GERMAN GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Schumacher wins German GP

Podium, German GP 2004

Podium, German GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won the German Grand Prix, in Hockenheim, taking his 81st career victory, winning 11 out of the 12 races contested this season - equaling his own record for wins in one season set in 2002.

The German started from pole position and dominated the field, winning by 8 seconds ahead of second placed Jenson Button in his BAR-Honda, with Fernando Alonso third in his Renault, some 16 seconds behind.

Button came through the field from 13th on the grid, after losing 10 places on the grid due to an engine change on Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen walked away from an accident early on when running second in his McLaren-Mercedes when he suffered a rear wing failure.

David Coulthard in the McLaren-Mercedes finished fourth, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya in the Williams-BMW in fifth and Mark Webber in his Jaguar in sixth.

Scoring his first points of his career, finishing seventh, was Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia in the second Williams-BMW. Takuma Sato finished in the final points paying position.

RACE REPORT

RACE RESULTS

RACE INCIDENTS

PRESS CONFERENCE

SUNDAY PHOTOS


Ferrari

Michael Schumacher (1st): "What a weekend this has been after pole yesterday and victory today! I am extremely happy and there are not words to describe this. I could feel the emotion from the fans and I could hear their noise even above the engine as I crossed the line. To do this at home where I have not been so successful in past years is just fabulous. It was a tough race and I was under pressure first from Kimi and then from Jenson and Fernando. I was able to keep the gap but not really extend it. The team's pit work was superb. I did feel under pressure because Jenson was very quick and at one stage I was not sure if he was only planning to stop twice or what pace he would be able to run once he got past Fernando. So I had to push flat out. How do I feel about 50 straight races without a mechanical failure? It is self-explanatory, it is wonderful and a result not just of the reliability but the fact that everything in the team is spot on."

Rubens Barrichello (12th): "It's been a tough day. I had to protect my line at the start as Montoya was very close. I tried to get inside Coulthard but unfortunately I locked the rear wheels and I guess it was all my fault. I hit him hard enough to brake my front wing. My race was therefore spoilt from start to finish. We changed strategy but we always knew that two stops was going to be very hard and that is how things turned out. Sometimes things don't go to plan and today was one of those days."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Eleven wins from twelve races: another record for Michael and for Ferrari. This victory is all the nicer for having been obtained in front of so many fans of the Scuderia and our driver, in Germany, a very important market for us. It was a shame for Rubens, who finished outside the points for the first time this season. His race was compromised by his first lap collision with Coulthard which knocked off his front wing, forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop. A great driver, a competitive car, a reliable engine, quick and consistent tyres and a first class team: these are the ingredients that go to make a win. Thanks to the help of our technical partners, first and foremost Bridgestone and Shell and our fantastic commercial partners, we have once again put all these elements together to record a win that has an even greater value when considered in the light of the opposition we are up against."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was really only in the opening stages that Michael came a bit under pressure from Raikkonen, even though he had pulled out a bit of a gap over him. When Kimi went out, Michael was able to control the race to the chequered flag, although Jenson and Fernando were never that far behind. After the incident with Coulthard and the pit stop to change the front wing, we changed Rubens' strategy to make up for lost ground, but it did not go the way we had hoped. Then, on the last lap he had what seems to have been a puncture on the left rear tyre, but we still have to look into this with Bridgestone."

Williams-BMW

Juan Pablo Montoya (5th): "What a bad start I had! The clutch didn't bite soon enough on the start and then I just had so much wheel spin and the car didn't go anywhere. I had no grip at all and lost a cool five positions. I also had some blistering problems on my rear tyres and it came to the point where driving the car was very, very hard since it was pointy and unpredictable. Actually, this prevented me from catching David Coulthard in the last part of the race. I came very close to him, but then I didn't feel I could make it. I am, of course, a bit disappointed because when you start from second you expect a podium finish. We did score some points today though which is very important for the team."

Antonio Pizzonia (7th): "All in all I'm happy with my performance today although I got stuck in a lot of traffic during the first two stints which cost me a lot of time. When I was on my own, I could put in some quick lap times but it wasn't enough to catch Webber in the last few laps. I still scored two points so I'm happy I could do that for the team. I think the potential is there, I just need some more race experience. After all, I drove my last Grand Prix more than one year ago."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It is good having scored points with both cars and it is nice to see Antonio picking up some points as well. We had a poor start on both cars so for the next race we will be looking to make improvements on this. In general, the cars performed better in this Grand Prix, so the latest car developments have demonstrably improved our performance. The pit-stops were good once again and helped the strategies work."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The first compliment has to go to Michael Schumacher who dominated this race. The second goes to the Hockenheim circuit. The track layout encourages overtaking and today we saw a lot of interesting duals. With regards to our race result today, it doesn't mirror our increased competitiveness, which we saw in yesterday's qualifying. Antonio drove a good race but Juan Pablo made a poor start. He later managed to climb through the field to finish in fifth, despite struggling with some blistering on the tyres which didn't help when he was trying to overtake the cars in front."

McLaren-Mercedes

David Coulthard (4th): "I had some balance problems throughout the race following the incident on the first lap when Barrichello hit me from behind at the first corner. In addition I picked up some debris from Kimi's accident which broke the deflector on my front wing. The team worked hard in the pitstops to try and dial out the understeer, but the problems continued. I was looking forward to mounting a real challenge for the podium today, but it just wasn't possible."

Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Accident): "Obviously I'm extremely disappointed as things were looking good, and there was no doubt that we were in with a good chance of winning the race. I lost a place at the start to Alonso as he was extremely fast off the line, but I retook second place a few laps later and was able to keep up with Michael. I was quicker than him after my first pitstop and only needed a few more laps to be able to mount a real challenge for the lead. All of a sudden I just lost downforce and then I was a passenger. It's never nice not to finish a race, but at least we know that the pace is there. We are competitive and I'm looking forward to continue our challenge for victory in three weeks time in Hungary."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Obviously we are disappointed particularly as we had a real chance of winning the race, but there is no doubt that we have taken a great step forward. Kimi retired with a structural failure on his rear wing ? the reason for which we will investigate thoroughly. As it was a manufacturing mistake rather than a design problem there was no danger of the same thing happening to David. However his race was hampered when he picked up some debris which damaged his front wing and deflector quite early on. We are now all looking forward to the three week break and the Hungarian Grand Prix."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Kimi was closing the gap to Michael Schumacher with a good chance of an attack when his rear wing broke. The reason for this we have to investigate. David's performance was hampered after Barrichello had hit him and slightly damaged the rear of his car. In addition to this David had a problem with his deflector, which was broken after he had picked up some debris. So he couldn't do better than fourth place in the end. It's a pity that we couldn't turn our speed into a podium finish today."

Renault

Fernando Alonso (3rd): "I don't know what happened to the car during the final stint: at first, I thought it was problem with the front wing, then the suspension, but whatever the cause, the result was obvious: I just had no front grip at all. I radioed to the team that I was coming in to the pits, but they told me to stay out. Then, I ran over one of the kerbs and everything went back to normal: there must have been some debris lodged somewhere. Before those incidents, it had been a good race: I got one of the best starts of my career, and then I had a big battle with Jenson. We are both aggressive drivers, and we had fun I think - it was entertaining to have battle like that on the circuit. In the end, I think it was a good race for us."

Jarno Trulli (11th): "I had a strong race but just like with Fernando's car, I hit debris that caught on the car: unfortunately, it happened earlier in the race when other competitors were much closer. I lost front grip, the car was under-steering and would not turn in to the corners. Then, we changed the nose and front wing, and everything was OK again. It is a real shame, because I had demonstrated at the start of the race that my car was very quick today."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It is fantastic to see Fernando on the podium for the second time in three races, but it is unlikely that many people will have realised how fantastic his drive today was. With Jenson following him during the final stint, something very bizarre happened to the car that seriously interfered with its handling: the result was that the aerodynamic balance was pushed backwards by 8%, a huge amount, and he had to contend with a large amount of understeer. It was not surprising to see Jenson pass him, and it turned out to be a bargeboard that had caught under the car. On lap 58, everything went back to normal when it became dislodged. It was not our day for collecting parts of other cars today, because Jarno also suffered when part of Raikkonen's rear wing lodged behind his rear wing. Today, we had a real attacking race and after so many incidents, it is a great result to score six points."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "Fernando had to work hard for his podium finish today, and he deserves it: there is no doubt that his car's handling was seriously affected during part of the race, just like Jarno's earlier on. However, the whole team did a fantastic job: the engineers on the pit-wall, and the mechanics at the pit-stops. After the disappointment of Silverstone, they deserve this reward."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (2nd): "This was without doubt the best race of my F1 career. I'm just so thrilled to finish second when I thought the best I could hope for was maybe fifth, at best. The car felt fantastic, the engine was great and the teamwork from the boys was incredible. I made a good start but had a terrible first lap and didn't gain anything, but then the team did a fantastic job in the first pitstop. I had a great fight with Fernando, who had incredible traction out of turn three where I was losing out to him, then on the straight I could get close to him again. I tried a few times to get past him and nothing seemed to work but then I finally got him down the inside and held on to it. Towards the end of the race my helmet strap started to work loose and my helmet was lifting down the straights, which was pulling the strap tight against my throat and choking me. I had to drive one-handed most of the time! I'm really delighted for the team. We all really deserved this result before we take a well-earned break and I know we'll be back in Hungary giving everything we've got for the rest of the season."

Takuma Sato (8th): "It was a good race in terms of achieving points for both cars, but I was extremely disappointed not to be able to score as many we wanted. It was a tough opening lap and unfortunately there was an incident at the hairpin that I had to avoid and so I lost a few places. During the race I also experienced two separate problems with the HANS device slipping out from under the shoulder strap, which meant a loss of support. It was a struggle to drive like that and I lost positions because of it. The second stint was exciting because I overtook quite a few cars and the car was working really well, but later in the race the balance was not as good and that was costing me lap time, which was disappointing. However, it is very encouraging to see the car return to pace and I am looking forward to Hungary."

David Richards, Team Principal: "Well that really goes to show you must never give up! I think that Jenson's drive today will be remembered by millions around the world as a stunning example of simply brilliant racing. After a couple of disappointing races in France and Britain we have shown today that we certainly have the speed to match the pace of our competitors, and the championship table is now even stronger as a result. Whilst we all celebrate Jenson's drive today, it is also a direct reflection of all the hard work and dedication of the 400 people at BAR, and those at our partners Honda and Michelin around the world."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This was a super race from Jenson and a fantastic result for the team, Honda and Michelin. The change to our strategy following our engine change penalty worked out well and Jenson was able to make considerable progress up the grid as a result of running long in the first stint. Once again we encountered traffic and an absence of blue flags that nearly spoilt the outcome, but in the end the team and Jenson earned a well-deserved second place. After some good overtaking manoeuvres earlier in the race, a mistake cost Takuma a place then he lost out to Pizzonia whilst lapping backmarkers. It was however good to finish two cars in the points and improve our Constructors' and Drivers' Championship positions."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "I am delighted with the performance of both the drivers and the team today but Jenson in particular drove a superb race. To have both cars in the points is a great boost for everyone as we go into the summer break."

Sauber-Petronas

Giancarlo Fisichella (9th): "Usually we have a tyre advantage in race conditions with Bridgestone, but unfortunately today the performance with Michelin was very equal. I got blocked quite a lot at the start so was not able to make the progress I needed to with our two-stop strategy, and then in my second stop we weren't able to change the left rear tyre. The wheel was stuck on, so I had to go back into the race with the same left rear. I also lost time coming into the pits for that stop, because Nick Heidfeld was going very slowly as he also came into the pit road."

Felipe Massa (13th): "I made a reasonable start but got held up a little when Button ran wide and came back on in front of me. My first and third sets of tyres were okay, but the second was horrible. I really have no idea why, but they made the car very difficult to drive and blistered very badly. It was very easy to make mistakes at that time. The car was unstable, especially under braking, and I was having a real struggle."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We came to Hockenheim feeling quite confident after our excellent result at Silverstone, so what we were able to show today was weak and hugely disappointing. We have some time now before the next race, in Hungary, to analyse the less positive aspects of our race today."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (6th): "Well that was a pretty amazing finish that I was not quite expecting! I started from 11th and managed a good start and entry into corner one. The first lap was the start of my move up the grid, as by the end of it I was up to 6th. I continued to battle it out with the best of them and the car was feeling really good. The balance was great for the majority of the race although going into the last sector I made a slight change to the front wing to counter-act some oversteer. It worked and I really enjoyed the entire race. I had some good battles with the guys out there and to finish sixth is great for the team. The boys have had quite a difficult weekend working on the car and producing the ideal set-up. The track has been changing quite a lot but we appeared to have come out the other side pretty well. I will be trying to relax a little over the next three weeks so come Hungary I will be chasing for some more points."

Christian Klien (10th): "It's been a good day for me today as I have really enjoyed racing the car and again to see the chequered flag is positive. I started from 12th and made a dash for the first corner. The team had prepared the car really well and it was feeling good. The balance has really been helped by our new aero-package and I could feel the difference going around today. My strategy seemed to work well and it allowed me to partake in some good on-track fighting for position. Near the end of the race, I had the Renault of Jarno Trulli on my tail and I was racing to keep him at bay. I am pleased to have finished the race and although a point would have been just reward for all the work that the team has undertaken I am encouraged by Mark's performance and the three points. I have learnt more again this weekend and I am excited about the next race in Hungary."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "It's been quite a tough weekend for us here in Hockenheim. The heavy rain did not help as it made the track green overnight on Friday. However, I was pleased going into Qualifying and then into the race. Our strategy was to get ourselves into the best possible position as fast as possible and we could not have asked for more when Mark went 6th by the end of the first lap. Our pitstops were excellent and Mark's race had been pretty near perfect by the time he crossed the line in 6th. Christian did a good job out there and he finished without being lapped or having any mistakes. He continues to progress and I am pleased with his performance out there today. To come away with three points is fantastic, I am really pleased. It's a welcome boost to the team and it confirms that fact that we can race and score points on our own merit."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (14th): "I am very disappointed with the problem that I encountered at the start of the race when I stalled on the grid and was forced to start in last place. This year, between Cristiano and me, we have experienced this type of problem on different occasions. Sometimes, drivers make mistakes but because the problem has recurred, we should really check carefully to see if there is a related technical problem. The performance of the car actually looked competitive today and we were able to do some very quick lap times. Now, we need to focus on developing the TF104B further and to make further improvements for the upcoming races."

Cristiano da Matta (DNF, Tyre): "My retirement from today's Grand Prix was pretty sudden, although I had felt an increasing vibration in the rear of the car occasionally during the race. The right-rear tyre suddenly went, but it is difficult to know what caused it to blow until we study the data. My start was okay, but I soon got stuck in traffic which slowed me down quite a bit. On a positive note, the speed of the TF104B seemed quite good in race conditions, and generally I am encouraged by the weekend. I think I showed clearly that on full tanks, when I wasn't being held up that I could set some highly respectable lap times."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "It was a problematic and extremely disappointing race result for Toyota today, but I think we can take a lot of positive things away after the first race weekend with our revised TF104B car. We had the pace to score some points today, as we can see from setting the fourth fastest lap of the race. Unfortunately, our race was over at the beginning when Olivier stalled on the grid. He then lost a lot of time stuck behind backmarkers and was unable to make up enough positions. Cristiano also had a lot of traffic but was forced to retire with a rear tyre puncture, the exact cause of which we have to ascertain with Michelin. The TF104B showed a really encouraging pace and both drivers set competitive lap times when they had a clear track. All in all, we are disappointed that we could not score the points we deserved, but at the same time we should be pleased with the car's performance at this weekend's German Grand Prix."

Jordan-Ford

Giorgio Pantano (15th): "Overall today our package was fast and consistent, with a good set-up and we made a good tyre choice together with Bridgestone. In the first part of the race our lap times were very good, then a lap before I planned to stop we had a flat tyre so I had to slow right down as I came into the pits. Just before the end I had another flat tyre on the same corner (front left). I'm not unhappy though because the car had a good balance, it was consistent and the lap times were good. We were just a little bit unlucky."

Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Handling): "It was tough today. I started to have balance problems with the car quite early on and I thought it would stabilise but it was getting worse and worse. I had to do an extra stop, coming in again the lap after my second scheduled stop, so the team could have a look at the tyres and the suspension but they didn't find anything so I went out again on different tyres. The problem was getting dramatically worse from that point on and I thought it was getting dangerous and difficult to hold the car on the circuit, so we decided to retire. The team are checking what was causing the problem."

James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "It was an exciting race and good to see some overtaking. We ran two different strategies and unfortunately Giorgio's early pace was stopped by a suspected puncture, which we are investigating with Bridgestone, with the very slow lap coming into the pits ruling him out of contention for higher positions from that point on. Nick was on a two-stop race and found it really hard-going, in the end we retired him with a handling problem which we wanted to investigate. He was not in a points-scoring position and at that late stage in the race there was no point taking any risks."

Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "It was a tough day for our drivers, twelve races into a demanding season for us and F1 in general. The three week gap between this race and the next one in Hungary gives the team time to closely examine our situation and see how we can progress and it also offers the opportunity for most to have a few days of much needed rest. We are looking forward to returning in Budapest, revitalised and ready to keep fighting our way forward."

Minardi-Cosworth

Zsolt Baumgartner (16th): "I had a normal start, but then managed to get by Gimmi on the first lap and pull away a little bit. The balance was pretty consistent during each of the stints and there were no technical problems with the car. The last 20 laps were really hard, though, particularly through the stadium section - and I've got blisters on my hands to prove it! Overall, though, I'm happy to be going into the Hungarian Grand Prix in three weeks having achieved a positive result here. I'm really hoping for a good race at my home Grand Prix for all the Hungarian fans I know will be there."

Gianmaria Bruni (17th): "I made a good start, but the engine was a little over-full with oil for the first seven or eight laps. It cleaned up after that, and as my lap times in the second two stints show, I was able to get down quite easily to the low 1 minute 19 second bracket. I had a problem with one of the bargeboards on my car and the guys worked on it when I came in for my first pit stop. Unfortunately, that cost me about a minute, and it was at that point I lost any real chance of challenging my team mate today. Once I was back on the track, though, I pushed as hard as I could and was able to reduce the gap to Zsolt by 20 seconds, so all in all, I think I did the best possible in the circumstances today."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "It was a good race from the Minardi viewpoint, and both drivers can take a lot of credit for their performances here today. Zsolt was very consistent in his early race stints and handled the traffic well. Gimmi had a barge board problem that had to be rectified at the first stop, but his pace in the next two stints was good, especially considering he set his fastest lap times with only the main barge board on the right side of the car still in place. Despite finishing P16 and P17 today, I think Zsolt and Gimmi drove good, consistent races. It was an excellent team effort this afternoon."

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