French GP: Saturday Quotes
Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:16.449): "I am very happy with this result, not just for myself but above all for the team. It is a pleasure to have taken Ferrari's two hundredth pole even if, at the moment, I have only played a small part in the history of Scuderia. So far, the weekend is going really well but of course we have yet to tackle the most important part which is the race, where anything could happen. The car has always been well balanced and, at least as far as the first lap is concerned, the performance of the two tires is pretty similar, while the harder compound seems to do better over a long distance. If I was not to win, I would obviously be a bit disappointed, but the most important thing is to finish and bring home the maximum number of points, because we really need them."
Felipe Massa (2nd, 1:16.490): "It was a good qualifying, especially the first two parts. In the third one, maybe I went a bit over the limit to try and get out all the potential from the car and I lost enough time to prevent me from doing better. However, I am happy, because we have everything in place to pick up important points for the championship. The F2008 is very competitive on this type of track and we worked in the right direction in terms of fine tuning it. Tire choice for qualifying was not easy but so far, we have been able to be strong in all conditions. I am happy that the team recorded its two hundredth pole position today and it's an honor for me to have made a small contribution to this milestone."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We are very happy with this result. It is very satisfying to have notched up our two hundredth pole, but we must not rest on our laurels. It's the championship points that count and they get handed out after the race. It's true that this gives us the best possible start, but we will have to watch every last detail if we want to bring home maximum points. On top of that, the weather forecast is very uncertain, with a chance that it could worsen just as the race is on."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "A great qualifying, with both cars running trouble-free throughout. So far, we have tackled this race weekend in the best way possible, but we know what really counts is the race. Strategy, tire performance, the work of the drivers and team and, above all, reliability: these will be as usual the key factors. Added to these will be the weather. If it was to rain, we will need to be sharp to react to the various situations that could develop during the race."
Robert Kubica (7th, 1:17.037): "It looks like we are having a difficult weekend. After yesterday's free practice sessions I was expecting us to struggle. The balance of the car is not how I want it to be and my car has a poor overall grip. The gap to the top teams seems to have stayed the same, and at the same time the other teams obviously have made a big step forward. My goal now is to score as many points as possible in tomorrow's race, which certainly will not be easy."
Nick Heidfeld (12th, 1:15.786): "The circuit here in Magny-Cours is completely different to the one in Montreal, and right from the beginning of the weekend here we were not as good as we have been recently. But still we were hoping for a better qualifying. I'm 12th and Robert just made it into the top ten of qualifying - this is, of course, not what we at the BMW Sauber F1 Team expect from ourselves. If I just look at my situation I can see significant progress. I was much closer to getting the best out of the car. There were just hundreds of a second between Robert's and my lap times. I will be starting from 11th because Lewis Hamilton has to move back, and I can choose my fuel strategy for the race. Although even the best strategy doesn't improve the pace, we want to have a good race tomorrow."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Of course we are not happy with the qualifying result. However, we saw in the free practice sessions our car is not as quick as usual. Nick was unlucky today. Although being just six hundreds of a second slower than Robert, he missed the top ten qualifying. Also Robert's qualifying did not run smoothly. We changed from harder to softer tire compounds and then back to the harder ones. In the end, we just missed the second row. We will start the race from sixth and 11th. We will see after the first pit stops what we can achieve from these positions."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "This was a difficult qualifying that turned out to be a game of poker with the tires. We were switching back and forth between the two compounds, but weren't really happy with either. The Option had more grip but less stability than the Prime. We obviously expected a better result. Nick was very close to Robert in Q2 but was just unlucky not to make it to Q3."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:16.840): "The times were very tight today, in both Q1 and Q2, but I made it through to Q3 and was able to set a good time. The car has really improved and so for the first time this season we have the real chance to fight for the podium. The Ferraris are certainly a step ahead, but we will give our maximum to get a good result tomorrow."
Nelson Piquet (11th, 1:15.770): "It's frustrating to miss out on Q3, but we didn't anticipate the behavior of the soft tires which turned out be slower than we thought. But at least we have the chance to adopt the ideal strategy for the race tomorrow and I hope we can benefit from that because it is particularly difficult to overtake here. The times were very close today, but the car behaved well and I think we can be on the pace in normal race conditions, and I will do my best to try and score my first points tomorrow."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A good qualifying session after our strong form in practice earlier in the weekend. Obviously we are thrilled with Fernando's second row starting position and I believe he has a real chance of fighting for the podium tomorrow. And let's not forget Nelson's performance: he was just 0.05s away from making Q3. It's a great effort from him as well."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "We had a good qualifying session today and our result confirms what we were hoping to see. The times in the session were very tight, but we thought we could aim for the top 5 and so with Fernando's performance we can hope for a great race tomorrow. Nelson had a few difficulties with his tires and so will start the race from 10th on the grid with an adaptable strategy which gives him a real chance of scoring some points."
Nico Rosberg (15th, 1:16.235): "I knew it was going to be slightly hard for us here, but to be so far off the pace is quite surprising. If everything had gone perfectly, I may have been in P14, but that's not good enough. We had to compromise our pace this afternoon because of the grid penalty, but that should only have cost us a tenth, not this much. We've had a good car in the last two races, and have been running in the top six, but there are some tracks, such as Magny-Cours, that don't seem to suit our car very well. We started to address this problem at the last test, but it's going to take some time to resolve it. Getting a decent result from P15 would be difficult enough but, with the ten-place penalty, it's going to be even harder. That's just how it is, though, and we need to work out how we're going to play it."
Kazuki Nakajima (16th, 1:16.243): "Being knocked out in Q1 is really disappointing, but there was so much traffic during my last flying lap. Everyone was so close to each other out there and that basically compromised my lap and prevented me from doing any better today. If that situation happens when it's your last chance to set a quick time, it's over. It's now going to be a really tough race for me because it's so hard to overtake round this track, but I will do my best and really try to get something out of it for the team."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering: "A very disappointing qualifying for us today. It's obvious that the car isn't strong here, but equally we didn't get the best out of it this afternoon as we were setting better times in practice with more fuel on board. Hopefully we can pull something out of this tomorrow, but, ultimately, we need to raise the car's performance."
Mark Webber (8th, 1:17.233): "I'm pretty happy with that. Of course you always want a little bit more, but it could also have been worse for us, so it's okay. I had Jarno (Trulli) spinning in front of me on my first flying lap in Q3, so it all rested on my final one - but we got there. We've got both cars in the top ten, which is what want we wanted. Let's see what we can do from there tomorrow."
David Coulthard (9th, 1:17.426): "It's been very close with Renault and also our sister team this weekend, both have been looking very quick, but in the end we have both our cars in the top ten. I have a reasonable fuel load, so I'm pretty happy with my performance today."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A good recovery after a difficult Friday. Both drivers are much happier with the car today. It was a strong performance from both sides of the garage to qualify for Q3 and, lining up in what will become seventh and eighth tomorrow with Lewis' penalty, we think we're reasonably placed. We're looking forward to tomorrow's race."
Fabrice Lom, Renault: "It's a good result for the team to get two cars into Q3. David, after his super podium in Canada, is showing that he's coming back strong, so we can now say we are properly beginning the year. The engines did their duty today - they completed the Canadian race, which is very hard, they did today, but they still have a long job to do tomorrow. We hope that they will have no trouble and we can relax after that!"
Jarno Trulli (5th, 1:16.920): "That was a great qualifying session so I'm really pleased both for myself and for the team to get two cars into the top ten. I didn't expect to be so quick but I've been building up to this all weekend. The car was well balanced and everything went well, particularly my last lap. Early in Q3 I spun because I was pushing hard to find the limit with fuel on board. I didn't panic and I just changed a few settings for the last run. We'll have to see how it goes tomorrow but I have high hopes because so far I've felt even more confident driving the car in race trim. Clearly this is a particularly important weekend for us as we are remembering Ove Andersson and everything he has done for us. This is a good start and we want to dedicate everything we achieve this weekend to him."
Timo Glock (10th, 1:17.596): "Following our problems in practice yesterday, we are happy with this result. But I am still having a hard time with the tires. On low fuel we had a competitive pace that was similar to Jarno but on high fuel loads in Q3 I struggled a bit. So we still have to work to find a better way to manage the tires for tomorrow. Still, this is definitely a positive result today. We have both cars in the top ten which is good for the team who have been working very hard at the track and back in Cologne. Hopefully we can score some points in the race."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "After our difficult qualifying session in Montreal to have a day like this is welcome. It's especially satisfying because we have come here with a major upgrade of the car, both aerodynamically and an evolution in the suspension. So we are obviously very happy to see that has worked well. Timo was struggling a bit yesterday but he and his engineer have done a good job since yesterday evening to bring him back up to the pace today. Now we must prepare for a very hot race tomorrow. We are in very good position with both cars but the race will be all about tire management. It will be very hot and Magny-Cours puts a high stress on the tires. For now we have to thank all the people working at the factory who pushed through all the new parts that we have here. Their good efforts have been rewarded. Now we will work hard to convert this into a fitting tribute for Ove Andersson tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel (13th, 1:15.816): "That was very close and I think we can be happy to have both cars in Q2. I came very near to making Q3 and although I can't say I'm angry, when you get so close it is disappointing not to have done it. My laps were not perfect but they were pretty good. We struggled mainly in the second sector and were unable to improve on that. Overall, we can be happy with the way the car has run with its new package for the first time and I was quite surprised with its pace since the start of the weekend."
Sebastien Bourdais (14th, 1:16.045): "It was very tight today with around half a dozen of us within a tenth and it's at times like these that the smallest thing can make the difference. I was thinking 12th place was doable but the track changed quite a bit as the temperature went up, which accentuated the oversteer we already had in the slow corners. I still have to get the car to my liking as, at the moment it does the two things I don't like: oversteer in the slow turns and understeer in the fast ones! As for tomorrow, if the conditions are stable, then not a lot happens at this race, as it is difficult to overtake and very difficult to stay in touch with the car in front through Estoril. The main thing will be to get to the finish."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "A solid performance and the first time we got both our cars into Q2. We did it on merit without having to rely on mistakes from others. It is the result of the hard work of all of the team, here and at the factory and we must also thank Ferrari for their contribution. I think we can look forward to having a strong race tomorrow."
Jenson Button (17th, 1:16.306): "A very disappointing qualifying session today. The car was well balanced and we are pretty much getting the maximum performance from it, however unfortunately our pace reflects where we are at this track. My last run was slow as I was called into the weighbridge and then had to wait in the pit box as there was not enough time to go back into the garage before my final run. That meant that my tires had cooled down which compromised my lap, although I don't think we could have improved enough to go through to Q2 anyway. Hopefully we can be more competitive in race trim but it's disappointing and unexpected as we thought that the car would perform better around this circuit."
Rubens Barrichello (18th, 1:16.330): "A pure lack of performance from the car today. The lap times have been very close all weekend but unfortunately we are at the lower end of the grid. We are really pushing the limit of the car to try and achieve more pace but it is evident from how close Jenson and I have been all weekend that there is no more to come from the car. Having achieved a good balance after practice, it's hard to accept the lack of pace, but we just have to try and do our best from here and see what the race will bring."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Unfortunately, it is not the case that anything went wrong, as such. We felt that we had made good progress overnight and had effectively addressed the handling issues of yesterday. The cars were well balanced with no obvious problems and the closeness of the two drivers reflects the fact that unfortunately that is the pace of the car. As always, the middle order is extremely competitive and we needed 0.3s to make it through to Q2. However, it doesn't seem that we could have found that time in the car today. On paper this is a track which should play to our strengths much more than Montreal, so we have been rather surprised and disappointed. Magny-Cours has always been a little unusual in terms of set-up and we have to hope that our pace deficit is specific to this race and that our form will return for the next few races. Considering how close the grids are then a few tenths in performance can make a huge difference in position. We hope that our forthcoming developments will mean we can still look forward to a competitive second half of the season. For now though we feel a little more confident in our race pace, so our focus is doing what we can to improve the car for tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (19th, 1:16.971): "It was a difficult qualifying session for us as the whole field is very close. We did three single lap runs, one on the harder tire and two on the soft, to try and get the most out of the tires and the car felt better balanced than this morning. We still have some understeer issues, particularly when it gets hotter as it did this afternoon. We will have to see for the race now as we know that we are more competitive under race conditions."
Adrian Sutil (20th, 1:17.053): "The general balance of the car was OK and it was quite nice to drive particularly after the problems we had yesterday, but it's so close. We need to improve so that's why we're at the back of the grid for now. We know though that our race pace is good compared to the others and we can stay with them so now we need to concentrate on getting to the end of the race and having a good finish, that's what is important."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "I think we have to face facts that Formula One is incredibly competitive this year and to get through to Q2 here in Magny-Cours you had to be within a second of the quickest time. We are pretty much where we expected to be this afternoon and both drivers got the most out of the car and the session. Adrian did a good job to match Giancarlo, particularly after his difficult weekend so far. As we know, our race pace is usually very good compared to the group in front and we need to have a good reliable race and get two cars to the finish to see what places we can pick up."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:16.693): "I have to apologize to the team for making a couple of errors on my final runs in Q3. I felt more confident on the prime tires but went wide at Turn Seven on the first run because I was pushing to try to get the best out of the car. It was a little bit disappointing and, while my grid penalty doesn't exactly hang over me, it doesn't help - but I'll take it on the chin. Overtaking is going to be tough on Sunday but I'm confident we're going to be quick. And, as always, I'll be pushing as hard as I can to score as many points as possible for the team."
Heikki Kovalainen (6th, 1:16.944): "The traffic meant I couldn't put together a clean opening lap in Q1, so we did a second run just to make certain. For Q2, I found a good balance with my car and felt more confident going into the final session. I didn't feel any problems throughout today's sessions, but minor things prevented me from being quicker in Q1 and Q2. Owing to the penalty I was given following the mix-up with two other cars, I will start 10th; not ideal, but it's perfectly possible to score points from there and that's what I intend to do."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Today's qualifying session was quite a challenging one for Lewis, since neither of his quick laps was perfect. Had be been able to string together an optimum lap, it's clear that he would have been capable of being quickest. Having said that, despite knowing that he would be relegated ten grid places, we decided not to sacrifice a good race strategy in our efforts to be fastest and thereby line up 11th. So, bearing in mind that he's still 13th despite having carved out what by his own admission was a sub-optimal lap, he clearly has the potential to record a good race result. Heikki, too, is in a pretty good position, despite his penalty. Again, it was one of those things: he and Nakajima tried to stay out of Webber's way, but in their efforts to do so there was a bit of positional confusion and nowhere left for him to go. The result was that he compromised both his own and Mark's laps. We have no objection to his penalty, and look forward to an exciting and challenging day tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A difficult qualifying session, and the race will certainly be no easier. Tomorrow we will try to score points and compensate as much as possible for our handicap after Lewis's ten-place relegation and Heikki's five-place relegation. Both Heikki's and Lewis's race speed and strategy should be good."
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