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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 11 Mar 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari 248 F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006 Yuji Ide (JPN) Super Aguri F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006

The new knockout format produced an hour of tense excitement in Bahrain this afternoon. Ferrari were the biggest winners. McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen was the biggest loser. The drivers explain…

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
“Amazing result. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to be on pole, I thought we might be in touch with the leaders but not in front of everybody, so it really is a wonderful surprise. I’m so happy for the team because they all worked so hard to achieve this result, especially when one considers where we were at the end of last season. What happened in 2005 really hurt and it forced us to react. We have worked very hard and I would also like to thank all the test team for what they have done during the winter months. It is always very difficult to reverse a negative trend but last year’s troubles have had the effect of making the team even more closely knit together: this is the mentality that makes Ferrari such a special team. Today I’ve also equalled a rather special record, that of the number of pole positions set by Ayrton Senna: something I’m very proud of.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (2nd):
“This is a day that won’t be easy to forget. To qualify on the front row at my first race with Ferrari makes me feel very proud of myself and for what the team has managed to achieve. It’s a pity that the traffic on the last lap prevented me from perhaps improving on my time: these are things that happen with this new qualifying format. Maybe next time it might be my turn to take advantage of the situation! What is important is that now we have a competitive package right from the start of the season. Tomorrow it’s going to be a difficult race: we know that our rivals are very strong but we’ll give it everything we’ve got to try and bring home the best result possible.”

Jenson Button, Honda (3rd):
"I'm reasonably happy with third place. We had a good qualifying strategy but it was difficult to be consistent and get good clean runs because of the track conditions. The wind was an issue again today but it was gusting in a different direction to yesterday, so the track was still a bit of an unknown quantity. Looking at how the new qualifying panned out, for me it was very exciting. It was non-stop for me in the car and it must have been great for the fans watching at home. Traffic is always an issue with this format but we'll get used to it I'm sure and I think the team did a great job of handling what must have been a very pressured session. On to tomorrow now when we'll see how everyone's fuel strategies play out. It should be a great race and I'm looking forward to it."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
“A pretty disappointing result for me really. The qualifying session was very busy, like we expected, and as I had said before the weekend, it didn't change too much for me because the aim was still to complete three quick laps during the hour. The car felt good, and we didn't make any changes to the front wing or anything, but I made a mistake on my first timed lap at the end of the session, and that meant I had to do another one. Obviously, the tyres weren't in such a good condition by then, which meant I ended up only P4. Still, the second row is not too bad, we know the car is quick, so let's see what happens tomorrow.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (5th):
“I think we did a good job with the new format, and it ran very smoothly for me. I am a little surprised to finish so far up as we had not been looking good in the earlier sessions when I have been suffering from understeer, but that is what the car could do when it counted. I think we have a good strategy for the race, so we will have to wait and see what will happen tomorrow."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (6th):
"I think it was okay to be 6th today because I was struggling big time with the set-up of the car through yesterday and this morning. We analysed the problem earlier today and we felt sure there was room for improvement, so we changed things for qualifying and it was a little better. Now we just need to see what the race brings tomorrow."

Mark Webber, Williams (7th):
“Not a bad effort at all. We have still a lot of work to do but we could not really have asked for much more today, considering a few teams have been testing on this track in the last two weeks and have of course better an understanding of the conditions here. We will learn a lot more tomorrow in the race, let’s see how it goes. The new format of qualifying is a bit of a mess for the drivers and the teams in terms of organization. We have to see how it looked on TV, though.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (8th):
"The new format is really challenging - there's a lot more pressure on you with the different heats. The first and second parts were pretty good and I was comfortable with the car's performance. The difficult part was the third one when I had more fuel in the car along and new tyres. The car's balance was altered and the heavier fuel load meant the braking points changed too."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (9th):
“I am really disappointed to be only ninth. We saw the car was competitive in the two qualifying Heats, as we could set good times quite easily. Things were running smoothly, until I put the new tyres on and suddenly the performance was not there - lost a lot of speed, and just couldn't do the times we should have been capable of. We don't know why yet, so we will be looking carefully tonight. Still, I think it was quite an exciting hour for the spectators with lots happening on track, and we have a good strategy. Even from ninth, we can have a strong race.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (10th):
“To start with, it was great that I was able to make it to the final part of qualifying. It was quite tricky to find the right set-up this afternoon in order to get the best out of the tyres over just one lap. But that worked well for us in the first 15 minute session, better still in the second and even better in the final part. The first two sectors of my lap were very good, but then I pushed a little too hard in Turn 13. I braked late and as I came off the racing line I lost a lot of time. Otherwise I could have qualified as high as fifth, so naturally I am a little disappointed.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (11th):
“Our initial strategy for the second session was to do only one run at the end when the track should have been at its best, but then we changed to one run at the beginning and one at the end. Unfortunately I left the pits too late and could only do one lap before the finish, and today the time always came on the second lap.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (12th):
“I am not too unhappy about today’s result, even if qualifying has been a bit of a chaos, due to the new format, but I still enjoyed it. I could have done a little bit better, maybe not much. I was pushing very hard and spun on my fast lap, towards the end of the session, but it can happen. The fact I didn’t make it to the final part of qualifying means I have some small advantage for tomorrow, since we will be able to put in the car as much fuel as we like. I am now looking forward to a reasonable race.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (13th):
"It was obviously pretty tricky in the first 15 minutes when all the cars were queuing up after the session was re-started. In the second one, the car had too much oversteer and so, to be honest, I wasn't surprised that I didn't get through to the final ten. I wasn't comfortable with the car's balance and so couldn't attack the corners as I would have liked. Christian did well to get through though."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (14th):
"There wasn't a lot more that I could do out there today. In the first session I was on a quick lap when the red flag came out so I had to abandon that. When we started again we hit traffic so it was not very quick but it was good enough to make it through. The two laps I put together in Session 2 were both good laps and they were about as quick as I could have expected. From a driving perspective, the new qualifying system doesn't change very much in the first two sessions. You need the same kind of approach, putting together a lap when it matters with the track getting quicker all the time. Of course there is traffic that we didn't have last year so timing is important. Still, our performance shows that as a team we have a lot of work to do to make it up to the level of the top teams."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (15th):
"It's been a complicated and difficult qualifying as the track conditions were totally different to yesterday. This meant we made many changes to the set-up as the car handled very differently. Qualifying was a bit chaotic with the red flag, but although I'm a bit disappointed not to make it through to the final part of the session, we have planned a fairly conservative strategy for the race, which is the only thing that matters. I definitely like this qualifying format. It's already been exciting today."

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (16th):
"I'm used to qualifying with all the other cars out on track at the same time, but all the same it did feel a bit different, this being Formula One, with a bit more pressure. The first part of the session went very well, although I got a bit held up at the end of it by Jacques. Then, in the second part, the tyre temperatures were not quite where we wanted them and I got pulled in to the weighbridge, which meant I didn't get a second run in. So, maybe we could have gone a bit quicker in the second part, but now we can play with the fuel load, which puts us in a strong position for the race."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (17th):
"It is obviously very disappointing that we just missed out on making it through Session 1 today. I was just starting a flying lap when the red flags came out. Then, when everyone went out for their quick laps I was at the back of the pack. I just lost the temperature in the tyres and I couldn't warm up the tyre again before my lap. That meant that I was sliding around for most of the lap and I was not particularly surprised that I didn't make it through to the other sessions. A disappointing day, then, that confirms that we have hard work ahead to force our way up the grid. But it is very early in the season and the full picture of relative performance will only emerge after the first few races."

Christijan Albers, Midland (18th):
"We had some problems with the wind today, which made things quite difficult at times. The first run was not so bad, but on the second run I really had some problems with traffic. It was really just too busy during the warm-up procedure on the first lap, which in turn made the car feel a little bit nervous. That's why I wasn't able to improve on my time, which should have been somewhere in the one-thirty-fours, easily, so it's a shame. But I'm still looking forward to tomorrow, because even though we might be down a little bit on qualifying pace, I think we'll be stronger in the race. I have a lot of trust in the car and in the team."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (19th):
"The changing conditions caught us a bit by surprise, so my first lap wasn't as good as it should have been. My front wing adjuster broke on that run, and then a subsequent technical problem in the garage prevented me from getting out in time and putting in a real qualifying run. Needless to say, this disappointed me, but worse things can happen. Now I just have to focus on having a good race tomorrow, and I'm sure everyone on the team will be motivated to do better."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (20th):
“Well done to everyone in the team - I am delighted with the result. Both cars qualified and we are on the grid for the race tomorrow, which was our target for this weekend of course, but is a great achievement by the team. We have to work hard on improving our performance going forward, but for now we have accomplished everything that we wanted to achieve so far this weekend and we hope that both cars have a good race tomorrow.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (21st):
“Everything happened so quickly in the qualifying session; it felt like it happened in few minutes. It was so short that I didn’t have time to be nervous or excited. My first F1 qualifying time is not fast and even though I am not in the last position, I am the practically the last! However, I am confident that I could get a higher qualifying position as the season progresses and I am very happy to be able to race tomorrow and will do my very best to finish the race safely. I am very grateful to the mechanics for their hard work in making sure that I am on the grid tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (22nd):
“There is not much I can say about today. It is very disappointing to not even complete one timed lap as I believe that the team had a good strategy for the new qualifying system, and I could have been amongst the quickest. Although it is far from ideal to start from the back of the grid, there are overtaking opportunities at this track, and I have done this before and still achieved good results. We will just have to see what happens in the race tomorrow.”