Monaco Grand Prix - selected team & driver quotes 24 May 2009
Giancarlo Fisichella on coming so close to scoring Force India's first points; Williams' Kazuki Nakajima on his late retirement; and Brawn GP's Jenson Button on his fifth win of the season. All 20 drivers and team personnel report back on Sunday's action...
Jenson Button (1st):
"Wow! Winning the Monaco Grand Prix is something that you dream about as a child and as a racing driver and the reality of taking that victory just feels awesome. To win in Monaco is truly a special feeling. With Rubens taking a superb second place, a one-two finish for the Brawn-Mercedes team in Monaco is fantastic. The race felt like it went on forever and you feel that the barriers are getting closer and closer as the end of the race approaches. But for the last couple of laps, I was able to relax and really enjoy the moment. It's been an unbelievable day, capped with my impromptu sprint down the pit straight to the podium. I can tell you it's a very long way! But it was amazing to get such a fantastic reception from the crowd and I hope the fans enjoyed what was a great race for the team. The car felt good today but we didn't have the best of starts to the weekend so it makes this victory even more of an achievement. For the team, for Mercedes-Benz and for my family who were here in Monaco watching the race this weekend, today has to be the high-point of what has been an exceptional season."
Rubens Barrichello (2nd):
"Another one-two for the team today is just amazing. I had a really good start on the option tyre and was able to get ahead of Kimi before the first corner which put me in a great position to challenge Jenson. I had tremendous pace but following so closely behind him affected the aero balance of my car and I suffered with massive graining on the rears which lost me a lot of time. We had a great strategy to recover and I came in earlier than planned to keep second place but by then Jenson was over ten seconds ahead. However it was a great race and I really enjoyed the challenge and the fight with Kimi. I'm still very much in the fight and collecting as many points as possible whilst pushing Jenson as hard as I can."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"Fantastic drives from Jenson and Rubens, outstanding pit stops from the team and the performance of our Mercedes-Benz engine secured an amazing one-two victory for Brawn GP here in Monaco today. Jenson gave himself the best possible chance of victory after achieving pole position with his flying lap yesterday and he was able to control the race from the front today. Bringing the car home in one piece after 78 laps is no easy feat in Monaco but Jenson was calm and assured throughout the race and drove with real finesse. Rubens had a great start to get ahead of Raikkonen and was showing excellent pace before his first set of rear tyres began to grain heavily as a result of following Jenson so closely. Unfortunately that compromised his chance of fighting it out with his team-mate but he did superbly well to keep Raikkonen at bay and bring home maximum points for the team's championship challenge. The Monaco Grand Prix is an incredibly special race and to win here means so much to everyone here at the track, at the factory in Brackley and at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth. Special congratulations to Mercedes-Benz for supplying an engine that has now won three Grands Prix, a modern day record in Formula One."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd):
I cant be happy with third place, as my aim is always to win, but all the same, this podium is very satisfying for the entire team after a very difficult start to the season. However, I am happy that we are back competing at the front again. Over the past few weeks we have made a real step forward in terms of performance and this result confirms it. We still have work to do to catch up with the best, but we are moving in the right direction. This weekend, if some details had worked out differently, the result could have been different Im thinking of missing out on pole by a whisker or of my second pit stop when I lost a few seconds. But overall, we have to be pleased.
Felipe Massa (4th):
I am very happy with todays performance. The car was very competitive: its clear we are on the way up and hopefully we can soon be back to fighting for the win. At the start, I lost a lot of time behind Vettel and then, because I made a mistake, I was also passed by Rosberg. But after that I quickly got back up the order and I think I could also have passed Kimi. In the three laps I had longer than him, at the second pit stop, I found myself right behind Button and so I wasnt able to exploit the opportunity. Starting on the hard tyres was the best choice: we still lack a bit of aerodynamic downforce to be up with the Brawns, but it is too early to claim to be the second best team in the championship. What is sure is that we are working well and I am sure we will see further results of that soon.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
The most important thing to come out of today is the confirmation that our car is back to being competitive, thanks to the great amount of work that everyone at the Scuderia, both back home and at the track, has put in over these past few weeks, without getting distracted by everything going on around us. It's not easy to work in these conditions and I want to thank everyone for what they are doing. Today, we got a third and a fourth place which, given the difficult start to our season, is a nice result, but its still not the one we want. Our aim is to be ahead of everyone and we will do all we can to achieve that as soon as possible. Of course the others wont remain idle but we must continue to push as we have done in these recent times.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
That was a very interesting race today. In the end, we are a bit disappointed, but thats a good sign, both because it shows how much we want to get back to being ahead of everyone and also because, when you begin to think you should have been able to do better than a third and fourth place finish, it means that you are back to being really competitive again. If we had not lost position at the start, probably we could have attacked Rubens, if we hadnt encountered a problem changing the right rear wheel at Kimis second pit stop. What is reassuring is the pace shown by the F60, especially in the second part of the race, when despite having more fuel than the leaders, we were always quicker. We are very happy with the performance of the car and we are confident we can improve it further with coming developments.
Mark Webber (5th):
Were pretty happy with fifth to be honest, to get a few points after a challenging qualifying session is pretty good. There were a few more people that came in on the act this weekend, so for us to still come away with a few points is good for us in the constructors championship. The guys worked like hell this weekend to fit a lot of new parts so it was important for us to get some points. At other venues well be stronger again.
Sebastian Vettel (DNF):
Not much to tell - I was braking maybe a little bit too late, locked the rears, lost the car and hit the wall. Of course we lost a lot of time already in the first stint, being on the soft tyres. We were confident that they would work for the first short stint, but they didn't. Of course its disappointing, but sometimes this happens. In Monaco, you make a little mistake and you pay the price.
Christian Horner, team principal:
A good drive from Mark today. He lost quite a bit of time in the first stint behind Kovalainen and thereafter managed to close in on the Ferraris - although unfortunately not quite enough to jump them at the final stop. Therefore fifth was the optimal finish he could achieve today. Sebastian was on an aggressive strategy from yesterday. Starting on the option tyres, they sustained high degradation almost immediately, which backed up a lot of the field. As a result we called his first pit stop reasonably early to get him onto the better tyre, but unfortunately a couple of laps later he went off at Ste. Devote. All the guys in the team have put in exceptional hours this weekend and four points for their efforts isnt really a just reward.
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer, Track Support:
A typical Monaco race, which was long and difficult. We took a gamble with Sebastians tyre choice and went for the super soft tyres at the beginning, but it didnt pay off. He then had an off, which ended his race. Mark had a very strong drive, but starting eighth he couldnt hope for a better result than fifth. He was very quick at the end, very competitive. So, it was a bad overall result here, but I think we have some positive things to take away from this weekend.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (6th):
"I've got to be happy with sixth place today, more just wasn't possible and we did the best we could have in the circumstances. It was a great start with lots going on, but I managed to come through and it set me up well for the early phase of the race. We then did a long middle stint on primes as we were worried about the durability of the option tyre, but they seemed to hold on much better than expected in the last stint, perhaps due to the amount of rubber down on the circuit by the end of the race. That said, I always enjoy racing here, it is a huge challenge that requires you to be inch perfect and it was very demanding out there."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (15th):
"The start and the initial part of the race was good for me, but ultimately it was frustrating as I always seemed to be picking up traffic out of the pitlane or responding to blue flags and then losing track position to the one-stoppers. In the final analysis the outcome was disappointing, I was on the option tyre and I was pushing perhaps too hard when I had my accident nearly at the finish, but at least I had a good feeling with the car today."
Sam Michael, Williams technical director:
"It was good to collect some points today and Nico drove well, unfortunately we were on a compromise strategy as a result of yesterday's qualifying, so it was always going to be quite difficult for Nico to beat the guys around him, but he did well to earn some points. It was difficult to progress Kazuki somewhere like Monaco where you can't overtake. The car was good in terms of pace around here and if we keep pushing the development, the performance will start to show through."
Fernando Alonso (7th):
It was a hard race and very tight from the beginning, but the car felt good and kept improving during the race. We had a good strategy but here in Monaco the starting position is essential and so starting ninth and gaining two places and two points is a satisfying result. My motivation and the motivation of the team remain very high. We have a lot of new things for the upcoming races and we are confident that the second part of the season should be better for us.
Nelson Piquet (DNF):
Im really disappointed to have been taken out of the race. I made a decent start and I was in good shape because I was running a long first stint and all the cars ahead of me were very close. Then I got hit from behind on the straight by Sebastien Buemi, which damaged the rear of my car and forced me to retire. Its really frustrating as I think I could have maybe scored some points today.
Flavio Briatore, Renault managing director:
Very disappointing for us today as we were not helped by the circumstances. Nelsons race was cut short by an accident where he was not to blame and Fernandos was spoiled by the traffic, which didnt work in our favour. Nevertheless, we know that Monaco is an atypical race. Its also some consolation that the car kept improving during the race and was matching the pace of our main competitors. We are working harder than ever and plan to introduce another step forward, starting at the next race in Turkey. We have shown we can react fast and hopefully the rest of the season will see us bring in serious points for the team.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
It was a long and tough afternoon, but Fernando pushed hard throughout the race and has come away with a couple of points. We had higher hopes for this race, but its encouraging that the cars pace was really improving throughout the race. Nelson was very unlucky to have been taken out in the early stages as he had made a good start and was running a promising strategy. Its a shame for him, but hell bounce back in Turkey.
Remi Taffin, Renault head of engine operations:
Despite finishing seventh, we are a bit disappointed. We actually thought that we would be able to do better. Our strategy did not unfold as we wanted it to and we were blocked by some slower cars. However, when Fernando was in clean air, the performance was there. Nelsons race ended prematurely with an accident which is a shame because I think he could have been competitive today. However, we will take these two points and hope to get a better result in Turkey.
Sebastien Bourdais (8th):
It feels good to score points here, at what can be considered my home grand prix as there is no French race. The team worked really hard today. I felt that, again, I hadnt done a good job in qualifying, so, I can be happy to finish P8, given the small number of incidents today. Its another point which is important: its not enough, but its better than nothing! The car performed consistently, especially on the prime tyre although the balance wasnt perfect. Then, on the options I tried to look after them as Id had trouble with them on Thursday. I managed the situation, as the car was moving more and I had some degradation. Once I got ahead of my direct rivals and there was no one within reach in front of me, I settled into a rhythm, concentrating on bringing the car home. I had several tricky moments, but thats what street racing is about. It was a fun race, with the satisfaction of scoring a point starting 14th. If I can improve in qualifying in the coming races, then maybe we can hope for more, starting in Istanbul.
Sebastien Buemi (DNF)
I didnt have a perfect start and I lost a position to Piquet, but it was not going too badly. Then I just tried to overtake him, as with Vettel slowing everyone down on the option tyre, I thought this might be my only chance to get back ahead of him. I was right up behind Piquet, in his slipstream and when I tried to pull out and make my move he went on the brakes and I could not get out from behind him, so I ended up pushing him all the way into the first corner. I am sorry about this and I went and apologized to him.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
After scoring points here last year, it seems that Monaco suits us, as once again the ball in the Roulette wheel fell in the Red. Buemis start wasnt bad, but he got passed by Piquet. Our car had the potential to be faster, but as usual at this track, you end up in the barriers if you dont have the discipline to wait a little bit. But, in Buemis defence, he did a really good job in qualifying and I see todays incident as another step in his learning process. I am really happy for Bourdais, who drove a fantastically good race, picking up a point that is very important for him and the team. This result is good for his self-confidence for the next few races. Well done to the strategy crew, led by Laurent Mekies. They changed the strategy a few times during the race and it turned out to be the correct choice.
Giancarlo Fisichella (9th):
Ninth position is a great result for the team. The pace was very good and consistent and I felt I was driving well, taking care of the tyres and putting in some fast laps at the same time. I just lost a position at the start and perhaps it was this that cost me the point in the end, but we have to be happy about today. It was a great step forward, to get two cars into Q2 and then to get within two seconds of a point. We need to keep pushing and be there all the time now.
Adrian Sutil (14th):
We had started on a one-stop strategy, which would have been OK but we used the supersoft tyre from the start and they grained up very quickly. I had to pit and lost a lot of time there. That was it really - it was hard to come back from this. In the end I was doing some quick laps and had quite a good pace, so there are some positives and we can be happy at some aspects. There is more to come from us for sure.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal:
This has been a very encouraging weekend all round. We got two cars into Q2 and finished within a whisker of the points; and all on merit. We've incremented our performance and raced it well this weekend, and we know we have more upgrades in the pipeline, which is a great motivating factor. I would like to say thank you to both drivers for keeping focussed and pushing so hard and to the entire team at the track and at the factory for keeping the momentum going. If we continue on the path we have now laid before us, I am certain we'll achieve the success we all deserve.
Timo Glock (10th):
"I have to say that finishing in the top 10 was a bit more than I expected at the start of the race considering how the weekend had gone up to then. We had good pace in the last stint but when you start from the pit lane in Monaco you cannot expect to score points. This weekend started badly and from then on we were playing catch up. At Monaco you want to start the weekend on a good basis and then adjust the car to the track as it evolves, but we had problems from the first practice. I am looking forward to Turkey and hope we can improve significantly."
Jarno Trulli (13th):
"It was a tough race for me, as we anticipated after the qualifying result. It was always going to be very difficult from where we were on the grid and my strategy didn't work out. I seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the traffic, which is obviously a real problem at this track. Whenever I was putting in a few good laps I had to slow down again because slower cars were in front and it is impossible to overtake. Now this difficult weekend is over we have to forget about it and focus on the next race when I am sure we will be much more competitive."
Tadashi Yamashina, Toyota team principal:
"Even though it has been a difficult weekend for us, and a disappointing race, the team and both drivers pushed as hard as possible and did a professional job. They never gave up even after such a frustrating qualifying result and that is a credit to them. We obviously have to look very carefully at what went wrong this weekend when we get back to Cologne. Everyone in the factory has worked really hard this season so I am sure we will be back where we belong in Turkey. We remain third in the constructors' championship so we must continue to fight hard and think positively."
Nick Heidfeld (11th):
I tried to make up positions at the start and on the first lap, but this time it just didnt work out. It is too narrow here. I was stuck behind Adrian (Sutil) for quite a while. Apparently he had problems with his tyres, and once I even touched the rear of his car. In turn one Lewis (Hamilton) hit me, but I was happy I was able to continue. I was on a one stop strategy, and with the softer compound on the second stint I had degradation. We gave everything today but we were too slow here.
Robert Kubica (DNF):
We had difficulties over the entire weekend. I had a problem at the start and fell to the back of the grid. Then I had a puncture on my rear right tyre. After the necessary pit stop I was lapping well with a very heavy car - taking the cars potential into account. In the end I had to retire as I had brake problems.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director:
A better result was not possible for us here this weekend. At no point was our car competitive. No points are the result. We have to improve our speed of development significantly in order to match our own expectations. Robert had a damaged tyre on lap two and later on suffered from brake problems, which caused him to retire. Nick was the first driver to change to the softer tyre compound after a long first stint. Nobody else was on Option tyres for such a long period, and they degraded dramatically before recovering a little towards the end of the race.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
After the free practice and qualifying sessions it was clear that todays race would be difficult. Nicks race ran without any special incidents. In the closing laps he was able to defend his position against Lewis (Hamilton) with worn out soft tyres. Robert had a flat tyre early in the race. Surprisingly, he was then able to do good lap times with a very heavy car. We had to bring his car back to the pits early due to a brake problem. Overall, this was a disappointing weekend. It is now our goal to be competitive again in Istanbul. A lot of work lies ahead of us."
Lewis Hamilton (12th):
It was an extremely tough race. I raced my heart out and feel satisfied with my performance today. I damaged a footplate on my front wing quite early on when I clipped one of the BMWs going into Ste Devote. It meant I had a lot of understeer throughout the race - putting a new wing on made it a bit better but it wasnt enough. In the closing laps, my tyres were going off just as much as Nicks and it was a bit too dangerous to attempt a pass. I was thinking about one of the Rocky films - in the first film, Rocky says, I just want to see the end of the fight and I got to the flag, pushing as hard as I could throughout the race. Congratulations to Jenson and everyone at the Brawn GP team - theyre clearly doing a fantastic job this year.
Heikki Kovalainen (DNF):
A disappointing outcome to my weekend after some real promise. During my first stint, I had a little difficulty making my tyres work properly. Nevertheless, I was able to get past Sebastian Vettel. My second set was much better and I was just waiting for Nicos pitstop to have chance to pass him, unfortunately I didnt get that far. I hit the kerb at the fast chicane and the cars rear stepped out. I couldnt catch it and hit the guardrails. It was my fault and I want to say sorry to my team - who have worked so hard to provide me with a competitive car. Well keep pushing, developing the car and continuing with the catching-up process.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
To leave Monaco without having scored world championship points is clearly disappointing, especially since our car was very competitive here: our pace in both sessions on Thursday, and on Saturday morning, demonstrated that very clearly. Even so, after Lewis's troubled qualifying, there was little he could do from the back of the grid today - Monaco is a notoriously difficult circuit on which to overtake, even with a decent performance advantage over the cars ahead. Nonetheless, Lewis drove very hard all afternoon, which is typical of his never-give-up attitude. As for Heikki, he was driving a strong race that would have netted him a very welcome points finish, when he entered the Swimming Pool just a little too fast, unloaded his car's rear-end and couldn't quite catch it. But that's Monaco: when you're pushing hard, it's very unforgiving, as Lewis also showed yesterday. Overall, then, the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix was a race that could and should have gone a lot better for us - but the reality is that both our cars showed genuine pace so there are also plenty of positives for us to take forward from here."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Lewiss chances for the race were greatly affected by him hitting the guardrails during Q1 yesterday. What could have been possible with a good starting place close to the front of the grid was shown from Lewis in the last third of the race when he was without traffic posting competitive lap times until he got stuck behind a slower car in the closing laps. Heikki crashed after two thirds of the race at the Swimming Pool section - his speed in seventh place before had been good and was promising a better result. We need to quickly put this race behind us and concentrate on further improvements for the car before the next grand prix in Turkey. My sincere congratulations to Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team for winning this prestigious race today - he has now won the last three grands prix on the same engine, a new record in modern Formula One.