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In a thrilling qualifying session for the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship opener the two BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers, Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve, qualified 10th and 11th respectively for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Nick Heidfeld: To start with, it was great that I was able to make it to the final part of qualifying. It was quite tricky to find the right set-up this afternoon in order to get the best out of the tyres over just one lap. But that worked well for us in the first 15 minute session, better still in the second and even better in the final part. The first two sectors of my lap were very good, but then I pushed a little too hard in Turn 13. I braked late and as I came off the racing line I lost a lot of time. Otherwise I could have qualified as high as fifth, so naturally I am a little disappointed.
Jacques Villeneuve: Our initial strategy for the second session was to do only one run at the end when the track should have been at its best, but then we changed to one run at the beginning and one at the end. Unfortunately I left the pits too late and could only do one lap before the finish, and today the time always came on the second lap.
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): This is the best qualifying format that we have ever had. First, two knockout rounds, and then a final session in which everything is at stake all over again. That was really great, an hour of intense action. This is exactly what was missing in recent years. It was also a good start for our new team. We had no technical problems whatsoever, and now it will be crucial for us to get the best out of our grid positions.
Willy Rampf (Technical Director Chassis): The new 'knockout' qualifying format is pretty exciting! The timing of each run is the biggest challenge. Jacques got stuck in traffic and then just dropped out of the top 10 at the end of the second session. And Nick lost some time and therefore grid positions in the final sector of his last lap. But overall we are happy with our new car and its performance under the new qualifying regulations.
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