JUNE 15, 2003
CANADIAN GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Schumacher takes 68th victory in Montreal
Michael Schumacher won the Canadian Grand Prix, in Montreal, taking his 68th career win and sixth win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in a battle with his brother Ralf, who finished second, and Juan Pablo Montoya in third.
Schumacher's win now puts him in the lead in the drivers standings, three points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari is also now on top of the Constructors' Championship with a nine point lead.
Ralf Schumacher led the race from pole in his Williams-BMW and held the position until the first round of pitstops, when Michael assumed the lead. Montoya spun out of second position early on, and fought his was back to claim the final podium position.
Fernando Alonso finished fourth in his Renault, the first four finishers separated by only 4.5 seconds.
In fifth place was Rubens Barrichello in his Ferrari, followed by Kimi Raikkonen (who started in the pitlane) in sixth, Mark Webber in the Jaguar in seventh, and Olivier Panis in the Toyota taking the final points paying position.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - JUNE 15, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m13.591s
2. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1h31m14.375s (+ 0.784s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h31m14.946s (+ 1.355s)
Q: Michael, 4.4 seconds covered the first four as they crossed the line, pressure all the way, two great pit stops. Does it get much better than that?
Michael SCHUMACHER: No. That's the ideal result, obviously. It was a tight race, a tough race. We had to be very careful on our brake side so I wasn't able to push all the way through and just drove the pace I needed to and during the pit stop area, that's the area I started to sort of open the gap a little bit. Basically, it was a very tricky and tight race as you said, with the first four cars so close together.
Q: I know you're not into stats, but you've just taken your score of world championship points to 999 now and, of course, you've taken the lead in the world championship.
M.Schumacher: Well, that's a good number. In Germany that means if you achieve a number like that, you have to give a drink free to everyone, so let's see what we're going to do tonight.
Q: Ralf, you had a great race there with your brother in the early stages. Did the pit stops decide it for you?
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Yeah, strategy-wise we were a lap down on them. Obviously, it was a bit disappointing because we had a better race pace. I can't see where he took the gap but anyway, I know he was in a different race but I was always able to follow him and with a clear road, I could have gone quicker, as cars behind us showed on Michelin tires. I think we had a better tire today as we had last year. But in 2001, I won it like this. Now it's his turn so, why not?
Q: In the amazing mirror-less Williams too, and it was an interesting tire choice in the second pit stop?
R.Schumacher: Um, yeah. I had my reason for it, because we had a bit of graining and I just didn't want to go through that period again. It made my race a bit difficult at the beginning. The mirror was kind of tricky, but it was on this camera and it was hitting my head braking into turn one sometimes, so it was a bit scary.
Q: Juan Pablo, you were looking very good but then you had that early race spin in front of Michael?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah. I was too close to Ralf, then I braked and then you get very little downforce here and I just braked too late and got it sideways and quite a few times I missed the chicane during the race. I couldn't brake where I wanted to brake and every time I braked where I was I was hardly making the chicane. I just went in sideways and just lost it. My fault completely, but I think it's great that everybody at BMW and Williams did a fantastic job for me. They gave me a good car and I managed to come back. I dropped to about sixth and came back to third, which is pretty good.
Q: It looked as if that problem that you also had with the mirror didn't slow you at all...
Montoya: No, it was bothering me quite a bit, especially when it was getting inside the cockpit. It was on my hand and it was like what's this and sometimes it would be flopping in front of my face but pretty interesting.
Q: At least you didn't have to look at Fernando Alonso behind you in those closing laps.
Montoya: Yeah, somebody told me that Fernando was within two seconds and I said oh, and I saw. But I knew when I passed him that they had way too much downforce and there was no chance he was going to pass us on the straight.
Q: Michael, you said yesterday wait and see what happens on Sunday. It is interesting, in fact, that you had virtually the same fuel load as the Williams drivers.
M.Schumacher: Yeah, virtually, but just a little bit more which gave us the race, which meant that we won and that's what it takes in the end. It doesn't matter but in the end we were good enough and we were very good on the start, as well. I was a bit worried for the start after what I saw in Monaco. The start went very well and I was just able to stay close and do the right speed at the right moment to give us the lead. The crew, the mechanics, did a great job at the pit stop to get me out in front.
(Ralf attempts to sit in the middle! Laughter)
Q: Michael, well done. You were the challenger during the first stint, but then you had Ralf on your tail for the rest of the race. How tough was it out there?
M.Schumacher: Basically, I was pushing Ralf in the first stint when he went through a graining phase. It got so close that I started to prepare to overtake. There were one or two laps when he struggled badly with his tires but it was only basically one lap, and I thought okay, next lap I'm going to get him, but then his tires were a little bit better and his exit out of turn ten was good enough to just keep me behind. But then we got a little bit into trouble with brakes and I had to preserve them and wasn't able to push and probably their performance picked up throughout the race for whatever reason, so it got very tight. It's difficult to say how much quicker they could have gone or we could have gone if we had the ability to push with our brakes all the way through. At the end of the day, what counts is how it finished and that's obviously to our end and we're obviously very happy.
Q: Leading the World Championship now is obviously important as we go into the second half of the season.
M.Schumacher: Yeah, it's always important to go into the lead and try to get as many points as you can. The season is going to be a long one and we knew that from the beginning and we've sort of had confirmation by now and it will be a tough fight to the end.
Q: After qualifying yesterday, you didn't really give the message that you could perhaps win this race today.
M.Schumacher: Well, because I think it was very unclear what is the direction it's going to go, because if you see, for example, in Monte Carlo on the Thursday practice, we were miles ahead, on the Saturday, it was completely the reverse. Yesterday, here, with the green track, it was the complete opposite so I was hoping that maybe in the race it worked in our favour and it did look like it in the first stint so at this stage yesterday, obviously, I wasn't sure of the situation - and I was a little bit pessimistic still with an open mind, obviously.
Q: Ralf, you really did get very close to Michael on occasions, a couple of tenths apart. How close did it feel you were to overtaking?
R.Schumacher: Well, I was never close to even try, that's why I didn't. Maybe some might think again that I took it too easy but if there is no possibility I won't try it. There's eight points for the team and for me and for Juan as well so it was important for us to score points at the same time. As Michael said at the beginning, I went through a bit of a difficult period with my tires but after that, already towards the end of the first stint and in the second and third, I could have been far stronger and showed our basic potential. But it's not enough to get by. I had good straight-line speed. We have to go back to the factory and find a few more horse powers to change that again.
Q: What was the strategy to keeping your two front tires on at the first pit stop?
R.Schumacher: I fell in love with them. That's why. No, I went through a graining period. The front tires worked well so I didn't want to change anything.
Q: Did you know that there had been a couple of tire delaminations for other people?
R.Schumacher: I saw it on the telly and the team told me but we didn't have any sign so that's why we didn't worry too much.
Q: So what can you change next time to win?
R.Schumacher: At least the two of us were on the podium, which is great for the team, but Monaco and Montreal seem to work massively into our favour. The next one is Nurburgring, a totally different circuit. Just let's wait and see how we perform there before we think about pole positions and winning races again. But one thing is sure; the team has developed the car massively in the right direction. It's starting to pay off but we're still a long way away from where we really want to be and there is a lot to come.
Q: Juan Pablo. You overtook Alonso early on. How easy was that, how important was it?
Montoya: Well, I lost it into the chicane and I think Alonso and another car passed me, I think it was Webber. I went past them pretty easy to be honest. Alonso had very good traction because I think there was quite a lot of downforce in the car but for some reason he was braking really early into the hairpin and I knew he was expecting me to try to overtake him on the straight so I just went in under braking and he just braked way too early and that was it.
Q: Did you have any problems later in the race?
Montoya: I was struggling a little bit under braking and instability with the car right into the corners, especially into the chicane - I missed the chicane two times and when they told me you can't miss it any more I had to brake. I could brake like, under 100, and no problem make the chicane. Sometimes I was having problems with the downshift. Something it wouldn't downshift and I couldn't slow the car down quick enough, sometimes it would downshift?it was a bit of a nightmare.
Q: How long were you coping with that for?
Montoya: Um, 70 laps! (laughter)
Q: Did that have anything to do with the spin?
Montoya: No, it was before the spin. I had it from lap one.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Michael, you said earlier this week that this is not a track to your liking yet this is the sixth time you have won here. What is it about the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that you don't like but you keep on winning?
M.Schumacher: First of all I am surprised you say I don't like this circuit. I haven't said that, honestly, and actually, for overtaking it is a good circuit this one, so I don't know where you got your statements. But the fact is that I have circuits that I feel are a higher challenge, as in Suzuka and Spa. What is the reason why I am doing well here compared to other circuits? I have no idea. I don't know. To my nature, it is actually not the right circuit because I feel I have usually I show up in high-speed corners and other kind of circuits, as Suzuka combinations rather than stop-and-go circuits. So, I have no reason. I guess I just have a good car.
Q: Ralf, you and your team have worked very hard on the development of your car and you have paid tribute to the team. Today was your best opportunity to compare the performance of your car with Michael's. Can you tell us the areas where you think you are good and where you are weak and perhaps Michael can tell us what he thinks about the performance of the Williams.
R.Schumacher: Well, simply feeling my car and looking at his I think we did a better job on the set-up side. My car looked a lot easier to drive today, but that could have been about tires - Juan seemed to have some traction problems from looking behind. But here it is fair to say we would have been better but then, you know, it could change from circuit to circuit. Michael, at this circuit, fits very well, but as I said before the car is really getting there.
M.Schumacher: Not much to say, honestly. I don't know whether it is the car is it? He went particularly well through the last chicane I thought. That is the only thing I can say.
Q: First question, Michael, is that we know it is a custom in your country to buy everyone a round of drinks. I just wanted to let you know that a bunch of my colleagues are going out after and I was just wondering if you would...
M.Schumacher: You look like you drink a lot.
M.Schumacher: It is going to be expensive for me. Too much beer.
Q: Second question, to all three of you. A lot of has been made about the lack of competitiveness in Formula One but today's race showed that is not the case. Can you comment on that?
M.Schumacher: The nature of sport is that it is unpredictable and that is what we have seen in all the years of many, many sports and that is the way with Formula One. Sometimes there are straight-forward races and sometimes they are very tight races and they come every so often in whatever order, but as I say that's sport.
R.Schumacher: After last year, certainly I have to say that no-one expected it to change that quickly, but it is great for us, great for the sport. Obviously Michael doesn't like it but it is great to see different cars winning this year.
Montoya: I have nothing to add.
Q: Ralf, was the mirror hitting your bodywork at all?
R.Schumacher: Well, it was hitting me, the bodywork. It was just alternating. Bits lying around in my monocoque so I had to throw it out again but it was funny. Something else to do!
Q: How do you comment about this disaster for McLaren this weekend.
M.Schumacher: I think actually to see Kimi going from the pitlane, I think he had a problem with the tire and then still finished sixth, that's not too bad, honestly. After I heard he had this problem with the tire I wouldn't have expected him to be in the points.
Q: Juan, after your spin did that cause you to change your race strategy?
Montoya: No, I think the race strategy was pretty set already before the start of the race and I just went out and I pushed really hard all day and I came from what, 15 or 18 seconds behind them to catch them. So I think I did pretty good from that perspective but I think it is a shame - I had the potential to win the race again and I kind of threw it away.
Q: Michael, after the results of the last two weeks and now you are in front in the drivers' championship, do you see Williams as the biggest threat to you or is it still McLaren or is it both?
M.Schumacher: If you analyse this season you have clearly to say that there is some character of circuit which seems to suit one and other characters the other team so you simply have to count them both, in terms of championship points, but obviously it is more tight with Kimi and McLaren.
Q: A great race guys. Exciting, tense, close, but the bottom line is at the end, you have four cars and no-one could overtake. Is that a state of this particular race or is it the cars in Formula One in general, or what is the deal?
M.Schumacher: The deal is that those cars are so competitive and so close together that it is simply too close competition to get the chance of overtaking.
Michael Schumacher (1st): "This was the ideal result at the end of a very tough and tight race. I had to be careful to look after the brakes so I did not push too hard at first, just maintaining my pace after a very good start. I was able to stay close to Ralf and only really pushed hard in the period around the pit stops. There was a time when I thought I was going to pass Ralf, but then his tires seemed to improve and I could not get by. But the mechanics did a great job in the pit stop to put me in the lead. Of course, it is important to be leading the championship in what I have always said will be a hard season with a tough fight to the end. As for having 999 points, in Germany that number means you have to buy everyone a drink, so we will see what happens tonight!"
Rubens Barrichello (5th): "My race was conditioned by what happened at the start. We were all very close and, with Webber on the outside of me, I touched Alonso under braking and damaged the front wing. As I had to stop to change it, we changed the strategy. Then, during the race, I had problems with the brakes and also the gearbox electronics. On top of that, after I lost the left turning vane the car was no longer perfectly balanced. Despite all that, I was able to control Raikkonen when he closed up, thus managing to finish fifth. All in all, I can be happy with the final result as I was fifth on the grid, but virtually last after two laps."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was an incredible race! Michael delivered a perfect performance despite suffering with brake problems for much of the race. Rubens also did a good job. When he pitted on lap 2 to change the nose, damaged in a collision with Alonso, we changed his strategy, allowing him to bring home valuable points in the race for the Constructors" Championship. Today's was the sixtieth win since I joined Ferrari and probably one of our most hard won victories. The team did an excellent job in terms of strategy and during the pit stops. Also vital was the help which we received as usual from our technical partners, especially Bridgestone who provided very competitive tires and Shell, with a fuel which was ideally suited to the characteristics of this track. We have reached the halfway point of the season, leading both championships. We can expect the second half to be very tough because the opposition is very strong. We think we have all the elements in place to reach the targets we set ourselves at the start of the year."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "This was one of the best races I have ever seen. I am delighted with Michael's win and it is a shame about Rubens, as he too could have been up with the front runners. Michael did a very good job of controlling the race despite brake wear problems right from the early stages. We breathed a sigh of relief when we got to the chequered flag! The strategy worked well, but the deciding factor was the way Michael drove."
Ralf Schumacher (2nd): "Eight points for me and six for Juan , these two podium finishes are super for our team. Obviously it is a bit disappointing again not to win after I have set pole position but I could not quite achieve the victory here. There was no way I could overtake Michael even though I was stuck on his tail. Also my left rear view mirror broke and it was bothering me as it was even hitting my helmet in some corners. I never changed my front tires during this race because after having experienced some graining problems in the first part of the race I did not want to drive through a performance dip again. This result clearly shows how much we have improved and that we are on the right way up after a difficult start to the season."
Juan Pablo Montoya (3rd): "It was a good performance from us today but we had hoped for an even better result. I made a mistake on lap two and lost a few positions so I had to fight my way up again. I had a hard race. Due to some brake problems I missed the chicane a couple of times and from lap one I had to use the manual downshift, which I am not really used to. I had the same problem Ralf had with the rear mirror which broke and was flopping in front of my face and was distracting me. In the end I could catch up with Ralf and Michael but had no chance to pass them. To- day we proved again that our cars have improved and that we are definitely on our way up."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It is a good result for the team, although it is a shame we could not overtake Michael. He was quick on his first stint, but had to slow down from his second stint onwards for some reason. It is obvious that the performance of our car package is definitely improving, and the whole team did a good job here. We are looking forward to the Nurburgring where we will have some more improvements."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "It has been an exciting race from the first until the very last lap. Michael Schumacher was the one to beat here, he was strong as expected. It means a great deal to our team to be with both the drivers on the podium again, the last time this happened was at Hockenheim last year. Locking out the front row and coming second and third in the race here confirms the performance we have shown in Monaco. We have also demonstrated that we can achieve top results on a circuit which presents a very different challenge."
Kimi Raikkonen (6th): "Today's result is not a disaster at all and the gap to Michael is only three points with plenty more races to go. I started the race from the pitlane but after 10-15 laps, the team told me to save my brakes so I was not able to push and if you don"t push, you don"t gain places. However I was able to make some progress through the field. I lost one position to Barrichello when I had a puncture on my right rear tire and had to go into the pits a bit earlier than scheduled. The whole team and myself look forward to fighting back at the next race."
David Coulthard (DNF, Gearbox): "Obviously a non-finish is never good, but that is the way it went today. Initially I lost fourth and fifth gear but it was possible to keep going to try and score some points. However, eventually I also lost seventh gear, which made things impossible. Until then the race was encouraging as we were on the pace and once I was in clean air we were running as fast as the guys at the front. So we have the pace we just need to qualify better and ensure reliability. Let's hope that happens at the next race!"
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A hard day at the office. David's retirement was caused by a transmission failure whilst Kimi's progress was slower than possible as a result of higher brake wear than we anticipated. Kimi's puncture cost him fifth place, but nevertheless his efforts were rewarded with three valuable points. The pace of the car was enough to win the race, and we will therefore maintain our low risk strategy for the introduction of the MP4-18."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The outcome of the race is acceptable taking into consideration that Kimi started last. Our lap times during the race were competitive and three points away from the top at the half way point of the season are not a lot. I"m sorry for David who also could have finished in the points today. We are now looking forward to the next Grand Prix at the Nürburgring where we will try hard to keep the fight for the World Championship open."
Fernando Alonso (4th): "I'm happy with the result, especially because I finished the race in the leading group. For the first time this year, we were really fighting for the win, and it was a good feeling! I lost some time during my first stint, but managed to catch it up again at the end, even though I could not get past the cars in front. It has been a very positive weekend, and I particularly want to thank the team because I didn't have a single problem with the car all weekend. We go to the next race in a strong position in the Constructors' and the Driver's Championships."
Jarno Trulli (DNF, Damage): "To put it simply, nothing went right for me today. At the start I seemed to find a lot of traffic on the run to the first corner, then Pizzonia hit the rear of my car in the second hairpin on lap two, which punctured the tire. After that, I was having trouble controlling the car and I pitted a second time, where the Team identified a broken left front wheel. When I got back out on the circuit, I spun on the exit of Turn 10 with a traction control problem, and then had to retire because of the damage sustained in the collision. To say it was a bad day for me would be quite an understatement."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director:
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "After such a fantastic race, it is frustrating not to finish on the podium, but that does not detract from a fantastic result. Fernando drove impeccably, and the car and tires were faultless. It is unfortunate that Jarno was unable to join his team-mate at the end of the race, but the damage sustained in his collision in the opening laps affected his car, eventually causing his retirement."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "From a sporting perspective, it was an extraordinary race for Fernando, who drove brilliantly throughout. On a circuit which we didn't expect to favour us, we showed ourselves capable of placing at least one of our drivers amongst the leaders. On the technical side, we saw one of our cars run without any problems, while the other suffered problems from the grid onwards. Notwithstanding this, the real motive for satisfaction at the halfway stage of the season is to have confirmed our status as legitimate challengers for race wins."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "To finish just barely two seconds from the winner is an incredible result for Fernando. We had good pit-stops today and the whole Team, both on the engine and the chassis sides, did a fantastic job. We are pleased to have strengthened our fourth position in the Constructors' Championship, and for Fernando to have confirmed his third place in the Drivers'."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (DNF, Electronics): "Apart from the subsequent technical problems our chances of points had gone already after the start. Both drivers lost places and got stuck behind Villeneuve as the rest of the field got bottled up behind him. Heinz-Harald had to retire due to a defect in the electronics, and Nick suffered an engine failure."
Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Engine): "In my opinion we have suffered from too many engine failures this season already! Apart from this the main problem I had today was the launch control. Usually I have good starts, but today it simply didn't work out. As a consequence I lost some places on the first lap and got stuck behind Villeneuve, which cost me time. Later on I was able to make up two places but the fact that I had to retire once again due to an engine problem leaves me feeling very frustrated."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "At the start I lost some places but I was just about fighting to come up again when the automatic gear system failed and the revs suddenly soared. There was an electronic problem between the engine and the gearbox, but the cause still needs analysing. Of course I am very disappointed, and it is also a shame for Nick. I think in better circumstances we should have been able to score points today."
Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Gearbox): "I was having a great race but then I couldn't get first gear after the pit stop, I think it might be a problem with the gearbox. I worked with my engineer to get a good set-up and strategy and our pace was looking really good. I think it would have been easy to score points today, but unfortunately I stopped. I'm very disappointed."
Ralph Firman (DNF, Engine): "We decided to change the strategy to one stop and it seemed to be working out really well. I'm not quite sure what caused the failure but the engineers are looking into it. I'm disappointed as it looks like we would have been able to score points today and it's a real shame for the team that I wasn't able to finish."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "We're disappointed, obviously, as I think we were doing a pretty reasonable job recovering from yesterday. Giancarlo had a problem with his gearbox and Ralph had an oil leak which caused an engine failure. I think we had the pace to score points in this race so it's a shame that both cars were forced to retire."
Mark Webber (7th): "Yet again the Jaguar has come home strong today and proved it's pace against the front runners. I made a good clean start and got through the notorious first corner without any problems. In fact, I was trying to sneak onto the inside of Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) as we entered turn two but couldn't pull it off. After that, I was happy with the pace and balance of the car. Our top speeds were quite encouraging but it was hard to maintain the pace through the third sector. Our strategy worked well today and the only real issues I suffered from were brakes and oversteer. The oversteer kicked in after my first stop when we changed the rear tire only and combined with the excellent worn fronts, I fought oversteer for a few laps. Because of the terrible weather this weekend, we have suffered from limited dry running and given this, the team did an excellent recovery job to help pull-off a 7th place finish today. The direction and approach this team is adopting is paying dividends and as long as we continue to maintain this upward curve, I'm sure more points will follow quite soon."
Antonio Pizzonia (10th): "A frustrating end to what should have been a good race for me. I made a good start and passed two cars that put me into 11th place before the end of the first lap. Our good work, however, was undone when I collided into the back of Jarno Trulli who was being passed around the outside of Turn 10 by David Coulthard. Jarno braked very suddenly and in the process, I lost the front cone off my car. The immediate pit stop put me one lap down and after that, there was little opportunity to make an impact on the race. Nonetheless, generating race mileage is important for my development and being out there for a race distance was valuable experience for me and valuable data for the team. We came very close to having both Jaguars finish today but my brakes were completely worn towards the end and I had no choice but to call it a day on the penultimate lap. Team wise, we have learned an incredible amount this weekend and in addition, we have two more championship points to take away with us. A tough weekend but one which ended-up with reward in the end."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Overall, we have had a difficult weekend, particularly with the weather conditions which hampered our preparation, albeit the two-hour Friday testing session helped considerably in compensating for this. Achieving reliability was the target we set ourselves and we are very pleased to have scored points at what is regarded by everyone as a ?car breaker' circuit. Only nine cars finished the race and while we suffered some niggles like brakes, for example, we are very satisfied with the speed and balance of the car. Mark's race went pretty much according to plan today. He made a good start and maintained position very well. His first pit-stop was compromised slightly by a fuel hose problem but apart from that, Mark's day went according to plan. Like everyone today, we suffered from the punishment the brakes take and towards the end of the race, Mark backed off a little in an effort to preserve the car and bring it home in a pleasing 7th place. Antonio also made an excellent start and made up a couple of places before a coming together with the Renault of Jarno Trulli. This caused severe damage to his front nose cone and we had no choice but to call him in and put a new nose on the car. We topped him up with fuel, made an adjustment to the strategy and sent him back out, albeit his brakes suffered so much that he had no choice but to retire one lap from the end. We do, however, walk away from the weekend with more championship points, an awful lot of information and achievement in certain target areas that will now allow us to progress onto the next stage of development with the Jaguar R4. We still have a long way to go before we challenge the front runners on a regular basis but the fact that we continue to take positive steps forward on all fronts is key."
Jacques Villeneuve (DNF, Brakes): "Obviously it's very disappointing to face yet another retirement. I had a good start and I'd moved up to ninth. The car felt really good, it was well balanced and it's a shame because we could easily have picked up some points today. Gradually I started to lose my brakes and the pedal was getting longer and longer. I came in for my pitstop and the team tried to pinpoint the problem and cool the brakes. I went back out for a lap but I had to come in again because by that time I had nothing under braking. Sometimes only seven cars finish a race so the team tried to fix the problem. They started to replace the left rear caliper and stop the leak but it was clear that our race was over. I've had mechanical problems in six out of eight races so it's becoming very frustrating now but we just have to keep working hard. I've had a lot of support here this weekend and it would have been nice to at least finish in front of my home crowd."
Jenson Button (DNF, Gearbox): "This was always going to be a difficult race for me given my grid position. The car felt good early on but I was stuck in a lot of traffic for most of the first stint. I got more and more understeer in the low-speed corners and it was impossible to overtake. The second stint was much better because I had clean air and I was catching Panis and da Matta but then I had a problem with 4th gear. I was trying to short-shift but gradually I lost fifth then sixth then seventh. It's a very disappointing end to a difficult weekend for the team. We had an improved package for this race and we were hopeful of better things, so I don't really know what happened here."
David Richards, Team Principal:
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We had a really strong package here this weekend and I was looking forward to seeing the results. However, it was not to be. Today has been particularly tough on Jacques, being his home race, but it's also a shame that Jenson was forced out of the action. We'll be back fighting at the Nurburgring."
Jos Verstappen (9th): "I was happy to finish today's race in ninth place, as it's our best result so far this season. It's a shame we weren't able to get eighth place and the Championship point that goes with it. The car ran really reliably in the race, for which I must thank all the guys. I had to let the frontrunners through after my second pit stop, which inevitably slowed me down a bit, but you can't ignore the blue flags, even though you almost have to coast down the straights at times to let people pass you. It's a good result for the team, though, and I'm very pleased with it."
Justin Wilson (DNF, Gearbox): "The car was fantastic today - I could do what I wanted with it and position it where I wanted it on the track. Everything was going to plan, the car hadn't missed a beat all afternoon, and then, just a few laps from the end of the race, I heard a bang as I was coming down the back straight and lost all drive. I was able to coast into the pits, but there was nothing that could be done. It's such a shame, because I think we could have had two strong finishes for Minardi here in Canada. It's good for the team, however, that Jos got a top-10 finish."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "In what has been a rollercoaster weekend for European Minardi here in Montreal, it was great to see both our drivers not only setting competitive times in today's race, but also fighting for top-10 positions. Justin's first stint, which saw him climb from 18th to 11th, was simply amazing, and yet again proves he must be one of the fastest starters in Formula One. As the race settled down, it was clear both drivers were challenging for top-10 positions, and were it not for a gearbox failure on Justin's car, we would have scored a World Championship point today. As Minardi moves back to Europe for the second half of the 2003 F1 season with our new partner, Bernie Ecclestone, we look forward to being able to show the true potential of our car."
Olivier Panis (8th): "I think this eighth place is a very good result for the team because everybody has done a fantastic job this weekend. I am a little bit disappointed for Cristiano because he drove a strong race, but this is my first championship point of the season and for me it is now the first step. The car went very well throughout the weekend and, from here, we need to continue to build on the car's performance for the second half of the season - starting from the next race at the Nurburgring."
Cristiano Da Matta (11th): "I am very disappointed. I don't know what happened really. Something just wasn't right with the car's suspension at the exit of the chicane and I simply couldn't continue. Everyone did a great job and everything was running normally until the end. At least we can take one point home as a team - I think we deserved it after our combined team performance. The car was handling reasonably well in the race and I think we were running as quickly as we could have, so to miss out on certain points like that so close to the end is extremely annoying."
Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "It has been a encouraging weekend for the team. We are obviously sorry that, Cristiano was forced to stop so close to the end of the race from a points position. Both drivers performed exceptionally well over the whole weekend. At the end of the day the team has picked up a point, which might sound something small, but for us it means a lot. It is a reward for all of our hard work and determination over the last few disappointing races and if you look at the competitiveness in the top 8, it is a nice achievement for us to get a point. I have to say that I am particularly pleased that Olivier has got on the scoreboard. From here, it is onwards and upwards."