Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Australian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 02 Apr 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Christijan Albers (NDL) MF1 Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006

An afternoon of high drama sees Fernando Alonso and Renault extend their championship lead. But who blamed who for the numerous incidents and accidents? The drivers give their verdicts…

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st):
“This was a very different race to the other two so far this season. In Bahrain, I was fighting with Michael all the way; in Malaysia, it was Jenson I was battling for second place. But today, it was quite comfortable. There were no fights, and I was very relaxed for a lot of the race. I had a good lead after the first pit-stops, but I lost it during the second safety car. However, I managed to get a good gap on each re-start, and that made life quite easy for me. I was very happy with the balance all the way through the race, so I just needed to make sure I didn’t take any unnecessary risks and I am pleased we were able to save the engine performance for the next race. So far, we have shown we are strong in all conditions on all tracks. But Imola is a very different challenge, and we must have a calm approach, because we know it will be more difficult than ever.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
"Despite not winning I'm really pleased as we now have a package which is level with the Renaults which I think we demonstrated today. The race was rather hectic. I enjoyed a good battle with Juan Pablo at the start, but when I overtook Jenson I flatspotted my right front tyre which caused some vibration. However I was still able to go flat out and keep up with Fernando, but then all of a sudden the footplate on the right hand side of my front wing fractured probably due to the vibration. As a result I started to have severe understeer and lost a lot of time to Fernando. Fortunately with 21 laps to go the Safety Car came out which gave us enough time to go into the pits and change the front wing. I was really pushing, but in the final Safety Car period one of the Midland cars was between Fernando and I, which meant I was unable to get really close to have a go. An enjoyable race and I can't wait for Imola. The team has definitely made great progress with our entire package."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (3rd):
"We are all very happy with what we achieved today. The drive-through penalty was my fault because I accidentally hit the button twice but I was lucky and due to the safety car periods we achieved a lot more than we ever thought before this weekend. At the start we were sliding around and locking wheels. But while we've had problems with warming up our tyres in earlier races, others seemed to struggle with that today. Some of the safety car periods were a bit of a fight with all the backmarkers in there but after the third safety car period I gained a couple of places which was great. Grip was hard to come by so I really had to fight the whole race to keep the car there, but it worked out in the end and we achieved a great result. We are still a way from the top teams so we have to work, but I have no doubt that our crew is able to do that. We're strong people and pushing hard so I'm looking forward to the next few races."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (4th):
“I am really happy about this result. We were already competitive in practice but we were even stronger in the race. I think it’s fantastic for a new team having both cars in the points, especially considering where Jacques started. My only problem was that I couldn’t get heat into the tyres immediately after each safety car period; it was particularly bad after the last one when Kimi was all over me, and we touched lightly in Turn 4. I then braked too late for Turn 6 because the front tyres were still not up to temperature, and as I ran wide he was able to pass me. So was Ralf, within metres of yellow flags. My compliments to the pit crew, who did a fabulous job.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (5th):
“After a race like that, I have really mixed feelings. You know, it’s great to go from the pit-lane and to finish fifth, especially in such an exciting way. But also, we saw today that I had the car to fight for the win with Fernando, so I am disappointed I couldn’t make use of it. At the start, the engine stalled and I had to start from the pit-lane, then during most of the first stint I had no telemetry – so I was giving the engineers updates on my fuel load all the time, and telling them about the car while overtaking the people in front of me. That problem fixed itself, but the second stint was really hard because the car was understeering so much during that part of the race. The team were calling me to push harder, but I was on the limit all the way. Then after the final stop, the clutch failed, and we only managed to fix it a few laps from the end. As soon as we did, I set my fastest lap, showed what I could do and started to put pressure on Jenson. I could see his engine was failing in the final corners, then I was blinded by the oil and smoke during the final corner with big oversteer, and I got him as he moved over the track. It was an exciting afternoon, and it’s good to still score points after starting so far back. I am second in the championship going to Imola, and that’s a great feeling because I should have a new specification engine there as well.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (6th):
“Starting from 19th place with a full tank and finishing sixth is obviously a lot better than I expected, so it was a very good race for me. The only problem I had was warming up the tyres after the numerous safety car phases. We have to have a look at this to improve the situation, but otherwise our pace was good.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (7th):
“It was very frustrating that Jenson was unable to finish the race. Although we didn’t have the pace to fight very hard, it was disappointing to see him go out like that. I struggled the whole race with the brakes and it was impossible for me to overtake, although I was able to get past Speed and gain position. I have a couple of points at least, so in that respect at least my season is underway now. I think we all realise what a lot of work there is to do in the next couple of weeks in testing if we are to start the European season in a more competitive position.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (8th*):
“To come from wherever we were on the grid - I can’t even remember where we were, but I know it was a big number - it is incredible to come away from here with a point. We always said our goal was to grab some points this year and to get the first one so early is incredible. It’s one step closer to my goal. It was really exciting and what a feeling to come round on the last lap and to see the whole team up on the wall. It was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had in my life.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (9th):
“Scott Speed overtook me under a yellow flag. The Stewards asked me to explain the incident, which occurred under the yellow flag for Tonio’s accident. The data shows that Scott overtook while the yellow flags were being waved. On the first lap, I passed Jarno Trulli on Turn two. Going into Turn three I looked into the mirror and saw him coming so I moved over, but he ran wide so I passed him again. In Turn six he did the same thing. However, this time I didn’t see him coming, he side-swiped me and hit the side of my car putting me in the gravel and himself out of the race. There was no way he was going to make the corner.”

Jenson Button, Honda (10th):
“It’s disappointing to end the weekend as we did today after starting the race in pole position. The way the race panned out with the three safety cars left me struggling for grip after each restart and I lost so much time and so many places. I could feel that something was wrong with the engine in turn 13 and it was a difficult way to end the race after such a long hard battle. The car is strong when we have tyre temperature, but when we don’t we have massive grip problems. We have two weeks of testing before Imola and hopefully we can solve these problems.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (11th):
"On the one hand, it's kind of frustrating to not be battling where I think we should be - in the middle of the pack. On the other hand, I think we're improving and at least now I'm finishing races, which is something I didn't always get to do last year. The first part of the race, I got caught in the group behind Sato, with Barrichello and Coulthard. We were stuck there for a long time, and that was really a shame. After the first pit stop, I was still behind Sato but then I overtook him on a straight, on the outside. That felt good. There were four safety car periods, so the race order got confusing at times, but in the end I felt that I could run with the other cars. It's just a shame that we couldn't score points today."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (12th):
“At the start of the race I was driving side-by-side with many other cars for position and I was able to work my way up to the middle of the pack – it was very exciting and I really enjoyed it. Although the safety car came out three times today it was very good training for us and I am happy that we managed to complete our actions successfully. Unfortunately though I had a problem with my left-front wheel and had to come into the pits towards the end of the race. At the end of the next lap I had another wheel problem, this time with my front-right, and so I had to finish the race in the pit lane. I am a little disappointed that I did not take the chequered flag as the boys had done such a great job today, but it was still a great day for the team.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (13th):
“This is the first time that both Taku and I have finished a race, so I am happy about that. However, I am far from being competitive compared to the other drivers, so I want to improve my driving skills and learn the next circuit as quickly as possible. I will be testing in Barcelona in a week’s time, so I will be able to spend more time in the car and learn more of the skills that I need to improve."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
"There was a lot going on in the race today. As we were lining up on the grid I made a mistake and spun the car. Fortunately the start was aborted, and I was able to take up my original start position in fifth spot. However during the first Safety Car period I had another spin which cost me two positions. Overall I found it rather challenging getting the grip into the tyres today and the four Safety Car periods didn’t make it easier. I think I could have finished on the podium, but as I was pushing to get past Ralf I hit the kerb at the start of the straight and went into a bit of a wobble but managed to save it. Unfortunately the impact activated a default system which switched off the engine and that was the end of my race. It’s a real shame as our package felt fantastic throughout the weekend. We can definitely go into the start of the European season with lots of confidence."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (DNF):
"Overall, I saw it as being quite a positive weekend. We had a great Friday, some problems on Saturday, but then I was having a great race, with some very good lap times compared to the others. There may have even been the possibility of a top ten today, which would have been a high point for us. Unfortunately, problems happen in F1 - something many other teams also experienced - and we had a technical issue that prevented me from finishing. It is frustrating, but I understand that that's how racing goes sometimes. I'm just happy that at least the car was performing well in the race, and that's what motivates me for the next one. Now we need to understand what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (DNF):
“What happened was a real shame as we were competitive and had a really good pace. I am not very happy as I think Jacques (Villeneuve) might have put me in the wall. I am happy for Scott and the team that he picked up a point. Now I am looking forward to Imola where if the car is as competitive as here we can have a good race.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (DNF):
“I was pushing to the maximum to try and close on Jenson and pass him. Probably he had some problems as he was not very quick. I tucked in behind him and unexpectedly I got some heavy understeer and finished on the grass. I had to push, because that’s the part of the track where it’s possible to pass. Today, our main problem was keeping the tyres up to temperature, especially in the first part of the race and also because there were a few safety car periods. We had chosen this compound specifically for the race, and once they reached the right operating temperature, they were going well, as was obvious after the pit stop. At first, it was difficult to drive, as after locking the wheels a few times the tyres were completely finished. It’s clear we have a lot of work to do.”

Mark Webber, Williams (DNF):
“We’re not quite sure exactly what happened, we think it is something related to the gearbox. It’s a real shame because we had a great strategy and I was very, very heavy - I had plenty more laps to go and although it might have been tough to keep Kimi and Fernando away from my P1 position, I think we had lots of other people including Jenson and Ralf covered and a podium would have been reasonably straightforward. But saying all of that, you need to get to the chequered flag. The outcome is really disappointing for me, the team, everyone, but we’re all in the boat together - the team and Bridgestone has done a really good job on the car, we have the pace, but now we’ve got to work on our reliability.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (DNF):
“There was a safety car period at the beginning of the race and it very difficult to warm up my tyres. I struggled a lot with that, it made it really tricky to drive the car and I was also on a very heavy fuel load. On lap seven, I touched the brakes, the rear locked or something broke, I’m not sure, and I went off the track into the wall. There was nothing I could do. The crash looked worse than it was I think. It felt as if I got hit twice on the rear of my car on the first lap of the race and nearly went off on the first corner as a result, but I don’t think that was related to my going off the track later on. I’m really disappointed.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
"I'm happy that Ralf did so well and it shows that we have the pace to challenge again. But this has been a disastrous weekend for me and it was a shame to be punted out of the race so early. A couple of corners in I was following Coulthard who was going very slowly and zigzagging on the straight. I went to the inside to overtake him and I was ahead at the corner but he just closed the door on me, hitting me on the back. That broke my rear suspension and put me out of the race. I was just being careful and overtaking a slower car so I don't understand how it happened and I was surprised by what he did. I've had such bad luck this weekend, I just hope that I've had my share for a while. We showed good pace so I hope we can keep that up and my fortunes can improve back in Europe."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (DNF):
“The start of my race into the first corner all went fine but then Massa and Klien got in bit of a tangle and I could see Massa coming sideways in my mirrors on the inside of me. I thought to myself ‘don’t, please don’t’, because I had nowhere to go. In the end he just hit me from behind and that was it. My rear wing was off and my radiators were too damaged for me to continue. It’s unfortunate because I was in a good position with a lot of fuel and considering that so many people had gone off or dropped to the back of the field, I was starting to think that today it could have gone my way and I could have scored some good points. I’m going to look forward to Imola now, finally a track that I know well.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (DNF):
“Not much to say…At the first turn, I had Klien on my left and Speed on my right. Christian touched me, which spun me around and to the right, then I hit Rosberg and ended up in the barrier. There was nothing I could do as I was basically a passenger in my car. I am very unhappy because I am sure I could have had a good race. It’s been a weekend to forget. Now we must turn the page and work to be as well prepared as possible for Imola.”

* Speed subsequently demoted to ninth after 25-second time penalty.