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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Williams eye podium places
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Imola

Ralf Schumacher clips the kerb at Imola
Ralf Schumacher got closest to the Ferraris
The Williams team are confident they will be able to challenge for their first victory of the season at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya gave the team their best performance of the year so far in Friday qualifying, and both believe the team has made a step forward for this race.

Schumacher, who was third fastest behind the Ferraris on Friday, said: "We have made progress, especially on the mechanical side of the car.

"For every race we bring new parts for the car and BMW has built a strong engine which pays off here as well."

Montoya, who was fourth fastest, was even more confident, saying that he had taken it easy on his qualifying run as he had not wanted to repeat the mistakes he made at the last race in Brazil.

I could have been quicker but I decided to take the conservative option
Juan Pablo Montoya

The Colombian was one of the first drivers to go in Saturday qualifying in Sao Paulo after making several errors on his Friday lap and ending up a long way down the timesheets.

"The car was very good," said Montoya. "I could have been quicker, but after what happened in Brazil I decided to take the conservative option.

"After I saw the [initial] sector times, I knew I did not have to push too hard."

Williams have had a disappointing start to the season, unable to match Ferrari and McLaren for pace despite being the only one of the top three teams to start the season with a new car.

But they have brought new aerodynamic parts to this race and believe they are now beginning to realise the FW25's potential.

Gerhard Berger, motorsport director of engine partner BMW, said: "Our result shows a big step forward. It shows what the potential of the car is. On Sunday, there could be a place on the podium for us."







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