Qualifying - selected driver quotes 30 Sep 2006
Rain made for an eventful qualifying session in China, with the times suggesting Michelin had the edge over Bridgestone in the wet conditions. All 22 drivers reflect on Saturdays action on the slippery Shanghai track and try to predict their pace for Sunday's race.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 44.360s):
It is fantastic to be back on pole for the first time since Canada. It was a difficult qualifying session, very busy and very complicated for all the drivers, but the Michelin tyres were fantastic and gave us exactly what we needed to do the job. Looking for tomorrow, nothing is certain with the weather, but I am confident we can be competitive in both conditions. We havent done much dry running yet this weekend, but from what we have seen, the car seems to be very competitive. If it is wet, we know we are quick - but also that many more things can happen. Obviously, this is a great team result when the championship is so tight, but we havent done the job yet. I will stay focused, concentrate on doing a good race - and race for the win.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (2nd, 1m 44.992s):
The car has been quick all weekend, and I am really pleased to be on the front row with Fernando. This is a great result for me because I am in a good position to catch up (Felipe) Massa in the championship, and for the team it is the perfect starting point. The conditions were very tricky during the session, and I spun in the second session - so the pressure was on to get my lap done. After that, it was a question of repeating the performance in the third part, and making the most of the opportunity to qualifying at the front. I think we have a strong strategy and good performance in all conditions. I am looking forward to a very competitive race.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (3rd, 1m 45.503s):
Im thrilled to be back in the top three qualifiers again, especially after such a difficult session. This is a great result for the team with Jenson and I in 3rd and 4th and setting exactly the same lap time. It was pretty treacherous out there and at times it was just impossible to push. When I did I spun off and thankfully the gravel slowed me just enough for me to land on the grass. I was able to keep the engine running so I could keep going. Aside from that moment were looking pretty competitive in the wet and in the past the race has come my way many times in similar conditions. If thats the way the weather plays out Ill be happy but we have a car that works well either way.
Jenson Button, Honda (4th, 1m 45.503s):
Im very happy with todays result, especially with Rubens and I posting exactly the same time. Its been a very interesting day in which the Michelins are clearly very strong in the tricky conditions. Its pretty slippery out there which made it tough going, but were looking good I think and I have a good strategy so we should be able to look forward to a great race, especially for the fans.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 45.754s):
"It was a bit of a lottery in qualifying as it was really wet and slippery on track. However we did what we could and fifth is not too bad considering that I had traffic in the final corner which cost me a few tenths. The interesting thing will be to see what the weather will do tomorrow. I lost my mirror during the final qualifying session but didn't notice it, and it had no effect. Now we will see what happens in the race."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (6th, 1m 45.775s):
We did the best we could in these conditions as our chances were damaged by the rain and sixth was the best I could do. You could call it a damage limitation operation. We still have the race ahead of us and from the third row of the grid, we can still aim for a good result, given that in the dry, we have proved to be very competitive. This qualifying session has not compromised my chances of winning the world championship. Apart from tomorrows race, there are still two Grands Prix to go and everything is still possible.
Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (7th, 1m 45.877s):
"A very eventful qualifying where I was constantly battling to stay on track, and had a lot of near spins. At the start of my flying lap when my Michelin tyres were at their hottest and had the most grip I was blocked by a car exiting the pit lane. I had to run wide to avoid a collision, and it was about three corners before I was able to get past by which point my tyres had cooled off. However in general I'm happy with the performance of our car and the Michelin tyres which is why we were consistent timing wise throughout qualifying, which is always encouraging."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (8th, 1m 46.053s):
Eighth position is a good result. Before the qualifying I didnt really believe we would make it into the top ten here. But then it went very well. The weather was good for us because the Michelin tyres are an advantage in the rain. In the second and quickest qualifying segment I was fourth, therefore, I was hoping for more in the final session. However, then the track was drying more and more and this didnt help our car. The important fact is we made it with both cars into the top ten and Toyota, our nearest competitor in the constructors championship, is a long way behind.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (9th, 1m 46.632s):
For me this is the fourth time in four Grands Prix in the top ten. It was a good qualifying, especially as we had a small problem on the car this morning, so I couldnt run and my experience at this track is several laps yesterday. The conditions were not easy and, as they were changing, it was difficult to get the right line. However, I think it is not bad for my first time here. We cant realistically expect another podium tomorrow, but we will just have to wait and see what the conditions are like and at least hope to finish in the points.
Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (10th, 1m 48.021s):
That was good. Its good for us when it rains, as it mixes up the grid a bit and the gap to the top teams gets a bit closer. And we did it. Its exciting to get through to the third session and its good to know Im going to wake up tomorrow and go racing. Its the first time Ive run under the new qualifying format and its definitely preferable to last years when it was just one lap, its more exciting for everyone to watch. I think we can do well tomorrow. The weather forecast isnt so good, which can be a help to us and maybe give us a good result.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (11th, 1m 45.851s):
I had a big aquaplaning moment on my first lap, then I spun and hit the wall coming into the pits and the guys had to push the car into the garage to check for damage, so just getting back out there was a surprise. The track was very wet, but the intermediate tyres were definitely the quickest choice except that the slightest bit off line and you were aquaplaning. There were like two little tracks appearing on the surface and you just aimed for them as you were braking and if you missed them, you did what I did. It is a great result for the guys in the team and a strong start position for tomorrow. We always said we wanted a wet race to give us a chance and so Id like it to rain again tomorrow.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (12th, 1m 45.968s):
The conditions werent too bad to be honest. It was quite wet at the beginning of the second session, so I went out on a full set of wets to check what the time loss might be. We then got in a spot of bother but, as with all these situations, it wasnt due to just one thing. The first problem was that the count down in the car stopped working. I didnt have a pit board so couldnt work out where I was relative to the end of the session. There was also a radio problem, so when I was asking for the information I wasnt able to get it. By the time I did come in, there wasnt enough time to change the tyres and go back out. With the benefit of hindsight, all I needed to do was stay out, run round and I would have been quick enough to go through. Obviously I was wanting to get the maximum lap time possible and that caught us out.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (13th, 1m 45.970s):
This was definitely not a good day. First off, I was starting with the handicap that I would be penalised with a ten place drop down the grid after the engine change and then the weather conditions certainly didnt help me. Obviously we are hoping that we wont have a wet race tomorrow, otherwise we will struggle. However, in the dry, the car is good and if those are the conditions we race in, then I can still hope to finish in the points.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (14th, 1m 46.172s):
Unfortunately, there was more water on the track and the grip level changed and the car set-up was no longer quite the right one. Before that the car had been good but the extra rain meant extra oversteer. This was a particular problem in Turns 7 and 8 and I think that lost us the chance of getting into the top ten. I hope the weather stays like this for tomorrow as I think we can be competitive in these conditions.
Mark Webber, Williams (15th, 1m 46.413s):
Qualifying was no real surprise in todays conditions. As we saw in Budapest it is not easy when the track is wet. It makes it tough for tomorrow, even if it is a dry race as there wont be so much rubber on the circuit as we would have liked. Anyway, thats how it is, so we will just have to give our best tomorrow.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (16th, 1m 47.419s):
It was quite difficult out there in qualifying today. Our competitors tyres today were quicker in wet conditions. Where there was relatively less water on the racing line everything felt pretty good and I enjoyed myself, just like this morning when the track was dryer, but with the amount of rain we saw this afternoon, were not quick enough to make it into Q3. I hope tomorrow will be dry and we will perform better.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (17th, 1m 48.894s):
"That was a difficult afternoon for all of us as it was a real struggle for grip out there. Still, both Jarno (Trulli) and I were a bit unlucky with the red flag coming out at the wrong time, just when we were nearing the end of our fastest laps. The track got worse over the course of Q1 and by the end it was too wet to improve our times. There was obviously a lot of traffic too so there was a lot of spray, but that's just the way it is. If you're in the middle of the pack or at the back of a long line of traffic then it is very hard to see anything. But the fact is that in these conditions the other tyre competitor looked strong so we will have a lot of work tonight to prepare for tomorrow. The car was working well as we showed in the morning. It will be a long race tomorrow so hopefully the weather will suit us better and we can move up."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (18th, 1m 49.098s):
"Of course we were not as competitive today as we expected. Still, I could have made it through to Q2 but for the red flag which came out while I was on my quickest lap. Nevertheless, it was clear that we were lacking grip. We went out on the standard wet tyres for our early runs, before switching to full wets for the final runs as the track got wetter. We were right at the limit so it was a difficult choice to make. By the time we went out after the red flag the track was very wet and there was no way to improve our time. Obviously we still have some work to do on our performance in these conditions. Tomorrow could still be a wet race so it certainly won't be easy for us but we'll try our best."
Christijan Albers, Spyker (19th, 1m 49.542s):
"In the rain we are just not quick enough so hopefully it will be dry tomorrow. I am looking forward to the race and hope that we can make the best use of the conditions and any events that take place during the race."
Tiago Monteiro, Spyker (20th, 1m 49.902s):
"It obviously wasn't a great day for any of the Bridgestone runners generally but for us especially we had a number of other issues. I felt that with these conditions we could have done a lot better. It's never easy but we will hope for changing conditions again tomorrow; it's at these sort of races where wet weather can be very beneficial for the team."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, 1m 55.326s):
"It was a difficult day for everyone in tricky conditions. During this mornings practice session I tested wet and dry tyres, but we were not comfortable with the evaluation of the wets. It was important that we completed the test though as in the end we had to qualify in the rain. At the end of session we also tested the dry tyre options and completed a few timed laps, which was good because I missed most of the running yesterday. Qualifying was like a lottery, with changing weather and track conditions which made it difficult to pick the right running time, and also a red flag situation. I am taking an engine change penalty on the grid anyway, but, wet or dry, I believe that we are ready for the race tomorrow."
Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (22nd, 1m 55.560s):
"I'm really disappointed with my Qualifying result because I had confidence going into the rainy session from FP3 this morning. During Qualifying we changed our strategy and ran a new tyre evaluation. But on my fastest lap there was a red flag, so I had to come back to the garage. When I went out again there were only three minutes left and with so much water on the track there was no chance to improve on my time. Obviously the lap times are down due to the weather conditions, but my lap time today was not the best that I could have set. Whether the conditions are wet or dry tomorrow, I will just try to do my best."