Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - Austrian GP

Saturday May 12th, 2001


Michael Schumacher: "After this morning, we were still not sure what was the best procedure for qualifying, which is why I experimented with trying to do two flying laps. I think it was the best solution for me, even if I had to abort the attempt. I made a mistake on my first quick lap, running wide at Turn 2, so I backed off to save everything for the next lap. At the end, I was lucky to still have a lap in hand and I went out because I didn't know who might go faster. But I was unlucky because Verstappen spun in front of me. It was not a big drama. I thought I could get by, but in fact I couldn't and had to go on the inside. I was expecting him to come back across the track. On this circuit, the wind, which changed direction, can be an important factor and you also need to have a special set-up and get everything right. The start will be critical. With launch control, all the front runners should get away at the same time and it will be vital to be first in the first corner. Then, you can dictate the pace and force others to run the race you want. I am not discounting McLaren. If they make a good start they could be fourth or fifth and then it will depend if they can move up from there."

Rubens Barrichello: "My session was affected by traffic and it was very hard for me to get a clean lap. At the end, there was a lot of dirt on the circuit and that meant the plan to go for four runs was not ideal. I am always very close to pole, but I am disappointed not to have managed better than fourth place."

Jean Todt: "That was a great qualifying session and we managed to get our cars onto the first and second rows. The grid is a bit different to the picture we have grown used to in recent times. I am particularly pleased to see a Sauber, using a Maranello-built engine, so high up the grid. Tomorrow's race should be open and interesting. Reliability will be fundamental because this track is particularly hard on the machinery."

Ross Brawn: "Today, the most important factor was to get the best out of the tyres. We went for a mix of old fronts and new rears which gave us the best balance. We did have some problems with traffic on Rubens's car, while Michael was happy with his car and seemed to be enjoying himself, until the little moment on his last lap. I think we are in good shape for tomorrow."


Juan Pablo Montoya: "For us today qualifying went pretty well. We had a good Friday, as we did in Spain, and the second weekend with no problems on the first day makes a huge difference. We have made a lot of improvements on the car recently and they have paid off. The reason we couldn't improve our time after the second run was because the wind changed direction during the session to a head wind."

Ralf Schumacher: "A great result for the whole team. On one hand it is better to be second than third, but on the other Juan Pablo will have to start from the dirty side of the track. The qualifying was good, although I had some traffic on one quick lap and did a small mistake on another. It is going to be tough to predict what will happen in the race, but I think we are going to be strong in the second half when the circuit has more rubber on it."

Patrick Head, Technical Director: "The result was a better than we expected, but both drivers did a great job today. It is good to see Juan Pablo realising his potential in qualifying. Now we have to get the strategy right for the race so we can make the best use of today's achievement. The Michelin tyres were obviously extremely good for qualifying and we used fresh sets."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "One point two tenths of a second off pole - we have never been so close before. We expected a good qualifying today, but this result is even a little bit better than our expectations, and means excellent chances for the race tomorrow. Both drivers did very good performances and were positive about the car and the engine."


Nick Heidfeld: "Qualifying was difficult today because of the changing wind condition. You had to be lucky and be out on the track at the right time, because things changed quite quickly. The car was good today, so I made only one small set-up change and after that just played around with the tyre pressures. I'm happy with sixth place, my best qualifying effort to date."

Kimi Raikkonen: "My first run was good, but on the second Villeneuve blocked me. I really don't know why. He let a Minardi go by, then it looked as though he had seen me but then he speeded up again and ruined my lap. The last run was also good until Frentzen went wide just in front of me, and then I experienced the same gearshift problem that I had this morning."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Now we can say that it's real, and not a Friday! I am very, very happy, with Nick sixth and Kimi Raikkonen 9th and both cars comfortably in the top 10 again. The car is very good here and obviously we have a good set-up, but the drivers deserve a lot of credit too, especially Nick Heidfeld with his third row start."


Jarno Trulli: "I did a very good first run, then I had a drop off in performance which we need to investigate. I couldn't improve my lap times, which was a shame because, otherwise, the car was running very well. We had found quite a good balance for qualifying and, right from the beginning, the car was quick. So it's a shame I couldn't go quicker but, after the problems this morning, I'm pretty happy."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "I had to abandon my first quick lap when I made a mistake and accidentally hit the pit lane speed-limiter! I set what would turn out to be my best lap on my second run but I was struggling with the car. The balance was not as good as it had been in the morning and we couldn't improve it. On top of that, I had traffic problems and, because of the way the laps had worked out, I was carrying a bit more fuel than I needed, so the extra weight didn't help either. All in all, I'm obviously disappointed to be this far back on the grid."

Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering: "Jarno did a very good first lap, but, from then on, he was affected by a lack of power and we need to analyse that further. Heinz had a difficult qualifying in the sense that he didn't get a single decent run. He had to abort two runs and the run he did get was not a good lap."


David Coulthard: "Obviously we didn't manage to get the car to perform as well as this morning. The balance had changed and we were affected by oversteer, and in the time we had available, we were unable to rectify the situation. I had to abort a couple of runs because of traffic and eventually you just don’t have any more time. We will take today's performance on the chin and look at how and where we can improve for tomorrow. We have already demonstrated that the pace is there."

Mika Hakkinen: "I'm really disappointed with the outcome of qualifying. For the conditions in qualifying we weren't able to further improve on the balance we had this morning. On my last run, I experienced an engine problem, but in the race anything can happen as we have seen in previous years, so now we have to focus on getting everything right for tomorrow."

Ron Dennis: "Sometimes you get it right and most times we do – this was one of the rare cases where we got it wrong. We had no fundamental problem other than going in the wrong direction with the set up. Of course it's a little harder to fight from where we are on the grid but I'm confident that our engineers can rediscover our competitiveness for tomorrow."

Norbert Haug: "The team and the drivers couldn't find the right set up. That we are fast, we demonstrated yesterday and in this morning's practice. Mika's engine problem was found to be caused by a small loss of water pressure, which according to our investigations, did not influence the engine's performance. Now we have to concentrate on finding the right race set up to make amends tomorrow."


Olivier Panis: "The team and the engineers worked hard to make the car as good as possible to suit the conditions during qualifying and I am happy with the end result. It was a hard session and during the last run I pushed really hard and achieved a good time but it was very close, with only two tenths between 5th and 10th place on the grid. I am not unhappy because the car has been running well all weekend."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I did not drive very well today. I tried too hard and made too many mistakes.We also made some changes from this morning but we went the wrong way and there was not enough time to change it back during qualifying. It is disappointing but the car felt good so we will be looking to have a strong race tomorrow."

Craig Pollock: "One of the most unusual dry qualifying sessions I have ever seen. I don't think that either Jacques or Olivier got the best out of their cars today but looking at the grid line up it is going to be a very interesting race. Considering our usual form we seem to perform better in the race than in qualifying so we will be looking to capitalize on that tomorrow."

Malcolm Oastler, Technical Director: "Not the best qualifying session we have had. Olivier put in a good lap near the end but it did not improve our position. We are only two tenths away from being fifth so it is very tight. Unfortunately we are at the wrong end of that two tenths. Jacques session for some reason was very messy and he was unable to put in a good lap. Tomorrow though is another day."


Eddie Irvine: "That was a very messy qualifying session, my car didn't feel very good during the first run and Alesi also spun in front of me during my attack lap. I had no choice but to dive into the pitlane to avoid him. My second lap was okay but the third lap was a write-off. Hakkinen held me up during the fourth run but I don't think I could have climbed much higher up the order today. If you look at my sector times, I guess I could have been a bit quicker but to be honest, it wouldn't have made too much difference."

Pedro de la Rosa: "I must say I'm not happy with my lap time, because honestly on the last two flying runs I had Burti and then Frentzen, so I'm not happy at all. I think I should have been quicker. On my second lap I did my fastest lap time, and I think I should have been at least two or three tenths quicker. It's the normal stuff! But for sure I'm not happy. This morning we had a problem with the diff and the gearbox. But it was not too bad in the end. It was just a little bit slow, and I should have qualified with a better lap time."

Bobby Rahal: "We were average at best on the straights, because we're so inefficient, and then in the corners we're really down on speed, it's amazing. And if you try and get more speed on the corners then you're really slow on the straights! These circuits are just not our circuits right now. That won't be so much of an issue in Canada. Also Pedro got blocked twice on his last two quick laps. I think he felt he could have gone a few tenths quicker, which wouldn't have made any difference on the grid, but would have got us within that two second window of Michael Schumacher. If anything I was expecting worse. I think we can race with Panis, Villeneuve and those guys, and Frentzen’s just ahead of us. The gap between qualifying and race doesn’t seem to be as big for us. We’ll see tomorrow. Pedro was good. He's right there with Eddie. He had some good laps, but unfortunately he ran into some traffic. He might have been a little bit quicker. But both guys are performing at the same comparative level, and that was the whole idea in bringing Pedro into the team."


Enrique Bernoldi: "I'm pretty happy with that. I had a problem with my tyres this morning in that I flat spotted one from a qualifying set so we didn't have that totally sorted. Nevertheless we progressed throughout the session and I'm quite happy with the final result."

Jos Verstappen: "Well first of all I'd like to thank Enrique for the use of his car this morning! Qualifying did not go well for me today, mainly because of my accident this morning. The car is definitely better on scrubbed front tyres but we lost a lot of time this morning and couldn't scrub enough sets. Having said that the car felt a lot better on my third run but on the first flying lap I got traffic and on the second I went off. I think I've had a good dose of bad luck lately as we should be at least in the top 12 but I still feel optimistic about tomorrow."

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We should have done better today as we have had much better pace all weekend. We're a bit disappointed but tomorrow's another day and there's a long, hard race to come. We don't expect any problems during the race so we'll work hard tonight and hope for a good result tomorrow."


Luciano Burti: "Our performance throughout the weekend confirms that this track does not suit our car. It's a shame because at the previous Grand Prix (Spain) the car had performed quite well and the test session in Valencia last week had been good as well. But the conditions here are radically different. The track was still very green today, and we have not totally overcome the difficulties we had yesterday. Although we managed to improve the car throughout the session, I couldn't get a better qualifying position."

Jean Alesi: "Since the start of practice, the car has shown to be very sensitive to any set-up changes on this track and I haven't been able to understand its behaviour. Today's qualyifying has been particularly difficult, and on my first fast lap I had a big spin. My position on the grid is the result of a frustrating weekend."

Alain Prost: "We haven't managed to find a set-up suitable to our cars on this circuit. This type of track emphasizes the difficulties we have recently experienced with making our tyres work. It's a real disappointment to start tomorrow's race so far behind on the grid. We have important technical novelties soon to come, but we have also planned a specific technical programme that can help us to prepare better for difficult circuits, such as the A1Ring. We have seen since the start of the weekend that the car responds better in race configuration and that gives us reason to believe tomorrow our cars will run a consistent and reliable race. This Grand Prix is always full of surprises and events could turn out in a positive way for us."

European Minardi

Fernando Alonso: "Today was not so bad. It is the third consecutive time I have finished 18th in qualifying, meaning that we are ahead of other cars with more potential than us. This makes us feel pretty satisfied with the work we are doing. It means that what we are doing on Friday and Saturday mornings is effective and pays dividends in the afternoon qualifying. I think this is important and encouraging, both for me and for the whole team."

Tarso Marques: "It was such an unbelievable day today, unlucky as I've never experienced before. This morning, a gearbox problem caused me to lose almost all the first practice session. Later, I lost a bit of the second session due to an engine concern. In qualifying, things did not go any better. When I went out for my first lap, I locked the rear wheels under braking and spun off the track. I then switched to the T-car, and all I wanted was to be as careful as possible and put in a lap time sufficient to ensure I qualified. I managed it, but unfortunately, I did just one lap before a rear damper problem affected the gearbox, and that was the end of my qualifying session."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "After a dull start to qualifying that saw nothing move in the first 20 minutes of the session, the remaining 40 minutes were incredibly busy for European Minardi F1. It began when Tarso spun on his first run and had to rush back to the garage to climb into the spare car. That was followed by a nervous moment with Fernando, when his car spun, but luckily he was able to continue. Tarso then returned from his first run in the spare car with a damper problem that, sadly, curtailed his qualifying session. On a positive note, Fernando's 18th place is just reward for what has otherwise been a difficult day, while Tarso did well to set the lap time he did considering the problems he experienced."


Giancarlo Fisichella: "On my first run, there were yellow flags so I wasn't able to do anything with that and in fact, the second run was the only proper run I did. I thought I could make progress from that, but then on the third run I had a problem with the engine and also a little difficulty with the balance of the car, so I came in. I wanted to drive the T-Car but we didn't manage to make the changes in time for me to go out, which meant I couldn't work through my whole programme. It's a disappointment, but we'll see what we can do tomorrow."

Jenson Button: "The first run wasn't great as I made a mistake on the first corner, then the second one was okay but I hit a bit of traffic, which didn't help. On the last run I was trying to get a tow from one of the Williams and that seemed to be working quite well, but at the second turn I braked and the fronts just locked up and that was it - I went straight on. After that there was no point finishing the lap, as it was obviously gone at that stage."

Pat Symonds, Director of Engineering: "A difficult qualifying session for us today, which was fraught with a few more problems than normal! Giancarlo only managed two runs, as he felt his engine go tight on his third run and wisely abandoned the lap to come into the pits, but as the spare car was set up for Jenson, there wasn't enough time to get him out for a final run. In Jenson's case, he was making steady progress and making good set-up changes throughout, but on his last run he locked the brakes going into Turn 2 and lost any advantage he might have gained."

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