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2003 San Marino Grand Prix 
What the teams and drivers said - Saturday  

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What the teams and drivers said - Saturday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 3rd )

Jean Todt: "This result makes us very happy. Today, the whole team can afford to smile. It's true that an all-red front row would have been better, but having them in line astern, with one car on pole is also a good sight to see. I am also happy for Ralf, who will start alongside Michael and they will thus be together at this difficult time for them. The qualifying session was very close today, which has not been the case so far this year.
Of course there is still an element of uncertainty concerning how much fuel all the cars had on board. We will only find out tomorrow afternoon. I am happy for the drivers, the race team and the entire Gestione Sportiva who watched qualifying from a specially reserved grandstand and also for our technical partners, especially Bridgestone and Shell. But we still have to face the toughest part of the weekend, which will be tomorrow afternoon's race."

Ross Brawn: "We certainly have not had to compromise our race fuel strategy in order to get this pole position. We are confident we have made the right decision concerning the fuel load we ran and with Michael starting at the front of the field we have the opportunity to do well in the race. We were disappointed not to be able to bring the new car here, but today we have shown that the F2002 is still competitive and we hope to give it a good farewell send off tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher: "Today, what we refer to as the 'old' car proved what it could do and what we knew it was capable of. However, it will be interesting to see what happens depending on today's fuel loads. My lap was not perfect, as I was cautious and eased off a bit in the final sector. From testing here we knew what to expect and it felt comfortable today. It is great to be back on top, especially here in Imola. Some rain is forecast for tomorrow, but we should not fear the weather conditions as I do not think we will see rivers across the track, like we did in Brazil."

Rubens Barrichello: "Qualifying is always difficult when you have a problem so close to the start of the session. As I went off the track during the warm-up I was not able to set up the car as well as possible for qualifying before my run. Taking this factor into consideration I am happy with my third place, especially as I will start from the clean side of the track. It is looking good for tomorrow."

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Williams (  Ralf Schumacher - 2nd , Juan Pablo Montoya - 4th )

Sam Michael: "It is a shame to have just missed the pole position. However, we are pleased with the positions we have achieved in the final qualifying. The car has improved a lot and credit should be given to the aero department and the factory for making this possible. It was a good job from Ralf. After the accident that he had this morning he had to take the spare car, which did not have all the latest parts. It was also a good effort by Juan, and we are really looking forward to tomorrow's race now."

Mario Thiessen: "We have been very close to Ferrari in the qualifying. Our team looks to be very strong on the Scuderia's home ground. Two years ago we were celebrating here in Imola the first victory of our partnership, and the circuit seems to suit our new car as well. It was an exciting qualifying session. In the end the World Champion took pole position from us by just a fraction. The FW25 has improved considerably. We are in a good position for the race and hope to show our performance over a race distance as well."

Ralf Schumacher: "After the first sector, where I was not very fast, I thought my qualifying lap was compromised, but then surprisingly I made it. I must say thanks to the t-car team as they did a very good job getting my car ready which I had to use after the mistake I made this morning. We have been very strong so far here and I hope the weekend continues like this."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "My qualifying lap was compromised by some understeer which also caused me to go slightly off track at the Acque Minerali, where I definitely lost the time I needed to achieve a better position. The second row is still a very good place to start the race from, even if tomorrow my grid position will be on the dirtier side of the track."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 5th, Antonio Pizzonia - 15th  )

Dr Mark Gillan: "Another very pleasing day apart from some hiccups we suffered this morning. Mark's warm-up session this morning was cut short by a hydraulic problem and Antonio unfortunately suffered again with an engine problem. The team, however, did an impressive job of getting both cars prepared for qualifying and Mark's lap was simply sensational. He didn't go out there and aim for a banzai lap and instead, kept his cool and qualified the car exactly where we had aimed for. 
A very polished performance indeed! Antonio also did a good job today but no doubt it could have been a little better had we not suffered with an engine problem this morning. A shame given the importance of set-up at this circuit but it's all to play for tomorrow. We are again well placed for points tomorrow and unlike Brazil, let's hope there are no surprises! A solid and aggressive performance will again be the order of the day and should we cross the finishing line, there is nothing to prevent us from taking points away. The improvement at Jaguar is taking clear shape and there is nothing we want to do more right now than reward our workforce, sponsors and our parent company with some championship points."

Mark Webber: "I was aiming for a top six position and it's great to have managed P5 on the grid for tomorrow. I was watching the lap times of others head of me and given that nearly everyone was lapping in the mid 1m23secs zone, I knew I had to aim for a very low 1m23sec lap. In some ways, the lap was quite conservative. I didn't want to make any silly mistakes or over push the car. Knowing how to control your aggression isn't easy over this one-lap qualifying challenge and there's a very fine line indeed between going too slowly and too fast. Today, we got it just right and we are now very well placed for tomorrow's race. I suspect there will be the odd cynical remark about whether we are running light fuel but as we correctly pointed out in Brazil, just wait and watch the race tomorrow. We are on a healthy fuel strategy and there is no deception at work here. Jaguar is making very impressive and clear progress – it is as simple as that. The aim of the game now is points. If we can race reliably tomorrow and combine this with some clever strategy and no driver errors, there is nothing to stop us from taking points, albeit long overdue points given the potential we have demonstrated over the past few races."

Antonio Pizzonia: "I again lost valuable track time this morning because of an engine problem and that didn't help my preparation going into qualifying. Nonetheless, I am pleased with my lap time given my strategy for tomorrow's race. The danger over this one lap qualifying format is over-pushing the car and making a mistake that could relegate you to the back of the grid. Because of this, it was important to remain steady out there today and ensure we qualified in a position reflective of my strategy for tomorrow. With the risk of rain ever-more present for tomorrow's race, there is still a degree of uncertainly amongst teams as to how to play their strategies and of course, whether we start on wet tyres or not."

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McLaren (  Kimi Raikkonen - 6th, David Coulthard - 12th )

Ron Dennis: "The result of today's qualifying was not a great surprise. However David's mistake cost him several grid positions whilst Kimi too made a small error. It is the race that matters and we will have to see how our strategy works."

Norbert Haug: "Both drivers didn't achieve their optimum lap. It will be interesting to see how long our competitors can stay out before their first pitstop. The race should see us in better positions, so we are all looking forward to tomorrow."

Kimi Raikkonen: "A reasonable grid position. However I made a small mistake at the top chicane which cost me some time so I think I could have been a bit higher up. We have improved the car since yesterday, so we will see what happens in the race tomorrow."

David Coulthard: "Obviously I'm disappointed. I was going well until Rivazza where I made a mistake, which a quick look at the telemetry showed cost me more than seven tenths of a second. As the first three races have shown this year anything can happen and I have done well from low grid positions before, but its not going to be easy."

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BAR ( Jacques Villeneuve - 7th, Jenson Button - 9th  )

David Richards: "It's very encouraging to see how close we qualified to the front row this year, by comparison with twelve months ago. Jacques' lap was exceptional but then he does excel at this circuit. From our grid positions, with a sensible strategy, I feel very positive about tomorrow."

Geoff Willis: "We had a fault-free morning and achieved a total of 73 laps, running with Honda's latest step of engine. The performance of the car and the tyres here enables us to have a reasonably free hand in terms of strategy and we are reasonably happy with our qualifying positions this afternoon."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "This afternoon wasn't great and we were expecting to qualify higher than seventh and ninth. The engines have been performing well this weekend and we're still in a good position to continue the fight for points tomorrow."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I'm very happy with my lap because it's quicker than we had been expecting. We've been working all weekend towards race set-up so to get a good lap in qualifying today is great. There was still a tenth to be had in the last corner but I think the signs are good for the race tomorrow. We've always qualified well here and been worse off in the race, but it looks like things will be much better for us this year if it's dry. If it rains then it may be a different story because it will be hard to warm the tyres. It's very close at the top and this is one of the most difficult tracks to overtake on so the start will be interesting. It will be tough tomorrow but it looks like we will be there fighting for points so I'm looking forward to it."

Jenson Button: "We made good progress through free practice this morning and I was much more comfortable with the balance going into qualifying. The first two sectors of my qualifying lap were OK but then I went a bit wide in the high speed chicane up the hill and lost a bit of time. I also had a bit too much understeer in the high speed corners. I'm disappointed but I don't think we're looking too bad for tomorrow."

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Renault ( Fernando Alonso - 8th, Jarno Trulli - 16th )

Mike Gascoyne: "We had a difficult qualifying session especially for Jarno. Just before the warm up, he had to switch to the spare car which had Fernando's set up. I think we will have a difficult race but I still think we can have a good race performance and get both cars into the points."

Denis Chevrier: "For the first time this season we have a big gap on the grid between our two cars. I would say that Fernando's position reflects the real potential of our car. Unfortunately the series of problems we encountered on Jarno's car throughout the weekend forced him into the spare car right before qualifying and he was obviously penalized in his lap."

Fernando Alonso: "I am very happy with my 8th place today. The team worked very well and managed to find solutions to yesterday's problems. As a consequence, my car felt much better in qualifying, I had a good lap and I am confident that for tomorrow's race I am in the position to fight and score some points."

Jarno Trulli: "I had a problem with my car right before the start of qualifying and it's thanks to my mechanics that I didn't miss the session! Although they worked hard and fast, the T-car was set up for Fernando and I just didn't feel comfortable enough on my lap. Tomorrow I will have to fight hard and I think it will be a tough race."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 10th, Cristiano da Matta - 13th )

Keizo Takahashi: "It was generally a good qualifying for us - and another top ten result. We used the data acquired yesterday to find a good set-up on the TF103s and the team has worked hard to improve the car a lot since free practice yesterday. Both Olivier and Cristiano did a good job and I am very happy with today's result and I am quite hopeful that we can get a top-eight result tomorrow."

Olivier Panis: "I am really quite pleased with my flying lap today and another top ten grid position. It was particularly good considering we did not start in so well yesterday with a lot of handling problems. The team has done a good job and reacted very well to adjust and improve the car. It's the first time this season that I have managed a clean flying lap and I think, in the end, we are looking in reasonable shape for the race."

Cristiano da Matta: "After a tricky start to the weekend, I think I got pretty much everything out of the car I could today. The track conditions were a bit slippery, but my lap was quite good. We have been making constant improvements to the car all weekend and the whole team has done a good job. Of course, there is no limit on the work you can do on car set-up; there is always something extra, but from a driving point of view, I think it was a good day and I am pleased."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 11th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 14th  )

Peter Sauber: "From the three races held so far this year we know that performance on the one hand depends on the combination of driver and car, but strategy is also a key element. In the circumstances Heinz-Harald is about where we had anticipated he would be, while Nick did well after difficulty finding a balance yesterday and this morning and was able to deliver what we had expected of him, too."

Nick Heidfeld: "I had been struggling to find a good balance on my race car all weekend, and just before this afternoon's pre-qualifying warm-up I took the decision to switch to the T-car. We weren't able to make all the necessary changes in time for the warm-up, but were able to make more for qualifying. That meant that for the second day in a row I went into qualifying in a car that was not fully familiar, but I enjoyed the best balance I have had all weekend and I think we are moving in the right direction again."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "It was unfortunate that I lost a lot of time with an engine failure this morning, but my crew did a great job to change the unit in time for me to do an installation lap at the end of the session. There was a knock-on effect this afternoon, but taking that into account I am happy. The balance was good and Nick was able to do further good work this morning which helped to stand us in good stead for qualifying and the race tomorrow."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 17th, Ralph Firman - 19th )

Gary Anderson: "From my point of view it's difficult to know whether that was good or bad. We've picked a race strategy that we thought was right for them both. We were two seconds behind Michael yesterday on low fuel qualifying and we're two seconds behind him today. With whatever fuel strategies everybody else has, that means we're a lot further back on the grid than we expected. It seems strange to me. We'll really have to wait until tomorrow. Ralph messed his lap up – that's one of the downsides of the new qualifying format."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "Obviously this is not a good day. I'm very disappointed and confused because I don't know where other people are with fuel. Hopefully our strategy is good for tomorrow. I hope it's going to be wet."

Ralph Firman: "It was a promising day before qualifying. “But you only get one lap and I made a mistake at the first corner, locking up the front wheel and then had a big flat spot on the tyre. From that point on the rest of the lap was very difficult. It should be okay tomorrow."

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Minardi ( Justin Wilson - 18th, Jos Verstappen - 20th )

Paul Stoddart: "It has been a sharp end to what started as a promising day. The team had an interesting, and busy morning, with a precautionary engine change on Jos's car between the free practice session and qualifying. A slightly slippery track saw Justin have a small ‘moment' in qualifying, and sadly, Jos have a far larger one, which resulted in him not completing his lap. I feel for both drivers today, as they were giving 100 per cent, but the times just didn't quite reflect that. We look forward to a better race tomorrow."

Justin Wilson: "That was not an easy run - the track was very slippery with the spots of rain that fell just before qualifying started. A couple of times I had big slides, but managed to keep the car on the track. The lap could have been better in a couple of places, but that is always the case. Generally, I was quite happy with the way it went, and we'll now see what the race brings us tomorrow."

Jos Verstappen: "Obviously, I'm not very happy with today's qualifying performance. The situation wasn't helped by the fact we had to do an engine change after the end of practice, and in this afternoon's pre-qualifying warm-up the new engine felt different. I wasn't absolutely sure how it would be in qualifying, but as it turned out, it was fine and the car was performing well up until the point when I had the accident. I just hit the curb too hard, picked up oversteer, slid off the track and hit the wall. I'm fine, but the car was a bit damaged and I apologise to the guys for the extra work that will be required to make the repairs. Tomorrow could be another unpredictable race, depending on the weather, so once again it is going to be important for us to finish in order to capitalise on the misfortunes of others."

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