UNITED STATES GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Schumacher wins US Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher, United States GP 2004

Michael Schumacher, United States GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix, in Indianapolis, in an action packed race. It was the German drivers eighth win from nine races of the season so far - his 78th career victory. His Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello finished second - Ferrari's sixth 1-2 of the season.

Japanese BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato finished third - his first podium finish - equalling the best ever finish by a Japanese driver.

On the first lap, four cars tangled at the second corner, bringing out the safety car for the first time.

Once the race was restarted, Fernando Alonso - who was running third - crashed suffering a blown tyre in the braking area for turn 1.

On lap 11, Ralf Schumacher spun on the fast final corner, backing into the wall and throwing debris onto the track, bringing out the safety car for the second time. Ralf was alert but was complaining of pains, and was extracted from the car and taken to the hospital for precautionary checks.

Jarno Trulli finished fourth in his Renault, ahead of Olivier Panis in his Toyota, scoring four points in his 150th career start.

McLaren-Mercedes team mates Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard finished sixth and seventh.

Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner took the final points paying position, scoring his first career points and Minardi's first point of the season.

RACE RESULTS

PRESS CONFERENCE


Ferrari

Michael Schumacher (1st): "Ralf is OK and that is the most important thing today. I was very concerned when I saw him in the car for so long. Then the team told me on the radio that he was okay. That helped me big time, because I could see how hard he must have hit the wall. The timing of the first pit-stop was crucial. I took the lead as the Safety Car went in, even though we have little time to get ready for it to pit at this track. But, I managed to slipstream Rubens and get past. We had a flexible strategy, Rubens on a longer first stint and me on a longer second one. In the final stint, Rubens was quicker than me as he had fresher tyres which is why he pushed me very hard for a couple of laps and we had a very close fight. I had to manage my tyres, which were marginal on blistering, getting better once they had worn down a bit, so allowing me to push again."

Rubens Barrichello (2nd): "I am happy to leave North America with sixteen points, but a little bit disappointed as I felt I could have won both here and in Canada. My car was excellent today, but when the Safety Car came in, my tyre pressures were too low and I got wheelspin at the final corner, which is why Michael was able to slipstream me and get past as I could not close the door. I also lost some positions in my first pit stop, but I was pushing really hard. I also hit something on the track at one point at a blind exit to a corner and felt a big bang. The car turned left and I though the suspension was broken. Then after my final stop, I was able to attack Michael on my new tyres, but he closed the door fairly. I am now keener than ever to win a race as soon as possible."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was an incident packed race, with the early stages marked by two Safety Car periods, caused by various spectacular accidents which fortunately and most importantly did not result in any serious injuries. In the end, it all worked out in the best possible way for us. The team, the drivers and the cars were perfect. Our reliability proved to be exceptional and I wish to thank every member of the Gestione Sportiva for this. These results are down to their efforts and dedication. Michael took his eighth win of the season ahead of Rubens, who was very quick all weekend. After this race, he is now the only driver to have always finished in the points so far this season. Indianapolis brings the first half of the season to a close. It has gone fantastically well for us, thanks also to the support of our partners, first and foremost Bridgestone and Shell, but now we are looking to the future. There will be enough time to enjoy these results when we are old..."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "An incredibly eventful race, during which our team and drivers reacted correctly to the changing situation. The Safety Car meant we had to react quickly to change our strategies. Rubens was very strong all weekend and Michael managed his re-start well, but I think that if Rubens had not had a problem in his first pit stop, he might have beaten Michael. Our drivers were free to race one another and we just told them to be sensible and not have an accident. After the second stop, Michael had a heavy fuel load and Rubens was on fresh tyres and for these two reasons, he was quicker than his team mate for a few laps."

Williams-BMW

Ralf Schumacher (DNF, Accident):

Juan Pablo Montoya (DNF, Black Flag): "I've heard that Ralf is basically OK and I am glad to know that but I feel disappointed about my race. I had a problem at the start, which forced me to run to the spare car, which was set for me anyway. I started from the pit-lane and had a tough race having to climb up the field. I managed to run as high as second, at one point, but realistically we were on for a strong top four position but then I got the black flag. Again a bad outcome to what seemed to be a reasonably good weekend. The only comfort is that the car was quick today, which allowed me to catch up with the frontrunners from the back of the field."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Thankfully Ralf will be ok. He had a puncture, which caused him to crash. The reason for Juan Pablo's black flag is that when we tried to start the engine on the grid, the starter would not engage into the back of the car and we decided therefore that Juan Pablo should get into the T-car. However, according to the FIA's article No.85 Juan Pablo would need to have left the grid within 15 seconds before the start of the formation lap and we were a few seconds too late. Obviously two disappointing results in a row is not good. However we are fighter and intend to come back strongly."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Of course our race was over-shadowed by Ralf's accident. ?I visited him in the medical centre during the race, where he was undergoing a first check. I could even speak with him shortly. We all hope now that Ralf recovers quickly. After Juan Pablo had his problem at the start, he fought hard and managed to get into the points but was excluded with 16 laps to go to the end of the race."

McLaren-Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen (6th): "I did score some points today, but I'm still a bit disappointed as I strongly believe I could have finished on the podium. We have taken a step forward with the MP4-19 and were able to run reasonably competitively, but it was not to be. We had a strong race strategy, the car was handling well, and I was able to really attack. However I was forced to make two unscheduled stops as the team had to top up the pneumatic air system on the engine with additional air, which at the end cost me quite a few positions."

David Coulthard (7th): "It was a difficult Sunday for me, but at least both Kimi and I managed to finish the race and score some points. In the early stages I picked up some debris, which damaged my deflector and upset the balance of the car, which made it difficult to handle for the rest of the Grand Prix. Towards the end of the race I had to make another stop as a piece of polystyrene had lodged itself underneath my car, which the mechanics had to remove. I now look forward to the next race at Magny Cours in two weeks time."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "An eventful day for everybody at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both Kimi and David were on strong strategies in an incident-filled race and were able to run competitively. There is no doubt that Kimi could have finished on the podium had his race not been badly hampered by a faulty engine air compressor, which forced him to make two unscheduled stops. David had to make an additional stop after a piece of polystyrene debris lodged itself underneath the car. At least we managed to score five points, which is a small consolation in a race where we would have been truly competitive."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "At least we scored five points, although Kimi could have managed a better result if he hadn't suffered problems with the pneumatic system forcing him into the pits two additional times, which made a total four. Unfortunately David's race was hampered by a polystyrene piece, which had to be removed during an unscheduled third pitstop."

Renault

Jarno Trulli (4th): "I did my best today from last on the grid. I made the most of the start to gain lots of positions, then we brought my first stop forward during the second safety car period, a move that paid off later in the race. I pushed all the way, but Sato was catching me during the last stint - I was really on the limit, and the lap before he overtook me, I went off. Then, there were flags in the banking because of oil on the track so I lifted, and he passed me into the first corner. Of course, I am slightly disappointed to not finish on the podium, but when you look at where I started, this is a very good result."

Fernando Alonso (DNF, Accident): "I got a fantastic start; I braked very late into the first corner because I knew it would be one of the only chances to overtake. As for the accident, it is difficult to explain because everything happened so fast, but I think it was a puncture. I lost the chance of a podium today."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It was a dramatic race today and given that we are slightly disappointed to come away with only a fourth place finish, I think we must be positive about our achievements. From ninth and twentieth on the grid, it was never going to be an easy race, but both drivers made excellent starts to make up position on the first lap. Fernando was unlucky today, and we currently believe that his accident was caused by a puncture. We took advantage of the second safety car period to bring Jarno's first stop forward, and we then needed to keep a good pace and let the strategy unfold. He seemed to lose some performance in the last stint, and was frustrated to be overtaken by Sato, However, we maintained our championship position today, and remain optimistic for the next race, our home Grand Prix."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "We had a tough weekend, but Jarno's fourth place is some consolation. He drove a strong race, but is also disappointed not to be on the podium. Fernando didn't have any luck, just when he looked like producing a great drive. We are satisfied to maintain our position, but hope to improve our level of performance ahead of Magny-Cours."

BAR-Honda

Takuma Sato (3rd): "This is an incredible feeling. A result we have worked hard for and pushed so hard to achieve for so long. I feel very proud for the team, Honda and all the partners. They have been pushing so hard to try to resolve the problems I have been experiencing. I had a strong race and the car just felt beautiful. It was so consistent so I have to thank Michelin for all their efforts too. I was a little surprised by what happened at the start and then losing my position to Alonso. Then the very concerning circumstances on track made things very confusing. After the two safety cars I felt I had the car to fight to get my position back. I had a good battle with a few drivers, then later in the race saw Jarno hesitate on the oil flag so I took my opportunity. The last few races have been very tough for the team with the back-to-backs and our problems, so I'm absolutely thrilled to have this way of thanking everyone."

Jenson Button (DNF): "It was a pretty dramatic race, but my start wasn't very good and I lost two places to Alonso and Raikkonen. After the first safety car our car was working very well, but I was stuck behind Raikkonen. Then we had the second safety car, when Ralf had his big accident. We decided to stay out, instead of pitting under the safety car, and I support the team's decision to do that - it was the right thing to do. Then we sat behind Michael for about six laps before our pitstop. The car was working well and was very stable, especially under braking. The traction was exceptional, so it was disappointing that we were not able to finish the race because I think that it could have been a very interesting result."

David Richards, Team Principal: "A great day both for Taku and the team; the first podium for him and seven podiums for the team out of nine races. At the same time we are still in need of a greater level of consistency, and Jenson's failure was a missed opportunity. As we head back to Europe at the half-way point of the season I am pleased with the progress we have made, and in particular how Honda and Michelin have worked so well as a team to continue development during the year. As for the rest of the season, I think that we have a real battle on our hands but we will clearly be aiming for even greater things in the next nine races."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Congratulations to Takuma on a well-earned first podium place in a very dramatic race. We had very poor starts, particularly Jenson, but after that our car was extremely quick but unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to race the Ferraris. The situation was complex; we decided not to pit at the second safety car and this should have worked well for us had Schumacher not managed to get back out in front of us behind the safety car. After that, both cars were held up by the Ferraris until our first planned stops. After Jenson's first stop it was clear that we had problems with his gearbox so we had to retire his car. Takuma was consistently very fast throughout the rest of the race and quickly caught up Trulli, who made a mistake allowing Takuma to pass him for third place."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "I have to say congratulations to Takuma for his drive today he battled hard for the whole race and really deserves his first podium finish. I feel for Jenson as he could have had a strong result as well. I am also particularly pleased to hear that Ralf is OK."

Sauber-Petronas

Giancarlo Fisichella (9th, Hydraulics): "After the first-corner accident we used the safety car period to refuel. I then did a very long stint but unfortunately I could not pass Heidfeld. Later on I picked up a puncture on lap 48. Having to drive so slowly back to the pits did some damage, so I subsequently had to retire because of an hydraulic leak just when we were set to score a point. Altogether, a very disappointing day."

Felipe Massa (DNF, Accident): "I think I made a good start and I was trying to be very careful in Turn One. Suddenly I found Klien broadside across the road after some other cars crashed, and there was no way to avoid him. Once again, I was a passenger. After three troubled races I hope my luck changes for the better at Magny-Cours."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We had a very turbulent race, which brought us only negative 'highlights'. Felipe was an innocent victim in the first corner accident, and Giancarlo was frustrated to be trapped once again behind Heidfeld all through his first stint. Our tyre problem on lap 48 lost us seventh place, and this inflicted further damage to the car which subsequently robbed us of an eighth place finish due to an hydraulic leak."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (DNF, Engine): "It has been a strong weekend for us here and I was racing a good race today when I was forced to retire after losing oil and catching on fire. My race up to then had been fun and the pace of the car was encouraging. To be in the top six is a good reflection of the pace of the R5 and we had been reliable all weekend. I did run over some debris and this caused damage to my front wing end plate and I lost my bargeboard. The guys sorted me out very quickly and my strategy was excellent. We deserved points today, now we will just have to focus at getting them at the next race."

Christian Klien (DNF, Accident): "A good start and first corner but it all came to an end too shortly. Da Matta appeared to slow instantly on entering the second corner and I had no-where to go other than into the back of him. Disappointing yes, but I am motivated by the pace of the R5 this weekend and the improvement in reliabilty. I will now be testing and then points in Magny-Cours is my next goal."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "It has been a weekend of mixed emotions for us here in Indianapolis. We came to this race very well prepared and focused on the task ahead of us. Points were our goal and we should have scored three with Mark today. Both Christian and Mark made clean starts and cleared the first corner. As Christian entered the second corner, it appears that the Toyota of Da Matta breaked heavily leaving Christian with no-where to go other than into the back of him. This was unfortunately the end of Christian's race. He has shown promise all weekend with increasing pace on track and I would have liked to have seen his performance today. Mark's race was very stong and despite the safety car deployment for nearly the first twenty laps he maintained his position and was racing for a sixth place finish when he suffered an oil leak and came to a stop on lap 60. Prior to that there had been a lot of debris on the track after the incident involving the BMW-Williams of Ralf Schumacher and it appears that Mark ran over the front wing that had been on the track causing him to damage his front wing end plate, floor and to lose his left bargeboard. We managed to make the repairs during his first pit-stop and there was minimal loss to his position and time as this was carried out during the safety-car deployment. Although it would be fair to say that I am disappointed with the end result, I am very proud of the team-work that I have witnessed over the last two weeks and particularly the morale of everyone involved with the team. We now travel to Barcelona (Spain) to complete our three day, two-car test in peparation for the next race in Magny-Cours, France."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (5th): "I think it is a highly positive weekend for all the team and we can celebrate a great result. It was my 150th grand prix and I got a fantastic present of four points. I am very happy. The team gave me a consistent and competitive car and I drove a good race. We profited from all the hard work we have put in this weekend. I would also like to extend my thanks to Michelin for providing us with fabulous tyres here at Indianapolis. I pushed so hard towards the end and it was the perfect end to a strong weekend to finish just 37 seconds from the race winner. We need to keep going on in this direction because the top six is where we should be finishing every race."

Cristiano da Matta (DNF, Gearbox): "I got a good start but coming into turn two I was hit from behind by another car. After that, I had to come into the pits, but the accident also resulted in me not being able to select first gear. In the end, I got stuck in gear and I had to stop. The problem with the gears was only caused by the collision and that ended my race far too early. We showed a good level of competitiveness this weekend - the positive thing we can take from this race."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "That was a fantastic race for Olivier and a very competitive showing from the team, who worked well in the race to adopt the strategy during the safety car periods. We knew we had a good package here and Olivier drove faultlessly throughout the race. Unfortunately, Cristiano was hit from behind at the start and then lost first gear on his pitstop. We tried to repair the damage but he progressively lost gears and had to stop. It was very disappointing because I am sure he would have been as competitive. Overall, it was highly pleasing to score a points finish but most of all it was encouraging to see our level of competitiveness over the entire weekend. I am overjoyed."

Jordan-Ford

Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Engine): "I'm not 100% sure but I think my problem was the engine. It may have been something else that caused the engine to stop so I will have to check with the engineers later. The race was going better than expected: I was lucky enough not to be involved with the crash at the beginning and then when I was a lot of laps into the race, the tyres and car improved. I think we had a good chance for results today so it's disappointing not to finish but we have demonstrated once again that we are capable of a strong points-scoring performance so I'm optimistic for the next races."

Giorgio Pantano (DNF, Accident): "What can I say? I got a really good start but then at the first corner I was involved with the incident with Klien and Da Matta and I had to stop because the front left suspension was totally broken. When you see how few cars finished, it really was possible for us to score a few points today. That's it. Bad luck!"

James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "It was a disappointing race for us. Giorgio made an excellent start and was way up there towards the front when he got caught out in somebody else's accident. Nick was running well, benefiting from a good strategy which involved pitting under the safety car but unfortunately we had an engine problem at the end which meant he didn't finish. It's a shame as we were looking quite strong."

Minardi-Cosworth

Zsolt Baumgartner (8th): "It's a great feeling to score a point - it's like a miracle happened today! On the first lap, I tapped the back of one of the Jordans when it braked hard to avoid an accident at Turn 2. Fortunately, there wasn't any serious damage and I was able to carry on. After that, the race settled down and I was able to set very consistent lap times, which were not so far off my qualifying time, so I was really pleased with that. There was some big pressure in those last few laps when I knew we were close to getting a point, and then I saw the Sauber slow and Paul came on the radio and told me I was in the points. We were close in Monaco, and now we've scored here, so I couldn't be happier. It's also great for the whole team, as everyone has been working so hard all season and deserves this result."

Gianmaria Bruni (DNF, Accident): "I'm obviously really disappointed that my race ended so early, but I had a good start and then, in the second corner, one of the Jordans braked hard and chopped across me, hitting my right-front wheel with his left rear. The impact bent the front suspension of my car, and that was my race finished. I'm annoyed not to have had the chance to race here in the United States, but also upset for the guys, who again put in a lot of effort this weekend."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "What a fantastic ending to an action-packed United States Grand Prix! Firstly, our thoughts are with Ralph after his heavy accident, although we understand from first reports that he's okay. That aside, this race had everything, and when a team like Minardi that struggles so hard against the odds scores a point, it is an occasion for great celebration. As for Zsolt, what can I say? He has driven with tremendous maturity all weekend and his pace has been strong and consistent. Today's result was just reward for a gritty performance because, as we all know, to finish first, first you have to finish. As the first Hungarian Formula One driver to score a World Championship point, he will go down in history, and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. To all the people on the team who work week in and week out for so little reward, I can only say 'well done'!"

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