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Bahrain Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 12 Mar 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 12 March 2006 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 12 March 2006 (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Williams and Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 12 March 2006 Christian Klien (AUT) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006

A nail-biting start to the 2006 season saw Michael Schumacher push world champion Fernando Alonso all the way in Bahrain in a race filled with drama and incident. The men involved explain…

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st):
“This was a good, fighting win and I want to dedicate it to the mechanics and the team, for some fantastic pit-stops and the right strategy. There was a funny incident in the early stages, and I came very close to going out when Massa spun past me in turn 1. After that though, things went smoothly, and I knew that the key time would be around the second stop. I looked after the tyres at the start of the stints, so that I had something left at the crucial moment, and I was very confident that we would be able to do it. After that, I managed the performance, the car was running beautifully and I just concentrated on making no mistakes. The backmarkers were very fair today as well. I think the competition is a little bit closer than we thought overall, but this is the perfect start for the season.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd):
“All in all this is an excellent result and I’m certainly not complaining about
finishing second. If someone would have told us during the winter months that this is the way we would have finished the first race of the season, I wouldn’t have believed them. Today we must be really pleased with the result. On the other hand, I still have some mixed feelings because it’s seems that we could have been ahead and could have won the race. Considering how it ended up, it’s now clear that the qualifying lap that wasn’t acknowledged in as far as refuelling this morning was concerned, was the decisive factor that played against us. It’s a pity, because yesterday I had to back off because of the traffic. In any case it’s a great day for us because we know that we have an good car and we have an excellent potential to develop during the course of the season and this is very important. This year the fight for the championship will be very close: there are several good teams, all of which are capable of battling for the title and it’s great to be one of them.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (3rd):
“This is a great result after the disappointment of yesterday, but we have known that the car was very strong all weekend. We thought that we had a chance to score some points today, even though we were starting from the back of the grid, but to get a podium is fantastic, The first few laps were crucial to this result, and luckily I managed to overtake a lot of cars at the first corner; I was up to 13th by lap two even though the cars in front were all lighter than me. We then gained some more places later on as a result of our strategy. The outcome is even more important to the whole team, who have been working so hard throughout the winter, as we didn't know where we were after testing and everyone had been saying that we were struggling. However we really have improved over the past few weeks. It proves that we are competitive and if not for yesterday we could have been even better.”

Jenson Button, Honda (4th):
"Had I not had such a bad start then this could have been a great race for us. The pace of the car was absolutely there but the strategy didn't pan out because I lost places off the start and wasn't where we had planned to be at the pitstops. We may not have a podium but we have a very competitive car and if you look at the lap times when we weren't in traffic we were genuinely as quick as anyone out there. I think we go to Malaysia feeling extremely positive. If we can address the clutch issue which caused the problem with the start we will be able to fight even harder with the competition."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (5th):
“I have not really been totally comfortable with the set up of my car all weekend, which was clear during all the practice sessions. Obviously I am a little disappointed finishing in fifth as I know that the car could do so much more, but it just wasn't working for me this weekend. However it was a steady race and for the team to get two cars finishing in the points could be very important later in the season. The four points I have scored are good considering the circumstances. I am now looking forward to the next race in Malaysia, where we can improve further on these results."

Mark Webber, Williams (6th):
“Today’s race was superb, a really good job by the whole team, we really could not have asked for more. Having both cars finishing was very useful, we have collected a lot of data and this will help with our understanding of the tyres. Malaysia will be a different race altogether and our performance today will really help with our preparation for next weekend.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (7th):
“I really enjoyed myself today and the final result was a good outcome.
Unfortunately I made a mistake at the first corner, expecting that Heidfeld
might leave me more room and the incident put me right back. However, it was a
super effort by the team and I really enjoyed fighting my way up, particularly
battling with Coulthard. The final result - seventh place and the fastest lap
of the race -is more than I could have hoped for in my first race. Today was a
great start and I’m looking forward to the next race.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (8th):
“After the problems we suffered during the winter, it’s great that both cars crossed the finish today. The first part of the race went well and I was able to make up a few positions, but later on I wasn’t able to keep the same pace. The cars grip seemed to give way a little and I lost some time. I also had a problem with the clutch. It’s a shame that Nico (Rosberg) overtook me in the final laps as it meant I dropped from seventh to eighth in the closing stages.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (9th):
“I must say that it really was a pity. Right from the start of the weekend I had a very competitive car and it’s a shame that I wasn’t able to pick up some points. When I spun I was very close to Alonso and I just touched the brakes but then I lost the rear end and spun off. During the pit stop I lost a lot of time to change the right rear tyre and that’s when I lost any chance of finishing in the points. For the rest of the race I was flat out all the time and I managed to climb back up to 9th. It’s a pity that I’ve come away from this race with no points, but I’m looking forward to get my own back because I know that we have everything it takes to perform well.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (10th):
“I flat spotted early on when I was wheel to wheel with Nick (Heidfeld), which afterwards caused huge vibrations in the car. There’s so much vibration when that occurs, you lose visibility, your eyes are shaking in your head and it feels like you’re sitting on top of a spin drier. You can’t read the pit board nor the displays in the car. The team wanted me to do an oil transfer, but I had to ask them what colour the button was that I needed to press, as you can’t read anything when it’s like that. It’s horrible and rounds off a pretty disappointing weekend.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (11th):
"We were expecting a bit more after the start we had to the weekend. But it was good to see the chequered flag in a reasonable position. Unfortunately during the race we did not have the pace we needed.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (12th):
“Obviously things started badly as Nico Rosberg spun me in the first corner. I lost a lot of places and that ruined my race. I was able to fight back and had a particularly exciting battle with Coulthard. It’s difficult to assess our performance after only one race but naturally it’s disappointing when you start 10th and can’t score any points.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (13th):
"I'm pleased to have got through to the chequered flag in my first Grand Prix without making any mistakes. The balance of my car was not quite right during the first stint, but we were able to fix that at the first pit stop. After that, I think our pace improved and was good.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (14th):
"This weekend has been a struggle from the start. After our problems in qualifying yesterday, we used this afternoon as a test session to collect data to improve for the coming races. I was on a three-stop strategy whereas Jarno was on two stops so at least we can now compare the data from our two cars. This way we can try to learn as much as possible about our new package. Of course this was not the way we hoped to start off the 2006 season but we have to take things as they are and try to move forward from here. We don't know where the problem is but hopefully we will soon find out. The early races will be difficult but all we can do is push as hard as we can to move back up the grid."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (15th):
"It's a disappointing way to finish my first race for the team but in the early stages we saw a taste of our potential. Jenson and I had a great race with each other early on which I'm sure got a few people excited! Soon after though I knew we had a gearbox problem and I had to try to race with one gear missing. I was unable to push and had no chance of a points finish, so it wasn't a good way for me to spend the race. We know that the pace is there so we just have to resolve our problems for next weekend when I'm sure we will have a much better race."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (16th):
"This has obviously been a very disappointing weekend for the whole team and today was no exception. We chose to go with a two-stop strategy so we could make comparisons with Ralf's data for future reference but it was a hard afternoon's work for me. I just pushed as hard as I could for the whole race - but the harder I pushed the slower I seemed to go! I don't know what the solution is because there was nothing particular going wrong, we were simply not quick enough. It's a difficult way to start the season but we will work hard as a team to try and do our best to make up as much ground as possible."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (17th):
“Obviously, it wasn't an easy weekend. The T-Car wasn't really set up for me, so it was a compromise in terms of seating position and other things, and fairly uncomfortable to drive throughout the race. But I had to remain focused on the race, pushing as hard as I could to bring the car home. We had our share of trouble but, you know, that's racing. Let's hope we got all our bad luck out of the way here so that we can look forward to better results for the rest of the season. The car is definitely faster and better than it was last year. It's not quick enough at the moment, but I'm sure we can find the speed."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (18th):
“It is a fantastic result for us. I think that the boys in the garage deserve to be happy because they worked so hard to get us here to Bahrain. Although today we had radio communication and fuel rig problems, which is why there was some confusion during our pitstops, I think that everyone in the team has done a really good job. It is a positive step for us and I am very happy with today’s result. It was only a shame for Yuji that we could not bring the two cars’ home, but it is the great start that the team needed.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (DNF):
"I wanted to finish the race very much but the engine just stopped. I had the same problem as I had on Friday. Earlier in the race I couldn't put the gear into neutral so I over-ran at the pit stop. I don't know what I could do to make the car better but I know the mechanics have been working hard so I feel bad for my lack of experience. I will review the problem with engineers and I will do my best to finish the next race in Malaysia.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (DNF):
“My start was not particularly great, but I managed to find my way through the first few corners and to stay out of trouble there. The race set-up was fine and I settled into a good rhythm. I overtook Coulthard and stayed in front of Raikkonen for quite a while. Then all of a sudden I started to lose power, and that was it.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (DNF):
“I had the same problem as in qualifying, with a big loss of power on the engine. It was OK for the start of the race, but then I just lost power all the way through the rev range and the car was much slower on the straights. I was still able to fight with the cars around me, but I was a long way from the potential we could do with full power. Then I had an hydraulic problem which forced me to retire. The good thing is that we have another race in one week's time, and the car is clearly very quick. I want to bounce back strongly in Malaysia.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (DNF):
"It's a shame that I didn't get to drive at all, because we were looking forward to gathering more data for Malaysia. It's really unfortunate, because we've never had that (driveshaft) problem before and it's just one of those things that's impossible to predict. What makes it even more frustrating is that I think our capabilities were much better than what we showed in qualifying and had we not suffered such bad luck, I think we might have run a reasonable race."