Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - Belgian GP

Saturday August 26th, 2000


Mika Hakkinen: "Obviously I'm pleased to take my second consecutive Belgian Grand Prix pole position. We found a good set-up to the car and the team did a great job. We improved the car throughout the qualifying and I'm optimistic for tomorrow’s race."

David Coulthard: "In reality I only had one real run today. Two of my attempts were spoilt by traffic and in the closing minutes of the session the yellow flags at the Bus Stop chicane prevented me from improving my time as I had to lift. The balance of the car was reasonable but I was struggling for overall grip."

Ron Dennis: "A well deserved pole position for Mika who systematically improved his car with his engineers. David's time is a result of traffic and the impact on his set-up caused by losing track time due to a puncture yesterday and a hydraulics problem this morning."

Norbert Haug "An excellent achievement by Mika. He really deserves this pole position - with an extraordinary gap of three-quarters of a second. It’s a shame that David lost a possible place on the second row when he was forced to lift on his last run at the Bus Stop Chicane where there were yellow flags after a car had spun. Our basis for the race is good."


Jarno Trulli: "I'm really happy for me and for the team, wWe have been through a lot of difficult times this season and it is time our luck changed. I want to thank everyone, not just here at Spa, but back in the factory as well. I don't know if I could have taken pole from Hakkinen but, certainly, my last lap was quicker until I came across yellow flags just before the last corner and had to slow as a result. We had continued to make small changes to the car and the last change - before that final lap - made it really good. I found this an amazing circuit. Taking Eau Rouge and Blanchimont flat in a really competitive car was something I had not been able to do before. I enjoyed qualifying very much!"

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "It was my mistake - I didn't see Coulthard, the radio communication is very bad at that point and I didn't realise he was there until the last minute. On the next lap, I lost downforce and went off the road when running behind him. Then, at the end of my best lap, I came across Coulthard at the same place where I had blocked him before. He had already blocked me once and he did it again - which I thought was a bit unfair. I had to miss the corner completely and my time was disallowed. Then on my final run, I had problems with traffic, so it was an up and down day, really."


Jenson Button: "I think I'll just wake up in a minute and think that I'm dreaming, I was hoping I might get in the top six but third is just beyond anything I was expecting. But it's funny, now that I've done it, I'm looking at how far off second I was and it was only half a tenth of a second, you always want to do better, no matter how well you've done. After this, anything less than second fastest might feel a bit disappointing, and really you can't ever be really happy unless you're on pole, I really can't wait for the race. The start is just going to be awesome. You never know what could happen."

Ralf Schumacher: "I'm pleased that as a team we seem to be competitive, but my best lap was spoilt in the second sector when another car got in the way. Still, it's the race that really counts and from the third row of the grid I'm quite optimistic that we can do something."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Obviously this makes us very happy and very encouraged. This is our best qualifying so far and also the second consecutive race that we've started from the second row, we've brought a further revised engine here, based on the one we had in Hungary, but with mapping that is specific to this track and reduced internal friction. We could have brought it to Hungary but the nature of the two tracks is so different, there was no point, but of course it's not just the engine that has given us this result it's the whole team. Williams has done a fantastic job on the chassis and the drivers have done a great job in using it all."

Patrick Head, Technical Director: "This was an exceptional qualifying performance, especially from Jenson. Now we've go to to make sure we can take maximum advantage. The races here are always full of surprises and we need to ensure we're ready for it."


Michael Schumacher: "I can't honestly say this was an entirely satisfying qualifying session for us. Being fourth, almost a second off the pole is not what we expected. I remember that after qualifying in Budapest nobody expected Hakkinen to win, but we all saw what happened there. Now we must look at our performance to understand what we need to do to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrow's race. On my second run, which turned out to be my best, I was slowed by traffic in the second sector. Then on my third run, I had to slow again because of the yellow flags, as can be seen from my third sector.Tomorrow’s race will be very interesting, especially as the weather could be different to today's."

Rubens Barrichello: "All weekend I have been unable to find the ideal set-up. Finally, on my third run, the car seemed to be going better and I was setting a good time and could have made up a few important places on the grid. However, at the entry to the chicane, I locked the wheels and ended up spinning. Then when I came back to the pits I had to stop at the scrutineering and I lost further time."

Jean Todt: "This was a disappointing qualifying session for both our drivers. We have to accept that, for various reasons, we never managed to extract all the potential of our car and neither driver managed a perfect lap. On his last run, Michael had to slow in the third sector because of the yellow flags. After spinning on his third run, Rubens had to stop at the scrutineering check, losing precious time. That meant he had to push hard on the out lap of his fourth run to cross the line before the end of the sixty minutes. This caused excessive tyre wear which prevented him from improving. Given our start positions, tomorrow our objective has to be to improve on them."


Jacques Villeneuve: "I made a mistake at the chicane on my final lap which cost me two or three tenths and that could have been very useful on the grid. I wasn't able to take Eau Rouge 'flat' because the back was a bit loose, but we were still among the quickest on the exit of the corner. I think we can expect a strong race performance tomorrow and if we get a good start we should be able to aim for at least a points finish and possibly a podium."

Ricardo Zonta: "My confidence gets better with every lap here, but I am still not fast enough through Eau Rouge and that is where I am losing most of my time. We still have some understeer and the long middle section of the lap is where any balance problems affect you most. We need to do some more work on the set-up to try to cure it for tomorrow."

Takefumi Hosaka - Managing Director, Honda R&D: "We are fairly pleased with today's result. The engine and the chassis are in reasonably good shape thanks to the efforts of both Honda and BAR engineers. We have lots of supporters over from Japan for this race and we want to do our best and make no mistakes tomorrow."


Johnny Herbert: "I'm happy with ninth, and I'm happy with my performance. It was a shame that it wasn't seventh or eighth, which roughly where we should have been. But then we're up against teams that have been performing better than us all year long. We have made progress, we have got closer. We're still not close enough, but we have moved a little bit forward. The latest engine has worked well for us here. We've had a slightly different car here, a bit different at the back aerodynamically. It was hard for me to tell what difference it made because I hadn't tried it in testing before we came here."

Eddie Irvine: "We've struggled all day with low-speed understeer and high-speed oversteer, it's the worst case scenario. We've tried everything, but all we can do is take it one way or the other, and we can't close the 'window'. We just can't get it together. At high speed it's so on the nose, but at low speed it's understeering really badly. All weekend it's basically been the same, but one chicane, Turns 8 and 9, I think I've got it sussed now. But the rest of it...
On the first qualifying run we had a problem with the brakes, on the second one I was held up by Frentzen, the third one I messed up the chicane completely, and on the fourth one Alesi was spun in the middle of the chicane."


Giancarlo Fisichella: "We don't know yet exactly what the problem was on my car, but I lost power at the end of my first flying lap and had to abort it. With only seven minutes to go I hadn't even qualified, but luckily I got out in the T-car which was changed back from Alex to me. I did the best I could but the car wasn't set up for me and I only had one chance."

Alexander Wurz: "Well, what can I say! On my first run my first split was faster than Hakkinen, who is now on pole, but I couldn't finish the lap because of an engine failure. I had one run in the T car which wasn't set up for me and had too much oversteer. Its extremely disappointing."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "Disastrous Qualifying! The only positive thing to come out of today was the miraculous job the mechanics did to get both Alex and Giancarlo out in the T-car and considering the circumstances the drivers did a good job too."

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "As everyone saw this was an extremely fraught session, it started with an engine failure on Alex's car on his first timed run, which required us to put him in the spare car that was prepared for Giancarlo. While this was going on, we sent Giancarlo out for his first run and experienced what appears to be an unrelated engine problem during his timed lap. This required us to limit Alex to one flying lap before getting the T-car back for Giancarlo. It was extremely good work by the mechanics who managed to get Giancarlo out for his only timed lap, during which he performed admirably, driving a car with a different set-up and knowing that he had to get into the race with a safe lap but at the same time be competitive. Circumstances like this, while of course unwelcome, are a credit to the team because of the way they handled them."


Pedro Diniz: "The balance of the car was still pretty difficult for me this afternoon, but I lost my best lap because Jean had spun at the Bus Stop chicane and there were yellow flags out. We certainly improved the car today; the behaviour at high speed was better, but I still had oversteer in the slow corners. But I like this track, and in the circumstances I think I managed to get the best out of the package that we had."

Mika Salo: "Overall we improved the balance of the car since yesterday, but I didn t have enough grip. It was twitchy under braking, and the back end would lock up and slide, and then when you got on the throttle you'd just get wheelspin. Personally I hope the forecast is right: I hope that it rains tomorrow."

Willy Rampf: "Compared to yesterday we definitely improved the car as we honed our new aerodynamic package to the Spa track. Unfortunately our result doesn t reflect this. Both Pedro and Mika had two good initial runs, but then each had their best laps spoiled by traffic and yellow flags so we never achieved our optimum lap times."


Pedro de la Rosa: "Well we definitely weren't expecting to be in these positions, especially not at this circuit, but we've proved that we still have a lot of work to do with the car, particularly on the slow corners as we are losing too much time so I'm really disappointed. I'm annoyed with my qualifying because on two occasions I was between three and four tenths quicker until Bus Stop, once because I nearly lost it and also once because of Alesi spinning and there was a yellow flag so I couldn't overtake the Williams, so I lost my best lap so I'm not happy about my qualifying position. Those three or four tenths quicker that I was running would have put me maybe three positions higher, so anyway, there's a lot of work to do. I just lost all the time at Bus Stop that I gained on the back of the circuit. This morning we were concentrating on different qualifying set ups and we didn't have any problems, but unfortunately they didn't work".

Jos Verstappen: "I think overall it's been a bad weekend. We lost time on Friday because of some problems with the car and I only managed eight laps this morning before we had an electrical problem so I didn't get any running in the second practice session. Then for qualifying, I must say the first run didn't feel bad, but then I mis-braked on the first corner and that was when the car really felt at its best and at least the car still did turn in, but things don't feel good".

Tom Walkinshaw, Team Principal: "It's just incredibly disappointing. We came here thinking the cars would do well but we just haven't got the balance on the car right and haven't really been able to solve the understeer problem".


Marc Gene: "Of course I'm disappointed with today's qualifying session, first of all because a problem, which is still under investigation, forced me to give up the first set of tyres, and, secondly, because even in the subsequent runs my car never felt really good. We did an adjustment in the third run which gave a better result. However, I always experienced problems with the brakes since this morning. Unfortunately during my third interim time Alesi held me up on track with an unfair manoeuvre and forced me to overtake him passing through the chicane thus losing the possibility to improve my time. All in all today was not a productive day with only two runs completed and with a lot of trouble in terms of braking."

Gaston Mazzacane: "I improved my time run after run thanks to a few modifications and the car had a good driveability. However, I am not satisfied with today's qualifying because, honestly, I hoped for a better result. I expected to improve over this morning's time in order to lower the gap with the other cars, but unfortunately we were unable to be particularly competitive. Our lack of horsepower put us at a marked disadvantage, however now we must concentrate on preparing tomorrow's race as better as we can."

Frederic Dhainaut: "It is a pity that Alesi had hampered Marc although his time would improve only by three tenths of a second and in the end his position would not change. As far as today's outcome is concerned, we must consider that all other teams' engines have many more horsepowers than us and, on such a long and technical track, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to reduce the current gap. To be honest, with so little power, we could not do more than this."

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