San Marino Grand Prix - driver quotes 23 Apr 2006
A thrilling race at Imola left the Tifosi delighted after Michael Schumacher took victory for Ferrari. He and the other 21 drivers report back on their afternoon in Italy
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
I am very happy! The result shows that work pays off and that the effort put in by everyone - the team and our partners - has delivered its reward. The key moment was staying ahead after the second pit stop. As we saw last year, overtaking at this track its almost impossible, unless the guy in front makes a mistake. With all my years of experience, I knew that what I wanted to do was keep Alonso behind me, but at my pace, not pushing flat out and thats what I did. At this time I had a bit of graining, as had been the case in free practice and now we must work out what caused it. I hope we can keep up this standard in the coming races and I think that from now on, we will be very competitive.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (2nd):
Second place and eight points is a perfect result for me this afternoon. We suspected that we had qualified with more fuel than the others, and the race showed we were right to pick that strategy. At a normal circuit, we could have won but this is Imola where overtaking is almost impossible. I could see that I was much faster than Michael in the second stint, and I was just trying to put pressure on him, hoping he would make a mistake. We did not plan to make our second stop when we did - we pitted early to try and overtake him but it didn't quite work. So I stayed in his slipstream and in the last five laps, put all the revs on the engine and tried to overtake. But the Ferrari was a lot quicker again at the end, and it didn't happen. Looking at the championship, though, this is perfect. My closest rivals at the start of the weekend were Fisichella and Raikkonen, and I have taken points from both of them. I am happy with this, and I know we will be stronger again in the Nurburgring.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (3rd):
"I'm pleased with today's race and that we managed to get a podium position and some important Championship points. I made a good start off the line but was squeezed by traffic going into the first chicane and had to lift in order to avoid an incident. I then got stuck in traffic which cost me some time. I think it was clear as the race progressed that we had qualified on quite a heavy fuel load, but we were really able to take advantage of our strategy during the race. The guys did a great job in the pit stops which helped, but once I was in clear air the leaders were already about 13 seconds ahead, and it was too late for me. The focus was then just to bring the car back and get third place and some points. Everybody has been working hard for the past couple of weeks, and I think we have definitely made some progress with our package, I can't wait for the rest of the season and hopefully winning some races soon."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th):
It was a very difficult race, but it turned out well for Ferrari in the end. Michaels win and my fourth place make a very nice result. I would have liked to have been on the podium, but I am still pleased with this as it was important to bring so many points home. I had some problems in my second stint, but in the third one I could push as hard as I wanted again.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th):
"I was not entirely happy with my car today and wasn't able to really go for it. My start was not very good and I lost a couple of positions, and then traffic hampered my progress during the first half of the race. After the second stop the car improved quite a bit and became easier to drive and I could start pushing again. However I got stuck behind Felipe Massa and to overtake here at Imola is virtually impossible as we could see in the race today. We can leave Imola with some points which is important and I now look forward to the next race in Germany."
Mark Webber, Williams (6th):
Todays result is positive after a difficult start to the weekend and all in all, we had a great race with the boys doing a good job on the strategy and our stops worked well. The only tricky part of the race was the first few laps on high fuel which made the car hard work on turn in and under braking, especially because of the bumps. Apart from a reasonable finish today, we also learnt plenty about Bridgestone. The job now is to keep finding more pace.
Jenson Button, Honda (7th):
There is no doubt that we missed out on the chance of a podium today as the car was quick and we had a good strategy. I had a problem at the first pitstop with the right rear wheel going on and then in the second pitstop the lollipop was raised before the fuel hose was disconnected. Unfortunately when that happens, it takes all of the pit crew with it. The Chief Mechanic has lifted the lollipop perfectly hundreds of times before and I know hell make sure this never happens again. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt and I know the boys will be back giving it their all at the next race. Today has been disappointing but we had the pace and we have certainly moved forward a lot since Australia. Weve said this many times before but we just have to stay focused and keep pushing.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (8th):
This was a race to try and recover what happened in qualifying yesterday afternoon and I cannot be happy to finish eighth, but I still got into the points. The start was fantastic but I got crowded out as others drivers closed the door, and then struggled with the grip in the first stint. We took off some front wing at the stop, and then the pace was in the car. I was much faster and started to make up a lot of ground because we ran further than the other cars, but in the end, there were only a couple of seconds in it at the second stop - and I came out just behind Button and Webber. The race showed the speed is there in the car, though, and I think we can have a much stronger weekend in Germany in two weeks.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (9th):
"It is a pity that we missed out on the points but that was not the best afternoon for me. We had a very aggressive strategy but circumstances played against us. We were a bit unlucky with traffic and the safety car didn't help us but we also struggled for grip in the early stints. The pace improved in the latter stages when I was gaining ground on Fisichella and Button so there must be some problem. I don't think it is related to the tyres because other Bridgestone teams did a good job so we need to investigate where the issue lies. We will test some new items next week and I believe we can improve at the European Grand Prix."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (10th):
It was disappointing for us today at the end of what has been a strong weekend. I had a bad start and then lost a lot of time at my first pit stop. The nozzle failed and the team had to switch me to the other one. The pace of the car was okay, particularly on the first run, but it was a bit more difficult in the middle section. The lack of pace was due to the rear tyres locking; even though the brakes have got a lot better, the rears were locking on new tyres. However, the balance of the car is better so we are getting stronger, we just need to work hard at the areas which are catching us out. If it wasn't for the problems with fuelling today, I could have finished in the top six. The team is working well and we're much happier with the tyre-warming issues, so we should make a fresh start in Nurburgring in two weeks.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (11th):
This weekend was pretty up and down for me because qualifying wasnt too bad but I have definitely had better races than today. I didnt feel 100% comfortable in the car, especially on used tyres. My main problem was racing in traffic all afternoon and even when I should have pushed hard to gain some ground, there was someone ahead, preventing me from making progress. No points isnt such a good outcome, but now I am looking forward to doing a better job at my home race at the Nurburgring as Mark has shown today that we can compete in strong pointscoring positions.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (12th):
It was not that exciting because I had a problem in the first pit stop. We were not as competitive as we expected. However, the balance was good and with this we should have been able to do some quick laps. The start was bad but then the first corner was okay. For the next race we have a new engine and that should help a lot, which is important as we are racing in Germany.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (13th):
This was a disappointing race for us especially as I had expected our race pace to be higher. But unfortunately this was not the case. My start was okay but still I couldn.t gain positions. One of my main problems was lack of grip, but at the second pit stop we changed the front wing settings and the tyre pressures so the last stint was a little bit better.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (14th):
It was a so-so race for me. We ran at our pace in qualifying which meant we started a long way back on the grid, which made it difficult to go anywhere. We had a decent race pace but we couldnt pass anyone as it is so difficult at this track. I had a problem with the brakes from about lap 3 onwards so I couldnt push as I was locking up the front or the rear. The car handled well and without the brake thing I could have done much better.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (15th):
I might have passed Heidfeld if I had not get so badly held up around the pit stops. I was unlucky in that I let Michael by a couple of corners before he pitted so I lost about five seconds there and then, when I came out of the pits I had a bunch of traffic. The cars pace was good, we were quicker than Heidfeld and quick enough to keep up with our senior Red Bull team! To add to my bad luck, my drinks bottle didnt work all race.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (16th):
"Another finish, which is important of course, because every finish gives us more data to work with. We had two strategy options, depending on how the start went. Actually, it was our best start so far this season, so I managed to stay in front of Sato and from that point I was just pushing hard to follow the Torro Rossos. I couldn't do that, but in that type of situation, you have to keep pushing hard the whole race, because you never know what might happen to those ahead of you. So you push to explore the potential of the car and you push to improve your focus and concentration over a race distance. It's actually not too bad, because we learned a lot. Personally, I discover new things about the car every time out. Unfortunately, we're in a situation where we get overtaken, but we analyse this to see where our opponents are quicker. Obviously, this is not where we want to be - we would prefer to be fighting with the others - but I think our pace is improving all the time. We just need a little bit more, and we're almost there."
David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
I had a broken drive shaft. Possibly as a result of something that happened after the pit stop, because when I pulled away I had a problem with the engine taking a lot of revs. Its a shame, because although we had seen this in winter testing, it had never happened in a race so far.
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (DNF):
It is disappointing not to finish the race as we have had no reliability issues all weekend. I had a reasonable start to the race and I was able to make up a position, but the car was lacking in pace so I could not improve any further. The boys have done a really great job all weekend and we have made good progress so we shall just keep working hard to improve our performance.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (DNF):
The whole weekend has not been good for me with a lot of problems, starting in the first free practice session. In qualifying I had that bother with the speed limiter and now in the race I had a hydraulic problem. The race did not go well: I started behind Scott Speed and with it being so hard to pass here, I lost a lot of time behind. When I had a clear track ahead of me the car was actually quite respectable until it stopped.
Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (DNF):
"I didn't think I was pushing too hard at the start, but when I was exiting the second chicane Albers was the one on the racing line and I could not avoid contacting his car. After the contact the car was not stable in the corners and my front-left suspension was damaged. I later had a rear suspension problem and had to retire from the race. My lap times were a little faster this weekend, so I want to keep my rhythm and do better in the next race."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
"A lot of bad luck seems to be coming my way at the moment and today was no exception. We still have to investigate exactly what happened but something seemed to go wrong with the steering column and that meant I had to retire. It's a pity because we have been looking good all weekend and I was confident that we could have had a better day today. I made a very good start and I made up a place on Raikkonen as I went through the field. Unfortunately the car in front had a moment at the first corner so I had to slow down. It's frustrating because whatever I do, something goes wrong. But I will keep pushing because I know that the team and the package are good. Once everything starts working for me I know I will have a lot of success."
Christijan Albers, Midland (DNF):
"For me, this was really a bad end to the weekend. It's a shame, because we had a fantastic start. On Friday, we were really quick; we were on the pace. On Saturday morning, we were also pretty quick. And then the bad luck started: we had a software problem on the engine side that held us back in qualifying. For me, this was really, really sad, because I felt we had a chance to make it into the second qualifying heat, even though we still had a lot of fuel in the car. And then, during the race, I felt I had a reasonable start that ended up being wasted by an unnecessary race incident. With all due respect to the Super Aguri drivers, they are being much too aggressive in trying to jump ahead of us at the start so that they can hold us up during the race, as they've done in the past. They are taking too many risks, and we saw today how dangerous this can be. I don't understand this tactic, because I would have conceded the position to (Ide) had he been in a position to take it. I had a lot of fuel on board and driving to a certain strategy, so I wasn't trying to hold anyone up. But instead, he just pushed me off the road from behind. It's too bad, because the car is severely damaged. The team worked very hard to give me a good car this weekend, and they deserved a better result than this."