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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 06 May 2006

Pole sitter Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 6 May 2006 Christian Klien (AUT) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 6 May 2006 Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 5 May 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 5 May 2006

A thrilling battle between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher for pole position made it a great day for Formula One fans. However, not all the drivers were quite as happy with events at the Nurburgring…

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 29.819s):
“I had a very good lap today. We tried something a little bit different with our approach to qualifying, and it seemed to work well, so I am really pleased to be on pole for the first time this year. At previous races we have had problems with traffic or the fuel load, but today everything went smoothly and that made it much easier for me. I am looking forward to the race now, because I think it will be a good one. The Ferraris look very competitive, so let's see what tomorrow afternoon brings.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 30.028s):
“I am happy to be on the front row. We have been strong all weekend and so we can be optimistic about tomorrow’s race. The fact that the Renault is on pole does not surprise me, but I think we have a great chance of fighting for the win. Naturally, strategy will be vitally important. I think we will see a very close race for the win and as you know, I like a fight.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 30.407s):
“This third place is a good starting point and I am pleased with my performance today. Our package works very well at this track and so I am confident for tomorrow’s race, when I hope to improve on my performance in Imola. I am not surprised to also be competitive here at the Nurburgring, because the 248 F1 has proved to be strong right from the start of the season. Myquick lap was very good. With this qualifying format, you need to be very careful about choosing the right moment to go out on track and today, I waited for a moment in pit lane after changing tyres, in order to create a space between me and the cars that had gone out before me.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (4th, 1m 30.754s):
"I'm very pleased with 4th place on the grid. It's another demonstration of how good the car and the team is and that we are making real progress. We now just have to keep our feet on the ground and focus on the race because I think we have a good strategy and we have shown good pace in free practice this morning. I'm looking forward to it."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 30.933s):
"I am happy with the result today as we were not entirely comfortable with the car in the Friday practice sessions, but today was much better, and I was able to push and get the best out of the car. Everyone has worked really hard and as a result the balance of the car has steadily improved. I am confident that we can definitely be competitive in the race tomorrow, but it is always hard to tell until we see how the strategies unfold."

Jenson Button, Honda (6th, 1m 30.940s):
"I couldn't get a good balance, which is pretty normal for me around here! The car just didn't feel good so I wasn't feeling comfortable. I locked up in turn one which didn't help my last lap time, but it didn't cost much; it probably wouldn't even have been a place. I think we showed this morning that our race pace is there and we found a nice balance for the long runs, so we'll just have to wait and see what the race brings."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th, 1m 31.419s):
"First of all I have to thank my team and all my mechanics, because yesterday we had a problem with the car, which we could not solve during the practice. They all worked hard through the night changing out the chassis to give me the chance to run well today and to avoid any problems. This morning went quite smooth and we built up confidence with the set-up during the session. I am really satisfied with the lap I did at the end because being seventh is a definite improvement on the performance we have had."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (8th, 1m 31.542s):
“The plan today was to get in the top ten, but we were hoping to be slightly better than p8. We concentrated on our qualifying set-up for a change, which enabled us to start further up the grid. I think we can get in the points, but will have to see how our set-up lives in the race. Giancarlo Fisichella seemed to be really angry and I am not exactly sure what happened. I thought I was ahead of him and I was trying to get out of his way, maybe I slowed him down a little bit but I never thought he was that close to me. I will go and talk to him because it was not done on purpose.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (9th, 1m 31.880s):
"This was not a great lap for me as I was still struggling a little with the set up of the car. We had to change quite a bit to improve the handling of the car throughout the practice sessions which resulted in a compromise. However our race pace is generally strong and I think that we have demonstrated good speed in the first two sessions. It looks optimistic for tomorrow's race, as long as we get a clean start of the line, as overtaking at this circuit is possible."

Mark Webber, Williams (10th, 1m 33.405s):
“Because of the grid penalty due to the engine change today, we obviously had to choose the right strategy for the race and I think our engineers have done the best job given the situation that we are in. We’ll try hard in the race, but we couldn’t really expect a huge deal more from qualifying. I tried to maybe go a bit too hard on my last lap and made a little mistake on turn three, losing a bit of time there, but I had nothing to lose, as I am going back anyway. I just scraped into the last ten while everyone else was obviously running on low fuel.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (11th, 1m 30.944s):
"The day started out quite positive during the practice session. The qualifying was a tough fight and I actually thought I would make into the last round. The car felt good, the grip was good, and we were hoping to make more of the session. Unfortunately I had a spin in Turn 1, and even though I went out again, I lost three tenths of a second time in the new lap. Now we will have to concentrate on gaining positions during the race, which will make for a challenging day tomorrow. Yet as in we saw in Malaysia, I am confident we can work our way up into the points."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (12th, 1m 31.194s):
“Again I missed those two little extra tenths that I needed to find in order to make it into Q3. With the grip increasing and only having one lap to fully exploit it, plenty of experience is very useful. Still, at least now I have the advantage of being able choose my fuel load for the race. I will be starting towards the back from where I will push. We have worked towards having a good race plan, so I think we can still do well.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (13th, 1m 31.197s):
“All I can say is that I am really angry - as people probably saw from the TV this afternoon. For me, Villeneuve's behaviour was unacceptable. As drivers, we know that if you are on the out-lap, you give way to the guys coming past on their quick lap. But Villeneuve didn't move over, and held me up all the way through the final sector and I lost a lot of time. I had the pace to get into the final part of qualifying quite easily but instead, we have to make some compromises on our race strategy. Hopefully, though, I can make up positions tomorrow.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (14th, 1m 31.227s):
"My last lap was good until I lost some time on the last corner, so there's still some work to be done. I feel for Christian. It's always disappointing to get caught up in traffic, but it's unusual for such a timing error to occur. The red flag happened on my out lap, so we were able to rectify everything before I started my timed lap, but it's very disappointing for Christian, especially as he was going so well this weekend."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (15th, 1m 31.422s):
“Of course I’m unhappy with my lap time and my position. The car was not bad, although in the second half of the lap I had some understeer and the overall grip was not ideal. I don’t know why I didn.t manage to record a better lap time as we definitely didn’t have the difficulties today we had here on Friday or in Imola.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (16th, 1m 31.728s):
“We could not really expect more than this today, as we were pretty much at our limit. But the car performed well and I think we have a good set-up for tomorrow’s race. With a few cars changing engines, we can move up a few places. The red flag worked against me in the first part as it meant I didn’t use my second set of tyres. But it did not matter, as everything starts from zero again as long as you make it through to the second part.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (17th, 1m 32.901s):
"I'm massively pissed off. All weekend I've been quick, I was in the top eight this morning and it was a really good opportunity for me and the team to be in the top ten today. During a timed lap, my engineers told me there was a red flag, so I slowed down and prepared to come back to the pits. But I was then told to continue, which was very strange, as that normally can't happen under a red flag. So, I did another lap. My tyres were worn, but I was on for a good time until I came up to Sato. He didn't look in his mirrors and ruined my whole lap and whole qualifying session. For me it's a really bad day and makes the rest of the weekend pretty complicated."

Christijan Albers, Midland (18th, 1m 32.936s):
"We could have been into the second group today and maybe even higher, because the car was running really well. I mean, the first lap I did was reasonable but not great, so I knew I could do even better on the second lap. And then, on that second run, my steering display was showing that I was about six- or seven-tenths quicker through the first two sectors, so who knows? I might have been able to knock off a one-thirty-one. It's really a shame that it had to end that way, because I really believed that it was possible for us to show what we're capable of today. But we were hit by bad luck again, just as we were in Imola. Hopefully, we can overcome it tomorrow."

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (19th, 1m 32.992s):
“That was really frustrating. In Imola we were unlucky with traffic and exactly the same thing happened today in qualifying. I think our pace was good but, once again we did not get the chance to show it. Hopefully, some time soon, I’ll get a clean qualifying lap and someone else will get blocked, but this time, I had to pass Sato on my quick lap and then I got held up by a Midland in the last chicane, as he came into the pits. The red flag didn’t really affect me. That’s what this qualifying format is about this year, so hopefully, we’ll get lucky one time.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 33.658s):
"Considering the problems we had yesterday today was much better: we had very good performance this morning, and the car was feeling much better, actually. Then, this afternoon in qualifying, as the temperatures rose, the car was feeling even more balanced, so I was feeling extremely encouraged. But I made a big mistake in Turn 6 on my first qualifying lap and unfortunately, I wasn't able to fully capitalise on the car's improvement on that run. But I thought I would have two runs, so I was focusing on making the most of my second chance. And then, inexplicably, we got penalised by that false red flag, which nobody seems to understand. I really hope the organisers have an explanation for that, because, in the end, it might not be a big deal for them, but it cost me my second run and a potential attempt to break into the second qualifying heat. My goal is to be in front of my team mate and as close as possible to the others, and this error cost me that opportunity, so that's a shame. But I'm still positive for the race tomorrow. At least we've sorted out the handling issues and have a pretty good balance with those tyres."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 35.239s):
"We had a difficult start to the morning. We needed a lot of work to improve the balance of the car, but then as we suffered a brake related issue which required some time to investigate we were unable to complete the running we needed. The guys did a good job in solving this problem and we made a set-up change, then I was happier with the car balance for Qualifying. It is a shame that there was some confusion about the Red Flag situation during my second Qualifying attack, but I am feeling positive about tomorrow's race."

Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (22nd, 1m 46.505s):
"During the practice session this morning we found quite a good set-up for the car and continued with it in the afternoon, making only a small modification. But we encountered many problems during the Qualifying session. Firstly, when I had to stop at the FIA weight scales, there was a problem with the starter so during this time my tyres were out of the blankets and were getting cold. When I re-started and put on new tyres five minutes later, the red flag situation came up, so I could not make a lap time. It is a little disappointing as this was my first Qualifying with the team, but there were no major problems with the car and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."