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San Marino Grand Prix - driver quotes 24 Apr 2005

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) signifies three race victories in a row with Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal 
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Race, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2005 (L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari with Luca di Montezemolo (ITA) Ferrari Team Manager.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Race Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2005 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Imola, Italy, 23 April 2005 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren celebrates his pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Race Day, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2005

Alonso and Schumacher on their thrilling duel; Button on BAR's return to form; and Alexander Wurz on a fine comeback drive for McLaren. All 20 men explain thier afternoons at Imola.

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st):
“I think this was my best win in Formula 1 so far, because it was different to all the others: I didn't have a gap to allow me to be conservative, and I knew Michael was catching up from behind and that meant I had to push all the way through the race. In the end, it worked perfectly and things were very close in the final laps, but I was 99 percent sure he would not be able to overtake here in Imola. The car was good, but the race was the first time I had done more than three timed laps in a row this weekend because we were managing the engine very carefully: we had to make our best estimates with the set-up, and then each lap was a surprise as we discovered how the car changed. I lost some grip towards the end of the race but in the end, we did enough to get the win. Three in a row is a fantastic feeling, and I'm really looking forward to Spain: it will be a big party for everybody, and I think we can aim for the podium again.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd):
“I am happy in one way and excited after such a race, but on the other hand, I am disappointed after making a mistake this morning, when I braked on a bump with a full fuel load and locked up a wheel. If not for that, this would have been a perfect day for us. But I have a second place and it is due to a stunning effort from everyone, the engineers, the test team, Luca Badoer, Marc Gene and everyone else who worked flat out since the last race. And big, big thanks to Bridgestone whose performance today is just a first step and there is more to come from them. There is more to come from us too and we are still in the fight. I was helped in getting past Jenson because the two Williams put some dust on the track and Jenson slipped on it a bit. I could see that Fernando was not that quick, but there was never a real opportunity to have a proper go at passing him. Basically, he had a good race today and made no mistakes. That’s why he won and I did not.”

Jenson Button, BAR (3rd):
"It's fantastic to be back on the podium again after such a great weekend for the team. It looks like we are very much back in the game. The past three races have been tough for all of us at BAR Honda and it's fantastic to have put that behind us here today. Everyone has worked incredibly hard - night and day in fact - to turn things around and I have to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone for their efforts. It was an incredible race and a great feeling to be as strong as we were in the early stages. We lost out towards the end when I got a bad run up the hill from Aqua Minerale and Michael was able to get beside me going into the Variante Alta. Fighting him in that position could have put me out of the race, so I decided to play safe and ensure we got home and dry with a podium and our first points to show for it. As we saw here today there is so much more potential though and we can be stronger still if we maintain the momentum and keep fighting for that win."

Alexander Wurz, McLaren (4th):
"I am really happy with my result today. I drove a tactical race, particularly right before the first pitstop, when I needed to close the gap between Mark Webber and Takuma Sato. I managed to gain an advantage once they pitted and as a result came out ahead of them. I could have been faster; however early on in the race I was stuck in traffic, so could not close the gap to Jenson Button. I am pleased that the team gave me this opportunity and I did my best to justify their commitment to me. A shame for Kimi, he would have deserved a top result this weekend."

Takuma Sato, BAR (5th):
"The team has done a fantastic job, both during the tests working on the new developments and over this race weekend. The car performed very well and I enjoyed the racing here today. We are back on form with a great result and the double-points finish we wanted. At the beginning of the race I was stuck in traffic, but I enjoyed racing side-by-side and making up on my position. The season has really started for us now here at Imola and so I am really looking forward to carrying our strong performance to our next race in Barcelona."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (6th):
"We didn't know that we would have so much improvement in the car when we arrived here this weekend, and that has really helped. I thoroughly enjoyed my race. I had a good fight with Webber and when he ran wide he tried to come back on but I was able to get by. If I had been another 10 centimetres further forward I would have taken the risk with Wurz at the same time, but it was early in the race and would have been touch and go.

"I made a great start and my pit stops couldn't have been better, so thanks to the team for their efforts on my behalf this afternoon. Having the improvement also permitted me more freedom from the team in setting the car up the way I like, and that played its part too. This has been a good weekend and everything and everyone is more positive. I've had a hell of a time this year, so it's sweet to score these points while making a point of my own."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th):
"This was always going to be the hardest race of the year for Toyota, so the fact that we took home three points between us makes it a good day. I changed my set-up just before qualifying and I ended up suffering from oversteer late on, but we've limited the damage. I gave everything I had and kept fighting to the end and we took 7th place. When my new son Enzo arrived last week I felt determined to bring something home for him. It's not a trophy this time, but two points are enough for now!"

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (8th):
"To finish with both cars in the points here is a good result at this circuit which was always going to be a difficult one for us. I had no real problems other than the odd balance issue on one set of tyres and the guys did a great job for me – especially at the second pitstop. The eighth place arrived because we had such a perfect pitstop and we were able to catch the Williams in the pits. So a big thanks to all the guys and it's great that we can stay in second place in the constructors' championship."

Nick Heidfeld, Williams (9th):
“I lost a couple of places off the line and we obviously have to improve our starts. After that, Jarno held up the pack where I was for most of the time. I think towards the end of the race my pace was good enough to collect some points, but of course we want to be more competitive than just scoring points, so we must find more speed. I could catch up with Jarno and Ralf very quickly, but overtaking on this circuit was another matter. At the last pit-stop Ralf Schumacher got in front of me by forcing me to brake hard and avoid a crash.”

Mark Webber, Williams (10th):
“From the start, Trulli got past me straight away and so too did Sato, but I was able to recover this position at Tosa. After that I had to sit behind Jarno during the first stint, and it happened that we pitted on the same lap and I could not pass him. So I tried to pass Jarno on the track at the Variante Alta but while having a go, I had a big moment and let Villeneuve through. The last part of the race was difficult as I was struggling because the engine of my car was slowed down, having already run two GPs.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Red Bull (11th):
“I thought the race would be difficult for me because of fitness, but I feel pretty ok. The car was quite good really. The balance was good, but there just wasn’t enough speed, so we have to improve .It was quite difficult to keep the car on the track – it felt as if I was sliding all over the place. I wanted to overtake Mark (Webber) so I tried to make something crazy but it didn’t work Can I say that? It feels great to have done my first race and I can’t wait for testing to prepare for Barcelona.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (12th):
"I was still in neutral trying to get a gear when the race began so I lost chances to overtake on the first lap. As you can see with Michael, it was almost impossible to overtake here, and many times I was behind Coulthard. When I got really close I got brake fade, which is why I touched his rear wheel one lap and lost my wing. I had to pit early as a result and as we had to refuel then the car was heavier than it should have been. But even so it was very good whenever I had clear laps. I knew that it would be after our performance in qualifying, and if I had been able to start from eighth on the grid I think it would have been possible to fight for a very good position not far from the podium."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (13th):
“At the start I was a bit slow away from the grid. I was running around ok but then had a bit of a bump with Massa, which broke part of the floor. We went backwards from there and never really came back. The race was pretty lonely actually, just going around in circles. The car didn’t have great race pace - we knew that from yesterday - so I was expecting to struggle a bit. But I still thought I’d have a better balance than I did. There was a lot of oversteer.”

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (14th):
“This is the best race for me so far pace-wise. I have made a decent start and I was able to keep close to the cars in front. I had a good first pit stop but I made a small mistake in the second one, which unfortunately cost me some time, and then I was on my own for the rest of the race. However it was a positive race for us as we were able to keep up with the Red Bull cars which is quite encouraging for the team.”

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (15th):
“Four races and four finishes for me so I am quite pleased. It was quite a difficult race as I suffered from a puncture near the end of the race. Finishing the race was positive for us but what is even better is that we were able to reduce the gap with the cars in front. Now when the cars are passing us they do not just disappear as they used to do it in the first three races but now we can follow them for a while. This is definitely an improvement for the team.”

Christijan Albers, Minardi (DNF):
"The first thing is that we did some race laps today and learned a lot about the new car. During the first stint, I had strong oversteer, which we were going to deal with at the pit stop, but unfortunately, there was quite a bad leak from the gearbox and I was not able to continue. I wish we could have delivered a better result to the guys for all the work they have put in, but it was not possible this weekend. We'll see what we can do in Barcelona."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (DNF):
“My car had an electrical problem, but at the moment we don’t know the cause. It’s a great shame as I knew my car would be very quick, particularly on used tyres and we have made a huge improvement since the last race, but I never got to the point in the race when my tyres would have been at their best. We still have to look at our reliability as it has not been so good recently. On the positive side, the F2005 is very good and was really quick even with a lot of fuel on board.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (DNF):
"Unfortunately my race was cut short as a result of a failure in the left driveshaft. Obviously I am disappointed as I had a great start and was really building on my lead. At least we know that the car has the pace in both qualifying as well as the race, and with some improvements due for Spain in two weeks I am looking forward to a good race there."

Patrick Friesacher, Minardi (DNF):
"The start was not too bad, and I was quite happy with the opening laps, as I was ahead of Christijan and able to stay with Monteiro, but then suddenly, as I was accelerating out of the last corner, it seemed like something broke. Generally, the car felt good today, but we need to find some more downforce. We'll be working on this area when we test at Mugello on Wednesday and Thursday of this week."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (DNF):
“I really don't know what happened this afternoon. I made a good start and was much quicker than Heidfeld, so was just sitting behind him and waiting for the pit-stop. Then going through turn 2, I lost the rear end of the car and spun into the wall. Obviously, it is extremely disappointing because we had the pace again today to score some points.”