MAY 23, 2004
MONACO GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Trulli wins Monaco GP
In an action packed race, Jarno Trulli won his first career Grand Prix victory at Monaco today in his Renault, holding off a fast charging BAR-Honda of Jenson Button in the closing laps to win by less than a half a second margin. Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello finished third, over a minute behind.
The Italian took the lead from pole position - with his team mate Fernando Alonso getting ahead of Button at the start to jump into second place - and except during the pitstops he led the entire race.
Takuma Sato made a quick start to jump to fourth place, with a line of cars bunched up behind him including Kimi Rakkonen and Michael Schumacher.
On lap 3 Sato's Honda engine let go at the swimming pool, throwing up a wall of smoke. As the following cars piled into the smoke, Giancarlo Fisichella's Sauber ran into the back of David Coulthard's McLaren-Mercedes and flipped over and landed upside down on the armco barrier. Fortunately Fisichella was unhurt.
After the safety car period, Michael Schumacher used the first pitstops to jump up the order from fifth to third, getting past Raikkonen and Button.
On lap 42, while running a solid second, Alonso slammed into the barriers while attempting to pass the lapped car of Ralf Schumacher around the outside of the tunnel. The safety car was called out out again, and Trulli and Button dove into the pits to make their final stops.
Michael Schumacher did not pit, and was leading behind the safety car, when, in a bizarre incident inside the tunnel, the German braked, locking up his front tire. Montoya, who was following close behind, tried to avoid the Ferrari and turned hard to the right between Schumacher and the barriers. The two collided with Schumacher getting punted into the barrier, spinning across the road into the other barrier.
The damage took Schumacher out of the race, and dashed his hopes of breaking the record of five wins to open a season.
After getting up to sixth in his first stint, Juan Pablo Montoya in the Williams-BMW pitted early, and then was trapped as low as 11th position behind Nick Heidfeld for the middle portion of the race, but was able to salvage a respectable fourth place by finish by the end of the race.
Felipe Massa scored his first points of the season to finish fifth, while both Toyotas did likewise, Cristiano da Matta coming home in sixth and Olivier Panis in eighth. Nick Heidfeld scored Jordan's first points in seventh place.
Zsolt Baumgarnter in the Minardi was the only other finisher, in ninth place - just outside the points.
Rubens Barrichello (3rd): "I think I was very lucky to finish today and third place was my birthday present from God. At the start, Sato came past me even before I moved off the line. Then, quite early in the race, in Casino Square, the car hit the ground very hard, I was locking the wheels and it felt as though I had a puncture. I told the team on the radio, but they said that if I could, I should stay out and see if the situation improved on my next set of tyres. But after my second pit stop, which I did not make when the Safety Car was out as I had a lot of fuel on board, the car was still hitting the ground and was not turning well. It felt like something was broken in the rear suspension and while the SC was on track I even drove slowly near the pit wall in case the team could see anything. I'm not even sweating after this race, because all I could do was drive slowly to carry the car home. I did not see Michael's incident in the tunnel."
Michael Schumacher (DNF, Accident): "Firstly I must congratulate Jarno. He did a fantastic job and I am very happy for him as I work closely with him in the GPDA and we meet on the football pitch. Today, I don't think I could have really challenged him, but nevertheless when the accident with Montoya happened I was leading the race. So the situation is that the race leader was knocked out of the race after being hit by a back marker. I am sure there was no deliberate intention on his part and I accept the Steward's decision. I was accelerating and braking just as we do when we go to the grid and in the standard way when running behind the Safety Car. The tunnel was not even the first place I had done it as I had used the same procedure earlier in the lap. A bit of smoke off the wheels is quite normal in these situations as you try to get heat into the front tyres and the brakes. After not the most successful weekend for us, I am really looking forward to next weekend when we will already be at the Nurburgring for one of my home races."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "A disappointing weekend. We were expecting a different result, but our numbers did not come up on the Monaco roulette table. When Michael was in the hunt for the lead, he was hit by Montoya when the race was being run behind the safety car. It was a real shame that his race had to end this way. All race long, Rubens did not have a good feeling from the car and his third place is some small consolation at the end of the weekend. Having won the first five races of the year with Michael, Ferrari would like to congratulate Jarno and the two teams which have beaten us this time. They both did an excellent job. Now there are only a few days until the European Grand Prix, where we will try and return to our winning ways."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Neither of our two cars achieved their expected performance level today. Rubens was not happy with the balance of his car and was struggling with it all race long. Michael was making progress after a difficult initial phase, but was not as quick as we had hoped. Unfortunately, when the accident happened, he was in the lead and had a good chance to fight for the win. We decided to leave both drivers out on track during the safety car period as they had a lot of fuel on board. Michael could have put in some quick laps with a clear track ahead of him, building up a big enough lead to stay ahead of the others. The Stewards have ruled that the collision between Michael and Montoya was a racing incident and we respect their decision. What I can say is that our driver was going through the normal procedure prior to a re-start and this was definitely not a nice way to end the race. All in all, this was certainly not our weekend."
Juan Pablo Montoya (4th): "It was a good race for me, since when you start ninth in Monaco you cannot hope to finish fourth. The car felt ok but like yesterday, we were just not quick enough. With regards to the contact with Michael in the tunnel, Michael braked very hard as he was warming up his brakes and I moved to the right side of the track to avoid him but the gap narrowed and we touched."
Ralf Schumacher (10th, Gearbox): "It's obviously a disappointing race, but these things seem to happen. Just after a few laps I lost fifth gear, then the sixth and the seventh. By the last few laps I had only fourth gear. I did the best I could but it was obviously very hard to drive in those conditions and I had to retire eventually with just a few laps to go. We just need to keep working and get it right for the next races."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "A disappointing result for Ralf, since we had a gearbox failure on his car which made him struggle for most of the race. Juan did a great job to get up through the field and finish in fourth place, which was more than we thought we could get from this race after qualifying. Monaco is a difficult track and at least we can take away some points to the next race and we hope to be more competitive at the Nurburgring."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "It has been a turbulent race with many incidents. Ralf lost fifth gear soon after the start and then lost further gears until the gearbox just stopped working completely. This finally cost him the single point that he was racing for. Juan Pablo made the most of his ninth position on the grid. It was a nice manoeuvre when he overtook Barrichello at the beginning of the race. Congratulations to Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. Both were racing at one hundred percent level until the very end and kept the race exciting right to the chequered flag."
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Engine): "The engineers could see that there was a problem with the engine's pneumatic system and the team told me to come in and retire. I think we could have done well here today. Obviously I'm disappointed as we have had a good and reasonably competitive weekend until today. There was a lot of smoke when Sato's engine blew up, but I was prepared as it had been smoking for some time and managed to find my way through."
David Coulthard (DNF, Accident): "I'm really disappointed and upset as I love this race and would have enjoyed battling it out with the other guys. Obviously I was very worried when Fisichella flew over me and his car landed upside down, and we were lucky not to have a more serious accident. When Sato's engine blew up I couldn't see anything in front of me because of the smoke, so perhaps Fisichella was going a bit too fast but I don't know. However smoke was coming from Sato's car already on the Parade Lap so I'm sure the engineers could have seen on the telemetry that eventually the engine would blow up."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A great race for Formula One, but a disappointing weekend for the team as a whole and especially the drivers who were able to enjoy a more competitive performance in qualifying. David's race was abruptly stopped by Fisichella. We took the difficult decision to retire Kimi from the race when it became apparent that a pneumatic control system on the engine was malfunctioning, which would have caused the engine to fail. All in all not a great weekend, but we will work hard at maintaining our progress towards competitiveness."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "David's race was over when Fisichella ran into him following David taking avoiding action after Sato's BAR slowed down. The team decided to stop Kimi because the telemetry indicated a failure in the pneumatic system - the reason for which we still have to investigate. A bad result for a Monaco weekend that had begun better than the five races before and showed some progress in our competitiveness."
Jarno Trulli (1st): "It is hard to express what I am feeling right now. The team, the car, myself, we have all been improving bit by bit since the start of the season. Yesterday, I took my first pole position and said that all I needed now was a first win. To do so is a wonderful feeling. I believed in myself and the team, and hoped that maybe we could win here. To be honest, the way the race turned out really didn't help me: each time I built up a gap, the safety car came out, and I had quite a lot of trouble with traffic. But the car was perfect, the strategy correct and the pit-stops were fantastic. I just want to thank everybody in the team, here at the track, at Viry and at Enstone. They have worked so hard this year and this is not just my win, it's theirs as well."
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Accident): "First of all, I have to congratulate Jarno and the team for the win: we really worked hard in the winter, and this is the first reward. In terms of my race, everything was going well and I was quite comfortable behind Jarno. The car had a good balance, and was easy to drive; I was just following Jarno and was intending to push at the second stops. The reason for the crash is pretty simple: I was lapping Ralf, and he ignored the blue flags for the first seven corners. He slowed down to let me by at the entrance to the tunnel, then got back on the throttle and pushed me wide. There's no grip on the outside there, and I lost control. It's extremely frustrating, and cost us a one-two finish."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "What a magnificent result for Jarno and the whole team: it's wonderful to win at a classic circuit like Monaco. The team and the drivers have been building up to this since the start of the year, and it is a just reward for their efforts. The only disappointment is that it could easily have been a one-two. At this stage, Fernando's retirement would appear to have been no fault of his own. But this is Jarno's day: he has worked extremely hard and should enjoy the result."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "The team was awesome this weekend, and the two drivers did a great job. Jarno drove fantastically well, and he has won his first Grand Prix at the most difficult circuit of all. He also won in the best possible fashion, from pole position. I am sorry for Fernando because had he finished, we would have been first and second. But most importantly, we must thank everybody not just in the Renault team, but in the Renault Group. This result reflects the commitment, discipline and ability of everybody involved."
Jenson Button (2nd): "It was a very tough but incredibly exciting race for me - and I suspect everyone watching at home too! It felt great crossing the line in second place, but ever so slightly frustrating because I was only a second behind the winner! I didn't get a good start and Alonso was able to get by me, then the traffic was very bad because of the backmarkers and I was getting really frustrated, being stuck behind da Matta for three and a half laps. After I broke free of them I could really start catching Jarno. We had a great strategy today but we just couldn't quite catch him."
Takuma Sato (DNF, Engine): "I am obviously extremely disappointed today after making such a great start off the grid, but on the positive side it was encouraging to see our race pace was so strong. I think we made a great tyre choice for this race and we had a very good strategy - it's just a shame I wasn't able to use it! I immediately felt a loss of engine power and saw some smoke, then my race was over. It was very unfortunate that the smoke caused the crash between Coulthard and Fisichella, and although there was nothing I could have done about it, I am really pleased that no one was hurt. We have been working very hard in testing at Barcelona and Paul Ricard for this race and the Nurburgring, and at least I don't have long to wait to try to make up for today."
David Richards, Team Principal: "Jenson and Taku put up a great fight today, and we have shown yet again how a young team can take on the establishment and rattle a few cages. This was a really exciting race all round, and the team's ability to make instant tactical decisions really came to the fore. As always, traffic plays its part and Jenson did lose out pretty badly after the safety car came in and he was so blatantly held up. I guess many teams would have settled for a solid second but Jenson has shown that we will always fight back and never give up. In the same way, Taku's start was blistering and he muscled his way into a great position; it's just a shame it was so shortlived. Together with Honda and Michelin we have created a tight-knit team full of motivation and momentum, and that is what is capturing the imagination of fans around the world, who I would like to thank for all their tremendous support."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "The car had been quick all weekend here, so we had hoped to bring the first Michelin win of 2004. In the end we were not quite quick enough to beat Renault today, and so are very happy to take another 2nd place. Jenson drove a faultless race and excellent work by the team in responding to the second safety car allowed Jenson to battle with Trulli right to the end. The failure of Toyota and da Matta to respond to the blue flags was pretty disappointing and cost Jenson over six seconds, which would have made the last part of the race even more exciting. Unfortunately, after a terrific start, Takuma's car stopped just two laps into the race, the engine failure undoubtedly the result of overheating at the restart. This was an unexpected failure with little warning and unfortunately caused the incident with Fisichella and Coulthard."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "One way or another we contributed to lots of the drama today! First of all Jenson had another fantastic race and I loved watching him catch Jarno - fighting for a win feels good. I have to say that I am very sorry for Taku - he got a fantastic start and we should have done better for him."
Felipe Massa (5th): "All I saw in the accident was a lot of mess and cars slowing everywhere. I was right behind Ralf and slowed when he did, and we managed to thread our way through. I guess I was lucky, because you could hardly see a thing! After that I found that in my second stint my tyres were very good so I was able to concentrate on chasing a good finish. In my last stint the tyres were okay initially but then the rears were finished as da Matta closed in, so I really had to focus on keeping the car in a straight line when it wanted to go sideways everywhere. I knew that da Matta was also in a good position for points so I didn't think he would take a risk, but I was never able to relax. I'm really glad to have been able to help the team move up, especially after Giancarlo's accident. It's good to know that he is okay."
Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Accident): "I'm very disappointed today. I made a good start and was just driving gently, saving the tyres, when Sato's engine exploded. I'd seen it smoking after the second start, but nobody expected it to break like that. I had no vision at all. Barrichello and Montoya were in front, then suddenly there was a McLaren. I'm not sure why it was there, but the next thing I heard was the bang and I was upside down. The car took all the impact and I stayed in the cockpit until it all went quiet outside, just in case the accident wasn't finished. Then I got myself out. I'm okay, but very frustrated, because for sure we could have had P4 today."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "An incredible race for us, but also a bitter-sweet one which brought us pain and joy. We are very happy that Giancarlo escaped such a spectacular accident without harm, and are very sorry for him. He did a great job in qualifying with the heaviest fuel load and started the race with a lot of confidence and high expectations. On the good side, we are extremely happy for Felipe, who drove an error-free race full of fighting spirit. Our four points today made up for the Giancarlo's misfortune and move us into fifth place in the Constructors' Championship."
Mark Webber (DNF, Transmission): "I was pleased with where we had qualified for the race as I knew that our strategy was going to allow us to chase for points. I managed to get away well at the start and we were going well when on lap 11 I suffered from a loss of drive and the car came to a stop. The team are going to look into this as we go directly to Germany this week. We have had a tough weekend here but it not through a lack of trying. The guys have done an amazing job to change engines round and re-build my car after the fire on Wednesday. We should have been up there with the best of them thanks to our strategy but there you go, that's motor-racing for you."
Christian Klien (DNF, Accident): "I have had a good weekend here and I am annoyed that I was unable to race for points. I miscalculated the build-up of traffic at the Mirabeau corner and as everyone pushed together I ran into the back of the Jordan of Nick Heidfeld. This caused me to lose my front wing that in turn disappeared under my front tyres and caused me to lose my steering. My strategy for the race was brilliant and there is no doubt that I should have been up there in the points given the amount of attrition and different strategies that there were out there today. The R5 has been well-balanced around this street circuit and I would have liked to have put it through its paces."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "The race today was disappointing for us given the amount of hard work and preparation that has gone into this weekend. Christian had done a really good job learning the track and had driven an error-free weekend up until the race. As the cars bunched up in the Mirabeau corner he touched the back of Heidfeld and his front wing went under the tyres and he lost the ability to steer, causing him to hit the barrier. Mark has had a slightly more frustrating weekend and this culminated in what appears to have been a loss of drive on his R5 that we are currently investigating. Until we get the car back into the garage we are not able to confirm the cause behind this loss of power. Given our strategy for the race it is disappointing not to have been given the opportunity to compete for points. We leave this weekend focused on what we have to do between now and next weekend when we will be competing at the European Grand Prix."
Cristiano Da Matta (6th): "I think that we had a good race, probably the strongest pace we have had since the beginning of the year. To finish in sixth place and to score three championship points is an excellent result for us this weekend, but we should have had even more. I had a clutch problem, which lost me time at my second pit stop and then I was given a drive-through penalty for apparently ignoring blue flags. I really think that the situation with blue flags has to be looked into because our race was compromised a lot with the mistake that was made today. I was only a couple of seconds behind Rubens and I was almost able to get out in front of him after my first pit stop. It was just unfortunate that we had this blue flag incident. Basically, we had a fourth place in our hands today and came away with a sixth."
Olivier Panis (8th): "With all the problems we had at the start where the car stalled twice, to finish in eighth is positive for all the team. During most of the race, I had a big problem with the brakes and drove most of it with limited braking. I expected a little bit more from myself, but I did my best and managed to get the car to the chequered flag in the hope that we could pick up some points. I am very happy for the whole Toyota family that we could do just that. This is just the first step, now we need to carry on and look to next weekend's race at the Nurburgring."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It is fantastic for the team to get two cars into a points finish, and just reward for all the hard work. Both cars had a clutch problem which caused Olivier to stall at the start and also caused the problem for Cristiano during his second pitstop which possibly cost him a podium. I have to say that the inconsistency in blue flags is appalling. Cristiano got a blue flag and moved over at the next corner, and was then given a penalty. Ralf Schumacher in front of us was a lap behind in front of us for two or three laps, nothing was done and this has cost us points. There seems to be one rule for those at the front and one rule for the rest of us. This is something that really needs to be addressed by the race director at the FIA."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "What an exciting race! Both Cristiano and Olivier did an exceptional job in the circumstances, driving to our first points of the season. I think this is a good motivational force for all of us at Toyota and we can build on this result throughout the remainder of the year. Whilst Toyota will always accept the final decision of the FIA, we already raised the issue of blue flags with the FIA after the Spanish Grand Prix, so we are disappointed with the inconsistency in today's race, which we consider to be unfair."
Nick Heidfeld (7th): "I can't tell you how happy I am, scoring not just one but two points. This means a lot for me and also for the team at the moment. I think we employed the right strategy when the safety cars came out. I managed to keep the car on the circuit which was important today as was the fact that we had no mechanical problems."
Giorgio Pantano (DNF, Transmission): "I had a gear problem which was basically that the down-shift function was not working, it was locking in fourth gear. I came into the pits pretty quickly to see if we could fix the problem but it was impossible and I had to stop. Naturally, I'm disappointed that my first Monaco Grand Prix ended this way but thankfully there are not many days to wait until the next chance to race and I'm looking ahead to the European Grand Prix now."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "It turned out to be the exciting and eventful race as we thought it might be seeing some of the strategies from yesterday. It's difficult to know how it would have worked without the safety cars, as obviously we made very good use of those with two very quick calls to bring Nick in for both pit stops that proved effective in the race. It's great to get our first two points on the board and to get Nick home. We are disappointed for Giorgio who was running well and would have had a good crack at the points today given the carnage out there."
Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "This has been an outstanding day. Firstly I'm overjoyed about Nick's drive and his getting some points, which we so badly needed. I also want to congratulate Jarno Trulli on his first win. It would be hard to describe how he must be feeling now especially as his first victory has come in Monaco. Jarno has been a good friend to everyone at Jordan and we wish him every success."
Zsolt Baumgartner (9th): "I made a very good start, but then had a gearbox problem just after I'd gone through the first corner. I reset the system with the steering wheel buttons and was able to get going again, but by then, I'd lost a lot of time. I was able to maintain a good pace, though, and after the first Safety Car incident, I was up with Gimmi. Unfortunately, the car developed a strong oversteer, and I wasn't able to push any harder. It was good, though, to be able to keep the car on track, avoid any mistakes and achieve a good result. It was a tough race physically, and I'm pleased to have finished, both for myself and for the team. It makes up a little for the problems we encountered here on Saturday."
Gianmaria Bruni (DNF, Gearbox): "I had a problem leaving the grid on the first formation lap, but did manage to get away at the start. I then just tried to keep up a reasonable pace, which I was able to do initially, but then I lost first gear. It didn't cost me too much time, but then I started having difficulty downshifting into third and second gears, and I had no choice but to stop at the pits. The guys had a look, but unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done. It's bad luck and I'm obviously very disappointed, but that is sometimes how racing is."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Minardi knew today that if its cars finished this race, there was always going to be a chance of scoring points, and in the end, we were so, so near. After the incidents in the opening stages of the race, Zsolt was under instructions to drive a very conservative race and just bring the car home. With 37 laps to go and only 10 healthy cars running, we really felt a points finish was possible. Sadly, it was not to be, but Zsolt and the team did all that was asked of them today. Our sincere congratulations go to Jarno Trulli - another former Minardi driver - for his first-ever Formula One victory."