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Friday practice - selected driver quotes 21 Apr 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2006 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2006

For once on a Friday it wasn’t the third drivers who dominated proceedings. Instead, world champions past and present slogged it out for supremacy on Ferrari’s home turf, with Fernando Alonso eventually edging Michael Schumacher. They, and their rivals, report back on day one at Imola…

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 25.043s):
“As usual on the Friday, the grip levels were quite bad. That makes the car inconsistent to drive, and we began working on the set-up to try and improve things. We are not there yet, and we are suffering from too much understeer at the moment. I think we are quick as well but as always, the times on Friday don't mean too much. If we can make some good changes tonight, though, I think we will be a in a strong situation for the race.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, +0.328s):
“We are happy with the work done today, which has left me in a positive mood. I see no reason to be pessimistic, even though that doesn’t mean we were slow at the previous races. We have made progress in various areas and even if they are only minor things, all put together they have produced a good step forward. The whole package is working better and therefore the car is quicker. I think we can fight for pole tomorrow and I even believe we can be in the hunt for the win on Sunday. I say it again, I am optimistic.”

Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (3rd, +0.378s):
“This is my first ever Formula One practice in Europe. I already knew Imola, but they have changed the chicane and re-asphalted some corners. Where the grip level was poor the car was very unstable. We have worked to choose the best tyres, mainly concentrating on doing long runs to see the degradation, and I think we have done two really good sessions. I think it was a good Friday and I think the team will be happy with my driving and our job with the guys.”

Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (4th, +0.656s):
"We've made a good start to the weekend, collecting plenty of data from our extensive tyre evaluation work. The track conditions were very slippery this morning due to the asphalt around the new chicane but that improved this afternoon and I think we have got some good running under our belts."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (5th, +0.836s):
“All in all, I am happy with what we achieved today. In the morning, we struggled a bit to find the best set-up, however we improved the car in the afternoon. I used the same set of tyres throughout the two hours to prepare as well as possible for the race. I think we now have a good starting point for the rest of the weekend. I am happy to be here at Imola for the first time as a Ferrari driver and hope to give the fans something to cheer about.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th, +0.948s):
“I had a difficult day to be honest. The balance of the car is not good and the grip is very low on the track. The main problem is in the chicanes where the handling is inconsistent, which means you cannot attack them with any confidence. We have a lot of work to do tonight, to reach our normal level of performance.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th, +0.986s):
"I haven't had much fortune in the first three races, but I am more confident about this weekend. At last week's Barcelona test we took a different direction with set-up. That led to a big step forward, and today the handling of the car was pretty close to how I like it. We had to do more laps than usual because of Ralf's problems but we look good so far. We have some small steps on the car here and Bridgestone have brought some new tyres so that should give us a chance to get closer to the top teams. Historically Imola has never been a good track for Toyota, but I'm confident we can turn that record around."

Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (8th, +1.285s):
“We completed a busy test programme today, so now we have to sit down and carefully analyse what did what and how it should translate to the race cars. My role is purely to evaluate our options and I spent all my time conducting long runs, which is why we do not appear higher up in the timing results, but this doesn’t worry me at all. We just have to pull our whole package together a bit tighter and then we will be competitive.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (9th, +1.291s):
"So far so good, and we achieved everything we needed. I did two short runs just to check the balance and then a long run to evaluate our Michelin tyres and all went well. I was stuck in traffic on what was meant to be a fast run, but that is life. We have a couple of new things here which seem to be working and the car feels good. I'm not too keen on the new chicane, but overall I'm quite pleased."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (10th, +1.344s):
“I only did a few laps to get familiar with the track. The Variante Alta chicane has changed, and some parts have new tarmac where the surface of the track is very slippery. I also had to deal with a nervous car. Physically I don’t feel very well today, something with my stomach doesn’t seem right.”

Jenson Button, Honda (11th, +1.384s):
"We worked through our usual Friday programme and as usual have a lot of information to work with as a result of Anthony's running. We'll be taking a good look at the data tonight to assess how our developments for this race will suit us for the rest of the weekend and there is still some way to go with the set-up. Generally, a reasonably good start."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (12th, +1.457s):
"Everything went well, so it's a good start to the weekend. We spent our time working on the set-up and evaluating our Michelin tyres, and I'm pretty confident. The weather is a bit warmer than normal at Imola, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend. I think we have a good package, and we should be able to do well."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (13th, +1.610s):
"There was traffic everywhere today which made clean runs very difficult, however I had a generally problem-free day with the brakes working much better for me. We have some work to do on the balance yet but so far so good and let's see what tomorrow brings."

Christijan Albers, Midland (14th, +1.740s):
"I think we had a reasonable day, but I'm not really surprised, to be honest, because I know what we're capable of when we're on our game. We are a serious team, and we made the most of our Friday programme today. I also think that tomorrow, when we go for qualifying, we'll be able to find even more time."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (15th, +1.754s):
“The track is very slippery, but it is not looking too bad. I think we can work on the car and be competitive. The major problem is we are lacking grip at the moment. They have changed just one chicane and the asphalt in a few places, but that is the same for everyone. At the end of the day the story for me is we are just low on grip.”

Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (16th, +1.874s):
“That wasn’t such a good Friday for us to be honest. Normally we have a better day, but we struggled with the set up this morning. The car was very unbalanced, so it was quite difficult to do the tyre work and the set up at the same time, but we made the best of it this morning. This afternoon we did some long runs, which were consistent and we have a clear decision on tyres for the weekend. It’s a very particular circuit to get the right set up right here, and hopefully things will improve over the weekend.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (17th, +1.946s):
“I think today’s sessions went well and Alex did a good job again to find the right set-up, so I immediately had quite a good balance when I first went out. We divided my activity in two runs so I had a bit of time to look at data comparisons. All in all, the performance felt quite good today.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (18th, +2.085s):
“Not bad for a first day. The car was consistent in the long run and we have a good balance for the race. Tomorrow morning, we will have to work hard on our set up for qualifying, as that has been our weak point so far this season. Here in Imola, where overtaking is difficult, it is important to have a good grid position. To start further forward in this our home race is important to show all the Italians that we are here as an Italian team a real Italian team. The kerbs are always a problem at this circuit, but the car is not so bad, apart from the last chicane where we struggle a bit. All in all, the first two hours have been good and I am confident we can improve.”

Mark Webber, Williams (19th, +2.114s):
“I had a few laps at the end of the session to help with the tyre selections - not as many laps as you might like, but I’ll make up for it tomorrow. The balance feels about right and we have lots of good information from Alex to look through tonight.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (20th, +2.460s):
“I don’t think we’re suddenly going to take a big step forward here, but we’re starting to get a better understanding of the car. Inevitably that will help with future development. I honestly don’t know where we are in the field at the moment - tomorrow will tell.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (21st, +2.501s):
"I'm a bit frustrated today. We lost a lot of time with the old tyres, which was the set programme, but we shouldn't have. I did 75% of my day's practice on tyres that obviously didn't work, and that led us in the wrong direction in terms of set-up, as well as the way I had to drive the car. So naturally, I wasn't too happy about that. But then, when we put the new tyres on, it was like driving a completely different car and I gained two seconds right away. Thankfully, we have one more hour of practice tomorrow morning before qualifying to optimise the set-up with the new tyres, so I'm confident we can be a lot quicker."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (22nd, +2.596s):
"Today was obviously not the perfect way to start the weekend. But Jarno showed that we have good potential here so I still have strong hopes. We saw in Melbourne that we can now get much more out of our package. We've made further improvements during testing so we hope to continue that progress here. We are making steps forward but we are still behind the top teams so we should aim for another strong finish in the points. That would be a good result as we continue our upward momentum."

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (23rd, +2.676s):
“It’s really hard to tell what our real performance level is at the moment. It’s hard to compare with the others. The balance of our car is not too horrible. I think we are pretty close to where we need to be. It’s the usual compromise on set-up here to deal with the kerbs, but our car is handling them quite well, although I don’t know how we stand down the straightaways right now.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (24th, +2.947s):
“I went out in the first session for just a few laps. The car felt not too bad overall, although there was some understeer. I had problems with the brake balance and, as a result, the rears kept locking up. I wasn’t able to adjust the balance from the cockpit, so that’s why I was off the pace. In the second session, after we’d made some changes to the brake balance, the car felt better.”

Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (25th, +3.318s):
“My programme in the first session was completely different to the other two guys, so as to get some extra information, but it didn’t really work out and the car was very difficult to drive. When I spun, I was going 2 kilometres quicker than on the previous lap, but it was obviously 2 kilometres too much! This afternoon, we again tried a completely different set-up and it worked much better and it helped us with our tyre choice.”

Giorgio Mondini, third driver, Midland (26th, +3.790s):
"This morning, I found the car difficult to drive, because it did not match my set-up preferences. But this afternoon, we made some changes that improved the handling quite a lot. The new spec front wing was much better but unfortunately, I broke it on a kerb, so we went back to the old one and I wasn't able to improve on my times. But I felt good in the car, and I think the team did a great job to keep moving up the time sheets. Christijan's fast lap, in particular, was excellent, so I think the engineers were able to get some good data."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (27th, +4.827s):
“We had a good day and were able to learn a number of useful things by varying our programme. It was interesting testing the two Bridgestone tyre options and we have collected important data. The car is unstable on the kerbs and bumps, so it is a bit difficult to drive. But I think that we improved throughout the sessions and we will just continue to work hard to prepare ourselves for tomorrow.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (28th, +5.999s):
“After the Australian Grand Prix I was not happy with my past results, so I had an important meeting with the engineers in UK before we came to Imola. I am glad we had this particular meeting since I feel that the car is working much better for me and I think that I will be able to show a better performance than during the past races. I was able to have a clear run today and I am feeling more confident about the Qualifying session tomorrow. I won’t be able to make up too many places, but I am hoping that it may be my best qualifying and starting position so far.”