Indy delight for Sato and Baumgartner 20 Jun 2004
BARs Takuma Sato and Minardis Zsolt Baumgartner were both thrilled with their results in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday. Sato took his maiden podium, while Baumgartner scored his first-ever world championship point, Minardis first since Australia 2002.
Sato lost out to the Renault of Fernando Alonso at the start to drop to fourth, but after the Spaniard crashed out following a puncture, the BAR driver put in a dogged performance, pulling off numerous passing moves to eventually finish third behind the two Ferraris, despite not following their lead of pitting under the safety car.
"This is an incredible feeling, said the Japanese driver. 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 (Trulli) 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."
Baumgartner, meanwhile, survived a race of attrition to come home in eighth, giving Minardi a highly valuable point, their first of the 2004 season. It followed an early exit for team mate Gianmaria Bruni, who was caught up in the first-lap pile up at the rear of the field.
It is my first point. It is a great thing, said Baumgartner. 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.