German Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 25 Jul 2004
The Hockenheim race by the men in the driving seat
Schumacher on the win, Button on the drive of his life, and Raikkonen on his unfortunate high-speed exit. The drivers explain a thrilling German Grand Prix.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
What a weekend this has been after pole yesterday and victory today! I am extremely happy and there are not words to describe this. I could feel the emotion from the fans and I could hear their noise even above the engine as I crossed the line. To do this at home where I have not been so successful in past years is just fabulous. It was a tough race and I was under pressure first from Kimi and then from Jenson and Fernando. I was able to keep the gap but not really extend it. The teams pit work was superb. I did feel under pressure because Jenson was very quick and at one stage I was not sure if he was only planning to stop twice or what pace he would be able to run once he got past Fernando. So I had to push flat out. How do I feel about 50 straight races without a mechanical failure? It is self-explanatory, it is wonderful and a result not just of the reliability but the fact that everything in the team is spot on.
Jenson Button, BAR (2nd):
"This was without doubt the best race of my F1 career. I'm just so thrilled to finish second when I thought the best I could hope for was maybe fifth, at best. The car felt fantastic, the engine was great and the teamwork from the boys was incredible. I made a good start but had a terrible first lap and didn't gain anything, but then the team did a fantastic job in the first pitstop. I had a great fight with Fernando, who had incredible traction out of turn three where I was losing out to him, then on the straight I could get close to him again. I tried a few times to get past him and nothing seemed to work, but then I finally got him down the inside and held on to it. Towards the end of the race my helmet strap started to work loose and my helmet was lifting down the straights, which was pulling the strap tight against my throat and choking me. I had to drive one-handed most of the time! I'm really delighted for the team. We all really deserved this result before we take a well-earned break and I know we'll be back in Hungary giving everything we've got for the rest of the season."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd):
"I don't know what happened to the car during the final stint: at first, I thought it was problem with the front wing, then the suspension, but whatever the cause, the result was obvious: I just had no front grip at all. I radioed to the team that I was coming in to the pits, but they told me to stay out. Then, I ran over one of the kerbs and everything went back to normal: there must have been some debris lodged somewhere. Before those incidents, it had been a good race: I got one of the best starts of my career, and then I had a big battle with Jenson. We are both aggressive drivers, and we had fun I think - it was entertaining to have battle like that on the circuit. In the end, I think it was a good race for us."
David Coulthard, McLaren (4th):
"I had some balance problems throughout the race following the incident on the first lap when Barrichello hit me from behind at the first corner. In addition I picked up some debris from Kimi's accident which broke the deflector on my front wing. The team worked hard in the pitstops to try and dial out the understeer, but the problems continued. I was looking forward to mounting a real challenge for the podium today, but it just wasn't possible."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (5th):
What a bad start I had! The clutch didnt bite soon enough on the start and then I just had so much wheel spin and the car didnt go anywhere. I had no grip at all and lost a cool five positions. I also had some blistering problems on my rear tyres and it came to the point where driving the car was very, very hard since it was pointy and unpredictable. Actually, this prevented me from catching David Coulthard in the last part of the race. I came very close to him, but then I didnt feel I could make it. I am, of course, a bit disappointed because when you start from second you expect a podium finish. We did score some points today though which is very important for the team.
Mark Webber, Jaguar (6th):
Well that was a pretty amazing finish that I was not quite expecting! I started from 11th and managed a good start and entry into corner one. The first lap was the start of my move up the grid, as by the end of it I was up to 6th. I continued to battle it out with the best of them and the car was feeling really good. The balance was great for the majority of the race although going into the last sector I made a slight change to the front wing to counter-act some oversteer. It worked and I really enjoyed the entire race. I had some good battles with the guys out there and to finish sixth is great for the team. The boys have had quite a difficult weekend working on the car and producing the ideal set-up. The track has been changing quite a lot but we appeared to have come out the other side pretty well. I will be trying to relax a little over the next three weeks so come Hungary I will be chasing for some more points.
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (7th):
All in all Im happy with my performance today although I got stuck in a lot of traffic during the first two stints which cost me a lot of time. When I was on my own, I could put in some quick lap times but it wasnt enough to catch Webber in the last few laps. I still scored two points so Im happy I could do that for the team. I think the potential is there, I just need some more race experience. After all, I drove my last Grand Prix more than one year ago.
Takuma Sato, BAR (8th):
"It was a good race in terms of achieving points for both cars, but I was extremely disappointed not to be able to score as many we wanted. It was a tough opening lap and unfortunately there was an incident at the hairpin that I had to avoid and so I lost a few places. During the race I also experienced two separate problems with the HANS device slipping out from under the shoulder strap, which meant a loss of support. It was a struggle to drive like that and I lost positions because of it. The second stint was exciting because I overtook quite a few cars and the car was working really well, but later in the race the balance was not as good and that was costing me lap time, which was disappointing. However, it is very encouraging to see the car return to pace and I am looking forward to Hungary."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (9th):
"Usually we have a tyre advantage in race conditions with Bridgestone, but unfortunately today the performance with Michelin was very equal. I got blocked quite a lot at the start so was not able to make the progress I needed to with our two-stop strategy, and then in my second stop we weren't able to change the left rear tyre. The wheel was stuck on, so I had to go back into the race with the same left rear. I also lost time coming into the pits for that stop, because Nick Heidfeld was going very slowly as he also came into the pit road."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (10th):
Its been a good day for me today as I have really enjoyed racing the car and again to see the chequered flag is positive. I started from 12th and made a dash for the first corner. The team had prepared the car really well and it was feeling good. The balance has really been helped by our new aero-package and I could feel the difference going around today. My strategy seemed to work well and it allowed me to partake in some good on-track fighting for position. Near the end of the race, I had the Renault of Jarno Trulli on my tail and I was racing to keep him at bay. I am pleased to have finished the race and although a point would have been just reward for all the work that the team has undertaken I am encouraged by Marks performance and the three points. I have learnt more again this weekend and I am excited about the next race in Hungary.
Jarno Trulli, Renault (11th):
I had a strong race but just like with Fernando's car, I hit debris that caught on the car: unfortunately, it happened earlier in the race when other competitors were much closer. I lost front grip, the car was under-steering and would not turn in to the corners. Then, we changed the nose and front wing, and everything was OK again. It is a real shame, because I had demonstrated at the start of the race that my car was very quick today."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (12th):
Its been a tough day. I had to protect my line at the start as Montoya was very close. I tried to get inside Coulthard but unfortunately I locked the rear wheels and I guess it was all my fault. I hit him hard enough to break my front wing. My race was therefore spoilt from start to finish. We changed strategy but we always knew that two stops was going to be very hard and that is how things turned out. Sometimes things dont go to plan and today was one of those days.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (13th):
"I made a reasonable start but got held up a little when Button ran wide and came back on in front of me. My first and third sets of tyres were okay, but the second was horrible. I really have no idea why, but they made the car very difficult to drive and blistered very badly. It was very easy to make mistakes at that time. The car was unstable, especially under braking, and I was having a real struggle."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (14th):
"I am very disappointed with the problem that I encountered at the start of the race when I stalled on the grid and was forced to start in last place. This year, between Cristiano and me, we have experienced this type of problem on different occasions. Sometimes, drivers make mistakes but because the problem has recurred, we should really check carefully to see if there is a related technical problem. The performance of the car actually looked competitive today and we were able to do some very quick laptimes. Now, we need to focus on developing the TF104B further and to make further improvements for the upcoming races."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (15th):
Overall today our package was fast and consistent, with a good set-up and we made a good tyre choice together with Bridgestone. In the first part of the race our lap times were very good, then a lap before I planned to stop we had a flat tyre so I had to slow right down as I came into the pits. Just before the end I had another flat tyre on the same corner (front left). I'm not unhappy though because the car had a good balance, it was consistent and the lap times were good. We were just a little bit unlucky.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (16th):
"I had a normal start, but then managed to get by Gimmi on the first lap and pull away a little bit. The balance was pretty consistent during each of the stints and there were no technical problems with the car. The last 20 laps were really hard, though, particularly through the stadium section - and I've got blisters on my hands to prove it! Overall, though, I'm happy to be going into the Hungarian Grand Prix in three weeks having achieved a positive result here. I'm really hoping for a good race at my home Grand Prix for all the Hungarian fans I know will be there."
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (17th):
"I made a good start, but the engine was a little over-full with oil for the first seven or eight laps. It cleaned up after that, and as my lap times in the second two stints show, I was able to get down quite easily to the low 1 minute 19 second bracket. I had a problem with one of the bargeboards on my car and the guys worked on it when I came in for my first pit stop. Unfortunately, that cost me about a minute, and it was at that point I lost any real chance of challenging my team mate today. Once I was back on the track, though, I pushed as hard as I could and was able to reduce the gap to Zsolt by 20 seconds, so all in all, I think I did the best possible in the circumstances today."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (DNF):
It was tough today. I started to have balance problems with the car quite early on and I thought it would stabilise but it was getting worse and worse. I had to do an extra stop, coming in again the lap after my second scheduled stop, so the team could have a look at the tyres and the suspension but they didnt find anything so I went out again on different tyres. The problem was getting dramatically worse from that point on and I thought it was getting dangerous and difficult to hold the car on the circuit, so we decided to retire. The team are checking what was causing the problem.
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (DNF):
"My retirement from today's grand prix was pretty sudden, although I had felt an increasing vibration in the rear of the car occasionally during the race. The right-rear tyre suddenly went, but it is difficult to know what caused it to blow until we study the data. My start was okay, but I soon got stuck in traffic which slowed me down quite a bit. On a positive note, the speed of the TF104B seemed quite good in race conditions, and generally I am encouraged by the weekend. I think I showed clearly that on full tanks, when I wasn't being held up that I could set some highly respectable lap times."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"Obviously I'm extremely disappointed as things were looking good, and there was no doubt that we were in with a good chance of winning the race. I lost a place at the start to Alonso as he was extremely fast off the line, but I retook second place a few laps later and was able to keep up with Michael. I was quicker than him after my first pitstop and only needed a few more laps to be able to mount a real challenge for the lead. All of a sudden I just lost downforce and then I was a passenger. It's never nice not to finish a race, but at least we know that the pace is there. We are competitive and I'm looking forward to continue our challenge for victory in three weeks time in Hungary."