Chinese Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 16 Oct 2005
A highly eventful race in Shanghai sees Renault end the season in style, clinching the constructors title. Theres also good news for Toyota with a podium and Sauber celebrate their last race with another three points. The drivers explain how the result came about.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st):
This is a fantastic feeling. I didn't think anything could equal winning the drivers' championship, but seeing our people celebrating, it's just as good! I am really so happy today, and there is only one word to say to them: thank you. The race was actually very easy. We only used full power on the engine in the first part, and we saw we were quicker than everybody so we turned things down and went conservative for the second part. Honestly, it was like the opening races when we had an advantage and could manage our pace. But today is about the team, they deserve to win, and now we are team and drivers champions. We showed that when we want to push, and take the risks, we can win races.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
"Today was not our day and finishing second was the best we could do but obviously it was not enough to take the title. The car was not quick enough at the start of the race and when it really came on towards the end it was too late. I don't know why this was the case as we have been quick throughout the weekend. The Safety Car was deployed due to the loose manhole cover. The lap before Juan Pablo hit the cover I saw it was at a strange angle and just managed to avoid it the following lap. The whole incident brought out the Safety Car which meant that we were not really able to use our strategic advantage. We did what we could this year but it was not enough so congratulations to Renault but next year we try again and I can't wait."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (3rd):
"That was a great way to cap off an excellent first season with Toyota, especially coming after a pretty hard weekend. The car was really difficult to handle in qualifying and at the beginning of the race but the first safety car came out at just the right time for me. I think I was due a bit of luck after what happened at last week's Japanese Grand Prix and this time it paid off. The team did a good strategy and after the second safety car period I was in second. At that point the handling was incredible and I was almost able to keep up with Alonso and pull out the gap I needed. The pit stops were excellent today and I'd like to pass on a big thank you to all the team. I've scored points in 14 races out of 19 this year and I look forward to pushing even further up the grid next season."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (4th):
I am so happy for the whole team, because we are now champions of the world. That was our target today, and we did the best possible. I enjoyed the race, because the car balance was fantastic and I could keep the McLarens behind easily in the first stint. I was just managing my pace at the start, driving within the limits to let Fernando build a good lead, and I was still in a strong position when the FIA penalised me. I don't know why, because Raikkonen did the same in Belgium and nothing happened to him, and it was a shame not to be able to celebrate on the podium with Fernando and Flavio. Overall, this has been a fantastic year for me, my best in F1. I have won a race, scored podiums and helped the team to be world champions. I bounced back strongly after the criticism last weekend, and this is the best fourth place of my life.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (5th):
Absolutely brilliant, fantastic, that was one of the best races for me. Everything came together and not pitting during the second safety car worked perfectly. When I came out of the pits and saw on the pit board that I was fifth, I couldnt believe it. It was great to set some of the fastest laps of the race too, as the fuel went down in the car, it just got better and better to drive. Its a great way to end the season.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (6th):
"The car was much better than I expected. The turning point of the race was when we decided to stay out when the second safety car period began. But on the restart I really had to push massively hard to open out enough of an advantage to make a later stop. I had flat-spotted the left front tyre and that lost me a lot of grip, but towards the end I had no trouble keeping Webber behind me. After I crossed the line Peter promised me a car for finishing sixth, so I'm really glad I didn't have to give it up! On a more serious note, it was a wonderful way to thank Peter and this great team and to finish the World Championship and the history of the Sauber era. For me, P6 was as good as a podium today."
Mark Webber, Williams (7th):
It has been quite a frustrating Grand Prix I dont think many drivers enjoyed it. The safety cars destroyed the race for many of us but thats the way it goes sometimes. It was a shame I could not get Barrichello earlier. He had absolutely no speed in the corners but good top speed so I could not attack him on the straight. I want to thank all the team, because throughout the season we had zero retirements related to the work they did. An absolutely incredible job from all of them.
Jenson Button, BAR (8th):
"Today's result was obviously a disappointing way to end the season. We lost out under the first safety car when we pitted and the safety car was in front of us. The safety car should have waved us past, but as it didn't, Montoya sat behind it and that was it then, I lost about three places. In the first stint the car was good but towards the end it wasn't that much better than in Japan. We just didn't make the final step up that we'd hoped for here. It's been a long, hard season for all of us but we are all much stronger and more determined. My thoughts are already turning to 2006 and I know we have a lot to look forward to next year. For now I just want to thank everyone in this team, at Honda, at Michelin and all our partners for their incredible support this year during some very difficult times. We have a lot to look forward to together next season."
David Coulthard, Red Bull (9th):
That was pants. With every safety car we went backwards, but thats the way these things work sometimes. Safety cars either work for or against you. We made our pit stop one lap before it came out, which cost us, but there was also some confusion with Jenson and Montoya. I overtook them both and came up along side the safety car. I slowed down to clarify the safety car wanted me to pass, but they both re-passed me alongside the safety car and re-took position. I asked Charlie Whiting (FIA) for clarification during the race, to find out if it was allowed, but it never came from the FIA. I know its very confusing in those situations, as theres lots of traffic and cars, but it undoubtedly cost me some points. Christian scoring four points is great for the team and it concludes whats been a very positive first year for Red Bull Racing. Well be back next year and, hopefully, be even stronger.
Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (10th):
"I was unlucky because I lost out in both safety car incidents. On each restart I had trouble getting heat into the front tyres. But later on I was very lucky to avoid getting involved in Karthikeyan's accident. I saw smoke everywhere and thought he would come back across towards me, which he did. I just missed him and the nose of his car which had become detached, but I did hit some debris. After that I had good clean fights with Monteiro and Trulli. It's frustrating because we ran low downforce and were quick on the straight, and overall our pace was good today."
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (11th):
Wow, what a season. I am so happy and excited about the whole year. When you start the season you do not really know what to expect and to finish the season with such a high record of race finishes, great reliability, best rookie of the year, man of the race in Spa, a podium at Indy is unbelievable. I could not have dreamt of a better first season. I would like to thank the team as Formula One is really a team sport. They have all done a fantastic job to give me such a good car. Even in the last race, we were able to fight with the Toyotas and Williams. It was a lot of fun and I have really enjoyed this season.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (12th):
It was a hard race, during which everything was working okay up to the first pit stop. The team did a good job in terms of strategy, calling me at the right time, which allowed me to make up a couple of places. But from that point on, I felt I was losing performance and was having some problems with my front tyres. Basically, from the second Safety Car period onwards, my tyres were gone. The only enjoyable part of the race was my duel with Mark, but really I was in trouble because I had no grip at the front. So, a sad race, but I want to thank everyone in the team, both here and those back in Maranello. We have had a fantastic years. I learnt a lot and it is Ferrari that has given me the chance to build something for the future. I am grateful for that and I am sure we will be friends for ever.
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (13th):
It was a difficult race for me. It was a very hard decision for the team to take both Mark and myself in for our pit-stops when the second safety car came out. We took a risk and unfortunately it didnt go our way, but this is racing. Track conditions changed a lot throughout the race and that made everything more difficult. Also, we lacked speed on the straight which is vital for over-taking. We couldnt finish this season as we had wished but in general I think for me this was again a very good experience which enabled me to learn another new circuit.
Robert Doornbos, Minardi (14th):
"I said over the radio at the end of the race, 'Thank you, Minardi, for giving me the chance to make my debut as a Formula One driver'. The race itself started spectacularly for us, and I think I did my best on cold tyres after the Safety Car
incidents to pass both a Williams and Villeneuve's Sauber a couple of times. I think I drove well and really enjoyed myself this afternoon. Let's hope I can be back in Shanghai again next year and get a better result."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (15th):
"That was a difficult afternoon and things just didn't work out for me. I've found the car hard to handle all weekend. The balance was not too bad in the first stint, but after ten laps I felt a vibration from the front left tyre. Then the first safety car period came at just the wrong time - just after I had made my first pit stop - and that ruined my race. We tried to recover by filling up to the end at the second safety car but by then I was well down the field and I eventually had to come in to change my front left tyre. Still, it has been a great season so thanks to all the team. We missed out on a few podiums and a lot of points, but we showed a strong performance so I look forward to more success in 2006."
Christijan Albers, Minardi (16th):
"I think everyone saw what happened on the formation lap, and I think it was a shame for both of us. To be honest, we had bad luck all day. I had to start the race in the spare car, which is not to the latest specification - it lacks power steering, for example - and on different tyres. Unfortunately, I lost one lap almost immediately, when I came out from my first pit stop behind the leaders, who were behind the Safety Car by that time for Montoya's incident. Still, that's life, but it's also F1. It's hard, and you have to get used to it. It will just make me determined to push even harder next year."
Takuma Sato, BAR (DNF):
"Today's race was a difficult one and the end result was disappointing because I was making good progress and a points finish looked possible. The gearbox problems I had been experiencing earlier in the race eventually forced me to retire which is a frustrating way to end the season and my time with BAR Honda. It's been a tough year but it has been great to be a part of this team. We have had some fantastic times together and I have a lot of good memories. I would like to thank everybody in the team and all our partners. I wish them all the very best of luck for the future."
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (DNF):
It was an exciting race. We had to pit in the first lap because we had a slight problem and we wanted to make sure it was ok. I passed Doornbos in the first pit stop and the safety car came out for what was a long time, which caused my tyres to lose temperature and pressure. A lot of drivers were making mistakes trying to warm up their tyres. Then when the race started again, I had a good first lap and passed Sato. I was following Trulli and coming to turn 13, I do not know what happened. The car was on the artificial grass and it sucked me into the wall. I had a very big accident but I am happy to say that it could have been worse. I have a bit of a sore neck but apart from this I am ok.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
"A strange race to end the season. The car was working well, but then I came into the corner, went on the kerb and hit the loose manhole cover which brought out the Safety Car. However the damage had been done, and eventually I was forced to crawl back into the pits with an engine failure. Not the way I would have liked to end the season but things happen. I'm sure that we will come back stronger next year. Thanks to the team on and off track who have made me feel right at home. Coming so close to the titles this year has only made us more determined so bring on 2006."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (DNF):
This weird ending pretty much sums up our season. As far as the warm-up lap is concerned, I was just warming up my tyres when suddenly I felt a big bang. I have not seen the incident on video yet, so I will not comment further. Then, during the Safety Car period, I spun simply because my tyres were completely worn and they were very cold, so when someone braked ahead of me, I had to brake as well and went off the track. Actually, I am not sure I would have finished the race because of the condition of my tyres. The only positive thing is that I am third in the championship. Now, lets look ahead to putting things right next season.