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Italian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 14 Sep 2003

Race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 14 September 2003

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
"I think this is the greatest day in my career. It is a long time since I won. We made a big push over the summer break with everyone in the team giving more than a hundred per cent. To everyone in the team who was so motivated and worked so hard, from the engineers, the mechanics and even the lady who cleans, I have to say a big thank you. We have worked a lot on our starts and mine was good, but I made a mistake at the first chicane which allowed Juan to close. We had a good fight; it was hard and fair. After that I was able to build a lead. The second stint was not so good, but in the final stages I opened up the gap again, easing off when Juan slowed down. After my second stop I got a shock, as the team told me the Williams was coming. I thought 'how did he do that' but then I realised it was Gene. I nearly went off, I was pushing so hard to stay ahead. It was a beautiful and emotional feeling on the podium. The result is also a relief. We believed in ourselves and we knew we could fight back. The championship is still very open. We have improved and we keep on improving. The engine guys have done a tremendous job and that should help us in the last two races."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (3rd):
"I am quite happy to be third. It is better than being in the wall, like the last race! My car was very good at the start, but I lost time on the first lap with Trulli. He was alongside me and put me on the grass and so I had to back off, which meant I had to defend my position against Raikkonen and I almost ran into Trulli when he had a problem. By then, Juan was already 2 seconds ahead, even though I was able to close on him a bit. Unfortunately, my tyres were not as good on the second stint when I had too much understeer. I also had a problem with backmarkers. Nevertheless, I was able to maintain position ahead of Raikkonen. I am happy to have helped Ferrari close the gap to Williams in the championship."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (2nd):
"After a good start I took the first opportunity I saw to try to pass Michael Schumacher at the first chicane. We came out pretty even, but he had better acceleration than me and he kept the lead. We competed cleanly as neither of us could afford a DNF. In the second stint I managed to catch up on my next set of tyres, which worked really well. Unfortunately in the third part of the race I was caught in traffic and I made the decision to pace myself. We were expecting Ferrari to be strong here, so to only lose two points to Michael and be only three points behind with two races to go is okay. Ferrari had a good top speed compared to us at this low downforce circuit , quite unlike the next two tracks, where I think we will figure strongly."

Marc Gene, Williams (5th):
"This is the best result in my Formula One career, and I am really happy. I think a good performance was to be expected, as I had one of the best cars on the grid. At the start I had a problem with Jarno Trulli which cost me three places, but apart from that the race was good. If you get the chance like I did today, you have to make the most of it, and my main priority was to avoid making mistakes, and I think the team is happy with the points I managed to score. I believe the more a driver tests, the better he becomes."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th):
"I think we did what we could do today, but we were not quick enough to fight for the podium. I was close to Rubens but not enough to really have a go. Obviously I'm now seven points behind in the battle for the Championship, so it is more difficult, but you never know what will happen in the next two races. We knew that Monza would be difficult, and overall to leave with points is positive particularly as we expect both Indianapolis and Suzuka to suit us better, so it's not over yet."

David Coulthard, McLaren (DNF):
"I had a pretty quiet and uneventful race in fifth place until the engine began to sound a bit rough and my pace dropped which allowed Marc Gene to close up. All of a sudden the engine stopped and that was it. I was struggling with the balance throughout the race with lots of oversteer which made it hard to attack the corners. We tried to rectify the problem by dropping some wing in the pit stops, but no luck."

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR (6th):
"I'm really pleased to finish sixth today and get three more Championship points for the team. The race was a great team effort and the guys did a fantastic job during the pitstops. We didn't qualify as well as we hoped yesterday but we were working for the race, so it was great to stay reliable and be able to make the most of a good race set-up. Let's hope we can build on that at Indianapolis in two weeks now."

Jenson Button, BAR (DNF):
"I got a really bad start then things went from bad to worse. I lost second gear early in the race so I had to rely on first. I was doing quite well considering, and I managed to stay ahead of Frentzen and Panis, then I lost first, sixth and seventh in close succession. It's a real shame after such a positive qualifying performance because I felt that we could easily have achieved points finishes for both cars today. Jacques did a good job though and three points for the team is still very important at this stage. We have to maintain the momentum in testing next week now and make sure we do as good a job in Indy and Japan."

Jarno Trulli, Renault (DNF):
"There's nothing much to say. I got a flying start and was fighting with Michael and Juan Pablo in the first few corners. I was going through the second Lesmo when I felt that the power steering had failed, then the engine cut out. It's a real shame, because the car was good today."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (8th):
"Both myself and the team had a pretty unlucky weekend: Jarno was in a good position when he had to retire, and I had problems in qualifying and the race. Starting from the back of the grid is always a risk and unfortunately, I lost the front wing at the start: I hit Jos' car as he was trying to avoid the Jaguar. I lost a lap by stopping and after that, all I could do was push to the limit for the rest of the race. Our lap-times were good but, with all the problems we had, it wasn't enough to score big points today."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (7th) :
"We had a tough test here last week and a challenging build-up to the race this weekend. Monza has not been our most competitive performance of the season and if someone had told me before the race began that I would finish in 7th place with two championship points, it would have been hard to believe. It was an eventful race that began by me making a mistake! As I came out of the first chicane besides the BMW WilliamsF1 of Marc Gene, the back end of the car stepped out and I realised that I had forgotten to turn the traction control back on. I managed to programme the system after the second chicane and than settled down into the rhythm of the race. To have salvaged two points from what was a tough weekend for us is a big, big result - especially in light of Villeneuve's 6th place. We had to compromise on straight-line speed to look after the tyres and while I did suffer from understeer and some blistering, the end result is extremely pleasing for everyone in the team. Unlike Justin who unfortunately retired, my car was reliable today and the balance was very good. With two races to go and fifth place still beckoning, the battle is far from finished."

Justin Wilson, Jaguar (DNF):
"During the formation lap, I experienced a problem in engaging first gear. With no time available to address the problem, I had no choice but to start the race in second gear. As we have long gears for Monza, I didn't even make it off the line when the red lights went out. It has been a tough weekend all round but as Mark demonstrated again today, making it to the chequered flag is where the points reward is. I am, therefore, very disappointed not to have finished my third consecutive race for Jaguar and with only two races left now, I am naturally hoping to see a race distance. The team have worked incredibly hard all weekend and to have a suffered a retirement before the first lap is extremely unfortunate for all concerned. We are, however, one point behind BAR Honda and we will simply have to pick ourselves up and aim for reliability at the U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks from now."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (DNF):
"I had a fabulous start and was up to sixth on the first lap. Marc Gene got past me, but I continued to run well in the points. We put a lot of fuel in on at my first pitstop and we were having a good race. Unfortunately shortly after the second stop, the brake pedal went completely to the floor and I had to stop in the garage. It has been another encouraging weekend, and we have demonstrated that we have the potential to score points. We now have to look ahead to the next race in Indianapolis with this as our target."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (DNF):
"I didn't have a great start but I recovered my position and everything was running okay, so being forced to stop is a real shame. All of a sudden, I felt a big vibration at the rear and I started to lose the car straight away. At this stage we are not a hundred percent sure what happened, but most likely, I picked up some carbon fibre debris after an incident on the start-finish line. For both myself and Olivier to retire is a missed opportunity, as I reckon we could have added to our points total today."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (10th):
"I had an electrical problem at the start of the formation lap so we stopped to sort that out and changed the strategy at the same time to make it one stop. I was last, but finished 10th, which is not too bad. It was quite difficult because the car was heavy but I drove as hard as I could."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Jordan (11th):
"I'm happy that I could finish the race and that the car was reliable. It was a good experience and I am pleased with finishing 11th just behind Giancarlo. For my first complete race, I think I did a good job."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (DNF):
"When I came out of the chicane right at the end I heard a strange noise in the area of the transmission and then the car just lost drive. I don't know exactly what broke. Up until that point I'd been having a really good race and the car was going well. It would have been so nice to finish in the points..."

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (9th):
"During my first pit stop we changed the front wing adjustment on my car and after this it was going well. I had a good race until I had to let Gene lap me on the last lap. At the same moment Alonso, who was right behind me, took the chance to overtake. He had got close to me in the first place because I'd been baulked badly by Baumgartner for several laps and had thus lost valuable ground."

Jos Verstappen, Minardi (DNF):
"It was disappointing not to finish the race today. I also feel sorry for Fernando (Alonso), who drove into the back of my car at the start. I wouldn't have held him up, as he is involved in the World Championship battle and needs the points, but a Jaguar stopped on the grid in front of me and I guess he couldn't see it from where he was. It's a shame, but that's racing. We eventually retired with an oil leak. There was a lot of smoke and oil was getting on the rear tyres as well, so it was just too dangerous to continue, as much for the other drivers as for me."

Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (12th):
"The strategy we chose for qualifying, which focused more on trying to achieve a consistent performance in the race rather than an ultimate qualifying performance, pretty much paid off. The car was easy to drive in the race and it was comfortable even on the occasions when I needed to push it really hard. In addition, both pit stops went perfectly and everything on the car worked exactly as it should. It was a really nice way to finish a weekend that started out a bit rough for us."