Qualifying - selected driver quotes 18 Mar 2006
Giancarlo Fisichella clinches the third pole position of his Formula One career, while Nico Rosberg secures a second-row grid spot in only his second Grand Prix. Engine change penalties for both Schumachers, Felipe Massa, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello mean that the qualifying positions do not represent the final grid. That will be revealed on Sunday morning.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (1st, 1m 33.840s):
I want to dedicate this win to Pietro, a childhood friend of mine who died last Sunday. This is the best pole I have had so far. Last year it was thanks to the rain, but today, everybody was up there and fighting hard for it. The engineers made some changes to the car overnight that really improved the balance, and from the first run this morning, I could feel we had the pace to fight for the first two rows. After that, it was a question of doing the best possible job in the qualifying session, and performing to the maximum at the right time. We did it, and tomorrow, I will only be thinking about the win.
Jenson Button, Honda (2nd, 1m 33.986s):
"The team has done a fantastic job to get us on the front row of the grid and I have to thank them for that. Things were looking a lot less positive yesterday when we were really struggling to find a good set-up. A lot of hard work was done overnight and tomorrow looks promising, but let's wait and see. This is always a tough race but I'm certainly looking forward to it."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (3rd, 1m 34.626s):
I am really pleased to be starting from the second row for tomorrow as it is important for me to make a good first impression. The team has worked well and it is very good to have this opportunity to drive a great combination of chassis, engine and tyres and start so far up the grid. Getting here has not been easy at all, but I have been working really well with my engineers and the team generally. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think we will be strong and maybe have a bit of an edge engine-wise. It might be tough in the heat for some drivers, but I didnt find the conditions in Bahrain a problem at all.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (4th, 1m 34.668s):
Ill be starting from the sixth row which isnt too bad considering the penalty inflicted for the engine change. Were satisfied with this position and obviously I hope to end up in the points. Id be really happy if I could get a podium finish. Considering the circumstances, our objective is not to lose touch with the drivers who presumably will be fighting for the championship. The fact that Alonso and Raikkonen arent too far ahead on the grid certainly helps me a bit. Itll be interesting to see whether overtaking will be possible and how much fuel the others have on board. During unofficial practice we have seen that our race pace is fine. Its a pity that weve lost ten places on the grid because of this engine problem, but I would rather try and bring home a few points than end up with nothing at all.
Mark Webber, Williams (5th, 1m 34.672s):
The team has done a really good job again bringing a competitive car here, so congratulations to everyone at Williams, Cosworth and Bridgestone. I think the drivers went well too. We decided to run right at the end of the last session and did pretty well. From what we did today, I think we look in pretty good shape for the race tomorrow.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (6th, 1m 34.916s):
I am happy with our qualifying result today, and we will see tomorrow with the different fuel loads just how well we have done. Hopefully the Michelin tyres will continue to perform, so far they have been good, but it is a very long and hot race. We have worked intensively on the set-up of the car and I am much happier with it. I am looking forward to a good race tomorrow where we can hopefully be challenging at the front."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (7th, 1m 34.983s):
I had a little bit of traffic on my out lap at the end of the session which disrupted my flying lap. As a result I didn't do as well as I could have, but I am pretty happy with the result. The car could still be better but I think that we have a competitive strategy and we will still be strong in the race tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (8th, 1m 35.747s):
It was obviously a very disappointing qualifying session for me. Fisico showed what the car can do at this circuit, and I should have been up there as well. We had a problem with the fuel rig before the final part of qualifying, and I didn't have the performance on my lap with new tyres at the end. Even so, I am not actually in too bad a position, and I will gain a place before tomorrow. The package actually feels good, and we are consistent with our pace, so I am not ruling anything out for tomorrow.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (9th, 1m 38.715s):
The first session went well, I did a good lap and was P7, but then the second session was really close. I was on my first set of tyres and thought my lap was okay, but then I saw the others were quicker and I had to go out once more on another set of tyres, which we were saving for tomorrow. Then I could go quicker and that was enough to get to the last session. The final part was a bit frustrating. We stopped in the box early as it was so hot, and amended our race strategy for tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (10th, 1m 34.586s):
"It was a pity how things turned out today because we were showing much better pace than last week. It would have been good to be in the top ten here and I'm sure we could have improved further. We didn't have any warning about the engine until it suddenly let go. That can happen - especially at a tough circuit for engines like Sepang after we put in so much mileage at Bahrain. But at least our pace is looking a lot better. We expected that but now we can be sure about that fact as we can concentrate on tomorrow. Now I'm looking forward to a good race. We're starting at the back but we had some pretty good long runs in practice so we will try our best. It will be difficult but anything is possible."
David Coulthard, Red Bull (11th, 1m 34.614s):
The car was a good improvement over what we had in the morning session and each of my runs were pretty consistent. We had a problem with the left rear tyre before the last run so I sat for a long time without the tyre blankets on. The car didnt feel as good on that set and was moving around a little more. Unfortunately I was behind Christian and in front of one of the Williams so I couldnt get any clear space to heat the tyres up. I made a little mistake and dropped the two tenths that I gained in the first sector and that was it, game over. Of course you want to go as fast as you can, but all things considered Im not disappointed. Ill be pretty much at the back of the grid anyway tomorrow due to the penalty.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (12th, 1m 34.683s):
"This has been quite a difficult day for me. I was still unhappy with the set-up of the car in free practice then we encountered an engine problem and had to change. It was obviously very disappointing for me to know that I would lose 10 places on the grid but we also decided to change chassis to see if this would give us a better chance for the race. I'm starting from towards the back of the grid which means tomorrow will be tough but I'll give it my best shot and see what the race brings."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (13th, 1m 34.702s):
"I'm obviously glad that we are showing a better performance here compared to Bahrain and especially that we're starting to get some information about how the tyres work. Obviously this afternoon was a difficult one for me because I suffered from major understeer throughout the sessions. This morning during free practice I tried some different directions with my set-up for the team. That meant I was unable to prepare my set-up for qualifying and the race as I normally would. Nonetheless I hope we can race well tomorrow. We will analyse the data and I hope we can sort out the balance overnight. That way we can look forward to a better Sunday afternoon than we had in Bahrain."
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (14th, 1m 34.752s):
Somehow we could not really get the tyres to work on a low fuel load. On old tyres we were quick this morning, but we didnt practice with new tyres then and didnt gain enough from them in qualifying. The result is very disappointing for us.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (15th, 1m 34.783s):
Certainly I am not happy with the result. On my second run the first sector time was good. But for the second and third sectors David Coulthard kept driving directly in front of me. That was it. We gain a few positions on the grid because some others need to change their engines, so well simply have to make the most of our possibilities come the race.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (16th, 1m 35.091s):
Obviously Im very disappointed because I was convinced that I had the potential to compete with the front runners. We chose to do only the first part of the qualifying session so as to be able and start the race with as much fuel as we want and in order to save our new sets of tyres and keep a fresh engine for the race. This morning, when I was running on used tyres and with quite a lot of fuel on board, I felt that the car in this configuration was performing excellently. Tomorrow is going to be difficult for me, but in racing you never know what can happen: perhaps a weekend that got off to a bad start could end up quite well!
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (17th, 1m 36.297s):
"We did not do anything wrong in terms of my strategy for tackling the session. But I had traffic on both my quick laps. Basically, we have not shown good pace here since the start of the weekend and that shows up most in qualifying. In terms of aero, we are losing out down the straight, but that is partly due to the restriction we run under to comply with the rules."
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (18th, 1m 36.581s):
"This was a difficult session and the car felt different to the way it did in the morning. On top of this, we misjudged the tactic for my car a bit and we had not left enough time. So when I went out on new tyres I missed getting my timed lap into the 15 minutes by about ten seconds, so although it was quicker it did not count. We did not change anything from the morning, so now we have to find out why it felt different."
Christijan Albers, Midland (19th, 1m 37.426s):
"I really have to give credit to the team, because in spite of our qualifying positions today, they really did a great job. Everyone is working very hard to squeeze more and more performance out of the car, and the gains are coming, slowly but surely. Maybe not as fast as the big manufacturer teams but then again, Formula 1 has probably never been so competitive. A little rain tomorrow wouldn't hurt, either, because we know we have good 'wet' and 'extreme wet' tyres. That would be a great equaliser, from our point of view. Now we have to focus on running the best race we can, and I'm really looking forward to collecting as much data as possible to help us prepare for Australia and the rest of the season."
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 37.819s):
"The good news is that my back felt much better today. Our physiotherapist did a great job with the treatment last night, and I was able to drive with a lot less pain. We still have little bit of work to do to fight our way further up the grid, but we knew from the start that we would be at a disadvantage on a high-downforce circuit like this, where aerodynamics play such a key role. There will be at least five cars behind us on the starting grid because of engine changes, and I'm looking forward to mixing it up with them for as long as I can. Hopefully, our reliability issues have been solved and we can be there at the end. After all, just finishing the race here is half the battle."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 39.011s):
I believe that we did the best job we could today and I think that we achieved the cars best performance. Unfortunately we are still struggling in the mid-sector due to understeer, but we are running reliably and will have both cars on the starting grid tomorrow which is great. This is a high down-force circuit so we knew that we would have a hard race in Sepang, but we shall do our best tomorrow and hopefully be able to bring our two cars home.
Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (22nd, 1m 40.720s):
For qualifying the car ran better than it did this morning, but the balance is still not good enough. I went off the track during practice because I tried to push too much but during qualifying the handling of the car felt much better. It is hot but everybody is running in the same condition so it is not such a problem. I will talk to the engineers and see what we can do to improve the cars pace and I hope that I will be able to do better tomorrow and get to the checkered flag. I am really looking forward to my second race here in Sepang."