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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 09 Sep 2006

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 wonders if he qualified second; but he didn't.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2006 Christian Klien (AUT) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren celebrates his pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2006

With one of Renault’s worst qualifying performances of the season and Nick Heidfeld third on the grid for BMW Sauber, Saturday’s session was anything but predictable. Here all 22 drivers talk about how they fared…

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (1st, 1m 21.484s):
"A good weekend for us so far. I'm pleased to be on pole position, and it wasn't even a particularly good lap as I had two big moments in Ascari. I was not here at the test last week, but the team, Pedro and Gary did a fantastic job, and we have a very good tyre from Michelin. The race tomorrow will be tough, but we will certainly give it our best shot. I'm confident that Michelin is well prepared for the race. The car has been working well, and I want to remain at the front and look forward to achieving that."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 21.486s):
“The car worked well, running strongly and consistently and this is a good position to be in. But, it would have been nice to be on pole here at home in front of the tifosi and it was very close losing it by just two thousandths of a second, but tomorrow is the more important date. I am also happy for Nick, as it is nice to see another German on the qualifying ‘podium’. Fernando? Of course it is better than if he was next to me or in front of me! It does not look too bad for the championship and it would be nice if tomorrow’s result was like today’s or hopefully even a little bit better.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (3rd, 1m 21.653s):
“This was pretty unexpected. The recent test was not bad, but we didn’t know how we would go once we got here. I think this is my best qualifying lap of the year, although I lost time in the second sector. We opted for low downforce and it suits our car. Before we were quick in practice, but could not carry it over to qualifying. We have seen a change of trend in the last two races as we have been able to take this speed over to qualifying. I had a well balanced car and we made a good tyre choice, which was not easy as both types of tyres we have are good. The race will be difficult, but as I am starting third my aim is to finish third! As a new team we are very, very happy.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, 1m 21.704s):
“Fourth place is not so bad, but it’s a shame I was unable to exploit the full potential available to me. In fact, on Q3 on my last run, I came up behind Alonso who was also setting out on his quick lap. I lost at least three tenths! It’s a shame, because I felt capable of putting it on the front row. But, having said that, I think that our strategy and our package we can expect a good result, which will be vital in the fight for the two titles.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 21.829s):
“It was a day when I was lucky and unlucky. Obviously, the puncture cost me a chance to fight for the pole, with the damage it caused to the rear of the car. But equally, we had this problem at a circuit where we are competitive, and we can make up positions in the race. Things got very tight towards the end of Q3, and I had to really push to the limit on my out-lap to make sure I crossed the line in time. In the end, I did it with two seconds to spare. To qualify fifth after our problems is a strong start, and we know that our race pace is extremely competitive. Overall, once the damage has been fixed overnight, I think we can have a very strong race.”

Jenson Button, Honda (6th, 1m 22.011s):
“I’m really pleased with how qualifying has gone today. We were a little bit apprehensive because we didn’t get to run any new tyres in free practice this morning and when I went out in qualifying one there was a red flag, so we still hadn’t run any new tyres by the end of that session. I got through Q1 and Q2 though and in Q3 the long run pace was very good, which bodes well for tomorrow. On one lap we still couldn’t get a strong lap out of the car until my last qualy run when I put it 6th on the grid. I’m happy. I got everything I could out of the car and the most important thing is that we know we are competitive for the race, so a similar story to Turkey really.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (7th, 1m 22.258s):
“This was another good qualifying for us. In all my three F1 race qualifyings I was in the top ten times, but I ruined my last lap time. At the first Lesmo I went wide and with the tyres dirty I was sliding a lot in the second Lesmo. I’m pretty optimistic for the race as I believe we have chosen the right tyres.”

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (8th, 1m 22.280s):
"A very good qualifying for Kimi, the team and me. I was lucky not to have any traffic in my runs and I'm relieved as I just made it into the final session on my last run, and it was a bit too close for comfort. The balance of the car was excellent even with the lower downforce configuration that we ran today. I'm looking forward to a strong race tomorrow."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (9th, 1m 22.787s):
“Qualifying went well today considering that I didn’t do any running on Friday, so a top ten finish with both cars is pretty good. Our race pace is good and I think we’re quite confident with the strategy, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (10th, 1m 23.175s):
“I am only starting tenth, but I am still feeling confident. The car gets better and better on the long runs thanks to the Michelin tyres, and we know that will be of real importance in the race. I had a slightly inconsistent balance on my flying laps in the final part of qualifying, but it did not cost me a huge amount of lap time. Today's qualifying session was focused more on the race than on pure one-lap speed, and that makes me more optimistic that we can gain positions in the race.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (11th, 1m 21.924s):
"I'm disappointed to have missed out on the top ten but we just didn't quite have the performance this afternoon. Still I'm really happy about the job I did in qualifying and I don't think I could have got anything more out of the package. This morning I seemed to be short of top speed and while we improved that for the afternoon it wasn't quite enough to make it into the top ten. Still it will be a long race tomorrow and I always enjoy racing in front of my home fans. I have always been competitive around Monza but often missed out on results. So I will push as hard as I can and hope to turn that around."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (12th, 1m 22.203s):
“I was pretty happy with the car, it felt good and I thought I could achieve a good grid position, maybe as high as 7th or 8th. I went into Q2 and normally the oversteer goes away as you go further into qualifying and we usually get stronger and stronger, but today the car went the other way. As the track changed during the session, I found myself lacking rear grip. However, we have good tyres for the race tomorrow and I am confident we can get a positive result.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (13th, 1m 22.280s):
"That was certainly a bit more difficult than we expected although we already had some problems during practice. Our car has been difficult to drive this weekend and lacking in consistency and that's why we had a disappointing result in qualifying. After the heavy rain overnight the track was very low on grip during this morning's practice session. That continued for me in qualifying and I struggled to find the right balance in both sessions. Still, we can learn a lot from what happened today and tonight we will need to check what the problems have been. We have a long race tomorrow and it's possible to overtake around here. Last year we made up a few positions in the race so let's hope we can make up ground again on Sunday."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (14th, 1m 22.589s):
“I think we’re all disappointed with our rate of development, and we’re firmly at the back of the main group of cars on this type of circuit. Efficiency is very important here, which involves how closed you can keep the car to cool it, whilst making the car as slippery as possible on the straights and generating as much downforce as possible in the corners. Unfortunately, this type of track tends to highlight some deficiencies of our overall package.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (15th, 1m 23.165s):
“To be honest I was quite surprised to get through to Q2 here. P15 at Monza is not bad and if there are some reliability issues for others tomorrow, then maybe we can have a good race. The balance of the car has been pretty good since last week’s test here and it is just in terms of our overall performance that we are losing out. The engine feels okay, pulling reasonably well down the long straight. I noticed there are more Americans in the crowd here than usual at a European race which is nice to see.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (16th, 1m 22.898s):
“I’m disappointed with that qualifying session. I hit the second kerb in the chicane a little too hard and lost the car when I was coming down from the kerb, I spun off and the engine stopped. We’ll have to check the data to see why it stopped. It’s frustrating, as we could have got a little higher than 16th I think. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and very challenging from this position.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (17th, 1m 23.043s):
“Since yesterday, I’ve had problems with the car set-up and that continued today. That is a shame as without that I think we could have made it through to the second part of the session. Obviously here on this fast track, the V10 suffers a little bit, but even so, tomorrow I plan to give it my best shot here, especially for all the home fans.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (18th, 1m 23.116s):
"I was expecting this to be a tough weekend, because everybody knows that top speed is not our strongest characteristic. But surprisingly, we're doing OK. True, we're 18th, which is nothing to celebrate, but if you look at the times, we are quite competitive. Going into tomorrow, we still have some new sets of tyres and we'll use them to maximum advantage in the race. We worked on our race set-up while we were here testing last week, so I think we will be fine tomorrow. I am very pleased with the hard work that the team has put in. All the mechanics, engineers, and people from Toyota have done a good job, so now it's up to Tiago and me to deliver the best result we can."

Mark Webber, Williams (19th, 1m 23.341s):
“It was a tough session for me today - I’ve never had too much of a problem with qualifying in the past, but today I couldn’t find the car for some reason. I was struggling for pace and couldn’t get close to Nico, even though I had saved new tyres for qualifying so it was a surprise - not quick enough, it’s as simple as that!”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 23.920s):
"I'm very disappointed with our qualifying performance today. We got hit by a couple of braking problems that we're working on solving at the moment. The balance and set-up are fine, and I was able to drive clean laps, but these little issues require further investigation. It's crucial that we get on top of them by tomorrow if we are to have any chance of having a good race."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 24.289s):
“It has been a disappointing day. We completed our test here last week and did everything we could, but the car has just not been quick enough this weekend. The team has worked really hard and I believe that we have got the best performance out of the car, so from that point of view I am satisfied, but we need to improve. Having said that the free practice session this morning was encouraging, the long run pace was strong and so I think that we shall have a better day tomorrow and should have a strong package for the race.”

Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (22nd, 1m 26.001s):
“We completed a good preparation session for qualifying this morning, but unfortunately, on the second lap of my first run this afternoon, I got a puncture in my left rear tyre before Parabolica. It is disappointing as I could not go out for my second run, but still I am looking forward to tomorrow.”