JULY 11, 2004
BRITISH GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Schumacher wins British GP
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won the British Grand Prix, in Silverstone, taking his 80th career victory, winning ten out of the eleven races contested this season. Polesitter Kimi Raikkonen finished second in his McLaren-Mercedes 2 seconds behind while Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari once again took third place.
Polesitter Raikkonen led the early portion of the race, but as all the leaders except Schumacher peeled off to the pits, it became apparent that Schumacher was on a different strategy, and proceeding in laying down a series of fastest laps.
The German opted for a two-stop strategy, while the rest of the runners in the top five were on a three-stop strategy, which - with 20 laps to go - set up Schumacher to take a 20+ second victory.
But on lap 39, Jarno Trulli walked away from a high-speed crash after Bridge corner, prompting the Safety Car to come out. Raikkonen and Barrichello came in for their third pit stops, and Schumacher's lead on the road disappeared. When the race restarted, Schumacher was able to edge out a lead, and was not seriously challenged to the finish.
Jenson Button at his home Grand Prix finished fourth in the BAR-Honda, Juan Pablo Montoya in his Williams-BMW was fifth, Giancarlo Fisichella in the Sauber-Petronas was sixth, David Coulthard seventh in the second McLaren and Mark Webber scored the final point in the Jaguar.
Michael Schumacher (1st): "I am amazed at how the race went. I thought we had a good strategy, where to a certain extent, we sacrificed qualifying for the race, but I never expected it to pay out so early. I was not worried by Kimi's pace at the start because I knew my strategy and even if he had been ahead after my second stop I would not have worried as he had to come in again. I did not want to overdo it and just let the potential of the car do the work. The car was going so well when I had an open track. I lost a comfortable lead with the Safety Car and so I was lucky to have two cars between me and Kimi. The Safety Car was going very slowly and that meant after it went in, I had to fight hard for a couple of laps until my tyres came good and then I was able to pull out a lead again."
Rubens Barrichello (3rd): "I had a good race but a tough one although I feel I had made the right choice of strategy at the time. After the start it was clear that Kimi's tyres had warmed up quicker and I found it really difficult to match his pace, then I caught him up and was able to pull away from Button. But after the first pit stop the car felt heavy and I struggled again. I also got stuck behind four or five cars fighting for position and that probably lost me second place and maybe the win. I have to say Michael did a superb job to win on two stops. When the Safety Car came out, the race was alive again, but again immediately after my last pit stop I could not push as hard as I wanted and I could not pass Kimi as although I was quicker in the first sector, he was faster in the third."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "I think that the fact Trulli emerged unscathed from such a terrible accident is due primarily to the quality of work carried out by the FIA under the presidency of Max Mosley and that of the teams in terms of safety. The arrival of the Safety Car after this accident practically cancelled out all the advantage that Michael's different strategy had produced. This was because all those behind were able to make their third and final pit stop without losing time to him. From lap 45 onwards therefore we witnessed something of a sprint race, which went in Michael's favour. It was a very exciting afternoon and the result comes from all the hard work of the team, from the car, the drivers and the Bridgestone tyres. Michael's tenth win from eleven races is a unique achievement in the history of Formula 1. Rubens continued his run of being the only driver to have finished all races in the points, having now done so eleven times in a row, nine of them on the podium. Michael has hit the 100 point mark, 9 more than in the whole of last season. The team now has a 95 point lead over its nearest rival and these figures mean we can approach the remaining seven races of the season with optimism. We are also happy with the performance of the Sauber drivers in this race as it is particularly nice to see four Ferrari engines in the top nine."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Michael was not entirely happy with the car going into qualifying, so we chose a more conservative strategy for him. Rubens was put on a different, more aggressive strategy as he was happy with the handling of his car. That was our interpretation of the race but it turned out to be the other way round, as Michael's car went very well and Rubens' a bit less so. Probably it was the weather that played in Michael's favour and he was able to put in outstanding laps from lap ten to his pit stop. I was shocked when Michael came out ahead of Kimi. We were a bit worried when the Safety Car came out, as although we have fantastic Bridgestone tyres, they do not get up to temperature quite as quickly as those of our rivals and the re-start was a bit of a tricky moment for us. At the time, the race was in our hands and Rubens could have attacked Raikkonen more strongly than he was able in the last few laps. First and third at Silverstone is another great result for us!"
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th): "I am satisfied with today's outcome. Although the car is not quick enough, it worked pretty well and I believe we got the best out of it today. At the start I made a mistake, releasing the clutch too quickly and it cost me a position to Sato.Then I tried to keep pushing but it was not possible to catch those in front. When the safety car came out, the team did a great job by calling me in and I had a pefect pit-stop. However, back on the track the backmarkers were frustrating and I lost a lot of time."
Marc Gene (12th): "I had an average start, and Da Matta passed me, but I overtook him again in turn two. I tried to be aggressive from the start and in the first part of the race I fought with Alonso, but we were running at the same pace and it was impossible to get ahead. Alonso just passed me in the first pit-stop and from then on it was just a matter of fighting with Sato and Da Matta with our pit strategy as | simply didn't have the pace to improve my track postion. However, the backmarkers hampered me a lot. Depending on the set of tyres, the car's balance varied but overall it wasn't too bad."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was an encouraging race in terms of getting some points on the board, but obviously we have a lot of work ahead of us to improve the car. Our strategy helped Juan to move up the field and the pit crew did a good job. From where Marc was in the field it was difficult to make progress and although his ultimate laptime wasn't bad, it was not quick enough to make it into the points. I hope Jarno Trulli is okay after his accident."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This was quite an exciting race for the spectators, thanks to Kimi Raikkonen's great performance. It's also positive that Jarno Trulli could walk away uninjured his huge crash. For our drivers it was thankfully an uninventful race which we haven't had for a while. Juan Pablo made the best of his 7th grid position and climbed to 5th thanks to a good strategy and three brilliant pit-stops. Marc fought for a long time with Alonso and Sato and delivered a consistent performance. Now that the new package has two races under its belt, we will be able to increase its performance at next week's Jerez test."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "Although we didn't win today it was an exciting race, and second is a great result for the entire team. All the hard work that went into the development of the MP4-19B has paid off. I made a very good start and was able to push throughout the race. Unfortunately I had a bit of traffic after my pit stops, but that's racing. I struggled with the balance on the rear with my last set of tyres and as a result it wasn't possible to attack harder and pass Michael in my last stint. The outcome of today's race is very motivating for the team after the bad first half of the season."
David Coulthard (7th): "Congratulations to Kimi on a great drive. Unfortunately despite the MP4-19B's obvious progress I'm not happy about my own performance today. During practice and the race I was struggling with the balance of my car, and I didn't feel comfortable especially in the slow corners. We will be testing here at Silverstone on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I will work hard to sort out my set-up problems in order to be much more competitive at the next race at Hockenheim."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Our underlying performance strengthens our belief that we have made a significant step forward. Kimi's qualifying and our general race pace are not so far behind where it needs to be in order to win. This week we have intensive simultaneous tests at Silverstone and Jerez which should yield a little more pace, which we of course will carry forward to Hockenheim. In the end our weekend is a great boost for the entire team who have worked so hard to achieve the difficult targets that we had."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A super job by Kimi and the entire team. We have made a step in terms of chassis and engine performance and were the best Michelin team today. Congratulations to our team where everybody has worked extremely hard to make the 19B fast and reliable. David got stuck in traffic at the beginning and was not entirely comfortable with the set-up he had chosen but still scored two points. We are not yet there, but we are close. We are now looking forward to our home grand prix at Hockenheim in a fortnight."
Fernando Alonso (10th): "I think we could have done better today but we missed the opportunity to pit straight after Jarno's accident. We only had two corners in which to react, but we didn't manage to - otherwise, I could have been in the points. Having said that, when you start from the back you know that it will be a hard race. I was held up by traffic in every stint, first behind Heidfeld, then Webber, then Da Matta. I only did a few laps on my own, but when I did I was very quick, and the car balance was good. But today, circumstances prevented us from making the most of our speed."
Jarno Trulli (DNF, Accident): "First of all, I want to let everybody know that I am OK. It was a big accident but I gave the marshals the thumbs up straight away. Everything happened very quickly, but I think it was a rear suspension failure. However, we will only be able to confirm that when we get back to the factory. Even before the crash, though, things were not going well. I was very heavy in the first two stints but even taking that into account, I was struggling to be quick. The car was tricky to drive, and I had trouble holding position."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "This was a very disappointing result for the team. Jarno did not seem to have the speed we expected, though we do not know why at this stage. The important thing, however, is that he was not injured in his accident, which we believe may have been the result of a rear suspension failure. Fernando was always going to have a difficult race, and we did everything we could to get him out of traffic but to no avail. The deployment of the safety car happened while Fernando was at an unfavourable point on the circuit and we didn't react fast enough."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "Although today's overall result is disappointing, we are all pleased that Jarno is OK after his accident. It was frustrating to see Fernando come so close to scoring points, but he was never able to run in clean air at full speed. This wasn't our best circuit though - we will be hoping to do better in Germany."
Jenson Button (4th): "We came into this race expecting a lot more than we've been able to deliver; today's race performance was nowhere near our testing performance earlier in the year. We really struggled with a lack of grip compared to the Ferraris and it was like we were in a different race in terms of the way our car was handling. Our pace showed that we weren't as quick today as we were at the start of the season. Somehow we've managed to drop behind a bit which is very disappointing, particularly in front of our home crowd. We've got a lot of work to do now ahead of the German Grand Prix in two weeks time. We should be able to expect better traction in Hockenheim than we experienced here and a stronger performance generally from our new car developments."
Takuma Sato (11th): "It's been a tough race today and a tough weekend generally. We are obviously very disappointed that we were unable to achieve our targets for this race, especially in front of all of the team's British fans. It was a risk to choose different strategies for the two cars but we thought it would provide us with an opportunity to react to any change in the weather. Unfortunately our two-stop strategy didn't work in the way that we anticipated. On the positive side however, the car stayed reliable throughout the race, which is a small step forward from the problems I have experienced this season. We have to put this weekend behind us now and focus on what we can do at next week's Jerez test to improve for Germany and the rest of the season."
David Richards, Team Principal:
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We are a little bit disappointed with our result today as we wanted to get onto the podium this weekend. Having said that, Jenson drove very well and I think he got the most he could out of the package we gave him. We will continue to push and will have another engine upgrade in Germany which I hope will help us to get closer to the front."
Giancarlo Fisichella (6th): "I was so confident in my car today! I knew that I had a very quick one and when I was running on my own it was fantastic. Early on I was able to overtake several cars that were carrying less fuel than I was. At the end I lost time in my final stop as the mechanics topped up my engine's pneumatics, and without that I would easily have beaten Montoya. Honestly, the car is really good and I am very encouraged that we have made such a big step forward. Today I had the best car I have had all season, so thanks to the whole team."
Felipe Massa (9th): "You know, I could be really disappointed because I had a car that should have scored points today, but I am also very happy because we have made such an improvement in its behaviour. It was very fast and consistent all race. Then I had what I think was a software problem in my stop on lap 38, and initially I couldn't get first gear. Towards the end when I was challenging Webber I deliberately dropped back a little and then really pushed him hard in the closing laps. My car was much faster than his, but overtaking is always very difficult here."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The whole weekend things went against us: first there was Giancarlo's engine problem on Friday morning, then Felipe's problem in qualifying, then Felipe being stuck all race behind the Jaguar, and Giancarlo's engine losing air pressure. But to be able still to score three points with all these circumstances is a strong performance that is down to our new aerodynamic package, two very good drivers and very good tyres."
Mark Webber (8th): "It's fantastic to have scored a point here today for the team. It's their home race and they have done an amazing job in providing me with a fast reliable car. The R5 has been good all weekend to be honest and after France this is exactly what we were working towards, another two cars across the grid and a point to boot. We know Silverstone very well and we opted for a two-stop strategy and this seems to have been the right decision today. I made a good start off the grid and I enjoyed a great battle with the Renault of Fernando Alonso and also the Sauber of Felipe Massa. Both were on my tail for most of the race and it was good to keep them at bay and get the last available point. I am now off testing next week in Jerez ahead of the German Grand Prix when again we will be looking to keep up this momentum of being reliable with a good race pace."
Christian Klien (14th): "This was not an easy race for me but I am very pleased to have finished. My start was not perfect as I lost a place to the Jordan of Pantano but fortunately I was in a position to fight back and soon overtook him on lap four. The car was feeling really good out there and it has great pace over a long distance. The team has prepared it very well for me and I am glad that I could finish for them here at their home race. Unfortunately I did get blue-flagged a couple of times and once the safety car was deployed it was even more difficult to move up the grid as I had to keep moving over for the blue-flags. Overall, however, an encouraging race. I will now focus on testing and look forward to the German Grand Prix in two weeks time."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Today was another good day for us on track. This is the first time that the team has scored a Championship point at the home race so this is good news for us. Since France last weekend we have continued to chip away at improving the R5's performance and to see both cars finish once again and one in the points is great. Mark made a strong start off the grid and maintained his position for pretty much most of the race. His eighth finish is a good indicator that we have a reliable car that has pace to match the rest of the field. Christian lost a place at the start but pulled it back quickly although he then started to suffer from blue flags later in the race. His pace in clean air was encouraging and he did a good job to bring the car home. Our partners Michelin, Cosworth Racing and Pi research have really supported us this weekend and I am pleased that we have a point in the bag to show for all our hard work."
Cristiano da Matta (13th): "In the circumstances, I think I drove a good race, but obviously I am not pleased with my eventual 13th place. I got held up a lot just before the safety car period, which cost me around ten seconds and we then lost ground because the three-stopping cars were able to use the safety car to their advantage. These things conspired against me and I subsequently dropped one lap from Gene and Sato with whom I was fighting. With our revised car, I hope we will not have to endure a race affected by blue flags, as has been the case far too often this season."
Olivier Panis (DNF, Extinguisher): "Starting from 17th on the grid, it was never going to be easy today, but the race finished far too early for me when my fire extinguisher exploded in the car just after my first scheduled pit stop. The spray went everywhere, on the steering wheel and on my visor, which meant I couldn't see anything and I ended up in the gravel. A bad end to a difficult weekend, but I am looking forward to trying the TF104B, the car with which we will race in Hockenheim in two weeks' time."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "A difficult race for Olivier. He was the only Michelin runner to run with the softer of the two compounds, something we decided as a team after the inconclusive results from Friday practice. However, they simply didn't perform in his first stint, which prevented him from making up the positions he had to. After his second stop, the fire extinguisher went off and he had to retire. Cristiano had a much more positive race and could have fought with some of the cars running a three-stop strategy. He lost time stuck behind some backmarkers, which under the safety car resulted in him losing one lap against those cars with whom he should have been racing. We now look ahead to Hockenheim where we have our revised TF104B car for the first time. The German Grand Prix will be a bit of a test session for us, as we are not running most parts prior to the race, but we are confident that we can overcome our recent troubles and make steady progress up the grid."
Nick Heidfeld (15th): "I nearly got by Klien at the start but he touched me at the first corner and I had a little winglet broken on the left hand side of the car - it didn't actually seem to have a big influence on the aerodynamics. The beginning was not easy as I had quite a lot of fuel on board which I think was evident as I was one of the last cars to stop. Overall it paid off in terms of our race time but our problem is that we are just too slow."
Giorgio Pantano (DNF, Spin): "I had a very good start and my first stint wasn't too bad. The second or third lap after my first stop I had a spin, I'm not sure if that was my mistake or the rear of the car just locking. I flat-spotted the rear tyres and started to experience some vibration on the car and it was very slippery until my second stop. The last stint was not too bad and the balance started to come back but then I spun off again, the same thing as before, under hard braking. I don't know if I went too far onto the grass or whether rear locking caused me to get onto the grass."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Both drivers got good starts, although Nick got squeezed out at the first corner and then it was just a hard race from there. We were on a two-stop strategy based on the strength of the Bridgestone tyre and unfortunately for us the safety car helped the cars on three stops towards the end of the race. It's a shame that Giorgio's mistake in locking up the brakes and losing the car at Abbey ended his race. On the positive side it was it good to see Trulli walk away from such a horrific accident and that is a tribute to the safety of F1. From our point of view, at the end of the day the car's not quick enough to compete for point-scoring places and we need to work on that."
Gianmaria Bruni (16th): "It was a difficult race today with a number of problems, but I'm pleased that I was able to take the flag as a tribute to John. I was struggling with the handling of the car for quite a bit of the race, and was then given a drive-through penalty for a blue-flag infringement. I also had a problem with my second pit stop, when a misunderstanding meant that I left the box too soon. Fortunately, none of the crew was seriously injured, and after that, I was just determined to get to the end of the race. It has been a tough weekend, and I hope we have much a better time at Hockenheim."
Zsolt Baumgartner (DNF, Engine): "I'm upset that I wasn't able to finish the race and take the chequered flag today. I had promised myself that I would do it, both for John and for me. I felt my performance was okay today - when you compare my lap times with Gimmi's, there was very little between us, and I also managed to overtake him after the first pit stop. There was some close, but very fair racing between us before my car suffered an engine problem. Everybody worked really hard this weekend in difficult circumstances, and I want to thank the team for that. I just hope we have much better luck at the next race."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "I'm deeply touched by the level of support Minardi has received this weekend. It really does show that Formula One is far more of a family than people realise, but most importantly, it shows just how popular a figure John Walton was in the F1 community. As for today's race, Minardi got one car to the chequered flag, thus bringing to a conclusion what has been an enormously difficult weekend. I'm sure most people will understand that we have had a great deal on our minds, and I'm truly proud of the effort the whole team has put in."