Raikkonen declared Brazilian winner after race stopped

Kimi Raikkonen, Brazilian GP 2003

Kimi Raikkonen, Brazilian GP 2003 

 ¬© The Cahier Archive

McLaren-Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen won the Brazilian Grand Prix, at Interlagos, in an event filled wet race, which was red-flagged after 54 of 71 laps.

The race was red-flagged for an accident by Australian Mark Webber and an additional accident by Fernando Alonso, caused by hitting debris from Webber's car.

Initially the race was thought to be won by Jordan-Ford driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who passed Raikkonen for the lead on the 54th lap, but when the race was halted the results reverted back to the 53rd lap - snatching the Italians first victory. Fisichella ended up second.

Third place went to Renault driver Fernando Alonso, who was absent on the podium due to the accident, which saw him waving to the crowd as he was taken away on a stretcher.

The race was event packed, and the start was delayed due to the amount of rain, and less than half the runners did not finish. Turn three caused five of the retirements, as water continued to stream across the track in the turn even as the rest of the circuit slowly was drying, and took it's toll on World Champion Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, and the others.

The McLarens took the early lead but as the track started to dry Rubens Barrichello was able to reel them in and took the lead on lap 45. Barrichello looked to be in a strong position to win the race as he started to lap 1 to 2 seconds a lap faster than the McLarens, but it was not to be, as the Brazilian's bad-luck at Interlagos continued when he retired with a mechanical problem.


1. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN MERCEDES), 1h29m53.179s
2. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (JORDAN FORD), 1h29m54.010s (+0.831s)
3. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h29m59.874s (+6.695s) - absent


Q: Kimi, what about your start, brilliant, taking the lead when you did?

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yes, I think so. The first two laps were quite difficult - what were the conditions? - and so? after that I got past the other cars and it was much easier to drive, because in the first place there was no spray from the other cars. Things were going well, and then there was a safety car and afterwards it was a good decision that we didn't come in at the first safety car. Things went quite well, the whole race. Maybe we were a little bit lucky but a win is a win and that's all that matters.

Q: Can you just explain why you didn't come in at that first safety car period?

Raikkonen: I think that it came so quickly that we didn't make the decision quickly enough but in the end it was the right decision, so thanks to the team. It was a difficult race because the conditions were so bad and the safety car was out so often, but I'm pretty happy.

Q: You were losing time to David towards the end there, what was the problem?

Raikkonen: I think so because I came in later and the tyres were newer than his and they then were graining more and they were almost slicks and I wasn't able to push so hard.

Q: Moving to Giancarlo, on a circuit you love and Jordan 's 200 th Grand Prix, so nearly a fairytale ending for you?.

Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Yes, it was a great day anyway. First of all I have to say that I am very disappointed for two reasons, first of all for Fernando, I hope that he's alright and then also because I won the race but the rules say that when there is a red flag, the result is taken from one lap before (two laps in fact) so I am very sorry about that but I never thought I would finish in second position so it's a great day anyway.

Q: Was there a moment when Eddie Jordan and the team were saying 'Giancarlo, you've won?'

Fisichella: Well yes, we really believed that just after the race, it was an amazing moment but unfortunately I finished second, but anyway, as I told you, it's a fantastic result. I would like to say thanks to the team, we did a fantastic strategy and it's a very important result for us and we will keep going for the future which is very important.

Q: A lot of drivers went off in that section after turn two; tell us about the water there and what the problem was?

Fisichella: Yeah, it was very difficult, driving in those conditions, especially for us with intermediate tyres, there were a few rivers in turn three. It was very very scary. You know lots of cars spun off there. But I drove very safely, I think I did a fantastic race and I'm happy.


Q: Kimi, tell us about the conditions, especially at the start. Give us some idea of how difficult it was?

Raikkonen: Of course, the start is always difficult because you don't know how the circuit is, but the first few laps were extremely difficult, especially when you're behind someone, because you don't see the corners and the cars in front of you and you're guessing all the time. After I got into first place it was much easier because I saw the corners and things were going much better then.

Q: Did the safety car come in at about the right time after the start? Did you feel that there was a drying line?

Raikkonen: †No. I think it was still OK, but in the end it all worked well for me because I didn't come in at the first safety car period and it was a good decision.

Q: Did you change onto dry tyres?

Raikkonen: No, no. When I came in we just put more fuel in, new tyres. I think we dropped a couple of places but we were still behind the leaders and I was able to overtake a couple of cars after that and gain places but then the circuit started to dry up and I had some difficulties with tyres. It took quite a few laps before they started to get quicker and quicker and David was pulling away, but just before all these things happened I was catching him a little bit and I was quite happy.

Q: When Giancarlo overtook you, what happened there?

Raikkonen: Actually the tyres, after I had problems with them, they came back and then they went off again and it was a bit too slippery and I lost the rear grip in the middle of the corner and I just ran wide and Giancarlo got past me. OK, we were a bit lucky that we won the race but anyhow first place is what counts and I'm not complaining.

Q: It might seem strange that you won again after your first win two weeks ago, but history actually relates that a number of drivers have won again after their debut win but this was a little bit luckier, wasn't it?

Raikkonen: Oh yes, but I've also been quite unlucky in some places and I know how it feels to lose a race with a couple of laps to go. But that's racing and it's the same for everyone and we were slightly more lucky than maybe some others. It was good, I'm very happy and the team did a great job and the car was working perfectly. The Michelins were very good when it was very wet.

Q: Was the car set up for full wet or was there more you would have liked to have done?

Raikkonen: No, actually we don't need to change the set-up too much from wet to dry. It seems to be pretty good in both conditions and that's a good thing because if we have races like this and also especially with the new regulations where you are not allowed to change anything, it's very good.

Q: Giancarlo you must have gone through all the emotions in the last 20 minutes of that?

Fisichella: Yes. It not so good conditions especially for us with intermediate tyres, but we managed to keep the car on the road. The car was so nervous, and there was a lot of aquaplaning but anyway I think I did a good job and I am very pleased about that. It is fantastic and I would like to say thanks to the team. I am a little bit disappointed because I could have won the race, but for the rules.

Q: You came in on the last lap of the safety car, or virtually the last lap of the safety car. What was the thinking behind that?

Fisichella: Well I was talking a lot with the team and we decided to refuel and try to the end. It was the right shape and I'm very pleased about that.

Q: So you could have got right through to the end with only one stop?

Fisichella: Honestly it was on the limit. At the beginning we had a lot of fuel and then at the end the intermediate tyre was good so?

Q: Do you think you might have been on the top step?

Fisichella: It is fantastic now. We are already did well on Friday and Saturday with the car set-up and it wasn't too bad. We didn't believe we could get onto the podium today so it is fantastic.


Q: Giancarlo, did you think you had won the race when it was stopped?

Fisichella: Yeah. I ask many times 'who won the race' so it was magic moment.

Q: When did you find out you hadn't?

Fisichella: I think for a couple of minutes.

Q: Kimi did you think you had finished runner-up?

Raikkonen: Yeah. We were not sure if the race had been stopped completely or if we were going to restart. I went to the FIA and they told me I had won the race and I am really happy.

Q: Giancarlo in my opinion you should be really happy. Did you notice what happened when your car caught fire?

GF : Because the safety car was going too slow.

Q: It caught fire at the end of the race?

Fisichella: Yes, because I was behind the safety car and it was so slow that it was no good for the engine.

Q: How did you get to avoid the tyres in the middle of the track at the end of the race?

Fisichella: The team called me and said to slow down, a driver has had a bad crash around the circuit.

Q: To both drivers after the discussions on Friday afternoon and there was so much rain and we see so many cars crash in the race. Should we have had a race in these circumstances?

Raikkonen: I think it was the right decision to start behind the safety car and when the race started the conditions were much better. We were able to race safely. Really it is difficult with the water on the circuit and I think it was more difficult that on a rain tyre. It was safe enough and it is good that nobody has been hurt.

Q: Giancarlo do you think it should have been started?

Fisichella: Yeah I do. In the end probably check the rules but you cannot do the race in the wet conditions with just one type of tyres. We need wet tyres and intermediate tyres.

Q: Giancarlo, are you happy or disappointed?

Fisichella: I'm not disappointed now. I didn't believe I could get on the podium today, I thought we could score some points, but it is a great, great result. It is fantastic.

Q: Kimi you have a great advantage in the championship?would you like to be world champion?

Raikkonen: If things keep going at this rate yes, but sometimes you are lucky and sometimes less lucky. We will do our best and our goal at the start of the race was to score as many points as possible. If we keep scoring points it is good for the championship and it was good because the drivers did not score so many points. As long as keep scoring points with the old car, we are looking good for the championship. We will do our best.

Q: Giancarlo, how close did you get to being involved in Ralph's accident?

Fisichella: Quite close. I was just checking in the mirrors very quick and I turned into the corner. You know like Takuma Sato in Monaco last year it could have been very dangerous.

Q: You are just 23 years old and after three races you lead the championship. What is your personal feeling?

Raikkonen: It is great. It is very similar to the last race but it is better because I have won two in a row, leading the championship with more points. It looks good for the championship but it is too early to say where we are going to finish, but so far things are good.

Q: Giancarlo if you compare the last three races of last season and the first three of this season and the changes of rules. Do you notice any difference?

Fisichella: I think the rules are more interesting for people, the sponsors and you have the possibility to see a car or a team go to the front in the qualifying session.

Q: Kimi, were you going to stop again?

Raikkonen: I thought that I was coming in but?

Q: Did your team know Giancarlo might be running low?

Raikkonen: I was too busy doing my best on the circuit.

Q: Kimi when you lost the position to Giancarlo, you have understeer. Were your tyres gone?

Raikkonen: Yeah the tyres were starting to give up a little but. I got a bit out of shape with understeer.


Rubens Barrichello (DNF, Fuel Feed): "I am very disappointed. All I can say is that I did my very best. The beginning of the race, when the track was at its wettest, was difficult, as the car had a relatively low downforce set-up. I concentrated on staying calm, waiting for the right moment to attack. Once in the lead, I immediately pulled out a gap, but then I was forced to stop with a fuel feed problem. It was very frustrating as I was sure I could win. I am very disappointed not to have taken victory here in front of my fans. This double retirement does not mean we are in a crisis. We have been competitive in all three races so far and so I am confident for the rest of the season."

Michael Schumacher (DNF, Accident): "I am disappointed for myself and for what happened to Rubens. We both had the possibility of winning today. The weather conditions were difficult but acceptable today. As for my accident, I was aquaplaning and in that situation, you are just a passenger in the car. In terms of the championship, obviously it would have been better for us if Fisichella had won this race, especially as Giancarlo drove a good race anyway. But the gap to the championship leader is not so big, given there are still 13 races, so there is no need to be concerned about it. It's a shame my run of race finishes has come to an end. This is my first non-finish since Hockenheim in 2001."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Today's race was very frustrating, but that's racing. We had the quickest car on the track and what could have ended as a one-two finish turned into a race which left us with nothing at all: it is the first time since Nuerburgring 1999 that we failed to score any points. Michael went off the track, his first retirement since the 2001 German Grand Prix. A fuel feed problem caused Rubens to retire when he was comfortably in the lead. Obviously, I am very disappointed, for the drivers, for the team and for Bridgestone, who did an excellent job. I hope that the return to Europe, in front of our fans in Imola, will signal the end of what has been a difficult run of Grands Prix for us."


Ralf Schumacher (9th): "The most important thing for me is that Fernando Alonso wasn't seriously injured. The timing of the red flag was really bad luck for me. If this accident hadn't happened I assume that I would have been on the podium as many cars in front of me still had to stop for fuel. All in all my car was reasonably good under these difficult conditions, even though I must admit it was really a hard job to keep it on the track."

Juan Pablo Montoya (DNF, Accident): "My car was really good initially when there was a lot of water on the track and I passed several cars. Then the track started to dry and I lost a bit of pace so when I pitted I had a tyre pressure change, which didn't improve the balance too much. After about 20 laps the track was fairly dry almost everywhere apart from turn three where there was still too much water and I lost the car. Everyone who went off there had the same problem that I had, they were sliding too much because of aquaplaning."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "A disappointing day as it would have been nice to have finished better . We struggled a lot and obviously didn't get our pit stops best timed because of the incidents that happened but this is always difficult in wet weather. Obviously McLaren are doing a good job in the championship so far. It's up to us to work harder and close the gap to them and we are pushing to do that."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Today's race was more than hectic. Also I really hope that Fernando Alonso wasn't seriously injured. The start of the race was hampered by the weather conditions, by the accidents and thereafter by the safety car's deployment. Juan Pablo went off at the same corner where four other drivers also crashed as it was clearly particularly slippery there. Ralf drove consistently but had his pit-stop shortly before the race was stopped and therefore dropped from place three to the back of the field. We didn't experience any technical problems with either of the cars. The new version of the BMW P83 engine that we ran in the Friday qualifying sessions in Australia and Malaysia today achieved its first race finish."


Kimi Raikkonen (1st): "What a race. I think with some of the bad luck I have experienced in the past it was time that I was lucky. The team did a great job and deserved to win. When the race started for real, it was still difficult to see where you were going because of all the spray. I stayed out when the Safety Car came out again whilst the majority of the field came in for their pitstops. When I rejoined, I was able to overtake a couple of cars to take second but as the circuit started to get drier, my rain tyres were not working as well which allowed Giancarlo to close in. He overtook me when I went wide. I was coming into the pits for my final stop when the race was red flagged. Today's result is great for me and the team, but its too early to think about the Championship."

David Coulthard (4th): "A day of mixed emotions, but I'm pleased for the team as we did get some important points. I'm obviously a little disappointed as I felt I was having a good race and was in control. It was the right decision to start behind the Safety Car as you could see from the many accidents once the race was on. I'm happy with my performance today as I was leading most of the race under the most difficult conditions you can imagine."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A tremendous and well deserved result for the team. We varied our strategies with the hope of covering all the potential eventualities, which certainly played a role in Kimi's race win. David's drive was outstanding, and his fourth place was a poor reward for his efforts. For both drivers to finish with intact cars was a credit to their driving skills and the equipment provided by the team as a whole. Our commiserations but admiration to the Jordan team whose sporting behavior after the race was a credit to them and to the sport."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A totally dramatic race. I'm really sorry for David who was leading for most of the time and deserved a better reward than fourth. Congratulations to Kimi and the whole team who did an excellent job. Both our drivers didn't put a foot wrong in tricky conditions. As a team we have done a great job today. Thanks to all the guys in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart who worked so hard, they all deserve this good start to the season."


Fernando Alonso (3rd):

Jarno Trulli (8th): "Honestly, we had a very tough race. At the beginning I was fighting to keep the car on the track: the circuit was so wet that it was hard to see anything. I had my second pit stop just before the race was stopped, which meant I lost several positions and finished in eighth place. I'm very sorry for Fernando: however, I know that he is alright and I hope he will recover quickly."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We had a race of mixed emotions: I think Fernando achieved a great result, although clearly nobody likes to see their driver unable to take the podium. Fortunately, he is OK. He drove a very good race in extremely difficult conditions. It was very hard to calculate the correct strategy in those conditions. Jarno was unfortunate to have to make his pit stop just as the race finished and this costed him positions. Overall our drivers did a very professional job in very difficult conditions."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "It was a very difficult race. Our objective was to finish the race without any incidents but unfortunately, Fernando had his accident at the end. From an engine point of view, the race unfolded without any problems at all."


Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Engine): "I made a good start and was able to overtake Jenson Button, but then the engineers radioed me that we had an oil problem and because of this the engine cut out. I pulled off the racing line just to make sure I didn't put any oil down. I hope that Fernando is well after his big accident at the end of the race."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (5th): "Just before the start we changed our strategy and decided to use the T-car because it was set up fully for wet conditions. At the end of the day it turned out to be the right decision. It was not easy to run with a full tank and I had a lot of aquaplaning which made me spin once. But we finished fifth and scored four points, so I am very happy about this result."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "A spectacular and dramatic race! In the end for us it was a happy one; we have two undamaged cars and, more importantly, two undamaged drivers. On top of that we were able to score four more points."


Giancarlo Fisichella (2nd): "I'm pleased Fernando is okay. I have had a fantastic day. Obviously I am disappointed not to get the chance to do one more lap so I could have finished first but being second is really good for me and the team. I thought I had won the race and I still think I am the winner but rules are rules. I would never have thought I would finish in 2nd today so I am pleased. I want to say thanks to the team - it's an important result for us and it's positive for the future."

Ralph Firman (DNF, Suspension Failure/Accident): "I had another suspension failure. It's a shame and of course I'm extremely disappointed. Fisi did a rally good job finishing second and getting the team some points."

Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "The most important thing today was the fantastic spectacle with lots of excitement. Obviously there was disappointment for some but this was our day. I thought we had a chance to win it particularly towards the end when Giancarlo passed Raikkonen. We were the quickest car at the track and it was fantastic. If you had asked me would I have expected a podium in Brazil I would have said you are out of your mind - but it happened. I'm so happy for Giancarlo to be on the podium here and it's going be good for the future."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Second is a great result for us, although I have to admit I'm disappointed that we didn't get one more lap as it was looking good. Fisichella drove well, the car kept going, the tyres lasted well and we're very pleased. Ralph had a front suspension failure, although I don't think it was the same thing he had in Malaysia. After this problem, we considered carefully what to do about Giancarlo because you don't want to take any risks, and thankfully we made the right call."

Martin Leach, President, Ford of Europe: "We did not go to Brazil expecting a podium finish but the Jordan Ford team have performed exceptionally well today and executing exactly the correct strategy. Giancarlo drove a controlled and mature race in difficult circumstances to finish in second place. Our partnership with Jordan is generating massive amounts of enthusiasm and support from our employees within Ford of Europe. After such an outstanding result we are now looking forward now to the start of the European season."


Mark Webber (7th): "I don't think races come any tougher than that. We went into the race with a good strategy and even though many observers thought we were running a light fuel strategy because of our excellent 3rd place qualifying position, I think we proved many people wrong today by showing otherwise. The pace and balance of the Jaguar R4 has been very good all weekend and even though the race conditions were far from ideal, the car proved very competitive out there today. There was a far amount of surface water lying all around the track but the kink after turn two was by far the most dangerous and caught many drivers out including my team mate Antonio. After my first pit stop, I came out behind the BMW Williams of Juan-Pablo Montoya who was holding me up quite a lot and it was quite difficult to find an opportunity to overtake him. Nonetheless, I kept pushing and after my second pitstop, I was fuelled right up to the top and aiming for the end of the race when we would have leap-frogged quite a few runners. Unfortunately, however, that didn't happen and at this stage, I am not 100% sure what caused by accident on the final left-hander. Given the unforgiving nature of this circuit combined with the very heavy fuel load I was carrying, I suspect the tyres were struggling with grip ? something I'm sure everyone had to contend with today. The accident was pretty big by any standards but thankfully, I'm OK. I want to thank all the Jaguar crew for putting in a sterling effort this weekend and in the process, we've earned ourselves two championship points. We've also shown some phenomenal potential this weekend and there are a lot of positives to take away and exploit over the remaining thirteen races."

Antonio Pizzonia (DNF, Accident): "A good day for Jaguar Racing but it could have been better had I stayed in the race and earned some points too. The team made exactly the right call by starting me from the pitlane and as we anticipated, many drivers fell off today, albeit me too! The long kink leading from turn two into turn three was laden with water and there was literally nothing I could do at that speed. The car hit the stream flowing across the track and after that, I was little more than a passenger. As I was spinning off, I could see Montoya's BMW Williams sitting the space I was about to occupy in the safety barrier and even though I hit him quite hard, we were both OK. A shame really given how good the car felt on the wet Michelins and combined with the thorough strategy work the team had undertaken, it's disappointing to walk away from my home race with no points. The good news, however, is that Jaguar Racing is on the championship score sheet and we have a lot to be pleased about after the performance of the car this weekend."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Not a race anyone is going to forget for many a year to come! We were informed on the grid that the race would be delayed by fifteen minutes and given how far Antonio was on the grid, we decided to start his race from the pit-lane with a full fuel-load. Given how bad the track conditions were, we knew that finishing this race alone would probably ensure points and with that in mind, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain by opting for a one-stopper with Antonio. With Mark, we suffered from a slight electronic problem on the grid but the team addressed it effectively and we got him away OK. We were running very strongly in the race and everything was going according to plan until lap 24 when Antonio spun off at Turn Three ? a corner that cost many drivers their race today because of standing water. Mark, however, was running very well indeed and when the Safety Car was deployed on lap 32, we pitted Mark for the second time and fuelled him until the finish ? a strategy that would have seen us on the podium today had we not have suffered from the huge accident on lap 53. The Jaguar R4 has performed strongly here all weekend and the race was no different. The sector times were on the pace and even though Mark was carrying more fuel than was necessary to compensate for a fuel pick-up issue, his lap times were very competitive in conditions which, quite frankly, were atrocious. The Michelin tyre worked very here all weekend and while we are obviously pleased with having earned two championship points, it's a shame we couldn't have taken what we really deserved from the weekend. Having said that, it's great to see Eddie Jordan get onto the podium with our parent company Ford who provide the horsepower for both our teams! We have clearly demonstrated the potential of the Jaguar R4 this weekend and while we would have liked to have scored our first points under somewhat more positive circumstances, we have at least rewarded our committed parent company, sponsors and workforce with a taste of things to come."


Jacques Villeneuve (6th): "It was a very difficult race; the track was tough to drive but if you took care of yourself then it wasn't too bad. There wasn't that much water really; it's down to the drivers to be less crazy in those conditions and there was some crazy driving out there. Some drivers were overtaking under the yellow flags; halfway through the race I saw Alonso overtake under the flags. I think it's that kind of driving that leads to big accidents. We saw the same thing in the pit stops with drivers chopping across the field on the exit then having to lift halfway down the straight to stop them going off onto the grass. It's that sort of thing that creates the danger, not just the conditions themselves. I'm pleased with sixth place today. It's very difficult for the guys in these conditions but they did a great job. I'm happy that we were able to bring the team three more points today."

Jenson Button (DNF, Accident): "Everyone can say 'what if'? I was running fifth ahead of Raikkonen when I went off and we were fuelled to the finish, so if I hadn't made that mistake, who knows? But then I guess there are a lot of other people who can say the same thing. The car was working well, the tyres were good and we had the right strategy. On that corner, the water runs off the banking on to the circuit, so we were bound to get caught out there. I just caught the standing water a little too much. I tried to save it but that just sent me into the tyre wall. I went in quite heavily and my back is aching a little bit but, as we saw, it could have been much worse. It's disappointing but that's the way it goes."

David Richards, Team Principal: "It's difficult to know where to start after a race like that. My first thoughts are how pleasing it was to see that nobody was seriously hurt after so many extraordinary accidents. For our part, like so many others, we missed out on a great opportunity. However, at the end of the day, our reliability was excellent, Jacques scored three points and Jenson emerged unscathed from his accident. No one can say that Formula One is boring after a day like today."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "A fair result for the team I think. We gained another three points from an incident-filled race but we we're lucky that nobody was hurt today. It is always easy to dwell on what might have been had the race been run to full distance. Nevertheless, the team reacted well to the safety cars and we were in a good position. Jacques was certainly very quick at the end of the race, which showed us that the cars and tyres were working well in these conditions."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "First of all I'm pleased that Jacques has scored his first points this season. He did well to keep going in such difficult conditions. Jenson also did an extremely good job before his unfortunate spin. However, I think our strategy was looking good today. The three flyway races have been tough and we're looking forward to starting the European season in two weeks time. On a final note I would like to pass all our best wishes to MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato in the hope that he can fully recover from his crash in the race at Suzuka today."


Jos Verstappen (DNF, Spin): "The track conditions in today's race were very, very difficult and, of course, I'm extremely disappointed not to have finished today, especially when we don't have so many opportunities to score points. This was definitely a race where there was an excellent possibility. When Raikkonen passed me in Turn 1, I was running behind him in the spray with virtually no vision. The car just spun very quickly two corners later, in Turn 3. I feel extremely sorry for Paul and the whole team, but that's life and that's racing."

Justin Wilson (DNF, Spin): "I'm gutted. I was just caught out by the rivers running down the grass and across the track in Turn 3. They never seemed to be in the same place on two consecutive laps. On the lap I spun, I had got through the first river, but then acquaplaned off on the second one. It's a huge disappointment, because we were definitely on for a strong finish today."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today saw possibly the first time ever that Minardi was potentially in a genuine, race-winning position. Many people may laugh, but only those of us within the team will ever know the truth. We had the strategy, but not the luck."


Cristiano Da Matta (10th): "When we had full wet weather conditions, we were in reasonable shape and our pit-stop strategy got me as high as fourth when the safety car was deployed for the second time. When the track started to dry out things got much worse and I picked up really bad oversteer. We have to look into the problem. We thought it was to do with the tyre pressures, but the car was slow on high and low tyre pressures in the drying conditions. Not the result I wanted today in front of my fans, but we are now heading into the European season, where I hope we can get good results."

Olivier Panis (DNF, Accident): "With the race starting under the safety car due to the wet conditions, we took advantage of this to refuel the car and we had a good strategy. Unfortunately it was a bit difficult to drive the car with a full tank. I had some lack of grip but it would not have been so hard to continue. I felt a big impact from the rear of my car and I didn't really understand what had happened until Ralph Firman spoke with me and explained he had hit me. Obviously I am disappointed with the outcome, but the team has worked really hard all weekend, so I want to thank them and it is important for us not to give up. I am also very sorry for Fernando after his crash - I hope he is okay."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I think it was a very, very difficult race for all the drivers out there today and there were too many accidents. Olivier had a bit of bad luck at the beginning, involved in an incident with Firman. With Cristiano, we don't understand why his car was not competitive and we will look into the data and investigate. We have to look forward to the next race and the start of the European season. Sooner or later, good results have to come our way."

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