Atlas F1 News Service

Saturday's Selected Quotes - Italian GP

Saturday September 15th, 2001


Juan Pablo Montoya: "The car was really good. We worked a lot this morning trying to make it better and better. We knew in the morning we were not going to be that good if it was cold, but the temperature came up and we became stronger and stronger. I think there is a bit more time there so I am very pleased with that. I believe tomorrow is going to be hard as the Ferraris have been consistently quick all the weekend, so it should be interesting. I shall try to have a clean start and go from there."

Ralf Schumacher: "Unfortunately for me qualifying was less successful than expected, as we just didn’t find the right set-up. My car alternated between oversteer and understeer. It also did not really help that on one of my runs I had to slow down because of yellow flags. Now the Schumacher family starts from the second row, and this will be exciting for sure."

Patrick Head, Technical Director: "A strong performance from the team, and particularly from Juan Pablo with his second consecutive pole position. The slightly warmer temperatures in the afternoon also helped the Michelin tyres give an even better performance - they look good, strong and stable. It is obvious the circuit with its long straights suits the power of the BMW engine quite well. We now need to get a good result out of these grid positions."

Dr Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The fight with the two Ferraris was really exciting today. At the end it was Juan who had his nose in front. Being here on pole gives us a lot of satisfaction because engine power plays such an important role here. We had no problems with either engine, and they were as strong as they should have been."


Rubens Barrichello: "The car is much better than yesterday and I had all the right support from the team, with whom we did a good job to find the best set up. The engine side was very good. We decided it would be tight on time to do long runs and I made a few changes to the car after my first one. That was done on old tyres, but I flat-spotted one and had to switch to new tyres. We did not know how that would work, but it turned out to be the best choice. It is very special to be here in Monza, in front of all the tifosi, on what is a dark weekend, so it’s good to be on the front row."

Michael Schumacher: "Although I am happy with the car, I made a mistake in the first sector on what should have been my best lap. I just didn't put the sector times together today. You can't always do very well. I was trying for pole of course and that meant I was pushing very hard, but I overdid it. But I am more optimistic for the race and third place is certainly not a disaster. Since Hockenheim, we improved a lot in terms of the engine and tyres. We decided not to do long runs but to do more instead. Obviously, we will do the best we can for our fans, although it is certainly difficult to concentrate on racing at the moment."

Jean Todt: "It was a good qualifying session. We managed to get second and third places, thus starting from the first and second rows which is a favourable situation. We had expected a close fight with these rivals. Rubens performed really well, getting just ahead of his team-mate Michael. Tomorrow's race will be very close. We are in a position where we can hope for a good result in front of our fans."

Ross Brawn: "We are a bit disappointed not to have taken pole, but the overall result, with two drivers in the top three, is good all the same, especially as far as Rubens is concerned. It is very hard to find the right balance on this track as you run with very little downforce. I am quite optimistic for the race. The tyres might have worked better on a second flying lap, which made things more complicated. We might have got a bit more time out of the car with that strategy, but we decided to go for four runs. The tyres seem to be very good and consistent as far as the race is concerned. We have chosen to run the new tyre which Bridgestone has brought here."


Jarno Trulli: "A great qualifying for me, I'm really happy for me and the team; everyone did a great job. We did the best we could with the car and I'm really pleased. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because, with the help of this new tyre from Bridgestone for this weekend, we have a good chance of being competitive throughout the race. Today was a good job from everybody on the team."

Jean Alesi: "The worst qualifying I can imagine here, we were not able to prepare the car correctly for qualifying because of a gearbox problem which cost me time in the morning. It meant I had no chance all through qualifying to find the correct balance. My main problem was the braking; I was not able to brake with confidence and I also had traffic problems at one stage, which didn't help."

Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive: "It was a case of good and bad for us today, a good qualifying from Jarno to be two cars in front of the McLarens, which is nice. But very disappointing for Jean particularly at this circuit. He's led here before, been on pole, and we've got to find what the problem was because, for Jean,16th is not what you would expect from him at Monza."


David Coulthard: "We were struggling today but to be honest we were expecting it as Hockenheim had proved that this sort of circuit layout doesn't suit us. I think the car was capable of a slightly better time if the confidence had been there. However its difficult to attack a corner if you don't know whether you are going to have a little bit of oversteer or a little bit of understeer. The overall balance was not too bad but getting the overall grip and the confidence to go fast was another matter. As always I aim to go for victory but it will be difficult. I think we can be better tomorrow but we will have to wait and see if it's enough. However it's not over until the chequered flag."

Mika Hakkinen: "On my last timed lap I ran wide and the rear tyre went on to the gravel. The car went sideways and I just couldn't recover. I thought that if I lifted it would be worse so I just kept my foot down, but the car snapped before I managed to get it back on the circuit and I went into the barrier. I'm fine but a bit shaken. However I'm going to put it to the back of my mind and continue working. As is obvious from looking at the times all is not well as we are far away from the pole position time. However we will stay positive and work hard to find a solution for tomorrow."

Ron Dennis: "Monza is a high speed low downforce circuit which in qualifying places greater emphasis on the engine and chassis dynamics. We didn't get it right today but in the race with higher fuel loads we anticipate being more competitive."

Norbert Haug: "We knew that we would have a difficult qualifying, but we have achieved good results from worse grid positions before."


Nick Heidfeld: "Considering that we lost so much valuable running time with our problems yesterday, and that we were thus obliged to use most of free practice this morning conducting race set-up work, I´m satisfied with what we achieved this afternoon. The car didn't feel as well balanced as it did at our last test here, but I'm happy with eighth place."

Kimi Raikkonen: "We made a little bit of progress this morning, then we spent qualifying just making small but effective changes to the car. I would have gone faster on my last run, but going into the first chicane at the start of it I came across Fisichella going slowly on his out lap and couldn't be sure which way he would move. That lost me some time."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "I am very happy with another comfortable top 10 performance, and with our strong recovery not only from a difficult weekend at Spa but also from yesterday's misfortunes. I´m confident that tomorrow we can mount a strong defence of our fourth position in the World Championship for Constructors."


Pedro de la Rosa: "I drove well, and I'm happy about it. I was complaining about understeer, and Humphrey made the right changes to the car for qualifying, because after practice the car had massive understeer. We solved the problems, and that's why I said 'Well done.' If you manage to get the most out of the car you have to celebrate like you're on pole position. The car was very good in qualifying, and that's why I’m very happy. The balance was there. We played a little bit during the whole two days with the understeer we have been suffering, and in the end the car was well balanced. It was a little bit too much 'on the nose', but for qualifying you need a nervous car."

Eddie Irvine: "It was just brakes, Yesterday we had problems with brakes, and this morning, and again in qualifying. The brake balance just went massively to the rear. We’ve no understanding of what's going on, to be honest. There's something in the system that's giving us a problem, and it's been there for two days. I just kept going more and more to the front, which didn't make sense. On the last run I got held up by Panis at the first corner. My T2 was very quick, and then I got the red flag. We just don't seem to be able to get it together. There's just too many problems happening all the time in qualifying. That lap was going to put me right behind Pedro, but as I say I got held up by Panis. He drove to the apex of the first corner and stopped, which wasn't very clever."


Jenson Button: "It's excellent being 11th. It is a good result, my best this year! I think it could have gone even a little better. Everyone did a great job and the car worked really well. We've got a good set-up and I did not really change anything in qualifying because we didn't need to. For the last run, there was a small change and we didn't get it quite right on the last run but I just had to push more and more."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "I had a hydraulics failure in my race car so I had to stop. We changed to the T-car, but unfortunately, I had a problem with the engine so we could not complete all of our scheduled laps. It is a very unlucky day for me and I am disappointed because the car had a very good balance, but I made a mistake on my first run, on my first lap. The T-car was different, with a lower step engine, and I did not feel as confident as I wanted to feel."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Jenson did a good job, but had a problem with oversteer on the exits on some of the corners that we were unable to cure for him. I am sure that we could have got some more time out of the car had we been able to cure that. Giancarlo had only one real run, but made a mistake in the first sector and then, as the track improved he had a hydraulic problem and then an engine problem in the T-car which, although we fixed it, meant he was not able to improve his time. Both drivers did an excellent job today and, if the team had handled it better, I am sure we could have got both cars in the top ten because the car was quick enough. As at Hockenheim, we proved we can race well and we are confident for tomorrow when we will have to get the most out of our package."


Heinz Harald Frentzen: "This qualifying result here in Monza means even more to me than the 4th position I achieved in Belgium. It shows indeed the improvements we have made on the car since I joined the team. And especially, since yesterday, we were able to imrpove the overall balance quite significantly. Still we have not been able to get rid of the understeer, and it is frustrating to know that the potential of the car is a lot higher than what we have shown today. But I know we are going the right way. So I am quite happy with this result and confident for the race."

Tomas Enge: "I am happy I could complete this qualifying session without any mistake despite the circumstances did not allow me to show my best. In my second run, I encountered an engine problem and had to jump in Heinz-Harald’s spare. Unfortunately, another mechanical problem happened which prevented me from completing my last run. Still, it is satisfying for me to manage to qualify for my first Formula One race ever, even though 20th position is the most I could achieve in these conditions. We will put a lot of efforts into finding the best compromise for my car set-up, and I am really looking forward to the race. My target will obviously be to see the chequered flag."

Alain Prost: "Heinz-Harald has done a very good job since the start of the week-end and we are really satisfied with both his performance and his grid position. Knowing our lack of testing on this track, his progression since yesterday is all the more remarkable. Unfortunately, we had a lot of bad luck on Tomas’ car today. After this morning’s engine problem, we faced two mechanical problems in a row during qualifying. It is not easy for a young driver to start in such conditions on a very technical track like Monza. We feel sorry for him, but the positive point is that he has been constantly improving his performance, including when he had to jump in the T-car which was set for his team-mate. The most important thing now for Tomas is to reach the finish line in tomorrow’s race in order to gather the maximum experience. Considering the overall work we have been able to do with Heinz-Harald and Tomas, we are sure our cars can be competitive tomorrow."


Jacques Villeneuve: "I felt that we did a good job today so I'm disappointed with our qualifying position. The car felt good to drive and I put in a fast lap at the end but we're not quick enough on the straights. It's very frustrating to be where we are when the team worked so well. This is the first time since I came to Formula One in 1996 that I haven't been with my regular engineer, Jock Clear. Grant Tuff has also worked with me a lot since that time and he stepped in very quickly here. We've worked well together this weekend. It's going to be tough from row 8 but we have been consistently better off in the race than in qualifying this year and I'm sure that will be the case tomorrow."

Olivier Panis: "I'm disappointed like everyone on the team. I found the car difficult to drive and we aren't quick enough. We still have a lot of work to do to improve the car and enable us to take advantage of any opportunities in the race. We have to stay focused because we need to understand the problems we have ­ not just for the Italian Grand Prix but for the next two races and next season."

Malcolm Oastler, Technical Director: "Both the team and the drivers did a good job today. We're slow here at the moment and we’re working hard to find solutions for the race. Tomorrow's another day and despite a disappointing grid position, we're confident that we can improve in the race and finish in a better position than we qualified."


Enrique Bernoldi: "During my last run in free practice this morning I had a problem with my car so when qualifying began I did not have total confidence so I didn't start as well as I could have done. We made steady progress throughout the session and I have to say I'm pretty happy with the result as we tried our best. We ironed out the oversteer problem I had this morning so I feel a lot happier with the car now and am looking forward to a good day tomorrow."

Jos Verstappen: "I'm pretty happy with the way the car has performed today. This is a power circuit so there are only small things we could do, like experimenting with tyre pressures. We improved the balance of the car a lot during the session so I am quite confident that we will have a good race. Hopefully I will get a good start and then we will see what happens from there."

Graham Taylor, Chief Race Engineer: "Well we had a much better day today than we had in Spa two weeks ago, that's for sure! It was very close between the two drivers but quite a gap to make up to the Honda cars ahead of us on the grid. We've optimised what we have got so it's disappointing that we are slower than we were here last year."

European Minardi

Fernando Alonso: "It has been a tough day for all of us, I reckon. This morning we were not able to do any run, therefore for the qualifying session we just went out on the track without being able to set up the car as we wanted. Then, once we were out for the first run we had problems with the gearbox and Alex and myself were forced to leave both cars and run to the pits where the lads were just getting the T-car ready for me. To qualify with the same car is not easy neither for the drivers, nor for the team because time is limited to sort out a good set-up and you have very few chances to put in your perfect lap. In the end we got it and both of us will be on the starting grid for tomorrow's race, which is the most important thing."

Alex Yoong: "It was very difficult because, you know, the car wasn't perfect and we hadn't had any run this morning. I was still trying to find my braking distances because the track seemed to be quite different from yesterday. And also I couldn't push 100% for I had to bring the car back for Fernando to give Fernando a good chance to qualify up there. So it was tricky, although I think the outcome should be enough for the race, at least I guess so. I have qualified and I'm just happy for that."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Losing this morning's two practice sessions with gearbox problems and then having both cars expire soon after leaving the pit lane at the beginning of qualifying was a situation that could not have put drivers or mechanics under more pressure. All concerned more than rose to the occasion, though, and produced a performance well beyond expectations during what was a very trying hour for European Minardi. There was no choice but for both drivers to use the spare chassis, fitted with older-specification gearbox. Fernando, as usual, did a fantastic job, and to Alex, we offer huge congratulations – what a way to come into Formula One!"

Published at 17:00:14 GMT

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