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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 03 Apr 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari after qualifying on pole.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Zsolt Baumgartner (HUN) Minardi Cosworth PS04B.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault after qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello on how Ferrari stole Williams' thunder and Kimi Raikkonen on why he chose not to run. Plus every other driver explains his qualifying efforts in Bahrain.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 30.139s):
“Of course, I am happy to be on pole for the first race here, but I cannot say I got a perfect lap. I was right on the limit and sometimes over it. I think that this is because the track is technically demanding and difficult, which I think everyone is happy about, because we are not supposed to be here for an easy life! I think the technical nature of the track, combined with the high track temperatures and the fact that it is very slippery off the racing line, will mean that tomorrow’s race will be very difficult. I hope it is a good show for all the fans coming to see their first grand prix.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 30.530s):
“I would describe my qualifying lap as a reasonable one, not a very good one. During pre-qualifying I was not so happy with my brakes. But in the qualifying, they were much better and I think that as I had not expected them to be so good, I was a bit too conservative in the way I tackled my lap. I was out on track a bit earlier in the running order for qualifying and so there was a slight difference in track temperature with those who ran last. But I do not think this made a significant difference to my lap time. Now, I am happy with my brakes and with the balance of the car, so I feel confident I have a good package for the race.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (3rd, 1m 30.581s):
“It is a shame, because I was having a very good lap and I was really quick in the first and second sectors. I lost all my advantage and even more in the third part, in the last corner actually, where I was trying to find a bit more speed. I’m not sure I could have set the pole without that problem at the last corner, because Michael was really quick. It is a bit disappointing of course being only third, but at least I will still be starting from the clean side of the track. It is difficult to predict how tomorrow’s race is going to be.”

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (4th, 1m 30.633s):
“I am really pleased with my car and my qualifying performance. My race set-up should turn into an advantage tomorrow. But still, my lap time could have been better today. I lost some time in the middle sector. Ferrari seems to be very strong again, but I think, if my brother and Rubens do not manage to open up a gap soon after the start, we could give them a hard time tomorrow.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (5th, 1m 30.827s):
"It was a good lap considering that I had some oversteer, so I’m quite pleased. It has been a very productive weekend so far and I’m happy that we haven’t had any problems so far. I have been able to get lots of laps in and this really helped with my qualifying result, so this just shows what is possible with the right preparation. I’m really looking forward to the race."

Jenson Button, BAR (6th, 1m 30.856s):
"I’m lost as to why my qualifying lap was so slow because we could and should have been quicker based on this morning’s running. So I’m actually quite disappointed. The car has been great all weekend and we’ve been looking so strong, but this afternoon the car felt very different from this morning. Some of that will be down to changing track conditions and loss of grip, but we’ll have to look at the information and see what went wrong. There’s still some work to do if we are to achieve our full potential here tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli, Renault (7th, 1m 30.971s):
"It was a pretty good qualifying session from my perspective. As we had seen yesterday and this morning, I am competitive in the first and third sectors, but there is still progress to be made in the second part of the lap. I am expecting a tough race tomorrow: the grip level is improving all the time and I believe the track will change significantly during the race itself. The car balance is good, so I think we can certainly hope to score more points tomorrow."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (8th, 1m 31.686s):
"We started the season with some different problems but everyone has reacted well to keep pushing and improving. Now we are making steady progress at each race weekend to optimise everything we have. I am happy with my qualifying lap today. We have both cars in the top ten, so now we have to continue to be strong and to push to the maximum. I believe we are on a good strategy and we have shown reliability in the first two races, so we have to think of getting to the end of the race in the points. The whole team is working very well together and today has been an excellent result for everybody."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (9th, 1m 31.717s):
"I have been pleasantly surprised by our performance at the Bahrain circuit and particularly by this morning's free practice results. I think our car suits this type of smooth surface track, and we have also benefited from competitive Michelin tyres. In qualifying, we tried a slightly lower fuel lap for the first session and it appeared that the track conditions were not as favourable compared to the morning. We topped the fuel up more for the important second run, and overall I am pleased to be starting the race from 9th. With both cars in the top ten, I think we can target a points finish tomorrow, like we almost achieved in Malaysia two weeks ago."

David Coulthard, McLaren (10th, 1m 31.719s):
"Our difficult weekend continues as we have just not been able to get the package working to our advantage. The car feels OK through corners 11 and 12 but apart from that it's really difficult to find the speed. The plan for tomorrow's race is to get a good start and gain a couple of places and then keep out of trouble and aim for reliability. The circuit is quite challenging, and I do like it, but I believe there is only a limited amount of overtaking opportunities, but we will have to wait and see."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (11th, 1m 31.731s):
"I am much happier with everything today. I feel better physically, and the car was the best it's been for me all season. The gap between me and those in front is also closer, and I did two good, clean qualifying laps this afternoon. We worked on the car all day and got a much better balance than yesterday, and I think we will be even closer to the front in the race. The target, of course, is to score points, and I think we can do this."

Christian Klien, Jaguar (12th, 1m 32.332s):
“My lap was not perfect this afternoon and so I am not best pleased with my final qualifying position. I feel that the track had changed since this morning's sessions so it was different going out this afternoon. I felt that because of this the car was slightly more nervous under braking and so it was more difficult to extract the best from the R5. There really is only one good line out there so tomorrow is going to be interesting. If you go off-line the track is really dirty and this could make overtaking slightly more challenging. I have started further down the grid than twelfth before so to be honest I am going to really enjoy tomorrow and I am looking forward to the start. It is my first race where experience matters less so I will be giving it my best shot.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (13th, 1m 32.536s):
"I made a huge mistake in the first corner, and then I went over the kerb in Turn Four and lost traction. The second and third sectors were okay, but by then the damage was done. It's really disappointing because we improved the car a lot over the first qualifying session, even though I lost track time this morning with a fuel pressure problem which didn't make it easy to get the car balanced.

"We tend to run better in the race, though, and I always think that I can score points, so I'll be going all out to achieve that tomorrow. It'll be fantastic if I can."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (14th, 1m 32.625s):
“We continued to work on set-up and balance this morning and we completed our programme as planned. I was pleased with how the car was feeling but unfortunately qualifying this afternoon was not an accurate reflection of where we should be and what the R5 is capable of. The grip levels reduced slightly in my second session and I made a couple of minor mistakes in section one and obviously this was frustrating for me. I tried to get it back but I couldn't so hence my qualifying position. The track has some good over-taking opportunities so we will have to make the most of these in tomorrow's race.”

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (15th, 1m 33.506s):
“I have qualified 15th which is the same as my qualifying in the previous two races but unfortunately this time as we had to change the engine after free practice yesterday, I have to start ten places further back. I think we did a reasonable job learning the new circuit and the tyres, despite losing some crucial time yesterday when I missed most of the second practice session due to the engine problem. The biggest issue for me in qualifying was a cone in the middle of the track at turn 10! It should have been moved, it cost me time as it forced me to take a different line.”

Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (16th, 1m 34.105s):
“I’m not happy really because after yesterday we planned to qualify with a good time and that would put us in a good position for the race. But today we tried different set-up configurations with the car and it hurt me a lot. Now we need to understand why it’s changed so much between one day and the next. I find it very strange because we did good timed laps and found a good car yesterday and today we have not been able to find a balance.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (17th, 1m 34.130s):
"I had big problems under braking this afternoon. We didn't change anything on the car, but I was locking the front wheels every time I had to brake hard. We know that we can still score points tomorrow, we saw that much in Malaysia, but it won't be easy from that starting position."

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (18th, 1m 34.584s):
"We did some excellent work this morning. The mechanics and the engineers did a great job, because we changed the car a lot to arrive at a good set-up. I had a good first qualifying lap this afternoon, and an even better second one, so I am pleased for myself and for all the guys, who put in a big effort today. I think for the package we have, we achieved quite a good lap."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (19th, 1m 35.787s):
"I struggled a bit in qualifying, mainly, I think, because I missed the chance to try the last two sets of new tyres in the final morning session as a result of the spin I had. Maybe I was then a little too cautious in my qualifying runs as, like yesterday, the track changed in grip quite a lot between the morning and afternoon sessions and I didn't really get a good feel for the tyres. It was not a good qualifying performance, but the only thing to do now is to put it behind me and focus on making a good start and having a strong race tomorrow."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (20th, no time):
"As we had to change my engine yesterday we knew that no matter where I qualified we would have to move 10 places down. As a result we decided to change our tactics so I can start with a good fuel load and new tyres. Hopefully this strategy will pay off tomorrow, but we will have to wait and see. In motor racing anything is possible and I will do my best and hopefully we can do well."