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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 07 Oct 2006

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2006 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006

Felipe Massa on the second Formula One pole position of his career; Ralf Schumacher on beating both the Renaults; and David Coulthard on his difficult day in Suzuka. All the drivers report back on qualifying.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (1st, 1m 29.499s):
“This is a fantastic result. To be on pole position at a track that I like very much and where the driver counts for a lot is very special. I managed to do a great lap, with no mistakes and starting from the front is definitely important for the race. I am also happy that we have both Ferraris on the front row and that our main rivals are two rows behind us and I hope we can also finish the race with them the same number of places behind us. I am looking forward to the race when I hope we can continue to score as many points as possible for both championships and for me to try and reach my personal target of finishing third in the Drivers’ classification. The Bridgestone tyres and the car behaved very well and we can expect this to also be the case tomorrow afternoon.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 29.711s):
“Two Ferraris on the front row is the perfect position for the start, given that our main rivals are on row three. There was a lot of wind and even when trying to push hard, there is always the thought that you mustn’t go over the limit, also partly because we know we have a very competitive package. On the dry, our performance has proved to be very consistent, thanks also to the valuable support of our friends at Bridgestone and that means we can be confident about tomorrow’s race. I can’t wait to see if all these theories can come true tomorrow. I am happy with the position from which I am starting, especially as Felipe (Massa) is alongside me, after doing an extraordinary job today. Driving on this track in the way the performance of our car has allowed us to do is really marvellous. I am having so much fun, especially in the Esses which are a part of the track I am particularly keen on.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (3rd, 1m 29.989s):
"That was a great achievement for the whole team. After the last two races we needed that to show where we really are in terms of pace. We knew from the previous races that we were always there from a lap time point of view and we needed to show that. Today, with the clear help of our Bridgestone tyres, we were able to show that our car is a good car. We've obviously struggled for results in the second half of this season, but our car has improved a lot. I've always said that if we had a good weekend and the tyre is right then we could be heading for the podium. This is my favourite track and while we will obviously have a hard race with the two Ferraris ahead of us, we will do our best to catch them. It is important to qualify up the grid at Suzuka and now that we have achieved that we will push as hard as we can."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (4th, 1m 30.039s):
"It's great to be so far up the grid. We've been competitive all weekend, especially today, and we were confident that we could have a result like this. It was very windy out there but the car balance still felt good throughout the afternoon and we were very competitive. I was very quick throughout qualifying and I could have made it into the top three, but I missed out by a few hundredths. Still we have a very strong car for the race tomorrow so I'm happy both for myself and for the team. Obviously we are keen to record a strong result at our home race so we will fight from the start to finish. We appreciate the extra support that we receive at this race from our local fans and employees so we will hope to reward them with something to cheer."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 30.371s):
“In the context of the characteristics we have seen today, this result is okay I think. We more or less knew that qualifying would be difficult for us after this morning’s practice session, because we didn’t have enough pace on one lap. We have done the maximum though, and I am the leading Michelin car - with Fisi (Giancarlo Fisichella) right alongside me. The car feels good to drive round here, so now we have to believe in the Michelin tyres and their consistency in the race. Of course, the position is not ideal for the championship fight - but we have seen big turnarounds already this season. There is nothing to say it cannot happen again tomorrow.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th, 1m 30.599s):
“We did all we could this afternoon in qualifying, we just needed more pace on one lap. The grip levels were not fantastic, which meant that the balance was a bit inconsistent - some high-speed understeer and nervousness in slow corners. But as the grip improves, that will calm down, and we know that the R26 will be consistent for the whole race distance. The main thing is that in spite of a difficult day, we are not giving up. Fernando (Alonso) and I will be pushing really hard tomorrow.”

Jenson Button, Honda (7th, 1m 30.992s):
"I would obviously have liked to be further up the grid here but we made the best of what we had today. On low fuel the car was very good but as soon as we put the fuel in we were struggling for rear grip. For some reason, in these windy conditions, the car doesn't work so well but we're expecting it to be a lot calmer tomorrow. I think it will be a tough race but I know we will have tremendous support from the Honda fans out there and we will do everything we can to secure a good result."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (8th, 1m 31.478s):
"I would like to thank all the boys for doing a tremendous job. When the circumstances are not working in your favour it's very difficult, but we have done the best job we can. Thanks to the hard work of the team I was able to qualify well inside the top ten today. This is obviously our home race so we will be giving it everything we have tomorrow in order to secure the best possible result and to put on a good show for our home crowd."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (9th, 1m 31.513s):
“Everything was okay, and qualifying went as expected. It is obvious the fastest four are on a different tyre to us. Also we have to wait and see how their race strategy turns out. During the last part of qualifying there were a few rain drops on my visor, but they didn’t have any impact on the grip.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (10th, 1m 31.856s):
“It was a good qualifying for us today, and being in the top ten is a good step forward. I was third quickest in the first session and then seventh in the second, so we’ve obviously made some progress with the car, which is a good sign for next year. The Bridgestones were working very well today, so a positive outcome in the race tomorrow is within reach.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (11th, 1m 30.827s):
"Not particularly a great qualifying for anyone in the team today and not where we expected to be. I do not really understand what the problem was as the car didn't feel too bad, we were just too slow. We will now have to look at the strategies available to us so that we can improve in the race tomorrow. It is not ideal to be starting where we are, but it is not impossible to still get a decent result."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (12th, 1m 31.094s):
“First qualifying was pretty good for me, but in second qualifying I suddenly got a lot of oversteer. I had two scary moments and the lap time was not very good, but we had a second set of tyres. On these I was about three and a half tenths quicker into corner five, but unfortunately then there was a lot of wind and I picked up a lot of understeer and lost two tenths. However, I was still quicker, but then I arrived into corner eight and the bottom of the car touched the inside kerb, which put me on the outside kerb and this pushed me on the grass. I was sliding through the gravel and was very close to the barrier. We now hope for a good race tomorrow as I think we have good tyres, even though the overall grip is not fantastic.”

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (13th, 1m 31.254s):
"The balance of the car was OK, but we just didn't have enough grip over one lap with the Michelin tyres that we selected. However we can work on our strategy now and try to make the best out of this situation. Hopefully the tyres that worked well in qualifying might not be as strong in the race."

Mark Webber, Williams (14th, 1m 31.276s):
“Qualifying proved tricky for me as I couldn’t quite get the balance that I would have liked. I think we could have done pretty well in the end but I had a moment at turn five and paid a big price for it. It’s a shame because the car is obviously quick. I didn’t have one of my better qualifying sessions today, but we’ll just have to see how it goes tomorrow in the race.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (15th, 1m 31.943s):
“I am reasonably happy about qualifying, with both Q1 and Q2 going quite well. The car’s balance was okay and already this morning we saw the car responded well. This is a difficult and technical circuit where if you push hard you can make a difference, which is why I love driving here. Unfortunately in Q2 we had a bit of a problem with traffic on the final lap and maybe I could have done a bit better without that, but for us, just getting into Q2 is not that easy. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker MF1 (16th, 1m 33.750s):
"I think we had a fantastic day today, we took everything we could from the car to post some good lap times. My first outing was slowed a little by traffic but atleast I was able to do a quick one towards the end of the first session. We are really happy with the result today having two Red Bulls and a Toro Rosso behind us. Tomorrow will be a tough day but we have shown some good pace in qualifying."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (17th, 1m 32.252s):
“I love this track it’s a great challenge, but unfortunately our car just isn’t generating the overall grip that’s needed here. The balance isn’t too bad, it’s as good as it’s been during any other lap I’ve driven here, we just lack efficiency on this type of high-speed circuit. We’re not really performing as we should be. The year started badly and we’ve never really recovered from it, it’s a big disappointment.”

Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (18th, 1m 32.402s):
“It’s difficult to get the maximum out of the car and tyres in these dry conditions and we struggled during qualifying. I didn’t think we’d qualify this low, I thought we’d get through to the second session for sure. We’ve got a long day ahead tomorrow, it’s not going to be easy.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (19th, 1m 32.867s):
“The lap started great and I had a good first sector, then going into Turn 9 Jenson (Button) was trying to let me go and I caught up to him too quickly and lost some downforce. So, when I exited the corner I ended up going over the exit kerb, stayed on it too long and then ran onto the grass, got dirt on the tyres and that was really the end of my lap, and here, lap 1 is the only one that you have. We haven’t hit traffic in the last five qualifyings, so I guess it was about time for it to happen again. It was unfortunate as the car was handling good. We did some guesswork on set-up going into the session and it was working well.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (20th, 1m 33.666s):
“We were quite happy with our progress during the morning’s free practice session and felt prepared for qualifying this afternoon. However, during qualifying, we were just not quick enough, so I am quite disappointed. We shall now just have to see what happens tomorrow and hope that we have a strong package for the race.”

Tiago Monteiro, Spyker MF1 (21st, 1m 33.709s):
"It was very frustrating today. I have been in F1 for two years and we have never had this specific problem before. It has always been a very reliable car and unfortunately something like this happens now. That's racing and it happens. There was a problem with the front end of the car that gave me a strange feeling on track about halfway through my quick lap. I kept pushing till the end to make sure I had a reasonable time but it was effecting the car's performance. It could have been both Spykers in the top 16 today but I will just have to push hard in the race tomorrow."

Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (22nd, no time):
“After this morning’s practice session and at the start of qualifying I had a really good feeling about the car. I tried my best and pushed hard during qualifying, but unfortunately I made a mistake at the Hairpin and the engine stopped. It is a real shame because I know that the engineers and the boys have worked extremely hard for this race, but I have a very good reason to be positive about the race tomorrow.”