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French Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 03 Jul 2005

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault celebrates in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 3 July 2005 The Renault mechanics celebrate in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 3 July 2005 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari and Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 3 July 2005 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 3 July 2005

Reflections on an engrossing race in Magny-Cours' baking sun...

Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1st
“I am very proud to win here today, for the team, for Renault, for Michelin who have had a difficult time in the last two weeks, and for all the fans who came to support us. The race was quite easy: I pushed until the first stops, and then controlled the gap, only making small adjustments to the car. I am really pleased to win again, but this still does not change anything for the championship. I have quite a good gap to Kimi, but there is still a very long way to go. Anything can happen, and we know our rivals will be very quick in Silverstone next weekend. But for the moment, I am going to enjoy what we achieved today.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, 2nd, +11.8 seconds
"Considering where we started I'm pleased with today's result as I only suffered minimum damage in my World Championship battle. The car was working well, and if I could have started third, which is where my actual qualifying time would have put me, I could definitely have won the race. Our strategists got things right and it was an interesting race. I suffered a bit from traffic and lost too much time early on working my way through the field. When I had clear air it really was too late to make any significant impact on the gap to Alonso. Hopefully everything will work out well for us at Silverstone in a few days, and I can do what Alonso did today which is winning in front of lots of supporters."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 3rd, +81.9 seconds
"I think third was the best I could have done today. It is true that I lost a lot of time stuck behind Trulli for eighteen laps and that meant that Montoya got past me. So, I had some problems with traffic. Without that early delay, our strategy might have put me ahead of Kimi. In fact this race was all about different drivers on different strategies, but today we did not quite match the pace of the leaders. I had one moment when I ran wide at Turn 3 and then I also came under a bit of pressure from Fisichella, when he was running lighter than me, but he never got too close."

Jenson Button, BAR, 4th, +1 lap
"It's great to finally get some points on the board after such a difficult first half of the season. This is a great result for the team and things can only get better for us during the rest of the year. It's also a real boost as we prepare for our home Grand Prix at Silverstone next week. I think we had a very good strategy here and the team has worked very hard all weekend to achieve our 4th position today. It's not just about gaining the points, which is great, but how close we were to the podium, which is a big motivator for the team right now."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 5th, +1 lap
"After the miracle in qualifying yesterday, today was much harder. I made a strong start and held everyone behind me, but then I couldn't keep up the pace because the car was sliding, especially at the rear end. I was struggling for stability and traction and there was very little I could do. I kept fighting all day to keep the other cars behind me, but it was hard work because basically they were quicker than us. After the first pit stop the problem became worse, but we balanced the car better at the second stop and it was slightly better. Still, four points is a good result both for me and the team so we can go home satisfied with that."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 6th, +1 lap
“I actually think this was a good race for me – in spite of the finishing position. I had a problem with the fuel rig at my first stop, which cost me a lot of positions; then the support for the undertray of the car broke in the middle of the race, which cost me a lot of grip and downforce; and at the last stop, the engine cut out when I tried to pull away. So really, with all of these things, I think sixth is a good result. Of course, I am frustrated because today could have been a podium for me, but the main thing is that we scored more points than the other teams, and improved our situation in the championship.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 7th, +1 lap
"This was a good result considering where we came from at the beginning of the weekend, going out first in qualifying. We got through the whole weekend without any incidents or reliability issues, and I'm happy to be going home with two points. My car was struggling for traction and sliding a bit during the race so it was a matter of pushing as hard as possible all afternoon. The team changed my strategy from three stops to two and I was also helped out by Jacques going off near the end. It was good that we got both cars home in the points and I'd like to thank the team for all their help. I wish it could have been more but we have to be happy with this today."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber, 8th, + 1 lap
“That was not bad at all. The car was good from start to finish, quite driveable, and I was able to push hard all the way. My only concern was when it was running with the fuel load after my second stop as it began bottoming in Turn 1 and I ran out of road there. That corner was flat for me all weekend but from then on I was having to lift off a little after that. “It was good to score another point today, but what was even more enjoyable was the fact that we were more competitive than I expected we would be. That was very encouraging.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 9th, +1 lap
"It was a terrible race for me. After four or five laps, I began to have a problem with the brakes which meant the car was hard to drive. Then, in the first run of pit stops, I was unable to get ahead of Trulli and so I always found myself behind cars that were potentially slower than me. The brake problem got progressively worse and I kept slipping back so that I wasn't even able to pick up a single point. I am very disappointed."

David Coulthard, Red Bull, 10th, +1 lap
"Bugger. I lost a lot of time in traffic during the race and could never make the time up. Let's just look to Silverstone from here."

Takuma Sato, BAR, 11th, +1 lap
"I didn't have a perfect start as I was overtaken by Barrichello, but the first part of the race was quite exciting for me as I was mixing it with Jarno Trulli and Rubens. After I tried to overtake Trulli, I suffered with lack of grip and struggled with traction, which got progressively worse throughout the race. It's a shame that I wasn't able to score any points today, but five points is a great result for the team and I think that we will perform even better at the British Grand Prix next week."

Mark Webber, Williams, 12th, +2 laps
“My race was hampered today by a huge problem I had with heat in the cockpit area. It became so intense that I had to ask for some water to be poured in around my seat at the pit-stops. It was very uncomfortable to race in that condition and as a result, I now have a large raw burn on my right hip which the doctor has treated. The race itself was difficult, because after starting from poor grid position, we were struggling at the back of the pack. We have a lot of work to do.”

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan, 13th, +3 laps
"It was a good race for me. I had a good pace, did not encounter any problem and was able to push hard. I was also satisfied with the balance of my car. I think there is less and less gap with the people in front of us, which is a good sign, but we must keep on improving the car. I had another finish today, which is good for my record. I had a lot of problems during the weekend, but the car was perfect again for the race. The reliability was great and I would like to thank everyone for that."

Nick Heidfeld, Williams, 14th, +4 laps
“For once at the start I didn't manage to gain any position. Then, at the beginning of the race, I was close to Mark and Coulthard for a while. I stayed ahead of David after the first pit-stop but he pitted later for the second and went in front. Then, suddenly I felt something very wrong with the car. I thought it was a suspension that had failed because it felt really strange, especially in a straight line. From the pits the engineers told me that there was a problem with the differential but that we should try to stay out in order to get the best race result possible for qualifying at the next race in Silverstone. The car was very difficult to drive today.”

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan, 15th, +4 laps
"I had a great start and was running in front of Klien but then on lap 3, I had a gearbox selection problem. I did not have the third and the fifth gear, so it meant that I had to shift from the second gear directly to the fourth and here, there are a lot of corners in third and fifth. Therefore that problem cost me a lot of time. It is a shame, as I was quick all weekend. I am really disappointed and unlucky, but now I will focus on the British Grand Prix next weekend."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren, DNF
"I was really enjoying this race, and am disappointed to retire. I started to lose the power steering and then the gears which is what happens with a hydraulic failure so there was nothing I could do. We were on the right strategy and the car is simply unbelievable which makes it even harder to retire. I was on a different tyre to Kimi so it took a bit longer to get them warm, but I think that could have paid off towards the end of the race. I was stuck in a lot of traffic, but as soon as I was in free air I was able to close the gap and was really looking forward to being back on the podium. Obviously it means that once again I will have to start my qualifying run early at Silverstone but I'm getting used to it and anything can happen, so I look forward to the British Grand Prix because I'm sure a race win is just around the corner."

Christijan Albers, Minardi, DNF
"I was pleased with my start, as I overtook Patrick and Tiago Monteiro, and after that, I was able to pull away from my team mate, despite being on a different fuel strategy, and to stay ahead of Monteiro, even though he was pushing all the time. Unfortunately, I was losing a lot of time with oversteer at Turn 3, and the lap before I came into the pits, Monteiro was able to overtake me. Up to that point, and before the tyre problem, I had been pleased with my race pace, as I believe Jordan was also on a three-stopper today, and my lap times were almost the same as Karthikeyan's. All we can do now is focus on Silverstone and aim for a better result there."

Patrick Friesacher, Minardi, DNF
"The car was really nervous at the beginning of the race, and I couldn't keep up the same speed as Christijan and the Jordans, even though I was pushing as hard as I could. I just couldn't drive the car the way I normally would, but then the tyre deflated after my second pit stop, and that was it. We'll be looking for some better luck at Silverstone."

Felipe Massa, Sauber, DNF
"To begin with everything was going well. The car was running strongly until I began to experience a loss of hydraulic pressure around lap 25. First of all the steering started to become very heavy, then I couldn't select the gears. After a couple of laps I had to come into the pits and the team tried to fix the problem. I went out again, but it was still there so I had to retire. What is most frustrating is that our race pace was very good. I was faster than several of the top five cars and the Michelin tyres were getting better every lap. I'm sure I could have scored well today. Points would have been easy."

Christian Klien, Red Bull, DNF
"It's a massive disappointment. I had a fuel pressure problem in the first lap and there was nothing to do, but pull over. The whole weekend was not on my side; I had a crash and then qualified sixteenth. I thought it might be hard to get near to the front runners from that far back on the grid, but I didn't expect something like this on the first lap."