, which I then carried with me for the rest of the lap. The remainder of the run wasn't too bad, and the car went well through the slower corners in the second sector. As is often the case, I think we have a better car for the race than for qualifying."

Jenson Button, BAR (11th, 1m 12.695s):
"We finally got on top of the set-up with my car this morning and it was working reasonably well. By the time we got to warm-up, the wind had picked up, the track temperature had increased and like most people I found myself with a different car. It wasn't too bad in qualifying; the balance was there but we're still finding grip hard to come by. I think we'll be quite strong in the race and we'll be fighting for valuable points."

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR (12th, 1m 13.050s):
"We've had some trouble with the driveability of the car this weekend, mainly due to lack of grip, and this morning it was very close to being undriveable. It was a little better in warm-up then we made some changes prior to qualifying, which is always a bit of a gamble. It helped the car a lot and finally I had grip. There was still some time left in it because that's the first lap I've done all weekend where the car has been working well. The car will be good for the race but if we had found the set-up much earlier we would be a few tenths quicker than we are now."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (14th, 1m 13.269s):"
You win some, you lose some and today wasn't our day. We lost a bit of balance and grip going into the qualifying session and it became quite apparent as I came out of turn ten from my out lap. As I came out, the car understeered considerably and I began worrying about what was in store for me today. The brakes going into turn one were fine but the understeer kicked in again and it stayed with me for the whole lap. It was certainly a difficult qualifying session for us and not one that we expected given our pace up until now. We will, however, learn from it, move on and focus upon the job in-hand for tomorrow."

Justin Wilson, Jaguar (16th, 1m 13.585s):
"Mark's words pretty much sum up my disappointing performance too. The track conditions had obviously changed since this morning and no sooner had I entered the in-field section than I began experiencing
understeer. The car was quite twitchy in some of the corners and there was little I could do except my best. Tomorrow's race will be tough for us but there is never such a thing as an easy race anyway! It is a shame to be starting so far back at a circuit which we know we could have done a better job at today and given that I haven't yet finished a race distance for Jaguar yet, seeing the chequered flag will mean a lot to me tomorrow."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (4th, 1m 11.948s):
"My first sector was ok but I had quite a bit of oversteer in the second and third sectors and this wasn't ideal, as I lost about three tenths there. We could have done a little bit better but that's what we¹ve got and I am still confident we will have a good race ahead of us. I would really like to please all the South American fans who have come here to support me. I know I have an excellent race car, we've got good power too and this is important. It's interesting to see Kimi up there, instead of Michael: Kimi is always full of surprises!"

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (5th, 1m 12.078s):
"The very first part of my lap was very weak, as one can see from my sector-time. Beside this, we had to change the car a lot from the warm-up to qualifying, because of the accident I had in this morning's Free Practice, when I braked too late and went off track into the barriers, as it caused me to lose quite a lot of valuable track time. Still I managed to qualify in a reasonable position so I am fairly happy. I will start tomorrow from the better side of the track so I hope I will have a good start."