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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 24 Apr 2004

(L to R): Jules Kulpinski (CDN) PA to Jenson Button (GBR) BAR and Jenson Button (GBR) BAR in the paddock following Jenson's first ever F1 pole.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2004 David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2004 Giorgio Pantano (ITA) Jordan.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2004 Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota talks with Luca Marmorini (ITA) Toyota Engine Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2004

BAR’s Jenson Button explains how he stole Ferrari’s thunder on the world champions’ home soil. Plus every other driver on their qualifying performances for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Jenson Button, BAR (1st, 1m 19.753s):
"Obviously I'm thrilled to achieve pole position - the first for me and the team. This is a fantastic moment in my career and the team's history, and I'm just so pleased for everyone who is now starting to see all their hard work and support pay off. It's great to break Ferrari's streak of poles so far this season - and on their home turf as well – but pole doesn't bring you points unless you work very hard in the race to maintain that starting position. We are under no illusions that tomorrow is going to be a tough race and we'll have to watch Michael every step of the way. But the car feels great; much better than in pre-qualifying when I had very low grip. I was really pleased with my lap and it all came together when it counted. For the first time in my F1 career I'll be starting the race with no one in front of me, which I know will be a special moment for me, but I'll be focusing 100% on the start lights because it's all down to me from there."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 20.011s):
“Once I saw that Jenson had done a good lap, I knew that for me it was a case of all or nothing. So I tried very hard, but I overdid it at the Variante Alta. I was actually lucky not to go off the track and spin. But even without that moment, I do not think I would have been quick enough for pole. I think it will be an interesting race tomorrow and a tight battle, especially the run down to the first corner, given the potential of the drivers at the front end of the grid. I was happy with my car today, although I did not have much grip in pre-qualifying as, once again I was the “road sweeper” being first out on track.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (3rd, 1m 20.212s):
“I am very pleased with today’s result even if we did not equal the pre-qualifying session’s positions as we were on a different fuel level, we have an excellent race car and this is what matters. We were able to improve the car from yesterday and we are now in a good position to start the race. Jenson put in a very good lap and also BAR and Honda have given him a better car with a better engine, this weekend. When I saw Jenson’s time I thought: what time is Michael Schumacher then going to set? It was an exciting qualifying!”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (4th, 1m 20.451s):
“Together with the engineers, we improved my car a lot compared to yesterday, when I was unhappy with the set-up. In qualifying I was on a good lap, but it was not perfect in the final sector, which cost me precious time and positions. However, I am still confident for the race. We know we can count on a really good car and the Bridgestone tyres which we can rely on to go well even over a long distance.”

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (5th, 1m 20.538s):
“On one hand I am not unhappy because I know I have made the most out of the car, but on the other hand we were struggling with a couple of minor problems throughout the weekend and could not get rid of them completely. However I am pretty confident for the race as I believe my car is very well prepared. By the way, congratulations to Jenson on his first pole!”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, 1m 20.895s):
"Sixth is a good position for us as I think the car is quick in race conditions, and that we can be very consistent on the long runs. On the timed lap, the handling was still a bit nervous but I think that is the same for the other drivers: grip levels have been low this weekend, and that has made our job a bit more difficult. Overall, I am confident and think we will perhaps be able to fight at the front tomorrow."

Takuma Sato, BAR (7th, 1m 20.913s):
"It was not a perfect final qualifying lap for me because I didn't feel that I had a lot of grip, so I'm not satisfied. I was possibly riding the kerbs too much in the last sector, but the car generally worked well and I think we will have a strong package tomorrow. It is great to have two cars qualifying so high at the first European grand prix, especially with Jenson's pole position. Our new package has been working incredibly well so everyone in the team and at Honda and Michelin should be very pleased with the results we have seen here. I am delighted that we have had such a good season so far and hopefully we can achieve another solid two-car finish tomorrow."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (8th, 1m 20.921s):
“I underperformed slightly in my first session so we decided to make a slight change to the front flap to further improve the balance and general set-up of the car. This seemed to work and I am pleased with my final qualifying position for tomorrow's race. The boys have done a good job in preparing the car and Michelin have delivered on the tyres so we are in good shape for the race. I am aiming for some points here at Imola as we know we have a good car with pace on track and if we can capitalise on some attrition then there is no reason why we cannot score some. The circuit is historically hard on the car so we will just have to wait and see what happens. We have the potential!”

Jarno Trulli, Renault (9th, 1m 21.034s):
"A pretty good qualifying session for me: I made some little mistakes in the first and third sectors, but that only cost me a tenth or maybe two. We are hoping for a trouble-free race tomorrow and then we are capable of scoring good points. Clearly, it will be a very close battle, but we worked well today, and I am optimistic for the race."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (10th, 1m 21.087s):
"I am happy to be in the top ten again. Actually I pushed a little bit too hard in sector one, which cost me some time. With another couple of tenths less I would have been in the top six. The handling of the TF104 was quite good and the car felt really strong in the second and third sectors of my lap. I made no mistakes and was able to drive aggressively. Tomorrow I will do my best to finish in the points."

David Coulthard, McLaren (11th, 1m 21.091s):
"During my qualifying run I locked up at the last corner which cost me some time. However, despite today's qualifying result our pace generally has been better here at Imola and we have seen some improvement. I have no doubt that we will continue to make progress, but it will take some time. Let's wait and see what the race will bring."

Felipe Massa, Sauber (12th, 1m 21.532s):
"I was happier with the car today. I made a mistake in pre-qualifying, otherwise my lap would have been better, but everything went well for me in qualifying and given the strategy we have chosen I am satisfied with my performance this afternoon. Our car will be more competitive in the race."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (13th, 1m 21.558s):
"We have done a good job again this weekend. In fact the gap to some of the other teams is much closer. It is positive that we are progressing constantly and concentrate on the right issues. Reliability is a strong point, so hopefully we can have a successful race. Unfortunately I had an electronic problem on the warm-up lap and was close to stopping the car, but then the system came back. However, it may have affected my concentration and cost me three tenths or so."

Christian Klien, Jaguar (14th, 1m 21.949s):
“This morning was disappointing as I did not complete as many laps as I had planned. I made a driver error shortly after going out on track and as a result of the damage to the car the team had to do a very quick job in changing my chassis around with that of the T-car. They have done a good job so when I went out this afternoon the car was well balanced and set-up for me. My qualifying lap was ok and I am reasonably pleased with how it went. I am looking forward to tomorrow as I know that the R5 has good pace and I will be making the most of any opportunity to move up the grid during the race.”

Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (15th, 1m 23.352s):
“I’m feeling a little bit more positive at this race because I’m getting much closer to my team mate and that is the important thing for me. I think we have also made some changes which have improved the car a bit, and the gap between us and the cars in front is getting smaller. A few more races and hopefully we can close it even more. I’m happy with my qualifying and really looking forward to racing tomorrow.”

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (16th, 1m 23.488s):
“I think my qualifying lap was not too bad although half way through I started to lose a bit of grip, with oversteer affecting the rest of the lap. Otherwise, we have some new things and the car has improved since the last race. I would have hoped to have been even closer to the cars ahead of us but we just have to keep working hard to close the gap.”

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (17th, 1m 26.899s):
"Unfortunately, we just weren't able to find a good balance for the car today, and on my flying lap, exiting the last corner, I hit the curb so hard that it knocked the steering wheel out of my hands and I accidentally hit the button for the pit-lane speed limiter. As a result, I lost over half-a-second before I could fix the problem. We'll run the new aero package tomorrow because we want to get some miles on it and develop a better understanding of how it works. It will be a tough race, but we'll see what we can do."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (18th, 1m 46.299s):
"It has been quite a busy time for the team after the spin I had this morning. I have to thank the guys for the tremendous job they did changing over the spare car, which was set for Gimmi, during the lunch break. It felt different from my race car in the pre-qualifying run, but I just had to push hard for a time on the second run. Unfortunately, I made a mistake at the Variante Alta, but sometimes that happens when you are trying really hard. I am pleased, however, by the fact my first sector time on that lap was not bad. The goal is to have a consistent race tomorrow, as we did in Bahrain, and we'll just see what we can do."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (19th, no time):
"Obviously I'm disappointed to experience the same sort of thing two races in a row. However there is nothing I can do about it, and I will just go out tomorrow and do the best I can. I will have a new engine and a lot of determination, so we will see what happens.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (20th, no time):
"I'm really disappointed. We made progress with the car today and it was better balanced than yesterday and slightly better on the first lap on new tyres. In pre-qualifying I thought I did a very good lap, but on my in lap I felt a problem with third gear. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time to change it before qualifying, so here I am at the back of the grid. It's my home race, and I knew it will be very tough starting that far back..."