Thursday May 24th, 2001
Mika Hakkinen: "Its great to be fastest in front of my adopted home crowd. This gives me confidence for the rest of the weekend. You really have to work hard to find the limits here and there is no doubt the real key is qualifying well as it's so difficult to overtake."
David Coulthard: "In order to get a quick time you have to position the car as close to the barriers as possible. In the second session I got a bit too close and incurred some damage to the right rear suspension and lost a lot of time. whilst the team was repairing."
Ron Dennis: "A relatively troublefree practice with only the odd 'Monaco problem' causing some delay to David's practice – if you are not close, you are not quick. Mika had a less eventful day and ultimately did an excellent lap to set the fastest time. The engineers made good progress with the cars and hopefully we can maintain our pace throughout the entire weekend."
Norbert Haug: "A good beginning to the weekend by Mika and David at their 'home' Grand Prix. Despite David losing quite some time in the pits during the second session, his sector times afterwards would have seen him in third position – but he never had a traffic free lap."
Michael Schumacher: "We concentrated on working for the race, as usual on the first day of practice. We worked on tyres and set-up. At this track, more than any other, the times on the first day mean very little, not just because you do not know what fuel loads the others are using, but also because traffic is always a big problem here. Because of that, today's session has been very busy for everyone. The car is working quite well. Monaco is always a compromise and you can end up with understeer in some parts and oversteer in others. You have to accept that here, but looking at the lap times we can be quite satisfied with today's work. Because we do not run tomorrow, we will have to bear in mind that the track might be slippery again on Saturday morning and that will mean that making the right tyre choice could be even more difficult."
Rubens Barrichello: "This morning I did not do as much running as I would have liked because of a problem with the brake balance. However, everything was back to normal in the afternoon. We tried various different set-up solutions and worked on tyre choice. Overall, I feel much better about today, than I did this time last year. The set-up we have found is much better suited to my driving style."
Jean Todt: "As usual on the first day of practice, we worked mainly on race preparation. The cars seem to be going reasonably well, even if here at Monaco, which is a special sort of track, one needs a very accurate and specific set-up. On Saturday, it will be very important to get the most out of the cars. I am confident our drivers can fight for the front row places. Tyre choice doesn't look that straightforward. I agree with the interesting idea of allowing practice starts at the end of each half of the session."
Ross Brawn: "I think it was a great idea to allow the drivers to practice starts off the grid. It means everyone can check that their systems are working properly. In Austria, the conditions on the actual grid were very different to the part of the pit lane where everyone practised their starts. Hopefully, this means there will not be too many problems on Sunday. The first day in Monaco is always difficult, but at least we did not damage the cars and we learned something. The tyres are the main element we are trying to understand. The situation is not completely clear yet, as we did not get a traffic-free run on one of the types of tyre. But by the time we have gone through all the data later today, we should have an idea what we want to do for the rest of the weekend."
Ralf Schumacher: "The day went better than expected and we were able to do all the work we wanted to, the only fortunate thing about the accident was it happened just before the end of the session. For me the gap to the top is too big so we will have to work on this. The accident was my fault as I was going too quickly."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "The set-up of the car is still not exactly how I would like it, so we have some work to do, the tyres were fine and seem to be getting better all the time. About three quarters of the way through the session I made a mistake going into Rascasse, lost the car under braking and hit the barrier."
Patrick Head, Technical Director: "Two cars hitting the barriers is not an ideal way to start the first day of practice for a Grand Prix, we have done a lot of homework on tyres, brakes and car set-up so I am sure we can recover from this position and look forward to Saturday."
Dr Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Apart from the accidents, which will give the mechanics a lot of work to do tonight, we have no technical problems and our performance is a bit better than we expected, the engines ran trouble free and produced good top speeds, also Michelin seem to be very well prepared here."
Jarno Trulli: "We have a lot of work to do; the balance on new tyres is not really good at this point, we worked on race set-up and I have to say it seems pretty competitive so we need to look at the data now and see what we can do for qualifying on Saturday. It took a while to feel really comfortable with the car and that's important if you want to do a quick time round here, but it was getting better towards the end. We tried the body-mounted wing later on and it felt okay. But we need to check the telemetry and see if it is worth running on Saturday. It's difficult to tell at this stage."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "A good day's work for Thursday at this circuit, we didn't have any major problems which meant we were able to do a lot of work on the set-up. I'm pretty happy so far. I didn't test the extra wing last week, so I didn't run it today. At the end of the session, they allowed us to do a practise start on the actual starting grid (as opposed to the pit lane exit). It's a good thing to be able to do that here because the starting grid is very narrow and no one wants to stall on Sunday."
Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering: "A good day's work for the team, this track is difficult for everybody, including the mechanics because of the working conditions in the cramped pit lane and the distance from the paddock. The drivers did a really good job today because this place is all about not making mistakes. Monaco is very much a one-off track and we have been working through our usual set-up for the street circuit. There is more work to do for Saturday because the track conditions will almost certainly have changed by then."
Jean Alesi: "I love the Monaco circuit, one of the few where drivers can explain themselves and master the car. This is our best free practice so far this season and this is a very encouraging sign. I hope this will also bring our first good result at the end of the weekend."
Luciano Burti: "Of course, I have been struggling today as it is my first time on this circuit. It is a very challenging and difficult track, but it is no excuse. At the moment I don't think we have found the right set-up for my driving style yet, but it comes as much from my lack of experience here as from the car itself. We are going to work on this for tomorrow and I think it will give me more confidence to improve my laptimes until qualifying."
Alain Prost: "In the past weeks, the team has worked hard at the factory and at testing to complete a significant programme of mostly aerodynamic and also mechanical development of the AP04. Although Monaco is not the ideal circuit to judge our progress, the first session and Jean's 8th position confirm that we are a step ahead. Here in Monaco time-gaps are always very close, but we will try to repeat our good performance in Saturday's qualifying."
Jacques Villeneuve: "Our position is acceptable at the end of free practice. We are just slow compared to McLaren and Ferrari. We did not get in a good lap with the new tyres and we should be quicker. There is still a lot of work to do."
Olivier Panis: "During the morning session the car felt good and we put in some good lap times so I am disappointed to have lost time during the second run. After my first lap in second free practice I hit the brake pedal and a bump at the same time which jolted me and I lost the pedal completely.I tried again and went straight on but then could not get the car into reverse. At that point the marshal came to assist me and handled the car so I was unable to continue. I was happy with the morning session although it is a little frustrating to have lost track time. However I am happy with the balance and looking forward to tomorrow."
Craig Pollock: "We had a very mixed session today. Unfortunately Oliver was caught out and that effectively ended his run. Jacques did a good job but we still have a lot of work to do overnight to find a good set-up for qualifying. We have had a tough day but overall we remain fairly optimistic."
David Lloyd, Race Engineer: "It is very difficult to look at the end result and see where we are because we missed so much running time today. The position is certainly not representative of what we can achieve and looking at the times from Oliver I would say that we are fairly competitive. We made quite a few changes to the set-up this morning so we have been able to gather a certain amount of information for qualifying."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "We worked a little bit on the set-up, which helped us find more traction and grip, given recent results, we are quite happy with our position today and it will be fantastic on Saturday if we can qualify somewhere within the first six rows. And as always, we are doing our maximum."
Jenson Button: "I know we can do better and I'm pushing as hard as I can to get there. Our performance has picked up today, compared to recent races, and I think we have a better basis from which to make progress. If anything, my chassis was perhaps set a bit too low today but we will sort that out for qualifying."
Pat Symonds, Engineering Director: "Monaco is always a hectic circuit and today we made work even harder for ourselves because we found a problem with our control software after the installation lap. That took some time to fix and consequently neither driver was able to manage a sensible run this morning, however in the afternoon session I think we recovered well. The car seems much more competitive here and Giancarlo's position reflects that, unfortunately Jenson had to stop during the afternoon session because of a substantial water leak. He didn't get a chance to run on new tyres and hence he is a little further down the order."
Eddie Irvine: "It's as expected, we could have been ahead of Alesi and those guys, but we didn't time on new tyres at the end. We're very short on downforce. I've never found the tunnel so difficult in all the years I've been coming here. It's just a pure lack of downforce, and we know we're massively short on it."
Pedro de la Rosa: "I was about to come into the pits at the end of the first run, and the throttle stuck open, that's it, these things happen. They got the car ready with 10 minutes to go, but then they had a problem with the power steering. We didn't want to risk it as we were not confident enough that it would work perfectly after a quick fix. First you have to get 100% out of it, and at the moment it's early days, at Monaco it's a matter of quantity of downforce, not quality."
Kimi Raikkonen: "Things weren't too bad today, considering that this was my first time driving the whole track here in Monte Carlo. It's a nice circuit. For sure we can improve the car, and there is more to come from me, but the real problem today was yellow flags. They made it very hard to get a good lap, and I lost my last run when Ralf went off. I'm still confident that I can get into the top 10 on Saturday afternoon."
Nick Heidfeld: "On my fastest lap today I had to pass two cars, and later my final effort was compromised when Ralf Schumacher crashed at the end of the afternoon session. But in any case I was not happy with the way the car went today. We did some things which made it better, but it was still difficult to drive."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Today we were too slow in the second and third sectors, and now we must analyse all the data, think how to improve the car, and come up with better solutions for Saturday. At least we have all day Friday to do that!"
Jos Verstappen: "That was a really interesting session. We had lots of new parts to try and we've now got a lot of information to go through which is great. We did a lot of laps and it's all looking pretty good so I am confident we have a good weekend ahead of us."
Enrique Bernoldi: "We got a lot of set-up work done today, including trying out the tyre compounds and scrubbing tyres for later on. The circuit changed a lot throughout the two sessions but we made a fair bit of progress. There's still room for improvement though so I'm going to sit down with the engineers now to decide where we go from here. I'm pretty happy though overall."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "Everything was okay today. We mainly concentrated on race set-up, running good fuel loads and trying out different tyres. Qualifying set-up work will be done on Saturday morning. We're pleased with the nose wing but we'll have a good look at the data before deciding if we run it all weekend."
Tarso Marques: "My car just suffered from too much oversteer during the first practice session, and that's perhaps why I spun off. The mechanics had to repair the car, which meant I started the second session late and lost a lot of valuable time. We've improved the set-up pretty well today, but we're still far from where we should be. Apart from today's outcome, I like driving on this track, which I have not experienced before. I look forward to Saturday's qualifying."
Fernando Alonso: "This morning, despite the track being dirty, I ran fairly well, and my engineer and I decided not to make too many changes to the car's settings. At the beginning of the second session, though, I made a mistake while entering the last corner. I finished against the barriers and lost the remainder of the session as a result."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "On a sunny Monaco afternoon, both European Minardi F1 drivers sadly learned that the walls do bite around here. With Tarso missing much of the first session due to a heavy impact with the barriers, his mechanics did well to have his car ready for the second session. Fernando, who did well in session one and steadily reduced his lap times, then fell foul of the Monaco walls in the second session. As ever, Saturday is another day and we look forward to what will almost certainly be an interesting qualifying session."