Europe - selected driver quotes 30 May 2004
The Nurburgring race by the men in the driving seat…
Following the death this week of Fiat Chairman Umberto Agnelli, Ferrari paid a fitting tribute on Sunday with a one-two race finish. Rubens Barrichello, however, was pushed all the way by the BARs of first Takuma Sato and then Jenson Button. Both Renaults made the points again and Saubers Giancarlo Fisichella came from 19th to finish an excellent sixth. All 20 drivers explain their afternoon.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
I dedicate this result to Umberto Agnelli who was a great supporter of our team over the years. As was obvious, I had run quite light on fuel in qualifying. I had a good start and was immediately able to build up a lead as Raikkonen in second was holding up the others. It was fantastic to see how I could pull away and that gave me the edge I needed and I was confident that our strategy would work. I had some problems with traffic, particularly with Mark (Webber) when he came out of the pit lane and I just saw him in time flying towards me and I opened the door. Otherwise he would have crashed into me. We are looking very strong, but generally it was not a clean race and we were helped today because others had difficulties.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd):
Yesterday, we felt Michael was a bit quicker, so rather than aiming to try and get second place on the grid and start on the dirty side, the team offered me another option and I liked it. Running two stops almost worked as I went from seventh to second, but it was not good enough to take first place. I had a good start and took the first corner cleanly with Jenson (Button) but I think I might have touched a Renault. I had to push quite hard when I was in traffic and that was hurting the tyres a bit. I think Satos move was a bit amateur. Luckily I just saw his nose and moved over. After the incident, I lost part of my bargeboard and it was lucky the race was in its final stages as it affected the handling. It took me a couple of laps to assess what the car was doing and then the team told me to push again as Jenson was closing.
Jenson Button, BAR (3rd):
Considering the problem I've had with grip throughout the weekend, 3rd place is a great result for me. Obviously this podium was slightly more lucky than the other four, but a podium nonetheless. It was a tough race and I had problems with traffic again. I had to get past David (Coulthard) because he was holding me up by 2 seconds a lap. Fortunately for me he made a mistake in the last corner and I was able to pass him on the outside - a little bit brave maybe, but it paid off. This was obviously Taku's shot at the podium but it is good that we have one trophy to celebrate Honda's 40th Anniversary Race."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (4th):
"I made a good start but the race was nearly over at the first corner - if I hadn't opened the door, Sato would have taken me out. I was third behind him and Michael when, two corners later, he made a mistake so I took the inside line through turn 4 but he closed the door. His right front wheel hit my front left and I nearly lost the car - in the confusion, I pressed the pit-lane speed limiter button and that cost me a number of positions. Afterwards, I was stuck first in the traffic behind Raikkonen, then behind slower cars after my first stop. I just pushed for the rest of the race in order to make up positions, and the car balance was good all the way through. I'm pleased with the job I did today: after finishing the first lap seventh, to be fourth at the end of the race is not so bad."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th):
"It's frustrating to finish fifth having been third on the first lap. Raikkonen held me up a lot during the first stint, which meant that after I pitted I came out among the cars on two stops. Then, the steering became very vague; it caused me to run wide in turn 4, and it took a while to get used to it. After that, I couldn't do anything but protect my position, which I managed to do."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (6th):
"After all the problems I had over the weekend it is wonderful to score points for sixth place! Our target was to score points, but I never believed that sixth was possible. The car was fantastic today, the balance and behaviour were impeccable. I made a good start, our strategy was perfect, and we did a great job as a team. The C23 is improving with every race, so we will keep getting better and better."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (7th):
I had a good race today and a seventh position finish and two points in the bag is exactly what the Doctor ordered. My start was slightly slower than we had expected as I suffered a clutch engagement problem. I then went on to work my way up the grid and I am pleased to say that our strategy worked really well today and despite my one second penalty on my qualifying time I dont think it cost me too much. As the race wore on the balance of the car got even better and it was good fun to drive. The team has been working incredibly hard since Monaco and well before that but there was no reward, now there is just reward for all our efforts. I am already excited about Canada but before that I will be back out in the R5 at Silverstone testing for the team.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (8th):
Even though I was starting from 8th I had a good start, but the accident at the first corner obviously compromised my race. When I made it to the first corner Rubens Barrichello, who was in front of me, braked quite early and both Ralf and I locked the tyres. Then Ralf went for the outside and I stayed behind Rubens but when I was going around the corner Panis dived up the inside hitting my front tyre which threw me straight into Ralf. A hairpin is always going to cause problems in a racing start. After that I had obviously a tough race, having to recover from 18th place. I still could collect one point, but I know there was more in the car.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (9th):
"When I let out the clutch at the start nothing happened, and I had to call for it again before I could get going. Running behind the Minardis after that ruined my race because I lost so much time. I'm not sure where I damaged my front wing - maybe when I was close to Bruni, maybe later with Klien - but after that I just had massive understeer and the car was really difficult to drive. A shame, because this was a race where I could have scored more points."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (10th):
Im really happy with our performance over the weekend especially in the race. Finishing 10th, only two positions off the points, is positive - as was actually being able to fight and beat some other cars. I was pushing Felipe hard at the end, which was really good fun. With one more lap I might have overtaken him! I didnt have a great start, so that is something we need to improve and practise, and then I was held up by Klien for a long time in the race, but thats just racing. Our race performance is good but we need to see if we can improve qualifying. A big thanks to all the team as they are really doing a good job at the moment. If we keep improving at this rate Im very pleased.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (11th):
"I got a fantastic start and took some risk heading into the first corner, but I managed to gain two places in the process. Everything was going well and I was retaining eighth place, but it became rather difficult to hold onto the group in front of me. The tyres dropped off quite quickly and it was clear that the race was going to be tough. I am very disappointed for myself and the whole team, but at least we finished the race, so from here we will continue to keep pushing to produce a quicker racing car."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (12th):
The start was great for me as I managed to overtake two cars by the first corner. The balance was good and the car was going really well. After my first pit stop though the balance was slightly more difficult for me so I think I may have lost a bit of time in my second session. I enjoyed my battle with Montoya, thats what we are about. The cars were really reliable today and they felt good. I am very pleased to have finished the race, albeit it, without points. We are learning more with every lap and the team is so focused on what we have to do and where we are going. I am looking forward to testing and I cant wait to be racing again.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (13th):
I was lucky to finish the race, to be honest, because for the last 25 laps I had a problem with the downshift. The first part of the race was not going badly and we were doing our maximum but after that this problem started and that was it. Theres not much else to say. Im not very happy really as this has happened to me a few times.
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (14th):
"I'm satisfied with the result, as I had to try and maintain good lap times, but also conserve the rear tyres if I pushed too hard I risked blistering them. In fact, I'm happy with the tyres Bridgestone has provided us with this weekend. If we had had a better balance in the car this afternoon, I think I could have made better use of the tyres and we might have had a stronger result. Even so, I am very pleased to have finished the race."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (15th):
"Generally, we had a good, solid race today. The first stint was difficult, because the car was really oversteering, but then we altered the differential and the tyre pressures at the first stop, and I also adjusted the brake balance. After that, the car just got better every lap and was really good in the last two stints. I could go quicker and quicker and was able to bring the gap down to Gimmi. The biggest problem for me this afternoon was actually the amount of time I lost with blue flags letting other drivers through. I'm very happy that we had a reliable car in the race and that I was able to take the chequered flag today. I'd also like to wish Gimmi a happy birthday - it was good to present him with his birthday cake."
Takuma Sato, BAR (DNF):
"I am extremely disappointed, ending the way I did with engine failure. Today the car was very strong and although I lost my position at the start, I regained it again at turn one. Throughout the race I was fighting all the time, and when I came out of my last pit stop on new tyres I had a lot of grip and felt confident that I could challenge Rubens in the Ferrari, but I saw the opportunity to get past Rubens but unfortunately we touched. At least I had a strong race, the pace of the car was good and it could have been a very good result for me. Now we have to look forward. I am expecting a good test at Silverstone and am looking forward to Montreal and Indianapolis."
David Coulthard, McLaren (DNF):
"The race was going well. I had a good start from the back of the grid making the most of other people getting in trouble on the first lap and went from 20th to ninth. As we were on a two-stop strategy the car was heavy with fuel, but I believe we would have been in a good position to score some points. It's disappointing and nobody in the team is enjoying the situation at the moment, but we will all continue to work hard to make things better, and I'm confident that we will fight back."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"Obviously I'm extremely frustrated and disappointed. I was at the front after getting past Sato and Trulli on the first lap and there was no doubt that things were looking good. We are making progress, but it's clear that we have to improve our reliability dramatically."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (DNF):
What happened is obviously a shame. Being taken out of the race at the first corner is definitely not what I was expecting. It was a very unfortunate accident with Juan who just braked a bit too late since he was trying to gain some places at the end of the straight. I am 100% sure Juan didnt do it on purpose therefore I am not going to blame him for this. It was a very normal start accident. Shame I hit Cristiano Da Matta too, but I was just a passenger on my car at that time, since Juan had hit me in the back and then in the front and I had no longer control on the car. I am sorry for Cristiano but there was nothing I could do to avoid taking him out. This accident is frustrating, of course, but I can guarantee well fight all our way back and I am sure well soon be in racing again.
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (DNF):
"I didn't really see what happened, only a Williams locking its wheels quite badly approaching the first corner. After that, there was not a great deal I could do about the situation. I tried to carry on to the left to make my way around, but there was nowhere for me to go. Obviously it is not nice to retire from a race through no fault of my own, but it was a racing incident and these things occur from time to time. I have a three-day test in Silverstone next week where we will work hard on preparing the cars for the next back-to-back races in Canada and the US."