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Qualifying - selected driver quotes 15 Mar 2008

Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren (Right) in parc ferme with Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren (Left).
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 15 March 2008

With world champion Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari stumbling at the first hurdle, qualifying in Melbourne was an exciting time, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton eventually ending the day on pole. All 22 drivers report back on Saturday’s action…

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (1st, Q3 - 1m 26.714s):
“I couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season, and it’s great to see Heikki (Kovalainen) and my friend Robert (Kubica) doing well, and the team has done a super job in getting all the necessary parts ready in time. During Q1 I was held up in traffic, but everything just came together when it mattered in Q3. The track conditions were a bit easier today compared to yesterday as it wasn’t as hot. I think the start will be interesting tomorrow due to the change in regulations. Last year it was relatively easy where as now it’s dependent on the driver, so I want to get that right. Fortunately I am starting from the clean side of the track for once, and hopefully that will help a bit, but it will be a long and tough race.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (2nd, Q3 - 1m 26.869s):
"P2 is a great achievement for the whole team, and that's a good start to the season! I took a lot of risks in the second run of Q3, but finally it didn't pay off. I went wide in corner twelve and ran on the artificial grass. This cost me between two and three tenths of a second and maybe pole position. We had quite a difficult day yesterday, but we were able to make a lot of progress. The F1.08 is a very quick car, but quite delicate to set-up and to drive. When I look back on what level we started testing, I have to give a big compliment to the whole team in Munich and Hinwil. Everybody worked hard analysing the problems and improving the car."

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (3rd, Q3 - 1m 27.079s):
“I am pleased to qualify third, but there is still room for improvement. It was a fairly smooth lap, and the balance of the car felt good. At the end I didn’t nail a perfect lap, but throughout the weekend I have just been taking things steady, not making any mistakes and keep pushing harder and harder. Last year I didn’t make the best start to the season, so today’s result is a great beginning to my career as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. The guys in the team are working so hard, staying at the track until the early hours this morning fixing a small problem with the gearbox - that is dedication for you. I think we are looking strong for the race, and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, Q3 - 1m 27.178s):
"I failed to get the most out of my final set of tyres for the day, because I had traffic on my out-lap and this meant I was unable to get the tyres up to temperature. I am happy with the handling of the car, which is well balanced and we know we can run at a good race pace. It will be a very tough race, especially as we can expect high temperatures. Anything can happen and I think I can fight for the very top places."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (5th, Q3 - 1m 27.236s):
"I am very pleased although I missed P4 by only hundredths. The entire qualifying went smoothly, it is a superb result for the team and better than expected. After our initial tests with the F1.08 hadn't been very good we kept saying that we are working very hard and would make good progress. This is what became obvious today, and it is a great reward for everybody's effort. I believe this was the first step in the direction we want to go this year. I'm very much looking forward to the race. Without traction control the start will be especially exciting and over the race distance I expect Ferrari to be stronger than today."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (6th, Q3 - 1m 28.527s):
“Sixth place is a good start to the season so the result is satisfying. But it was quite a difficult qualifying session and I’m still not completely happy with the set-up because I wasn’t able to get the most out of my lap. We’ve also been struggling more than we expected with the tyres here. So I feel there is more potential to come. Our race package is good so I am positive and optimistic for tomorrow. I just hope we can do a good race. Our long runs have been strong with this car during testing so I’ll cross my fingers. I’m really fired up for the season and confident that we can get some strong results.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (7th, Q3 - 1m 28.687s):
“I am pretty happy with today’s qualifying as we very nearly got the best out of it. I felt that coming here would be fantastic as I hoped we could be the best of the midfield and so we measured up against this expectation. We had a difficult start to the weekend yesterday and we didn’t show what we are capable of, and we still have a little bit to come. So, overall, I am happy and we have a really good position for tomorrow to try and score some points. It’s going to be a tough race though for all the cars and I am sure there will be a few problems up and down the field, but I am confident we’ll do okay.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (8th, Q3 - 1m 29.041s):
“It was quite tricky out there, especially on the prime tyres. I think there’s going to be some variation during the race when car’s run between the two tyre types. We expected to get into the top ten today, but I would have preferred to have felt that I could attack a bit more with the car. If I push then the car’s quite unstable on the bumps. All our concentration is on the start line now, as it will be interesting to see what happens without traction control.”

Timo Glock, Toyota (9th, Q3 - 1m 29.593s):
“That went well for my first qualifying session back in F1, and I’m happy to have made it into Q3. Unfortunately we had to change the gearbox after morning practice so that will cost me five places, but the afternoon went better. Q1 was tight, then the red flag in Q2 disrupted the session but my last lap in Q2 was a good one. I lost a couple of tenths in turn 9 but I made it into Q3 with a really good last sector. Overall the car was good and I am quite happy with it, so it was a good job by the team.”

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (10th, Q2 - 1m 25.842s):
"In one sense this was a good session as I had a strong pace in Q2. I had a good lap at the end of it. Unfortunately, a technical problem meant I could not take part in Q3, but whatever happens I plan to attack to the maximum in the race."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (11th, Q2 - 1m 26.173s):
"I am really pleased with our qualifying position today. Everybody back at the factory and here at the track has done a great job. It's very tight in the midfield, but if you look back to just over a month ago at our position in testing and compare that with where we are today, you can see the step forward that has been made after a lot of hard work. The car performed well and it's satisfying to know that we have made real progress over the last few weeks. I'm disappointed to just miss out on the top ten but on the other hand from 11th we can choose our own strategy and take into account the weather, so it works out quite well. Today has been a good start to the season for us and now we have to focus on turning this into a good race performance tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (12th, Q2 - 1m 26.188s):
"As expected the times were very close and while I was reasonably satisfied with the performance of my car this morning, a failure of the differential upset the balance and made it extremely difficult to drive. I am sure we can bounce back in the race and we will work hard tonight to make sure that is the case."

Jenson Button, Honda (13th, Q2 - 1m 26.259s):
"The car certainly performed well but unfortunately I lost two-tenths at both turn 9 and the last corner with understeer at the apex which caused me to run wide. It's very frustrating as I was pushing too hard, however the fact that both Rubens and I just missed out on the top ten is certainly encouraging and I'm looking forward to seeing how our performance translates to the race tomorrow. The temperatures are a good few degrees cooler than the intense heat of yesterday and the wind has dropped, which means we can pick up more grip. The track conditions remained pretty much constant today with the grip levels increasing through qualifying as more rubber went down over the course of the sessions."

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (14th, Q2 - 1m 26.413s):
“It was not the best result from qualifying, but at least I took one more step forward from my debut race last year by making it through to Q2. It was more difficult this time round because of the red flag, but it was important for me to take it steady today and trying to find the extra lap time to make it into Q3 would have been quite tough. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Mark Webber, Red Bull (15th, Q1 - 1m 26.914s):
“There was a failure at the front right of the car, which isn’t good. I had a strange feeling in Turn one, but continued to push as it was the qualifying session, but something broke into Turn six. That was it and I was into the gravel. It’s nearly impossible to get into the points now under normal circumstances, because it’s very, very difficult to overtake on this circuit, but I’ll do my best.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (16th, Q1 - 1m 26.140s):
"Clearly I am disappointed. A few corners from the end of my in-lap, I had a problem with the electronic fuel pump which forced me to stop near the pit lane and so it was impossible for me to get back to the garage to try and fix the problem. These things happen, but it's definitely not the best way to start the season. Now we must try to do our best to pick up some points tomorrow, because it is important to score something in every race."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (17th, Q1 - 1m 27.207s):
"Seventeenth, just one place behind the top 16 and Q2, so it is a bit disappointing considering the weekend so far. In the last part of my quickest lap, there was a yellow flag but there was also a lot of graining on the tyres and I lost at least three tenths. But we know we are there and are improving. The team has made a good effort so far – we know we still have a lot of work to do but we are going in the right direction."

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (18th, Q1 - 1m 27.446s):
"The car felt really solid this afternoon compared to the morning when we struggled to put everything together because of the limited running I had yesterday. We made a few changes for the afternoon and I felt we were right on the money. My first run was good on the prime tyre and I was competitive. Then on the first set of option tyres, I had a really good lap until unfortunately I made a mistake at the second to last corner, which ruined it. I had another try towards the end of Q1 but there was a yellow flag which cost me too much time. A shame, as I felt I could have been in Q2."

Adrian Sutil, Force India (19th, Q1 - 1m 27.859s):
"It was not such an easy qualifying as the track conditions were quite different to this morning. The general grip level was lower and I struggled with some understeer with new tyres, but the second run was okay, even though the balance was not great. On my last lap I felt it was going well until the second sector but when I got to the quick left-right chicane in sector three I got a lot of understeer and went wide on the exit. The car jumped and I couldn’t control it and spun. It is a bit sad as maybe I could have caught Bourdais, but we were very close to second qualifying and maybe in Malaysia we could still make that little step. But we are there and are closer than last year, which is a little success already."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (20th, Q1 - 1m 28.208s):
"Very pleased with our performance today and everything went well under the circumstances. We had a tough start to the weekend yesterday, but it seems as though Melbourne has welcomed us back again now. I enjoyed the first qualifying without traction control; the car was a little bit unbalanced in the beginning, but on the third run I picked up more grip and I was happier with the balance and I was able to set a quicker lap. I think that we had a very good day and hopefully we shall be able to finish the race tomorrow."

Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault (21st, Q1 - 1m 28.330s):
"I was not able to do much running throughout the weekend for different reasons, and that was evident this afternoon in qualifying. I am disappointed because I was hoping to do better for my first Grand Prix, but I will try my best tomorrow to move through the field and above all to learn as much as possible."

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (22nd, Q1 - 1m 29.059s):
"It was a difficult qualifying session for me. With a limited number of laps under my belt going into qualifying it was always going to be hard to put the car on the limit like that and we were still doing set-up all the way through the session itself. So it is not the best position to be in, but things will improve and I was up on my last flying lap by about three tenths when the Force India car spun, caused yellow flags and I had to back off. It's just one of those things, but it's a disappointing end to the day."