Belgian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 11 Sep 2005
Spa-Francorchamps has a reputation for throwing up fascinating races and Sundays was no exception. All 20 drivers explain their afternoons work in Belgium, including Sato and Schumacher, and Montoya and Pizzonia on their respective clashes.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (1st):
We did what we could today, and Im thrilled to win here at Spa for the second time in a row. However Juan Pablos (Montoyas) retirement was a real shame and I feel sorry for him and the team as we could have left Spa with so much more as we really deserved a one-two. Everything went well during the race with no real dramas and the car was great. When the safety car came out we took the opportunity to come into the pits and as Ralf (Schumacher) was quite a bit lighter at this stage he was able to be in front of me. However I didnt push to look after the Michelin tyres. Consequently when it dried out I was able to really push and caught up with a series of fast laps. I claimed the lead after the second pitstop as I could stay out longer than Juan Pablo and that was it. However there are mixed emotions as we should have had a one-two today.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (2nd):
It was a hard race for everybody this afternoon, with really difficult conditions, but we knew we had a competitive car and that we didn't need to take any big risks. Sometimes, these races can bring some big surprises, so I am pleased to come away with a normal result, which was exactly what I needed. The rear end of the car was moving about a lot in the high speed corners, which made it hard to attack a lot in the quick parts of the circuit, so I just backed off quite early and made sure I would take home plenty of points. I didn't make any mistakes, and P3 was going to be perfect for me, then I saw Montoya's accident - so P2 is even better, and it was nice to have some more help from McLaren. We were debating all the way through the race, and especially in the last laps, whether or not we should take the dry tyres, but I think we did the right thing: we didn't need to take the gamble, and played it safe. I want to say a big thank you to Michelin as well: we started the race in wet conditions, and finished with the track nearly dry, but the tyres they gave us were extremely quick all the way through. They have done a really fantastic job.
Jenson Button, BAR (3rd):
"It's fantastic to be back on the podium and I have to thank the team for their incredibly hard work to get us back into the game here. The first stint of the race wasn't easy. I had such bad oversteer I barely had to turn into the corners! At the first stop we adjusted the front wing which made things better but we were a little too optimistic in switching to drys so we had to come in again and change back to wets. Double stinting the tyres really made all the difference for us though. I have to thank the entire team and Michelin for making this result possible. The pitstops were great and the Honda engine was faultless all weekend. We have some new developments for the next few races so I'm feeling really positive. Let's hope we have a few more days like today before the end of the season"
Mark Webber, Williams (4th):
It was a difficult race, strongly affected by many changes of tyres. It was a shame that we lost a lot of time when the Safety Car came out at the start of the race and we switched to dry tyres and then back to intermediates again. We obviously took a gamble, as everyone did today. We could have scored even a better result but it was also very easy to be in the wall today. Its long overdue for me to have, lets say a normal race, and I want to give this result to the team because it has been a tough season so far and they have put in a great effort. It is still not the result we want but we made the right decisions after all. It was also a good job by BMW, to get through two tough races with the same engine.
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (5th):
Unfortunately we did not have enough speed today and that was a problem throughout the race. The decisions we made regarding tyre choice were good, as were the decisions about when to make the pit stops. That is the only reason why we managed to bring home some points. At one point we felt it was better to stay on the rain tyres as although they were getting slick they seemed to be working better. Unfortunately, after this stage had passed, the tyres went off quite a bit and I had to stop to change them. Then I lost fourth position because getting the dry tyres warm at the end was very difficult and Webber overtook me very easily. Considering everything that happened today, coming home with four points is not bad.
Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (6th):
"This result makes it all worthwhile going into qualifying with a heavy fuel load! The decision to stay out when the safety car was deployed was exactly the right thing to do. As the race progressed things got better as the fuel load decreased, but I had plenty of adventures along the way. I was completely sideways in Eau Rouge on one lap and I really thought that was it. But I saved it, and then had some wheel-banging with Karthikeyan up at Les Combes, so it wasn't a dull race for me! As the track started to dry it got difficult on intermediates, but the reason Ralf caught me so much on the final lap was because I had to lap a Minardi in a tricky place and lost time. Overall this was a great result that brought me a lot of satisfaction, especially on this challenging track."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (7th):
"That was a very tough race. The timing of the safety car period worked to our advantage early on and we were in good shape. We were quick in the conditions, everything was going well and the strategy was well defined. Then we just decided to go onto dry tyres too early. It was a very close decision, but we took it together and we got it wrong. Like everyone we expected the track to dry out a lot faster than it did. Instead the track was incredibly slow to dry out. It was amazing how slippery the circuit was, and I can't remember seeing a race like that. We came straight back in and that enabled us to score some points. The team did a great job but we just got one decision wrong."
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (8th):
I have really enjoyed myself driving today on my favourite track, especially under these weather conditions as we know they suit us and we can improve our positions. The Bridgestone tyres worked very well all the way and I felt very confident. I am delighted for the whole team and myself, this is a real point and we definitely deserved it. We had a tough time yesterday in qualifying but our strategy paid off. I am so happy.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (9th):
My start was really good and I made up three places on the first two laps. The track was wet, but as it was drying we changed to slick tyres when the safety car came out. However two laps later, I came back in and changed back to the intermediate tyres. The car was too uncontrollable on slicks on the damp surface and basically, we changed too early. I went back to slick tyres at the end of the race when the track was drier and ended up in ninth place. Its pretty disappointing as without mistakes, we could have easily scored some points here.
Felipe Massa, Sauber (10th):
"What can I say? We could have been on the podium if I had stayed on intermediates, because I was way ahead of Button, My engineer Mike Krack asked me should we stay on them before my second stop, but the track was a bit like it was on Friday when the grooved tyres had worked okay in damp conditions, so I figured it was worth the risk and said let's change to dries. If it had worked we would have been heroes. As it was, the car just became undriveable."
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (11th):
I made a very good start and Tiago and I were running at the same pace. Then the safety car came out for Fisichellas accident and we had to pit together. I was in the queue obviously and lost a lot of time. This is a pity as I had a good race and was able to fight with a few cars. I went on slick tyres maybe a bit early but the last laps were great. I am very happy for Tiago and the team to have scored one well-deserved point.
Christijan Albers, Minardi (12th):
"I think today we achieved the maximum we could, considering the strategy we had. The race was really difficult on wet tyres, but then with the intermediates fitted, it was okay. Unfortunately, I had no second gear for much of the race, and lost a lot of time shifting up. There are four corners on this track where you have to go into second gear and then shift up on the exit, and it was difficult to keep the speed up. Considering the difficult conditions, I think the best aspect of today is that we were able to finish the race, especially for the home crowd. Special thanks to my engineer, Laurent Mekies, who helped me to get the maximum possible from today. We couldn't have achieved a
better result, taking everything into consideration."
Robert Doornbos, Minardi (13th):
"We were banking on some more rain so we started on full-wets from the pits, but soon discovered it was not the right tyre choice, as the lap times were really slow. Once we were on intermediates, it was not too bad, and we were able to run pretty consistently in the middle segment of the race. We had been gambling all weekend, so at the second pit stop, we decided to try the slicks, but it was impossible. I think I lost 60 seconds on one lap alone, so I had to come in and change back to intermediates. It was not the best weekend, and the Spa luck didn't work this time, but we'll aim to go to Brazil now and push hard there."
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
Its always tough to retire from a race but when its caused by matters out of your or the teams control its even harder. As I said in the pole position press conference yesterday I drive for my team. So my disappointment is even greater because as a team we were doing a great job. I now know that Pizzonia was trying to unlap himself on dry tyres and then hit me from behind whilst trying to do so. This was a disappointing end to what could have been the perfect weekend.
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (DNF):
The race was hectic with the track conditions changing and consequent tyre changes. We made our pit-stops just after Mark, where I lost some time, but that was part of the game. With regards to the accident with Montoya, I was on dry tyres, and lapping quicker than him. He was quite slow maybe because his tyres were not good anymore or maybe he was just cruising to the end of the race. I thought he saw me and when he braked really early I thought he was trying to let me by. I put my car next to him but obviously he hadnt seen me because he turned into his normal line and I couldnt avoid the crash. I am sorry for him because I am not here to destroy anyones race. I destroyed my race too.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
"Today I was definitely capable of fighting for a podium. The car was very quick, and we were able to run at the same pace as the McLarens early on. The car was handling well and we were very good on the tyres. But when the safety car came out we had to make a quick decision about which tyres to take. The track was still damp so I asked to stay on intermediates but the team decided to put me on dry tyres. It was a bit of a gamble and as it turned out it was not the right choice. When I came out I was barely able to maintain the pace of the safety car and we went to the back after we stopped again. I worked my way back up through the field but late on I was following Monteiro when he accidently hit the pit limiter button. I had no way of avoiding him and I hit him, losing my front wing and going off into the wall."
David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
Thats the first engine failure weve had since December. We have to accept that these engines are stressed and occasionally one will have a fault; but obviously its too early to know what exactly caused it. We took a punt on the dry tyres as we thought the safety car would be out for a long time, which would give the slicks a chance to get up to temperature. As we must now use one slick tyre for the race, it has to be a hard compound to last the distance. That makes it more difficult to get it into its operating window in terms of temperature; so putting a slick tyre on a damp track doesnt work. On the other hand, intermediate tyres on a dry track will overheat so you end up with this no-mans-land area where no tyres fit. Its very entertaining for the crowds, but its dangerous for us because while the wet tyres are burning up, the slick tyres, as we saw, dont work in these conditions.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (DNF):
Every accident is unnecessary but this one seemed more unnecessary than usual. Obviously I am not happy about it, I did not see anything and just felt a bump at the rear of the car. It was stupid to finish the race like this when we had hoped that the mixed conditions might help us. We decided to try the dry tyres but it was immediately obvious that it was like driving on ice. We tried to be competitive today and we got a bit closer to that goal, but not close enough.
Takuma Sato, BAR (DNF):
"It was very tricky at the beginning of the race, but I made a good first lap and gained many positions. It was an exciting first stint and things were going well up to the first stop. The incident with Michael happened on the first corner after the restart, following the safety car. With cold tyres and brakes, it was very difficult to stop the car and unfortunately, I touched the back of him. Obviously, I am disappointed that we could not deliver a good result today."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (DNF):
The first few laps were perfect for me. I lost some positions at the start, but then the car was just flying: I was much faster than everybody around me, and just picking off the positions when I could to try and climb up the field. I was running quite low downforce, so the handling was tricky at times but I was still quicker than the guys in front of me. I had got to P7 when I lost the car in Eau Rouge. I don't really understand what happened at the moment, and I need sit down with the engineers to look at the data in a bit more detail.