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Italian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 10 Sep 2006

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2006 Tiago Monteiro (POR) MF1 Racing M16.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2006 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2006 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2006

Sunday's race was momentous, not least for retiring race winner Michael Schumacher and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, who experienced his first taste of the podium. In all 17 drivers finished the Italian Grand Prix. Here they and the five retirees report on the action.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
“A marvellous win in front of our fans. Being on the podium alongside Jean was an indescribable feeling. From up there, we could see a sea of fans and you could feel the love they have for Ferrari. Super! If I had had to talk about my decision at that moment, I would not have managed to get the words out of my mouth….The race was relatively straightforward. We were hoping that Kimi would pit before us and he did. Everything went according to plan with no particular worries. The most emotional moment was the final lap. After the chequered flag I came on the radio and told all my friends in the team what I was about to announce and it was really difficult to keep my emotions under control. This win is very important in terms of both titles. We have taken the lead in the Constructors’ and as for the Drivers’, we are no longer dependent on our rivals’ performance.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
“I’m happy with my second place here in Monza. All in all this was a good weekend for us, and the team has done a fantastic job. We have improved our starting system, which helped me a lot on the run to the first corner. I was controlling the race until my first pit stop but the fact that Michael was able to stay out for one more lap than me eventually decided the outcome of the race.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (3rd):
“Before the race some guys from the team came to me and told me they would like to see me on the podium, I thought it was a joke and now we are here. This time we knew we had good tyres, not only for qualifying but also for the race, unlike in Istanbul. When we got easily into qualifying three we also knew we had quite a consistent car for the race. I had a good start, but unfortunately locked the front wheels in the first corner, had flat spots and the first stint was quite difficult as I had a vibration. It was always a tough race as I had to fight with Massa and Alonso. Lapping the guys did not help as I was the first one of the group to lap them and I always lost one second. I came out of the second pit stop side by side with Alonso. Then his engine blew up and it was really risky as there was oil, Massa went off and I think had a puncture. The end of the race was quite easy for me and I just had to bring the car home. I now have the first podium of my life in Formula One. I want to thank the team for giving me this opportunity. We all are very, very proud.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (4th):
“This wasn't an easy race by any means, starting from ninth position and running with a heavy fuel load for long parts of the race. But the Michelin tyres were extremely consistent, the car balance was good and I managed to make up five positions. Obviously, this has been a tough day for the team, with Fernando retiring and Renault losing the lead of the championship. On a personal level, I have made up ground on Massa for third in the drivers' title, and the encouraging thing is that our performance was very strong at this circuit. We have a small deficit in the constructors' championship, but will keep on fighting to the end. The team will be doing everything to win both titles.”

Jenson Button, Honda (5th):
"This is a good team result although we were looking for more from today. The balance wasn't anywhere near as good as we'd hoped for. We made some adjustments at the first stop but we were still not as quick as we needed to be. I think we can feel reasonably pleased with this result at the end of a challenging weekend."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (6th):
"I suffered a little bit at the start because I was quite heavy with fuel. Unfortunately since the start of the weekend we didn't have good straight line speed which is why Fisichella was able to pass me quite easily. From there on I was struggling with rear grip and I was really just 'surviving'. When you consider where we started from after the problems on Friday I think this is a good result for the team, getting two cars into the points once again."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th):
"That really was the maximum we could have achieved today so I will go away happy tonight. I made a reasonable start and just made sure to avoid any kind of accident on the first lap, and from then on I had a pretty good race. It all went pretty smoothly, especially considering that I had Barrichello in front of me on the first stint slowing me down. Otherwise I could have gone slightly better but nevertheless the car's balance felt good throughout the race. It was also a trouble-free race for me so thanks to the team and everybody involved for the good job they have done this week and at last week's test. Now I look forward to the last three races which I believe will suit our car better."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (8th):
“It is a fantastic result for our team. Yesterday I was third in qualifying and today Robert is third in the race. Over the last few Grand Prix we have made real improvements and I hope we can keep up this momentum for the overseas races. Of course, I am not too happy with my own result today. I had a superb start. I was ahead of Michael when we entered the first corner. He came alongside me and I had to move onto the dirt, but the manoeuvre was okay. I got a lot of dirt on the tyres and this was my handicap for the whole of the first lap. Later the pace was good, but then I got the drive through penalty. Towards the end of the race I was faster than Trulli, but couldn’t attack. I had an opportunity in turn one, but Alonso’s engine oil was on the line I would use for this.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (9th):
“To lead the Constructors’ championship is fantastic. I am very happy for the whole team and also for Michael, who deserved this win and it’s great that he took this victory on a day that is so special for him. Michael is an amazing guy and I am honoured to have had the opportunity to race alongside him. He is an example to us all. Now we must try and reach the targets that we want so much. Right from yesterday’s qualifying it was clear this was not going to be my weekend. Today, I was always in traffic, never able to use all the car’s potential on a track which, while very quick is definitely not easy to overtake on. Then, when it seemed like I could bring home a good fourth place, I flat-spotted my right front tyre when I had to brake on the oil from Alonso’s Renault. It was too bad to continue and so I was forced to pit to change tyres, losing any chance of a points finish. Now there are three races to go, in which we will do all we can. I can tackle them with the added motivation of helping Michael and the team win both championships. As for me, I am proud to have the opportunity to be racing with this great team for the next two years.”

Mark Webber, Williams (10th):
“I got a reasonable start and did some of my passing work in the first chicane, some in the second. Early on the first stint I had a good fight with one of the Red Bulls and I managed to get past. Then I tried to stay with Trulli as I expected him to be on a one-stop strategy too, but I couldn’t hold the pace because the rear of the car felt quite loose, so I consolidated my position to get the car to the finish.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (11th):
“It was a difficult race as we were on a one stop strategy and had a very heavy car at the start. I was too slow on the straights to be able to overtake anyone so had to follow the others, but actually the strategy worked well. I stayed out for a long time and overtook a couple of people at the pit stop. Finishing 11th from 16th is not too bad and I don’t think there was much more we could have done in this race, so I’m pleased with my performance.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (12th):
“Very little to say other than disappointing. Regarding Michael’s retirement - it was a fitting way for him to announce it with a victory. Irrespective of whether people are believers in Michael’s race ethics or not, you have to recognise he’s been a great champion and it’s the end of an era.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (13th):
"I had a good race, fighting with David and Ralf and I was able to keep ahead of them at first. But then I was really unlucky in the pit stop as I had to let the leaders go by as soon as I came out of pit lane and David made up all the ground I had over him in the first stint. But it was an okay race all in all."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (14th):
"I had a problem at the start and so I lost a lot of ground on the first lap. The car performed well today and I was happy with its handling, but in terms of power I would be on the rev limiter going down the straight so I could not pass anyone. As I tried to pass David, he squeezed me towards the wall and we made contact, after which I had a lot of understeer. I was still quick though and I was catching Ralf and Scott but there was no way I was going to be able to pass them."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (15th):
"We were always going to face a difficult afternoon today starting from so far down the grid and that was the way it proved. I have struggled for balance throughout the weekend and that continued throughout the race. I found myself in traffic and we just didn't have enough speed to overtake down the straights. So all in all it's been a difficult event for me. Luckily Jarno scored a couple of points so well done to him. We have had a fast car in the last few races and we expect to improve our performance at the coming races. Of course I would also like to mention Michael's decision to retire. I am sure he has thought long and hard about his decision and I respect it. I've enjoyed racing with him and I wish him all the best both for the championship and for the future."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (16th):
“It was a hard race for us. We had a hydraulic problem on the way to the grid so I had to abort the lap, come back to the pit, change into the T-car and start from the pit lane. We were carrying fuel for a one-stop strategy and everything seemed okay at first and I just tried to catch-up with the group up and overtake the cars infront. We had good pace and it looked like we had a strong package - it was encouraging to catch the Midlands’ gradually. But I started to struggle with a chassis related problem and after about 20 laps you can see that my lap time fell two seconds off the pace immediately. I did all I could just to stay on the circuit, come back to the pit and do the tyre change, but I realised that I must have a serious problem. After the race we could see that the floor had delaminated, so I lost a huge amount of downforce. It is a shame, again, that we couldn't show the full potential of the SA06, but I think everybody has worked hard and obviously we have got to solve these problems. During the next two weeks we go to the Silverstone test which is incredibly important for us for the last three races and so I believe that we can improve the car there.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (17th):
"We finished the race but it 's not a good result, and that's a shame because it was our first one with the Spyker name. First I had a flat tyre, which pretty much killed my race, and then two laps later, I developed a problem with my transmission. We know what the problem is, though, so hopefully we'll be able to solve it once and for all. It's disappointing because the pace was there and I was able to compete for positions, which is similar to the situation at the last race in Turkey, where our performance was quite good. One thing I know for sure is that we'll come back fighting in China."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (DNF):
"Obviously, that's not the result we were after but I must say, the car was going quite well. In fact, once the tyres warmed up and we were able to burn off some fuel, I was catching up to the group ahead of me, so that really motivated me. The only weakness, I would say, was that we were losing ground on the straights, and this is something we will have to work hard to improve. Unfortunately, after my first pit stop, I developed a serious brake problem that would crop up randomly. It was causing the car to behave quite erratically, which is dangerous at a high-speed circuit like Monza. There were a couple of other issues that compounded my problems, and eventually I just had to retire because the car was becoming too unstable. But I'm encouraged by the fact that we were catching the cars ahead before these problems occurred, which proves that we are improving. At this time, I'd also like to thank Mr Shnaider for all his support, and for giving me the opportunity to get my start in F1. I'd also like to welcome our new owners, and look forward to making more progress under the Spyker banner."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
“There is not too much to say on a day like this. When you start from tenth, you have to push everything to the limit - yourself, the car, the tyres and the engine. I was going to easily finish on the podium today, and we showed that without the penalty, the car had the pace to fight for the victory. Michelin have shown a great response with the tyres for this race, and I am not worried about the title. We have three rounds to go, and we will be getting stronger and stronger with new developments for the car, the tyres and the engine. But the verdict on this weekend is simple: the race was decided off the track on Saturday afternoon.”

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (DNF):
"I lost a place at the start to slot into eighth. After that I was stuck behind cars, so I never really found out how quick I could have been. My first pit stop went as planned. We put a lot of fuel in the car to ensure a long second stint which was aimed to get me in clean air at the end. However all of sudden the engine failed, I had to stop the car and that was the end of the race for me. It is a pity as our package was very competitive today."

Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (DNF):
“We had a good start and good pace. After a couple of laps we realised that we had a problem with the car that we fixed quite quickly. But in the end we had a hydraulic problem which forced me to retire from the race, which is a shame, so at the Silverstone test in a couple of weeks I want to improve the car for the next races in China and Japan.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (DNF):
“One of the driveshafts was damaged at the second chicane. It’s unfortunate because we have been running through that chicane for three test days last week and the whole Grand Prix weekend and nothing untoward happened. My weekend had been pretty good up until my retirement, so it makes it more difficult to accept a DNF. We need to take some big steps to improve our performance, but we can do this by working together as a team and I think we’ll get there very soon.”