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Team Quotes - Saturday 26 May


2007 Monaco GP

Team Quotes - Saturday 26 May

Fernando Alonso claimed his first pole position for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team for Sunday's Monaco's Grand Prix. Team mate Lewis Hamilton will make it an all Vodafone McLaren Mercedes front row after qualifying second. Fernando did a time of 1m15.726 whilst Lewis did 1m15.905.

Ron Dennis: To have both Fernando and Lewis on the front row for the Monaco Grand Prix is a well deserved reward for all the hard work by the team so far this season. Both drivers drove good qualifying laps and the team coped well with the challenges that the rain briefly brought. There is a long race in front of us, so whilst we enjoy the moment we know that it's the race tomorrow that counts for us to retain our lead in both World Championships.

Norbert Haug: This was one of the most thrilling qualifying sessions here in Monaco with a great result for the team. Congratulations to Fernando on his first pole position for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and to Lewis on his performance during his first two days in Formula 1 on this challenging circuit. The team worked excellently from the first minute of Thursday's practice and today brought the best reward, but tomorrow is the race when our target is to achieve a similar result as today.

The ING Renault F1 Team experienced a busy qualifying session this afternoon in Monaco, emerging from the one hour knock-out with mixed results. Giancarlo Fisichella put his R27 in fourth place on the grid for tomorrow's race, confirming the recent improvements the team has made to the car. Heikki Kovalainen was fighting for a spot in the top ten during the second qualifying session when he was baulked for almost an entire lap by the Red Bull of David Coulthard. This cost the Finn the opportunity of setting a competitive time, and left him in fourteenth position, severely compromising his chances of a strong finish tomorrow on a circuit where grid position is of paramount importance. Nevertheless, both drivers will be aiming to drive a mistake-free race on the demanding street circuit, and hoping to capitalise on the improved performance of the R27 to put in strong performances.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: This was a fantastic result for Giancarlo and the team. After our recent difficulties, a second row position feels like pole position, although we know there is still a lot of work ahead of us. The unique nature of the circuit certainly helped us, but the car is also improving rapidly and Giancarlo was able to make full use of it. My sympathy goes to Heikki after a very frustrating session. It is a shame that the oldest driver in the field, and the one who is most voluble about problems with traffic, was unable to adhere to his own principles. Clearly, our two drivers will have very different targets for tomorrow, but they will both be racing hard, and looking to make the most of the recent improvements to the car.

Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: It has been a busy and eventful day. This morning's wet session gave the engine team the opportunity to check the V8 was responding well to the extreme challenges this circuit presents, and we made the most of it. The weather was threatening throughout qualifying, and this added another unpredictable factor to what is always a very tense session in Monaco. Our level of performance was encouraging, and showed that our development is taking us in the right direction. From the second row Giancarlo can certainly race strongly, while Heikki will look to make up as many positions as possible after being relegated to the seventh row through no fault of his own this afternoon.

Jean Todt: As usual, qualifying was very close, made even more uncertain this time by the changing weather. On this unique track, starting from the front row is very important for the final result and for the first time this season, neither of our cars is there. Kimi touched the barrier at the Swimming Pool and he had to pit with a damaged car and so was unable to take part in the final part of the session. He will start from sixteenth spot which will obviously make for a very complicated race. For his part, Felipe did a perfect final lap, to take third place. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts he was unable to get ahead of our closest rivals. The outcome tomorrow will be decided by the usual factors strategy, reliability, the start, team work and the efforts of the drivers, as well as the performance of the tyres. There will be a further variable, linked to the weather which can make things even more uncertain.

Luca Baldisserri: Free practice in the wet and qualifying in the dry: it's the worst possible combination for preparing as well as possible for a vital session on a track like this. We are very disappointed for Kimi who touched the barrier at the exit to the Swimming Pool, breaking a steering arm on the front right wheel. We tried to repair the damage but there was not enough time to do so before the end of Q2. Felipe did an extraordinary lap, especially in the final sector which helped him secure third place. Clearly, not knowing what fuel loads our main rivals have on board it is hard to predict what sort of result we can expect from Felipe, while it is equally obvious that Kimi has a long climb through the field ahead of him. We think we will be competitive and we will do our utmost to bring home as many points as possible.

The Honda Racing F1 Team will start tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix from the fifth row of the grid after a strong qualifying performance on the twisty Monte Carlo circuit today. Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button both made it through to the final session and will start in ninth and 10th positions respectively following the team's best qualifying showing of the year.

Following intermittent showers during morning practice, this afternoon's qualifying hour remained dry and the two Honda drivers easily made it through the first knock-out session, posting the eighth and ninth fastest times. At the end of Q2, Rubens was the 10th fastest driver, with Jenson squeezed out by just 0.003 secs. A penalty for David Coulthard stripped him of his Q2 times which promoted Jenson to Q3. This led to an action-packed final session that saw the Honda drivers swapping positions right up to the end.

Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: Our best qualifying session of the year and we are very pleased to see both drivers in the top ten, particularly here in Monaco where a good grid position can have such an impact on the race. Both drivers got all of the performance possible out of the car today with some excellent driving and also credit is due to the team for the job they did of running the cars. This morning, the free practice session was affected by some rain just before and during the session but thankfully qualifying remained dry and we can now look forward to a stronger race tomorrow.

BMW Sauber
The BMW Sauber F1 Team will start the Monaco Grand Prix from the fourth row of the grid, with Nick Heidfeld seventh and Robert Kubica eighth after three exciting qualifying segments. After a wet final free practice, the weather was mainly dry for the qualifying hour with the cars performing particularly well in the second segment in which they were third and fourth.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): We had a trouble-free qualifying. We kept to our schedule although there was some rain every so often. Compared to 2006 when we had problems throughout the whole weekend, seventh and eighth on the grid puts us in a relatively good position for the race.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director): This was a turbulent qualifying session. Our lap times in Q2 were closer to the top than we expected, and based on this we decided on the fuel load for Q3. Because it started raining slightly in some parts of the track, we opted for relatively early runs. With this strategy we obviously didn't make the best use of the constantly improving track conditions. This is a shame, but nothing is lost because anything can happen in the race here.

Panasonic Toyota Racing suffered an extremely disappointing qualifying session on the streets of Monte Carlo today, which leaves Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli starting the Monaco Grand Prix from the second half of the grid. Heavy rain in the build up to qualifying and a slight shower as the drivers were getting ready left the track damp but still suitable for the dry-weather, grooved Bridgestone tyres. That meant Ralf and Jarno waited five and three minutes respectively before leaving the pits to set their first lap times. As track conditions improved, all drivers bettered their lap times and in the scramble to make it through to Q2, Jarno avoided the traffic and progressed in 13th place. Unfortunately for Ralf, his fastest lap was not quite enough to progress, leaving him to start 20th. In the next session, Jarno looked to be on course to reach the top-ten shoot-out when traffic on his late flying lap cost time and caused him to miss out. He set the 14th fastest time but will start from 13th after a penalty for David Coulthard and the team will now focus on making the best of the situation in tomorrow's race.

Pascal Vasselon Senior General Manager Chassis: Obviously we lost the pace that Jarno showed in practice on Thursday afternoon and he was not able to show the potential of the car due to a combination of two factors; a brake problem and also the traffic here in Monaco. He suffered from some very bad traffic in the second part of this qualifying session and that really hurt his lap. He lost a lot of time on his last flying lap as a result and those two factors explain the poor result he had in qualifying. Ralf has been uncomfortable with the set-up of the car since the beginning of the weekend. We could not make the car kind enough for the kerbs so he could not push as hard as he wanted. When you are not in the first four on the grid in Monaco you are always in for a difficult afternoon on Sunday. From where we are on the grid it will be particularly hard but in Monaco you never know what will happen and now our strategy decision is clearer.

Red Bull
Christian Horner: It was a good effort by Mark to qualify in our best grid position of the year so far. He's sixth on the grid and we believe we have a good strategy for him tomorrow. It's frustrating that having comfortably got two cars into the top ten for Q3 one couldn't participate, as David held up Kovalainen as he started his timed lap. This was the result of a communication error from the pit wall to the car and was certainly not done by David deliberately.

Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer, Track Support: We are a bit disappointed because we had the chance to have both cars in Q3 today. The car was working very well and our performance level was strong. We know how important it is to qualify well here and it's a pity for David as his race is going to be tougher now. But we still believe in our chances for tomorrow: Mark is P6 and our package seems strong; David will be able to bounce back. It is going to be a tough race but an exciting challenge!

A competitive qualifying performance from Nico Rosberg today has provided a good springboard for the team to maintain its strong competitive form of recent years at the Monaco Grand Prix. Claiming fifth place on the grid today was Nico's second best career qualifying performance and his best start position this season. Team-mate Alex Wurz will start tomorrow's race from exactly the mid-point in the field having set this afternoon's 11th quickest time. With wet weather conditions in morning practice, managing qualifying was a highly tactical exercise as the weather continuously threatened for the qualifying hour, keeping the pitlane planning for contingencies.

Sam Michael, Technical Director: Nico had a strong qualifying today although he did have a problem with the rear suspension in Q2 that meant he only managed one run, but it was quick enough to make it through to Q3 and pick up fifth place on the grid. Alex will start tomorrow in 11th and will be trying to improve on his start position in the race. From here he has free choice on fuel strategy.

Toro Rosso
Giorgio Ascanelli: We tried to give the drivers as much time as possible on fresh rubber, but we made a mistake as our plan for Scott was compromised when he was called to the weighbridge. I think we should have sent him out again immediately, but we did not. The factory has worked hard for the past two weeks to get us something new that only arrived last night. Hard to tell whether it works or not, but it seems to have had a positive effect.

The mixed weather conditions that prevailed over Monte Carlo today produced some surprising results in the final free practice and Qualifying sessions for tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix. After the heavy rain that fell midway through the one hour practice session dried Adrian Sutil recorded a stunning lap in the dying seconds and for the first time in its short motorsport history, a Spyker headed a Formula 1 timesheet. Running on extreme wet tyres, Adrian, the F3 lap record holder in Monaco, demonstrated remarkable confidence to set the fastest lap, 0.127secs quicker than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

However as the track dried out for Qualifying, the result was unfortunately not to be repeated. Adrian set the 19th fastest time, but in a mark of the team's ongoing progress, was just 0.2 secs away from 17th and 0.6 secs from entering the second Qualifying session.

Christijan Albers was unfortunately unable to take advantage of the changeable conditions after a spin in the first session and a hydraulic problem in Qualifying limited his running. The Dutchman will start tomorrow's 78 lap Grand Prix from 22nd after he did not record a timed lap in the first Qualifying segment.

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: An interesting day for us. Obviously in the wet session this morning we were very pleased to see Adrian at the top of the timesheets and we were hoping for rain this afternoon but it didn't materialise. It's now a case of mixed emotions for Qualifying; we had a hydraulic problem on Christijan's car which meant he wasn't able to do a timed lap. Adrian had a reasonable session though and was able to qualify ahead of a couple of cars, which shows the progress we have been making. We have to wait to see what conditions are like for the race tomorrow, but given Adrian's performance in the wet, we would be quite happy for a wet race. A solid day overall and we hope for the same tomorrow.

Super Aguri Super Aguri experienced a difficult Saturday in Monaco. During the morning rain made for a tricky third practice session and although track conditions improved in the afternoon, the Qualifying session did not run to plan for the team.

Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: The weather conditions this morning put a bit of a spin on things. Both drivers did very well and we were in the middle of the pack where we expected to be. Had it been wet during Qualifying I think we would have been in good positions. However, we bit off a little more than we could chew in Qualifying. We let the drivers down with our timing; both Takuma and Anthony failed to do a planned third run and it proves what I have being saying that we are a young team, learning all the time.

McLaren Mercedes' Fernando Alonso has achieved his sixteenth career Formula One pole by making the best use of the super soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres on the tight and twisty confines of the 3.34 km Monte Carlo street course, scene of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso set a time of 1min 15.726secs and will be joined on the front row for Sunday's race by team- mate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella make up the second row.

Spyker's Adrian Sutil was fastest in the morning's free practice session with a time of 1min 36.612secs. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton were the second and third fastest drivers in this rain shower affected session. Use was made of Bridgestone's extreme wet tyre in this session with only one driver trying the wet specification Potenza.

Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations: Track conditions have improved since Thursday and as expected the super soft compound Bridgestone Potenza had higher grip and similar graining to the soft compound. Not everybody qualified on the super soft, but the top three did. It was a very exciting battle for pole but double world champion Alonso showed his class here. It was also very good to see the excellent performance of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg who have used Bridgestone tyres through most of their careers including karting and the GP2 Series. The weather conditions warranted the extreme wet tyre in this morning's practice session and in contrast to the Monte Carlo specification wet tyre we have, the extreme is the same compound all season. This meant the extreme wet was clearly on the hard side for Monte Carlo and presented a challenge for drivers. It was a great piece of driving by Adrian Sutil to find a clear circuit and go fastest.


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