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Brazilian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 24 Oct 2004

2005 McLaren team mates Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren 
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 24 October 2004 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari in the post race press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 24 October 2004 Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota during the Toyota Team Picture.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 24 October 2004 Nick Heidfeld (GER) Jordan watches the action after retiring
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 24 October 2004

Juan Pablo Montoya ends his Williams career in the best possible fashion, beating his future McLaren team mate into the bargain. The men involved describe a thrilling afternoon’s racing.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (1st):
“It is just unbelievable! The very first laps were difficult because I lost some positions at the start before the tyres got up to temperature, but then I seemed to have more grip than the others. Still, the race was decided by a good strategy put together by all of my engineers and by Sam Michael, who called me in to change tyres from intermediate to slick at the right time. Later in the race they made another good call when I had Kimi behind me. They managed to get me out on the track ahead of him by just over a second. I could see him behind and I was thinking I could not afford to make even the smallest mistake! It’s fantastic to give such a good end to these four years at Williams BMW. I want to say thanks to Frank and to everyone in the team who made this possible! And if you ask me what was the hardest thing in the race I’d say it was the pain in the neck, since this is an anti-clockwise circuit and we are not very used to all those left turns!”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
“I was close to winning but just not close enough. It was a good race and I enjoyed it, but I would have liked to finish on the top step. I started the race on Michelin intermediates and was able to take the lead after a few corners. However, after my first stop I just didn’t have the speed to keep up with Juan Pablo. We were side-by-side down the pitlane, and I did what I could to keep him behind me – perhaps in hindsight I could have been a bit more aggressive coming into the corner. 2004 has been a tough season for the entire team, but everybody has worked so hard to turn things around, and to finish 2004 on the podium is a good reward for all. I now look forward to next season where hopefully Juan Pablo and myself will be able to challenge for wins and the Championship from the beginning.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (3rd):
“I am very proud of the whole team and want to thank them and all the fans who turned up to watch today. The circumstances of the race, in terms of the rain, did not favour us and I could have not done better. So I can still leave here with my head held high, even if actually that might be difficult as my neck is hurting a lot and I have to admit I feel very tired. Maybe it was the stress of the whole weekend. Our strategy worked okay, but the final result is a bit disappointing after I had been dominant in terms of pace throughout the weekend and I was confident for the race, having qualified with quite a good fuel load. We are best in the rain and best in the dry, but if we have a weak point it is in the damp conditions that we had after a few laps, when we know that those running the other make of tyre can make an earlier change to dry tyres. The weather just did not play into our hands, but I am happy to be on the podium, even if the win is still to come for me here.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
“The choice to start on dry tyres was really a big risk: the car was very hard to drive and I went off on the formation lap and the first lap! However, it gradually got better and I managed to take the lead, but after the first stop, I didn’t have the pace to get on the podium. The car was understeering badly because of the graining during the second stint then we took a risk in leaving the tyres on. This meant I ultimately lost more grip but in spite of the problems, I attacked 100% all the way through, kept the other cars behind and thanks to that, I am fourth in the drivers’ championship. That was my main goal today and I am delighted to have achieved it.”

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (5th):
“What a shame, due to the rain my strategy did not pay off at all. But I have to say that I was not fast enough to overtake Alonso and as a consequence I I think I missed out on a podium today. It was great to be with this team for the last six years and it’s a true pity we didn’t enjoy even more success. I wish the Team all the best for next year!”

Takuma Sato, BAR (6th):
"It was a really hard race today. The start was tricky for everyone because of the shower just before the start. The circuit was actually quite damp but some of the drivers had chosen to start on dry tyres. We chose to run on wet tyres, but as I was originally on a two-stop strategy, I lost quite a bit of time when I had to come in to change to dry tyres. After my last stop, I had a great battle with three other cars. Even though we were quicker than them in the infield section, we struggled on the straights so I wasn't able to get close enough to outbrake anyone into turn one, which was a little bit frustrating. Nevertheless, we have finished second in the championship, which is excellent, and the entire team has done a fantastic job. I would also like to thank our partners Lucky Strike, Honda and Michelin for their efforts. I look forward to carrying this great feeling and momentum through to winter testing and I am sure that we can challenge for another great.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (7th):
“We can be very proud of what we have achieved as a team this season. There have been a lot of wins and the two championship titles, so there is no real reason to be too disappointed today, although I have to say I feel sorry for Rubens. As for my race, when I realised it was raining, at first I thought it would be a good opportunity for me. But to be honest, it was not wet enough and I think if it had rained harder and longer it would have been an advantage for us. I still feel fresh and ready to race but I know that now the important thing is to take a break before preparing for next season.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (8th):
“It was a fantastic feeling, leading the race. I will never forget that lap! Early on it was very slippery but the car was really fast. I lost some ground when Rubens was a bit cautious, but I could catch people really quickly. After we changed tyres and the track dried it was very hard to find grip until the end of each stint, but I settled into a confident pace and I am satisfied after achieving my goal of scoring a point. Leading a race in front of my home crowd was the icing on the cake!”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (9th):
“Early on I was running very close to another car and got caught out and had to go on to the grass when it braked earlier than I expected. I lost time there, and after that we were unlucky with the weather. My strategy was good but the changeable conditions spoiled it, so for me it was a frustrating final race for Sauber. That’s racing, so most of all I would like to say thank you to everyone in the team for such a great season.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Renault (10th):
“I think my race pace was actually very good today. I was behind Fernando in the first laps and it would have been too much of a risk to try overtaking in the conditions. I lost time when the track was wet but after that, I feel we were quite quick in the second and third stints. I didn’t manage to score any points at Renault but I think my performances got better and better with each race. It was very tough to adapt but I want to thank Renault for the opportunity they gave me.”

David Coulthard, McLaren (11th):
“A disappointing outcome of the weekend and a difficult race. I lost a lot of places in the first couple of corners with cars pushing, touching and wheels banging. It took me a few laps to feel comfortable with the dry Michelin tyres as it was quite slippery out there. Once everything had settled down I was too far back to really make an impact. I want to thank the boys both at the track and back at base for all the efforts and hard work during the past nine years. It’s an emotional moment to say goodbye to the team after all this time, and the memories I will be taking with me will be of my 12 victories, 51 podiums and 412 points that we have achieved while working together.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (12th):
"It was a difficult race this afternoon. I got a good start and was up to sixth, but I struggled every time the track was a bit damp. I believe this was due to a general lack of experience I have with the TF104B. As the track got drier and quicker, I was getting more and more competitive. I tried to do my best, but unfortunately we were again out of the points. However, it has been a positive weekend because I could see that the car was better compared to Suzuka. It is just a shame we couldn't end the season in the points. Finally, I would like to say thank you to the team for giving me such a warm welcome over these last two races and for helping me settle in so easily. 2004 was my best season in Formula 1, but I am looking forward to an even better 2005 with Toyota, who I have discovered to be a fantastic team with great potential."

Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (13th):
"I think it was a quite an exciting race because of the ever-changing wet-dry conditions. In the damp, at the start of the race, the speed of the car was quite good and I was able to overtake some cars, which was fun. Towards the end, I had some balance problems and I found it quite difficult to drive the car. It was great to race in Brazil in front of my home crowd and I think we did a good job this weekend, especially as I have also been unwell. I am pleased with the team's efforts and particularly with the new crew that I was working with this weekend. I would like to say thanks to the team for an enjoyable season."

Christian Klien, Jaguar (14th):
“I made a good start and the beginning of the race was fun for me to drive. I was on intermediate tyres and had a good line into the first few corners and managed to overtake a few people. My first pit-stop was a bit too late and I lost a couple of positions after that. I was then following the two Toyotas but had no opportunity to overtake. Mark was coming closer to me and I saw him in my mirror but I did not think he was close enough to overtake but he tried it and we collided. The remainder of my race saw my car not as well balanced as it should have been and although the car was ok for the remainder of the race it was not as easy to drive. There was also a lot of blue flags and although I tried my best and I am pleased to have finished my last race with Jaguar Racing, I am disappointed with the outcome as both Mark and I were in good positions. I have had a fantastic season with the team and I have enjoyed every moment. They are great fun to work with and they have helped me so much during this time. I would like to thank them all”.

Timo Glock, Jordan (15th):
“My start was not bad but I didn’t get a good line through the first corner and then for the first part of the race it was really slippery - the car was pretty nervous and I lost time. After the first and second pit stops the car was better, certainly after the first few laps, when the tyres came in. Unfortunately I lost too much time when being lapped by other cars. I’m pleased to have finished the race without mistakes. It has been a satisfying season for me and it was great to drive four races, that was good experience for me. I need to learn how to find a better pace for racing, always improving myself more and more. Everything is experience though and I’m looking forward to next year already.”

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (16th):
"It was a very hard race and I had some problems, as I picked up a cold earlier in the week here in Brazil. As a result, I was a little worried about how I would be during the race, as this is a very physically demanding track, As it turned out, I was able to concentrate and push hard right to the end with a very consistent pace. I'm happy with today's result and with the lap times, and I'd like to express my thanks to the whole team for their efforts this season, as well as to Bridgestone for the excellent tyres they have provided throughout the year. Today was my 20th Grand Prix and I am very pleased to have finished the race."

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (17th):
"All told, it wasn't a very good day for me. I started the race on shallow wet tyres and, after a few laps, had to come in, but with Zsolt also coming in, I lost a bit of time. When I changed to dry tyres with the set-up we had, the car developed a lot of oversteer, which lasted for much of the race. We couldn't really improve the situation, but in the last stint, I think maybe the track improved a bit and the set-up started to work better, so I was able to turn some better lap times. Having lost some of time during my last pit stop, though, I just concentrated on getting to the chequered flag."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (DNF):
“My start off the grid today was ok although it was short lived as I entered corner one and I was forced to avoid the Renault of Villeneuve as he ran wide. This lost me four or five places and was of course frustrating. I was planning on making my way up the grid and I managed this for the first few laps as I was in 9 th position by lap four. I then pitted for new tyres and lost some time as I had to queue up behind Christian. We were back out quick enough and I started racing again and went to overtake Christian on lap 24. Unfortunately we tangled as he appeared not to see me coming and that was the end of my race. A sad end to what should have been a more rewarding race. I have had an amazing two years with Jaguar Racing and I am fortunate enough to have had the pleasure to work with some incredibly talented people during this time. I have learnt a lot and shared a lot and it is with a heavy heart that not only do I leave the team but that the team is to close as Jaguar Racing. I have a lot of people to thank, amongst them, the team for their support and belief in me, Cosworth Racing and Pi Research and of course Michelin. All round a pretty good bunch of guys!”

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (DNF):
“I had a good start and made up a couple of places, but I had to retire quite early with a clutch problem. It’s disappointing not to finish the last race because I wanted to show a good performance and give the team a good last race of the season. I would like to thank everybody in the team for their effort and hard work they have done this year and also for all the support they have given me.”

Jenson Button, BAR (DNF):
"It's disappointing to retire from the last race of the year. We were optimistic of achieving another podium here today which would have been a nice way to see out the season. From the first red light on the start I knew I had some kind of problem and there was a lot of smoke and fire as I left the grid. I was able to continue for a while and had hoped that the problem would go away, but the damage had been done by that time and I had no option but to retire. That disappointment aside though, we have to look at the bigger picture which is that we have pulled off second in the championship - an incredible achievement for everyone in the team. Third place in the drivers' championship with 10 podiums is also a pretty special way for me to end the season. I'd like to thank each and every member of the team for their hard work and support this year and they deserve the celebrations that will be taking place here in Brazil and back at the factory this evening."