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United States Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday
Jean Todt: "Ninth pole of the season - six with Michael and three with Rubens - and the fifth race which starts with an all-red front row. These are impressive figures. This time we are especially happy, having achieved this result in the United States, which is the most important market for Ferrari and Maserati. We share our satisfaction with our friends at Bridgestone who, as they have done since the start of the season, have supplied us with fantastic tyres. It was a good qualifying, run in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. Everything is going very well for the team at the moment and tomorrow we will do all in our power to win the race and secure second place in the Championship for Rubens. However, we know we can expect a difficult race, which will be particularly tough on the engines. Strategy will play a vital role."
Ross Brawn: "We had a trouble free session with both cars, except for the fact Michael could have gone quicker but for the yellow flags. Today, we used the same qualifying engine which we had in Monza and it worked very well. Once again, Bridgestone did a super job, bringing a tyre which worked very well today, even if they might have a tougher time tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher: "You never know what to expect from qualifying, because we have often had a big gap to the others on Friday and Saturday morning, but seen the situation change in the afternoon. But today went well for us. I aborted my first run, because I went a bit wide at the first turn and went onto the grass. Maybe I could have been a bit quicker because on my best run I had to back off for yellow flags in the second sector. Ferrari is a very well known name here in the States, which explains the fact we have a lot of supporters here and that made the atmosphere really special this afternoon. I don't expect any problems at the first corner tomorrow, as it is much easier than Monza for example and there is plenty of escape space if anyone needs to use it."
Rubens Barrichello: "After my problem yesterday, it has been a case of playing catch up today. I found it difficult to get the right balance on the car in this session as it seemed to change with every run, possibly due to the track conditions and the wind. You can get to a certain point with the car, but making the last little improvement is the hard part. The set up is always a bit of a gamble here to cope with the fast and slow sections. In the end, I never managed to put together all my best sector times on one lap. But to be first and second is a very good result. I am feeling fine after yesterday's crash when I was lucky that the impact was on the side of the car. As for the car I had today, it reacts well and we will have a good and stable car for the race."
Ron Dennis: "As always we are here to win, and realistically that will be difficult to achieve tomorrow. However our grid positions are respectable and we will work hard to carry this performance into the race."
Norbert Haug: "An exciting qualifying and an excellent job by David. We are the fastest Michelin team, but the gap to the front row is still quite big. Kimi certainly had the potential to be higher up the grid if he could have started the session in his race car."
David Coulthard: "It’s nice to qualify well here at Indianapolis and hopefully we should be able to perform in tomorrow’s race. The nature of the track means that it’s a real challenge to get all the sectors to fit together. At the end of my last run, I lost about one tenth of a second in the last sector, so it might have been even closer. Now we are aiming to maintain the pace in tomorrow’s race, where tyres will be play an important role."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I’m a little disappointed with sixth place. The fact that I had to use the T-car didn’t help. The team did a great job in repairing my race car following my incident in the second practice session this morning, and the car was ready when I came back from my first run. However, we decided to continue using the T-car for consistency. My second run was the fastest and I was even quicker on my third, but I had to slow down due to the yellow flags. I’m optimistic for tomorrow’s race as I will be back in my race car."
Sam Michael: "It is obviously disappointing, especially if we look at the gap to the Ferraris. We thought we could have done better here, but this is where we are with our car. We will now concentrate on our race preparation in order to make the most of our grid positions. It will be a tough race tomorrow."
Gerhard Berger: "It was clear this morning already that we didn't have a chance to start our race from the first row and that it would be difficult even to achieve the second row. This outcome was not really unexpected. The McLarens will also be challenging us tomorrow in the race. Whoever will be quickest tomorrow with low downforce race set-up in the infield section of the track will probably decide the race. The most important factor for us is getting both cars to the end and scoring some points in order to secure our second position in the Constructor's Championship."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "Not the qualifying session result I was expecting at all. It is disappointing and very frustrating especially because I was in third position until the last moment and then I lost it by one thousandth of a second. Tomorrow I am starting my race from the dirty side of the track and this is not really helpful. But this is racing. Today we just could not get a good balance. I think at the moment we just haven't got the speed to beat Ferrari."
Ralf Schumacher: "We cannot be happy, of course. It is very difficult to find the right balance for the car here. I had continuous set-up problems. The tyres were all right and I think they are also looking quite good for tomorrow. Anyway, it is going to be a very difficult race for us."
David Richards: "Jacques did a great job to qualify 7th today after a difficult practice this morning. He steadily improved throughout the session and starts tomorrow’s race from his best grid position this season. Olivier was less lucky. His session started well but he lost out to traffic and suffered with major oversteer on his quickest runs. We still have some work to do to optimise our race set-up but we have a very good chance of securing another points finish tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve: "I’m very pleased with 7th. After yesterday’s session I felt we had the potential to make the top 10 but we had a mechanical problem this morning which cost me practice time and I really didn’t get enough running to feel too confident about qualifying. As it turned out, the car felt good from the start. We made changes with every run and steadily improved throughout the session. It looks like oversteer is going to be a big problem for a lot of drivers tomorrow though. The asphalt characteristic causes you to slide a lot and you use up all the grip very quickly, so we’ve got a lot of work to do on race set-up to make sure the tyres don’t ‘go away’. I don’t know what kind of race it will be but I’ll try hard and hopefully get into the points at the end of it."
Olivier Panis: "The tyres reacted differently in each of my runs this afternoon. I had major oversteer on my first run but I improved a lot on my second. Then I would have gone quicker again on my third run had I not been blocked on my quick lap. However, considering how the car has been all weekend, I can consider myself lucky to qualify 12th today."
Denis Chevrier: "The week-end is continuing to be productive: we have had no problems and after correctly anticipating the effect of the change in conditions from this morning, we managed to perform roughly according to our expectations. It is disappointing to see such a gap between the drivers, but that just goes to show how difficult it is to fine-tune the set-up here. We go into tomorrow's race with the real hope of being competitive."
Pat Symonds: "As we have seen in the past, qualifying times in Indy are quite close and a small difference can mean a lot of grid places. This is in fact what we have experienced today, with Jarno achieving a satisfactory position in a car that was working well while Jenson struggled to find the balance he required, which is reflected in his position. However it is a hard race and our car is good on fuel: there is no reason not to achieve a good result tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli: "I'm pleased with this position and happy for the team. I wasn't happy with the balance this morning and I worked hard with my engineers to improve it. I really think I got 100% out of the car in qualifying. Everything is going very well at the moment and I'm getting on very well within the team. Eighth is definitely a promising result because I think we will be competitive tomorrow in race conditions."
Jenson Button: "I'm not at all pleased with fourteenth. I couldn't find the right set-up on the car: first it would understeer, then get oversteery towards the end of the lap. It feels like I've lost grip with the higher temperatures - I had the same problem yesterday. It's going to be a tough day tomorrow."
Gary Anderson: "We thought we might get in the top eight, but I’m not disappointed because we have the potential for a good race and from ninth it’s possible to score points. We did a lot of work on our start strategy at the last test and we feel it is better now. Takuma lost time yesterday due to a big spin and this morning due to engine failure. It has not been an easy weekend for him but all he can do now is put his head down and get on with it. I’m feeling positive about the race because we are pretty quick on the straight and it’s possible to pass at this circuit."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "As I expected, it was a very tough qualifying session. Although there may have been an opportunity to be a couple of places further forward, I achieved my target. It is important here to get the fastest sector times all into one perfect lap, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it. I am pleased that the car looks reasonably strong in race conditions so I hope that tomorrow will be a good day and that I will score some points."
Takuma Sato: "It was a difficult day. The engine blew at the beginning and I lost all of my first session and ten minutes of the second session and it meant I couldn’t use the latest engine spec. The mechanics did a great job of replacing the rear end of the car so quickly and I really appreciate their work. We did our best, but both yesterday and this morning we lost out on valuable time to refine the set-up. For my part, I couldn’t get a rhythm together, so all in all it was a very difficult qualifying. We just have to hope that tomorrow will be better."
Peter Sauber: "It is good to be back in the top 10 with Nick, after all the team's hard work at Silverstone last week. And Heinz-Harald's performance here this weekend is an excellent augury for his full season with us in 2003."
Nick Heidfeld: "To begin with in qualifying the car was not as good as it had been this morning. I had a lot of problems, especially in the first corner. On my first run I locked the brakes there, then on the second I spun. I was surprised that some small changes we had made had such a big adverse influence. We made some more changes and the third run was okay, and finally on my last one I managed a good improvement. Things weren't perfect, but we are back in the top 10 and that was our aim, so I'm pretty happy with that."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I think we did a pretty reasonable job today of getting the best out of both cars. I have to say, however, that initially in qualifying I was surprised to have oversteer after suffering from understeer this morning. Eventually we managed to get rid of most of it by making small changes to the car during the session, and I think we can do a good job in the race tomorrow from the starting positions we earned this afternoon."
Niki Lauda: "To say that we are disappointed is a gross understatement. The words ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ also come to mind and until we conduct a thorough review of our performance, it is difficult at this stage to understand why we have lost so much grip compared to the running we did yesterday and earlier this morning. Eddie, for example, is almost seven tenths slower compared to the morning warm-up session and taking into consideration the rise in track temperature that normally helps generate more grip, we are at a loss to understand the reasons for today’s disappointing performance. I can only assume at this stage that we have not extracted the best from the tyres and while a points challenge is now very tough, we must focus on getting the two Jaguars across the finishing line tomorrow. As we have seen so many times in the past, reliability can generate rewards and in fact, Eddie finished 5th last year from a starting position of 14th on the grid. Nothing is impossible but we could have done with not making our lives this difficult."
Eddie Irvine: "What a shock! I realised we had problems at the first corner of my first timed lap. As I braked, I lost grip, ran wide and decided to abort the lap. The car was sliding around all over the place and was quite a handful to drive. It was twitchy, unforgiving and simply put, a very different car to the one I drove this morning when I managed a lap time of 1m.11.688s – seven tenths faster than my qualifying time. Having made some changes to the set-up, we stuck a new set of tyres on the car and began the second timed lap. Again, nothing appeared to have changed and once you lose confidence in grip levels, it becomes very hard indeed to approach corners in an aggressive manner. We simply went outside of our tyre window today, but nonetheless, we will be aiming to take full advantage of the Jaguar R3 in race trim tomorrow. I started even further back last year and through a combination of reliability and clever race strategy, we finished in the points."
Pedro de la Rosa: "Eddie’s words pretty much sum up my problem too. It was like driving on an ice rink out there and given how good the grip levels were this morning, I cannot believe we have gone backwards in qualifying. The increase in track temperature should have given us better grip levels but instead, it got worse. The car was sliding around under braking, through the corners and to be completely honest, it doesn’t make any sense to me. There is nothing more to add than this. We now have a tough race ahead of us and we’ll do our utmost to take something away from what has been a very strange weekend so far."
Keizo Takahashi: "We made no major changes to either of the TF102s since this morning's free practice sessions, but both drivers struggled a lot in qualifying to find a good feeling in the cars. It was a difficult session and we will sit down this afternoon to find the root of the problems and make the necessary modifications before tomorrow. We are starting quite far back for the race so we have a real challenge on our hands."
Allan McNish: "We certainly improved the car balance from this morning's practice session, however we struggled with understeer throughout the qualifying hour. Having said that it was consistent and we will be in reasonable shape for the race tomorrow. Everyone put in a great effort to get the best out the car today and I am hoping for better things tomorrow."
Mika Salo: "The car this morning was relatively good and we only made minor changes in the afternoon. But in qualifying the car completely lost grip and my best time was over half-a-second slower than this morning. Clearly we had something wrong, but we'll have to find out exactly what. The wheel sensor broke on my final run so we lost a final opportunity. We have plenty of positions to make up tomorrow so we will have to reduce the downforce level to make the car go faster on the main straight to give us the chance to overtake."Paul Stoddart: "A solid effort from both KL Minardi Asiatech drivers in today’s qualifying session sees them line up in 18th and 20th places for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix. Despite having only one flying lap, Alex set a competitive time that ensured he qualified comfortably for the race, while Mark, who was effectively driving a completely different car compared with this morning due to an engine and gearbox change, recorded a blistering time on his final run and starts from a well-deserved P18. It’s worth bearing in mind that both drivers qualified less than two seconds away from a top-10 position today, and that definitely bodes well for the race."
Mark Webber: "This was the most difficult qualifying session of the year for us in terms of getting what we wanted from the car. Normally, we have a good grip on things by the time we go into qualifying. Due to the problem we had in practice, though, it meant the last time we ran on new tyres before qualifying was at 9:30 this morning, and the track conditions changed completely in between. It really was a different race track this afternoon, and although I would have liked to qualify in the 1-minute-12-second-bracket, under the circumstances, the result was good. It is also a great tribute to the guys that we start ahead of Salo’s Toyota tomorrow, bearing in mind they did a complete engine and gearbox change between practice and qualifying."
Alex Yoong: "It was a mixed session for me, really. I thought I could have out-qualified Mark today, or at least matched his time. I felt good in the car and had a good first run. I tried to go a bit quicker in the second run, but the car got on the grass, which was very slippery, slid and hit the barriers. I had two more runs, but as I was easily inside the 107 per cent qualifying threshold and it would have taken time to prepare the spare car, we decided it would be best to save the last two set of tyres in order to use them in the race tomorrow."