Rubens Barrichello:


"I was confident of being fastest this morning and, when the rain came for qualifying, I felt that that would give me the edge. I'm so happy for everyone in the team. Everyone has worked so hard, and days like today prove that we can compete with the best."


"I thought it was best to get time in the bank, because my information was that the weather would deteriorate. When I saw Jean Alesi go out so early, I said to the crew "let's go". It worked in my favour because the rain persisted and, when I went out again late in the session, the track was so wet I knew that my time wouldn't be beaten."


"The forecast is for more rain tomorrow so, if I can have a clean race, I'd love to deliver a win for the Stewart team."


Jean Alesi:


"Obviously, I am feeling extremely happy! This weekend is the tenth anniversary since I came into F1, so this [second on the grid] is the biggest present I could have. For today, it is enough, and now I am looking forward to a party with my team."


"After my accident yesterday, the team did a fantastic job, working all night to complete my, and so this is a present for them, too. To start the French GP from the front row is a dream and, for sure, I have my greatest chance, with my best ever starting position at my home race. I am feeling confident for tomorrow."


Olivier Panis:


"What a great result for everyone! I am happy for the whole team, and for myself, to have clocked the third best time of the session and to start from the second row of the grid. It is perfect for this to happen at our home race, as we have a lot of pressure on us."


"It is some repayment, too, for all the hard work done by the team since the start of the season, and is already evident in the good spirit among the troops. But we must not forget that tomorrow is another day...."


David Coulthard:


"Given the conditions, I am happy with my lap times. Clearly, running at the beginning of the session was the wise thing to do but, even though we missed that window, and considering the weather, I am delighted to be starting the race from the second row of the grid."


Heinz-Harald Frentzen:


"It was completely crazy out there! Thank God nothing serious happened. It was so difficult to keep the car straight as the track was so slippery, and I was aquaplaning everywhere."


"It is easy to be wise after the session has ended and say that we should have gone out sooner, but it could have dried out. In fact, almost as soon as we stopped the rain stopped. We decided to go out when we did to avoid traffic. We expected that most people would go out with 25 minutes to go, so we went out with 28 minutes to go."


Michael Schumacher:


"This was a chaotic session. Track conditions were very dangerous with a lot of aquaplaning, and there was a risk of spinning even on the straights. If the weather is the same tomorrow, it will be a very difficult and dangerous race."


"We chose to go out late because, usually, other cars improve the conditions on the racing line. Today this did not happen and so we learned something new."


Giancarlo Fisichella:


"Our set-up for the rain was good, but there was terrible aquaplaning on the circuit and the car was almost impossible to control."


"I really gave my lap my all, and managed to post the seventh fastest time. It is a satisfactory position, but if some drivers hadn't been able to take advantage of the beginning of the session when it wasn't raining so hard, I could have qualified on the front two rows instead of the fourth."


Jarno Trulli:


"Bravo to the team for a great result today! The engineers had to choose the right moment to go out, and Olivier profited from the situation and took risks at the right time. It was well done."


"When my engineer decided [that it was time for me] to go out, I had hoped to wait a few more minutes, but I made a mistake and it was this which cost me my chance of a better time."


Johnny Herbert:


"Most teams seemed to have used the same weatherman - who predicted that it was going to clear up towards the end of the session! We decided to wait, and then do 12 laps in one go to take advantage of what we thought were going to be drying conditions. However, as the session wore on, it became obvious that the rain was going to continue, so we had to make set-up changes, which took some time."


"I set my fastest time in the race car and was going to stay out, but the car developed some problem with the electronics, so I had to go back and get in the spare. Unfortunately, it had a lower set-up than the race car, which was no good in today's conditions."


Ricardo Zonta:


"The car was too low on my first run, and it was aquaplaning a lot. We raised the ride height and it was a little better on my second run, but not much, and it was difficult to stay on the track."


"My qualifying lap was luckily quite clear - only Michael Schumacher was in front of me - and I'm very pleased with my grid position because Craig [Pollock] had told me to try and make the top ten."


Paul Stewart:


"A team's first pole position is always special, and I'm extremely happy for Rubens and everybody in the Stewart-Ford team who have been aiming for this for a long time."


"I arrived at Magny-Cours confident that we would put in a good performance whether it was wet or dry, but it seems that we had an edge in the wet, and chose the right strategy."


Martin Whitaker:


"We are absolutely delighted with the Stewart-Ford team's first pole position. This is Ford's 139th pole - a record unequalled by any other manufacturer."


Jacques Villeneuve:


"I'm a bit frustrated with this grid position, particularly as, this morning, we tried some different set-ups which made a big difference to the car's handling - even on old tyres. I feel that the rain has resulted in us missing a good opportunity."


"In qualifying, I did a few laps when it wasn't so wet, but then I got some traffic and had to back off. By the time I came around again for another quick lap, the rain was really coming down, and it was impossible to go faster."


Mika Hakkinen:


"It is impossible to make excuses, because the weather conditions were the same for everybody. It just felt as though the yellow flags were worse for me! I was not able to feel confident in the car, and that is why I have qualified in 14th position. But you have to be positive and optimistic for the race - after all that is when you score the points!"


Alex Zanardi:


"As a team, we decided to wait for better track conditions before going out. This, unfortunately, wasn't the right choice, but I think many others made the same mistake. Now we must try and build something good for tomorrow."


Ralf Schumacher:


"I went out a little too late but, to be honest, I did not expect the weather conditions to become worse. Then, when I finally went out, I has some problem with the engine - I don't know why, but I felt I had no power when I opened the throttle."


"We will see what the forecast is for tomorrow - if it's going to be wet, we have a lot of work to do but, if it's going to be dry, I believe that we can do a good job, even if I will be starting from 16th position. This is near the back of the grid, and I don't remember when I have ever been that far back!"


Eddie Irvine:


"It was a major tactical error not to go out early. I found my car difficult to drive on these tyres, and it was aquaplaning everywhere. Then, on my last run - when I was heading for a better time - I came across a car going slowly through the chicane, and I spun trying to avoid him."


"My power steering failed as I left the pits on my last run, which did not help, and I lost more time as I was weighed twice by the scrutineers. My grid position will make for a very exciting race!"


Damon Hill:


"As things stand, I am out of the race but, irrespective of that, today illustrates the difficulties that I have been going through this year - and shows why I have announced that I am going to retire. Normally, I enjoy driving in the wet, but not today. I was not able to get the best out of myself or the car, which is extremely frustrating for me and the team. I must say that these were the worst conditions I have ever experienced in a qualifying session - it was extremely treacherous."

 

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