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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 17 Mar 2007

Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota reads the Red Bulletin.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007

Kimi Raikkonen on his first pole position for Ferrari; McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on his debut Formula One qualifying session; and Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato on beating both Hondas. All the drivers report back on qualifying in Melbourne…

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (1st, 1m 26.072s):
“A great qualifying, but a shame for Felipe who was not able to get the sort of result he should have done. I think our car is more competitive in race trim than over a single lap. Usually here the race can be full of incidents so it’s impossible to know what could happen. If all goes the way it should, then we have a good chance, but it will be important to pick up as many points as possible. Tonight? I will sleep well, as always. Am I worried about Felipe’s gearbox problem? You can never be a hundred percent sure, but I am certain the team will do everything it can to make sure that I have a car in the best possible shape.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren (2nd, 1m 26.493s):
“A great way to start the season for the team and I. We have worked so hard over the winter to get to where we are today and I would like to thank everybody for their efforts. There is still a slight gap to Ferrari but the improvements that have been made since the Bahrain test are fantastic. The car feels good. We made some changes this morning and worked on the set-up to prepare for qualifying and it seems to have worked out well. I'm also pleased that Lewis (Hamilton) is right up there with me which puts us both in the best position to score points for ourselves and the team. I can't wait for the race.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (3rd, 1m 26.556s):
“It is very clearly a fantastic result for us to be third. I was sure we would make it into the top ten but more P5 or something like that. We had a good winter season, but you never know until you get to the first race. As regards reliability I am happier now after speaking to some people in the team, who explained to me what they had done to make everything work. On top of that we did a race simulation in Bahrain which worked fine. The car was not perfect today. In Q2 I was happy but with some fuel on board it was not that easy. From my view Ferrari is still ahead. We will only see tomorrow in the race how things are really going, however, so far I am really pleased.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (4th, 1m 26.755s):
“I'm overwhelmed to be on the second row for my first Grand Prix. A huge thank you to the team who have worked so hard both here at the track and back at base. This weekend is what I have been preparing myself for during the past 13 years and I'm enjoying every moment. I think we are in with a good chance in the race. Basically I want to get a good start and then work hard to score as many points for the team and myself. I'm not going to make any predictions because anything can happen but so far so good.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (5th, 1m 27.347s):
“Performance wise I think we are where we thought we would be, and this is very good news. Also qualifying in general was good. In Q2 I had a very fast first run, but on the second lap I had traffic so couldn’t improve. In the end this does not make any difference to the result. In Q3 I missed my final chance of another lap by just one second. But that’s racing. You have to take the risk, some time you win, some time you loose.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th, 1m 27.634s):
“As always, it was a tough qualifying session, but I feel we didn’t achieve the maximum this afternoon. My position is pretty much as expected, behind McLaren and Ferrari, but I think I could have gained a place or two without traffic on my final timed lap, which slowed me down in the last three corners in particular. We had expected qualifying to be tough because we know the car’s speed on a single lap is not as competitive as the long runs at the moment. Now, we need to wait and see what the race pace is like. We were competitive this morning and yesterday afternoon, so hopefully I can make up some ground at the start - and then fight for the podium.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull (7th, 1m 27.934s):
“I didn’t think I’d be seventh, so it’s great. We lost time with a transmission problem yesterday, but the guys worked really hard last night, did a good job and we’ve got something out of it. We’ve done a lot of testing over the winter break, but it’s always interesting to actually get into the ring at the first race and see where we are. There’s still a long way to go tomorrow, we have to see if we can deliver in the race - it should be an interesting Grand Prix.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (8th, 1m 28.404s):
“We are all very happy because after a difficult winter of testing we came here without the highest expectations. So to have two cars in the top ten is a good result. I put in a clean lap in Q3 even if I must say the lap itself was not great. That means we probably still have a bit more potential in the car. We showed quite a good performance, better than we expected. Obviously it’s not over yet and we need to race and we need to finish to score some points. But now we can look forward to tomorrow’s race and do our best to come away with a good finish.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (9th, 1m 28.692s):
“To come away with 8th and 9th positions is much better than we expected at the start of the session so we are very satisfied. It was not a perfect afternoon for me. We had a gearbox control problem during Q2 so I could only put in one flying lap. Then I made some mistakes on my lap in Q3 so that is why we were pretty average on the times. But it had been a difficult start to the week and the start of the season is usually difficult. So after all that to have both cars in the top ten is a good achievement. We will now do all we can to come away with something from tomorrow’s race. I’ve had some good races here in Melbourne so I hope there can be another one to come.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (10th, 1m 28.871s):
“What can I say, it was an absolutely fantastic team effort. It was a difficult day again as it was spitting with rain and a set-up change took longer than expected in the practice session so we only completed a few laps. During the whole of qualifying the team worked well together, building up the car, step-by-step and things just went the right way. I was always going to be very happy if we made it into Q2, but I never imagined that we would reach Q3 - but we did, and it is a great feeling. Obviously this is just the start of the season, and we have a lot of work to do, so for tomorrow we just hope to have a good race.”

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (11th, 1m 26.909s):
“It was awesome. I felt really on top of the car and what I did in free practice continued on into qualifying. I was really enjoying it and then I went off on my first attempt and I lost a little bit of time. On my last run I lost a lot of time in the last corner and I didn’t set a good lap, but my next two split times were better than Taku, so I'm happy and generally really pleased for the team, but a little bit frustrated that I set my best time in free practice and not qualifying.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (12th, 1m 26.914s):
“It was a bit difficult to get it right today as the car was quite loose, so I couldn’t really attack and I made a few mistakes. It’s unfortunate because it’s about time all our work started to produce some results. Twelfth on the grid is obviously not what we were hoping for as we are all determined to get ahead of where we were last year.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (13th, 1m 26.964s):
“The car was fine and the balance was good, but I just wasn’t able to get the maximum from it on a single lap. I lost track time yesterday and this morning, and my times were a little bit off in every sector. Obviously, this performance is not good enough, but there is no point dwelling on it now. Starting from P13 is not ideal for my first Grand Prix, and I will need to race aggressively to get a points finish. That will be my target for tomorrow.”

Jenson Button, Honda (14th, 1m 27.264s):
"It hasn't been a good weekend for us so far. Today it was difficult to judge how hard to push the tyres. At the start of the lap I was getting understeer because the tyres were not up to temperature, then later in the lap I was getting oversteer as the rears were going off, which just shows the issues that we have. I got the best out of the car today and right now we are where we are. We'll obviously do what we can for the race, then we have some work to do to start addressing the issues we have identified."

Alexander Wurz, Williams (15th, 1m 27.393s):
“It was interesting to see how the qualifying sessions work from a driver’s point of view, I’d have to say it is fairly brutal. Naturally I’m disappointed not to make it into the top ten, but it would have been difficult to achieve this and on my last run I lost three or four tenths at turn 15 when I slid a bit wide. Yesterday we did some strong long runs, so the race is a different story, even if I have to start from 15th.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (16th, 1m 26.712s):
“What happened in qualifying with the gearbox was a shame, given the good car we had and the strong performance yesterday and today. So, we have to hope that this is the first and last time it happens this season. Tomorrow, my main aim will be to bring the car to the finish, trying to move up the order as much as possible. I am still confident because I know we have a car that is very good in terms of race pace. Of course it will be difficult to finish in the top places, but I will give it my best to at least try and finish in the points, going for every opportunity that comes my way.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (17th, 1m 27.679s):
"I was expecting that we would compete in the second session today so I'm disappointed by our performance in qualifying. I had a problem right from the start with the car bottoming out much more than it has been at any other point over the weekend. That is something we have to look at for the race tomorrow. It was very close at the end of the first session with so many cars fighting to get through but unfortunately we just couldn't make it this time."

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (18th, 1m 28.305s):
“The car was no better than yesterday, because we are not going to be able to improve this car until we get some testing behind us. We are throwing darts in the dark and on top of that my qualifying was completely screwed by traffic, when as I came past the pits there were three cars coming out the pits in front of me going into Turn 1. Also on my last lap there was some dirt on the track and I had a moment at Turn 14. Tomorrow, if I can keep the car within the white lines I will be happy.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (19th, 1m 28.579s):
"The first and second sectors of my last timed lap were good, but I came through Turn 15 and there was a lot of dust and dirt on the track, which got on my tyres. I then went in to the last corner, went out of the groove and on to the marbles, so lost all the time I’d gained in the first two sectors. What should have been a fairly easy ‘getting through’ session didn’t prove to be the case. I didn’t expect to be nineteenth on the grid, but that’s the reality, so now I’ll focus on the race and see what we can get out of that.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (20th, 1m 29.267s):
“When I came into the pits there was a problem with my fuel rig and I ended up going out for my second run with no fuel. But this was just one of a host of problems we seem to have at the moment, because unfortunately we had very little testing time before this season. We might have done a bit better without that, as we has to settle for my time in the first run. But I don’t think we would have made it into the second session. We will have to work very hard to try and have a better day tomorrow for the race."

Adrian Sutil, Spyker (21st, 1m 29.339s):
“I'm happy with laps I did and I think I could have even beaten Liuzzi's time, but coming through the last corner someone went off in front of me into the gravel and brought a lot of dust and sand onto the track so I had to be a bit more cautious through the turn. We might be at back but I'm happy with my laps, I didn't make any mistakes and hope for the best tomorrow in the race.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker (22nd, 1m 31.932s):
"I'm disappointed to be this far behind, but I don't think this time is representative of where we really are. I lost first gear in the first session and lost a lot of time when the guys had to change the gearbox, which meant I didn't get a lot of running on the softer tyre that we ran in qualifying. As the tyres are now so important to the set-up and handling of the car, I could not get the best out of my laps."