Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m46.391s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m46.440s; 3rd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m46.497s.
Q: Juan Pablo, heading McLarens first one-two in qualifying since Imola 2001 with your first pole for the team (NB: JPM was handed pole in Italy due to KRs engine change penalty) and what a place to do it.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Yeah, in the last race I was lucky to get on pole because Kimi had a penalty but it was nice to get the first proper pole this year. It is good. The car worked well. Yesterday we had a problem and I couldnt do any running, the second session was washed out and the first we had to change the engine, but it was lucky enough that they decided to change the engine before we even started the practice so I lost the practice but it didnt cost us much and I think it was quite good. I am pretty pleased. The car behaved well and I think it behaved a little better than expected so that was good.
Q: It looked a beautifully smooth lap.
JPM: It was a clean lap. I had a reference to my practice time and before I got into the chicane I had a bit more than I needed.
Q: A few umbrellas coming up towards the end there. Were there any doubts or problems with the weather in your mind as you went out?
JPM: Well, it was quite funny. I went to put my helmet on to get into the car and as I was doing that it started to drop as Trulli was starting his lap and I thought oh, typical, we finally get a good qualifying spot and it is going to vanish. But the weather held out pretty surprisingly to be honest.
Q: Kimi, in terms of your championship position and what you need to do this weekend to win, it looks very strong for your team.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, it is good for the team. It was a bit difficult this weekend to find the perfect set-up but it was better than in the morning. In the morning the car went off on new tyres and I didnt want to do it again, so it was okay. Second place is a good place to start and we will try to work from there.
Q: There were surprisingly close lap times here if you look at Toyota and Renault, they are very close to you.
KR: Yeah, but lets wait and see what happens in the race. It could turn out to be not as close as it looks.
Q: Giancarlo, sadly you will get a ten place drop on the grid because of that engine change before qualifying.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, unfortunately we did an engine change just before the qualifying session. There was some possibility to keep the same engine but unfortunately at the end they decided to change it. I am a bit disappointed for that especially considering that for my qualifying lap I am pretty happy because I did a good lap, the car was better than this morning. I have a good potential to recover some positions tomorrow, I have a good speed and I think it would be nice to get on the podium again. I will try all my best because the last race was good for me.
Q: Where do you see the Renault and McLaren pace comparing tomorrow?
GF: Well, considering in the last few races McLaren were stronger than us, I think we have maybe a different strategy, but you never know. The car looks alright here. We expected to be much slower than McLaren and we are quite close, so I think tomorrow is going to be a very interesting race.
Q: Juan, as we have seen it is very unpredictable weather here in the Ardennes mountains. It could rain tomorrow, what are your thoughts on a wet race?
JPM: I wouldnt mind, especially as we are starting in front. If you had a bad qualifying, for instance if it had rained badly before I went out, it would have been a disaster because going down into the turn after Eau Rouge, if you are behind P4 you cannot see anything. It would be quite entertaining, actually, in the wet.
Q: Juan Pablo, two poles in seven days; all youve seen is the number one
JPM: Yeah, you know its kind of interesting. The car behaved well, surprisingly well and I was very concerned before going into qualifying, first because of the weather and secondly because the balance wasnt so good and my pace wasnt that special either. So I was a little bit worried but I went out to qualify and it behaved quite nicely so I was very glad, to be honest.
Q: But having said that, you werent actually fastest in any of the sectors.
JPM: No, but look at Giancarlo for example, you look at his speed, he took the entire wing off so hes very quick in the first sector and other people did the opposite. Other people put on a lot of downforce, probably like Trulli and he was very quick in the middle sector, but he was still slow on the straight so I think McLaren really did a good job in finding the balance between top speed and grip.
Q: Is it easier or worse having your team-mate starting alongside you tomorrow?
JPM: It is going to be interesting. I think Im in a position to still help the team. Kimis still got a possibility for the championship so if I have a chance to help him tomorrow, I will help him again.
Q: Kimi, Juan Pablo had a problem with the engine and had to change the engine; does that worry you at all?
KR: No, I think they found the problem that they had in the last race and they decided to change the engine to make sure that it doesnt happen again.
Q: You were very quick in the final sector; how did you feel about the other two sectors?
KR: It was okay. I was not really on the limit so second place is fine for the race. I think we have a good chance to have a good result for the team and that is what we need now. I need to try to get good results for the championship, try to have some chance to win it, but this is the best possible way to go for this race.
Q: Obviously nobody ran on dry tyres yesterday afternoon. How much of a gamble was the choice of tyres?
KR: I think for us it was quite clear. The only problem was to find a good set-up for the car and it hasnt been perfect today, but also for me the set-up was pretty good in qualifying, so I am very happy with the car now so we will just have to wait and see what happens in the race.
Q: Giancarlo, same question for you really, because at least they had the luxury of a third driver yesterday to help with the tyre choice whereas you didnt. How much of a gamble has your tyre choice been?
GF: It was quite difficult, especially this morning. We did just three laps of running with the two different compounds and that is not enough to make a choice for the race. It is really important to have a third driver running on Friday. Anyway, we havent got the possibility but I think we made a good choice and a nice job today.
Q: You were very quick in the first sector as Juan Pablo pointed out, perhaps a little less wing 0.6s down in the second sector. Is that roughly the story?
GF: Yeah, we tried to keep the same engine as Monza until the last moment to see if it was okay to run with it in the race but unfortunately it was too damaged inside, so just before the qualifying session we changed the engine. Because of that, we lose ten places straight away. Its better to go with low downforce to have good speed and have the possibility tomorrow to overtake some cars because we have a good potential and I think if everything is going to be alright we can score lots of points. I would like to get on the podium again.
Q: Even yesterday in the press conference, people were talking about Fisichellas bad luck. Do you see it as that?
GF: What can I say? It is just that, because the team is pushing on both cars. Like Kimi is fighting for the championship and he usually has more problems than Juan Pablo. I think its just bad luck and I hope to have better luck tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all of you, the weather forecast seems not good for tomorrow. Did you work on the car set-up taking that into account?
JPM: In my opinion you cannot really do too much about it. We had dry qualifying today and the qualifying is probably the most important thing. I think there is always a balance of how much wing you carry and how much you dont. It is not 100 percent guarantee that its going to rain so at the moment, our best bet was to go full dry and I think thats where we are. But even like this, when you fit wet tyres the car at the moment behaves quite well, so I dont worry about it to be honest.
Q: So there is not much difference, Kimi, between the dry and wet settings?
KR: Not really. Of course there are some little things which you can change, but our car seems to be pretty good. If you just go out on wet tyres it is working well enough so its always a gamble to see how the weather is, especially here. They were expecting to have a bad day today but it has been brilliant so lets wait and see tomorrow.
Q: Giancarlo, a low downforce setting doesnt sound so good for the wet.
GF: Considering the levels of downforce it is better if it is dry because it is going to be a difficult race for me if it is wet. You know, in wet conditions I usually feel comfortable. I did my first pole position in wet conditions; I won in Brazil when it was wet so its going to be alright even if its wet; a bit difficult for me but its going to be alright.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, last year you won from tenth on the grid, is it now easier from the front row with a helpful team-mate?
KR: It is never easy to win. We will try to have a good race for the team. We are in a much stronger position than we were last year. But the race is very long and so many things can happen: the weather first of all and then we need to get through the first corners to be able to fight for a win so we will just try to do the best we can and hopefully everything works well.
Q: (Pascal Dro Auto Plus) Do you expect some very different fuel load strategies for tomorrow?
JPM: You always see different fuel strategies. Its hard to say. With this track you use a lot of fuel per lap so it probably wont be as different as other places but you always see different strategies. Its normal.
GF: It is difficult to say. You know, from the middle of the season McLaren was much stronger than us and they were consistently longer than us in qualifying and for the first stint in the race. Presumably they are even heavier than us but our potential is quite good here. The car balance looks alright and I think we are better than we expected.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, you used to do a long first stint. We saw it in Monza and even when you have to come back from the other position in France and Silverstone. Do you think we expect something like this tomorrow?
KR: It really depends what the other teams are doing. We are in a strong position but it is too early to say really, where we are going to end up after the first pit stops and how long we are going to run against the others because nobody knows.