European Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 07 May 2006
Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa make it a day of double celebration for Ferrari after a race which saw an unusually high number of mechanical retirements. The drivers explain
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
"A great race, great strategy and a great performance from the whole team. I am happy for all of them and I think the result shows we are back, with car, engine, tyres and fuel all working superbly. At the start, I was in Alonso's slipstream and I thought I was safe in second place as I could not see anything in my mirrors, but then luckily, I realised that Felipe was coming alongside me very quickly, but I managed to stay ahead. Apart from that, my only moment was when I ran a bit wide in turn 6, before the first pit stop. I pushed too hard as I thought I could catch Fernando there. It's a very nice feeling winning my home grand prix. Unfortunately though, we have only made up two points on Fernando, but every point counts. I am also pleased for Felipe, getting his first F1 podium today and now I am looking forward to another good fight in Barcelona."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (2nd):
It was an interesting race for me this afternoon. I had a good start from the pole position, and controlled the pace during the first stint. The first stop went OK, but we came in a couple of laps earlier than the Ferraris on the second stop, and they had the speed to move ahead. After that, I just turned down the engine to look after it for next weekend in Barcelona. I think second place is a fantastic result from this race, though. Ferrari were a bit faster than us today, and while our tyre performance was OK, they certainly had more speed. However, I am optimistic we can turn that around in Barcelona, and I can't wait to race in front of my home fans.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (3rd):
"I am very happy. Today, I stood on the podium for the first time and it was a really great feeling. I am also happy that this coincided with a win for Michael, as it shows the team is really in the fight for the title. We have to give it our all, race after race. I made a great start to such an extent that I found myself alongside Michael, but as he had the inside line at turn 1, he was able to stay ahead. The strategy worked very well and the Bridgestone tyre performance was fantastic. Only in the final stages, when I had taken on a used set, was I unable to push to the maximum. I got close to Alonso, but I had Kimi (Raikkonen) closing on me quickly. There were a few difficult moments, but I managed to keep third place, while also trying to get by Fernando. Now, I am tempted to keep my race suit on: the champagne smells nice!"
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th):
"I was able to pass Rubens Barrichello at the start of the race but unfortunately Jenson Button was able to squeeze through at the first corner, then on the fourth lap I was able to overtake him before the chicane. Despite giving my all throughout the race it was not enough to get a podium. The overall performance of the car was not as I would have liked, however we are closer to the lead and there is a definite improvement from the last race. We now have to continue our hard work so that we can perform better at the
next grand prix in Barcelona."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (5th):
"Fifth is not what we were hoping for but at the end of the day we didn't have the pace. I was struggling with the balance of the car and it was just case of surviving and doing the best we could. Because of that I'm pleased that we at least have some points but we have to hope for better things for Barcelona."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th):
It was not an easy race for me. Starting from eleventh position, you always know that it will be hard to get through the field and you can spend a long time stuck behind slower competitors. That is what happened to me today. I only had one or two clear laps in the entire race, so it was hard to show my real pace, but we had a good strategy and managed to gain positions. The second pit-stop was a really nice point: I was very aggressive on the pit-entry because I knew it was my only chance to pass Villeneuve, then the team did another fantastic job with the pit-stops and got me out very quickly. I had a nice fight with Montoya in Turn 1 as well, it was not easy, but I managed to hold my position. At the end of the race, I was quicker than Barrichello but not by enough to overtake. Still, I have added more points to the total, and I hope we can have a smoother weekend in Spain in five days' time.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (7th):
Ultimately Ive got to be pleased with today. Two points starting from dead last and we were pretty quick in the race. Our strategy was just perfect. In the first stint I didnt feel as comfortable in the car but after the first pit-stop, we made some changes and all of a sudden it was working perfectly! I could attack and I was battling with Renault and McLaren. I even thought about passing Fisichella in the closing laps, but I didnt want to jeopardise my position. So over all, I am happy but in the future we of course would be better off starting races a bit further up!
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (8th):
Overall a good result for us. It was very close with Fisichella and was a good battle. With the car he had I thought he would overtake me, but he stayed behind until the second pit stop so that was good. Coming out of the pits each time with a high fuel load the car was hard to drive, but once we got the tyres used up the rhythm was good as the older the tyres were the better the car felt.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (9th):
"I had a good start, gaining one position and made it through the first corner without any instances. That was the first hurdle for me, to make it through the first lap without any problems. I was pushing the whole race, but was struggling with the balance and getting enough grip in the tyres. The team tried some different set-up adjustments, but I just did not seem to increase my pace until the last 10 laps. By then it was too late to make any impact on the race result. I think once the issue has been evaluated, we can say more about what happened. Right now, it is important that we keep working and keep improving on the car to set some good laps at the coming race."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (10th):
I made a super start and was able to make up four positions in the first corner. I then tried very hard but I couldn.t keep up with the pace of the drivers in front of me. I was struggling with the balance of the car, which is a problem I have had since the Imola race and I dont have a solution yet. We have to analyse this as a matter of urgency.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (11th):
I think our pace was even better today than at Imola. I think I was quicker than Heidfeld and the Toyotas. I think we need to sharpen up our pit stops - me and the team - as thats where we lost time today. But the race pace is great, the car was awesome and I had a good little battle with Heidfeld for a while.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (12th):
"This is the kind of race I really enjoy. From the beginning of the season, Christijan and I have never had a chance to compete against one another under normal race conditions, so this was the first time we got to mix it up. I think we had a pretty good rhythm compared to the others, especially at the beginning of the race. I got a good start and was able to pass a few cars in the beginning, so I took advantage of that and just pushed like hell from that point on. I got a good gap and after that it was just a matter of staying focused coming out of the pit stops. The car performed really well and stayed balanced throughout the race. I hardly needed to change my settings, so I have to thank my engineers and mechanics for that. The gap between us and the cars ahead is shrinking, and I think the tyres are improving, as well. Even though we were on a soft compound, there was still a lot of grip left at the end of the race. I'm glad we were able to perform well after a relatively shaky start to the weekend."
Christijan Albers, Midland (13th):
"I had a good start, so I was quite happy with that, because that's an area we struggled with in the first four races. And then when we arrived at the first corner, Coulthard and Liuzzi collided immediately in front of me, so I lost all my positions as I braked and swerved to avoid them. After I overtook Montagny, I found myself behind Tiago, who was being held up by Sato. Fortunately for my teammate, Sato made a little mistake and allowed Tiago to get by before too long, but he made things a little more difficult for me. Anyway, I managed to overtake him after a few laps, but by that time, Tiago had already run away. After that, the car was running quite well, I have to say, and I was able to catch up again. Toward the end of the race, however, I developed a mysterious vibration in the rear, so we'll have to analyse that. I think it was just bad luck that I couldn't finish higher this time, but I hope to do better in the next race."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (DNF):
"The first corner here is very tight and there was again a collision and I lost a bit of time. We made up for this with a long first stint which put me solidly into a point scoring 6th position after my first pit stop. The car felt strong and we were doing competitive times, but I was unlucky not to make it past Barrichello at the second pit stop. Unfortunately we had an engine failure in the closing stages of the race. Of course we are disappointed, because we were stronger in the race than expected. The whole weekend was a step forward and we will certainly make another small step in Barcelona."
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
"Not a great afternoon for me really. I didn't get the best start and lost quite a few places in the scrum at the first corner. After that it seemed that I was always stuck in traffic at points in the race where I really needed clean air to make any inroads if I was to benefit from the heavier fuel load I was carrying compared to my nearest competition. Unfortunately I had an engine failure six laps from the end of the race, which prevented me from scoring the final point."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (DNF):
It was a great race for me up until the last moment when I had to retire due to a hydraulic problem. It is a shame for the team who had worked so hard this weekend - I also really wanted to finish this race because we had been reliable for the first part of the season. The start was exciting for me as off the line was reasonably ok but I overtook quite a few cars at turn one, which was a good feeling. Unfortunately I then had a similar problem to the one I experienced on Saturday morning - the cars straight-line speed got increasingly slower over the first five laps and I lost a number of the places that I had made up. For the rest of the race the car was handling reasonably well so it is disappointing not to have crossed the finish line, but at least the next grand prix is only a few days away, so I am looking forward to getting back to work in Barcelona.
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (DNF):
It is disappointing not to have finished my first race with the team, but that is motor racing! The cars handling was not too bad and I was having quite a reasonable race up until I suffered with a hydraulic problem. I would like to thank Aguri Suzuki for giving me this opportunity. It has been a good weekend and I have enjoyed working with the team, so hopefully I will be back in an SAF1 Team racing seat again.
Jenson Button, Honda (DNF):
"A disappointing end to a fairly tough weekend really. I got a strong start and had a good tussle with Raikonnen through turns 1, 2 and 3 before I got ahead of him to take 4th. The car was inconsistent throughout the race. Some of it was down to the wind - it was quite gusty out there today - but the balance wasn't there and it was changing corner to corner. In my second stint it was starting to come good as the fuel came down and I would have been happy to finish 5th with a car I wasn't happy with and get four points. Instead, I had a big loss of power, the engine tightened and I lost drive so had to pull over.Let's hope for better things in Spain."
Christian Klien, Red Bull (DNF):
Its a shame. The cars pace had been strong this weekend and my lap times had been pretty quick. I retired from the race with a transmission problem.
Mark Webber, Williams (DNF):
It was going fantastically until what we think was a hydraulics problem meant that I lost all the controls. Id made up seven places and I was still carrying lots of fuel, enough to get me a long way into the race, so Im sure it would have been easy to score some points today. From here, if we fix the hydraulic problem, I am sure we will run near the front.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (DNF):
At the first corner, Ralf moved across and touched Tonio, who got knocked into the air and onto me. It was just one of those racing incidents. We were able to replace the cars nose, but then we had another issue, which was probably caused when I had contact with Tonio on the first lap.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (DNF):
A really good start and I got off the grid well, passing some cars, then I got hit from behind by Ralf (Schumacher) in the Toyota. I dont think he could stop and he hit me in the right rear tyre and then David (Coulthard) could not avoid hitting me. A shame as the car felt good and I was hoping for a strong race.