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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 01 Apr 2006

Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team celebrates his pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006 Second placed Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari crashes during qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006

An incident-packed qualifying session saw spins and showers, and a third Formula One pole position for Britain’s Jenson Button. He and the other driver’s report on their afternoon in Australia…

Jenson Button, Honda (1st, 1m 25.229s):
"It's a fantastic feeling to be on pole here after such a manic qualifying session for everybody. With two red flags and the rain shower half way through, it was very difficult to stay calm and get our thoughts together. That's exactly what we did though and I'm so thrilled for the team. This is a very special moment for everyone in Honda as it's the first pole since they returned to works team status. I know all eyes will be on us for tomorrow but we didn't get much running done in race trim today. We know we're quick over a lap but we will only know how competitive we really are when we leave the grid tomorrow.
All we can do now is give it our very best shot, aim for a faultless race and make the most of every situation."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (2nd, 1m 25.635s):
“I am very pleased to be second for the race tomorrow, considering I made some small mistakes on my quickest lap. For me, the rain this morning was a bit worrying because I had lost set-up time yesterday, and I didn’t get a chance to drive the car in dry conditions before qualifying. But we had made some good changes with the engineers overnight, and the car balance in qualifying was good. My second timed lap was faster than the first because the tyres were taking a long time to warm up, and second is a good grid position. The R26 has very good pace on the long runs, so if we get a good start, then I think we can be very strong tomorrow afternoon.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd, 1m 25.778s):
“I am pleased to be third because this is my best qualifying position so far this year. Even so, we still didn’t achieve our maximum this afternoon, because I had Heidfeld’s BMW in front of me during my quick lap, and he made a mistake in turn 13. That meant I caught him very quickly, and lost about half a second in the last two corners. The car felt very good though, and I am pleased with the consistent handling balance. In race conditions, I am confident we will be extremely competitive.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th, 1m 25.822s):
"My qualifying today was OK but not perfect. I think we could have gone quicker if we had managed to get everything working, but the changing weather conditions made things a bit more of a challenge. The race tomorrow should be exciting, and I think we are in with a good chance. It should be possible for us to get our package to work perfectly, so we will see what happens. I'm looking forward to it that is for sure."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (5th, 1m 25.976s):
"I'm quite disappointed as I think we could have been on the front row if I hadn't messed it up when I was on the new tyres. I came into Turn Five a bit too aggressively, hit the kerb and lost it, and that was it. However the car feels great and I know we have a strong strategy for the race, but I have just made things a bit more difficult for myself, but we will see what happens tomorrow."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (6th, 1m 26.912s):
"I'm delighted to have qualified so high and it's a good achievement for Toyota to be looking so good after the problems we have had. Yesterday was hard but already this morning our pace looked better so we're pretty pleased with what we have achieved today. It was a difficult afternoon, especially when the rain came down at the end of Session 2, but the circuit improved quite well in the last session due to the wind. The tyres felt good and the car was better than I expected on heavy fuel at the end. We've been struggling for grip but the last session was the best I have felt all season. Tomorrow depends on strategy but my target is to score points and we look pretty good for that."

Mark Webber, Williams (7th, 1m 26.937s):
“It was a pretty interesting session today, the heart rate is always there with these sessions! The car was really good on low fuel, but we perhaps didn’t get as much out of it as we should have carrying more weight. Ultimately while our last runs were good, I would have liked to be a position or two higher on the grid. That said, I feel good about tomorrow and I think seventh isn’t such a bad place to start the race from - all the strategies are ‘in’ the cars now and we’ll see where we are tomorrow.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (8th, 1m 27.579s):
“I am disappointed. After our very strong showing this morning as well as in the first two parts of qualifying, a significantly better result was possible today. But in the end I didn’t have a fresh set of tyres available so eighth was the best I could expect.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (9th, 1m 29.239s):
“Since I will lose 10 positions because of needing a new engine, we concentrated wholly on race strategy in the third part of qualifying, running a representative fuel load. I just did some laps to make sure I got a time and with Trulli not running I finished ninth, which means I will start from 19th position. The race pace that we have is very good so I am still optimistic for tomorrow as Felipe Massa proved in Malaysia what it is possible to do even when you have to start towards the back of the grid.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (10th, 1m 26.327s):
"It's great that we are starting to improve but this has been a very unlucky weekend so far for me. I'm struggling with the flu and I am completely blocked up. When I started qualifying the balance and tyres felt okay and even though I had a lot of traffic in both sessions I still managed to do good laps. Then at the last run when I was going even quicker I had an electronic problem and damaged my wing when I ran over some debris. Nonetheless, of course I am delighted about the pace we have shown here. It's good for the team and good for everyone that we have shown we can fight near the front - just a little bit unlucky for me. I've always performed well in Melbourne but I have also endured very bad luck. I hope that can change tomorrow and that we can score some points."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (11th, 1m 26.718s):
“Obviously, we cannot be satisfied with this qualifying. In the second part, I used two sets of new tyres, but I did not get the most out of them. Clearly, the few drops of rain did not help just as I was on my second attempt, but the main problem today is that we were just too slow. Now we have to find out what happened and try and do something to be quicker tomorrow. The cooling fan that stayed on the car when I left the garage? It happened right after the red flag and this is always a frenetic time, so things like this can happen. Tomorrow, it will definitely not be nice to start from this far back on the grid, but we will try and make the most of the situation.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (12th, 1m 27.023s):
“I’m annoyed with that because I felt confident with the car this weekend. I had more laps available as a consequence of not finishing in Malaysia and had a good run yesterday. I locked up in Turn 3 on my last lap and lost some time. But, there you go, at least now we have more choice over strategy for tomorrow. You never quite know what to expect here with the changing weather conditions, I could have stayed in Scotland to get rain and wind like this… It should make tomorrow interesting.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (13th, 1m 27.219s):
“I have to say I’m satisfied with how this session went, even if we didn’t make it through to the final shoot-out. We were really so close, but the rain came at just the wrong time and stopped us from setting a time and before that I had trouble with traffic. If we had left the garage one minute before…who knows? But it’s clear we had the potential to be in the top ten. The car was much better today, so it will be an interesting race tomorrow as overtaking is difficult here.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (14th, 1m 27.591s):
“It was difficult today as I struggled to find enough grip throughout the qualifying session. The warm up performance of the tyres didn’t seem as good as usual and I had a lot of understeer going into corners. As a result, I couldn’t go back onto the throttle as quickly as normal. I made it in to the second qualifying and my final lap was going well, but then there was some rain on the last corner and I went wide, running over the kerb and grass. I lost half a second there and that was it.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (15th, 1m 29.422s):
“Qualifying was really difficult today for a combination of reasons. I kept coming across traffic in Q2 but if I slowed down to make some space, my tyre temperatures dropped because of the cold weather. The main problem was caused by the red flag coming out, which made the second session very busy when it re-started and when I found some space on the track, it rained! It just didn’t go my way this time, but I’ll do my best tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (16th, 1m 28.868s):
“What happened was a shame, because I was on a good lap at the time I went off. I had gone into Turn 11 when I lost the rear of the car. I touched the kerb and I could not correct it in time and that was the end for me. Fortunately, the car was undamaged, which is the most important thing. It should have been a good lap, but now we have to accept this situation and do a good race, just as we did in Malaysia.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (17th, 1m 29.943s):
"I'm obviously very disappointed with how qualifying went for me today because everything was running much more smoothly for us and the team have done a good job all weekend. At the end of the day, I just lost out to traffic after the restart in the first session. We have a tough mountain to climb tomorrow but we'll see what we can do to challenge for points nonetheless."

Christijan Albers, Midland (18th, 1m 30.226s):
"Obviously, I'm not pleased with where we ended up. I ran into some traffic on my fast lap. Actually, I was surprised, because the car that held me up was a Honda and I couldn't believe how quickly I came up behind him. But overall, it wasn't too bad out there. I was encouraged by the performance of the tyres - they were a lot better than the ones I had yesterday. The guys worked hard to solve our problems and the car as a whole was working much better. It's a shame that I spun this morning, because it would have been nice to collect some more information in wet conditions, but these kinds of things happen. This is Formula One, after all, and there are a lot of electronic aids and other mechanical things that operate outside the driver's control. But, as I said, the car is improving all the time and I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (19th, 1m 30.426s):
“I had a good start to the session even if as expected it was tough to warm up the tyres. The second run was better still until I lost the car in Turn 14. We’re not sure exactly what caused that, maybe it was down to the tyre pressures we were running. Up to that point, I was on a lap that would have easily been good enough for thirteenth or fourteenth place. My final lap was also good enough for fourteenth but I did it crossing the red light. All the same, I think we have a good race car for tomorrow.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 30.709s):
"It was very annoying, because we were running smoothly all weekend, making steady progress, and then you get to qualifying, with only 15 minutes to make the cut, and we got impeded by traffic. On both tentative laps, I couldn't get up to speed because of slower cars ahead of me. The track had a lot less traction than yesterday because of the rain, but I'm just really annoyed that I couldn't get a run at a clear lap. It's really frustrating, because this heat wasn't indicative of our true performance. We could have gone a lot faster."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 32.279s):
“It was another difficult day for us. I lost about three-quarters of the practice session running due to a hydraulic problem, but the boys in the team did a great job to recover as much time as possible and get me out onto the track for a few laps in the wet conditions. The track dried out considerably for the qualifying session and I tried my best but unfortunately encountered traffic on my fastest lap. It would have been nice to make up a couple more tenths, but I think under the circumstances I am happy.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (22nd, 1m 36.164s):
"I was struggling to find the right setup of the car. I used two sets of tyres but they didn't warm up as I wanted it to so I went off the course few times. I couldn't get much grip for some reason so we will find out the cause of it and hopefully we could have a good race tomorrow."