Qualifying One - selected driver quotes 19 Mar 2005
A closely-contested first qualifying session leaves Renault as favourites for pole position at Sepang. The drivers report on the highs and lows of their afternoon's work in Malaysia.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 32.582s):
The car was quite difficult to drive yesterday, but the engineers did a really good job last night; this morning, the car was quick and easy to drive again. There was more grip than I had been expecting for my timed lap, and the car was well balanced, although I lost some time on the exit of Turn 6. Its good to have a small gap ahead of tomorrows qualifying session, which I think will be a difficult challenge. But I am optimistic for the race.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (2nd, 1m 32.672s):
"It almost goes without saying that I am very happy with this result. This morning, we worked very well on the set-up of the car and on the tyres. We are showing a strong performance this weekend. I am a little bit more optimistic for tomorrow's race than I was in Australia because we have some new parts on the car here. In fact we will update the car at almost race from now on. I must pass my thanks to the team and especially my crew for this result today."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (3rd, 1m 32.765s):
I am pleased to finish third this afternoon: the car was understeering a bit on the timed lap, and I made some small mistakes, but I think that I can still fight for the podium tomorrow, and maybe the win. We learned yesterday that the R25 has the potential to be competitive on high fuel loads, and I hope we can confirm this result tomorrow morning, in order to fight strongly in the race.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th, 1m 32.839s):
"Obviously we would prefer to be on the front row, but there is still another qualifying session. We are not far away from the leaders and the car feels good, so let's see what we can do tomorrow. It's obviously hot driving the car but it's not too much of a problem as I get used to it."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (5th, 1m 33.106s):
"Except for the first sector, during which I experienced too much understeer in my car and lost several tenths, I think I had a very decent lap. Also Jarno did a very good job. It is just a pity that a Renault got slightly in front and grabbed provisional pole! I am extremely confident for tomorrow's qualifying and race and I am looking to better my result from today. Panasonic Toyota Racing is looking competitive here in Sepang."
Mark Webber, Williams (6th, 1m 33.204s):
I am fairly happy with my lap today. This circuit has been good to me in the past, so hopefully we can get a good grid position tomorrow and then run to the flag and collect a positive result. After a frustrating day yesterday when I didnt get any running in the afternoon, its good to get into the top six today. Also it looks like Michelin are doing a better job than the opposition at the moment so we think we should have a good race tomorrow on our tyres.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (7th, 1m 33.333s):
"My lap was OK to begin with, but then the rear of the car just started to slide on the entry into the corners and it became difficult. I didn't finish the last part of the lap as well as I would have liked which cost some more time especially at turn 14 when I understeered into the corner. We changed the tyre pressure slightly before this session so that might be the cause. However, so far so good. We will see what we can do to improve our starting position in tomorrow's qualifying."
Nick Heidfeld, Williams (8th, 1m 33.464s):
I am quite pleased with my qualifying lap. The balance of my car wasnt ideal in a couple of corners and I lost a little bit of time there, but the track was still dirty when I went out, so all in all it was a pretty good lap. I am also pleased I was faster than Michaels Ferrari, especially because we ran under exactly the same track conditions. I have a good feeling about tomorrows qualifying and race since I completed some good long runs yesterday and we had a productive Free Practice this morning. The new aerodynamic parts we have brought out here seem to be a good improvement.
Jenson Button, BAR (9th, 1m 33.616s):
"The car felt good but I haven't had any running on new tyres today, which meant it was difficult to get a real feel for the car in qualifying set-up. We also had a problem with the engine this morning and I wasn't able to get out in second practice. Despite that, the lap was OK and I'm reasonably happy. I lost of a bit of time in the last sector but we're close enough to be able to get some of that back tomorrow. I'm sure we can do a better job in the morning and look forward to a more positive race."
Christian Klien, Red Bull (10th, 1m 33.724s):
The day was quite positive for us because practice went well. I worked really hard with my engineer and we did a good job, got a good balance on the car and then had a really good lap time at the end of the second session. I was really confident about qualifying but I was expecting a little bit more grip and I made a little mistake in the first corner and lost four tenths. The rest of the lap was quite reasonable and the car was good but overall Im not that happy with the lap. We still have second qualifying tomorrow and hopefully we can gain a little time and maybe some positions then.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (11th, 1m 33.809s):
Temperatures were up at least ten degrees since this morning so we tried to make adjustments accordingly. Balance was down a little bit, and it was a bit of a tentative lap really. Were limited in what we can do tomorrow really, we can put some more fuel and we can make an aero adjustment, maybe a little bit on pressures and thats it. Balance has just made things difficult here. If we look at a reasonable trend on the tyres during the race then I think we can hold position but obviously not qualifying that well is not good.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (12th, 1m 34.072s):
Naturally, I am not happy with the way things went. Yesterday and after the first 45 minutes of todays practice, the situation seemed better, but already in the last free practice, we begun to understand that we would be struggling. Its clear that, on a quick lap, with new tyres, our performance is not at the same level as our rivals, but we know that over a distance things are different, as indeed we saw yesterday. And thats what counts, isnt it? So I still expect to be competitive in tomorrows race, while I dont think things will change significantly in second qualifying. Its a very long and tough race and our aim is to finish in the points, if not on the podium.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (13th, 1m 34.151s):
"I wouldn't say mine was a perfect lap, but at the maximum I only lost two-tenths of a second in Turns 7 and 8. The balance was fine, but we just weren't fast enough. But our car is more consistent in the race, so I am optimistic for Sunday afternoon."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (14th, 1m 34.162s):
To be honest, I am very disappointed because this morning we were looking better than in qualifying when I just did not have enough grip. It was a bit of a struggle. However, the balance of the car was okay and I think my tyre choice will mean that I will be much stronger than this in the race on Sunday.
Anthony Davidson, BAR (15th, 1m 34.866s):
"It's been a tough but exciting day for me. When I had the final confirmation that I would be driving this morning, I was packing my bags ready to go home! This is probably the toughest race challenge I've ever been faced with, and although I know the car very well, I'm still learning the track because I had limited running on the Friday here last year. It's always tough being the first car out and I wanted to take it a bit steady and keep the car on track. Overall I'm pleased with my performance under the circumstances and I'm confident that there's more to come in tomorrow's final qualifying run."
Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (16th, 1m 34.887s):
"The car was a lot better this afternoon, but we had plenty of problems in practice this morning and that wasn't the best way to prepare for first qualifying. It would have been nice to get a better run beforehand, but the tyres were working pretty well this afternoon and that helped the performance of the car."
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (17th, 1m 37.806s):
It was a conservative lap as we are trying to save the Bridgestone tyres for tomorrow as much as possible, as the heat here will be hard on them during the race. It was not the best lap I could have done on this circuit but it was ok in the end.
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (18th, 1m 37.856s):
I made two little mistakes that cost me maybe two tenths but otherwise I am pleased with my lap time. I was very close to Narain and I am sure we are going to be close all year long. Besides I am feeling much better than in Melbourne where I had a pretty bad cold and now I am up to the fight.
Patrick Friesacher, Minardi (19th, 1m 39.268s):
"I'm generally happy with the car today, although the balance in the quick corners wasn't quite as good as it might have been, as I had more oversteer than in free practice this morning. I think we have to work a little bit on that, but overall, my qualifying lap was not bad. We certainly improved from yesterday, and I want to say thanks again to the guys for doing another great job."
Christijan Albers, Minardi (20th, 1m 40.432s):
"Quite simply, my out lap this afternoon was just too slow, and the tyres were not at their optimum for the qualifying run, the result being that I just wasn't able to put the lap together. This may be good for conserving tyres, but it's not good for qualifying. The positive news, however, is that we made some progress overnight, and I think we've now got a good race set-up. We'll see what we can do in final qualifying tomorrow morning."