Saturday March 17th, 2001
Michael Schumacher: "Without that wobble on my first run, it would have been very quick. Then we made several changes to make the car more comfortable and to get it right for the final run. It was difficult to find the right way to use the tyres but we managed it. They were reliable and consistent as was the car. It is very well prepared for the heat. Yesterday we checked the cooling in race conditions and we are comfortable in this area. For my final run, I decided not to wait until the end of the session as I saw that most of the others still had a run left , so we gambled on going early to get a clear lap. It was great to be fighting with my brother. I think our parents heartbeat must have been high and that they were more nervous than us. It was a fun session and it is great to see him up here. It does not matter where our challenge comes from , but I would rather it comes from him because I know him better than the others. But, for the race, I would rather have my team-mate alongside me. In the past we have seen McLaren have a poor qualifying and then have a strong race and Mika can still do well starting from fourth."
Rubens Barrichello: "I am very happy with this performance. The car is really good and on the pace and I am giving Michael a harder time than last year. I am well settled in the team now and although you can never discount Michael, now you should not discount me either. On my first two runs, I made a mistake with the settings which did not go the way we wanted. Then for the third run, I was much more comfortable with the car and I knew everything would be good for the final one. I was losing a little bit of time in the first two corners. As the wind got stronger, you had to bear this in mind in some of the braking areas."
Jean Todt: "We had to bite our nails until the last set of tyres, but for the second consecutive time this season, we have an all-red front row. This is the result of all the hard work accomplished by the drivers and the team, as well as Bridgestone, who supplied us with great tyres. The starting grid is different to the one we have grown used to in recent times. This is proof that nothing is guaranteed in Formula 1 and everything can change. Now, we have to get ready for tomorrow's race, which will be very difficult because of the extremely high temperatures."
Ralf Schumacher: "I am definitely surprised, I didn't expect to be so close to this position, especially after where we were yesterday. I had several positive laps and a truly brilliant third run and it's clear that we have a very good package. I don't see ourselves out-racing Ferrari and McLaren tomorrow, partly because Michelin haven't ever raced on this track. However, I am confident that we will score some points tomorrow, which I couldn't achieve in Melbourne. The biggest difference between here and Australia is that the tyres are now much better suited to the circuit as Albert Park was the first shot for Michelin. It was fun to fight with my brother, I can imagine how our parents must have been feeling watching the duel at home!"
Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am very happy with my sixth position. I could have been even a bit further up but on my last flying lap I drove within myself in the last sector, after I had a bad spin on a previous lap. Considering that I hardly ran yesterday, I cannot be anything but pleased with my result."
Patrick Head, Technical Director: "Obviously a pleasing qualifying session and very good improvements by Ralf on each run. He got the very best out of the car. We are very impressed with the Michelin tyres and of course with the BMW engine, which proved to be really strong. For Juan it is a good achievement as well for he recovered remarkably from his lost first day of practice."
Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "It's quite funny to see the Schumacher brothers fighting for the pole position. This was a perfect performance from the whole team. When you reach that situation it means that every factor has worked well: the driver must use the package in the best way, you need a good chassis, good tyres and also a good engine. We have achieved here the top speeds, as we did in Melbourne. There we had to fight against some other problems but here we could get to our target, that we had set ourselves before the start of the season. I think that this year we should be able to place several times at the front end of the grid."
Mika Hakkinen: "Obviously I'm disappointed to be on the second row. We have a problem, which affects us in the last sector – we know what the problem is, but we just haven't been able to solve it yet. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and finishing my first race of the 2001 season."
David Coulthard: "We are struggling to find the right balance, and I'm unable to take the car to the limit and end up driving defensively, which means inconsistent times. We are suffering from the races being fly-aways, as we are not able to test the MP4-16 on the track. However, I'm confident that I will be quicker than some of the cars in front of me, but it's difficult to overtake at this track so it will be a tough race."
Ron Dennis: "The drivers comments say it all – whilst we have progressively improved the cars over the weekend there is still more to come. I'm sure we can improve our performance in the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "A qualifying result which we are not satisfied with. Without doubt we have to improve in many areas, but our team is capable of turning things around."
Jarno Trulli: "I'm actually a little disappointed, the car was well balanced but I couldn't push as hard as I wanted because I didn't know the car well enough. I lost a lot of running time this morning when the car developed an electrical misfire and that prevented me from fine-tuning the set-up. The times were so close that you needed to push to the maximum, and I didn't feel I could do that, particularly after going off the road briefly on my first flying lap! It was very hot again today but you don't notice it so much when driving. It's only when you go back to the garage that you really feel the heat: you can feel it in the air but also coming from the car. It's going to be a hard race - very tough."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "It's obviously very close in the mid-field, there was nothing wrong with the car. I understeered off the road briefly on my third run and just missed out on my fourth and last run. But, despite the disappointment, I feel good about the race because the car is handling well."
Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive: "That was a fantastic qualifying session, Jarno did a good job recovering from the problems he had in the morning. Naturally Heinz-Harald is a bit disappointed to be back on the fifth row, particularly when the car is working well. The race is going to be a different story, of course. There are a lot of unknowns, particularly the Michelin tyres used by Williams. Certainly, they were good for a fast lap in qualifying but we don't know how they are going to perform during a 56-lap race - particularly in this heat. I think this is probably the hottest St Patrick's Day I've ever experienced!"
Jacques Villeneuve: "It went better than in Melbourne. Seventh isn't good enough but there is still some time in the car and the set-up. I was possibly pushing a bit too hard and made too many mistakes to do the perfect lap but seventh is still good for the race. It's going to be a very hard race for everybody. I would also like to apologise to Eddie as I slowed him down on his fast lap."
Olivier Panis: "I am happy with the balance of the car and the team have done a good job on the set-up. I made a small mistake on my last lap, which cost me a couple of places on the grid, and I would have been closer to Jacques. The car reliability is good so I am quite positive for tomorrow."
Craig Pollock: "For me it was a very nerve wracking qualifying session because we could have finished anywhere in the top twelve looking at the order from the two practice sessions. The team have done an extremely good job and the drivers have shown their worth in this qualifying session. Although it was a reasonable session it also shows us that we still have a lot of work to do."
Malcolm Oastler: "The session was not too bad but obviously things never work out to be absolutely ideal. We didn't get the absolute maximum out of the package, but our position on the grid is reasonably representative of our qualifying potential."
Nick Heidfeld: "The car was quite good today, though you always believe you can find a little bit more in the set-up. I ran scrubbed front tyres for the first two runs, but my third run, on new fronts, wasn't quite so good. But we are strong in race trim. Events in Melbourne played a little into our hands, but 11th isn't a bad place to start here and we can do something good again with that."
Kimi Raikkonen: "It's been a little bit frustrating today. The car went well this morning, and we changed it slightly to dial out some understeer this afternoon. I set my best time on my second run, though, because I had some traffic problems that obliged us to abort the third one. At the end of that I was also called to the weighbridge, and that left us out of time for a proper fourth run."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We have been able to confirm our performance in Melbourne, but unfortunately this time we just missed out on a top 10 qualifying position. But the result is okay; we can do a good race from where we are on the grid."
Eddie Irvine: "I didn't really get a good clean lap today, Jacques Villeneuve held me up during my final run as I was coming into the last corner. I thought he was on a flying lap but instead he held me up and then dived into the pits. A man of his experience should know better, but I don't suppose it would have made a huge difference to my qualifying position. The car felt similar to the way it was this morning, albeit struggling with understeer into corner two. Other teams made steps forward from Free Practice, but we didn't seem to do this well enough. A similar scenario to Melbourne and we must understand why this keeps happening."
Luciano Burti: "I'm not very pleased with where I ended up today, the balance of my car didn't seem as good as it was this morning and we're not sure why this was. The tyres felt quite good and given that I ran with less fuel compared to the morning, it's all the more frustrating as to why we didn't make more progress today. My third run was compromised by traffic, but this pales into insignificance compared to the set-up problems we suffered from. There's much work to do overnight and I'm hopeful of running with a better balanced car tomorrow."
Bobby Rahal: "Of course I'm disappointed that we didn't go quicker, from our feedback during the Free Practice sessions I was hoping to see both cars in the top ten or at least better placed than this. Villeneuve unfortunately hindered Eddie on his final run, but these things happen to everybody now and again - we can't use this as an excuse. We simply didn't maximise our potential today and we will be working hard this evening in an effort to analyse today's performance."
Jean Alesi: "Today's result already shows a great improvement since Melbourne. I have the feeling that the car is getting closer to that which we tested this winter. However it is still relatively difficult to drive on this specific track., and we need to give one hundred per cent to have a good race tomorrow. I am still confident and I know that we have a great margin for improvement with the technical programme we are putting in place. Today's session gives the first visible sign that we are moving in the right direction."
Gaston Mazzacane: "It has been difficult for me today. We went well this morning and made constant progress with the car's set-up. We continued with some modifications during this afternoon's qualifying, but unfortunately I only had one run left when we had found the most satisfying set-up. I improved my time by almost one second but that was not enough to move me up the list."
Alain Prost: "We are learning a lot during this second outing of the season. Firstly, the tyres are behaving very well on this circuit. Secondly, even though we have struggled to find as good a balance as we had during the winter tests, we now understand better the reason for this difference. Jean has constantly improved his performance since this morning and we are quite satisfied with the position he has achieved. Gaston on the other hand, has encountered more difficulties in finding the good set-up for qualifying. He particularly suffered on the quick corners, which obviously slowed him down. After this second day, we are confident for tomorrow, and we have in our reach numerous information to allow us to find a good balance for the race. Reliability is always a key factor on this track and will make all the difference tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I am very disappointed as I only got one run in today and considering it was at the beginning of the session, I know I could have improved quite a lot, I had to abort my second run and then on my third one, we realised there was a problem with the car, although we don't know what it is as yet. We decided I should change to the T-car but as it was set-up for Jenson there wasn't enough time to prepare it for me, and although the mechanics did a good job of trying, we were just a few seconds too late."
Jenson Button:"On my first run I was a bit too cautious and I also had quite a bit of oversteer in the fast corners, then we made some set-up changes which improved the balance for my second run. We kept working in this direction, but I don't feel I really got the best out of the car, so 17th position is quite disappointing."
Pat Symonds, Director of Engineering: "We have had a much more productive day today as the cars ran reliably this morning, however we are still really at the beginning of our quest for speed and this is reflected in our qualifying positions. I feel we could have got a bit higher, particularly with Giancarlo who unfortunately had a minor problem with his car which meant a very late change to the T-car and the timing was such that he didn't get out for his last run, Jenson has had a reasonable run this afternoon, but has still not perfected his balance and the two tenths between our drivers reflects this."
Jos Verstappen: "I'm pretty frustrated by our qualifying performance. We didn't manage to get rid of the understeer so I wasn't able to push the car any harder and the power just wasn't there. It puts us in a difficult position for the race but we will of course try our best."
Enrique Bernoldi: "The car is getting better but we still have a lot of work to do to improve our performance. We were going well on the fourth run but I was blocked by Raikkonen on my last flying lap. Nevertheless I'm pleased I am close to my team-mate's time and will hope for a good race tomorrow."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We're disappointed. We've got a lot of work to do but for now we'll concentrate on getting a good set-up for the race. We are testing in Barcelona next week and will have some new pieces ready in time for the race in Brazil which we hope will strengthen our performance."
Guy Audoux, Asiatech: "Another hard day's learning for Asiatech. Eighteenth and nineteenth places fail to reflect all the work done during the morning sessions. Tomorrow's race will be a hard test of both man and machine, and will provide useful information to help the team progress."
Tarso Marques: "Qualifying went okay, especially the last run of the session, where we made some changes from this morning and improved the car quite a lot. The car reacted completely differently after we made the changes, so we must have a look at what happened with the set-up. The car had too much oversteer everywhere on the first two runs. After we made those big changes to the car and improved it for the last run, we set our best time so far this weekend."
Fernando Alonso: "I couldn't use my normal race chassis at the start of qualifying since the mechanics were fixing a gearbox problem that affected my car in the second session this morning. As a result, I did two runs in the spare car, then switched back to the race chassis for the last run. The cars behaved quite differently and it affected my concentration. I couldn’t get into a good rhythm and made some mistakes, with the result that I just didn't put a quick lap together."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "On the surface of it, 21st and 22nd places on the grid may not look like anything about which to be particularly pleased, but in the heat and high humidity of a Malaysian afternoon, and with the cars still suffering from some niggling mechanical issues as the result of a lack of pre-season testing, both drivers did well to qualify comfortably for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix. Tarso had a good, steady session and pulled out a usefully quick lap on his very last run, while Fernando's efforts were undoubtedly hampered by the fact he had to use the spare car for two of his three qualifying runs and the chassis balance wasn't as confidence-inspiring as that of his race car. As ever, tomorrow is another day. Both our drivers are strong racers, so we remain hopeful of a good result in the race."