French Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 16 Jul 2006
Ferrari's front-row start was not quite enough to prevent Fernando Alonso giving Renault second place in their home Grand Prix. Further down the order there were dramatic spins for Tiago Monteiro and Mark Webber. They and the other drivers explain events at Magny-Cours...
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
A fantastic result, even if in all honesty it was unexpected. We did not know how the race would pan out, especially as we had not been able to do many long runs over the previous days. For these ten points, I have to thank the great guys in the team and our exceptional technical partners, starting with Bridgestone. The whole package - car, engine, tyres - was excellent today. I got a good start and from then on I could run my own race. Now we have to keep this momentum going. The championship is far from over and these two points we have made up on our main rivals are very important. I hope we can soon make up more ground.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (2nd):
That was a long, tough race for me but in the circumstances, a perfect result. We went into the race with two possibilities on the strategy, and once we saw that Ferrari would be three-stopping then we knew it would be hard to pass them on the track. So we chose to rely on the consistent tyre performance, and make two stops. The car balance was consistent all the way through the race, and I pushed hard to make sure I could get ahead of Felipe in the final part of the race. Given where I started on the grid, I think second is everything I could have hoped for because we knew that Michael was a bit quicker this weekend - like in Imola and the Nuburgring. Back then, everybody thought that Michael would win all the races after two wins in a row, and we responded very strongly. Hopefully, we can do the same at Hockenheim in two weeks time.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (3rd):
I think this was a very good result for us, although of course I would have liked to keep second place. I was on a three stop strategy and Fernando was switched to a two stop race and that meant I was not able to fight with him on the track. I also had a lot of traffic in my second and third stints and this effectively spoilt our three stop strategy and cost me second place. But overall, sixteen points in the bag means we make up a bit of ground on our rivals in both championships. The 248 F1 and the Bridgestone tyres worked better than I expected, possibly because of the extra rubber which gradually got put down on the track.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (4th):
"We can be very satisfied with what we achieved today. It's a pity that we had a problem with the wheel nut at the first pit stop because we could probably have made the podium but these things happen. It was also a pity that Jarno had his problem but apart from that it was a very good weekend. We expected the car to be competitive because that is the way it has looked ever since Friday practice. The race was good for us too - the car was quick and the Bridgestone tyres were very good too. Our tyres have had the edge all weekend and we made a very good choice aimed at this two-stop strategy for the race. Our package has improved at every race recently so we can now look forward to maintaining this kind of performance for the rest of the season."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th):
"A disappointing race as the car was handling really well. We were lacking the speed to win, but I lost a few tenths in the second pit-stop which cost me fourth place today, so we definitely could have done better today. The car is steadily improving and we have further developments at the next test so we now look forward to the next race at Hockenheim in two weeks time, where hopefully we will score better in front of the Mercedes-Benz home crowd."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th):
This wasnt a great race for me to be honest. The car was getting more and more difficult to drive during the race, with tyre graining in the second stint that meant I couldnt build a gap over Ralf and Kimi to stay ahead, and then a lot of problems under braking in the final part of the race as well. We need to have a look at what happened, but you have to take the positive part from the results. I finished in the points, I am still third in the championship after a tough weekend and we completed a second race on the C spec engine without any problems. I am optimistic for the next races, and confident we can regain our advantage.
Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (7th):
"The car had the speed today and felt really good to drive. I feel I really could have scored more points if I had not lost position to Mark Webber at the start of the race. This meant that I lost a lot of time in the opening stint trying to pass him and when I eventually got passed during the pit stop I was behind a lot of traffic on different strategies. As a result following the first round of stops I was over 20 seconds behind Ralf Schumacher, so it was very difficult for me to improve on my position. I really enjoyed the race and I am pleased to have scored some points for the team and be one of the fastest of the Michelin runners."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (8th):
My car was okay, I scored a point and more was not possible today. Unusually for me, my start was only average. I didnt gain any positions, but I didnt lose any either. On the first lap I overtook David Coulthard in the hairpin, and that was important, as at the finish he was only a few seconds behind me. All in all my race was trouble free and I rarely got stuck in traffic, although I was wrongly shown blue flags for Pedro de la Rosa.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (9th):
That was pretty much the worst result we could get, having started from ninth on the grid. Its very disappointing. Were just the vultures of the paddock at the moment, picking up points when other people fall out. I enjoyed driving this weekend, and you always learn something as a team. Were beginning to gel, as there have been a lot of new people, and I think were becoming one of the most organised teams in the pit lane. But that means nothing if youre not quick enough to score points.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (10th):
This was one of the toughest races I have ever driven, because I was in so much pain throughout the race. I had a really good first lap battle with Rubens, which was actually a lot of fun. It was cool an awesome fight! After the first pit stop, I was in so much pain it was difficult to concentrate. I went off the track at one point as I couldnt concentrate on driving, braking, adjusting the traction control and deal with the pain all at the same time. But our pace was okay, the car performed well as we had done a good job setting it up.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (11th):
The beginning was exciting and I had to overtake Rubens Barrichello, but after that it was quite a boring race. The car was very good. When I came in for the pit stops the tyres were good and then for a few laps I needed to run them in, but by the end of the runs they were quick again. It was the right choice, we thought it was a big risk but, as we expected, once the track rubbered in it worked well. The only problem was my qualifying result.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (12th):
I had a problem at the start; I lost revs and dropped about two or three places, which was really disappointing. The race was very difficult in such hot conditions. My rear tyres were going off and I couldnt drive in the slip-stream of other cars as my cars temperature went a little too high. At the end of the race, the car felt better and I was able to make up five or six seconds on the BMW, but overall its been a disappointing weekend. A shame we havent been able to get any points here.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (13th):
To say the obvious, being at the back is not the best way to start a race, especially at a track like this where there are not too many chances to overtake. I dont think having a V10 helped us. But the tyres and the car worked well.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (14th):
It was very hard for me today, first of all because I started from the back and then because the car was very difficult to drive. I was doing one qualifying lap after another, and I was on the limit all the time, but I just couldnt drive any quicker. We were struggling with the tyres, and I was also unlucky with the pit stops. When we decided to stop for the first time, Button also pitted just in front of me and I lost some time there. We showed some progress in qualifying yesterday so its a shame that the race went this way. I am now looking forward to Hockenheim, my home Grand Prix, in two weeks time.
Christijan Albers, Midland (15th):
"We had some problems after the first pit stop that prevented me from using the gearbox properly. I lost first gear and was having problems shifting into other gears, which made me lose a lot of performance. That was really unfortunate, because I think that until that point, our performance was quite good. I think that had this problem not occurred, I might have been able to overtake Rosberg, because I had the speed. Still, even with this problem, I wasn't losing too much ground. So we have to look into it to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (16th):
Well, from my point of view it's a good result because I finished the race. I had a good start and I could fight with the others. I cut the chicane only because I had been overtaken by Monteiro and I couldn't get into the chicane. So it was a good start in terms of being able to race with the other cars and after that I just tried to focus on the tyres and on the car and to give my maximum and see how it works. And we finished the race. The team and the engineers did a good job this weekend and I have to thank the Super Aguri and Aguri Suzuki for giving me the opportunity to race with them.
Jenson Button, Honda (DNF):
"With the package that we had this weekend, we were doing a decent job today and were definitely going better in the race than in qualifying. I was up to 11th and catching up with Scott Speed in front of me and I think we could have got him. I felt a loss of power as I came onto the back straight and as I was changing up through the gears, the power just went. We'll have to see the data later to find out exactly what the problem was. It's really frustrating because although we were struggling in the first stint, we were much better in the second and third stints after the pit stops. The car is feeling reasonable and the balance is there, it's just a lack of overall speed. That comes from engine power and downforce, and that's what we're lacking at the moment, along with reliability. It's massively frustrating, not just for me, but the whole team who have worked so hard this weekend."
Mark Webber, Williams (DNF):
Of course Im massively disappointed because we could have scored a point here today. I was trying hard to stay with the quicker guys but we had some heat issues with the inside edge of the tyre and then the aerodynamics were affected as a result of the damage. Were making it very hard work for ourselves at the moment, everyone is working so hard but we dont have anything to show for it.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
"That was a real pity because everything was running smoothly in the first stint. The car was quick and our Bridgestone tyres were great. Because I was on a two-stop strategy while everyone else was on three stops I was confident that I could have fought for the podium. Unfortunately after the first pit stop I felt a slight drop-off from the engine. Soon after that the brake pedal started getting longer and longer and it was too dangerous to continue so I had to come in. So again it was very unlucky and I'll add it to a long list of things that have happened this season. I've had some good races this year but points have been hard to find. But you can't blame the team because it is never the same problem twice. Our pace has been great all weekend so despite the difficulties we are definitely on the up. Step by step we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (DNF):
"It's difficult to know at the moment what the problem was but it looks like the engine because there was a lot of smoke and I lost all the power. We were hoping for a better pace in the race but the whole weekend has just not gone as planned which is very sad. I believe in this team and we will react to this. I am very concentrated and motivated, and I really believe that we will turn the corner. We have to keep our feet on the ground, keep our motivation high and keep working at it."
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (DNF):
"It's been a tough, tough weekend, to say the least. I've been fighting to find the right set-up for my car, and although we tried everything, it was one of those weekends where we just couldn't get the balance right. My engineers know me very well and we usually find solutions for these problems, but for some reason, we just couldn't sort it out this time. I guess that's racing, and sometimes it goes that way. Unfortunately, I got squeezed at the start of the race and got overtaken by two cars, so I was stuck behind Montagny for a few laps. I was fighting to overtake him, and then, suddenly, something happened at the rear of the car. I have no idea what it was, but the car snapped around completely at the entry to the first high-speed chicane and I went flying over the kerb very violently. That was the end of it. I lost hydraulic pressure and the car died. Now we have a test in Jerez, and we'll have to work hard to tune the set-up and get ready for Hockenheim."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (DNF):
Obviously I'd like to say big thanks to the SA05! The car has done a great job since the beginning of the season, but this was not the end to the weekend that we wanted. I had a clutch problem on the formation lap and so at the start I really struggled to pull away. When I finally moved everyone was already in the distance, but I rapidly caught up with the group on the straight and I overtook one Midland into the hairpin! But then I couldn't select the gears and there was nothing else I could do. It is a great shame for the boys who have worked so hard. We split the strategy between Franck and me and I should have had a really strong package. I am very pleased for the team and for Franck that he had a fantastic race today.