Bahrain Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 04 Apr 2004
Michael Schumacher on his third win from three races; Jenson Button on his second successive podium; Takuma Sato on his clash with Ralf Schumacher; Christian Klien on his dice with Kimi Raikkonen. Every driver explains their afternoon in the desert.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
It is the dream result at the end of a superb weekend. We looked good on Friday, struggled a bit on Saturday morning and then took the front row and finished one-two. It was a tough race as we had to manage the brakes and keep an eye on the tyres. At the first corner, with the tyres and brakes still cold, I locked up my front wheel, but I could not come off the brakes and so I had a lot of vibration. You had to be very careful to stay on line, because the track was very slippery off it, which is why I drove just on or slightly below my limit, always driving smoothly. I think the organisers have done a superb job, providing us with a demanding track, excellent organisation and facilities and a warm welcome. The podium ceremony? Usually we smell a bit strange but with this drink, we all seem to smell very nice!
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd):
The car was great, but like in Malaysia, I think the few drops of rain at the start worked against me, as my brakes took time to warm up. Also, just before the start, we had to deal with the problem of oil from the earlier Historic F1 race just under my rear tyres. After Michael outbraked me at the first corner, I thought I could fight back when the brakes warmed up. He had a bit less fuel and I tried to stay with him and the gap was still close at the first pit stop. Then I had a problem when I thought I could go, but the car did not move as it was still up on the rear jack. That lost me time and then I had to brake to avoid Trulli in the pit lane. The team told me to keep pushing in case there was any penalty, but I certainly had no intention of blocking Jarno. By now the gap was bigger and with a champion like Michael there was nothing I could do. As for the rest of the race, like Michael I was driving a bit conservatively as the track was so slippery off line.
Jenson Button, BAR (3rd):
"It's fantastic to be on the podium again so soon after Malaysia. It was a great first race here and a brilliant result for the team. I didn't get a very good start and I was stuck behind Ralf in turn one, so I dropped back to eighth. In the first stint I was suffering quite badly from understeer so I was losing a lot of time in the high-speed corners. At the first stop we made a front wing adjustment and after that the car ran really well. The team have done another fantastic job here this weekend and my thanks to them and Honda for helping to make this result possible again. It's great to be lying third in the Drivers' Championship at this stage in the season. We're still only three races into our relationship with Michelin so we're still learning a lot about the package but it's really starting to come together now. We'll be focusing very much on what we now need to do to take that next step forward."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (4th):
"I'm very pleased with the result, but cannot help feeling it is slightly incomplete: we were capable of getting on to the podium this afternoon. The car was perfect during the first three stints, and I was very quick, but after the final stop, it became harder to drive as I lost grip: it was quite a strange phenomenon. Also, I lost time in traffic on every out-lap after my stops, and that allowed Jenson to get by. It is a shame that we didn't get a podium, but the overall situation after this race is fantastic: Renault is second in the Constructor's Championship, we have finished all three races with both cars and still come away thinking we could have done much better. I'm looking forward to getting to Imola."
Takuma Sato, BAR (5th):
"First of all I would like to say thank you to the team and the fantastic result we achieved together today. From a personal point of view I was quite disappointed with my race because I was on the pace and could have achieved a stronger position than fifth today. On the other hand, I'm happy to deliver a points-finish for the team because every point counts in the end. I also really enjoyed racing here, so I'm taking away a lot of good things from this weekend. The tangle with Ralf Schumacher was disappointing because we should have got through turn two side by side but he just closed the door on me and turned in. After that, I ran wide, damaging the front wing on the kerb and I was forced to do an earlier pitstop. In my middle stint, the gurney came loose and we had to adjust it in my next pitstop, so I lost a bit of time there. Generally though, the car was working superbly and I was able to race alongside Coulthard and Alonso towards the end which was great. Things are looking very encouraging for the rest of the season and I can't wait for Imola in three weeks' time."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th):
"I did the maximum possible today. Quite honestly, I was very surprised by how some cars were being driven today: a Jaguar nearly put me in the wall at the start of the race, and then some other drivers were a little too difficult to overtake. Having said that, given the weekend I have had, three points is still a good score for the championship. In reality, I started this race half a minute behind everybody else after my first stop, and just pushed all the way. The car balance was perfect all the way though. We have some performance evolutions coming at Imola, and I believe that with an even stronger package, and most importantly if we have some weekends without any problems, then we are capable of getting regular podium finishes."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (7th):
After all that happened in my race I would define my final position as limitation of damages. The collision with Sato was an unfortunate race incident, from my point of view, however, he was a bit optimistic in thinking to get back the position he had simply just lost. All in all, I am not too disappointed because I have seen from the data that I was running close to Ferrari's pace, whenever I had free track ahead. This leaves some room for hope.
Mark Webber, Jaguar (8th):
It was really good to get our first point today. The team has worked incredibily hard towards this and it is well deserved. I started well and was up to tenth position on my first lap, which to be honest is where I should have qualified. During my first pitstop we made a slight flap change but it was perhaps too much and I had a minor off on turn 13. It made no real difference in the end but I was lucky to catch it. Michelin did a good job today as did Cosworth Racing, the R5 has been reliable all weekend and I am generally happy with how things have gone. We know we still have a few areas to work on but we are making good progress and these days you need a perfect weekend to score points. We have learnt a lot here and we will be taking this with us to Imola where again we will be looking to challenge for points. All in all, I enjoyed the race on this new track made all the better by scoring a point.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (9th):
"It has been a positive weekend for everyone at Toyota. We opted for an aggressive three-stop strategy, which I think was the best for us today. Although it is frustrating to finish ninth, we have all worked hard to perform as well as we could. I must say thanks to Michelin, who provided us with some invaluable support and competitive tyres this weekend. We have shown another increase in our overall level of performance and we have to keep putting in our best combined effort to improve on this even more in Imola."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (10th):
"It was a difficult race and quite disappointing after our relatively strong performances in free practice and qualifying this weekend. I suffered from a lack of grip throughout most of the race, which prevented me of making any significant gains. Generally, it was frustrating because I thought we were capable of more than tenth place today. Now, we have to continue to work hard before the European season starts in Imola in three weeks."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (11th):
"At the beginning my car felt fine, but after the first stop it developed huge understeer, and later it felt like the engine lost power a little. I also had problems in my last two stops when I called for first gear but each time got second. And, of course, Ralf Schumacher spun me on lap 31. Without these problems, especially Ralf, I think we could have challenged for a point today."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (12th):
"I lost a bit of ground in the first corner because things got very tight, and in the first part of the race I was really struggling for grip and had a big vibration, possibly from the tyres. The car felt very unstable. It was a lot better on the last set but, overall, this was a very tough race for us."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (13th):
It's clear that we are not quick enough to match Ferrari, at the moment, but today we were the quickest on Michelin tyres and this is very important for us. Maybe I went for the wrong tyres, as they didn't prove as quick in the race as I was expecting but still I had a good pace and would have come third, if I hadn't had a gearbox problem with about 10 laps to go. I first lost the seventh gear and then a few more gears and then I eventually lost all drive. There was nothing else to do but try to finish the race which is why I continued and ultimately it was disappointing, of course, because I couldn't even finish in the points.
Christian Klien, Jaguar (14th):
There was a lot going on in the race today and for me there were highs and lows. My start was ok and despite the difficult first two corners all was well until I has a slight coming together with the Renault of Fernando Alonso on the third hairpin. The car suffered only minor damage and I continued with good balance. I then enjoyed racing with the McLaren Mercedes of Kimi Raikkonen. The R5 felt really good and I was making the most of its pace. I then made an error and I spun at corner 11. This cost me a few places and after this I was really just pleased to finish. The track was still quite dirty off-line although it was still good fun to at least try to overtake. I am now really looking forward to the next race in Imola as this is one of my favourite tracks and it's going to be good to be racing at a circuit where I have some experience.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (15th):>
I was on a two stop strategy and my first stop was late so at one stage I was up to P6 or P5. Im happy to finish the race, thats the best thing about the weekend for me. It was not a perfect race, though with the biggest problem being not getting on top of the car balance. It was the first time we used the new Bridgestone tyres and they are definitely better but we need to work more to understand them. There were some other minor things like a small brake problem and being held up for two laps by a blue-flagged Minardi. I dont know if he was penalised but he should have been. We have a test in Silverstone before the San Marino Grand Prix in three weeks time where we will do a lot of tyre testing and hopefully get some new things on the car.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (16th):
I did my best today. We had a small problem with the braking and differential on the last 10 laps and during the second stint I had more understeer on the car. Its good that I have finished my first three races and I think I have started making improvements on qualifying so now I also have to improve race performance. I want to be a little bit closer to Nick with my lap times. I have more time in the car before Imola with a Silverstone test and Im feeling more confident so Im looking forward to the next race.
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (17th):
"The mechanics did a fantastic job today, and despite the fact my car wouldn't leave the grid, they got me going in the pits. During the race, I struggled with the car, which was good in the corners but felt like it was down on power on the straights. That prevented me from being able to race as well as I know I could have. Anyway, we'll work on our problems, and aim to have a better race at Imola."
David Coulthard, McLaren (DNF):
"A disappointing outcome after an extremely unsatisfying couple of days in Bahrain. I had a few good battles during the race but as has been the case throughout I lacked speed. Another points finish would have been possible but at the end I lost air in the pneumatic system of the engine. I came into the pits to see if we could do something to rectify the situation but it proved impossible and that was the end of that."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (DNF):
"Straightaway, I was struggling with an electronic problem, like Gimmi, but I was able to reset the software from the cockpit and fix the problem. I think my pace was good during the race - my fastest lap was the same as Gimmi's qualifying time and I was able to set times not too far off the Jordans - which made up for the problems I had in qualifying yesterday. I'm upset not to have finished the last 10 laps, but sometimes races are like that. I'd like to thank everyone on the team, who gave maximum effort today, and I hope, both for them and for me, that I can get a better result at the next race."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"It' been a difficult weekend for me and the entire team. I started the race from last but made a good start and gained quite a few places during the first couple of laps. I was battling with one of the Jaguars for 11th but all of a sudden I lost power and my engine went. There is not really anything else I can say or do. I just want to forget this weekend and look forward to the rest of the year."