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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 06 Mar 2004

The helmet of Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 4 March 2004 The helmet of Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams BMW FW26.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004

The all-new 2004 qualifying format made its debut in Australia on Saturday, with some interesting results. We bring you inside line on every driver's performance, direct from the men themselves.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 24.408s):
"The team has done a fantastic job. This car has got great potential which it showed straight out of the box. I had a very good feeling with it today. I am not surprised to be on pole here, as historically we have always gone very well here in Melbourne. But I do not want to sound too optimistic as I am sure there will be harder times ahead at some of the other circuits. The new engine rule has not affected us too much and that is down to a good job of preparation in terms of extending reliability while improving power. This result proves what a fantastic job everyone back in the factory has done over the winter, but it's going to be a tough season."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 24.482s):
"For the first part of the session, I was first on track and it was very dusty, so I was being very careful and then on my second run, I pushed as hard as I could. It was a very good lap, even if Michael went a little bit quicker. I am a happy guy and while I am second today, I would like to go one better tomorrow. We found the right set-up and the car felt good. I was aware of the new engine rule and I got the impression that maybe only 10% of the drivers were trying for a time in the first part, while the majority were only looking after their car for the second half."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (3rd, 1m 24.998s):
“The car was a lot better today than in yesterday's free practice. It took us a while to get the set up of my car working properly. Yesterday we also struggled a bit with the tyres but they have got better and better. I was amazed by the time I set in the first qualifying, but then I tried too hard in the second qualifying and made a mistake in the third sector and lost my advantage. However, I am confident for the race, because our package seems to improve throughout the weekend, which will lead us to have a very good car tomorrow.”

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (8th, 1m 25.925s):
“I don't really know why everything went fine in the first qualifying but not in the second one. Being eighth on the grid is obviously not what I have dreamed of but we should wait and see what the race will bring. The most important thing for me is to collect as many points as possible here.”

Jenson Button, BAR (4th, 1m 24.998s):
"I really enjoyed that. It's always difficult to achieve the perfect lap but I'm very happy. It's a little bit disappointing to miss out on third after I matched Montoya's time. I had switched to the T-car for qualifying after a problem with my race car in practice this morning. Under the new rules we also had to switch the engine from my race car, so it was a race against time for us to be ready in time to start qualifying. The team did a very good job though. If we have the reliability in the race tomorrow then we're definitely looking strong for points."

Takuma Sato, BAR (7th, 1m 25.851s):
"I'm very pleased with my lap - the best I've had this weekend. It was a little bit difficult this morning because we had a mechanical problem with the gearbox, so I lost quite a bit of track time. We made a set-up change prior to the first qualifying run and the car didn't feel too good, but we switched back to the practice set-up and I just felt very comfortable for the second session. I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow now."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 25.699s):
"I'm pleased with my lap: the car was well balanced, and I think we got the maximum out of our package in qualifying spec. I didn't make any mistakes, and I think that fifth on the grid is a good result after a productive day's work. I'm feeling confident for tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli, Renault (9th, 1m 26.290s):
"It was a difficult session, even though I didn't make any mistakes on my lap. I have to admit that some of our competitors are quicker than we had expected, but we also know that, relative to the other teams, we are quicker in race conditions than in qualifying. It's a long race tomorrow, and while our first aim must be to finish without any problems, we will also be looking to score a good number of points."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (6th, 1m 25.805s):
“It's been a great weekend for me so far and to be starting my home race tomorrow from 6th of the grid is fantastic. I had a good practice session this morning when we worked on balance and set-up. The boys have done a great job in preparing the car for me and both Cosworth Racing and Michelin have more than delivered. I was hoping to be in the top ten and after I saw Takuma Sato's time I knew I had to do a good clean lap if I had a chance of topping him. The first corner can be tricky as you really have to control your aggression and so I was glad to see the back of it. There was definitely more grip out there this afternoon which made my job easier and that allowed me to extract a couple extra tenths. I can't wait for tomorrow, it's going to be a long afternoon but very exciting.”

Christian Klien, Jaguar (19th, no time):
“The weekend had been going so well for me so it is very disappointing to have not completed my first Formula One qualifying lap. The balance on the car had been excellent this morning and I had really enjoyed my first qualifying session. It appears that as I approached corner one I suffered a hydraulic failure and as it pushed me off track I just focused on controlling the car. I immediately abandoned my lap and came in and as a result I will be starting in 19th position, slightly lower than I had hoped! However I know that these things can happen and I am already focusing on the race tomorrow and concentrating on doing the best that I can in my first Formula One race.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (10th, 1m 26.297s):
"Obviously today's qualifying is disappointing particular since the car doesn't feel too bad, but we were just slow. I didn't do a perfect lap but it was OK and we were still not quick enough. We obviously can't make any changes overnight so we will see what happens in the race tomorrow and hope we gain places by being on a different strategy."

David Coulthard, McLaren (12th, 1m 27.294s):
"Today's two qualifying sessions made it difficult to see where everybody will be in the race pace wise as some of the variations in times between the two runs were surprising. Obviously from our point of view we were struggling to get the anticipated performance out of the car. In my last run at the last corner I went wide and whilst it might have looked spectacular on the TV, I don't think I damaged the car too much as I went on the grass."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (14th, 1m 27.845s):
"I was happy with my performance in the first qualifying session, but unfortunately in the second I made a big mistake in Turn One. I recovered and set what was at that time the fastest time in the second sector, but I lost a bit of concentration and made another couple of small mistakes in the third. It's disappointing, because the car was good and the balance was better than it was yesterday."

Felipe Massa, Sauber (11th, 1m 27.065s):
"I could have done a bit better in the second qualifying session, because I expected to set the same time as I had in the first, 1m 26.833s. But I was expecting to qualify in the top 12 and I'm 11th, so I'm quite happy. The balance was good today and for sure it is better still over a long distance, so I know I will have a very good car for the race."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (13th, 1m 27.823s):
"I am not pleased with my lap. This afternoon, for some reason, the car has been more disconnected than it was in morning practice; the balance was not as good and we had less grip. Compared to what we achieved this morning, I was expecting a much better result. I made a small mistake in turn 14, which lost me a few tenths, but generally the grip levels were not as good this afternoon. We need to work very hard for the race tomorrow."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (18th, no time):
"The morning practice sessions were quite positive. From Friday, we improved the car a lot and I felt much more confident to drive to the maximum. I think we did a reasonable job in the first qualifying run, but we could not start the engine for my second run due to an electronics malfunction and I was unable to get going in time."

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (15th, 1m 28.178s):
"My second qualifying lap was better than the first. I was hoping to beat Cristiano da Matta but it did not happen even though I did the maximum possible. The car has a good set-up for the race judging by this morning because we did a relatively long run, given that we have to be careful with engine mileage, and the car was quite consistent. After this morning it looked like we would be stronger over a distance than on a single lap so I'm hopeful."

Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (16th, 1m 30.140s):
"We tried to do our best for our first qualifying. I don't think we did our complete maximum and we can be better so we still need to work a lot."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (17th, 1m 30.681s):
“I was struggling a bit during the first run, as I was trying to find the limit of the new tyres and also to feel the grip levels on the track. In the couple of minutes we had between sessions, we made a small adjustment to the car to reduce some oversteer we had in places. In the end, I think the result wasn’t bad – we picked up two seconds from the first run and ended up only half-a-second behind the Jordan, which is good. Overall, I’m happy, and even more importantly, my engineer is happy. I’m sorry for (team mate) Gimmi that he didn’t get a time this afternoon, but I hope we can both have a good race tomorrow, and if we’re lucky, score some points.”

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (19th, no time):
“It’s obviously a bit disappointing for my first F1 qualifying to end this way. The first run was good, and I didn’t push that hard, as I wanted to get the feel of the track for the second run. The second run would have been better, for sure, as everybody went faster, but when I tried to select first gear to leave the garage, there was nothing. It’s a shame, because we had developed a pretty good chassis balance for the car today. Anyway, that’s what happened, and now we’ll just have to see what we can do tomorrow.”