US Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 20 Jun 2004
The Indianapolis race by the men in the driving seat
Ferrari one-two, but only after plenty of drama behind. Schumacher on victory, Sato on his maiden Formula One podium, and Montoya on being disqualified for the second race in a row.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
Ralf is OK and that is the most important thing today. I was very concerned when I saw him in the car for so long. Then the team told me on the radio that he was okay. That helped me big time, because I could see how hard he must have hit the wall. The timing of the first pit-stop was crucial. I took the lead as the Safety Car went in, even though we have little time to get ready for it to pit at this track. But, I managed to slipstream Rubens and get past. We had a flexible strategy, Rubens on a longer first stint and me on a longer second one. In the final stint, Rubens was quicker than me as he had fresher tyres which is why he pushed me very hard for a couple of laps and we had a very close fight. I had to manage my tyres, which were marginal on blistering, getting better once they had worn down a bit, so allowing me to push again.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd):
I am happy to leave North America with sixteen points, but a little bit disappointed as I felt I could have won both here and in Canada. My car was excellent today, but when the Safety Car came in, my tyre pressures were too low and I got wheelspin at the final corner, which is why Michael was able to slipstream me and get past as I could not close the door. I also lost some positions in my first pit stop, but I was pushing really hard. I also hit something on the track at one point at a blind exit to a corner and felt a big bang. The car turned left and I though the suspension was broken. Then after my final stop, I was able to attack Michael on my new tyres, but he closed the door fairly. I am now keener than ever to win a race as soon as possible.
Takuma Sato, BAR (3rd):
"This is an incredible feeling. A result we have worked hard for and pushed so hard to achieve for so long. I feel very proud for the team, Honda and all the partners. They have been pushing so hard to try to resolve the problems I have been experiencing. I had a strong race and the car just felt beautiful. It was so consistent so I have to thank Michelin for all their efforts too.
"I was a little surprised by what happened at the start and then losing my position to Alonso. Then the very concerning circumstances on track made things very confusing. After the two safety cars I felt I had the car to fight to get my position back. I had a good battle with a few drivers, then later in the race saw Jarno hesitate on the oil flag so I took my opportunity. The last few races have been very tough for the team with the back-to-backs and our problems, so I'm absolutely thrilled to have this way of thanking everyone."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (4th):
"I did my best today from last on the grid. I made the most of the start to gain lots of positions, then we brought my first stop forward during the second safety car period, a move that paid off later in the race. I pushed all the way, but Sato was catching me during the last stint - I was really on the limit, and the lap before he overtook me, I went off. Then, there were flags in the banking because of oil on the track so I lifted, and he passed me into the first corner. Of course, I am slightly disappointed to not finish on the podium, but when you look at where I started, this is a very good result."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (5th):
"I think it is a highly positive weekend for all the team and we can celebrate a great result. It was my 150th grand prix and I got a fantastic present of four points. I am very happy. The team gave me a consistent and competitive car and I drove a good race. We profited from all the hard work we have put in this weekend. I would also like to extend my thanks to Michelin for providing us with fabulous tyres here at Indianapolis. I pushed so hard towards the end and it was the perfect end to a strong weekend to finish just 37 seconds from the race winner. We need to keep going on in this direction because the top six is where we should be finishing every race."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (6th):
"I did score some points today, but I'm still a bit disappointed as I strongly believe I could have finished on the podium. We have taken a step forward with the MP4-19 and were able to run reasonably competitively, but it was not to be. We had a strong race strategy, the car was handling well, and I was able to really attack. However I was forced to make two unscheduled stops as the team had to top up the pneumatic air system on the engine with additional air, which at the end cost me quite a few positions."
David Coulthard, McLaren (7th):
"It was a difficult Sunday for me, but at least both Kimi and I managed to finish the race and score some points. In the early stages I picked up some debris, which damaged my deflector and upset the balance of the car, which made it difficult to handle for the rest of the Grand Prix. Towards the end of the race I had to make another stop as a piece of polystyrene had lodged itself underneath my car, which the mechanics had to remove. I now look forward to the next race at Magny Cours in two weeks time."
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (8th):
We are really happy. It was a tough race for me. At the beginning, I was next to my team mate in the first corner. I touched the Jordan on the back. It was a little tap with the nose. Gimmi (Bruni) touched the Jordan, and they went away. I went between them. I drove a very consistent race. The big thing (at the end to hold onto eighth) was very much pressure. It is my first point. It is a great thing. That was my goal for us to take a point. It is a miracle what happened today. I am very happy for the point for the team and for me. (In the future) Hopefully, we'll be higher.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (DNF):
"After the first-corner accident we used the safety car period to refuel. I then did a very long stint but unfortunately I could not pass Heidfeld. Later on I picked up a puncture on lap 48. Having to drive so slowly back to the pits did some damage, so I subsequently had to retire because of an hydraulic leak just when we were set to score a point. Altogether, a very disappointing day."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (DNF):
It has been a strong weekend for us here and I was racing a good race today when I was forced to retire after losing oil and catching on fire. My race up to then had been fun and the pace of the car was encouraging. To be in the top six is a good reflection of the pace of the R5 and we had been reliable all weekend. I did run over some debris and this caused damage to my front wing end plate and I lost my bargeboard. The guys sorted me out very quickly and my strategy was excellent. We deserved points today, now we will just have to focus at getting them at the next race.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (DSQ):
I've heard that Ralf is basically OK and I am glad to know that but I feel disappointed about my race. I had a problem at the start, which forced me to run to the spare car, which was set for me anyway. I started from the pit-lane and had a tough race having to climb up the field. I managed to run as high as second, at one point, but realistically we were on for a strong top four position but then I got the black flag. Again a bad outcome to what seemed to be a reasonably good weekend. The only comfort is that the car was quick today, which allowed me to catch up with the frontrunners from the back of the field.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (DNF):
"I'm not 100% sure but I think my problem was the engine. It may have been something else that caused the engine to stop so I will have to check with the engineers later. The race was going better than expected: I was lucky enough not to be involved with the crash at the beginning and then when I was a lot of laps into the race, the tyres and car improved. I think we had a good chance for results today so it's disappointing not to finish but we have demonstrated once again that we are capable of a strong points-scoring performance so I'm optimistic for the next races."
Jenson Button, BAR (DNF):
"It was a pretty dramatic race, but my start wasn't very good and I lost two places to Alonso and Raikkonen. After the first safety car our car was working very well, but I was stuck behind Raikkonen. Then we had the second safety car, when Ralf had his big accident. We decided to stay out, instead of pitting under the safety car, and I support the team's decision to do that - it was the right thing to do. Then we sat behind Michael for about six laps before our pitstop. The car was working well and was very stable, especially under braking. The traction was exceptional, so it was disappointing that we were not able to finish the race because I think that it could have been a very interesting result."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (DNF):
"I got a good start but coming into turn two I was hit from behind by another car. After that, I had to come into the pits, but the accident also resulted in me not being able to select first gear. In the end, I got stuck in gear and I had to stop. The problem with the gears was only caused by the collision and that ended my race far too early. We showed a good level of competitiveness this weekend - the positive thing we can take from this race."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
"I got a fantastic start; I braked very late into the first corner because I knew it would be one of the only chances to overtake. As for the accident, it is difficult to explain because everything happened so fast, but I think it was a puncture. I lost the chance of a podium today."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (DNF):
A good start and first corner but it all came to an end too shortly. Da Matta appeared to slow instantly on entering the second corner and I had no-where to go other than into the back of him. Disappointing yes, but I am motivated by the pace of the R5 this weekend and the improvement in reliability. I will now be testing and then points in Magny-Cours is my next goal.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (DNF):
"I think I made a good start and I was trying to be very careful in Turn One. Suddenly I found Klien broadside across the road after some other cars crashed, and there was no way to avoid him. Once again, I was a passenger. After three troubled races I hope my luck changes for the better at Magny-Cours."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (DNF):
"What can I say? I got a really good start but then at the first corner I was involved with the incident with Klien and Da Matta and I had to stop because the front left suspension was totally broken. When you see how few cars finished, it really was possible for us to score a few points today. That's it. Bad luck!"
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (DNF):
I went in outside, and there was a guy next to me just shunted and he hit me in the sidepod of the car. It broke the right front suspension. Its good for the team to score one point. I should have been there, but there was nothing I could do.