JULY 6, 2003
FRENCH GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Ralf claims another Williams-BMW 1-2
Ralf Schumacher won the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours today in convincing fashion, leading from start to finish, beating his team mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished second, making it the second consecutive 1-2 finish for the Williams-BMW team in the span of just one week. The win is the German's sixth career victory.
World Championship leader Michael Schumacher finished in third place for Ferrari - extending his lead over Kimi Raikkonen, who finished in fourth place, to eight points. Ralf has closed to just three points behind Raikkonen.
Raikkonen's team mate David Coulthard took fifth place in the McLaren-Mercedes - with troubles during his pitstops costing him much time.
Australian Mark Webber once again finished sixth for Jaguar, while Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello clawed his way back to seventh after spinning to the back of the field on the opening lap.
Frenchman Olivier Panis in the Toyota scored the final points paying position in his home Grand Prix.
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - 6 JULY 2003
1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1h30m49.213s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h31m03.026s (+ 13.813s)
3. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m08.781s (+ 19.568s)
Q: It looked fantastic but very close with Juan Pablo in the final stages of the races.
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Yes, it was. I was able to disappear in the first two... after the first pit stop basically, but then in the second one, I don't know, maybe we got the pressures wrong - we might have to check that later. The car didn't feel very good; I had some problems with that set. So Juan came closer. I had problems with overtaking manoeuvres, lapping guys and Trulli, who slowed down and I just couldn't overtake him because there was yellow (flags) so I saw him (Montoya) going in and called the team to make a place for me after because I knew that if I had stayed out a lot longer he would have caught me and I would have looked pretty strange so I didn't want that to happen.
Q: But an awe-inspiring performance today; how long do you think this can go on now for BMW Williams?
R.Schumacher: That's always the question in Formula One. I think if the two of us, including the team, keep working like that we can keep it going. But there will be circuits where, for sure, it's going to be tough again but certainly we are going in the right direction. We have a long test next week, hopefully go through a lot of stuff there, find some stuff for the next few races and continue doing this.
Q: Juan Pablo, very good second place. It looked like quite a long first stop but then you got very very close to Ralf at the end?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah. My first stint wasn't very good, I wasn't very comfortable driving the car, couldn't really push, I was losing quite a lot of time, especially in the last sector. And then it seems it got a bit better, I came into the pits, I think they had a problem with a wheel nut or something. I came into the pits about three seconds behind Ralf and came out seven or eight seconds behind him. I paced myself and started pushing so I could run the same pace as him, so I started pushing very hard and before the last stop I was right there with him. I decided to come in two laps earlier and Ralf decided to come in the lap after so all the advantage that I made, it wasn't really... I probably needed another second, but it wasn't there, so after that I just backed off.
Q: You did set fastest lap and you seemed to gain quite a lot of time when the oil was down and in traffic.
Montoya: Yeah, the car was very good. I was pretty aggressive with the traffic, to be able to go by quicker and it seemed to work quite well but I think it's great for the team. I don't know how many points we're behind Ferrari but it's not that many now.
Q: Michael, you were hoping that on that side of the grid you could make a good start but in fact Kimi Raikkonen got in front of you going into turn one; could you just talk us through that?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Pretty easy: he out-accelerated me and was in front of me and I even had to fight against Coulthard who came very close to me and we were side-by-side through turns one and three which was quite exciting.
Q: But you made up for that later in the race, ran five laps longer than Kimi for that third stop and came out ahead of him to get the podium finish.
M.Schumacher: Yeah, that was the only opportunity, knowing that they had stopped very early, all the first two stops, which meant that the last stop they did was with a lot of fuel. We knew they didn't have new tires, so we hoped that our tires would hold together and I could do the pace I did and that brought us the advantage towards them.
Q: Quick summary of your race today; do you think that was as good as you could have expected here this weekend?
M.Schumacher: Well, you always hope for better but looking at the weekend's pace overall that was about what we thought we would do.
Q: Been quite an eight days, now, hasn't it Ralf?
R.Schumacher: It's great. I still can't believe it, winning two in a row, simply great and finally I did it from pole position. As I said before, it was very tight with Juan after I hit traffic and had some problems with one set of tires, but then I came in a lap early and then I was OK.
Q: In the opening laps you were just disappearing?
R.Schumacher: Well, the car was very good to start with, that was the plan. I struggled a bit in Nurburgring so I tried to get it right from the start onwards. I worked on the start, worked after the first pit stop, after the second I struggled a bit and that was when he came close.
Q: Then there was the tiniest moment that you had about five laps from the end...
R.Schumacher: Ah, going a bit wide in turn seven, I think. Yeah. I don't know why. Maybe I thought about something else. No, I just braked a bit late and that was it. Nothing special. That was the only one but my team came (on the radio) straightaway - I guess it was on telly - asking if everything was alright.
Q: What about the backmarkers; they seemed to make quite a difference?
R.Schumacher: Yeah, it's always the same problem. Blue flags still come a bit late although they are trying to be fair, but some of them go away quicker, but even then, it costs you time. It's always the same problem and I understand that for the backmarkers, the guys, it's difficult to understand, but it costs you anything between five tenths and a second, and obviously every tenth is really important for me or was important for me at that stage. It's always a bit of a problem when you're leading, you can't really hit that much, and I had a yellow flag, the oil on the circuit and oil stuff, so I took it a bit easier maybe there and lost most of it there.
Q: How bad was the oil?
R.Schumacher: The oil wasn't the problem. It's just when you go there once or twice you take it a bit easy because you don't want to look stupid and spin off on the oil. If you're seven years in Formula One and you still do it you look pretty stupid I guess. That's why.
Q: Juan Pablo, second place, happy with that?
Montoya: Er, yeah. It was a bit struggle for the first few laps of the race. I wasn't comfortable with the car. I was calling the pits every half a lap to see what I could do to try to improve it. Halfway through the stint it started to come back and after that it was good. I went top in all three sectors and had the fastest lap of the race. It's been two in a row like that. In the last stop, it was close but it wasn't close enough.
Q: How were the tires at the end?
Montoya: Ah good. It was fine. When I came out with Ralf, I knew there was nothing I could do. Here, this is the trouble, you can't really overtake. It's nearly the same as Monaco. You don't have the chance to pass somebody here.
Q: You were losing a lot of time to Michael at the end. Was that your decision to ease up?
Montoya: Yeah, we had ten laps left and he was about 20-odd seconds behind, so I didn't really bother.
Q: Michael what was your reaction to that?
M.Schumacher: Yeah. You never know what happens.
Q: How was the car today?
M.Schumacher: As good as it could have been honestly. For us it was sort of maximum. We had a bit of a struggle with the second set; the second stint was probably the slowest overall because afterwards it was pretty good for us.
Q: How worried are you about the Williams-BMW's at the moment? Obviously two victories, two one-two's in two races...
M.Schumacher: Obviously you need to be concerned about it. We see what they do, we know what we do and we obviously work very hard at home to get our acts together to improve the situation.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: A question for Michael. Your tire company Bridgestone has played a big part in your successes, this is not a time to panic but what can you do? What is the next step? You've got a big test coming up I understand, but is it a moment to start thinking about taking bigger steps forward with the tires or are you going to chip away at it a little bit at a time?
M.Schumacher: No we basically stay concentrated and we will work together in order to improve the situation. I think everybody knows what we have to do.
Q: What is that?
M.Schumacher: If I let you know Ralf would listen as well
Q: But if we all know what you have got to do...
M.Schumacher: Maybe I will tell some secrets. There is no point to get into this.
Q: Michael, at the beginning of the season you kept saying that your new car was fantastic. Do you still feel the same?
M.Schumacher: We have a very good car indeed, but obviously so have Williams.
Q: For the Williams guys, you were obviously very close when the final stops were coming up, Ralf was leading the race and yet Juan stopped first, which I think is an advantage. How was that decided?
R.Schumacher: He decided it himself, but it was pretty easy because we both ran into traffic and after I saw him disappear in I thought 'whoops, you have to get your act together' and that is why I decided to come in the lap afterwards. I must say the guys did a great job because I called them straight away and they got everything prepared after sending him out, so thanks to the team.
Q: A question to Michael. Are you worried that you can only test this week and then only in September and then Formula One goes to the USA and Japan?
M.Schumacher: It is the same for everyone.
Q: But you are at the back at the moment?
M.Schumacher: At the moment. In Formula One we have often seen, in particular in the years '97, '98 and '99, we had phases where we were behind and suddenly minor things make the thing turn. It is not like we are completely lost, I gained another point in the championship lead to Kimi (Raikkonen) today. So all-in-all we know we are a bit behind the Williams, but we feel confident that we can change it around.
Q: Juan Pablo how many laps after the third pit-stop did the team give you orders to back off?
Montoya: They didn't. Ralf came in front and I knew there was nothing to do. Here there is a lot of fast corners so you can't really follow anybody so I just decided to back off and get to the end. Probably I did have half of the first lap and he was on fresh tires and I had already done a lap on my tires so he was going to be quicker. I just backed off straight away.
Q: A question to the two Williams boys. How confident are you of being able to make a title challenge of the car?
R.Schumacher: As Michael said in Formula One you can never be confident. I think we are doing a very good job all together at the moment. As Ferrari are going to go testing some new bits, a very busy test schedule in order to try and keep it where it is. But you never know. All of a sudden they could make a big step. It is going to be very tough I'm sure but we will try and stay where we are and to keep basically going from race-to-race and trying to get the next result out of it.
Q: Michael, without Bridgestone today would you win or would you lose. How do you think?
M.Schumacher: It would be very difficult to run without tires.
Q: If I could ask the three drivers how they assess their chances for Silverstone?
R.Schumacher: Silverstone, well you never know. It is a different circuit.
M.Schumacher: Is it?
R.Schumacher: Okay let's wait and see who will win that one. New battle here! We have had tests, they were looking pretty good for us. I guess for the last five races we have been competitive, why shouldn't we be there.
Montoya: I think it will be pretty hard but you never know. The first three tests we did there we were really strong, the last test in hotter conditions I was still fastest but it looks like they have a little but more consistency than us. But we've got newer tires now so it might be better.
M.Schumacher: I think we had a good test in Silverstone so we hope that it is good for us.
Q: A question for Ralf. As far as I remember at this time of the season that you look in such good shape in the championship. It is the first time, am I right?
R.Schumacher: Yep. From where we were usually it is not so difficult is it? I think in the last four years we haven't been looking so consistent or so good so that is why. It might look good at the moment but it can all change around. There is still quite a few races to go so I don't want to think about it at the moment.
Q: At this time of the season then it is the first time you are looking like the second Schumacher, looking in good shape to win the championship. I just wanted to know what is going to be on your face at that time when someone can tell you this...
R.Schumacher: Well certainly every driver who joins Formula One would love to win the title one day. Honestly I am waiting very long for that and am aware of the situation that it might be possible this year, but it is still so far away still. Since the points are so different this year, the gaps are a lot smaller and it became more difficult simply. Let's wait and see what the next races and doing and then continue talking about it maybe.
Q: Michael, you did lose a position at the start. I just wondered if there was anything with your car of if you could explain that...
M.Schumacher: No I need to check what is going on, whether it was me with a bad reaction time or whatever. I don't know.
Michael Schumacher (3rd): "We realized earlier in the weekend that we were not going to be as competitive here as we had expected, so third place was probably the best I could do. At the start, Kimi got ahead because he made a better start: we will have to see if it was my reaction time or something on the car. David nearly came past as well and we ran side by side for a couple of corners which was exciting. I got back ahead of the two McLarens,because they pitted earlier for the first two stops, so we knew they would have to take on a heavier fuel load at the end. I pushed hard at that point and that gave me the advantage.The car was as good as it could have been, although I struggled a bit on the second set of tires. We have a good car, but so has BMW-Williams. Of course we are aware of the situation, but we will now work very hard with Bridgestone to improve the situation. We are definitely not going through a crisis. I have extended my championship lead over Kimi and I am confident we can put an end to this current run of poor results."
Rubens Barrichello (7th): "I got my line wrong at the new chicane at the end of the first lap, as I was unsighted because I was following Alonso's Renault in front of me very closely. When I turned, I went up on the kerb, the car didn't want to respond and all I can say is that it was my mistake. My chances of a good result ended at that moment. For the rest of the race, I tried to climb back through the field, making the most of the change to a two stop strategy. I managed to do just that and at least I picked up a couple of valuable points for the Constructors' championship."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "As we had expected, this was a difficult race. Michael managed to limit the damage in the Drivers' championship with his third place finish, while Rubens' two points helped us to maintain the lead in the Constructors.' Undoubtedly, the balance of power in the last four races between ourselves and the BMW, Williams, Michelin package has shifted in their favor. Both Championships' are now wide open. With six races remaining, there are four drivers within 17 points and three teams covered by 18. Now we are about to tackle a week of testing, the last before the summer break and it will be very important. We will be in action at Mugello, Barcelona and Fiorano, working along with Bridgestone, on the entire package. We will put all our efforts into improving the situation, with the aim of maintaining our lead in both Championships to the very end of the season."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Given the situation, we can be satisfied with Michael's third place. It was a shame for Rubens, whose car was going well. After his spin, we changed the strategy and at least we managed to get him home in the points. We were not competitive enough today.We still lead both championships, but our advantage in the Constructors' is now much reduced. We know we have to work around the 360 degrees of the whole package. As from next Tuesday, we will be running in Barcelona, Mugello and finally at Fiorano to try out new solutions on the car and with the tires."
Ralf Schumacher (1st): "Finally I did it from pole position! In the first part of the race it all seemed to go very well but after the first pit stop the car did not feel so good and I lost some time. Also I was delayed by several drivers that I had to lap, especially Jarno Trulli, who I could not overtake due to a yellow flag. Regarding the light off I had in the last laps, it was my fault as I braked too late. I hope we can keep this momentum going even though we are now going to circuits that are even tougher on the car. We are definitely getting closer and closer to Ferrari but for the moment I prefer not to think about our World Championship chances as things can change ?so quickly in F1."
Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd): "I was not too comfortable in my car today and I was losing time, especially in the third sector. I pushed very hard and decided to come in earlier for my second pit-stop because there was quite a lot of traffic and I was wasting time but still I could not catch Ralf. On this track you cannot really overtake easily, so you try to do it with the pit-stop strategy. After the third stop I just backed off and drove to secure my position, as Michael Schumacher was a fair amount of seconds behind me with only a few laps to go."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "This is a fantastic day for the team. Ralf drove a brilliant race today, true textbook style, not putting a foot wrong. The current performance of the BMW WiliamsF1 Team is the result of a number of factors and the effort put in by our technical partners, but it is fair to say that the latest improvements have predominantly come from the aerodynamic department and through Michelin's intensive tire development work."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The second consecutive 1-2 is simply unbelievable if you think about how weak we were at the start of the season. The way we dominated the race from the first to the last lap was stunning. We were able to go faster than everybody else at any time. After the third pit- stop we just eased up. Front row and a 1-2 finish is the best result we have ever achieved in our three and a half years of partnership. With regards the Championship, we have nearly caught Ferrari which is good for us and for the fans in future races."
Kimi Raikkonen (4th): "I'm not satisfied by finishing fourth as I was third for most of the race. However I lost so much time stuck in traffic behind cars which seemed to be ignoring the blue flags that Michael was able to get past me after his final pitstop. In addition I had no brakes during the last few laps as I lost the rear disk and you can't drive fast without brakes, so not a brilliant day. However on the bright side Michael only managed to extend his lead by one point but the Championship is getting closer with Ralf Schumacher closing on me. It should be an exciting race at Silverstone in two weeks time."
David Coulthard (5th): "I made a good start and was fighting with Michael throughout turn one and two but couldn't really get past. When the race settled Kimi and I were able to run at the same pace but were not fast enough to challenge for the lead. Unfortunately there were a couple of problems during my third pitstop. Initially the fuel nozzle didn't attach correctly and we had to use the second one and then struggled when we had to remove it. Fortunately nobody was injured in the incident but I lost a possible third place."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Perhaps it's understandable that when the first five cars are quite strung out it's a little more difficult for the marshalls to understand exactly which drivers are in what position. Even so it was extremely frustrating for both David and Kimi to lose so much time when overtaking backmarkers. Neither car's performance was perfect. David suffered a fuel rig problem and Kimi a rear brake disk failure three laps from the end of the race. In the circumstances the single point differential to Michael fell squarely into the category of damage limitation. This year we have a fantastically competitive World Championship and I'm sure that all the contenders will fight to the end, we certainly will."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Fourth and fifth places were what we could have achieved today taking into account the problems we had. Kimi experienced a brake disk problem in the latter part of the race and David's refuelling incident during his third stop cost him valuable time and a possible third place. The Formula One World Championships battle is now very close with the first three drivers within 11 points and the teams' within 18. We are certainly looking forward to Silverstone, one of our three home races and the entire team is working hard to improve on today's performance."
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Engine): "I don't know exactly what the problem was ? the engine simply failed as I was approaching the hairpin, just after I had moved ahead of Jarno. Of course, it is disappointing: we were both in good positions to score points today."
Jarno Trulli (DNF, Engine): "Retiring is always frustrating, and even more so when the team has both cars in the points. I ran well from the start, and managed to keep up with Michael and the McLarens ahead of me; the car had a good balance and was handling well. Five or six laps after my second stop, I suffered a loss in engine performance. It got worse for several laps before the car stopped completely. It's a real shame, because it was a very good race for us until that point."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Fernando's car suffered a sudden engine failure, which we discovered at the same time as everybody else. We have several ideas as to the problem, but cannot reach a firm conclusion before inspecting the engine. Ascertaining Jarno's problem is more difficult: he was suffering from a performance loss, whose cause we cannot yet determine. Without an examination of the car, we are unable to confirm any of our numerous hypothesis."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A frustrating end to a competitive race, which saw both cars retire for the first time this season. The drivers performed well, especially Jarno who had the edge today. He suffered an engine command problem, which caused an initial loss of performance, before he had to retire the car. Fernando's engine let go suddenly. It is extremely disappointing finish the weekend like this, and more so because it is our home race."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "The weekend had gone well for the team until the problems in the race. We were quite competitive, and could have scored some important points, instead of which we leave empty-handed. We will now work hard to solve these problems, and concentrate on the next race at Silverstone."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (12th): "I had an average start - I neither won nor lost positions. We decided upon a two-stop strategy, but now I am not sure whether this was the right step. My biggest difficulty today was an electronic problem selecting the lower gears, and at my second pit stop there was a problem with the right front wheelnut."
Nick Heidfeld (13th): "I was on a three-stop strategy and I think that was a good decision. The car was well-balanced, but I had to look in the mirrors a lot as I was lapped quite a few times. At my last pit stop there was a misunderstanding and that's why I left the pits too early, before my crew had finished the refuelling. Fortunately no-one got hurt. I apologize for this incident."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We could not expect more than this result, although you're always hoping to score a point. But we are happy that we have regained our mechanical reliability, which was our strength at the beginning of this season. Negative was that Jaguar overtook us. The three-stop strategy with Heinz-Harald was a good decision, but I have to say now that the two-stop strategy chosen for Nick was wrong."
Ralph Firman (15th): "The car started off quite good on the first set of tires but I gradually had more and more oversteer as the circuit got more grip. There was a slight hesitation with the engine after the first stop and I also had to come in for an extra stop so the team could investigate a vibration after my second stop. I'm looking forward to testing in Barcelona next week and then my home Grand Prix at Silverstone."
Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Engine): "I'm very disappointed. The car had a lot of oversteer and virtually no grip, we are struggling with the whole package. Our pace is not good enough compared to everyone else. Fighting with the Minardis for the last few positions is not my target. I need a better car and hope it will come soon - we need a big step."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "This Grand Prix was tough for us. We struggled with grip all weekend and it was the same story in the race. Giancarlo had an engine failure but our pace was not good so if he'd finished it wouldn't have been in the points anyway. We had to bring Ralph in for an extra stop because he experienced a vibration and we wanted to check everything was okay. Clearly our result is disappointing for all but we are all working hard to improve the whole package - chassis, engine and tires."
Mark Webber (6th): "We had a good car today and it performed very well indeed. I was actually catching the Renaults but ran out of fuel in the last sector en route to my first pit stop. We put some extra fuel into the car and after that, I pushed very hard indeed. We are still learning and developing the package but three points is great news for the team and its partners. The boys again did an excellent job today during the pit stops and Michelin have again stamped their superiority on the tire-war with Bridgestone. This is now the third race in succession that we have scored points and to have jumped into 6th place in the Constructor's Championship is fantastic, albeit we know there is still so much to play for and given how many teams are working on package upgrades, we will keep pushing hard right till the bitter end."
Antonio Pizzonia (10th): "The car was very good today but unfortunately my challenge for points was ended by the two-stop strategy of others. We knew going into the race that there was always a risk of being caught in the traffic of those teams on a different strategy and that's exactly what happened to me. My first pit-stop was fine but after my second one, I got stuck behind Da Matta who was two stopping. This cost me so much time and in the end, the front eight just peeled away and the gap became too big to close. Disappointing given how well we have performed here this weekend and combined with the Michelin rubber and Cosworth power, it was shame to have not maximized and shared some points with Mark. There is always an element of risk involved with race strategies and I was unlucky to have been on the receiving end of the downside today. On a positive note, the competitiveness and pace of the Jaguar R4 is now up there. The balance of the car is very good and there are still six races left to exploit this and earn some points for the team and myself."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Yet another very pleasing result and one which has taken us into 6th place in the Constructor's Championship. The reliability and pace of the Jaguar R4 is now competitive to the extent that Mark was holding his own out there with the front-runners. We have scored points in the last three races and we go to Silverstone in search of more. Both cars made good starts and we decided to adopt a three-stop strategy for both drivers. In Mark's case, this worked perfectly but Antonio was unlucky in that we had trouble with the rear jack that cost us a couple of seconds. Having made his second stop, Antonio was then unlucky to join the race behind the Toyota of Da Matta who was on a two-stop strategy and this cost Antonio a lot of time and subsequently reduced his chances of a points challenge today. Mark again drove a determined and excellent race and we go to Barcelona this week to capitalize further on the strengths of the R4 package. Cosworth, Michelin, Pi Research and everyone back at the Milton Keynes factory thoroughly deserve the points but we are far from finished. With six races left to go, there are still an awful lot of points to play for and given our pace and reliability on Michelin rubber, we expect to challenge right up to the chequered flag in Suzuka."
Jacques Villeneuve (9th): "The balance of the car was good today and the Honda engine worked well. Of course I am happy to have finished a race without any technical problems but ending up ninth is pretty frustrating. I am pleased with how the car has been working but the limiting factor was the tyres today and there's nothing more that we could do. I'm looking forward to Silverstone, where we hope to be more competitive."
Jenson Button (DNF, Fuel): "It's obviously very disappointing to retire from a race because of a problem like this. It's been a tough weekend but the team put the problems behind them and made the best of things. The race was going well; we were slow but the balance was good. I got a bit of oversteer after four or five laps but then the balance seemed to come back soon after. I was made aware by the team that there was a fuel delivery problem but then the car stopped out on track before I had time to make another pitstop. I'm looking forward to our home race in two weeks' time when I hope the development work we've been doing with the engine and aerodynamics will see us improving for the rest of the season."
David Richards, Team Principal: "The best aspect of today's race for the team has been the reconfirmation of the strength of the BAR chassis and Honda engine relative to the other Bridgestone runners. The past few Grands Prix have not favored our package, but I have no doubt that the pendulum will swing in the other direction in the coming races. For Silverstone we have another evolution of the Honda engine and a set of aero developments that should raise our performance."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Jacques drove an excellent race today pushing hard at every stage, and despite jumping ahead of Pizzonia at the last stop, unfortunately finished just out of the points. At Jenson's first stop the crew had a problem getting the fuel nozzle on to his car and had to revert to the other rig. However, due to an error, only a fraction of the fuel was delivered by this second rig, and during the time it took to reconcile the conflicting data, we were unable to pit Jenson in time to avoid him stopping out on the circuit. I would like to thank the crew for their performance all year, as pit-stops are one of our strengths, and this was an uncharacteristic problem which we will review in the calm light of day. Given the performance of our competitors' tyres it was always going to be difficult to score points here, but we look forward to our imminent Honda engine and aero upgrades, along with future tyre developments, to renew our battle for points."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Jacques did well to finish ninth having started 12th on the grid, but it's clearly frustrating to just miss out on points. It was obviously an exasperating afternoon for Jenson. We're all looking forward to a productive test in Barcelona next week and of course the team's home race at Silverstone, where we'll be working hard to give the local fans and all our staff a good result."
Justin Wilson (14th): "I knew with the fuel strategy we had today that I just had to push hard for the whole race and keep going - Jos was on a three-stopper and it was going to be close whether that or the two-stop approach we had chosen was going to be better. The guys did a good job with the pit stops and that really helped. I thought there was an intermittent problem with the transmission in the first part of the race, as the car was losing speed quite badly on the straights, which is how Ralph Firman passed me. I eventually re-passed him, and although the problem had me concerned for a while, it cleared up and the car was fine for the rest of the race. Anyway, it's another Grand Prix finish, which is really good."
Jos Verstappen (16th): "It was a hard race, particularly in terms of the handling of the car. It started well enough and the initial set of tires was good. After the first stop, though, the tires were okay for five laps, but then the car developed bad oversteer, so much so that I blistered the rears badly. Late in the stint, the engine also suffered a broken exhaust, but I just pushed as hard as I could. Following the second pit stop, the handling was really bad and I lost a lot of time, while after the final scheduled stop, the handling was again good for the first few laps, but then deteriorated. Five laps from the end of the race, the left front wheel came loose turning into one of the high-speed chicanes, and I had no choice but to drive straight on. I came into the pits for a new set of tires and went back out, but the car didn't feel quite right and I pitted again two laps later for the guys to check it. They assured me everything was okay, and I then set my fastest lap. All the problems meant we were frequently being lapped this afternoon, and it's hard to run your own race when you're getting blue flags all the time and having to move over for other cars. Anyway, at least I made it to the finish, which is a small reward for all the effort put in by the team."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "All in all, it wasn't a bad weekend - to have a provisional pole position and to get both cars home ahead of the Jordans and within sight of the Saubers wasn't a bad day's work. As usual, both our drivers and the team did an excellent job."
Olivier Panis (8th): "This eighth place is a very positive result for the team. The car felt good and I drove a strong race. In my career, I have never finished a race here at Magny-Cours, so I am relieved that this record has finally changed. I pushed really hard to keep my position and a point is a point, one that I am happy to take it in front of my home crowd. We are making progress step-by-step, but we need to continue to improve the car ahead of the next grand prix in Britain. We have made good progress at the last three grands prix, but we need to keep increasing our competitiveness."
Cristiano Da Matta (11th): "The positive things we can say after today's race is that we have our reliability back and didn't suffer from any problems during the race itself. We struggled in the race because we probably made the incorrect tire choice, opting for prime rather than option. We cannot really blame this decision on anyone because we had wet conditions on Friday, from which we couldn't draw any conclusions, and then only 40- or-so laps on Saturday morning to decide our entire race set-up. Looking ahead, I am very optimistic for Silverstone because we had a positive test there recently, and it is a track I enjoy, so we'll be looking for points."
Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I am pleased that we have managed to get one point from today's race. The team has worked well this weekend and the cars have been reliable and relatively quick. We have a good solid result and another point in the bag - a particularly fitting one for Olivier at his home grand prix. Hopefully, the upward trend will continue now and more points will come. We have some improvements coming for Silverstone, so I think we can realistically target a two-car finish in the points at the British Grand Prix."