Monaco - selected driver quotes 23 May 2004
The inside line on a eventful afternoon in Monaco…
Trulli wins; Fisichella ends his race upside down; Montoya and Michael Schumacher collide under the safety car; and Alonso hits the wall while lapping Ralf Schumacher. The men involved explain.
Jarno Trulli, Renault (1st):
"It is hard to express what I am feeling right now. The team, the car, myself, we have all been improving bit by bit since the start of the season. Yesterday, I took my first pole position and said that all I needed now was a first win. To do so is a wonderful feeling. I believed in myself and the team, and hoped that maybe we could win here. To be honest, the way the race turned out really didn't help me: each time I built up a gap, the safety car came out, and I had quite a lot of trouble with traffic. But the car was perfect, the strategy correct and the pit-stops were fantastic. I just want to thank everybody in the team, here at the track, at Viry and at Enstone. They have worked so hard this year and this is not just my win, it's theirs as well."
Jenson Button, BAR (2nd):
"It was a very tough but incredibly exciting race for me - and I suspect everyone watching at home too! It felt great crossing the line in second place, but ever so slightly frustrating because I was only a second behind the winner! I didn't get a good start and Alonso was able to get by me, then the traffic was very bad because of the backmarkers and I was getting really frustrated, being stuck behind da Matta for three and a half laps. After I broke free of them I could really start catching Jarno. We had a great strategy today but we just couldn't quite catch him."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (3rd):
I think I was very lucky to finish today and third place was my birthday present from God. At the start, Sato came past me even before I moved off the line. Then, quite early in the race, in Casino Square, the car hit the ground very hard, I was locking the wheels and it felt as though I had a puncture. I told the team on the radio, but they said that if I could, I should stay out and see if the situation improved on my next set of tyres. But after my second pit stop, which I did not make when the Safety Car was out as I had a lot of fuel on board, the car was still hitting the ground and was not turning well. It felt like something was broken in the rear suspension and while the SC was on track I even drove slowly near the pit wall in case the team could see anything. Im not even sweating after this race, because all I could do was drive slowly to carry the car home. I did not see Michaels incident in the tunnel.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (4th):
It was a good race for me, since when you start ninth in Monaco you cannot hope to finish fourth. The car felt ok but like yesterday, we were just not quick enough. With regards to the contact with Michael in the tunnel, Michael braked very hard as he was warming up his brakes and I moved to the right side of the track to avoid him but the gap narrowed and we touched.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (5th):
"All I saw in the accident was a lot of mess and cars slowing everywhere. I was right behind Ralf and slowed when he did, and we managed to thread our way through. I guess I was lucky, because you could hardly see a thing! After that I found that in my second stint my tyres were very good so I was able to concentrate on chasing a good finish. In my last stint the tyres were okay initially but then the rears were finished as da Matta closed in, so I really had to focus on keeping the car in a straight line when it wanted to go sideways everywhere. I knew that da Matta was also in a good position for points so I didn't think he would take a risk, but I was never able to relax. I'm really glad to have been able to help the team move up, especially after Giancarlo's accident. It's good to know that he is okay."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (6th):
"I think that we had a good race, probably the strongest pace we have had since the beginning of the year. To finish in sixth place and to score three championship points is an excellent result for us this weekend, but we should have had even more. I had a clutch problem, which lost me time at my second pit stop and then I was given a drive-through penalty for apparently ignoring blue flags. I really think that the situation with blue flags has to be looked into because our race was compromised a lot with the mistake that was made today. I was only a couple of seconds behind Rubens and I was almost able to get out in front of him after my first pit stop. It was just unfortunate that we had this blue flag incident. Basically, we had a fourth place in our hands today and came away with a sixth."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (7th):
I cant tell you how happy I am, scoring not just one but two points. This means a lot for me and also for the team at the moment. I think we employed the right strategy when the safety cars came out. I managed to keep the car on the circuit which was important today as was the fact that we had no mechanical problems.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (8th):
"With all the problems we had at the start where the car stalled twice, to finish in eighth is positive for all the team. During most of the race, I had a big problem with the brakes and drove most of it with limited braking. I expected a little bit more from myself, but I did my best and managed to get the car to the chequered flag in the hope that we could pick up some points. I am very happy for the whole Toyota family that we could do just that. This is just the first step, now we need to carry on and look to next weekend's race at the Nurburgring."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (9th):
"I made a very good start, but then had a gearbox problem just after I'd gone through the first corner. I reset the system with the steering wheel buttons and was able to get going again, but by then, I'd lost a lot of time. I was able to maintain a good pace, though, and after the first Safety Car incident, I was up with Gimmi. Unfortunately, the car developed a strong oversteer, and I wasn't able to push any harder. It was good, though, to be able to keep the car on track, avoid any mistakes and achieve a good result. It was a tough race physically, and I'm pleased to have finished, both for myself and for the team. It makes up a little for the problems we encountered here on Saturday."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (DNF):
Its obviously a disappointing race, but these things seem to happen. Just after a few laps I lost fifth gear, then the sixth and the seventh. By the last few laps I had only fourth gear. I did the best I could but it was obviously very hard to drive in those conditions and I had to retire eventually with just a few laps to go. We just need to keep working and get it right for the next races.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (DNF):
Firstly I must congratulate Jarno. He did a fantastic job and I am very happy for him as I work closely with him in the GPDA and we meet on the football pitch. Today, I dont think I could have really challenged him, but nevertheless when the accident with Montoya happened I was leading the race. So the situation is that the race leader was knocked out of the race after being hit by a back marker. I am sure there was no deliberate intention on his part and I accept the Stewards decision. I was accelerating and braking just as we do when we go to the grid and in the standard way when running behind the Safety Car. The tunnel was not even the first place I had done it as I had used the same procedure earlier in the lap. A bit of smoke off the wheels is quite normal in these situations as you try to get heat into the front tyres and the brakes. After not the most successful weekend for us, I am really looking forward to next weekend when we will already be at the Nurburgring for one of my home races.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
First of all, I have to congratulate Jarno and the team for the win: we really worked hard in the winter, and this is the first reward. In terms of my race, everything was going well and I was quite comfortable behind Jarno. The car had a good balance, and was easy to drive; I was just following Jarno and was intending to push at the second stops. The reason for the crash is pretty simple: I was lapping Ralf, and he ignored the blue flags for the first seven corners. He slowed down to let me by at the entrance to the tunnel, then got back on the throttle and pushed me wide. There's no grip on the outside there, and I lost control. It's extremely frustrating, and cost us a one-two finish."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"The engineers could see that there was a problem with the engine's pneumatic system and the team told me to come in and retire. I think we could have done well here today. Obviously I'm disappointed as we have had a good and reasonably competitive weekend until today. There was a lot of smoke when Sato's engine blew up, but I was prepared as it had been smoking for some time and managed to find my way through."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (DNF):
"I had a problem leaving the grid on the first formation lap, but did manage to get away at the start. I then just tried to keep up a reasonable pace, which I was able to do initially, but then I lost first gear. It didn't cost me too much time, but then I started having difficulty downshifting into third and second gears, and I had no choice but to stop at the pits. The guys had a look, but unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done. It's bad luck and I'm obviously very disappointed, but that is sometimes how racing is."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (DNF):
"I had a gear problem which was basically that the down-shift function was not working, it was locking in fourth gear. I came into the pits pretty quickly to see if we could fix the problem but it was impossible and I had to stop. Naturally, I'm disappointed that my first Monaco Grand Prix ended this way but thankfully there are not many days to wait until the next chance to race and I'm looking ahead to the European Grand Prix now."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (DNF):
I was pleased with where we had qualified for the race as I knew that our strategy was going to allow us to chase for points. I managed to get away well at the start and we were going well when on lap 11 I suffered from a loss of drive and the car came to a stop. The team are going to look into this as we go directly to Germany this week. We have had a tough weekend here but it not through a lack of trying. The guys have done an amazing job to change engines round and re-build my car after the fire on Wednesday. We should have been up there with the best of them thanks to our strategy but there you go, thats motor-racing for you.
Takuma Sato, BAR (DNF):
"I am obviously extremely disappointed today after making such a great start off the grid, but on the positive side it was encouraging to see our race pace was so strong. I think we made a great tyre choice for this race and we had a very good strategy - it's just a shame I wasn't able to use it! I immediately felt a loss of engine power and saw some smoke, then my race was over. It was very unfortunate that the smoke caused the crash between Coulthard and Fisichella, and although there was nothing I could have done about it, I am really pleased that no one was hurt. We have been working very hard in testing at Barcelona and Paul Ricard for this race and the Nurburgring, and at least I don't have long to wait to try to make up for today."
David Coulthard, McLaren (DNF):
"I'm really disappointed and upset as I love this race and would have enjoyed battling it out with the other guys. Obviously I was very worried when Fisichella flew over me and his car landed upside down, and we were lucky not to have a more serious accident. When Sato's engine blew up I couldn't see anything in front of me because of the smoke, so perhaps Fisichella was going a bit too fast but I don't know. However smoke was coming from Sato's car already on the Parade Lap so I'm sure the engineers could have seen on the telemetry that eventually the engine would blow up."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (DNF):
"I'm very disappointed today. I made a good start and was just driving gently, saving the tyres, when Sato's engine exploded. I'd seen it smoking after the second start, but nobody expected it to break like that. I had no vision at all. Barrichello and Montoya were in front, then suddenly there was a McLaren. I'm not sure why it was there, but the next thing I heard was the bang and I was upside down. The car took all the impact and I stayed in the cockpit until it all went quiet outside, just in case the accident wasn't finished. Then I got myself out. I'm okay, but very frustrated, because for sure we could have had P4 today."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (DNF):
I have had a good weekend here and I am annoyed that I was unable to race for points. I miscalculated the build-up of traffic at the Mirabeau corner and as everyone pushed together I ran into the back of the Jordan of Nick Heidfeld. This caused me to lose my front wing that in turn disappeared under my front tyres and caused me to lose my steering. My strategy for the race was brilliant and there is no doubt that I should have been up there in the points given the amount of attition and different strategies that there were out there today. The R5 has been well-balanced around this street circuit and I would have liked to have put it through its paces.