The drivers on their afternoon at Monza
Rubens Barrichello leads the charge at Ferraris home circuit, but Juan Pablo Montoya is out to spoil the tifosis party. All 20 drivers report back on their Italian Grand Prix qualifying session.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (1st, 1m 20.089s):
I am so happy with this result. The car was really good and I got the most out of it. It felt better through the Lesmos than in the last section and even if you can never do a perfect lap, I think it was very near the limit. But at Monza the important thing is to get it right rather than be on the limit because a tiny mistake can cost you half a second. It was an exciting lap for me from inside the car. I won here in 2002, I like Monza and while in the past, all the support we got here would distract me, now it gives me a boost. I am quite confident for tomorrow, when we will see what the weather brings.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (2nd, 1m 20.620s):
The team did a very good job today and we had two good qualifying sessions. My final qualifying lap was not the best, because I pushed very hard and made too many mistakes, but even if it had been perfect I still think Ferrari would be ahead, Rubens put in a very good lap! It is a positive result for our team, especially because the top times are very close together here. We will see how the race goes and what strategy Ferrari are on. I also started second last year so I really cannot complain! We had three good days of testing here last week, and they seem to have really paid off.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 20.637s):
My lap started well with a good time in the first sector, where before I had been struggling. Then I lost the time in the final part, but Rubens did a perfect lap and I could not have matched it anyway, so I cannot complain. As for tomorrow, I am not so far away from Rubens, so we have a strong chance of transforming todays performance into a good result. Coming here having won both championships, it would be great to do it in style. It would be the perfect way to thank our tifosi.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th, 1m 20.645s):
"I am quite surprised to be fourth on the grid. We knew things would be very tight, and I managed to take advantage of that to get a place on the second row. The timed lap was quite difficult because the car was understeering in the first part of the lap, at the second chicane and the Lesmos, but then handling really well in the fast corners in the final sector. Overall, though, the balance of the car was good and I am pretty confident tomorrow. I think we can run an aggressive race and fight for a podium position as we had hoped."
Takuma Sato, BAR (5th, 1m 20.715s):
"This is not where we felt we could be on the grid here, but the close lap times at the front of the grid have shown that it was a very competitive qualifying session. I think we can be happy with our performance today and it's good that we have split the Renaults. We tested successfully here last week and the team have really progressed well through the weekend so far. I believe that we should have a strong strategy, and as a result, a good race here tomorrow."
Jenson Button, BAR (6th, 1m 20.786s):
"I had a good balance in pre-qualifying but when it came to the actual qualifying run, the car was very different. I had a lot of oversteer - some big snaps as soon as I got on the power at the exits, especially at Lesmos and Ascari. So it was pretty tough and quite disappointing, but I'm sure we can do something from there."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (7th, 1m 20.877s):
"It was an OK lap. I think I was a bit too quick coming into the last corner and possibly lost some time, but otherwise it was good. Rubens is a lot faster than everybody else, but apart from him we are all pretty close. It will be interesting to see what happens in the race when it becomes clear what strategy other teams have chosen. In addition the weather might play a role as some say it could rain."
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (8th, 1m 20.888s):
After a very good pre-qualifying I had a slightly less successful final qualifying lap, but I am still quite happy because I know I have a good race car. Eighth is still a good position to start from and still a reasonable gift for my birthday. The top ten positions are very close. Unfortunately I made a small mistake in the middle sector which cost me probably a few positions but still I know that we have a consistent pace for tomorrows race and a good strategy.
Jarno Trulli, Renault (9th, 1m 21.027s):
"I am really pleased with my qualifying performance. I pushed to the limit and managed to put in a good lap. I still do not feel completely comfortable with the car, and it was nervous and difficult to drive on the lap, so I took a lot of risks and they paid off. The car is quite competitive here and from what we have seen so far, we should be consistent on the longer runs. I will definitely be aiming for a good points finish tomorrow."
David Coulthard, McLaren (10th, 1m 21.049s):
"A very close qualifying session where a few tenths of a second made a big difference to where you are on the grid. My lap was a tidy one. However, I did lose a small amount of time in Ascari, but because we are so close this cost me some positions. We believe that our strategy will allow us a strong race."
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (11th, 1m 21.520s):
"I am very pleased with my qualifying lap this afternoon. We have worked very hard in preparation for this race, both at the test session last week and in the free practice sessions. The Michelin tyre evaluation work we carried out yesterday was beneficial for qualifying and I think the tyres will be consistent in the race. I would have liked to get into the top ten, but I am satisfied with eleventh - it is a good position from which to start the race and I hope from there we can get a positive result."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (12th, 1m 21.602s):
We had a good morning session today when we worked on both balance and race set-up. Going into qualifying this afternoon I was happy with the work that the team had done in preparing the car. I really enjoy driving this track here although there are probably too many straights and not enough corners, as I would like. The first chicane can be quite tricky though and you really need to have a perfect lap to get those extra tenths out of the car. I am pleased to have split the Toyotas and certainly, I will be doing what I can to make the most of any opportunities tomorrow. The team and I worked hard last night and we are pleased with our tyre decision and strategy ahead of the race. I think there is some rain forecast for tomorrow so it could be an interesting race. This track is incredibly fast and it is specifically tough on brakes and can also punish the rear tyres. We have come here well prepared though and we will be doing what we can tomorrow to score some more Championship points.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (13th, 1m 21.841s):
"I cannot say that I have enjoyed a trouble-free weekend up to now. After the problems we faced in yesterday's practice sessions, we were forced to change the gearbox on my car just before pre-qualifying today. The team has been working hard to fix the car quickly, but I am still not totally happy with the car. Considering all the problems that we have encountered, I think we should be content with 11th and 13th places on the grid, even if I personally expected us to be more competitive at this high-speed track. Now we simply have to be focused on tomorrow's race and hope for our fortunes to change."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (14th, 1m 21.989s):
We made some good tyre decisions last night which has made today much easier for us. I managed to complete twenty-six laps this morning in free practice that allowed me to fine-tune the car ahead of qualifying. This afternoon the car felt good and I was generally pleased with how my final qualifying lap went. However I made a slight mistake at the Ascari chicane and this probably lost me a couple of tenths. Despite that I was pleased with where we have ended up given our strategy and the race-pace of the car. I am very much looking forward to this race tomorrow, as I am sure that there will be some excitement on track. The high speeds make it exhilarating and I will be doing what I can to make it to the chequered flag and score some more points.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (15th, 1m 22.239s):
"My lap was not so good. Obviously we had a fair amount of fuel, but while the first sector was very good I was too conservative in the second and then braked too late for Parabolica and got into a lot of
understeer. That cost me at least three-tenths. We are, however, optimistic for the race because we know how consistent the car is on long runs."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (16th, 1m 22.287s):
"There was a big difference in the balance of my car between its pre-qualifying configuration and the qualifying set-up, and this caught me out a little under braking for the first part of the first chicane. I locked the rear wheels a little and ran in wide, so after that the lap was ruined. It's a pity because the rest of it was very good. I probably lost two, maybe three, positions. Now I just have to exploit the car's strong race form as much as I can."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (17th, 1m 22.301s):
Obviously it was a disappointing day for me although it was clear already that I would be starting the race tomorrow ten places back because of the engine change yesterday. I was not able to do a quick lap in pre-qualifying as I had a gearbox problem and we were not able to rectify it before qualifying so we chose to jump in the spare car. In the circumstances, I was quite happy with the lap.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (18th, 1m 23.239s):
I was expecting better from qualifying. I lost two or three tenths of a second when I went off slightly at the exit of Ascari - I think I was pushing a bit too much. Apart from that mistake I think it was the maximum.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (19th, 1m 24.808s):
"The accident this morning was very unfortunate, and I was lucky, as the speed differential between my car and the car that hit me was much higher than at Spa two weeks ago. As for my qualifying run, I locked the brakes up going into the first chicane and slid across the first part of it, losing time in the process. Otherwise, the rest of the lap was better than on the previous run. In any event, I am happy with qualifying today and with the fact I didn't suffer any injuries in the accident."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (20th, 1m 24.940s):
"My qualifying lap was good and the car felt fine considering the strategy we have adopted for tomorrow, when it may well rain. I didn't make any obvious mistakes on my flying lap and the time was quite good, so I'm very happy with the work we've done today."