The thrilling Monza race by the men in the driving seat
Rubens Barrichello on his first win of 2004 for Ferrari, Michael Schumacher on that amazing fightback, and Jenson Button on yet another podium for BAR.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (1st):
I have had a few wins, but this is the first time I win twice at the same race and it is just as magic as the last time at Monza. Some people say F1 is boring but there was nothing boring about todays race. It is an unbelievable feeling. This has been the best season ever and all that was missing for me was a win. It came because we have a fantastic team and I say a very big thank you to all of them and all our tifosi. Thanks to them, I loved every moment of this weekend. When it is your day, it is your day! It was a difficult decision regarding tyres at the start, but I was worried I might be caught up in an accident with people spinning so I felt it was better to fit the rain tyres and push as hard as possible and try and escape the pack. I had actually chosen a set-up that slightly favoured the wet. Maybe if I had come in to change to slicks one lap earlier, my middle stint would have been easier. Then when Michael and Pizzonia passed me I thought all was lost. But when my fuel load came down I was just pushing all the time and it was a good call from the team to change the strategy. I said to myself, just push the throttle and go. Then I saw I was P4 and I could see the other three cars ahead so I knew I had a chance. I could not believe it when the team told me I was P1 and said something rude in Portuguese!
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd):
It was an interesting race with interesting battles. I never thought I could go from almost last to second. At the first chicane I could not stop the car in time and then at the second chicane, I got into a nice four wheel slide but Jenson was outside me, we touched and it spun me round. It was very frustrating waiting for the cars to go past before I could start again. But the car worked fantastically well. As for my tyre choice at the start, I knew that really there was no right choice, so when I saw that Rubens had gone for rain I decided to go the other way, so that at least one Ferrari got it right. But with this result, it seems that both decisions were good. Rubens deserves this win as he drove a great race after a fantastic qualifying.
Jenson Button, BAR (3rd):
"It's fantastic for BAR to move into second in the Constructors' Championship after such a great result today. We came very close to our first victory here but third and fourth for myself and Taku is amazing and I dedicate this podium to the team who have done a great job all weekend. I didn't think the Ferraris were going to be that strong from what we could see earlier in the race, but all credit to them for turning things around in the closing stages. We did a good job to get into third place by the first stops and we had a strong race, but unfortunately not as strong as the Ferraris. In the end I focused on looking after the tyres and extending the gap between myself and Alonso. I think we have an exciting end to the season ahead of us and I now look forward to the challenge of a new race in China in two weeks' time."
Takuma Sato, BAR (4th):
"It was a very spectacular race. We started in damp conditions with half the circuit still wet, so I think everyone seemed to struggle a bit in the beginning. My start was good but I could not pull away at the exit of the first chicane, so I lost quite a few places. Once the conditions improved though I was able to get back on the pace. The most important thing is that the team have come home second in the Championship and the momentum from today must be carried forward for the last three races of the season, which will be extremely exciting."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (5th):
I didnt have enough grip at the start and I lost one position to Alonso. My car was pretty good in both the first and the second stints when we were close to the cars in front and quite competitive. However, in the last stint the car became very difficult to drive. After the pit-stop I dropped from 3 rd to 6 th position and I could not keep up with the cars in front anymore because of a gearbox problem. Today we collected some more points, which is good, but you would expect a better finish when starting from the first row.
David Coulthard, McLaren (6th):
"Considering the circumstances, we have to be relatively satisfied with sixth place. Based on my experience from last week's test I thought it would still be damp in the forest section of the track and decided to start the race on intermediates as did Rubens. However it already became clear on the installation lap that dry weather tyres were the right choice and I went into the pits to change. As a result the team changed my strategy to a one stop. Towards the end of the race Pizzonia hit me from the back whilst he was trying to overtake me under braking. To be honest I was ready for it as I knew he would try something like that and managed to keep the car on the track and salvage three points."
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (7th):
My race was basically compromised on the very first lap, when I got hit from behind and spun off. I was very lucky to get out of the gravel and that my car wasnt damaged but still I dropped to 19 th position. After that, I basically spent my race climbing up the field and I eventually finished in 7 th position behind Coulthard. We were very close and I hoped that I could overtake him but he had more speed than me on the straight and I just couldnt pass him. I had a good opportunity with a couple of laps to go when David made a mistake in the last corner and I got very close to him coming out of the Parabolica, but we both locked our wheels and hit each other going in to the first chicane, luckily with no consequence for either of us.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (8th):
"A point was what I expected, but also not what I expected, given the unusual circumstances at the beginning of the race. I was always confident overall that we could score, but to begin with I lost vital time through the combination of low downforce, a high fuel load and dry tyres. But once the track began to dry I felt more confident and was able to start pushing hard and have a very good race. At the end I saw Pizzonia and Coulthard collide and hoped momentarily that I might get even more, but I am satisfied with a point for eighth today."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (9th):
The rain overnight managed to change the track conditions quite considerably by this morning and so starting the race today was a bit of a lottery on the tyre front. We made a good decision though and I am pleased with how our start went. I was keen to stay out of the collision zone of the second chicane and I managed to do so. The car felt good out there although we were suffering slightly from under-steer that was making it more challenging to drive. The boys have prepared the car well this weekend and I am pleased with ninth position. We have had good reliability all weekend and this is as a result of the hard work that we have been doing. Looking ahead to the final three races, we are all keen to finish on a high and thus will be looking to score as many points as possible between now and the end of the season.
Jarno Trulli, Renault (10th):
"This was a very tough race for me. I struggled in the opening stages when the grip levels were low - I could not find a good pace and could not feel how the car was handling. As the circuit dried out, the handling improved slowly but the car was still difficult to drive. I was quick towards the end of my stints though, and particularly at the end of the race, but by then it was too late to make up any positions."
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (11th):
"The start was good. I just took care not to make contact with anyone because I was not sure how slippery the track would be after all the rain that we had during the morning. It was difficult to increase the temperature of the tyres at the beginning when the track was still damp. Every time I was behind another car, I lost downforce and the tyre did not perform. Throughout the whole race, I suffered from low grip levels and I simply had to try and retain my position. I am not pleased to finish in 11th position after all the effort we have put in this weekend."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (12th):
"I had a good start and I think it was the correct decision to go for intermediate tyres on my car. I made up a lot of positions and got as high as sixth at one stage. Once I had switched to dry tyres I got on to a damp patch and slid into the back of Nick Heidfeld. That was annoying because I wasn't even trying to pass him, and it cost me my front wing. Overall, however, the car was very quick and I could match the pace of the leaders. Without my problem I'm sure I could have scored more points this afternoon."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (13th):
My start was good into the first corner and fortunately through the first chicane cleanly. Although it was not raining at the start of the race the track remained quite damp and it was actually quite tricky at times to drive. For me the beginning of the race was really enjoyable and the car felt very good. I enjoyed racing and the Michelin tyres were working well with the car. We did change my front flap slightly however to help with the balance and some under-steer that I was suffering and this seemed to help. My second stint was a bit tricky with the under-steer and it made the car more difficult to drive. However, going into my third stint I made up some time and aimed for the chequered flag. I did have to do a drive-through though of the pit-lane as it appears that I was speeding in the pit-lane during one of my pit stops. I did overtake the Renault of Jarno Trulli at one point though and that was great fun. Overall I enjoyed the race and I am pleased with finishing. I am now looking ahead to the final three races with the goal of scoring points to help the team finish seventh in the Constructors Championship.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (14th):
I am relatively happy with what we achieved, as I think we managed to get the maximum from our resources. Early on I had problems overtaking the Minardi because he seemed to have better top speed than me but once I got past, my pace was good. Then Felipe tried to overtake me and ran into the back of my car which did a little damage but thankfully it had no big influence on the balance. We converted to a one-stop strategy which worked out, although it wasnt easy with a heavy fuel load and having to really look after the tyres. While I would always be happier with a better position, I think we did everything we possibly could have so Im satisfied with our efforts.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (15th):
"I think we had not too bad a race. It was a bit tricky at the beginning, but I think we made the right choice to start with slick tyres. I lost a little time on the damp track in the first couple of laps, but then the grip came in and I was able to pick up the pace. I then had a good, really fair race with Gimmi. As the race wore on, I was struggling with the balance of the car a bit, but we were able to adjust the handling during the stint. I'm happy I was able to finish the Italian Grand Prix, like last year, and I'm now looking forward to China, where I hope we will be able to have a good race. Overall, I'm happy with today, but most of all, I'm relieved that no one was hurt in the fire this afternoon."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
"The first thing to say is that we will bounce back from this result. Monza was the worst circuit of the year for our car but I was competitive and fighting with BAR. I hope the next Grand Prix will see us climb back up the table. As for the race itself, we made the right decision on tyres at the start, I made a good start and then everything went as normal. Jenson overtook me during the first round of pit-stops, but I was keeping up with him. My spin occurred when I took too much kerb in the second chicane and lost control of the rear end of the car but after that, I was surprised that the marshals decided not to push me, as the rules allow them to. But that's life: we now need to focus on the last three races to re-take second place in the championship."
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (DNF):
I dont know exactly what happened but at Parabolica very soon after my second pit stop, I think perhaps I found some water or something on the track and the car just suddenly spun. I saw Nick running wide there as well, just ahead of me. Once I had spun there was nothing I could do and it was quite a big crash. Im really disappointed and its a shame to retire from my home Grand Prix like this.
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (DNF):
"I again made a very good start and had overtaken seven or eight cars after the first few corners. As the track was drying quickly, however, I made my first planned stop a little early, which put me behind Zsolt when I came out of the pits. I then closed the gap right up to him during my next stint and was expecting to overtake him after the second stop. Unfortunately, when the refuelling nozzle was placed on the car, it seems a small amount of petrol leaked out, and when it hit the hot parts of the car, there was instantly a fire. Fortunately, it was extinguished immediately, but some of the fire retardant got into my helmet and I couldn't breathe properly. I'm fine now, but it's really a pity for the guys, as the car was good and I think we could have a solid finish today."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"I think we could have been in a strong position for a podium finish today. However it was not to be, as after only two laps it became clear that my engine was losing water pressure. It was a shame as I made a good start and gained a few places. Things were looking good and this is not the way I would have liked to finish the European season, but at least we now have the pace to fight for victories."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (DNF):
"I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of today's race. I think the team made a good strategic decision to start on slick tyres despite the damp track conditions. I gained a place into the first corner, and I was racing closely with Pizzonia at the second chicane with the field very tight. I picked up a bit of understeer and ran into the back of his car, which broke my front wing. I then ended up in the gravel and my race was over. It is a real shame after what has been a difficult weekend for me."