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Thursday practice - selected driver quotes 25 May 2006

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF106.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 25 May 2006

The opening day of the Monte Carlo weekend is always enthralling as the drivers are forced to quickly adapt to life on the streets. All but two of them came away from practice with their cars intact...

Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (1st, 1m 15.907s):
“Today we worked mainly on race set-up, in order to get the car ready for Mark (Webber) and Nico (Rosberg) for Sunday. I went through my tyre choice and I have to say the way the circuit is progressing, it is coming to us just as it did at the Nurburgring, which is good. This makes me quite confident and positive that we will have a good weekend. I am also happy with my own performance today because I made no mistakes despite pushing quite hard and I am pleased that at the end of the day my name is at the top of the timesheets.”

Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (2nd, +0.168s):
"I'm obviously extremely disappointed to end the day like this after running so well to end both sessions in 2nd position. I made a small mistake when I locked up the inside front, hit the barrier at turn 1 and this unfortunately created a lot of damage to the left front of the car. Up until that point the day had gone very well and the car was feeling really good, so it was a shame that we were unable to complete the tyre comparison. I love driving here and I think both qualifying and the race will be very exciting."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (3rd, +0.231s):
"A good start to the weekend for us. We seem to be quite competitive and have definitely made progress but its still early days and this is Monaco after all where anything can happen. I completed the planned programme, and the new parts we have introduced seem to have made a difference. The Michelin tyres are working well, so overall we are looking good. I love this track as it's such a challenge and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th, +0.314s):
“Thursday in Monaco is always a day more for the drivers than the engineers, as we run a lot to get used to the circuit again and feel comfortable. I did a lot of laps, worked on my lines in the corners, and I managed to find a good rhythm by the end of the second session. The balance of the R26 was good straight away this morning, and it got better as the grip levels improved. I think we have done the job we needed to today, and we are in good shape.”

Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (5th, +0.385s):
“It’s great to be in Monaco and to drive an F1 car here. Every year I drive a car that’s faster than the one the year before, so that’s promising for 2007! I really enjoyed today. It was a shame about all the red flags, but you have to expect it in a place like this. It messed up our programme this afternoon and prevented us from pushing for the fastest time, but we’re still up there so I’m happy.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (6th, +0.800s):
"A bit of excitement for me at the end of the first practice. I went out with less than one minute to go to complete an installation lap and a practice start. However there was a small fire which caused some damage – a bit more than necessary as the Fire Marshals were hesitant until I took the fire extinguisher myself. The team did a great job in making the necessary repairs and I was able to get some running in half way through the second session. I'm pleased with what we have achieved so far and we look competitive, but there is still along way to go."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (7th, +0.814s):
“We are in a strong position after today. We tried the Michelin tyres in the practice sessions, and made some good preparations for the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car is already very good, and we only need some small changes to get where we want to be. The lap times were very consistent as well, so I think it looks promising for the rest of the weekend.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (8th, +0.963s):
“It’s encouraging to get up to speed on the track today, evaluate the car and not touch the barriers. I had a little concern regarding the handling of the brakes at the start, but we’ll get a hold on that by tonight.”

Jenson Button, Honda (9th, +0.996s):
"It's been tough all day today and the lap time hasn't been there. On the last run we changed the set-up and it seemed to improve the car quite a bit. What you need at this circuit is confidence and I'm getting more and more confident with the set-up of the car here. We still need to work on our competitiveness for qualifying because we are not there yet."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (10th, +1.344s):
“It was not an easy day for us. We have a lot of work to do to be competitive in qualifying and the race. In the two hours of free practice we worked mainly on finding the right balance on the car, as well as assessing the two types of tyre available. We need a tyre that gives us speed in qualifying, but also consistency for the race. Now we will study the data to find the right compromise and this time, we have a whole extra day to look at it.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (11th, +1.418s):
"It is difficult to draw too many conclusions after what was a typical Thursday of practice at Monaco. The grip level was low and it did not improve much during the day. But we managed quite a lot of laps without too much trouble. We tried several different set-ups in order to improve the car but there is still a lot of work to do. Because this is a street circuit, the tarmac always changes a lot over the course of the weekend. So you have to follow that and adjust your set-up accordingly to get the most out of the car for qualifying and the race. Experience is especially important at this track because there is simply no margin for error. Qualifying is always crucial because it is so difficult to overtake but Saturday will be tough because there will be 22 cars out there all looking for a clear lap."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (12th, +1.532s):
"We've been working on the same set of tyres all morning and adapting the car to those old ones, and then later, when we switched to a new set, we weren't sure what would happen. But I got a clear run at the track and the grip improved tremendously, which was a big surprise. In some places, there's still a lot more to come and I think we can squeeze some more speed out of those tyres. I'm really pleased with the job I've done with my engineers, because every time we had a problem we managed to sort it out and make good improvements. Now we have a day and a half to work on it. There's still more to gain, and the other teams are going to be working hard, as well, so we can't afford to sleep. We've got to work hard until Saturday morning to improve even more and get the race set-up right."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (13th, +1.549s):
"I think today has shown that it is going to be very hectic in qualifying this weekend with the traffic. Apart from that the car is running well. It's not fast enough at the moment; I'm lacking a lot of traction and we need to work on our race pace. I'm quite confident that the car is quick and we just need to make sure that it's fast enough for Sunday now."

Giorgio Mondini, third driver, Midland (14th, +1.590s):
"The car was really, really good today. With a few more runs, I think I might even have been able to get the time down even more. The fact that both Tiago and I are on the pace means this performance was not an illusion; the car really has potential. If we keep working hard, I think we can drop our times even lower and be within 2 seconds of the pole time, which will hopefully put us into the second qualifying session for the first time this year. I don't want to speak too early, but this might end up being our best weekend of the year."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (15th, +1.696s):
“Obviously, we cannot be too happy with what we have seen so far, although the results can be partly explained by the fact we used just one set of tyres, unlike many of the other drivers. But I’m not trying to hide the fact that the situation is not looking that good. At the moment we are too slow and we have to study the data to find out why. There is work to do, but we have enough experience to get out of this situation. The new race suit? It’s just for fun, an idea that came to me at the Madonna di Campiglio event this winter. It brings a bit more colour!”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (16th, +1.731s):
“I am happy with what we achieved today. We worked on set up and race preparation and the car was well balanced throughout both sessions. In the second session we saw our times improve, even if our V10 does not seem to have delivered the extra help that some people thought it would do at this track. A good day overall.”

Mark Webber, Williams (17th, +1.837s):
“We got through our programme despite everybody being interrupted in the second session with the red flags but it is the same for everyone. We’ve got a fair bit on to try and find a better balance and some more pace, but it was a normal and uneventful Monaco Thursday for us, which is good.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (18th, +1.886s):
"That was a reasonable day of practice for us but finding grip was a struggle. We still have some work to do on set-up but that is always the case around Monaco because the track surface changes so much. On Thursday here the lap times are less relevant than most other days of the season. This is a narrow track and the challenge is to make it through the weekend without incident. So it is still too early to tell how the TF106B is performing. The new car is a mechanical evolution so it does not have a completely new aero package but it represents a step forward and should bring us results over the coming races."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (19th, +1.938s):
“Driving on this street circuit in a Formula One car is an amazing experience. I completed my first day unscathed, despite touching the barriers slightly on one occasion, which marked my tyres, but this is the best way to make a mistake here! Today has gone okay and we have improved quite a lot during the two sessions, thanks to a number of changes we have made. We now have an extra day without track running to consider all the information we have collected and get ready for qualifying.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (20th, +1.967s):
“The car is fairly competitive here, but due to the problem on Robert’s (Kubica’s) car we had to stop early so we don’t really know where we are yet. We have quite a lot of work to do.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (21st, +2.216s):
“I had a problem with the power steering in the first session, so the car was pretty heavy to this morning. In the afternoon, I did some more runs to get used to the circuit. It’s very challenging here and you can gain a lot of time by doing more and more laps. I still need to work on the car, as I’m struggling with the balance.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (22nd, +2.350s):
“I was quite happy with the balance of the car, but it is unfortunate I was only able to do ten laps. This was a shame as it is very important to do as many laps as possible here in the practice sessions. On the positive side, we were still able to collect some data and also do a few practice starts.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (23rd, +2.513s):
“Driving Monaco for the first time in a Formula 1 car was a very intense experience. Very tough. It’s hard to say where we stand but I’d say we were struggling a bit today. I lost a bit of track time in the first session, so we had to play catch-up a little bit.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (24th, +2.523s):
"We had a rough morning today, no question. We played around with the car set-up but just couldn't find the right combination. But this afternoon, when we switched to the new tyre, it was a completely different car, so obviously that was the way to go. Looking at Tiago's times this morning after he switched, we saw that he was much better everywhere, so we suspected that it was the tyres but we still wanted to carry out a full evaluation. It's a shame that I had a brake pedal issue that we couldn't solve during the session, but I'm sure my mechanics will be able to fix it overnight. The important thing is that we found a lot more grip in the afternoon and I'm sure we'll be ready to hit back on Saturday."

Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (25th, +2.824s):
"This morning we split the tyre choices between Taku (Sato) and me. I had the easier option so that I could clock up some laps and get used to the circuit. They were very comfortable to drive but unfortunately they were only good for relatively few laps, so this afternoon we worked on another tyre option and I think that we found something that is more or less ok. The car is still a bit nervous and is quite heavy on the steering, but we had a productive day and I am finally happy with my lap time."

Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (26th, +3.366s):
“I am a great fan of street circuits so it was a good experience to drive an F1 car here. From the start I think I was on the pace as regards lap times. Unfortunately we never managed to complete our planned programmes in either practice session. We did some important tyre testing, even though the long runs were interrupted by red flags. But then the electronic problem caused me to crash and the session was over for us.”

Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (27th, +3.538s):
“I was on a completely different programme to the other two, running race simulation which is why my times looked slow, but I think I still got some useful data to help the team. Looking at my fuel load and the tyres I was on, I was running a very strong pace, so I’m happy.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (28th, +3.896s):
"It was a good day for the team. My role in today's programme was to concentrate on the race set-up as the track conditions will change considerably before Saturday morning. We will be back to a low-grip surface for the third free practice session as there is no running tomorrow and this is why today was our best chance to experiment with the different set-up options for the race. I am reasonably happy with the car balance and pace today, so I am looking forward to continuing our programme on Saturday."