SAN MARINO GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Schumacher wins emotional San Marino win

Michael Schumacher, San Marino GP 2003

Michael Schumacher, San Marino GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix, at Imola - mourning the death of his mother only hours earlier - to take his 65th career victory.

Wearing a black armband on the podium, Schumacher took the win over championship leader Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren-Mercedes and his Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Ralf Schumacher took the early lead, ahead of Michael, Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya - but after the final pitstop, Barrichello was able to pass the German to take the final podium position, leaving Ralf to finish fourth.

While the Ferrari and Williams teams were on a three stop strategy, McLaren ran a two stop strategy - allowing Raikkonen and David Coulthard to finish second and fifth, respectively.

Fernando Alonso in the Renault finished sixth with Montoya just behind in seventh - the Colombian having had a problem with his refuelling rig, having to pit four times.

The final points paying position went to Jenson Button in his BAR-Honda, one lap behind the leaders.


POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - APRIL 20, 2003

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h28m12.058s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (MCLAREN), 1h28m13.940s (+ 1.882s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h28m14.349s (+ 2.291s)

Michael Schumacher is represented by Jean Todt both for the TV Unilaterals interviews and the press conference.

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Jean, an emotional day for Ferrari, a great win for Michael. Perhaps you could put into words for us what Michael has gone through and what he has achieved today?

Jean TODT: I don't think we should only focus on today, I think we should look at what Michael is achieving in Formula One. It was very difficult for him today and he did the job because he felt he wanted to do the job, and he did fantastic work for the team. On top of that, he's a driver. I think it's important that he shows what he is as a man and that's maybe the most important thing today.

Q: An interesting strategy from Ferrari, a three stop strategy which Williams also adopted; what did you think about your opposition before the start of this race?

Todt: Strong, you know. Obviously we have deserved better than what we've had so far with the potential of the team, the drivers, the car, but that's racing. It was very important to win today here at Imola, the first Grand Prix in Europe , I must say, still with the 2002 car and it was important to give a good end to this unbelievable car. It was better than just finishing in a normal position, because its position is on the podium and that's where it finished today.

Q: Kimi, a two stop strategy, obviously compromised by your grid position but a great result in the end?

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, it was good drive for us, but the teamwork was great and the strategy worked quite well. I got quite a good start and then I tried to hold onto the leaders and everything went pretty well.

Q: You had a bit of pressure from Rubens at the end of the race.

Raikkonen: Yes, a little bit too much. He got quite close but it wasn't a problem.

Q: Rubens, I guess you're pretty familiar with the sight of a Williams rear wing by now.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: It was a good fight, a clear one. Obviously my race was kind of done by the strategy of Williams because I couldn't overtake Ralf the way Michael did at the first stop, and then on the second stop it was so close, again, I lost a lot of time, otherwise it could have been a little bit different, but it was a fun race in terms of racing and I was quite enthusiastic about the overtaking. Of course, I think he was going through a problem with his tires at that time but it was my chance and I went for it.

Q: And at the end there with Kimi?

Barrichello: I think he backed off but I didn't care much about that, I just saw the car coming and if I had a chance I would go. I tried all I could, but I only really had the last lap where I was close enough but I didn't have time to do it.

Q: Before the start of the race, did you at Ferrari feel or guess that McLaren might be on a two stop and Williams on a three stop?

Barrichello: It's quite difficult to know what people are doing. McLaren haven't been on a quick pace the whole weekend, but obviously showing that they had more fuel the whole time. I'm not so sure that if they were on three stops they could have beaten us in qualifying, but otherwise they did a good job to go from sixth to second.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jean, it seemed that Michael was fairly confident about this weekend; were you, before the start of the weekend?

Todt: Well, we can never be confident, we simply knew that we had a very strong car, but all people who know something about Formula One recognize that. We had very good tires from Bridgestone and it was just a question of putting everything together, which was not the case in the first three races of the championship, so I was wondering if it would be the third time in a row that we wouldn't be able to do it, or if we would be able to do it. Finally we made it.

Q: Did things go pretty perfectly today for you?

Todt: Perfectly? No. Ralf did a very strong start and he overtook Michael. Then for two or three reasons Rubens never had a clear track in front of him, but he's in a better position to explain that and that's why he missed out on a better position. But we are very pleased to be running in this situation, to be able to score such a result.

Q: Kimi, pressure for quite a lot of the race for you from Fernando Alonso at the start and Rubens at the end. How much pressure was Fernando putting on you?

Raikkonen: Not much actually. I didn't have any problems actually, I just tried to keep up with the leaders and do my best. There were no problems.

Q: We saw your tires at the one point, your right front, which look liked as though there was nothing on it at all. Did you have any problems at all?

Raikkonen: No, not with the tires. The car was quite difficult to drive with the second set but then the last set were good.

Q: You were losing a bit of time on the second set then?

Raikkonen: Yes because I was pushing so hard because the car was oversteering.

Q: Otherwise everything was okay?

Raikkonen: Yes, only in the second pit-stop I had some difficulties to get off the blocks because I came in in second gear and I tried to select first gear but I couldn't. There was no gearing and it took a bit of time to find a gear.

Q: Still leading the championship?.

Raikkonen: Yeah it looks good so far. We need to push hard and try to keep our lead and then we will get the new car and be able to fight for the wins again.

Q: We are told the car will be within the next month, but the next race do you think?

Raikkonen: I don't know. I haven't even seen the car.

Q: Rubens it seems that your race was compromised by the pit-stop when you lost five or six seconds. The second stop?

Barrichello: Not really. My race was compromised with not having the track free basically. I had three laps during the whole race when I could really push on the limit of the car and saying that I couldn't really use the advantage of my strategy. But having said that it was a good race in terms of fighting and so on, the last pit-stop did slow me down yeah, I could have gone through Ralf a little bit early and probably catch Kimi earlier as well. But the whole race was okay apart from not having a clear run.

Q: Michael let you past at one point, that wasn't a problem was it?

Barrichello: No I mean it was very close when he came out of the pits and I think Ross (Brawn) probably had told him on the radio his race was secure and by that point I was on an extremely fast lap into the pits. It was nice of him to let me by at that time.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: A question for Jean Todt. How important is this victory, first victory of the year for Ferrari?

Todt: It is important because we want to fight for the championship and if we had not scored those points it would have made life more difficult. Definitely to win the race is important because that is the way we work. We work to win races, to win championships and to win here at Imola in front of the 'tifosi', the employees of the company is something that is really rewarding. Of course we did not know it would be a difficult situation for Michael so it puts the family more close together and today is a demonstration. I keep saying it is better to answer by facts but sometimes the image is quite nice and just looking at the image of Michael and Rubens at the finish and it showed the spirit of the team. For us what is important is what is happening outside more than what is said outside.

Q: To the drivers. In the drivers' briefing were you allowed to cross the line at the pit-exit because some of the drivers crossed the white line and nothing happened?

Raikkonen: I don't know even what line you are saying. There is some line but it goes over the exit and you need to drive over it otherwise you are never going to get on the circuit. (Laughter).

Q: Two questions for you Jean. One is about the new points system. You closed the gap to Kimi by two points, how big a concern is that? Is it something that you need to think about as the season goes on? And second you mentioned about the new car, how certain is it that it will race in Spain ?

Todt: In the points situation, we knew that it was going to change quite a lot but in a way reliability is more important than performance. That is the main reason why we decided to go with the F2002 in Imola, because we knew that the car is reliable. The F2003-GA is definitely better potential but we were not happy enough on reliability to decide to enter it in this Grand Prix. Next week we are going to do a lot of testing in Mugello mainly with the F2003-GA. We are not far from what we want to achieve in terms of reliability and we will be in position to see exactly where we are at the end of the week, but we are quite confident that the car will be ready for the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks.

Q: Jean Todt was there any question of Michael not driving today? Was there a discussion about whether he would race?

Todt: He had the choice. I think it was very important he decided with his brother yesterday to go to Germany and it definitely had the effect of being more comfortable having been there and then it was his decision. We at Ferrari would never push the driver to drive the car if he is not intending to drive the car. It was his choice, but I must say it was a very respectable choice. I think it is very important that today Michael has shown what he is as a driver and a man and it is a shame sometimes that people may want not to understand what he is. Sometimes we protect him, but today again I think he has done a great demonstration and we are very proud of him. I mean it is sad, Rubens is at my side, but we are very proud of both of our drivers.


Ferrari

Michael Schumacher (1st):

Rubens Barrichello (3rd): "My race was conditioned by the fact that I never really had a clear track ahead of me, because of the Williams drivers' strategy. In the whole race, there were only three laps when I could push to the maximum. So I was unable to fully exploit my three stop strategy. I was unable to get past Ralf in the pit stop and my problem at my next one lost me some time and but for that I might have caught Ralf earlier and been able to catch Kimi. But it was a fun race from a driving point of view with some good clean fights. When I came up behind Ralf, I was enthusiastic about my overtaking, I saw my chance and went for it. In the closing stages, I tried all I could to catch Kimi, but I really did not get close enough until the final lap and then there was not enough time to pass him. It was nice of Michael to let me pass him, when his race was already secure and I was pushing very hard on my 'in' lap."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was a special victory. Today in Imola Michael proved yet again, even to those who do not seem to accept it, that he is a special man. Despite being in mourning, he wanted to take part in this race for the sake of the team and went on to win it. Then, going onto the podium, he wanted to acknowledge all the team and our fans, who love him as much as we do. We have gone through some very stressful moments and Michael appreciated the way the team supported him. It is at moments like these that the values we hold dear and cultivate in the team come to the fore. Turning now to the race itself, I can say that it was good to end the career ? at least that is our current plan ? of the F2002 with a victory and a third place. It is a car which has exceeded all expectations. Rubens also drove a great race, fighting his opponents all the way. Second place only just eluded him. The Bridgestone tyres worked very well and the support of all our technical and commercial partners played a key role. The road to the top is still a long one and we are well aware of that. To return to our winning ways in Imola, in front of our fans and the Gestione Sportiva staff who were here to support us, is a marvellous feeling. We said we would answer our critics who accused us of being in crisis with our actions and we are proud to have done so."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "After a difficult start to the season and especially difficult circumstances this weekend, today's result is a great incentive to keep doing well and tackle the coming races with confidence. It was a shame for Rubens that he had a problem during the third pit stop as,but for that, he could probably have finished second. The car performed strongly and the strategy worked well."

Williams-BMW

Ralf Schumacher (4th):

Juan Pablo Montoya (7th): "Definitely an unlucky race for me today. I lost some ground at the start as I was trying to find a corridor for overtaking on the cleaner side of the track. Then my race was decided at my second pit stop, when far too little fuel went into my car due to a problem with the fuel rig and I was forced to pit again immediately after. I pushed as much as I could hoping to gain some positions but in the third sector of the race I had some understeer and also I lost some time lapping slower cars."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "In general our chassis improvements became visible in Imola. However our race was hampered by a few things. We went for a three stop strategy which promised to be the quicker one, which is proven by the fact that the race winner stopped three times too. But this strategy does not leave any margin if anything goes wrong, and we had several problems at the pit stops, the worst one being a malfunctioning fuel rig."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "We hoped for a podium finish today, but that was unfortunately not the case. A few things went wrong in the pit-stops. As well as the problem that Juan experienced with the fuel rig, Ralf selected the wrong gear when he restarted after his first pit-stop and lost some vital seconds there. Also Juan slightly missed the pit-stop area at one of his stops. However, it was clear today that the gap between the top teams is tight."

McLaren-Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "I'm pleased with second place and would like to say a big thank you to the team for choosing the right strategy today. I managed to get fifth place at the start and then did everything I could to hold on to that.I must admit I was quite pleased when I saw Ferrari and BMW Williams coming in for their first stops. I had a problem getting the car into gear during the second pitstop, but it didn't cost too much time. Towards the end of the race Rubens put me under a bit of pressure, but I could keep second place and the lead in the Championship."

David Coulthard (5th): "An encouraging result taking into consideration that our main competition was on three stops which put our qualifying performance into perspective. I made a good start and got past four cars on the run to the first corner, and then it was all about not making any mistakes. I enjoyed the battles throughout the race particularly the ones with Rubens and Ralf, but at the end of the day I paid the price for my low grid position."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Our race performance and ultimate result reflected firstly our starting positions and secondly a marginal disadvantage in one area of our tires' performance. Inevitably in a tire war teams enjoy an advantage when their respective Partner gets it right which was certainly the case with Michelin in the first three Grands Prix. That said a good strategy and excellent performances from our drivers gave us some valuable points which sees us maintaining our World Championship lead."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "An excellent tactical performance by the team. Our two stop strategy was perfect and helped us to achieve good race results considering our grid positions. 12 points for the West McLaren Mercedes team and eight for Kimi keep us in a good position in our Championship campaign."

Renault

Fernando Alonso (6th): "A perfect finish to a good weekend for me. Today I couldn't hope for a better result. The car felt very good, I was competitive from the start and it was great to be able to race and fight with the top teams. I am very happy and optimistic for my home race in Spain, in two weeks."

Jarno Trulli (13th): "Today, it was good to get to the end of the race, to confirm the reliability of our car. I am obviously frustrated, because although I didn't encounter any particular problem, to race in the T-car, which wasn't set up for me, made it impossible to make any progress during the race. It' a consequence of the new rules and I must accept them. I will have to put this behind me and I am already looking forward to the next race."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It was a very competitive race. Fernando made an excellent start and drove a very strong race. We decided to change our strategy from three to two stops during the race and he was consistent and kept his position, which is very pleasing for him. Jarno's weekend was ruined by problems on his car, which forced him to qualify and race in the T -car, which wasn't set up for him. He wasn't happy with the balance of the car and unfortunately he couldn't progress. However -overall - a big satisfaction for the team, who maintains a 100% finishing record since the start of this season. It's great to bring home some more points at this race, where we didn't think we would be very strong."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "This was a straightforward race, with no accident on the track and no mechanical problems for us. Fernando was able to put into practice what we expected from him, by fighting with the top teams and finishing into the points. For the first time, we don't have both cars scoring points, but Jarno's race had been already compromised yesterday. The problems continued even on the starting grid and his race was uneventful."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "A rather positive weekend for the team. It' very encouraging to have confirmed the reliability of our engines and to have scored three more points on this very difficult circuit. We are very satisfied."

Sauber-Petronas

Nick Heidfeld (10th): "It's never enjoyable to finish a race but not to score points. I made a good start but then I got pushed on to the grass by one of the BARs and lost a couple of places. After that I had the choice for a two or a three-stop strategy and we chose the three, although we know the chances of getting blocked were higher. Unfortunately I did get blocked quite a lot, so that was it."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (11th): "We did our best today and I think we got the best out of the car, but too many of the front-runners were reliable. Our situation is a bit clearer now. The car is very reliable, but we need the things we have in the pipeline to improve it further."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We are not surprised by the result of this race, but obviously we cannot be satisfied with it. It was the first regular race of the season, and it showed the limitations of the Sauber Petronas C22."

Jordan-Ford

Giancarlo Fisichella (15th, Engine): "I'm a bit disappointed. I lost quite a lot of time on the pit stop and then more time to overtaking Trulli and a hydraulics problem and then I blew up the engine. I lost a bit of time behind Ralph, we were on different strategies but we were at the same part of the track. Anyway, our pace wasn't too bad and I'm looking forward to the next race."

Ralph Firman (DNF, Engine): "I got held up by the Minardis at the start of the race but once I got clear of them, I was able to push on quite hard although the car had a little bit of oversteer on the turn in to corners. Later I had a clutch problem and after a couple of laps the engine just packed up. I'm looking forward to the Silverstone test next week, as the time in the car will be a great help to me. I think I still need to improve myself in qualifying but in the race I always seem to do a reasonably good lap time."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "We first knew Ralph had a problem when he reported the clutch slipping, which we later discovered was caused by an engine problem which soon afterwards caused him stop. On Giancarlo's car something went wrong with the engine, there was a lot of smoke. We had a hydraulic problem as well but it stabilized and would have been okay for the last ten laps. When you're not in good condition it's best just to learn as much as you can about reliability. They say what a difference a day makes - well what a difference a week makes!"

Jaguar-Cosworth

Antonio Pizzonia (14th): "The bad news from today is obvious but the good news is that a Jaguar has reached the chequered flag for the first time this season! My race was effectively over at the start though because of a launch-control problem. I simply couldn't get the system to engage and the team is looking into why. Given that I started the race from the pitlane one lap down, I was in no position to make an impact on the race but finishing was very important from a reliability-test perspective. We have a test next week in Mugello and we'll focus on correcting some of this weekend's issues prior to the Spanish GP."

Mark Webber (DNF, Driveshaft): "The race began very badly for me with the issue on the start line and cost me a lot of positions. By the end of the first lap, I had gone from P5 to P11 but the pace of the Jaguar R4 was very good ? something we have clearly demonstrated all weekend. The race then took another unfortunate twist for me with the Drive Through Penalty but there was still a lot to play for. I was up to P9 before I retired and I reckon I could have had Jenson Button's 8th place had it not been for traffic problems. We obviously have some issues to address but let's be honest ? I would much rather have a quick car with some reliability niggles than a slow and unreliable car. The program is clearly moving in the right direction and our pace is very encouraging in comparison to the top teams. The Jaguar R4 has been very competitive at all the circuits it has raced on so far and given that Imola was our wake-up call last year, I am quite confident now of this car's potential at the remaining twelve tracks facing us."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A very disappointing end to a weekend which should have netted us some points. To have qualified in 5th place and lost over six positions by the first corner was very unfortunate indeed for Mark and at this stage, we are examining the problem to find out why it happened. It's a very rare thing to have happened but Antonio also suffered from a start-line issue that meant starting from the pitlane. Just to add to our problem list, Mark was penalized with a Drive Through Penalty that in total cost us around 24 seconds. We don't know exactly the reason behind Mark's retirement but it looks like a suspected drive shaft failure. Once we get the cars back to the factory, we'll undertake a thorough investigation to find the root cause. We do, however, take away many positives from the weekend. The Jaguar R4 has clearly been very competitive here all weekend and that's a good sign for the remaining circuits on the calendar. Like the front-runners today, we also adopted a three-stop strategy and the car was on the pace thereby proving that we are running comparable fuel loads with the top teams. The corrective action we took on the fuel pick-up issue that affected the first three races has worked successfully and we haven't seen signs of the problem at all this weekend. The Jaguar R3 was way out of its depth here last year and to have taken such a big step to where we are now is very encouraging. Points have eluded us so far but it will not be long now before we start earning a return on the huge investment everyone is making in terms of engineering-driven focus and commitment."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (8th): "It's good to get a point here but a little disappointing that we couldn't do better today. I got a little bogged down at the start behind Webber but then I pushed as hard as I could. I think we got everything right today in terms of strategy but we still finished a long way off the leaders. I think we've been able to demonstrate improving reliability but we just need a little more speed. We have an aero and engine upgrade for the next race, which we're testing in Mugello next week, so we should see a small step forward for Barcelona in two weeks' time."

Jacques Villeneuve (DNF, Engine): "It's very disappointing not to finish the race here because things were looking good for us today. I had a problem changing down and then the engine stopped shortly after. I was quite surprised that so many people ran a three-stop strategy because we were on two stops and we were quite competitive. We've had a few problems recently and sadly they've been on my car, but it is encouraging that we are competitive. We just need to work on reliability now and make sure we don't keep missing out on good opportunities."

David Richards, Team Principal: "Overall we were extremely competitive this weekend but when the leading three teams get all their cars to the finish, scoring a point is an achievement. If I compare our gap to the front of the field versus 12 months ago we've come a long way, and if we continue this level of improvement, the whole team must feel very positive for the future."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This was a mixed result for us, with Jenson gaining another point but Jacques not finishing. There was a small fire at the first stop, and on the out-lap the engine stopped after the fire caused terminal damage to the wiring loom. Both cars were running a two-stop strategy but Jenson and Jacques were baulked by Webber's slow getaway and dropped behind slower runners. After Jacques' retirement, Jenson ran to plan to finish P8, although he struggled a little for pace in the last stint. The race history shows that we qualified with the same fuel load as the front row; this gives us further evidence that we have made substantial progress towards the front of the grid since last year."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Jenson drove hard today and this is the third race in a row that we've scored points, so that's encouraging. This wasn't a good race for us though. It was very unfortunate that Jacques had a problem and couldn't finish. I would also like to add that our thoughts are with Daijiro Kato's family at this very sad time."

Minardi-Cosworth

Jos Verstappen (DNF, Electrical): "It has been another disappointing race. The first I knew there was a problem was when the cockpit started to fill with smoke and then the engine just stopped. Until then, the car had felt fine, and I had no problem staying ahead of Firman. The chassis balance, though, was definitely better on the first set of tires than the second."

Justin Wilson (DNF, Retired): "We elected to take on fuel at the end of the formation lap and start from the pit lane, slotting in behind Ralph Firman and Jos. After four or five laps, the car started to slide around quite a bit, so I decided to maintain the best pace I could and just hang on to the pit stop. When I did come in for tires and fuel, the stop seemed to last longer than normal. I didn't realise there was a problem until they called me back to the pits on the next lap and told me that the fuel hadn't been delivered. Up until that point, the car had been running fine. It's fair to say that it's been a disappointing day."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "This was not the result that we had been hoping for at the team's 'home' Grand Prix. Sadly, a failure of the refuelling rig denied Justin a chance to finish the San Marino Grand Prix, and would have done likewise for Jos, had an electrical problem not intervened and prevented him from completing the race before his next scheduled stop. I had hoped we would get both cars home today, but despite a sterling effort from the drivers, it was not to be. Hopefully, we'll have a better race in Barcelona."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (9th): "The positive point about today's result is that we can celebrate our first two-car finish of the season. I did my absolute best today, pushing hard on every lap and it is nice to complete my first race for Toyota. The car was not too bad today and everything worked okay. The team has done a good job all weekend and I am pleased with the joint effort from every single person. Ninth is obviously a frustrating place to end a race, just out of the points, but the reliability is there again and that is very important for the next round. I am now looking ahead to the next race in Barcelona, where the car should perform much better and we should be in a position to go a step further and pick up some points."

Cristiano Da Matta (12th): "I had a good first and second stint in the race, but unfortunately this track is difficult for overtaking, and after my second pit stop I was unable to get past the cars in front of me. This track is not a track that suits our car, so I feel that we did a reasonable job in the circumstances. I am much more confident driving the TF103 and I did the maximum I could today. We made big improvements to the car since Friday and it was not so bad in the race. Barcelona should be much better for us, and we have completed plenty of kilometers there in testing, so I think we should go well there in two weeks' time."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "First of all I must say that I am extremely pleased that we have seen both cars complete today's race. This is a big step forward for the whole team. We struggled here on Friday, so in the end, I think we have the best result we could expect from this weekend. The team has worked very well and the cars have been reliable. I am particularly encouraged to see how well the pit stops worked today. Now we have to improve the overall speed of the car and look ahead to the next race in Spain."

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