Qualifying - selected driver quotes 15 Jul 2006
A thrilling climax to the newly-revised qualifying session saw Renault deprived of a front-row start for their home race. Instead Ferrari will start one-two. There were dramas at the end of the grid as well, with Jenson Button and Jacques Villeuve among the big names eliminated in Q1. They and the other drivers explain...
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 15.493s):
I am very happy! Pole position with Felipe starting alongside me - we cannot ask for more! I have to admit I am a bit surprised at the result, especially in light of the fact we started qualifying without much of a reference point after the problems we had this morning in practice. I want to thank all the mechanics, who did a fantastic job to fix the car. The Bridgestones are performing very well. Its great to have repeated the Indianapolis qualifying result, but now I also want to repeat the race result from there, as it is important to pick up as many points as possible. Our aim for tomorrow is obvious: to win.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 15.510s):
This morning I had a clutch problem, which the team was able to fix, but only just before the start of qualifying. A big thank you to the mechanics for doing a fantastic job in getting the car ready in time. The car seems to be working well, it is competitive, as are the Bridgestone tyres. I am very happy to be on the front row for the second time in a row, my third this season. For tomorrow, having new tyres in the race will make a big difference so it will be interesting to see who will have that advantage. In practice we were competitive on used tyres and I hope we can maintain a good pace in tomorrows high temperatures over the long runs so that we can stay in front.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd, 1m 15.785s):
I am pleased with third position, because after Indianapolis I think it is important for me to be among the top cars in qualifying. We knew that Ferrari would be very competitive on a single lap, but I did my maximum today and I am feeling confident for the race. The conditions out there were very hot, and we expect similar temperatures for tomorrow, so we will need to see how the tyre performance evolves - but so far, the Michelins have looked consistent on the longer runs. Qualifying was quite enjoyable today. I had a little battle with Michael in the third part because we both wanted to have a clear track for the fuel burning laps, and it was fun to pass each other. The real business comes tomorrow though. The grip levels will be improving all the way through the race so we need to wait and see how things develop.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (4th, 1m 16.036s):
In the last few months the team has been working really hard and by consequence we have a good car at the moment. We have been quick all weekend and I'm pleased to be 4th here so thanks to all the Toyota team. It looks like the tyres are very competitive as well so thanks to Bridgestone which is also doing a very good job. The change from 20 minutes to 15 minutes in Q3 doesn't really affect anything for the driver, it just means a bit less time for burning fuel. I made a few mistakes on my fastest lap so I probably could have done better. But we have a strong package and everything has gone well here so far so I just hope for another good race tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (5th, 1m 16.091s):
The whole weekend we have shown that the car has been performing well and up to speed, so it has been a good two days for us. I'm sure that Bridgestone again has the upper hand on the tyre front but as a team we have also done a good job. My sessions went pretty smoothly today. I lost a bit of time on my first lap in Q1 due to traffic but the second lap was clear. Q2 went better and I was able to post the second quickest time. My last lap in Q3 was also pretty pain-free and considering the strategy that we have we can be quite satisfied. We are confident about our race pace so now let's see what we can achieve tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (6th, 1m 16.281s):
I am pretty happy with the performance of the car, we could be a little faster and there are a few things that could improve. However, with our Michelin tyre choice I expect a stable race performance, and a podium result is what I am aiming for. Otherwise I had an uneventful qualifying.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (7th, 1m 16.345s):
We have been working with the race in mind all weekend, and I am confident that I have a good race set-up on the car. I had some understeer all around the lap in qualifying that we couldn't get rid of, and that definitely cost me time. But ultimately, the race performance is what counts and I think we are in a strong position with the consistency of our Michelin tyres. I am confident that even from seventh, we can use a good strategy to make up positions and score lots of points. It will be nice to make up some places at the start if I can, but I think things may well unfold in our favour tomorrow.
Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (8th, 1m 16.632s):
That was quite interesting from my point of view, especially towards the end when it gets very busy on track. I could have been a bit quicker, but I had a lot of traffic coming out of the pit-lane as I started my last lap on fresh tyres, and I lost nearly four tenths on the high speed turn three. With this qualifying system, which is new to me, you can not afford to have the slightest problem to qualify at the top. We made some changes to the car and as a result it is handling a lot better than yesterday, so I am looking forward to the race and hopefully scoring some points for the team.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (9th, 1m 18.272s):
I am pleased because it was quite a good qualifying for me today, even if my last flying lap wasnt perfect. Even if I had managed a perfect lap, it wouldnt have made a difference anyway because the gap to eighth place is pretty big. Dropping 10 places because we had to change the engine isnt ideal, but Ive shown in previous races that I can work my way through the field. Our Bridgestone tyres have proved to work well here and that gives us confidence for tomorrows race.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (10th, 1m 18.663s):
On low fuel, the car was very well-balanced, there just wasnt enough speed in the turns to be competitive with the other guys in the final qualifying session. We didnt run new tyres in the last part, as we werent expecting to qualify any higher up. The race will be tough balance-wise I think; tyres are a big issue here, track temperature is high and there are a lot of long corners, so the rear tyres are going to drop off quite a bit. Were starting from a pretty good position, so if we keep out of trouble we may score some points.
Mark Webber, Williams (11th, 1m 16.129s):
We knew it was going to be a pretty close qualifying session and the fact that Nico and I are just on the border of the top ten demonstrates that. I had several good laps but my last qualifying lap was not so awesome. I wasnt quick enough in the last sector so I lost a couple of tenths. No excuses. Lets see how the race goes tomorrow.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (12th, 1m 16.294s):
The balance of the car was quite good. It often happens that we look very good on Saturday morning, but others make bigger improvements for qualifying in the afternoon. Having said that, my personal expectations were not as high as you would expect.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (13th, 1m 16.433s):
That was a good qualifying session for the team actually. I was quite happy with my twelfth position in the end. I did every run on a new set of tyres and was going quicker and quicker. I was happy with the cars balance today, we were also on the right tyres so that was definitely an improvement from yesterday. Hopefully we have a chance for a good race tomorrow - Im quite optimistic.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (14th, 1m 17.027s):
I had a little bit of traffic on section one of my last run but we're just not quick enough. We maybe could have gone a little bit faster but not a lot and unfortunately that was the pace of the car today. We feel that we're missing some grip in the middle of the corner, although actually the balance of the car itself is not so bad. On the long runs we seem to have a good pace so that is something for tomorrow, but we are starting so far back that it will be very tough to get a result from here.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (15th, 1m 17.063s):
Qualifying did not go too well, because we were unable to get the most out of the tyres on our first flying lap. All the same, I was very happy with my final lap which was very good from a driving point of view. So we did both our fastest laps on the second timed lap of each run, which is never a good sign on new tyres. I was surprised, because tyre degradation here is usually very high. Our car is definitely better balanced in race trim, so I hope that pays off big time tomorrow. I reckon we can have a good race pace tomorrow.
Christijan Albers, Midland (16th, 1m 17.105s):
I think we had a reasonable day. Reasonable, but not perfect - perfect would be pole position! Still, I think we are in good shape for the race and should be quite competitive. Bridgestone made a good tyre for us here and I think we chose the right compound, so we should be pretty strong. Maximum attack!
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (17th, 1m 17.164s):
That first part of qualifying was very close. I am disappointed because I got caught up in traffic on my second set of tyres. Actually I was slowed down by David! A shame, as I could have easily made it through to the second part of the session, but today it didn't work out. Traffic in qualifying is always bad and it's just part of the game.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (18th, 1m 17.304s):
This was very disappointing because the car is quick. After this morning we decided to go aggressively with our tyres for qualifying. We took a risk with the choice but I had traffic on both my laps. Starting from the back could really kill our race, but we will still keep working until the end as you never know what happens.
Jenson Button, Honda (19th, 1m 17.495s):
I had my run ruined by traffic today in the first session which is obviously very disappointing. Having said that, the car just wasn't quick enough and we were not on the pace for the quick qualifying lap. It would have been nice to do two new tyre runs in the first session but we didn't have time. It's a shame because this is one of the circuits that I really enjoy but we'll just have to see if we can fight our way through from the back and salvage something from the weekend.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 17.589s):
This has been one of the toughest weekends for me so far. In addition to some technical issues, I've been having serious problems setting my car up the way I like and balancing it to my taste, which is a shame, because I really like this track. I don't understand why we can't get around it, but that's how it goes sometimes - that's racing. I'm also disappointed because I think I could have gone faster in qualifying. On my first flying lap, I was blocked by Coulthard, which is really surprising because he's always the first one to complain about it when it happens to him, so I wasn't expecting that kind of driving from him. On my second lap, I made a few mistakes because, as I said, the car is tricky to drive and I couldn't put in a clear lap. I'm disappointed and sorry for the team, but we need work hard in order to sort out these issues by tomorrow.
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 18.637s):
It was a good qualifying session because this morning I was quite happy about the changes the guys had made to the set-up of the car. The car reacted quite okay to the changes this afternoon and for the first time I could beat my team mate and I am happy with that, especially as it is here at my home Grand Prix in France. So far the car is performing well, so I hope it's going to continue and I will try my best for the race tomorrow.
Takuma Sato Super, Aguri (22nd, 1m 18.845s):
We had a difficult start as we suffered with a mechanical problem this morning which meant that I lost a lot of time during the practice session and I was unable to run the prepared set-up from yesterday. In qualifying I think that we came back well, but I suffered a little bit with low grip, but I believe that I have a strong overall package for the race tomorrow.