The men at the wheel give their verdict on round one
A thrilling afternoon in Melbourne saw Renault get their 2005 campaign off to a flying start. Fisichella on victory, Coulthard on a dream debut for Red Bull, and Schumacher and Heidfeld on the unfortunate collision that put them both out of the race.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (1st):
This was a fantastic weekend, and a great way to mark my debut with Renault! The R25 performed well throughout the whole race, and was consistent and easy to drive. That meant I could manage the gap to the cars behind, and look after the tyres, without being troubled. I think this race demonstrates the good potential of the team this season: the team is pushing hard on the development of the car, and that should mean we can build on this start later in the season. We are already very optimistic for the next race in Malaysia.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd):
I enjoyed every second of the race. The other teams have obviously made a step forward, but I must congratulate our team on producing a good car and the tyres held on very well they could have done another race. I had a great start and passed Button immediately. Then I had a fantastic first and second corner and I was able to pass Villeneuve which I knew was essential. After fifteen laps, my rear brakes were locking really badly, the balance all went to the rear and it was like driving a kart. In the final stages, I was still pushing Fisichella because I had Alonso behind me, but I had to be careful as I was trying to conserve the engine, as we have to think about Malaysia and its high temperatures. I had a few problems with traffic. There are some new guys out there who were occasionally in the way, so I guess we need to give them time to get the F1 habit. We proved today that this car is still competitive, even though the new one will be faster.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd):
I didnt think I could finish on the podium today, but it was a great feeling to be up there! I was lucky during the race to have some laps without traffic at the end of each stint, which meant I could push really hard to gain positions. We are pleased to have a car like the R25, because as today showed, it is quick enough on the straights and in the corners to overtake some of our rivals on track. Thank-you to Michelin as well: during this race, I had to attack for every one of the 57 laps, and the tyres didnt drop off in performance at all. The only thing I would have changed this weekend was the weather yesterday afternoon!
David Coulthard, Red Bull (4th):
"I made a good start and managed to get into third place. I struggled a bit initially with a heavy fuel load, then had lots of trouble with traffic and lost chunks of time. I hit a Minardi at one point. A podium finish was achievable today - that would have been a dream start for Red Bull and at one stage I was beginning to dream a little, but I can't complain about fourth place. It is much more than we expected. With Christian scoring points as well, it is a fantastic start for Red Bull Racing."
Mark Webber, Williams (5th):
Coming 5th is not a bad start at all, but I think that we actually had an opportunity for a better result today. I lost one position to Coulthard at the first corner, when I was looking after my tyres and trying not to lock my wheels. After that I was stuck behind him, which was a bit frustrating. We have put the first race behind us and we have learned a lot about the car and the tyres. The car has proved to be reliable and this is very important
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (6th):
"I'm pleased that we seem to have the speed with the MP4-20 package, and I would have been able to finish higher up had things gone our way. I lost some valuable time during my second stint as I was pushing really hard on the in-lap and got the rear tyre on the grass at Turn Eight. Later on there was a misunderstanding with one of the Jordans which meant I was pushed off the track. Towards the end I slowed down to conserve the package for Malaysia. After the race I have been told that I also had lost one of my deflectors which obviously affected the overall speed and the handling of my car."
Christian Klien, Red Bull (7th):
"My start was OK, although I lost one position to Nick Heidfeld's Williams. Then I overtook Villeneuve and got back to sixth position, after which the whole race was pretty good. The car was consistent and the pit stops were OK, so it was a very positive race for us all. It is great that we have scored some points in our first race this season."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (8th):
"The result might not show this but we have the pace to challenge for victories, which is great. However today my race was really over when I stalled the car at the start and had to begin my race from the pitlane. In the opening stages I was stuck behind Michael Schumacher which lost me some time, but when I got past him in the first round of pitstops I was able to pick up speed again. However my deflector came off and went underneath the car. The team removed it during my scheduled second pitstop but the loss obviously affected the handling of my car in the closing stages. I really look forward to Malaysia where hopefully we should be able to get the result we believe we are capable of and have some more consistent weather."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (9th):
"The start of the race was very special, having secured Panasonic Toyota Racing's best ever qualifying result and first front row position in this morning's qualifying session. I got away well, kept my second place into the first corner and had a good first stint, fighting at the front. After my pit stop, I had a problem with the rear tyre which dropped me down the field and unfortunately out of contention for points. Yes, it is a shame that we lost a good opportunity to score points, but I have been encouraged by the TF105's performance over the weekend and we head to Malaysia where we will try to make up for the disappointment today."
Felipe Massa, Sauber (10th):
"It was pretty difficult to drive the car with a lot of fuel aboard but I managed reasonable times and was keeping ahead of Michael and Kimi until I got very close to Nick one lap and lost grip in his turbulence. Anyway, I just did what I could and finishing 10th wasn't so bad when you look where I started. In the circumstances, with lots of fuel, the car was good."
Jenson Button, BAR (11th):
"I had a poor start to the race and I was losing up to three seconds a lap behind Villeneuve. Once I passed him after the second pitstop the car was pretty good. The car ran reliably but clearly this wasn't the way we wanted to start the season and we have a lot of work to do to get back up to where we need to be."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (12th):
"It is a pity because I had a great start and all was going well. I could not overtake at the beginning unfortunately, because it was not possible to get close enough to make a move. Then I had a problem with the seat belt which forced me to visit the pit once more. By then, the race was over for me, but I kept on pushing because you never know what can happen in Melbourne. I want to compliment the whole team for their outstanding efforts. The car was in good shape with a good balance and the pit stops were well executed. We could have had a great result today."
Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (13th):
"That was a very disappointing race. We were a lot slower than I thought we would be. The car was very difficult to drive and I couldn't get any grip at the start. That's it."
Takuma Sato, BAR (14th):
"It was a difficult weekend for all of us, particularly in the race with me starting at the back of the grid. The team did a great job repairing the car for me for today and obviously I drove the best I could to recover some positions, but generally we were off the pace and we will work hard to turn this around for the next race."
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (15th):
I had a very bad start and then stayed behind Monteiro for a while. After the first pit stop, I pushed a lot and it was a trouble-free race. It is very good to finish the first Grand Prix of the season and I am looking forward to the next race, even though the weather conditions will be much warmer and humid.
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (16th):
The goal was to finish the race and this is what we managed to achieve. We are not the only team apparently, as all the cars seemed pretty reliable. As I said during the weekend, we need to finish races and collect as much information as possible. There are so many things I have learnt today and that is the most important. For the next race, I would like to make some changes to my seat position and my seat belt. I had a great start but then I lost a lot of time when people were overtaking me so I have to work on that but otherwise I am very happy to have finished the race.
Patrick Friesacher, Minardi (17th):
"It was a difficult race, but I'm happy to have finished my first Grand Prix, particularly since we never tested the car in this specification before. I found I was getting more confident with the car each lap, though, even though the handling was not quite to my liking. I particularly want to thank the guys, who did a great job changing the car to 2005 specification, and helped me to finish my first Formula One race."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (DNF):
All in all there are some positives to take away from this race. We were competitive Rubens drove a super race despite the fact we had last years car. We had a great pace and I am pretty sure I could have passed Klien. We can be satisfied and regard this weekend as a good sign for the rest of the championship. The incident with Heidfeld? With this type of thing there are always different opinions and mine is that it is impossible to blame either one of us. I saw him behind me just as I came out of the pits and I made it clear I was defending my position. At one point I lost sight of him in the mirrors and went into the corner when I felt Id been hit. I have seen the incident on film: Heidfeld was on the grass and so was not in full control of his car. I cant blame him for trying to overtake me. My car was slightly damaged in the collision and there was no point in going on.
Nick Heidfeld, Williams (DNF):
I gained two places at the start and then had a good first stint in fifth position, but after the first pit-stop I got stuck behind Trulli and Klien and couldnt do much .With regards to the accident with Michael I think that I made a good move. Michael just came out of the pits and obviously he had a bad exit from the first chicane because he wasnt on the ideal line. I went alongside him and I could have out-braked him but he didnt leave me any space and pushed me on to the grass, where braking is obviously impossible. Apart from this unfortunate end to my race, we had a good weekend here, probably better than expected and Mark finished in the points.
Christijan Albers, Minardi (DNF):
"I lost second gear on the formation lap, and that caused me a bit of a problem at the start, as I had to shift from first to third. As a result, the race was difficult, since there are several corners here that require second gear. I was losing time in each of these. I was happy I could stay with Patrick, though, even with the problem, but then I also lost first gear. I knew when I came in for my pit stop that there was little likelihood I would be leaving again. Anyway, we will just hope for better luck in Malaysia."