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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 08 Oct 2005

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2005 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2005 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2005 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2005

Changeable weather in Japan throws up a fascinating grid for Sunday’s race. All 20 drivers explain their afternoon at Suzuka.

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (1st, 1m 46.106s):
"It's obviously an incredible feeling to take my first pole position for Toyota, and what better place could there be to do it than here at Suzuka, the team's home track and my own personal favourite. I'd like to thank everyone in the team for helping to make it happen - both here in Japan and back at the factory in the Cologne. Obviously the weather worked in our favour but that doesn't often happen so I'm happy to take that slice of luck this time. The lap itself was difficult because of the changing conditions and far from perfect. The track was very slippery and that meant the car was hard to handle with lots of oversteer. But it was a reasonable time and I will certainly take it because it has put me on pole! Looking at the cars around us I'm optimistic that we can fight to convert this into a great result tomorrow."

Jenson Button, BAR (2nd, +0.035s):
"It's fantastic to be on the front row of the grid for Honda's home race here at Suzuka. I'm very happy with the position, if not the lap itself. We were lucky with the weather as the rain came soon after my run. The car itself had massive understeer everywhere and it was difficult to drive, particularly as we had not the run the wet tyre before this weekend. All in all we have set the car up well for the race, we have a good strategy and I hope to go really well in front of the incredible crowd of fans that we have here this weekend."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (3rd, +0.170s):
“I am quite pleased to be third to be honest. It was already raining as I left the pit-lane, and I knew the circuit would get worse as I did my lap. I was running on the normal wet tyres, which were the right choice, but the final sector was too wet by the time I got there. Otherwise, I think I could have got pole position quite easily, to be honest. But I am still happy with third, because we have a good strategy for tomorrow, and our rivals McLaren are a long way back. I will be aiming to get the best result possible.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (4th, +0.358s):
“That was good. The car was pretty difficult to drive as I was on intermediate tyres, which meant there was a lot of understeer and it was hard to keep the car on the track. But, I pushed hard and it’s good to be in front of my team-mate and the other drivers. The balance of the car felt good even through we were driving the car with a dry set-up, which we’ve got ready as it’s likely to be dry for the race tomorrow. David was really helpful after his lap and came back to the garage to give me some good advice about the conditions.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (5th, +0.735s):
"I am very happy to have qualified in 5th position for my home race. The weather has been kind to us today and has given us a great chance for tomorrow. Although it started to spit with rain as I went out, it did not affect me that much. However, having not run the intermediate tyres today, I had very big understeer so I think I did a good lap. I really hope I have a great race tomorrow as the support from the fans has been fantastic."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (6th, +0.786s):
“I was a bit concerned that all the standing water on the track would prevent me from heating the tyres up properly for my qualifying lap, but actually it was not so bad. There’s more understeer in the car when you use intermediate tyres rather than full wets, but you gain more rear stability meaning the car doesn’t slide about as much on the entry to corners. Before this lap, we hadn’t run the car on intermediates at all this weekend, so I had to just find the feeling of the car on the out lap. I don’t think I could have done anymore being first out as I’d had no sight of the track beforehand.”

Mark Webber, Williams (7th, +1.127s):
“We ran on full wet tyres all morning due to the aquaplaning and since we switched to intermediate tyres for qualifying, the balance of the car was quite different and very difficult to drive to the limit. It was frustrating not to have a better car especially in the second sector which was very hard work. Anyway, the weather helped us at the end.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (8th, +1.334s):
"I had so much oversteer that I thought the lap was really slow until I saw the time. It felt like I was driving a rally car I was so sideways but that's the way I like it, at least over a quallie lap. If it was like that through the whole race it would be more difficult, but overall I'm happy with the way things went and it's looking good."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (9th, +2.142s):
“There are two ways of looking at my qualifying. On the positive side, I was probably one of the last guys to make my run when the track was a little bit better with not too much rain. However, on the negative side, it meant that we were out on track in conditions where our package does not perform as well as it did in the past. On normal wets, the balance of the car felt a lot worse than it did in the morning when we ran with extreme wets.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (10th, +2.172s):
"Unlike Jacques I had massive understeer. I already knew I was in trouble after only two corners. We went for a 'safe' set-up for the conditions but went a little bit too far and I was having to wait ages before I could get on the throttle and get the car turned in. It was really difficult making myself be patient! But looking at where I will start, I have to say that the luck went our way this afternoon."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (11th, +2.612s):
“I am really happy to qualify 11th as this is Jordan’s best qualifying position this year. My lap was clean and I genuinely beat some teams, which are normally ahead of us, in the same weather conditions. I was also second this morning on full wet conditions. It is a pity the track was not wetter to use the extreme wet tyres in qualifying, as they worked pretty well this morning and they would have been of a bigger advantage. The conditions were quite tricky because the track was more slippery and greasy than this morning as there was not as much water. I did not want to push too hard in order not to make any mistakes and I am satisfied with my time. Let’s see now what the weather will bring for the race tomorrow.”

Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (12th, +2.792s):
“Track conditions were pretty different from this morning when we were running on full wet tyres when it was raining a lot. For qualifying we chose to go for intermediate tyres as the rain had stopped and I spun on my out lap because I was pushing hard in order to learn about the grip level. I was quite happy with the balance of the car this morning but we changed some things for qualifying and it didn’t help too much. The car was very difficult to drive and unfortunately it didn.t go my way today. This doesn’t take anything away from the fact that I like this track, no matter if dry or wet, even if I am driving here for the first time. At the moment the weather forecast for tomorrow is for dry weather, so we’ll see what happens.”

Christijan Albers, Minardi (13th, +4.737s):
"We had a really good car set-up for the wet, and our times were very competitive this morning. In qualifying, however, the track conditions had changed considerably, and on intermediate tyres, I just wasn't able to set the sort of time we were looking for. Even though I wasn't particularly happy with our qualifying performance, the weather conditions caused other drivers problems as well, and as a result, we have a decent grid position. We also have a sensible fuel strategy for tomorrow, and I'm therefore looking forward to a good race."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (14th, +6.570s):
“The rain arrived just as I had to start my run, which meant it was too late to fit the extreme wet tyres, so basically, all I could do was swim for home! In fact, in the first sector the rain was not so heavy that it would have justified the extreme rain tyres, although it certainly was on the rest of the lap. I think it is fair for to claim I was hit with bad luck today. This morning, we were very competitive, so in my mind, I was aiming for pole position. My accident in the morning was caused by a combination of riding the kerbs and aquaplaning. With a grid like this, it should be an interesting race tomorrow. I am happy for Ralf, who did a great job to take pole.”

Robert Doornbos, Minardi (15th, +6.788s):
"I think we were a little unlucky with the tyre choice, as it was just on the borderline between extreme wets and intermediates at the start of qualifying. What do you do? In the end, we elected to go with the wets, which probably weren't ideal for the conditions, but with the rain falling heavily again at the end of the session, and several drivers therefore not able to better my time, we will start the race in a reasonable position."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (16th, +8.561s):
“Well, you would have to say that wet qualifying sessions haven't been my strong point this year! But seriously, the circumstances were very similar to Australia where I qualified when the track was wettest, and I am not too stressed - I just hope to do a good job like we did in Melbourne, when I was able to come through the field. Obviously, it is good for the constructors' championship that both McLarens are behind us, but I will just do my race, push to the maximum and aim to get into the points. Hopefully we can do something good for the championship tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (17th, +16.203s):
"The rain started falling heavily just a few minutes before Juan Pablo and I had to qualify, so the conditions were bad, and it was really too wet to do anything at all. It's a shame for the team that we suffered so much, but you never know what the weather will do tomorrow, and as we have seen in the races this year anything can happen. I'm obviously disappointed, but I didn't get penalised as much as I would have had to move ten places down the grid anyway. We will go out tomorrow and do the best race we can and then see where we are in the Constructors' standings afterwards."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (18th, no time):
“It was tricky conditions and it was the first time we went on intermediate tyres. The grip was slippery but not too bad in the ‘S’s but then, when I selected second gear in Degner corner, the rear wheels locked and I lost the car. It is a shame and it is very annoying, especially as after that, the rain started again and I could have qualified in a good position. Mistakes happen and I haven’t made too many this year. I am really sorry for the team. Now we have to think about the race and I am confident we have a good strategy for tomorrow.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (19th, no time):
"The car has been very difficult for me to drive all weekend and I just haven't been able to get much out of it today. This morning was the first chance we had to try out the TF105B in the wet so didn't have long to work out our set-up for the afternoon. It was very difficult to drive but it had been the same in the dry yesterday, just very inconsistent for me. I know I wasn't the only one to go off at turn 9 but there was not a specific problem there - the car had also felt awkward at the previous corner. Still, the car offers a big improvement when it comes to consistency over long runs so I will hope to be able to gain ground in the race. It's not the easiest circuit for overtaking but anything can happen."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (20th, no time):
"There is nothing to say really - the weather decided it all today. It is a nightmare as both Kimi and myself suffered despite finishing one-two in the last race, and it's important that we are at the front to fight for the Constructors' Championship. The team told me not to finish my qualifying lap as there would be more benefits from a strategic point of view by saving fuel. At least Alonso is at the back as well, but the situation from a Constructors' Championship point of view is far from ideal. However I'm sure we can finish in the points tomorrow, which is what we must aim for and I have started from 20th before and finished second."