MAY 9, 2004
SPANISH GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Schumacher wins five in a row
Six times World Champion Michael Schumacher won the Spanish Grand Prix, at Catalunya, today equalling Nigel Mansell's 1992 record of winning five straight Formula One races to open the season. The race marked Schumacher's 200 career Formula One start and was his 75th career victory (winning a staggering 37.5% of his starts).
At the start, Renault's Jarno Trulli jumped out into the lead on the run down to the first corner, and was ahead of Schumacher until the first round of pitstops.
Schumacher's Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello ran a two stop race, rather than three, and finished the race second - 13 seconds behind.
Trulli came home third with his fast charging team mate Fernando Alonso finishing right behind in fourth at his home race.
Japanese driver Takuma Sato held onto third place in the opening stint, to fall back to fifth at the finish - his BAR-Honda team mate Jenson Button coming home in eighth, after starting the race in 14th.
The lone Williams-BMW of Ralf Schumacher finished in sixth place taking the place from his team mate Juan Pablo Montoya after he retired on lap 46 suffering brake problems.
Seventh place went to Giancarlo Fisichella in the Sauber, who along with Barrichello was the only other points scorer on a two stop strategy.
David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkenen in the McLaren-Mercedes finished outside the points in 9th and 10th places.
In the Drivers World Championship Schumacher now has 50 points, some 18 points ahead of his team mate Barrichello, and 26 points ahead of Jenson Button - while in the Constructors' Championship Ferrari now has 82 points, nearly double the closest rival Renault with 42 points, and BAR-Honda with 32 points.
Michael Schumacher (1st): "Five straight wins, 200 grands prix, 75 wins: so many nice numbers have come together and I am proud of it, but now I am just looking forward to the next race. "It was a very interesting start, but not what I expected. I did think about trying to close the door a bit on Trulli, but I did not feel that was fair and let him do what he was doing. Then, a couple of times, I did think about passing him but it was too tight, so I opted to wait for the pit stops and let the strategy do the work. Then, after an exhaust developed a crack. Ross Brawn came on the radio and told me there was nothing much to do about it. Of course, I tried to look after the car, but in fact I could not slow too much as that would have made the problem worse. It became very tiring mentally, but I managed to bring it home. Reliability has always been a strong point and the team did a magnificent job; really exceptional. The next race in Monaco is very prestigious, so of course I would like to win it, but I am not thinking in terms of taking a record with six wins in a row."
Rubens Barrichello (2nd): "I had a great race, after a difficult start. Now it is obvious I was on a two stop strategy, it explains why I was happy to be fifth in qualifying with such a heavy fuel load. Even so, I was able to keep up a good pace in the early stages. We expected BAR to be quick so there were two options on Saturday: try and get pole or try something else. I was so frustrated with being stuck in traffic in the San Marino GP that I decided to gamble. Given the result, I can be pleased with the way it worked out. I might have had a chance of getting ahead of Michael if Trulli had held him up a bit longer. Even so, my chances were looking good, but after the first pit stop, my car was a bit more difficult to drive with the heavy fuel load, but the Bridgestone tyres were phenomenal today and I was still able to put in good lap times."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "There could be no better way to celebrate Michael's 200th Grand Prix! A fantastic one-two, the third this season, although we only believed it after both cars crossed the line. Michael had a problem with the left exhaust from lap 11 onwards for reasons we have not yet identified. You need a bit of luck in Formula 1 and this time it came our way. Our drivers were on different strategies and both of them did the job. This one-two is the result of the work of a fantastic team, of an exceptional car and engine and it is also down to superlative Bridgestone tyres. I am also happy for Sauber, as Fisichella brought home two valuable points. My abiding memory of this day will be that of a team that goes after wins with never ending will and determination. Ferrari is like a religion whose principal belief is in striving for excellence and this team that has now been together for such a long time knows how to interpret that belief in the best way possible. I am very happy for everyone in the Ferrari Maserati Group and the Fiat Group, as well as for our technical and commercial partners and all our fans all over the world. We cannot yet say the championship is over. There are still thirteen races to go and they will be closely contested. But we can guarantee that we will keep pushing right to the very end."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "After eleven laps, we realised we had a cracked exhaust on Michael's car, which got progressively worse every lap. The broken exhaust in itself was not a problem in performance terms but it was starting to damage the bodywork on the left hand side and in fact there was a bit of a fire there at the second pit stop. He had to take it a bit easy from then on. I really didn't think he would finish as the problem happened so early in the race. However, our strategy with Rubens also worked well and if Michael had retired, we would have seen Rubens take the win for us."
Ralf Schumacher (6th): "The result, more or less, reflects our current performances. We could not have achieved a much better position, even with a better start. Furthermore, I had to fight very early on with some brake problems, which meant I had to be very gentle on them until the end. I knew Barcelona was not among our favourite tracks, however I expected more. We must work very hard on our performance in order to make our way back to the top."
Juan Pablo Montoya (DNF, Brakes): "I knew this race would be difficult. It's been like this every year so we know this track is hard on the car. We did a good job yesterday in qualifying by putting the car on the front row of the grid, but then I lost two positions at the start. I started having brake problems in the very first part of the race, with the pedal going very long, but they then seemed to come back after the first pit-stop so I thought everything was ok. However, when Fisichella, who was ahead of me, pitted and I was pushing hard to gain an advantage, the brakes stopped working again so I had to retire. I am not frustrated though. I've had this before and it's not worth getting annoyed about. You just have to learn from the experience and work hard to address the problem."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It was a pretty disappointing day when you consider our race pace in comparison to the frontrunners. We also made a bad judgement with the brake cooling which ultimately forced Juan to retire and Ralf was on the limit with his brakes for the whole race."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "When you start from positions two and six, three points is a poor result. Both the drivers lost some places at the start and you don't recover from a bad start when there are three teams doing the same lap times, like Renault, BAR and ourselves were doing today. At the end of the race, Ralf was able regain the position he had started from, while Juan had to retire. Once again Ferrari dominated, which has allowed them to increase their margin in the fight for the Championship."
David Coulthard (10th): "A very difficult race as obviously our performance was down. We just have to take the pain at the moment and continue to work hard to improve. The positive things are that the car was reliable and the strategy was right. I overshot the first pitstop at bit, which lost us some time, and I think there was a small problem with the fuel nozzle in the other stops but it didn't cost us too much time. There is no doubt that we will get better - we have the depth, the focus and the resources - but it will take some time."
Kimi Raikkonen (11th): "We just couldn't do better today as it was clear we were not quick enough. There is no point in me getting frustrated as there is nothing I can do to change the situation, and I know that the team is as motivated and focused as ever to make progress. I made a good start from 13th and gained three places to get into 10th at the first corner. We made a few adjustments in the second pitstop to try to improve performance which took some additional time. In my final stop we had to put some air into the pneumatic system's airbottle as the pressure had dropped a bit."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "The outcome of today's race is certainly not what we want, but we always knew that we would struggle at the Barcelona track. However, there is still some way to go before improvements can be seen. Our task is clear - the entire team has to continue to work hard to get back to where we want to be which is at the front."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our performance was weak. There is still a lot to do, and everybody in the team knows that."
Jarno Trulli (3rd): "First of all, I must congratulate everybody for this podium: my mechanics, my engineers, and the whole team. But above all, I want to dedicate this podium to a very close friend of mine, who is going through a very difficult time: he has a big battle ahead of him, but we will be with him all the way and this trophy is for him. As for the race, I made the kind of start you can only dream about but even though Michael was behind, I knew he was faster than me. After my first stop, all I had to do was keep pushing through the race, and I did that until the last stint, when I was managing the gap to Fernando. It was a nice sight to see the two Renaults cross the line together today."
Fernando Alonso (4th): "Third and fourth is a great result for the team, particularly in terms of the championship because we finished ahead of our main rivals. From my point of view, the race went well: I was stuck in the pack at the start, and it took the first two stints for me to get a clear track so I could begin running at my true pace. Everything went well from then on, although the car did not have very good grip today. Third and fourth is the best the team could have hoped for today."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We scored a magnificent result today, and it is down to the hard work of all our team, here at the circuit and back at our bases in Enstone and Viry-Chatillon. The drivers were irreproachable today - aggressive when they needed to be, consistent, and it is a pleasure to see Jarno score his second podium for the team. As for the race, everything went to plan and honestly, it was quite straightforward for us. Although Jarno led early on, it was clear that the Ferraris were faster than us today but to bring two cars home in the points, right behind us, strengthens our position as the second force in this year's championship."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I would like to congratulate the whole team for this result, which has allowed us to reinforce our position in the championship. The team did a fantastic job after a difficult start to the weekend, and the drivers put in faultlessly consistent performances: as soon as Jarno took the lead at the start, we knew he would finish on the podium. Once again, our reliability was perfect and our championship position reflects exactly how important that has been this year."
Takuma Sato (5th): "I made a good start and it was very exciting to be so close to the front of the grid. I was amazed by Trulli's start though - I don't know how they did that! Obviously I'm a little disappointed that we started from third and finished fifth, but both Jenson and I really struggled with consistency after each tyre change. We did our best though and we have achieved some valuable points for the team. It was a tough race but I'm looking forward to Monaco now. We are testing in Paul Ricard next week and I think we can be optimistic of another good result there."
Jenson Button (8th): "I didn't get a very good start then I was a little disappointed with the first stint because it just wasn't possible to overtake. I really struggled to be honest. I lost so much time in the high-speed corners because when you're so close to the other cars you lose a lot of downforce. We had good straight-line speed so we thought we would be able to overtake them in the straights but I had no chance; overtaking is so difficult here. Considering where I started, I am pleased to have been able to salvage a point here. I'm really looking forward to Monaco though. I think we'll have a good package there and hopefully we can translate that into a good result."
David Richards, Team Principal: "This result further strengthens our third place in the championship, and although not perhaps what we had hoped for when we came here, I am very pleased to have both cars in the points and finishing reliably. Taku drove well this afternoon and is now gaining some real momentum which I see growing race by race. Jenson's result was a strong testament to the excellent teamwork in the pits; even though he was considerably faster than the cars in front it is extremely difficult to pass and so his pitstop strategy and execution proved critical. Another weekend of learning and building experience as a team, all of which will make us stronger."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This was not quite the result we were looking for from this weekend but all the same we are happy to finish both cars in the points and strengthen our third place in the Championship. A solid performance from Takuma fighting for fourth with Alonso but in the end we were not quite quick enough. As expected, starting from 14th, Jenson found it virtually impossible to pass here, even with a substantial car advantage. His progress was down to keeping to a good strategy and effective pitstops. Clearly we feel that we have not been able to show our true performance consistently this weekend and we will be working hard to understand how we can improve for Monaco."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Although we are disappointed with our performance this weekend we have to remember how far we have come this year ? both cars have raced into the points today and we leave Spain third in the constructors' world championship."
Giancarlo Fisichella (7th): "My car was very good all the way through, and when we were running together I was much quicker than Montoya. I don't know whether he had a problem, but I could keep ahead of him quite easily. The only problem I had was in lapped traffic, when I lost some time. Without that maybe we could even have had the sixth place. But I am happy. We made progress at Imola and we made some more here. If we keep doing that we will just get stronger still."
Felipe Massa (9th): "I flat-spotted my front tyres in Turn 10 in the first stint, trying to pass somebody, and that gave me a lot of vibration and understeer. I could see Giancarlo, but he was going away from me. I changed the front wings slightly in my first stop, and on fresh rubber the car was fine for the rest of the race. It felt great to beat the McLarens and without that initial problem I really think I could have been in the points. I'm very pleased for Giancarlo and the team that he scored some."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Two points is fantastic for us, particularly as it is so hard to do that and we won them fair and square. At least as valuable to us was our race performance. We had a super strategy and very strong performances from both drivers. Giancarlo drove just the way I had in mind when we signed him for 2004, while Felipe overtook both McLarens. Our lap times were also absolutely competitive, which is further endorsement of the progress we are making."
Mark Webber (12th): "I suffered a slow start which meant that by the first corner I had already lost a few places. I tried to climb back up the grid as my pace in the R5 was good. However, during my first pit-stop we had a problem getting the rear left tyre changed as I dropped the clutch too early. I headed back out to try and limit the damage but I found that I was suffering from a lack of rear grip. This made driving the car more difficult and it just felt that there was a lot against me out there. Not the race I had hoped for. I am going to be working hard with the team over the next two weeks to ensure that we go well prepared to Monaco."
Christian Klien (DNF, Throttle): "I made a good start and made up a few places by the first lap but after a small error on corner eight that threw me wide I lost a few too. The pace of the R5 was then good and I was enjoying the race. The grip was not great though so it was quite challenging to keep the car on-line. I was aiming for the chequered flag again so when I seemed to lose throttle control on lap 45 I was very disappointed to be forced to bring the car to a stop. I have briefly spoken with my engineers and they are collecting the data just now so that we can understand what happened out there. I know that we will be working on this back at the factory to that we have resolved it in time for Monaco."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "After completing numerous tests on starts over the last two months it is frustrating to have seen Mark suffer from such a slow start. It cost him some places and then coupled with his slow pit-stop as a result of a problem with his left-rear tyre change when he inadvertently dropped the clutch he struggled to finish higher than 12th. The grip out there was not as good as it had been earlier in the weekend so again that changed the feel of the track. Christian was doing a good job and was doing well until he ran wide and lost a few places. His pace was consistent and he was driving well when surprisingly he suffered from a throttle control problem and had no choice but to stop the car. Until we get all the data back we will not fully understand the reasons behind this. Overall, we have enjoyed a good weekend and a positive one all-round. Thousands of miles of testing cannot guarantee that you won't suffer a problem during the race. What we have to do now is understand what has happened and move forward."
Cristiano Da Matta (13th): "The car was quite slow in the first two stints, so I wasn't really able to make any progress. The performance in the second half of the race was actually a bit better, but I lost valuable time whilst being lapped, especially when on new tyres. I think had I not had that to contend with that, maybe I could have got past Mark Webber. Overall though, we were not competitive enough to get a higher result and we have a lot to do before Monaco in two weeks."
Olivier Panis (DNF, Hydraulics): "I had quite a good start but realised quickly that there was a problem with the grip level of my car. Coming in for my second pit stop I experienced a pit limiter problem and got a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. We do not know the cause of the problem yet but if it was my mistake I want to apologise to the team. However, some laps after that incident I was forced to stop on the track due to the loss of hydraulic pressure, which left me without any gearbox functions or power steering. A disappointing end to a race weekend that started off well - but the team is doing a good job and we have to keep pushing to find more speed for the race."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "The encouraging qualifying on Saturday made us hopeful for the race. Unfortunately we were not able to continue in the same way. On the first set of tyres we had problems with high tyre pressures which meant that the TF104s struggled for speed. Olivier lost some positions because of a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He then suffered from a hydraulic pressure drop and had to retire. Cristiano did a good job; he was able to finish the race but the lack of pace ended in a disappointing result. We know that we have still a long way to go but we do our best to keep pushing and developing the car."
Giorgio Pantano (DNF, Steering): "We did a very good start and I made up a few places right at the beginning, but then after we started pit stops a problem began with the hydraulics. Eventually it got so bad there was nothing I could do and the car developed other hydraulic related problems, so I just had to stop. Naturally I am disappointed."
Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Hydraulics): "I lost hydraulic pressure, then the differential shut down, up and down shifts stopped working, and finally the gearbox went altogether. I have mixed feelings about the race. One thing is we have to work more on the start. Also, I knew in qualifying that I did not like the feel of my first set of tyres but in the race the second and third sets felt much better. My lap times were quicker, I was in front of Jaguar and it wasn't too bad. The positive thing is that we have been a lot quicker this race and the last one so we are definitely improving. But we don't only have to improve lap times, we also have to improve reliability at the same time. If we carry on improving at the current rate, I'm quite happy. Although not finishing is always frustrating, motivation will never be a problem because I enjoy driving so much. I'm looking forward to Monaco!"
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "A character-building day for Jordan Ford, you might say. In the race we had two technical problems with hydraulics which finally put both cars out. It's good that we showed some increased pace this weekend but obviously we need to guarantee we can get two cars to the end of the race before we can think about a points finishing position."
Gianmaria Bruni (DNF, Spin): "Pretty much from the beginning of the race I was having a problem with brake locking. I adjusted the balance to try to improve things, but several times I had difficulty braking for turn eight. On that last lap, the front wheels locked again, the back of the car got loose as a result, and I spun. It's disappointing, not only for me, but also for the guys, who worked really hard all weekend. We'll just have to see if we can do better in Monaco."
Zsolt Baumgartner (DNF, Spin): "It seems like all the bad things that could happen in a race all happened to me today! I didn't get away properly at the start and lost a couple of seconds, but then the car was running well after that. The problem came when I was trying to obey the waved blue flags and let one of the Saubers through. I stayed to the dirty side of the track going into turn nine, and when I tried to turn in, the tyres wouldn't grip and I spun into the gravel. It was a difficult place to try to let someone through, and I paid the price. I particularly want to thank the team for all the effort they put in, and I'm just sorry I wasn't able to get to the finish for them."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Sadly, Barcelona has again proven to be an unlucky track for Minardi. For our cars to be the first two retirements from today's race is hardly due reward for all the work the boys put in this weekend, but that is sometimes the difficult side of motor racing. We'll now focus on the Monaco Grand Prix, which poses its own unique set of challenges."