Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - Australian GP

Saturday March 3rd, 2001

Ferrari

Michael Schumacher: "I am very happy. Last year's car was good and this one is even better and that is a great achievement for Ferrari. My mechanics did a great job, working through the night to give me a fast car today. The reason I took the spare car right at the end was that I knew Mika (Hakkinen) had no more laps to improve, so we decided to give the spare a run to check it was okay for tomorrow. I am surprised that we are around four seconds faster than last year. I expected it to be two or three seconds. The reason for the improvement is that Bridgestone has given us a superb tyre and the team has made a great car. This year you can feel there is more G-force when you drive, but in one way the car is easier to drive as it handles better than last year. I am not worried about the couple of technical problems we have had in practice, because we have done so many kilometres in testing without coming across them before."

Rubens Barrichello: "Yesterday I was really happy with the car and confident for today. So, after losing track time this morning, it meant I knew the car but not the condition of the circuit. I am happy with the result and the team did a fantastic job. I aborted my third run as I had a problem selecting a gear. Then I was called in to the weigh-in again. This meant I had no more time. So, if I had been able to do more laps in the morning and if I had time to make one more change to the set-up maybe I could have gone quicker. But I am happy with everything as the car is going very well and the F2001 suits me better than last year's. Even if I did not do so many laps, I am confident that we can have a good car for the race as we have done so much testing on full tanks at Mugello."

Jean Todt: "This result is very encouraging. In yesterday's free practice we saw that the potential was there and today it was confirmed with an all-red front row. Now we must think about tomorrow's race, which will be a completely different ball game. Reliability will be the most important factor and at the moment I do not feel I can say this is one of our strong points. Michael used the spare car, simply to check it out, as it had never run before today on any track."

McLaren

Mika Hakkinen: "I didn't manage to get the best out of the car today but starting behind pole position man provides us with a great opportunity to do well in the race. I clipped the grass at turn one on my second run which is what can happen when you push really hard and put the car on the limit. Turn one is extremely bumpy under braking and it's so important that you have the right set-up to give you maximum front-end grip. Unfortunately, what I believe would have been a fast run was ruined when the red flags came out."

David Coulthard: "A really messy qualifying session! I went on the grass on my first and second runs and on my third; the red flags came out so I didn't have a reasonable lap time when I went out at the end. As you need a certain rhythm in your qualifying runs, which I didn't have, I must be content with sixth place. However having found a good balance with the car I'm confident for the race."

Ron Dennis: "As is apparent by the comments from our drivers it was not a particularly smooth qualifying session for us. The potential in the car and the engine was there but we didn't have the opportunity to extract it properly. So far reliability has been very good and if it continues through Sunday I feel we will get a good result."

Norbert Haug: "This was certainly not our best qualifying. Mika had to abandon his fastest lap when the red flags came out. I have faith in the team being able to achieve better positions in the race than third and sixth."

Jordan

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "Finally, the cat is out of the bag! I have been very careful when talking about the performance of the car, trying not to give too much away. But this is by far the best Jordan I have ever driven. We have shown we are very competitive but the race is going to be the true test, particularly of our reliability. But, for now, I am very happy with today's performance!"

Jarno Trulli: "We are trying to understand what happened. We were slow compared to this morning, the car was behaving differently during qualifying and we have to find out why that was. Obviously, I am disappointed with my time."

Eddie Jordan: "This is the first time we have run as a complete race team this year in full qualifying trim and we have worked very well. Overall, it has been a very solid performance. I am very happy with the number of laps we have done during the past two days, the cars showing good, honest reliability. Unfortunately, Jarno didn't get the best out of his car this afternoon but Heinz-Harald was right up there. We hope to improve even further."

Williams

Ralf Schumacher: "After yesterday's performance it went much better than expected today. A big compliment must go to BMW. The new engine is really strong. Furthermore we have managed to match the set-up and the tyres. The Michelin tyres worked much better than yesterday and it also helped that the grip level of the track improved remarkably from Friday. I could imagine that we might even look a little bit better tomorrow."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am very disappointed with my last run. The car was getting better and better and there was a lot of room to go much faster as I was taking it quite carefully in the early runs. On my last trial the car felt pretty good in the first three corners and I was sure I was going to have a very good lap and suddenly, at the exit of turn four I had a problem with Bernoldi. I got wide and I thought he was going to let me by but when I went to turn he just turned in front of me. Let's see what happens tomorrow in the race, anyway."

BAR

Jacques Villeneuve: "I am happy with the end result as we have had a tough weekend. I lost time yesterday so I have not had much running time and we only got the set-up right for the last two runs. But it turned out OK in the end and I am looking forward to Sunday."

Olivier Panis: "It was not too bad although we expected to be a little bit better than we were. We have the potential to go quicker but during my last lap I was blocked by Nick Heidfeld in the Sauber. We have a good car, the balance is good and so is reliability. It is great to be back and I am looking forward to the race."

Craig Pollock: "I am very pleased to have the two cars in the top 10 but it does show that we still have quite a lot of work to do. We could have done better but we have two good cars and drivers so we are in a position to race tomorrow."

Sauber

Nick Heidfeld: "The car has been consistently good all weekend, and I'm happy with 10th place. But I could have gone quicker still. I was following Burti on my out lap when he had his accident, and that took a little bit out of my tyres. Then when the track went green again, I came across Fisichella as he went into the gravel and had to come to a full stop, so that was my last attempt gone. That was a shame, but we are in a good position for the race, and I'm pleased that changes we made during qualifying all helped to make the car perform even better."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I lost half of the morning with an engine sensor problem that required removal of the gearbox before it could be fixed, but things went well after that and I was very happy subsequently to set the eighth fastest time. I suppose I'm a little bit disappointed to be 'only' 13th on the grid after that, because I believe I could have made the top 10. But my first-ever F1 qualifying session went pretty well and I'm happy. I started off with understeer and ended with oversteer after we made changes to the car, but the real problem was traffic on my last run which prevented me from improving."

Peter Sauber: "Perhaps the red flag spoiled qualifying for us, but we are happy because our goal was to have a car in the top 10. Nick did a very good job and has been consistently fast, so it was a shame that he lost his last chance in traffic. Likewise Kimi Raikkonen suffered on his final run, but 13th place in his first F1 qualifying is really good. He did an extremely good job."

Jaguar

Eddie Irvine: "I'm pretty positive about where I ended up which is much closer to the midfield runners than I thought I'd be. If we can find half a second we can improve a lot. From where I am we can definitely score points which is good news. The new Series Two CR-3 Cosworth Racing engine is a big improvement and if we get things right tomorrow, I think there's a good chance of us finishing in the points."

Luciano Burti: "I don't really know what happened but it felt like something broke on the car. I was not pushing too hard at that stage and I felt something let go. There was little I could do to control the car at that speed and I spun around several times and hit the wall. This hasn't been the start I was looking for and I hope that the team can re-build the car without too much trouble."

Bobby Rahal: "It was a disjointed session for Jaguar Racing. Eddie did a good job and drove some hard laps out there this afternoon. We'll work hard overnight to re-build Luciano's car. It's difficult to diagnose exactly what caused the accident, but Luciano seems adamant that something broke and I don't doubt it. We didn't put Luciano in the spare car because we didn't want to over burden him and we wanted to preserve it for tomorrow. The new engine is very good and we are pleased with our level of reliability right now."

Prost

Jean Alesi: "Today we had some difficulty finding the right setup for this very unusual circuit. The car is very sensitive, easily shifting from a good to a bad balance, however it is substance a good car. We have not managed to get a good position on the grid but I remain confident that in tomorrow's race my car will perform well and be reliable. I am certainly sorry for my team for not being higher on the grid, but I am in good spirits and in excellent physical and psychological condition for this first Grand Prix of the season."

Gaston Mazzacane: "A difficult qualifying session for me, but it was encouraging to see that I was able to lower my time. This morning I lost some valuable track-time, due to an electrical problem and as a consequence we couldn't find a good setup right away. On my second run I was slowed down by traffic and then time ran out. But I am not worried, I am looking ahead and concentrating on tomorrow's race."

Alain Prost: "After the very promising winter tests, we have been a bit disappointed with today's qualifying. The Melbourne track is very demanding and not very suitable to our cars. We have lost some time in both yesterday's and today's free practice and that has lost us valuable time in finding the right setups. In spite of this frustration, we remain focused on reliability for tomorrow's race and, in this respect, it's not too bad to start a little behind for this first race. In any case, we are certain that we start from a good and solid base and that we are going in the right direction."

Arrows

Jos Verstappen: "Well we tried really hard today and I think we did the best job we could considering. We lost a lot of time in this morning's practice sessions due to an electrical problem with the gearbox. The team did a great job fixing my car for the end of the second session but we lost valuable set-up time, which didn't help us in qualifying. I was also blocked at the first corner on my last flying lap but we'll have to just get on with it and try our best tomorrow."

Enrique Bernoldi: "Generally we were doing okay but on the out lap of my last run there was a lot of traffic and I couldn't get enough temperature into the front tyres which slowed me down on my quick lap. Tomorrow will be challenging, starting from 18th position on the grid but this is a tough race on cars so who knows what will happen tomorrow."

Benetton

Jenson Button: "Qualifying hasn't gone too badly considering all the problems we have had so far this weekend. I haven't had much track time and therefore haven't got much work done on new tyres. Sixteenth position considering all this and our expectations, is quite respectable."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "I only got two runs in today. The balance on my car at the beginning was good, even though we could have made some improvements. Then after my second run there was a water leak on my car so I switched to the spare car. It was really strange to drive, I don't know what the problem was but it was pretty much undriveable so I had to abort my final two runs."

Mike Gascoyne: "We didn't expect to qualifying higher than fourteenth this weekend so I can't say we are overly disappointed. Giancarlo had a water leak in his car after the first two runs, which meant he had to switch to the T-car which subsequently had a brake problem and I feel this dropped him three places down the grid. After Jenson's problems both this morning, where we had to change the gearbox, and yesterday, he did an excellent job to work steadily with his engineer to improve the car with very little running over the weekend. Overall we are more or less where we expected to be and our next milestone will be to make the car reliable for the race."

Minardi

Fernando Alonso: "We made a few changes on the car for qualifying, which were tested in the morning's free practice session. Everything went well in qualifying trim. I was not at all concerned, except for the fact that, in the qualifying session, you can only do your best lap once with each set of tyres, and therefore I could not take too many risks given that I hadn't a spare car at my disposal. I pushed a bit harder only towards the end of the session, when I was sure the time I had set allowed me to qualify, but then I missed a braking point, losing almost half of a second. If not for that, I would have gained at least four positions. I feel a bit disappointed, but overall, I'm pleased with the outcome, especially considering the car had never tested before."

Tarso Marques: "It has been a difficult day, but at least I'm in the race. The car had been nervous on the brakes all day, despite changes that we made. The back end of the car just got away from me in Turn 3 on my third run of the afternoon and I spun. I got a lift back to the garage and was able to take over Fernando's car for my final run. It was pretty uncomfortable because, despite the fact the mechanics had fitted my seat, I am taller than Fernando and the pedals were different. I improved my time by nearly seven-tenths of a second, but it just wasn't quite enough. Anyway, I am very pleased that the stewards have decided to let me race tomorrow. Hopefully, we have got all the bad luck out of the way today, and the race will be much better for us."

Paul Stoddart: "Today sees a just reward for six-and-a-half weeks of relentless effort by everyone in the European Minardi F1 team. I think this weekend we have earned the respect of our peers in the pit lane, and after Fernando's performance today, people have stopped asking me about the surprise I had been promising they now know. I really feel for Tarso, since he seems to have shouldered all of the team's problems over the past two days, but I can only praise his performance, and those of his mechanics, in the closing stages of today's qualifying session. In the end, he was within 107 per cent of everyone except Michael Schumacher, who really put in a stunning qualifying lap. I'm so pleased the Stewards have decided to include Tarso in tomorrow's race. We definitely haven't seen the best of him yet, and I'm sure with some testing under his belt, both European Minardi F1s will become fully competitive."



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