Who thought what of their Nurburgring qualifying...
Ferraris Michael Schumacher takes pole for the European Grand Prix. Takuma Sato is a career-best second on the grid for BAR, with Renaults Monaco winner Jarno Trulli third. Plenty of drama too, as Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella and McLaren's David Coulthard opt out of running due to engine-change grid penalties.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 28.351s):
I had the perfect lap, but I am surprised at the gap to the others, although I am not surprised to be on pole as I expected to be very competitive here. It was nice not to be first on the road in pre-qualifying as that helped in being able to run towards the end of the session. As for the race, I am looking forward to it, as there is always some extra motivation from the fans at a home race. It is also good to be racing so soon after Monaco to put that disappointment behind me. Although it is difficult to get the car perfectly balanced at this track, I seem able to do consistent lap times and I am confident we have made the right decision on tyres and hopefully we can win the race tomorrow.
Takuma Sato, BAR (2nd, 1m 28.986s):
"Qualifying on the front row of the grid is a fantastic result. I'm so excited! Qualifying third in Spain was a great moment but I just wanted to keep improving from there and this is the next step. I'm thrilled with my lap because it felt very clean. The track has been changing a lot but for me the conditions were similar to my pre-qualifying run so I knew that I had a good lap in my grasp. Michael's lap was stunning but I didn't let it affect me. I just got on with the job and everything went well. Today's result is special in many ways and as everyone is pointing out, this is the first time I've qualified on the front row of the grid and that is fantastic for me. I really hope I can turn this into a strong podium finish in the race but I will focus on enjoying today for now."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (3rd, 1m 29.135s):
"It's hard to believe that I am here, in third position. I particularly want to thank my mechanics, who did a fantastic job preparing the car after an electrical problem in free practice. Honestly, I believe we have the best mechanics in the paddock here at Renault. It was a decent lap, and the car was handling well. I think we can be very strong in the race."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th, 1m 29.137s):
"Our best qualifying performance this season, so I'm satisfied. We were even hoping to get in the first three with a perfect lap, but whilst we were close it wasn't to be. Now one half of the job has been done, and we need to see what happens in the race, but so far it's looking good. The circuit seems to suit our car as we have showed improvement throughout the weekend, but there is still a race to complete."
Jenson Button, BAR (5th, 1m 29.245s):
"I'm very disappointed with my lap because we could have done much better today. I came into the weekend expecting to make the front row but lack of grip has been a big problem and that was the case in qualifying. The track conditions have been quite changeable so we'll have to wait and see what tomorrow holds, but we have a good car and I'll be doing what I can to make the most of the overtaking opportunities."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, 1m 29.313s):
"I did a good lap, without any problems: the car balance was fine, and we are consistent on the long race runs. I think I am in a good position to finish in the top five tomorrow. Overall, I'm happy with my performance."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (7th, 1m 29.353s):
Apart from Michael, who did a great time, we are all within a few tenths of one another, so it only took very little to be higher or lower on the grid. I think we have a car and tyre combination that will be very competitive in the race and so I am reasonably confident about tomorrow. It will be a tough race and we have everything in place to get a good result.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (8th, 1m 29.354s):
I was one of the first cars out in the pre-qualifying session and that held us up a bit, but it looks like we are just not quick enough at the moment. I have been struggling a bit with the balance so far this weekend and it looked like in qualifying I had got it right, finally, but still, we lack of speed. Several teams seem to have improved their car quite a lot and we haven't improved enough. We'll see how the race goes, let's hope to get some good points out of here.
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (9th, 1m 29.459s):
Ninth place is not where I expected to be, really. It was quite difficult to get the balance right for qualifying and I decided to go for something different, but it didn't work out particularly well. We tried our best but it's clear that we are struggling at the moment, since our car hasn't developed enough. At present we lack performance but I am sure we will definitely come back soon. With a good strategy I am confident I'll be able to collect some points in tomorrow's race.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (10th, 1m 29.697s):
"It has been an encouraging weekend so far, and I think what we have achieved today is a true reflection of the strength of our car. Me and Cristiano both did very good laps and the result is very positive for the team, who have again been concentrated all weekend and shown a good performance. We are using everything we have and pushing each other all the way to get the best out of the car. From tenth on the grid, I will obviously be trying to score some points tomorrow."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (11th, 1m 29.706s):
"I am reasonably happy with today's results, although I feel that I could have found a few tenths more from the car. I missed a little bit through some corners, especially turns four and five, but generally I think my lap was not too bad. I was a bit worried about the tyre degradation in yesterday's sessions, but that appeared to be much better today as more rubber went down on the track. Michelin has done a good job for this race; the tyres are quick over one lap and also seem to be consistent during the longer runs. This is a positive aspect for tomorrow, although it could be a hard race for us."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (12th, 1m 31.431s):
I spent this morning working on my balance on the R5 and preparation for qualifying. The car feels well balanced for me now and I am enjoying driving it. I completed over thirty laps this morning, which was really good for us and we managed to work through our programme successfully. My times were getting quicker as I settled into the car and track. Qualifying this afternoon was in two parts, I went well in the first session but the track changes a lot in a short time and I could feel the difference when I went out for the second time. My time was not quite as fast but I am still happy with where I am on the grid for tomorrow's race. The race should be interesting and I will be doing what I can to move up the grid in search of my first points.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (13th, 1m 31.604s):
I was quite happy with my qualifying lap, it was certainly better than first qualifying.
We improved the car massively this morning compared to yesterday - thanks to the team, especially the engineers. I was not very happy with my first qualifying lap but we made some small adjustments that seemed to work. Its nice to be in front of the Saubers that is a good thing for us. Bridgestone have got a good tyre here but its difficult to get it optimised for one lap so the race should be interesting. My hopes for points are always there, especially racing at home. Nevertheless we will give it our best shot and see what happens.
Mark Webber, Jaguar (14th, 1m 31.797s including penalty):
After having a good day yesterday I heard from the FIA Stewards last night that I had been given a one second penalty on my qualifying time from today as a result of not braking under a yellow flag. We have to respect these rules as they exist for safety reasons but of course it is frustrating for all of us. Today though we have had a productive day on track as I spent this morning in the two practice sessions working on tyre preparation and also on qualifying and race set-up. The R5 is feeling pretty good around here and I completed 23 laps this morning so I have had a good amount of running time. The car was well prepared going into the qualifying session this afternoon and I was pleased to have done a time of 1:30.797. I made a minor error on the last corner but it didn't cost me much time. Even with my one-second penalty I will not be starting from the back of the grid. I finished with points here last year and I excited about getting back out on track tomorrow and fighting for some more.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (15th, 1m 31.979s):
Im disappointed that I didnt deliver my best on that lap. I was not completely on the limit and although for the first two sectors I was just a few hundredths of a second off Nicks time, I messed up the last sector when I made a mistake on the last corner at the chicane. When you know you could have been better its very frustrating and I think I would have been at least three tenths quicker if I had got a perfect lap. On the positive side, we improved quite a lot from this morning and yesterday, when it was not going so well. I believe we have a good consistent race car so lets see what happens tomorrow.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (16th, 1m 31.982s):
"I made a mistake in Turn 7 which cost me at least a couple of positions. This morning it was difficult to find a good set-up but we improved the car for qualifying so I know that I will have a good car for the race."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (17th, 1m 34.398s):
"Overall, I think it has been a good weekend so far. I was not particularly happy with the first sector on my qualifying run, but the remainder of the lap was not bad, and in general, I think we have made some useful progress over the last two days. I believe we have a good race strategy, so we will see what we can do tomorrow."
David Coulthard, McLaren (18th, no time):
"On my way back to the garage after my first qualifying run, I suffered an engine failure. We took the decision to stick with my race car rather than using the T-car because we felt more comfortable using the race car, and the difference in actual qualifying position would be minimal. As a result we will move the engine from the T-car to the race car, which means I will start from the back of the grid. There is no doubt that our performance is improving. Obviously its disappointing as my first run was encouraging, and I think we could have qualified well for the race."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (19th, no time):
"It was a tactical decision to conserve the tyres and not take part in the qualifying session, given that I have to move back 10 places on the grid because of my problem on Friday morning. The car is still improving from race to race, and though it won't be an easy race at least you can overtake here and I know we can be competitive."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (20th, time deleted):
"It has been a bit of a confusing day in that we started with the spare car, which felt quite different from my normal chassis, and then switched back to the race car. I especially want to thank the guys, who worked like crazy to get my race car ready in the final 15 minutes before the qualifying run. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow, but I'm going to push as hard as I can, and hope to finish with a good result."