Spanish Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 14 May 2006
A perfect end to a perfect weekend for Fernando Alonso and his Spanish fans, but were his rivals quite as happy? Heres the verdict - in their own words
Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st):
This has been a day of so many emotions for me, and I think I will remember every moment. The first highlight was my drive with the King around the circuit in a Renault Megane this morning, then the start, the first laps when I could see we had the pace, around the pit-stops with the crowd jumping in the stands when Michael came out behind me, the final laps with so much emotion in the car. And finally the in-lap, soaking up the amazing atmosphere made by these brilliant supporters, my people. The R26 was perfect today - we only made one small change for the balance, but I could push all the way through the race. I didn't get a good start and Fisico reacted better than me, but after that, everything was perfect. I expected Ferrari to be stronger in the race, but today, I think we got the maximum from the Renault-Michelin package. Thank you to everybody at the team, this is another dream come true.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd):
"The race result was decided in the first stint, as Fernando was able to pull out quite a gap, because I simply did not have the pace to stay with him. I was not held up by Giancarlo (Fisichella). After the lap times we had done earlier in the weekend, this was surprising, but we have seen before that in Barcelona, very small things can change your performance quite quickly. It seems that today, this had a negative effect on us and a positive one on Renault. Eight points is still good and I could say that while I was disappointed to have only won two points last Sunday, here I can be happy to have only lost two. There is still a long way to go and we will keep on fighting to try and win."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (3rd):
We arrived in Spain looking to get on the podium and we did exactly that, even though Ferrari were strong this weekend. I got a fantastic start and things were close with Fernando into the first corner, but he had the advantage and I let him go. After that, the balance of the car was not perfect, and so even though I was pulling away from Michael in the stint, it was not enough to stay ahead at the stops. We made some changes to give less oversteer and so when I came out behind him, I was pushing hard, and made a small mistake which put me in the gravel at Turn 3. But I didn't lose a position, and then just pushed hard to keep Massa behind in the second stops. We had a good pace in that stint, and I kept third quite easily, then looked after everything to the finish. This was a good race for me, and a strong way to bounce back from the last races. I am very optimistic for Monaco, one of my favourite circuits.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th):
"The car worked well and our pace was what we expected, but today, our rivals were simply a bit quicker than us! I had some traffic in a few crucial phases of the race and that's one of the reasons I could not close on Giancarlo (Fisichella) to try and get past him in the run of pit stops. Overall, we have picked up some important points for the championship."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th):
"A rather uneventful race for me. I made a good start where I managed to get up from ninth to fifth and that was all the progress I was able to make. It was simply not possible to keep up with the Renaults and the Ferraris this weekend and we will spend the time before the Monaco Grand Prix looking at ways to improve."
Jenson Button, Honda (6th):
"The car worked well and it was pretty much a faultless race, although I was behind Rubens in the first stint and Raikkonen was able to pull away. As soon as I had clear air the car worked very well and the balance was good - probably the best it has been since Malaysia. I was quite happy, reeling in Raikkonen every lap by a tenth or two tenths but it would have been a closer fight had I not been hampered by problems that stemmed from yesterday's qualifying. I'm looking forward to Monaco and testing at Vallelunga next week in preparation for that race."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (7th):
"It was a tough race but two cars in the points is not a bad result considering the strength of the competition. I lost a place off the start and then lost a bit of time because of some fuel pressure problems on my in-lap. After that, things ran pretty much according to plan, apart from a vibration in the last stint, which again lost me some time. Now we have to focus on improving for Monaco because it's a track where we can be strong."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (8th):
I am very happy. The goals we set for ourselves were to be in the top ten in qualifying and in the points in the race, and we achieved both of these. For me it is very important to be back to normal again. The steps we have taken are working and obviously we found what the problems were from Imola and the Nurburgring. My start wasnt good, but I was able to defend tenth and the balance of the car was okay for the entire race distance. It was important to overtake Rubens Barrichello. At this point in the race his car was heavy and mine was light. If he had held me off I would not have made it into the points, but I overtook him on the outside in turn one, which is always fun.
Mark Webber, Williams (9th):
Our strategy today was similar to a lot of other people but we werent quick enough here. Barcelona has been a tough venue for us all winter as well as the build up to this event and the race itself has been no different. Finishing one lap down isnt good, but everyone at Williams will be looking for a much more promising showing in Monte Carlo.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (10th):
"Early on when Ralf and I were racing we were on similar strategies. But I was on old tyres and suffering from graining and he was quicker. When he made the move on me I just took my usual driving line. I didn't deliberately close the door and I didn't do anything unusual. I didn't even feel the collision and the first time I noticed that we had touched was when Ralf disappeared from my mirrors. No one was to blame, it just goes down as a racing incident. Toyota allows its drivers to race on equal footing but I'm really sorry because he is my team-mate and no one wants to have any problems inside the team. So I hope we can clarify the situation and I'm sure we will. I suffered no damage and my second stint was much more competitive but the problems returned on the last stint. So we have to analyse the data to see what happened. Then I will need to do a lot more work to set this car up for my driving style."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (11th):
Formula One is different to GP2 where you could always have a fight where-ever you were in the race and quite often you might earn some points. But in Formula One it is different and sometimes you have races where you dont get any points, like today. The race didnt go too badly in overall terms as I improved from 13th on the grid to 11th at the finish. Unfortunately, there was a mistake in my second stop, so I fell behind Trulli, which cost time in the final stint. I couldnt get by him despite trying. I also had my first experience of being lapped in my career today and it is not a pleasant feeling! However, the positive thing is that both Mark and I finished the race and now I am looking forward to Monaco, where we will have a fresh engine and where we should be strong. I was third there last year in GP2, and this is a good omen for me.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (12th):
I had a good start, but the two Super Aguris had amazing starts and then there were cars in front and there was nowhere to go. It was a question of braking late. I was next to David Coulthard, but then he pushed me wide a little bit, which was fair. Then I lost six seconds in the first two or three laps, and that was it. We could not do too much today, the best I think we could have hoped for was tenth without the start difficulties. Our pace was good in the race, and we have a lot of mileage left on our engine for Monaco, so we can do a lot of laps and we should be quick there.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (13th):
My start was not so good and I lost two places to the Toro Rosso guys. I was behind Tonio (Liuzzi) but, as the overall pace of the car was actually not too bad, I was able to overtake him and get closer to Rosberg. After my first stop it was more difficult to keep the same pace, as there were so many blue flags and I lost the gap between myself and Rosberg. But, at least we finished the race with both cars, thats a good thing.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (14th):
That was a bit of a long, lonely race. I had a problem with the brakes when driving to the grid and locked up about three or four times. That wasnt very confidence inspiring and I wasnt able to attack the corners for the entire race. For me, not a very good 200th grand prix.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (15th):
I think it was a mistake to start the race on used tyres, as we could not match the others on pace. The second stint was a lot better and I made up some positions after the pit stops. Our pace was good and the car was handling well, but on the last lap I had to stop with a hydraulic problem with the steering. Its shit to go 65 laps in a 66 lap race.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (16th):
"We're finishing stronger and stronger, so that's a very positive point for us. Perhaps it wasn't very apparent today, but we had a very good car, and again, I have to thank my team, because they did a great job. I really enjoyed my car throughout the race. It's just too bad that Montagny tapped me from behind and spun me off early in the race, because it destroyed my race strategy, unfortunately."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (17th):
It was good to finish a race again - our first since we have come back to Europe. I had a difficult start; I was side-by-side with Monteiro when he forced me to run wide in the dirt and I lost a lot of momentum. Into turn one I regained position under braking and overtook a few cars, but by turn three, because the tyres were covered in dust and in a bad condition, I lost it into turn four. After that I was struggling with oversteer and I was just following the car in front when I lost it again. After we made an adjustment at the first pitstop the car felt much better and I was able to do a good run for the rest of the race.
Christijan Albers, Midland (DNF):
"We came into this race knowing that we didn't have the top speed to be competitive. My problem today was that I was gaining time in the corners but losing it all on the straights. To make matters worse, my front wing broke and destroyed some other parts, which made the car undriveable. The car was just becoming too difficult to control. But we are planning to change my chassis for Monaco and we will both have fresh engines, so hopefully that will help."
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (DNF):
My engine started to let go halfway through the second stint, which is a shame because I think I had an awesome start. I made an aggressive move on Rosberg and it paid off and I was running eleventh. So I thought maybe a point could have been possible. Well come back strong in Monaco.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (DNF):
"At Toyota we go to the grid as racing drivers and in a race we are allowed to overtake each other. So that means that sometimes things like this can happen.
Today I was following Jarno closely during the first stint and I tried to pass him on the entry to the first corner on lap 16. It was normal racing but we touched this time. It wasn't a heavy impact but unfortunately I lost my front wing when I hit his tyres so I had to pit for a replacement. That left me well down the field and I then suffered an electronic problem, which led to my retirement. All in all it was a day to forget. But at least we were quick in qualifying so we have to look to return to the points in Monaco."
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
"I made a dreadful start off the line and lost three or four places but managed to gain some ground again in the first corner to end up 11th. Then I don't know quite what happened but I lost the car and got stuck on the kerb and that was it. The strategy we were running meant that I carried a lot of fuel and I think with the ways things were looking we could have scored some points today. Overall a difficult weekend for us but we will continue testing this week and then look forward to the Monaco Grand Prix.".
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (DNF):
Obviously it is bad that we did not finish the race and stopped after 10 laps, but I made quite a good start and I could overtake Taku and the two Midlands so it is getting better. We had a little bit of fighting after one or two laps and after that I had a little bit of space and my lap time was ok. I am quite happy because after three days we have finally found a good set-up for the car. We still have to work on the new tyres and gearbox because it appears that we need to focus a little bit more on the details and if we do that I think that it will get better and better. We have something positive to take away from this weekend and for me it was a good feeling to be in front of my team-mate for a few laps!