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2003 United States Grand Prix 
What the teams and drivers said - Saturday  

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Saturday

McLaren ( Kimi Raikkonen - 1st, David Coulthard - 8th )

Ron Dennis: "Taking into consideration the limited amount of running that we had as a result of the damp conditions this morning our qualifying went well. Hopefully our race strategy will compliment the excellent pole position achieved by Kimi and also assist David in securing a good result."

Norbert Haug: "A super job from Kimi in the qualifying session, which was exciting until the very last moment and a great effort from our team. We definitely expect a thrilling race."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I'm obviously very pleased for the whole team that we managed to get pole position today. It's quite an important one and the fact that my two Championship contenders are a bit further down can only be good for the battle. I think the session was exciting to watch for the fans around the world, and we want this race to be the same. We haven't done as much running as we would have liked but nevertheless I felt very comfortable in the car during my qualifying lap. I'm looking forward to the action tomorrow and believe we can put in a strong performance, but it's a long race and anything can happen. At least we are starting from the best spot!."

David Coulthard: "I made a slight mistake when I ran a bit wide at turn four which was caused by a small amount of understeer. At turn eight I experienced some oversteer, but that didn't cost me too much time. Even from the fourth row of the grid everything is possible, and I look forward to tomorrow's race. Congratulations to Kimi on his great lap. Let's hope that it stays like this in the race."

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Ferrari ( Rubens Barrichello - 2nd, Michael Schumacher - 7th )

Jean Todt: "We expected a very close fought qualifying and that is what we got, given that the top ten are all within the same second. Rubens did a great lap, rewarded with a place on the first row. Unfortunately, Michael is only in seventh place. Now we have to work out the reasons for this performance. It is clear that, especially in Michaelís case, we had hoped for a better result. Tomorrow, we can expect another close fight. Several factors will play their role, including the weather. One thing is certain; we will do our utmost right to the end to try and obtain the best possible result."

Rubens Barrichello: "I was hoping for pole position as the car has been good all weekend. My flying lap was a good one, even though the car felt a bit different to the way it did in the warm-up and was loose all the way round. It was quite windy this afternoon, which I am sure affected everyone, so I had to gamble a bit on the carís set-up in the hope that it will be good for tomorrow. So, I did not have the quickest car in terms of its performance this afternoon. I am sorry I am not in the race for the title where the battle is still very much alive. The crowd here is fantastic, just like in Brazil and Monza and hopefully they will see a good clean race. Personally, I love a challenge and I will be trying to win tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher: "This was a very average qualifying session for me today and naturally, I am not at all satisfied with the way it went. I am not clear what was going on, but the car was sliding too much and I could not find any grip. At least seventh place is on the clean side of the track which is better than being on the dirty inside line and I will be interested to see what strategy the others have adopted for the race. In terms of the championship, my closest rival is only three places ahead of me, so this is not a disaster and so, with Kimi on pole the title race is a bit more open now. The important thing is to understand what went wrong this afternoon. Now we will just have to wait and see what I can do from that position on a track where overtaking is possible. I hope that, by the end of the race, I can give the tifosi something to cheer about."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 3rd, Cristiano da Matta - 9th )

Ove Andersson: "I am speechless! In only our 32nd race, we have qualified a Toyota on the second row of the grid after Olivier took third place with a really impressive lap. It was a shame that Cristiano had to jump into the T-car, which almost certainly affected his time, but he drove a solid lap to score ninth and another double top ten qualifying result for the team. The atmosphere in the garage during that session was absolutely remarkable and I have to say a big thank you to all the guys for producing such a fantastic result. The cars have looked competitive since first thing yesterday morning and if luck is on our side tomorrow, we should expect to pick up a few points."

Olivier Panis: "This is a brilliant result for the entire team. I have not started a race on the second row of the grid since the Grand Prix in Argentina back in 1997. I am looking forward to having some fun in the race tomorrow alongside some of the most competitive drivers in the field. We have had a mixed season in terms of results, but it is fabulous to see the rewards of our non-stop efforts. I know that we are not yet in a position to fight for victory, but we have a good car and I expect to pick up a lot of points tomorrow to try and catch BAR-Honda and Jaguar, our nearest rivals in the championship."

Cristiano da Matta: "All things considered I think my lap today was okay. Unfortunately, I had to switch to the spare car at the last minute because the engine was overheating during the warm-up session and we didn't want to take any risks. The T-car was set-up for me anyway, but even so you always lose out by some tenths-of-a-second, which is critical when the field is as tight as it is here. For tomorrow's race things should be pretty good; the car has been running strongly all weekend, so I think that if the weather stays dry we should be looking for points."

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Williams (  Juan Pablo Montoya - 4th,  Ralf Schumacher - 5th )

Sam Michael: "We did not qualify where we would have liked to. The cars were not perfectly balanced in this session. But we are still confident for a strong race tomorrow. I am sure it will be be an exciting one with the grid the way it is."

Mario Theissen: "Neither of our drivers had an ideal lap today, and both of them have not been one hundred percent happy with the handling of the cars. We will see what the grid positions four and five are worth when the time comes for the first pit-stops. Apart from race strategy, an important issue will be who will manage to overtake on the oval's straight. If you look at the top speeds, I would say our drivers have pretty good chances to do."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "My first sector was ok but I had quite a bit of oversteer in the second and third sectors and this wasnít ideal, as I lost about three tenths there. We could have done a little bit better but thatís what weíve got and I am still confident we will have a good race ahead of us. I would really like to please all the South American fans who have come here to support me. I know I have an excellent race car, weíve got good power too and this is important. Itís interesting to see Kimi up there, instead of Michael: Kimi is always full of surprises!."

Ralf Schumacher: "The very first part of my lap was very weak, as one can see from my sector-time. Beside this, we had to change the car a lot from the warm-up to qualifying, because of the accident I had in this morningís Free Practice, when I braked too late and went off track into the barriers, as it caused me to lose quite a lot of valuable track time. Still I managed to qualify in a reasonable position so I am fairly happy. I will start tomorrow from the better side of the track so I hope I will have a good start."

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Renault ( Fernando Alonso - 6th, Jarno Trulli - 6th )

Pat Symonds: "A great effort from Jarno, which has given us a better grid position than expected. The new Michelin tyres are performing very well in race trim, and this strong starting position gives us confidence for tomorrow. Fernando, on the other hand, was extremely unlucky. It appears there was a major electrical failure on his car as he started the timed lap, which effectively knocked out all the control systems. Without warning that this had happened, he lost control of the car as he exited the first chicane."

Denis Chevrier: "Mixed feelings for the team after qualifying. Jarno's performance has put us in a competitive position for the race, although Fernando unfortunately suffered an incident which will make things a little more complicated for him. Overall, I think we can note that our level of performance in race trim is better than we were able to show in Friday qualifying, and that at least one of our drivers can fight for points tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso: "We have improved the car since this morning, and I was happier with the handling than during practice. Nevertheless, it still feels nervous, with understeer in some corners and oversteer in others. Still, I will be starting from a competitive position tomorrow. I know the title contenders are close by me on the grid, but I will be looking to make up positions at the start and drive a normal race. I donít want to disrupt the fight for the title and the surest way of doing that is to finish in front of them."

Jarno Trulli: "Firstly, I want to thank all the mechanics, who did a fantastic job to get the car ready after my accident in the warm-up. As for the qualifying lap, nothing felt quite right: I made small mistakes all the way round the lap, and I perhaps had some trouble adapting to changing track conditions. It is disappointing to start from so far back, but we have already shown this weekend that our package is very competitive. We have chosen a good strategy and I am intending to drive an attacking race tomorrow."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 11th, Jacques Villeneuve - 12th )

David Richards: "The team did an excellent job overnight to overcome a difficult start to our weekend and their efforts paid dividends today with a strong qualifying performance from both cars and fault-free laps from Jacques and Jenson. Starting side-by-side from the middle of the grid tomorrow, and with the possibility of showers during the race, we can expect to see them both fighting hard to deliver a crucial points boost for the team."

Geoff Willis: "After a difficult day yesterday we decided to make some substantial changes to car set-up overnight and after some further experimentation we finally managed to achieve a much more competitive car. The track temperatures changed considerably during the morning practice and warm-up, forcing us to make some last-minute changes, which worked well. Both drivers qualified well and we look forward to seeing what unfolds in the race tomorrow when we must continue our fight to secure fifth place in the Championship."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Both drivers put in decent laps this afternoon. We're just outside the top ten - the times are really tight and it was a very close session. We're in with a shout tomorrow and I'm sure Jacques and Jenson will be fighting hard to pick up some more points."

Jenson Button: "We finally got on top of the set-up with my car this morning and it was working reasonably well. By the time we got to warm-up, the wind had picked up, the track temperature had increased and like most people I found myself with a different car. It wasnít too bad in qualifying; the balance was there but weíre still finding grip hard to come by. I think weíll be quite strong in the race and weíll be fighting for valuable points."

Jacques Villeneuve: "Weíve had some trouble with the driveability of the car this weekend, mainly due to lack of grip, and this morning it was very close to being undriveable. It was a little better in warm-up then we made some changes prior to qualifying, which is always a bit of a gamble. It helped the car a lot and finally I had grip. There was still some time left in it because thatís the first lap Iíve done all weekend where the car has been working well. The car will be good for the race but if we had found the set-up much earlier we would be a few tenths quicker than we are now."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 13th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 15th )

Peter Sauber: "Nick is right beside Villeneuve and close behind Button on the grid, and Heinz- Harald is within striking distance of all three, so this bodes well for an exciting start."

Nick Heidfeld: "I'm happier with my lap today than I was with yesterday's in comparable conditions. The car felt better balanced. Unfortunately the tyres had begun to grain before the end of my lap, otherwise I could have finished in front of Villeneuve."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I must confess that this was not one of my best laps. I lost my line a bit in Turn Six and went slightly off track. It was quite slippery, and the incident naturally cost me some time. We are nevertheless within our target, but it is still annoying, of course. We changed the car quite a bit for qualifying, and it is set up well for the race."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 14th, Justin Wilson - 16th )

Dr Mark Gillan: "We had a solid and productive morning working on tyres and race set-up. Both morning sessions were problem-free and the pace going into qualifying was promising Ė particularly with Mark setting the fastest time in sector two during the second warm-up session. We all felt pretty positive in the build-up to the qualifying hour but we were caught out by the lack of grip. We didnít make any significant changes to the car compared to the morning sessions and one can only assume at this stage that the track temperature went against us. Given that both Honda and Toyota powered teams are ahead of us, we have a very steep mountain ahead of us tomorrow and we will simply have to knuckle down and do the best job we can. The race pace of the car should be competitive and if we can remain reliable, there is always a chance. Not the performance we were expecting but there is a considerable race distance to complete tomorrow at a track that normally carries a high attrition rate."

Mark Webber: "You win some, you lose some and today wasnít our day. We lost a bit of balance and grip going into the qualifying session and it became quite apparent as I came out of turn ten from my out lap. As I came out, the car understeered considerably and I began worrying about what was in store for me today. The brakes going into turn one were fine but the understeer kicked in again and it stayed with me for the whole lap. It was certainly a difficult qualifying session for us and not one that we expected given our pace up until now. We will, however, learn from it, move on and focus upon the job in-hand for tomorrow."

Justin Wilson: "Markís words pretty much sum up my disappointing performance too. The track conditions had obviously changed since this morning and no sooner had I entered the in-field section than I began experiencing understeer. The car was quite twitchy in some of the corners and there was little I could do except my best. Tomorrowís race will be tough for us but there is never such a thing as an easy race anyway! It is a shame to be starting so far back at a circuit which we know we could have done a better job at today and given that I havenít yet finished a race distance for Jaguar yet, seeing the chequered flag will mean a lot to me tomorrow."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 17th, Ralph Firman - 18th )

Gary Anderson: "Mixed conditions in the morning meant that the first session was a bit of a waste of time and Giancarlo had a gearbox problem which necessitated a gearbox change so he lost any running time potential. The second session was okay, we got through some work on fuel loads and we went with what we think is the best thing for qualifying. There are no miracles and our pace is where we are relative to the front. Hopefully weíve got a strategy that will keep us in contention and if a couple of points drop our way we will take them and say thank you very much!."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "This morning I had a problem with the gearbox and didnít get enough laps done so the car was not good in terms of set-up today. Grip is poor and the set-up we have chosen is more suited for wet conditions in case tomorrow is wet, which is what Iím hoping for."

Ralph Firman: "It feels really good to be driving here in Indianapolis after five weeks out of the car and itís quite exciting as there are only two more Grands Prix to go. We have been struggling for the ultimate lap time today but thatís just where we are with the car, we have problems with grip, and weíre struggling with balance and the lower downforce set-up. There is a lot of oversteer on turn-in and understeer through the long corners, itís a bit of everything really. I had a pretty good lap with no mistakes, and did the best I could under the circumstances. Unless it rains I think we might struggle to score any points, but itís been pretty showery the last few days so we may get lucky."

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Minardi ( Jos Verstappen - 19th, Nicolas Kiesa - 20th )

Paul Stoddart: "With the changing track conditions here today, going out first in qualifying was certainly a disadvantage, with both drivers struggling to find an acceptable chassis balance. Should the weather play a part in the race, however, starting from the back of the grid may not be so bad. We look forward to getting both European Minardi entries to the chequered flag in tomorrowís United States Grand Prix."

Jos Verstappen: "It felt like we had punctures on the qualifying lap, the way the car was sliding around. I just couldnít do anything with it. As soon as I really began to push, the rear just started sliding away. In the end, it was just about survival, keeping the car on the track and completing the lap. Iím obviously disappointed by how the car felt in qualifying today, and if itís like this for the race, we will have a problem. Hopefully, though, we will find something overnight to improve the situation."

Nicolas Kiesa: "The track conditions definitely changed between this morningís practice sessions and this afternoonís qualifying run, which meant the carís handling altered noticeably. I was pushing hard and the rear of the car stepped out, losing me probably three tenths of a second, which I then carried with me for the rest of the lap. The remainder of the run wasnít too bad, and the car went well through the slower corners in the second sector. As is often the case, I think we have a better car for the race than for qualifying."

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