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Views from the cockpit - qualifying 13 Sep 2004

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2004 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault in the official FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004 Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 28 August 2004

The drivers on their preferred route to pole position

A good grid position is important at all tracks, imperative at some, and at the moment a driver has just one attempt to get it right. Single-lap qualifying has been a constant topic of debate among fans and pundits alike, but what do the men behind the wheel think? At Monza, we asked the drivers about their ideal qualifying format…

David Coulthard: “No fuel - and then go out and find who has the best combination of car/driver/tyres. I am not happy with the single lap situation. I just was in Portugal for the Moto GP and it was great to see them all on the track for one hour fighting like hell against each other. I think that Formula One should return to that qualifying system. It would be a win-win situation for the drivers and the viewers.”

Michael Schumacher: “As one of the speakers of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) I naturally communicate my visions of a qualifying mode to all involved in this matter. But as I am aware of the fact that every statement I make weighs very heavily I will contribute my ideas to the right auditorium and help find a solution we can all live with.”

Jarno Trulli: “There is a big discussion going on with many differing opinions. The only thing we all agree on was to run on low fuel. My personal opinion is that the old qualifying with everybody on the track was better than this single flying lap situation.”

Fernando Alonso: “Low fuel. It would be more exciting for the drivers because we could push harder to the limit. I am comfortable with the single lap system because it is only one big risk and pressure for the drivers.”

Jenson Button: “I like it as it is now with the single lap although it had caught me out a couple of times. I don’t follow the preferences of many other drivers to run on low fuel. To leave it up to the teams how much fuel they will have on board for qualifying makes the race more unpredictable and hence more exciting for the viewers.”

Juan-Pablo Montoya: “The old format - one hour - everybody on the track - many laps - low fuel. That’s racing.”

Ricardo Zonta: “Low fuel is essential. And two flying laps. Because if they change the tyre regulations for the next year, one lap will not be enough to warm up and have the fastest times possible.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “I want to go back to the old qualifying mode with many laps and all cars on the track. This was already racing, even during qualifying, with strategies that had to be developed on when to get out of the pits to do the perfect flying lap with the minimum traffic on the track.”

Giancarlo Fisichella: “Whatever change there will be it will be better than it is now. This single lap does not support a race feeling.”

Olivier Panis: “My preference is two flying laps. Everybody should get a second chance. And it would be great for the viewers to see the cars two times. Viewers have got used to the one car on track mode, so it would not make sense to return to the old system of having all cars running at the same time.”

Mark Webber: “Qualifying always has been about one fast lap. I don’t think that adding the times together would be a very good idea. My ideal would be to run on low fuel and have two flying laps.”