San Marino - selected driver quotes 25 Apr 2004
Michael Schumacher on victory and Jenson Buttons mind-blowing pace; Juan Pablo Montoya says Schumacher was less than fair; and Kimi Raikkonen on his first point of 2004. All the drivers explain their afternoon at Imola.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
This was a dream result, to come home after three races and give the tifosi what they wanted. It is a dream come true, especially as I am an ambassador for San Marino. At the start, Jenson set a mind blowing pace: it was as though I was driving in the wet and he was in the dry. But after a few laps, everything came up to temperature and I was able to push. Fortunately, after that, I was able to maintain my pace, while his seemed to drop off. As for my fight with Juan Pablo, I wanted to keep him behind me so that I would not lose touch with the leader. At first, I saw him attack me, but then I did not see him, nor did I expect him to come round the outside. I think it was just a racing incident. In the final stages, I eased off the pace to bring the car home. I hope we come back here to Imola.
Jenson Button, BAR (2nd):
"It was another fantastic race for me and 2nd place is another step closer to our ultimate ambition - a first win for me and the team. The first lap felt very good and I was able to gather pace, pull away and lead the first stint. This is a difficult track to overtake on so I wasn't too worried, but then after Michael overtook me in the first pitstop he pulled out a very strong lead. I was very surprised actually. There was nothing I could do to catch him but we are very pleased to have taken a step up the podium. Our revised package has worked incredibly well here and this result just goes to prove what we can achieve together with our partners Honda and Michelin. I'm very happy today and it looks like we have a very exciting season ahead of us."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (3rd):
The first lap was very tough. Michael Schumacher had a poor start and was slow out of the first chicane and the first few corners. I tried to pass him but he closed the door twice. I had to back off but when I tried again he hit me and pushed me out on to the grass. I am very disappointed as this was not fair racing. Jenson had an incredibly fast pace, therefore third is the best I could do today since our car was just not quick enough. We need to improve our complete package to be competitive in order to catch-up with the leaders.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
"A very good result after a tough race for me. I made a bad start, the car just lacked traction, and then Coulthard almost took me out at the first corner: some parts actually hit my helmet! By then, though, I had lost too many places to be able to fight with the leaders, so I followed the cars in front and made the most of my opportunities around the stops to pass them; the car was a little bit nervous, but I still managed to push. As for the incident with Ralf, from where I was sat he just closed the door on me, but fortunately it didn't damage the car. Overall, I am pleased to have finished fourth at this track, and happy we have maintained our position in the championship."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (5th):
"I am more than pleased with this result: I started ninth, and managed to make up four places at a circuit where it is very hard to overtake, as well as keeping one of the Ferraris behind me. At the start, the engine just didn't accelerate and I could feel from then on that it was a bit down on power. I pushed to the limit during my stints, but had no luck with traffic: the Minardi's alone cost me 5 seconds! During the last part of the race, the car became very hard to drive - I had brake problems and the rear wheels were locking, which made it quite nervous. I think the result is in line with what we had expected, and once again, we take home a good number of points for the championship."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (6th):
My race was spoilt by traffic. I always found myself with a slower car ahead of me and so I was never able to push my car as hard as it could go. Ralf Schumacher especially blocked me several times, at the start for example when he made a move that saw me go off the track. Its a shame as I knew I had a great car and I was convinced I could have a good race. At least I managed to bring home three points, which are important for me and for the team.
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (7th):
Until the incident with Alonso I was quite happy with the weekend in general, obviously it was a shame what happened. It was good to score some points and I think we made the best out of our package today. It's pretty clear that we have to improve but we are not that far away.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (8th):
"I'm pleased to finish my first race of the season and get one point, but obviously we want to be fighting for the lead and not eighth place. I started the race from last, so I had to fight hard to make up some positions. The track is very narrow, so it's quite difficult to overtake and when you are so far back you inevitably get stuck. I know that the team will continue to work hard on improving our package and making further progress both with pace and reliability."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (9th):
"We had very good race pace today, and sometimes I was quicker than Kimi, especially at the end. It's a pity I lost the place to him. I got held up by one of the Minardis in the final corner at a point when Kimi had fresher tyres, and with the better traction out of the corner he got a run at me and overtook on the straight. But I am happy with our speed compared to his and very satisfied that we have made such a big improvement since Bahrain. If we can keep that up we can fight for points a lot more."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (10th):
"I think this was a positive race for us. I made a good start and the car was very good in the first two stints. I don't know why, but it was not quite the same in the final one. It was just very tricky to do competitive lap times and I struggled to keep my rhythm. But we have improved the car, for sure, and really I think it might even have been possible to do two stops rather than three because my Bridgestone tyres were so consistent today."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (11th):
"Once again we proved the reliability of the TF104 and I was able to extend my
100% finishing record this year. I pushed very hard throughout the race and we did some good pit stops but we still need to develop better pace. Everybody in the team has worked really hard which is reflected by our consistency. We have to continue concentrating on making improvements to our performance and the progress we have made since Melbourne shows that sooner rather than later, the effort should pay off."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (12th):
That was a difficult race for us this afternoon. I made a good start and maintained my eighth position on the first few laps. My pit stop went to plan but then after that I started to lose power. I have spoken with my engineers and it appears that the engine was suffering from an intermittent electrical problem. They cannot confirm the cause behind this at the moment and until we get the car back to the factory in Milton Keynes and study the data we will not know. After all our hard work this weekend it would have been rewarding to have finished higher up the grid. However, saying that we all know that we have to take the rough with the smooth and today has been one of the rougher days. We will be working hard over the next two weeks ahead of Barcelona when we will come back and aim for some points.
David Coulthard, McLaren (13th):
"When you start in the middle of the field you have to take risks coming into the first corner in order to make progress. On this occasion I took too much of a risk and ended up damaging the nose of the car and going off the track. I was able to make it back into the pits where the team replaced the nose and changed me from a three to a two stop strategy in order to try and make up positions. I fought hard but 12th was the best we could do."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (14th):
I am really disappointed with how today has finished for me. My start was not great and I struggled to make up any places. I soon became boxed in at the back and it as difficult to make any headway. After my first pit stop I started to get blue-flagged and once this happens you have to keep moving off-line to let people by. This slows you down as you are off the racing line and it costs you a lot of time. Near the end I hit lots of traffic and I also started to struggle with the balance of the car under braking.
All things considered it was not a good race for me and I am frustrated that I could not have done more for the team. My mechanics and engineers have done a fantastic job all weekend especially when they had to change my chassis over yesterday morning in time for qualifying. I am looking forward to Barcelona though as this is one of the tracks that I have been to many times before in a Formula One car.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (15th):
"I'm happy to have finished the race and pleased that we had a reliable car today. There were no problems and no mistakes, and I now hope we can build on this and start to generate some momentum in the coming races. We need to work some more on our new aerodynamic package, but I think it is promising and will become better with a little more development time. I want to thank all the guys on the team, who did a fantastic job this weekend and got through a huge amount of work."
Takuma Sato, BAR (16th):
"It is a shame that I couldn't finish the race with only a few laps to go, since I had a very exciting start and there was a lot of fighting for position in the first lap. But then I struggled with the pace after a few problems with the gearbox at the start, which got worse. Nonetheless, we have seen another great team result here this weekend. I am very much looking forward to the next race in Barcelona at a track I know well from testing there so often this year."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (DNF):
My start was not good as I was on the dirty side and then I had a bit of a problem getting the
tyres up to temperature. After that the car was definitely better than it has been in the first three races and we have improved the set-up in terms of understanding the tyres over a race distance. I had a high-speed spin at Piratella but managed to get back on the circuit and luckily there was no damage to the car. Overall the car wasnt that bad and I think if I had been able to finish I could have been in front of both Jaguars which would have been good.
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (DNF):
"The weekend started quite positively with a top ten qualifying position, but unfortunately the race did not continue the trend. I was given a Drive Through penalty and followed my normal procedure when I came into the pits. That involves pressing two buttons - one for the pit lane speed limiter and one for the launch control. But the launch control button also disables the traction control and, of course, this time I was not actually stopping. I got to the first chicane, where I was caught out by not having any traction control and went off the circuit. It is a mistake, but very frustrating... The only thing to do is to look forward to Barcelona, a track that should be more suited to the TF104."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (DNF):
"It just wasn't our day. I felt a problem developing with the brake balance about seven laps after my first stop and came into the pits. Although the team couldn't find anything wrong, they decided to retire the car as a precaution. I'm disappointed, but now it is best just to focus on the next race, in Barcelona."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (DNF):
I got a very good start and was in a good position so Im not happy about retiring, especially racing in Italy as I was looking to get a good result here. I had to stop because of a problem with the hydraulics. Although obviously it didnt finish well, the weekend as a whole has been encouraging because the car has been much better and in the race it felt good. I was keeping Fisichella and Raikkonen behind me and Im hopeful that we can keep improving and improving. I was always very lucky in Barcelona in F3000 so Im hoping the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks will bring me the chance for a better result.