Schumacher wins Italian GP

Michael Schumacher, Italian GP 2003

Michael Schumacher, Italian GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Michael Schumacher won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza today in his Ferrari, beating out his title rival Juan Pablo Montoya in his Williams-BMW by 5.2 seconds, It is the German driver's first win since June in Canada, and increases his lead in the Drivers Championship to three points over Montoya and seven points over Kimi Raikkonen.

Rubens Barrichello finished third in his Ferrari, one second ahead of Raikkonen in fourth in his McLaren-Mercedes at the finish.

Marc Gene, substituting for Ralf Schumacher, had a solid performance to finish in fifth, helping to maintain Williams-BMW's lead over Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship. Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR-Honda finished sixth, Mark Webber in the Jaguar was seventh, and the final points position went to Fernando Alonso in his Renault.





1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h14m19.838s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h14m25.132s (+ 5.294s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h14m31.673s (+ 11.835s)


Q: Michael, this is almost a historic day for you, it is your fiftieth win for Ferrari.

Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, I think there are many things that come together here. It is quite a while ago that we won the last race, first of all. We have had tough races behind us, not just not winning but we failed to score the points we thought we would score. And then we had all this summer break and a big push in the team, in the factory, everywhere, everyone, really over the top, motivated and giving more than 100 percent of work and that's something which is unbelievable. I was able to pay that back a little bit with pole position yesterday but I think this is one of the greatest days in my career, honestly. I'm so thankful to everybody in the team because those guys have done a tremendous job, everybody from the test team, every engineer in the factory down to the lady who is doing the cleaning. Everybody is just so fantastic; I'm so in love with all those guys: just a big thank you.

Q: That opening lap was something to remember?

Schumacher: Yeah, it was already tight in the first corner. I had a lock-up into the first corner and almost didn't make the chicane. I had the option to go straight on or make the chicane in a sort of not very good way. I thought it was better to do the chicane, although I might lose a position which almost happened, because Juan came on the outside and we had a nice fight through these two corners, very hard but fair and I think that's what people love to see. In the end I was able to win that fight and run up a lead which was vital to win the race.

Q: In the second stint, Juan Pablo got very close to you?.

Schumacher: For whatever reason the second stint didn't look as good for us, a little bit better for Juan, but still, we were obviously leading and in the final stage of even the second stint I was able to just open up a little bit of a gap because the thing just came back into my hands a little bit and I think that was crucial. Obviously then Juan thought he would come in early to use the opportunity with his first couple of laps to get in front of me, but in our last lap we were still strong enough to maintain the lead.

Q: Juan Pablo, could we have that first lap from your point of view?

Montoya: I think it was pretty good. Michael went for the inside, I went for the outside. He braked quite a bit earlier than me and made up a lot of ground but when I came out of the chicane I was a lot tighter than him to make the corner so I didn't hit him and he just had better acceleration. On the first set of tires, it was OK but my pace wasn't that good. I lost quite a bit of ground. In the second stint we made up a lot of ground, and in the last one we were pretty close and then got traffic. Twice I lost a lot of time and then behind the second Jordan driver I just lost so much time that I said just pace myself and get to the end.

Q: Did you actually face bad driving in traffic, or was it just the luck of the draw?

Montoya: Just very slow backmarkers that didn't move out of the way, put it that way. But you know, I think it would have been very hard to pass Michael anyway.

Q: Juan Pablo, BMW Williams have been very strong here over the last two years, not quite as strong today, perhaps. How do you put that in relation to the regulation change we've had over the last week or so?

Montoya: I don't think it's got anything to do with it. The way it looked the last few races, it seems that Ferrari was in a bit of our position over the last few years: that we struggle in most of the races, came here and were very strong. Whereas this year, perhaps we drop a little bit but we're still very strong. But they beat us here but I believe in the last two races, road courses, there are no more circuits, this is very low downforce and everything. I think in high downforce we should be strong again and McLaren and Renault should be very strong, and that could make the difference. I think I came out of here with the least loss possible. If I couldn't win, I had to try and finish second and I did. I only lost two points to Michael and I'm three points behind him and it's not over.

Q: Rubens, you were pretty close to Juan Pablo for a while, but in the end it was a defensive race of third place from Kimi Raikkonen.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah. To be honest, my first set was the best one. I had a little too much understeer to begin with and I lost time with Trulli . He seemed to think that he wanted to pass even Michael at the second chicane, so I lost time and all of a sudden I almost crashed into him when he had a problem and slowed down so I had quite a first lap. And then I was running quite fast, I caught Montoya up and it was really good but then after I put on my second set of tires, it was never as competitive. The third one was even worse and I had a little bit of a problem with the rears and unfortunately my pace wasn't so fast. It was good enough to hold Kimi and so I did.

Q: Michael, Juan Pablo has been saying that he thinks that when we get to Suzuka and Indy, it might be a little different. How do you see the remaining two races?

Schumacher: I think it's pretty open and it's going to be very interesting. That's all. I think we can look ahead and we can say I guess we have improved our situation. We will keep on improving. It just matters now in the final stage who improves more than the other.

Q: But do you agree with Juan Pablo's comment that this circuit suits Ferrari particularly and perhaps Williams BMW are going to be strong at Indy and Suzuka ?

Schumacher: I think our engine guys have done a tremendous job and the engine that we have should help us everywhere honestly. If you look back at the last three races it gives the impression that high downforce didn't suit us that well and low downforce suits us a little bit better but then I think there are some other factors that play into that and we'll find out. Indy isn't too high downforce ,it's pretty similar to here or to Canada from my memory. We were simply strong here because we have a very good package, both aerodynamic and engine. We had it last year, we were already able to win last year with Rubens and myself so it's not a surprise we did win.


Q: Michael, it is an amazing podium here, what were your emotions when you were standing out there?

Schumacher: Obviously I had the experience last year, not as first place driver but second and the emotions out there? it's just beautiful. First of all we won such an important race with all that has happened before and then you have all the emotions in front of you like that. It's just extraordinary.

Q: Obviously there are two races still to go, but is there a certain amount of relief amongst those emotions?

Schumacher: Yes, there certainly is. We believed in ourselves all the way through. We knew that difficult times had happened, but we knew that we could fight our way back. But it's one thing to know it and another thing to do it and obviously, finally today, we did it and increased our championship lead by three points in the Drivers - I don't exactly know the Constructors situation, how that looks - but all in all that was a very important race for us.

Q: It was a fantastic race at a fantastic pace; was there a moment's relaxation?

Schumacher: Obviously at the end Juan had some difficulty with traffic and then sort of drove it home safe and so did I then. So at that stage, it was a little bit easier.

Q: Did you get a good start off the line?

Schumacher: Yeah. We worked very heavily on our start performance and obviously have improved that too. Usually we were beaten straight away at the start and this time that didn't seem to be the case. I don't have the full picture of everybody, I just looked at Juan and we sort off took off similarly, but then I took a little bit of an advantage and was easily in a comfortable first position at the first corner.

Q: He seemed to come at you and then drop back during the stints. Do you feel your tire consistency was better than his?

Schumacher: It's only true in the second stint that initially he seemed able to close the gap and I wasn't able to respond until a certain stage in the race, and then he came back into my hands and I was able to just open up the gap a little bit. I was doing a good pace and he decided mostly to come in a bit earlier.

Q: At the second stop, you came out behind a Williams. Were you a bit worried about that for a moment?

Schumacher: I was indeed, because our team wasn't absolutely aware of who was who at that moment and initially they said ?you should be fine' and then suddenly they screamed in the radio ?watch out, he's coming' and I suddenly saw a Williams coming and I thought ?how did he do that?' (Laughter) Then I almost went off in one of the corners because I was pushing so hard to get a go at him, but then luckily it was Gene.

Q: Juan Pablo, it seemed as though it was going to be very, very, very important for you to overtake Michael at the start. You were trying very hard.

Montoya: Not really. He made a mistake in the first corner, I had a run into the second corner. You know ,if you have got an opportunity you have got to take it. I tried and we came out of the chicane pretty evenly but he seemed to be able to drive around the corner a bit quicker than me and he gained the advantage back. But, you know, it's just racing.

Q: You seemed to catch up with Michael each stint. Did your tires tend to go off a bit?

Montoya: The first set went off, the second was very consistent and the third, straight away from lap two I went out on new tires and it wasn't the same as the second set. I think Michelin did a fantastic job to come up with this tire and everything but it was just too close. I tried to catch him in the first stint and I got to Frentzen and I lost about a year behind him.

Q: I was going to come to that. You mentioned one of the Jordan drivers but also Frentzen you lost a lot of time behind.

Montoya: Yeah, I am going down the straight and the only thing I see is like ten or twelve blue flags down the straight, it's like a parade, and they don't move. The Jordan guy suddenly just stands on the brakes in the middle of the corner to let me by. I nearly ran into the back of him and everything. It's just crazy.

Q: Now, there was a suggestion that perhaps they changed something on the car at the first pit stop. Are you aware of that?

Montoya: Well, if they did it improved it. As far as I know they didn't change anything except tires and fuel.

Q: How do you feel about second place after this?

Montoya: Oh, I think it is good, you know. We know we are not going to win all of them. Like I said before, if you can't win you have to try to finish second. I only lost two points to Michael, we're still right there in the championship and the next race could be the other way around. We'll see. You have just gotta keep on fighting.

Q: Rubens, you had a bit of a go at Juan Pablo at one time, Kimi Raikkonen had a bit of a go at you. How serious were those two efforts?

Barrichello: My car was really good at the first stop, as I mentioned before. I lost time at the first lap a little bit because of Trulli . I was running alongside him out of turn two and he put me on the grass. I backed off, had to defend myself against Kimi again, then I had a chance to have a go on him ( Trulli ) again at Lesmo one but he was seriously trying to have a go on Juan and all of a sudden his car stopped. But already Juan was two seconds away. At this circuit in particular, if you gain you gain two or three tenths max, so that is what I was gaining slowly. I got close to him, it was okay, but then I came to my first pit stop and the tires didn't do the same as the first stint, unfortunately, and I just lost the pace. We were on a strategy to try to beat him on the second one because we were long on the third one and that basically just set me back a little bit and I had to defend with Kimi . Everything was in control but again I found the same person as Juan found and I lost two or three seconds in one lap and again my race was alive again at the end. But luckily I was still able to hold.

Q: So, third place.

Barrichello: Well, it's great to be back. Third place is better than the wall! The last two races I have been in the wall and it hurt less to be in third place. So it's good for the constructors' and I am just happy for Ferrari that we are closer to Williams in a way to try to win the championship in the constructors'.


Q: Michael, we have just worked out that you have won the fastest Grand Prix in history. Your average speed of 247km/h was 5km/h faster than the previous record. What are your thoughts on that?

Schumacher: Well, I guess it is so long ago I wasn't even alive at that stage when the first one was set. Or was I? (MS is told it was in 1971) Ah, ?71. Those two weren't (alive)! No, I don't think very strongly about that. It doesn't give me a pleasure. Ten points and fastest lap and things like that, they give me far more pleasure.

Q: Juan Pablo, your car was not as fast as the Ferrari's on the straight. Do you have any complaints for the set-up?

Montoya: No, we went for more downforce because we thought it would keep the tires more alive and if you look at the average laps it was pretty good. In the first stint Michael was a little bit quicker, in the second one I was quicker, I was catching him. On the last set of tires we had some problems and that was it. But I think the way we ran the car was for us the optimum way. You could take the wing off - look at Mark's speed and you will see it was higher than mine because he went with a different set-up to mine. I ended up I don't know how many seconds in front of him so I think my decision was probably better.

Q: Juan, you seemed to suffer in the second sector whereas the first and the third you were the same or even quicker. What was the problem in the second one?

Montoya: I had quite a bit of instability into the chicane and into the first Lesmo . I was trying to push but it was a bit critical, too on the edge. You push when you have to push but some laps you are sliding so much you are better off taking it a bit easier. By trying to make up a tenth you ended up losing three or four, so it was not worth it.

Q: Juan Pablo, could you confirm that you lost time in the third stint just because of traffic or was there some warning from the telemetry?

Montoya: No, I was about a second behind Michael and the team told me I was taking two or three tenths of a lap from him then I got to Frentzen and I was suddenly four seconds behind him. Then we were quite even, then I got to, what's his name, the Jordan guy, the new guy. Er , Baum ?( He is told it is Baumgartner) Yeah. I don't remember his last name, sorry. It's very difficult! (Laughter) You know, I lost about another two or three seconds and then I said, you know, I can push as hard as I can and take three or four tenths out of Michael. By the time the race is over I am going to be four seconds behind. That's useful! I knew we had to finish and fight for another day really. You can't do anything else today.

Q: Michael and Rubens, traditionally your car is very fast here in the low downforce circuit. But next two rounds you have more downforce . Do you think you will be so competitive as you were here?

Schumacher: I don't know if Ferrari traditionally is good on low downforce . I think it is only maybe the last two years, if at all, and last year I think we were traditionally quick everywhere actually! Indy is not really high downforce ,it is probably more on the lower downforce side. If it is just down to the characteristic of how much downforce you use I would be surprised. I think a lot more factors will play a part. What I said before is valid for the end of the championship, honestly. I think we will be competitive for the last races, not only for here.

Q: Michael and Juan Pablo, most of us enjoy a bit of competitive driving on the road. You two guys went into that first sequence of corners with the world championship possibly at stake. What were your feelings when you were actually alongside each other and then when you got out of that sequence of corners. Was your heart going a bit more than normal?

Montoya: Not for me, really. We're racing, I saw it was probably going to be the clearest chance to pass Michael and I had to give it a try. If you don't try, you don't succeed. What can you do? Just brake, turn, and see what happens. (Laughter).

Schumacher: Except it is exciting, to have a manoeuvre and to be so close but you don't really think of anything else but that situation and try to handle it appropriately.


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Michael Schumacher (1st): "I think this is the greatest day in my career. It is a long time since I won. We made a big push over the summer break with everyone in the team giving more than a hundred percent. To everyone in the team who was so motivated and worked so hard, from the engineers, the mechanics and even the lady who cleans, I have to say a big thank you. We have worked a lot on our starts and mine was good, but I made a mistake at the first chicane which allowed Juan to close. We had a good fight; it was hard and fair. After that I was able to build a lead. The second stint was not so good, but in the final stages I opened up the gap again, easing off when Juan slowed down. After my second stop I got a shock, as the team told me the Williams was coming. I thought 'how did he do that' but then I realized it was Gene. I nearly went off, I was pushing so hard to stay ahead. It was a beautiful and emotional feeling on the podium. The result is also a relief. We believed in ourselves and we knew we could fight back. The championship is still very open. We have improved and we keep on improving. The engine guys have done a tremendous job and that should help us in the last two races."

Rubens Barrichello (3rd): "I am quite happy to be third. It is better than being in the wall, like the last race!My car was very good at the start, but I lost time on the first lap with Trulli. He was alongside me and put me on the grass and so I had to back off, which meant I had to defend my position against Raikkonen and I almost ran into Trulli when he had a problem. By then, Juan was already 2 seconds ahead, even though I was able to close on him a bit. Unfortunately, my tires were not as good on the second stint when I had too much understeer. I also had a problem with backmarkers. Nevertheless, I was able to maintain position ahead of Raikkonen. I am happy to have helped Ferrari close the gap to Williams in the championship."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The result brings enormous satisfaction. I would like to embrace everyone at Ferrari and our partners, both the technical ones, especially Bridgestone and Shell and the commercial ones such as Philip Morris, Vodafone and Olympus. I want to share this victory with them. The tension we felt was as strong as our will to win. It was almost as if the team was trying to win for the first time ever. As a group we aim for success and we work hard to achieve it. After yesterday's qualifying, we knew we had a chance and we took it. It was an indescribable feeling standing on top of the pit wall stand during the prize-giving, with all the fans shaking me by the hand. As from tomorrow, for those who stayed in Maranello, we will be immediately concentrating on the remaining two events. On Tuesday we begin another intensive test session, working at three circuits: Jerez, Fiorano and Monza. Today was only the first step on a steep climb. The nearer you get to the peak of the mountain, the harder it gets."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "What a day! After the pain comes the pleasure... The drivers were fantastic, the car worked really well, as did the Bridgestone tires. Everything worked out for the best and Ferrari has proved it did not give up after the recent poor results. It was incredible to see how happy our fans were from the podium. Being this competitive today augurs well for the last two races of the season. We worked very well all weekend, learning all the time. Michael had an exceptional race and Rubens also drove very well."


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Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd): "After a good start I took the first opportunity I saw to try to pass Michael Schumacher at the first chicane. We came out pretty even, but he had better acceleration than me and he kept the lead. We competed cleanly as neither of us could afford a DNF. In the second stint I managed to catch up on my next set of tires which worked really well. Unfortunately in the third part of the race I was caught in traffic and I made the decision to pace myself. We were expecting Ferrari to be strong here, so to only lose two points to Michael and be only three points behind with two races to go is okay. Ferrari had a good top speed compared to us at this low downforce circuit , quite unlike the next two tracks, where I think we will figure strongly."

Marc Gene (5th): "This is the best result in my Formula One career, and I am really happy. I think a good performance was to be expected, as I had one of the best cars on the grid. At the start I had a problem with Jarno Trulli which cost me three places, but apart from that the race was good. If you get the chance like I did today, you have to make the most of it, and my main priority was to avoid making mistakes, and I think the team is happy with the points I managed to score. I believe the more a driver tests, the better he becomes."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "The team had a good, hard race today and we did what we could, but Michael obviously did a little bit more. Juan drove faultlessly to a valuable second place and Marc did a fantastic job, considering the little time he had to prepare and showed a great pace in the race. The team also performed perfectly and produced good pit-stops. We are looking forward to a extremely close finish to the season."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "It was a hard race as expected, but Ferrari had the advantage today. It will become very hard for us to crack the Ferrari nut, but I do expect an extremely exciting fight for us until the very end. The true winner for me today was Marc Gene, who made the most of his chance and did an excellent job for the team today. What was very important given the championship situation was to bring both cars home in the points today."


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Kimi Raikkonen (4th): "I think we did what we could do today, but we were not quick enough to fight for the podium. I was close to Rubens but not enough to really have a go. Obviously I'm now seven points behind in the battle for the Championship, so it is more difficult, but you never know what will happen in the next two races. We knew that Monza would be difficult, and overall to leave with points is positive particularly as we expect both Indianapolis and Suzuka to suit us better, so it's not over yet."

David Coulthard (DNF, Fuel Pressure): "I had a pretty quiet and uneventful race in fifth place until the engine began to sound a bit rough and my pace dropped which allowed Marc Gene to close up. All of a sudden the engine stopped and that was it. I was struggling with the balance throughout the race with lots of oversteer which made it hard to attack the corners. We tried to rectify the problem by dropping some wing in the pitstops, but no luck."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Our race pace was quite competitive, but our qualifying positions and the inevitable delays caused by back-markers really took away any opportunity to take advantage of our race strategy. However there are 20 points to race for and we are only seven behind so clearly its possible to win. As always we will fight hard in the remaining two races."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "More than fourth place was not possible today, maybe a third, but with a seven points deficit Kimi is still in with a chance for the Drivers' World Championship, and we certainly will not give up. I'm sorry for David who had to retire with a loss of fuel pressure - the cause of which we have to investigate. Congratulations to Michael Schumacher on a deserved victory."


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Fernando Alonso (8th): "Both myself and the team had a pretty unlucky weekend: Jarno was in a good position when he had to retire, and I had problems in qualifying and the race. Starting from the back of the grid is always a risk and unfortunately, I lost the front wing at the start: I hit Jos' car as he was trying to avoid the Jaguar. I lost a lap by stopping and after that, all I could do was push to the limit for the rest of the race. Our lap-times were good but, with all the problems we had, it wasn't enough to score big points today."

Jarno Trulli (DNF, Hydraulics): "There's nothing much to say. I got a flying start and was fighting with Michael and Juan Pablo in the first few corners. I was going through the second Lesmo when I felt that the power steering had failed, then the engine cut out. It's a real shame, because the car was good today."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Fernando's race today was all about damage limitation and after he had to stop at the end of the first lap, this became even more the case. At this point, we decided to switch to a one-stop strategy and we have to be grateful for a point at the end of a very difficult day. Fernando's lap-times towards the end were as quick as those fighting at the front, and we can take some consolation from that. Jarno was extremely unlucky, having put in a great performance all weekend. He stopped on the first lap with what we believe may be a hydraulic failure."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I'm very sorry for Jarno, who made a fantastic start and was competitive all weekend: we still don't know exactly what happened. As for Fernando, his car was damaged but he drove an incredible race. His lap-times were extremely consistent, and that allowed him to score points."


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Nick Heidfeld (9th): "During my first pit stop we changed the front wing adjustment on my car and after this it was going well. I had a good race until I had to let Gene lap me on the last lap. At the same moment Alonso, who was right behind me, took the chance to overtake. He had got close to me in the first place because I'd been baulked badly by Baumgartner for several laps and had thus lost valuable ground."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (13th): "When I came out of the chicane right at the end I heard a strange noise in the area of the transmission and then the car just lost drive. I don't know exactly what broke. Up until that point I'd been having a really good race and the car was going well. It would have been so nice to finish in the points..."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Our race result is very disappointing considering that Heinz-Harald was running in seventh position and Nick ninth only two laps from the end. Then Heinz-Harald was forced to retire due to a technical problem which awaits analysis, and to our intense disappointment Nick was passed by Alonso on the very last lap and thus lost a valuable championship point."


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Giancarlo Fisichella (10th): "I had an electrical problem at the start of the formation lap so we stopped to sort that out and changed the strategy at the same time to make it one stop. I was last, but finished 10th, which is not too bad. It was quite difficult because the car was heavy but I drove as hard as I could."

Zsolt Baumgartner (11th): "I'm happy that I could finish the race and that the car was reliable. It was a good experience and I am pleased with finishing 11th just behind Giancarlo. For my first complete race, I think I did a good job."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "We had a gear change problem on the warm up lap and brought Giancarlo in to reset the electronics and at the same time we converted him to a one stop fuel load as we had already planned to stop early. It is nice to get two cars to the finish as it has been a while since that has happened for us. Two finishes is the first step, but unfortunately on the way there we need to find a bit of lap time. There are two races to go and we're still fighting."


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Mark Webber (7th): "We had a tough test here last week and a challenging build-up to the race this weekend. Monza has not been our most competitive performance of the season and if someone had told me before the race began that I would finish in 7th place with two championship points, it would have been hard to believe. It was an eventful race that began by me making a mistake! As I came out of the first chicane besides the BMW WilliamsF1 of Marc Gene, the back end of the car stepped out and I realized that I had forgotten to turn the traction control back on. I managed to program the system after the second chicane and than settled down into the rhythm of the race. To have salvaged two points from what was a tough weekend for us is a big, big result - especially in light of Villeneuve's 6th place. We had to compromise on straight-line speed to look after the tires and while I did suffer from understeer and some blistering, the end result is extremely pleasing for everyone in the team. Unlike Justin who unfortunately retired, my car was reliable today and the balance was very good. With two races to go and fifth place still beckoning, the battle is far from finished."

Justin Wilson (DNF, Transmission): "During the formation lap, I experienced a problem in engaging first gear. With no time available to address the problem, I had no choice but to start the race in second gear. As we have long gears for Monza, I didn't even make it off the line when the red lights went out. It has been a tough weekend all round but as Mark demonstrated again today, making it to the chequered flag is where the points reward is. I am, therefore, very disappointed not to have finished my third consecutive race for Jaguar and with only two races left now, I am naturally hoping to see a race distance. The team have worked incredibly hard all weekend and to have a suffered a retirement before the first lap is extremely unfortunate for all concerned. We are, however, one point behind BAR-Honda and we will simply have to pick ourselves up and aim for reliability at the U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks from now."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A very tough weekend but the net effect is positive. Justin's retirement from the beginning of the race was down to a first-gear selection problem and he had to start the race with second gear. Once the race got underway, we realized the problem was terminal and decided to call him into the garage. We are extremely disappointed for Justin and naturally very frustrated with not having given him reliable machinery for the last three races. Mark, however, drove yet another storming race. While we know the pace of the R4 could have been better around this circuit, the fact that Mark finished with two championship points is testimony to his determined approach and reliability of his race package, particularly the engine and brakes which are under considerable pressure at this circuit. He made an excellent start but lost some time today by pulling over for the race leaders who were lapping him. We are delighted and fortunate to have come away with another two championship points but we have an awful lot of preparation work ahead of us if we are to seriously challenge for fifth place. The Cosworth engine performed very well today as did the Michelin tires and we now head for Indianapolis looking to add more to the tally."


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Jacques Villeneuve (6th): "I'm really pleased to finish sixth today and get three more Championship points for the team. The race was a great team effort and the guys did a fantastic job during the pitstops. We didn't qualify as well as we hoped yesterday but we were working for the race, so it was great to stay reliable and be able to make the most of a good race set-up. Let's hope we can build on that at Indianapolis in two weeks now."

Jenson Button (DNF, Gearbox): "I got a really bad start then things went from bad to worse. I lost second gear early in the race so I had to rely on first. I was doing quite well considering, and I managed to stay ahead of Frentzen and Panis, then I lost first, sixth and seventh in close succession. It's a real shame after such a positive qualifying performance because I felt that we could easily have achieved points finishes for both cars today. Jacques did a good job though and three points for the team is still very important at this stage. We have to maintain the momentum in testing next week now and make sure we do as good a job in Indy and Japan."

David Richards, Team Principal: "We achieved our target with a solid haul of points for Jacques, which now moves us ahead in the fight for fifth place in the Championship. Jenson's retirement was disappointing given the strength of both cars today, and of course a lost opportunity, but nonetheless our improved performance bodes well for the remaining two events of the season."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This is a very good result for Jacques and the team, which has allowed us to widen the gap to Toyota and keeps us in front of Jaguar in the fight for fifth place in the championship. Jacques benefited from a clean exit from the first chicane to pass Jenson and Webber as they were fighting for track position through Curva Grande. He was able to jump Panis at the first pitstop after running for longer and a better stop, and he drove a fault-free race to finish in sixth position. Jenson reported problems with downshifting into second gear shortly before his first stop. Unfortunately these problems caused terminal mechanical damage to the gearbox, causing him to retire after 24 laps. We had a good car here and both cars qualified in the top ten, so it is disappointing to not make the most of a solid points-scoring opportunity. We will continue to work hard for the last two races to consolidate our fifth place standing."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Jacques drove a steady race today and I'm pleased we've picked up three more points at this crucial stage of the championship. Not a good day for Jenson. We will have a challenging final two races."


Nicolas Kiesa (12th): "The strategy we chose for qualifying, which focused more on trying to achieve a consistent performance in the race rather than an ultimate qualifying performance, pretty much paid off. The car was easy to drive in the race and it was comfortable even on the occasions when I needed to push it really hard. In addition, both pit stops went perfectly and everything on the car worked exactly as it should. It was a really nice way to finish a weekend that started out a bit rough for us."

Jos Verstappen (DNF, Oil Radiator): "It was disappointing not to finish the race today. I also feel sorry for Fernando (Alonso), who drove into the back of my car at the start. I wouldn't have held him up, as he is involved in the World Championship battle and needs the points, but a Jaguar stopped on the grid in front of me and I guess he couldn't see it from where he was. It's a shame, but that's racing. We eventually retired with an oil leak. There was a lot of smoke and oil was getting on the rear tires as well, so it was just too dangerous to continue, as much for the other drivers as for me."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "In an action-packed race, it was disappointing that we didn't get both cars to the finish, but I had to make the difficult decision to retire Jos's car when a persistent oil leak on to the right rear tire made it too dangerous for him to continue. Full credit, though, to Nicolas for completing his third Grand Prix - if not a record, it certainly marks the first time in a long time that a Formula One rookie has completed three straight races. The team looks forward to its all-important test in Mugello on Tuesday, and to the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in two weeks' time."


© The Cahier Archive
Cristiano Da Matta (DNF, Tire Puncture): "I didn't have a great start but I recovered my position and everything was running okay, so being forced to stop is a real shame. All of a sudden, I felt a big vibration at the rear and I started to lose the car straight away. At this stage we are not a hundred percent sure what happened, but most likely, I picked up some carbon fibre debris after an incident on the start-finish line. For both myself and Olivier to retire is a missed opportunity, as I reckon we could have added to our points total today."

Olivier Panis (DNF, Brakes): "I had a fabulous start and was up to sixth on the first lap. Marc Gene got past me, but I continued to run well in the points. We put a lot of fuel in on at my first pitstop and we were having a good race. Unfortunately shortly after the second stop, the brake pedal went completely to the floor and I had to stop in the garage. It has been another encouraging weekend, and we have demonstrated that we have the potential to score points. We now have to look ahead to the next race in Indianapolis with this as our target."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "A very unfortunate outcome to what could have been a good result for Panasonic Toyota Racing today. What happened to Cristiano is a pure racing incident and could have happened to anybody. Olivier was running well and was looking good to score some good points, but the car developed a terminal problem with the brakes. Again, I think the car has shown the capability to score points, but all we can do now is to look towards the final two races in Indianapolis and Suzuka to see if we have some better luck."

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