Chinese Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 26 Sep 2004
Eye-witness accounts of the maiden Shanghai race
Rubens Barrichello on his second successive win, Jenson Button on coming so close yet again, David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher on their coming together, and Michael Shumacher on his disastrous afternoon.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (1st):
I have spent much of this season trying to catch up Michael and now I am going through a good phase and here in China, everything has gone well all weekend. I must thank the team for giving me a good set-up that allowed me to push hard when I needed to. The reception we have had from the Chinese people has been fantastic. I had a very good start and I was amazed at the amount of grip I had on the first lap. Kimi pushed me quite hard but I was able to keep a gap. I was not sure I had command of the race until my final pit stop when Ross told me that I should be okay. So, as I left the pits I still pushed flat out and then at Turn 3, I looked in my mirrors and saw no one behind me so I knew I was okay. Towards the end, when I had a lead of about eight seconds, the team told me to back off a bit, but then I had to step up the pace again when Jenson got closer. Also at one point, I had to lap Villeneuve who did not see me at first as he was fighting for position but then he let me through correctly. This track has been really challenging, but with a variety of possible lines through the corners overtaking is possible and that is all we need for a good race.
Jenson Button, BAR (2nd):
"It's fantastic to finish on the podium in the first-ever Chinese Grand Prix and to achieve my fourth 2nd place finish this season. We came here needing to keep Renault at bay for second in the Championship and a nine-point lead is exactly what we were looking for. It's a great result for the whole team and well done to them for a great job. I didn't get a good start; in fact losing two places off the grid was disastrous. Today proved again that our first win is getting closer but starts are something we'll need to look at before we can take the next step up. Our strategy was good but it was so hard to push versus the three-stoppers, so in the end I had to concentrate on keeping Raikkonen behind me. It's been a great race for BAR, China and F1 and I'm looking forward to keeping up the fight in Japan in two weeks' time."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (3rd):
"From where I was sitting that was a close and exciting debut race and hopefully the Chinese fans agree. I was able to keep up with Rubens but just lacked that final speed to get past and take the lead. As always we are here to win races and decided to change my strategy in an attempt to get past Rubens with a short middle stint. However, it didn't work out and we lost second place to Jenson, but I'm not too disappointed. The car has felt good throughout the weekend and once again my Michelin tyres were working well. My times were consistent during the race and I'm looking forward to the last two races where we will continue to go for victory."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th):
"It was a pretty good race. We started the weekend with quite a lot of problems, we improved the car throughout the weekend and it got better during the race. I think these five points will be important for the championship at the end of the year. The next two circuits should favour us more than the last ones have and I am feeling good. My motivation his high and I am focused on scoring the points we need to get back second place in the championship."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (5th):
My start wasnt too bad and I was able to pass Panis but then I went to the inside and it was so dirty that it was like stopping and everybody passed me back. I tried to regain my position and I overtook Jacques Villeneuve twice but I didnt have enough traction and he just passed me back. It was real fun! In the first part of the race I was stuck in traffic, but the second part was better. I was quite close to Sato but I made a mistake before the pit-stop and it cost me a little but then he made a mistake and I got him back. Its good to have achieved fifth position from where we started and I am glad to have collected some good points for the team.
Takuma Sato, BAR (6th):
"This is a great result for the team! I am delighted with our performance today, with one car on the podium and my car starting from the back of the grid still scoring good points. I fought a hard battle having heavy fuel on board, but I was able to enjoy the race and at the end of the day to be able to finish in sixth place is a great team effort. I am happy that we have moved even further ahead of Renault. This first Chinese Grand Prix has been a great success with really exciting racing and I am now really looking forward to the next race at Suzuka."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (7th):
"I'm happy with seventh place, because my tyres were graining really badly from the start. After each stop the car was very, very competitive on new tyres and the balance came back again, but when the tyres started graining I was two seconds slower than the car's true potential. Considering all that, scoring points with both cars is a great result."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (8th):
"I had a fantastic opening lap. I really enjoyed my fight with Button and was very happy to overtake him again after he had gone past me. But after two laps I had incredible graining on the tyres and the car was understeering so much I was holding everyone up. I'm actually surprised that I didn't lose more places. After the stops I could push hard again and catch up, but over the final seven laps I had a flat spot on a front tyre and it was so difficult turning into right-hand corners that I was afraid I might not finish. It was a good fight with Coulthard at the end, and I'm happy to score another point in the circumstances."
David Coulthard, McLaren (9th):
"An exciting race with a disappointing outcome for me. As always with a low grid position it is difficult to achieve a decent result particularly as you inevitably get involved in the mid-field battles. There is no doubt that the pace was there, but I got stuck behind one of the Saubers in the opening stages and lost a lot of time. On lap 37 I unfortunately had a coming together with Ralf Schumacher at the hairpin and damaged my left front wheel. I'm sorry for him but it also affected my race significantly as I could have finished higher up in the points. It took me quite some time to reach the pits to replace the wheel. At the end of day the team could have used the points, but at least we put on a good show in China."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (10th):
I knew that the race was going to be tough and it was. The circuit is very demanding technically for both the driver and the car and we were giving it our all out there. The car felt well balanced and the team had done an excellent job ahead of the race. I made a good start and took Juan-Pablo Montoya by the first corner. From that point on until the end of the race I did everything I could to make up places. Everyone was good and reliable today and points were always going to be difficult. I was struggling for traction at times but given the pace of the Renault and the Ferrari behind me I was pleased to finish in tenth. The R5 is a really good package at the moment and I would love to be scoring some points in it. We have two races to go so I will be doing everything I can to fight for some top eight finishes.
Jacques Villeneuve, Renault (11th):
"I learned a lot during the race this afternoon: I know the R24 better, I have got a full race distance under my belt and I have also understood what a 2004-style race is like. To be honest, I just needed too long to get into the rhythm at the start of the race. I made a good start but I hadn't warmed the tyres enough and lost a lot of the positions I had made up. As soon as the circuit rubbered in more and the grip improved, I was able to attack but unfortunately, I couldn't stay close enough behind Webber in turns 9 and 10 - which meant that I was too far behind to try and overtake when we got to the braking zone for the hairpin at turn 14. Even so, I feel ready for Suzuka now."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (12th):
I am happy that Ferrari won today. If one driver fails, the other is there is the way we share our responsibilities, so congratulations to Rubens. This was a slightly more interesting race than I would have wanted! But at least all the unlucky things have come in just one race weekend, so hopefully we will have no more this season. I tried to pass Christian (Klien) when I saw the door was open, but he turned in as I was halfway alongside. It was just a normal racing incident. Then I had a spin as I was following Alonso very closely in his slipstream and lost downforce. Finally, came the puncture on the left rear tyre which cost me a lot of time as I had to drive a long part of the track at very slow speed, coming into the pit much too early which meant the team decided to change my strategy.
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (13th):
Im quite happy with the race and it was good fun, especially at the start where I made up some places. After that I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to keep up with the cars in front. Unfortunately after the first pit stop, with the second set of tyres, it got a bit worse because I experienced a lot of graining on the front tyres which took a long time to disappear and thats why I lost some lap time. In the end I just worked really hard to keep Panis behind me and Im happy because I think its a good achievement for us.
Olivier Panis, Toyota (14th):
"The problem at the start of the race ended a good chance for a points scoring result in today's Chinese Grand Prix. Basically, the anti-stall kicked in unexpectedly and the car would not get going, so I was at the back of the field heading down to the first corner. All I can say is that we will work hard together to try and find a solution for the future. It is a terrible shame after a strong qualifying performance yesterday. During the race, the car felt good and consistent, so it was clear that we could have done well this afternoon. Basically, it was a missed opportunity for the whole team."
Timo Glock, Jordan (15th):
My race was a bit difficult. I had a bad start compared to Nick, with more wheel spin than normal. The first five laps I experienced graining and understeer and watched Nick speed away ahead of me. After that when the tyres came back, the lap times were pretty good and I could get closer to Nick again. I pushed a little bit too hard at the end of the first stint and had a spin that kind of ended my race because after it I couldnt close the gap to Nick. That was bad but on the positive side, the lap times were good and consistent. After the second stop I lost some grip and the car was oversteering, but having said that I was able to do my fastest lap on the last lap. Overall I am satisfied with myself because the car was nervous and I didnt find a good rhythm. Its good to have done another race - it was my aim to finish and I did it.
Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (16th):
Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (DNF):
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (DNF):
"Its a true pity that my race had an early end. My car had a puncture following contact with Coulthard. He tried to overtake me but I think his move was a bit too optimistic. Anyway, I came into the pits to fix the car which we thought had been damaged but after a careful look, the engineers decided that I could continue the race. However, too much time had elapsed by then and it was too late to get out on track again, because I would have been two laps down. Its a shame, because my race had been good until then and I had been fighting in the top five positions. Its true I had lost a place at the start, but all in all I was in a position to collect some useful points.
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (DNF):
"I had a great start and a really good first lap, during which I managed to overtake some other cars and gain several positions. I was happy with the performance of the car and my speed in the race was quite competitive, so I was able to fight with Coulthard and Fisichella. Even if I did not have the opportunity to overtake the cars in front of me, I was putting some pressure on them. After my last pit stop I lost my fifth gear and I had to come back to the garage, where unfortunately the race finished for me. A disappointing end as I think that we could have scored minimum one point today."
Christian Klien, Jaguar (DNF):
I made a good clean start off the grid and was pleased to make it round the first corner without incident. The R5 was feeling well balanced and competitive and I was enjoying the race. When I was on lap twelve on the long straight I could see the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher a long way behind me. As I neared corner four I looked again for Michael and I could not see him and consequently then turned in only to make contact with his car. I carried on and came in to pit as normal but it was clear that my race was over. The rear suspension had been damaged in the incident and it was impossible to continue. I am very disappointed with the outcome of my race today as the car was very well prepared for this weekend and we had completed some very successful testing. The track is very challenging to drive and I would have liked to finish this first ever Chinese Grand Prix, but it was not to be. I now travel directly to Australia to continue with my training ahead of Japan."