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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 10 Sep 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 10 September 2005 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 10 September 2005 Tiago Monteiro (POR) Jordan EJ15B.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 10 September 2005 (L to R): Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota with Ossi Oikarinen (FIN) Toyota Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 10 September 2005

A thrilling session sees McLaren maintain the pressure on Renault, with Kimi Raikkonen beating Fernando Alonso to keep his championship hopes alive. They, pole man Juan Pablo Montoya and the 17 other Formula One drivers have their say.

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (1st, 1m 46.391s):
"That was a nice and smooth lap. I was sitting in the car when I saw a few drops of rain and was thinking 'oh no'. However I think it just stopped when I went out and didn't affect my lap. The car was working well despite us only having limited time to work on the set-up, but we seem to have found the perfect balance between speed and grip. To get the front row is fantastic for both Kimi and I as it's just what the team needs at the moment. I think it will be an interesting race tomorrow, and I'm sure the weather will play some sort of role. From where I'm sitting it doesn't matter whether it's wet or dry, so let's see, and I'm sure it will be exciting either way."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd, +0.049s):
"To have both Juan Pablo and myself on the front row is great and I'm really pleased. Second place is good, and we will work from there to get the best result we can. The car seems to be working well in both wet and dry conditions which is reassuring as it seems like it's going to rain tomorrow. My lap was OK, but I was not on the limit as there were a few drops of rain. I'm confident of a good result for myself and the team tomorrow – we have definitely given ourselves the best possible basis today."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (3rd, +0.106s):
“Obviously, I am disappointed about the engine change I had this morning, because this was a good qualifying for me. I had a nice lap, and the balance of the car was better than this morning. From what we have seen this weekend, we seem to be quite strong, and maybe closer to McLaren than we expected on Friday. Obviously, I will be starting from the midfield, but with the speed of the R25 here, I think I will be aiming for the podium again: it felt good last weekend, so I want to repeat it!”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (4th, +0.205s):
“I honestly think that was a great lap. There were a few spots of rain during my first sector so I couldn’t quite push as hard as I would have liked. But in general the car felt very well balanced so it was possible to push right to the limit, and that’s what I did. Every sector of this lap is difficult but it felt quick, so I’m happy with where we’ve ended up. We’ve spent the weekend working to adjust the car for the tyres. We hope we’ve made a good choice and it means we are feeling confident about the race whatever the conditions. We’re expecting a wet race so the spray could make life difficult but we all just have to get used to it and try our best.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, +0.369s):
“I am pretty pleased with the position. At least we managed some running today, so we could enjoy driving here at Spa and start working on the technical programme. We made some changes before qualifying to improve the balance, and that worked well. It was a clean lap, so now I am in a good position for tomorrow. Things seem closer between us and McLaren than they have been in the last few races, and although it will be very difficult to beat them, maybe it’s not impossible. We need to concentrate on the race now, and do a perfect preparation to be able to fight at the front and keep the pressure on.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (6th, +1.010s):
“That was a reasonable qualifying lap given that I’ve found the car slightly difficult to drive this weekend. We went backwards and forwards with the tyre choice all morning and we changed the tyres just before the session, so that made things difficult. But it was a clean lap and both Jarno and I are happy to be starting so high up the grid tomorrow. There were a couple of spots of rain on my lap but that had no effect on the time. There could obviously be a lot more rain in the race so that could make things harder but hopefully being quite near the front of the grid there will not be quite so much spray. We’ll be pushing hard for more points to close the gap on Ferrari.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (7th, +1.085s):
“We said that we did not think there would be much of an improvement after Monza and so today’s performance is pretty much what we expected. We did the best we could and it seems that I will start from sixth place, which is okay, although I would have preferred to stay seventh on the clean side of the grid. If it stays dry, we can only hope to fight for points, so obviously I prefer if it rains as that would make the situation more open. Today, we ran the car with a bias towards a wet set-up, which is reflected in the lack of top speed.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (8th, +1.476s):
"That was a really good lap! The balance was good and I didn't make any mistakes. This morning the car was oversteering a bit, especially on old tyres, so we gambled a little and made some changes to the set-up which worked really well for qualifying. It was definitely a step forward. Now I'm looking forward to the race. There's a high chance of rain tomorrow, but we are in good shape whatever happens."

Jenson Button, BAR (9th, +1.587s):
"It was tough because in free practice this morning I had a big problem with my front wheels locking into the first corner and the Bus Stop. It hasn't been great coming straight from practice into qualifying and I was probably a little too cautious under braking. It was OK; better to play it cautious, brake early and be safe rather than sorry. I think we're going to be pretty good in the race so we'll just have to see what the weather decides to do tomorrow. We can get some good points from where we'll be starting."

Mark Webber, Williams (10th, +1.680s):
“I am reasonably happy with my qualifying today, even if I lost a bit of time in the last sector, at the Bus Stop corner. We have a good set up for tomorrow, but obviously it’s a bit of a lottery here, as it all depends on the weather condition. It’s much more penalising to have a rain set-up on a dry track than the other way around and this track is definitely one of the most challenging for the engineers. We hope we’ll manage to score some points tomorrow, as we did last week in Monza.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (11th, +1.962s):
"Obviously by running so early in the session I knew that I would pay the price a little in terms of the later drivers benefiting from the track evolution. The conditions were a little low-grip which made the lap difficult. The weather has made preparation for the race quite challenging but it has been the same for everyone and I think we have done the best job possible to achieve our full programme this morning. It looks like the weather will be tricky tomorrow also but we will be flat-out whether it's raining or drying. We have a good strategy for tomorrow and we are determined to do a good job."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (12th, +2.117s):
“It’s not been such a great weekend for us so far, due to the changeable weather. We had limited time on the track yesterday and, as a result, we’re a bit on the back foot now. Neither Christian nor myself know the car well enough to push flat out here. We can nail the fast corners no problem, but on the medium speed ones we’re struggling to know how much momentum we can take through the turn. I definitely think the car was capable of going quicker in qualifying than it did, but following yesterday’s lack of track time, we didn’t have the confidence to push. It’s going to be difficult to get points here and the best chance for us will be if we see some varied weather tomorrow.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (13th, +2.159s):
“Given that we have opted for a very conservative race strategy, I do not think that twelfth on the grid today is too bad. We have to see what the weather will do tomorrow. Taking all the possibilities into account, I think I have a chance of scoring points tomorrow.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (14th, +2.498s):
"All round the lap my rear brakes were locking and I had no rear-end grip, so I was fighting the car the whole way. It's disappointing because I've been quicker than Felipe so far this weekend and even though we didn't change a thing on the car after practice this morning the balance had gone away by the time I did my qualifying lap. I have no idea why."

Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (15th, +2.507s):
“After this morning’s free practice we made some changes to the car but they shouldn’t have affected the balance of the car that much. It was hard for me last week in Monza, to get used to everything so quickly, but I am in a better situation now, with some mileage under my belt already. Anything can happen during the race here in Spa, with such a crazy weather. It would be nice to collect some points tomorrow as a gift for my birthday.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (16th, +2.603s):
“Not my best qualifying lap of the season. We didn’t have much time to set up the car because of yesterday’s rain. The balance of the car was not so good in the morning practices and I was struggling with understeer. We made quite a lot of changes between the final free practice and qualifying session to try to improve things, but I think we went in the wrong direction and I wasn’t able to push as hard as I’d have liked. For tomorrow’s race, everything is open. It’s hard to know what the weather’s going to do here so I’ll be concentrating on staying on the track and making no mistakes - in Spa you never know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Robert Doornbos, Minardi (17th, +3.388s):
"It was great to have done a good lap in front of all the Dutch fans who are here at Spa. Along with Jordan, we have our own little Grand Prix within the Grand Prix, and it's good to have been the fastest of the four cars. We took a bit of a risk with the strategy, so I hope it's going to rain tomorrow. Whatever happens, we'll try to do the best job possible for the fans."

Christijan Albers, Minardi (18th, +3.451s):
"I'm pleased with my lap. It was not an amazing lap, just a normal, solid lap, and I was glad to stay on the track, as I had a little off in qualifying at Monza. Considering our race strategy, I'm happy with the time. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (19th, +5.107s):
“I’m not really satisfied with my lap time even though I had a relatively clean lap. The EJ15B clearly has some potential but we definitely need some more running time as yesterday we only did a limited number of laps. We still have the race ahead of us and I’m looking forward to that; especially as it is supposed to rain tomorrow and we may have chance to do well.”

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (20th, +5.284s):
“Considering the fact that I was the first out on the track in qualifying this afternoon, I had a decent lap but unfortunately the limited track time we had yesterday affected us a little bit today. The circuit conditions were pretty similar to this morning and the balance of the car was better. Rain is expected for tomorrow’s race, so hopefully it could be a good Grand Prix for us.”