MARCH 9, 2003
AUSTRALIAN GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Coulthard wins action packed Australian GP
David Coulthard won the Australian GP at Melbourne in his McLaren-Mercedes in an event filled race, the 13th win of his career. Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was second in a Williams-BMW, losing his chance at victory by spinning while in the lead 11 laps from the finish.
Coulthard's teammate Kimi Raikkonen was third, after starting in the pitlane to take advantage of a one stop strategy, but a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits cost the Finn a chance at the win.
World Champion Michael Schumacher, who won the previous three Australian GP's, was fourth in his Ferrari - the first time a Ferrari driver was not on the podium since 1999. He was leading 12 laps from the end when stewards ordered him into the pits after an aerodynamic 'barge board' broke off of his Ferrari and was caught underneath the car. The pitstop delayed the German, but it was questionable whether Schumacher would have been able to finish the race without another stop for fuel.
It was also the first time Schumacher had failed to finish on the podium for 20 races - since the Italian GP in 2001.
Fifth was Jarno Trulli in a Renault, sixth was the Sauber-Petronas of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, seventh was Trulli's teammate Fernando Alonso, and rounding out the points paying position was Germany's Ralf Schumacher in a Williams-BMW.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - 09/03/2003
1. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h34m42.124s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h34m50.799s (+ 8.675s)
3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h34m51.316s (+ 9.192s)
Question: A chaotic race, but a fairly straightforward one for you David. Can you talk us through your strategy?
David COULTHARD: Well, I felt from the installation lap to the grid that it was too wet around the back to start in slicks but it was apparent when we did the warm-up lap that it was going to be touch and go, so I informed the team I would be coming in early to make a stop. Obviously without safety cars that would have put us in a very difficult position but the way the race played out today we were able to pick a good strategy between our stops and we were fortunate enough to keep away from penalties and keep it on the island.
Q: A difficult qualifying session for you, but won the race nonetheless and a great result from McLaren, first in the podium like this. What is your feeling about the performance of the car this weekend?
DC: I think qualifying positions aside, we certainly believe ourselves to be as competitive as the Williams, if not the Ferrari at this time, but we're obviously placing some hope in the new car when it comes out for probably about the fifth or sixth race of the season, that that will be able to bridge the gap to Ferrari. We know through our normal racing season that it isn't always going to work for them and maybe the Michelin will give us an advantage in Malaysia.
Q: Juan Pablo, great tyre choice on the grid on to dry tyres and then two incidents with the safety car. Talk us through all that?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think it was a pretty disastrous race. We took the right tyres, I had a 16-second lead, and everything was going my way. Then the safety car, then we went again, I had like 10 or something like that second lead and safety car again, so I pretty much got screwed twice. Even like that, after the second pit stop I hadthe lead and, I don't know, I went into turn one and picked up the throttle, the car turned ends on me, so just my fault.
Q: In that second pit stop, you didn't change tyres, it looked as if you hit the lollipop as you left as well. Was the not changing of tyres in any way a factor in the spin?
JPM: Probably yes and no, because the previous run on new tyres the pattern was a disaster and on old tyres I had a much better balance, I was more competitive, so I decided not to change tyres and I thought it was the right thing to do. And I still think it was the right thing to do; I would have been even less competitive if I would have changed tyres. So it was just, basically shit happens.
Q: And a lot of pressure right at the end there from Kimi and Michael.
JPM: Yes: with David I thought I've got two and a half seconds, he's a bit quicker than me but nearly impossible to pass so as long as I keep a decent pace I should be all right. And I went into turn one, picked up the throttle and I just got sideways when I picked up the throttle, and that was it really; there's nothing to it.
Q: Kimi, you decided even earlier to switch to dry tyres. Talk us through that decision?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: We weren't really sure on the warm-up lap that it was dry enough for dry tyres but then before we came on the starting grid I decided, with the team we decided, to come in and change to dry tyres and put enough fuel for one stop and it was a good decision. But, unfortunately, it didn't really work out so well. I got tried for a penalty on speeding on a pit lane but that cost quite many places.
Q: But you had a brilliant race with Michael Schumacher. Let's talk about that. That incident at the end of the straight as well, he was alongside you there and he was on the grass as he came out.
KR: Yeah, I think so, the first corner is a bit too tight for two cars and someone needs to give up and it was this time him. It was a good race against him. Maybe he was a little bit quicker than us but not much.
Q: Did you know at that point when you were racing with Michael there that you were under investigation for that speeding infringement?
KR: No, it came quite late because I did the exact same thing with the pit lane speed as the time before when I had this drive through penalty and I didn't even notice that I was speeding but I guess there is some guys who noticed.
Q: How was it racing with Michael, would you describe it as clean racing?
KR: Yeah. It was quite difficult: the first part of the lap was quite easy to keep him behind but then always in the first corner he seems to always get quite good exit in the last corner and I had some difficulties a couple of times but it was quite good.
Q: Great viewing on television. Back to you, David. So many changes this weekend and so many variables in this race. Quite difficult to draw conclusions, I would think, for the season and the immediate races?
DC: Yes, I think, from a team point of view, we should just enjoy our first and third place. The circumstances enable us to get that on this day in history so we can be satisfied. But certainly there is still work to be done to be as competitive as Ferrari and we're fully focused on trying to understand the new rules and make sure we get our qualifying right next time.
Q: Well done, congratulations. Great stuff. No better way to start the championship is there?
DC: Absolutely not. In stark contrast to how we felt yesterday afternoon. It's a great result and obviously I am extremely happy for the team knowing that maybe we are not quite as competitive on outright speed as Ferrari, but in races like that, where there is an element of good fortune, and also where there are decisions to be made on strategy, then we can feel quite satisfied.
Q: And from 11th on the grid that was amazing stuff ?
DC: Well I didn't actually overtake many people out on the track but we can gloss over that It was tricky conditions and I thought I had made the wrong decision initially well I did with the wet tyre at the start so I pitted quite early for my slicks the way the safety car was brought out which you have to expect here based on the last four years that you are getting one safety car here. It was a surprise to get two, but not to get one. We were able to mjake good decisions thereafter and as you saw a lot of people got caught thereafter and so I was trying to drive within myself and having made a difficult job of qualifying I didn't want to do the same to the race.
Q: So was your basic strategy one stop, then?
DC: I ended up pitting twice and took on some fuel at both stops.
Q: But otherwise no major moments or dramas?
DC: It's difficult to complain when you win the race. It's never going to be easy in those conditions otherwise people wouldn't be caught out so you've got to be satisfied to come here and pick up ten points. I am extremely happy of course.
Q: Juan Pablo what was it like on dry tyres during the first couple of laps?
JPM: It was pretty interesting. The car was going all over the place. Actually it was quite difficult to stay on the track. I was quite disappointed that the only time I went off the track was with ten laps to go. But that's racing, you know, and you can't do anything about it. But my car was really good. It was good yesterday in qualifying and it was good today in the race and I had a good balance all the way through. Probably between the end of sector one and the beginning of sector two was the worst bit underneath the trees. You know, on full wets, your feel yourself sliding from one place to the other?.and, on the first lap, actually, I nearly put it in the wall.
Q: And quite a lot of pressure at the end?
JPM: From Kimi, it was quite a lot?.You know, on every lap before, you know, I was able to carry my speed and I wasn't even sideways or anything, but when I picked up the throttle, the TC (traction control) never got it.
Q: So the traction control didn't work at all?
JPM: No. It worked, but by then it was too far over and I couldn't do anything with it by then. I picked up the throttle maybe too early so I am blaming the car not myself and I am happy with that.
Q: There must have been a certain amount of frustration, having been so far in the lead at times?
JPM: Yeah. It's a bit frustrating, but it's the same for Kimi you know. He could have won the race as well. You know, when it is your race, you can try as hard as you want to make mistakes, and they won't happen, but that's the way racing is. One day you think you're not very competitive. Look at DC. He came in on lap two and you know in any race you come in on lap two, you are completely out of business. Before the first Safety Car, I had a pretty good lead. If the race had stayed the same, it would have been a completely different story, but a ?but? doesn't count in racing. It's whatever happens when you cross the line.
Q: A certain amount of frustration for you as well, Kimi?
KR: Yes. It seemed to be quite difficult in those last 20 laps to stay in the first place after making a mistake, speeding in the pit lane. I didn't get why it was speeding because I used the pit limiter much earlier than the line.
Q: But third place from 15th on the grid?
KR: Actually, I started from the pit lane. I came in before the start to change to slick tyres and enough fuel for a one-stop and then picked up the places with a little bit of overtaking?
Q: What was it like in those early laps?
KR: Not too bad actually. Some corners, it was slippery, like five and six, where there had been no sun under the trees. But the rest of the circuit was quite good.
Q: And the pressure from Michael?
KR: Yeah, a little bit. But he never got in front of me. Unfortunately, I didn't win the race, but at least our team won and that is a good thing.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: First time that Michelin had scored a complete podium today. Was that due to specific circumstances of the race, or a trend?
JPM: Hopefully a trend but I don't know.
DC: I think the circumstances obviously played into Michelin's favor but in changing conditions that's what you need to be able to have but I don't think any of us are going to presume that Ferrari are suddenly not competitive. Clearly they are but on this day in history they didn't have the right strategy and the three of us combined were quicker.
Q: David, is this a total fluke or is there a clear sign there that you can take the battle for the championship all the way through?
DC: Well today is clearly very unusual circumstances because you don't normally see cars achieve podium from pit lane and from so far down, but I think, pace-wise we generally believe that we're competitive with Williams but still have a little bit of a gap to Ferrari. That's going to change when we go to different tracks. None of us know what the future's going to hold and, as I mentioned before, we expect a lot from our new car when it comes out. You've been around long enough as well to be able to take a read on performance but ultimately winning a Grand Prix is about how you perform on that given weekend and no one can take the result from us today.
Q: Is it encouraging that Ferrari seemed to make a bit of a mess of things? Last year there were no flaws; is this a little Achilles heel?
DC: Yeah, you've got to say it is encouraging because clearly they have a quick car, but as I know from when I've driven cars that have been the class of the field before they're not always the easiest ones to drive and occasionally they are dropping the ball. I don't what exactly happened to Rubens, but clearly he went off. Again, I haven't had the chance to have Michael's strategy explained, but did he pit three times? Yeah. As I've mentioned before, under pressure they can make mistakes and the conditions were a little bit unusual today.
Q: Juan, it seemed in pre-season testing for a lot of the time you were struggling with this new car, but suddenly it seems a lot better. Was it just circumstances or did finally some breakthrough come about?
JPM: No, if you look at the lap time we did in Jerez, look at the lap time we did in Valencia, the only place we kind of struggle a little bit at the moment is Barcelona and everywhere else we have been competitive. I think it's just the press, because day one the car wasn't quick and everybody will tell us day one is going to break the lap record around Barcelona, everybody said the Williams sucks but it doesn't. It's true. It needs a lot of work the car, the car's got a lot more potential, I think there's a lot more things coming through aerodynamically to make the car more competitive during the race. As you saw today, our lap time yesterday wasn't on low fuel. I think a lot of people thought we had quite low fuel and I didn't and the pace was there so it's quick.
Q: Juan Pablo, why didn't you take any more tyres in your last stop. Did you not have any scrubbed Michelin's available or was it the same problem as last year?
JPM: I didn't press for the tyres once. I did my best lap of the race a lap before I came into the pits. The in lap was as fast as that. I didn't have any problems with the balance of the car, why should I change the tyres. The previous time I changed tyres, my first ten laps, they were a disaster. I was up in the 29.7s and 30s and it took at least ten laps to get down into the low 29s and then into the 28s. You look at my out laps and the first few laps the car was a lot quicker than I could have done before, so I made the right call.
Q: David, we had a very exciting race today. Do you think the new rules contributed to that or it's only due to exceptional circumstances?
DC: I think we will only be able to judge that on reflection of the season but I would have thought today was more about the changing conditions which we've seen in previous races, throws up some unusual results. Throw in the fact that it's the first Grand Prix of the season as well and normally there's been safety cars at the first corner ? although obviously there wasn't this year ? but it came out later in the race.
Q: Are the characteristics of the Michelins and Bridgestones similar enough that we can expect to see Michelin perhaps to the fore in KL?
DC: I think that Michelin have made a big step forward in winter testing in graining control which is something you tend to see with these grooved tyres more than a slick tyre, so we feel quite optimistic going to Malaysia and again, only time will tell because Bridgestone have the same amount of time in winter testing to make improvements but I certainly didn't think that this track showed the best of Michelin tyres so I have confidence that we can put in stronger performances on other tracks during the year.
Q: David and Kimi, could you describe when and where you made your different decisions about tyres before the start?
KR: I clearly did it on the warm-up lap because if we stayed on intermediates we would need to be in after ten laps and we would lose more time than if we go straight in with the slicks and one stop strategy and I think it was good. We were just unlucky in the race but that was our decision.
DC: I was on the radio on the parade lap saying that I felt that the track had dried around the back much quicker than I had expected and that we should be ready for an early pit stop and I was in two minds to pit even before the start of the race and I think ultimately that was the right decision. I think I lost time by doing a couple of laps starting on the wets. You are committed to a strategy and I wanted to see at least on the first lap how other people were performing and also I was looking at the sky to try and judge whether they were going to get some more rain, so in hindsight that was the wrong decision, but the way the safety cars worked it gave us the chance to stick some more fuel in and go longer which obviously helped us late in the race.
Q: Did you know about each other decisions?
DC: As soon as I saw Kimi passing me down the inside of the pit lane I knew he was going for a pit stop.
Q: Juan Pablo, apart from the results of the race, do you think the gap between Williams and Ferrari is smaller than last year or not?
JPM: I don't know. Probably around the same, or maybe a bit smaller. We seem to be very competitive with McLaren again and very close. I think they've made big steps over the winter. It's hard to wait and see. I think the tyres have played quite well into our hands and this is probably not the best track to show the full performance of our tyres but we will see. Time will tell.
Q: Kimi, your decision not to let Michael past, do you think you scored an important little psychological victory there?
KR: No not really, I just tried to keep him behind and he got on the brakes, he got on the outside of me but as I was on the inside of the corner, it was quite easy to keep him behind and then the corner was too tight for two cars and he ran wide.
Q: Did you enjoy that?
KR: Yeah, of course it was nice. (Laughter)
Q: Can I ask each of you to look ahead to Malaysia not that we've got some form on the board and some idea of what's happening?
JPM: I don't know. Honestly, I don't have a clue. The last two years that we've been there, we've been really quick. This year we might be really good or we might be tenth. I don't know. We haven't been there. I can't really say anything. It's very difficult to know. The track is very smooth, Barcelona is the only place fast for us to test and we've been always really bad in Barcelona but we've been really quick in Malaysia so?
DC: I need to try to make some sense of what strategy people were on. We know for sure that we were out of position in qualifying so we should have? we had a pace quick enough to be on the second row, so from that we will try and work out if there's going to be a trend of what people have done in the qualifying, which I don't see being significantly different in Malaysia. Probably a bit more of the same but hopefully not with us being so far out of sequence.
KR: I think it's quite difficult to say what's going to happen but hopefully we will have a much better weekend than this weekend because, as David said, we had the speed all weekend but I guess we made quite a big mess in qualifying and that didn't really help us but maybe we were a little bit lucky but also in the race we had the speed and we scored a good finish and I think that's a good thing. But like they said, it's going to be really difficult what's going to happen in the next race. It's a completely different place and also the weather will be much warmer and hopefully it will suit our tyres better.
Michael Schumacher (4th): "The changing weather made for a chaotic race today. We could not have predicted there would be two Safety Car periods and in this situation it is just a gamble whether or not it works in your favour at the right time. At one point I hit the kerbs, damaged the car quite badly and lost a lot of time because of it. Apparently, on the lap before my last pitstop, some parts started hanging off the car and that was badly affecting its handling. It felt as though the car was damaged and I even thought I might have a puncture. So, all things considered I think we can be happy with fourth place today. It was an interesting day with plenty of action and these 5 points will be important later in the year. The F2002 is still very competitive."
Rubens Barrichello (DNF, Accident): "A disappointing day, but it's not a case of Australia being unlucky for me. It was just one of those things. There is no need to panic about this result. We just have to dig in and concentrate on Malaysia. The F2002 is still a very good car, as could be seen by Michael's lap times, even when he had lost some bodywork. As for my start, we will have to investigate what happened, as I was holding the car on the brake as much as I could, but it just wanted to start early today. We felt intermediate tyres were the best choice, but the track dried very quickly. Just before the accident, we were talking on the radio about my penalty. I went into Turn 5 too fast, had understeer and could not hold it. The car was going well, but the front tyres were already in trouble, because the track dried quicker than expected and I was still having to push hard. We must now put this race behind us, look to the next one and get used to the new rules."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was a very strange race and not really because of the new rules. The weather at the start and in the early stages, which saw some drivers running wet tyres and others on dry ones, the Safety Car appearing twice and the different strategies, were all factors which made the race hard to read and different to usual. Five points is not exactly a great tally, given that we started with an all-red front row. The result shows that the slightest mistake results in a heavy penalty. It was a shame for Rubens, who lost control of the car when the track was still slippery and ended up in the barriers. As usual, Michael never gave up. But when he had aclear track ahead of him, he was unable to push to the maximum as his car was damaged. Today's result brings to an end a run of 53 consecutive races featuring a Ferrari on the podium. Now we must attack once more. We know this will be a very tough season, but we also know we have all the right elements in place to be able to fight for success at the end."
Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd): "In spite of this good outcome I must say this was a pretty disastrous race for me. We started on dry tyres and this was an excellent decision but then the safety car came out twice and just cancelled our advantage both times. Then when I finally got the lead again I went into turn one and simply went sideways when I picked up the throttle. It was absolutely my fault, but also the only mistake I made this weekend. In my second pit stop I did not change tyres as they were excellent and I was sure the car would be less competitive on new tyres. The last laps were very difficult as I felt a lot of pressure from Kimi Raikkonen."
Ralf Schumacher (8th): "It was an exciting race with mixed emotions for the team. Juanís second place is obviously good for us, but at my first pit stop a problem occurred during the tyre change. I was third when I came in but dropped to last position when I went back on track. My race was over there already. However, I think we shouldnít rely too much on todayís result. McLaren did a fantastic job and won the race despite starting on the wrong tyres. I found it strange that Ferrari too started on wet tyres. It is obviously wonderful for the team to have achieved a place on the podium in the first race . However, something is clear, we have a lot of work ahead of us as the new Ferrari is going to arrive shortly as well as the new McLaren."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It is very good for Juan and for the team to start the season with a second place. We are obviously very happy. It is a pity that at Ralfís pit stop a problem with the right rear wheel cost him about ten seconds. After all the winter testing it was very interesting to see how strong the other cars were in the race. Obviously Ferrari and McLaren are very competitive again."
Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "This was an exciting and turbulent race from the start to the end. We went for a good strategy but unfortunately Juan Pablo missed his chance of a victory. After his spin he defended his second place in a fantastic way. We are happy with this second place in the first race even if we could actually have won."
David Coulthard (1st): "A great end to what has been a difficult weekend and a superb start to the season. During the installation lap, the circuit was still wet, so we decided to start the race on wet tyres. However, during the first lap the track had dried enough for dry tyres and I came in for a quick change and fuel top up at the end of lap two. I'm really happy with the result especially as it is such a stark contrast to yesterday's qualifying. The team did a great job and we had the right strategy, which allowed us to optimise the unusual circumstances with the weather and the safety car. I think our performance showed that we have taken a step forward with the MP4-17D and further improved our competitiveness and hopefully we are all in for an exciting season."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd): "I'm obviously a bit disappointed because I was caught speeding marginally in the pitlane which possibly cost me the victory. However I'm pleased that the team won and we could start the 2003 season with a good result for everybody. During the formation lap I realised that the track was drying quicker than we had expected and we decided to come in for dry tyres, so in effect I started the race from the pitlane. I had a long battle with Michael Schumacher and managed to keep him behind me. He always seemed to get a fast exit out of the last corner, which allowed him to catch up and challenge me during braking for the first chicane. At one point we were side by side but I knew that I was on the inside and the corner wasn't wide enough for two cars so I stayed ahead, it was real fun. All in all an exciting race."
Ron Dennis, Team Pricipal: "An excellent race for the team and a great performance from our strategist. Both drivers excelled in difficult conditions and a good win for David. Our apologies to Kimi whose 1.1 kilometre pitlane entry speeding excess was caused by a team error. We look forward to Malaysia which should suit our package."
Nobert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The key to our success was the original one-stop strategy and the decisions made by the team at the right time. Both drivers performed excellently. The fact that there were three competitive teams made for an exciting race."
Jarno Trulli (5th): "I feel great! We chose the right strategy from the beginning and the car felt very good. I feel encouraged especially because it seems that we have now managed to achieve the reliability we were lacking and to score points with both cars at this first race is a fantastic start of the season. A big thank you to the whole Renault F1 Team who has been working very hard to get to this."
Fernando Alonso (7th): "This is the best result I could expect from my first race of this season. The car was good and competitive throughout the race and we were constant and reliable from the beginning. These first points are a great achievement for me personally and also for the team who has done a great job."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A very good finish to a positive weekend. The team has done an excellent job. Unfortunately the first safety car meant we couldnt exploit the right tyre choice but both drivers were very strong in the first part of the race and they drove very well through the rest of the race, bringing both cars to a good points scoring finish."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "We can be quite satisfied from this first race, which ran very smoothly on the engine side. We showed a level of competitiveness which confirms us as the fourth team. Its a very encouraging start."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I am simply delighted with our result in this first race of the season. My best congratulations go first to the whole team which has done a fantastic job throughout the weekend. As for the drivers, they have both done a great job. Jarno driving an impeccable race and scoring four points and young Fernando showing already all his talent with his 2-points finish. Im also pleasantly surprised by our lap times, much more competitive than I expected."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (6th): "It was pretty tight out there in the early laps! But then it dried out very quickly and I had to come in and change to grooved tyres. After that the car was very consistent all through the race and my only problem was trying to get by Trulli, who blocked one way, then the other. But it was all fair stuff, and in the circumstances I'm happy to finish sixth and keep Alonso behind me."
Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Suspension): "The opening laps were really good fun, but my wet tyres quickly lost efficiency. If I had started further back I would have opted for grooved tyres, but since I was starting well up the grid I took the safe option. Once I had changed them the car did not feel normal because in the heavy traffic somebody had moved over and hit my right front wheel. Later on the suspension broke as a result of that, and I was really lucky not to hit Ralf (Schumacher) when the car veered out of control."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: It was impossible for us to start on grooved tyres, and then after the drivers had changed from wets the safety car came out. Considering all these problems so early on, to finish sixth and score three points is fantastic. Thank you Heinz-Harald for a successful return to the team. And thank you to the team for keeping its head in trying circumstances. It was unfortunate that Nick was hit by another car early on, but we are delighted to start the new season so strongly."
Giancarlo Fisichella (12th, Gearbox): "Well, lots of things happened in the race. First of all I lost three or four positions at Turn 6 on lap 1 when I lost the car a little under braking. Then when Ralph had his accident bits of debris hit my car smashing off the wing mirror and damaging my rear wing. After that I was running at a good pace but we had the problem on the pit stop with the fuel cover and then at the end of the race the car had some gear problem."
Ralph Firman (DNF, Accident): "I was not pushing one hundred percent when the accident happened. I was well within myself but then suddenly had major oversteer, lost the car and hit the barrier. Rubens went off there and I understand there was a possibility of some oil on the track but I honestly don't know. It was going well before then, I was cautious over the first few laps and this is an unfortunate outcome. The team did a very good job to make the right call on tyre choice, so it's naturally very disappointing not to finish."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Obviously it was a race marked by adverse conditions at the start but everyone suffered them and I believe that we did a decent job. Our fuel strategy in qualifying was correct and we made the right call to use dry tyres. I am quite happy although we were not going to score a point today as Giancarlo was running 9th after having the drama with the fuel hatch. Then we had the gear shift problem, but I'd rather have that when we weren't going to score!"
Martin Whitaker, Ford Director of Motorsport: "Formula One's successful start to the season was reflected in an encouraging debut for Jordan Ford. Although I would have liked to see both cars finish, the performance of the car gave a clear indication of the Ford Cosworth RS engine's strength and reliability. This weekend's performance bodes well for the season ahead."
Mark Webber (DNF, Suspension): "To have retired from fifth place at my home race is a little disappointing but I remain positive because of the clear potential we showed today. Up until race day, it has been very difficult to get a crystal clear position of where we are relative to the competition because of the different strategies teams have employed on tyres and fuels. Once the race began, the performance of the car was good and I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there. I was on a two-stop strategy today and even though I knew Michael Schumacher was probably running a little heavier than me on fuel, it was a very nice feeling indeed to be fighting him on the race track. The team has made absolutely the right calls all weekend ? both in terms of set-up and strategy. The boys have worked tirelessly and while it would have been great to have rewarded everyone with points or even the podium, the long season ahead will undoubtedly highlight the potential of the race car we have."
Antonio Pizzonia (13th, Suspension): "I am disappointed on one hand about not finishing but encouraged by the potential of the Jaguar R4. There has been a lot of information to take on-board all weekend and as a rookie, it's been a case of understanding everything quickly. I could certainly have done with more track time in the build-up to the race and this would probably have contributed to a better qualifying position but that's motor racing. I enjoyed the race and found the performance of the car quite pleasing, although we can do much better. There is a fair deal of untapped development in the Jaguar R4 and that's the aim from here on. A long, busy and in the end, disappointing end to my race weekend but this mustn't overshadow the potential of our race car. Mechanical failures of the kind we suffered today can be fixed, no problem, but the fact that we have clearly seen the pace of the Jaguar R4 is the biggest thing to take away from Melbourne."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Obviously not the end-result we wanted but we are not too disappointed. It's been the first weekend under the new regulations and combined with a new race package and new driver in Antonio, one of our many aims was the generate a data bank of information and understanding prior to the next race. The decision to change back to dry tyres on the grid was a risky one but proved correct in the end. Mark drove an excellent race to get up to fifth place and at one point, our pit-board man was unsure as to where the Michael Schumacher sign was given how long it's been since we've used it! Given his debut on the Albert Park circuit and the very limited track time he has had all weekend, it was always going to be tough for Antonio but nonetheless, we can take nothing away from his performance today. He drove a determined and hard race and in the process, generated some valuable race experience for himself. The Jaguar R4 has proved very responsive all weekend and we leave Melbourne encouraged about the potential of the race package. There is still, however, a lot of development work ahead of us but one thing is for sure, we have a race car that is significantly better in every department than the car we raced here last year. The Michelin tyres worked very well indeed and Cosworth Racing must also take credit for the tremendous effort they have put into the all-new CR5-V10 engine. It's been the first race of sixteen and we have a lot to look forward to after this weekend."
Jacques Villeneuve (9th): "I had radio problems so it was very difficult to communicate with the pit wall and both cars ended up pitting at the same time. We went with what we knew about the tyres but we didn't expect the slicks to get to the halfway point. It took a long time to get the tyres working and I didn't get enough time on any set. Our strategy would have been good without the safety cars but things definitely didn't work out for us today."
Jenson Button (10th): "It was very frustrating that we made the wrong tyre choice at the start and for my team-mate to come in on the wrong lap was disappointing and quite embarrassing really. The car worked very well in the practice sessions and qualifying so it was very disappointing to finish where we did today because we were very quick in the race."
David Richards, Team Principal: "It has been a very encouraging weekend in terms of our pace and reliability. Credit must go to all the team, who worked long hours and performed admirably during the pitstops. Unfortunately, in hindsight, it looks like we called the wrong race strategy here and we will be reviewing that over the next few days. Our problems were compounded by the fact that Jacques seemed unable to hear his radio properly, which resulted in him pitting at the same time as Jenson. On the positive side we know we have a competitive car and we can look forward with confidence to a much more successful season."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "All the hard work that went into our testing paid dividends this weekend. At the first stop for tyres we were unsure whether the slicks would last long enough to enable us to take only one more pitstop. With the benefit of hindsight that turned out to be the wrong decision, which resulted in us failing to score points which were there for the taking. A disappointing end to the weekend but we'll bounce back in time for Malaysia."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Being so close to a points finish is really frustrating. Both Jacques and Jenson had to pit early on to change to dry tyres and ended up pitting three times, which meant we just lost out on points. But all in all I think we've shown that we have a fast car over the weekend so I'm encouraged for the rest of the season."
Jos Verstappen (11th): "I think the most important thing for the whole team is to get the car to the finish, and that's what we did today. I had to jump into the T-car because of an oil leak in my race car. That was a bit difficult, as the spare car was set up for Justin, but it was still reasonably all right. The balance felt pretty good, especially on the first set of tyres, but after the first pit stop, the balance was gone. After that, it was just a tough race to the chequered flag for me."
Justin Wilson (DNF, Radiator): "It was fantastic to have the opportunity of getting towards the midfield and being able to race some of the other guys and drive past them. It was good fun and an enjoyable experience, especially in my first Grand Prix. It was just bad luck to get a stone through the radiator, which caused us to have the terminal problem. Other than that, I didn't have any particular difficulties today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today's Australian Grand Prix marks the first time a Minardi PS03 has completed a full race distance. It was gratifying to see Jos racing as high as eighth place, and with the team adopting a slightly risky strategy that relied on rain, it was a gamble that almost paid off. Nevertheless, to get Jos home in P11 was a very credible team performance. Sadly, Justin's car suffered a holed radiator, and despite a valiant effort by the team to repair the car, sadly, it was not able to rejoin the race. Our congratulations, however, go to Justin, on making his overdue Formula One debut, and to Jos the Boss, on making his well-deserved return to Grand Prix racing."
Olivier Panis (DNF, Fuel Pressure): "We have been having a problem with the fuel pressure sometimes during the weekend and it came back during the race today. We made a good decision to start the race on slick tyres and it is a real shame because we were going so well. I am sure we missed out on a podium today, but I want to remain positive. The car felt really good and I think the whole team has done a good job and we have shown our potential this weekend."
Cristiano da Matta (DNF, Spin): "I started the race on slick tyres when the track was still wet in places, so it was difficult to begin with but as the track dried I was making good progress and catching the guys in front of me. As I was approaching turn 3, I had two cars to the left of me, so I couldn't see the 100-metre braking marker, and when I saw the 50-metre it was too late. It was just a silly mistake. The race was good fun while it lasted, but it was nowhere near long enough for me. We have been really competitive this weekend and I know the car is quick, so I am just looking forward to the next race."
Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I am disappointed but I am not concerned because I think the TF103 car has shown really good potential. We can look forward now with careful confidence for the upcoming races. I am sorry for both Olivier and Cristiano for what has happened today, but that is racing and we have to live with that. They have been around long enough in racing to know that!"