SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
ITALIAN GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES
Barrichello wins Ferrari 1-2
Rubens Barrichello won the Italian Grand Prix, at Monza, beating his Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher to the line by 1.3 seconds. Jenson Button in his BAR-Honda was third, 10.1 seconds behind.
The race started in damp but drying conditions, and polesitter Barrichello jumped out to a large lead in the opening laps on intermediate Bridgestones, but as the track dried, he lost all the time, and had to pit early for dry tyres - Fernando Alonso taking over the lead.
Schumacher spun on lap 1, and fell back to 15th place, some 30 seconds behind the leaders - but managed to work his way back to the front with a series of blistering laps in the middle of the race.
Fourth place went to Button's team mate Takuma Sato, jumping BAR-Honda to second in the Constructors standings ahead of Renault, who failing to score any points.
Juan Pablo Montoya in the Williams-BMW finished in fifth, followed closely to the line by David Coulthard in the McLaren-Mercedes and Antonio Pizzonia in the second Williams-BMW.
The final points scoring position went the Giancarlo Fisichella in his Sauber-Petronas in eighth place.
Rubens Barrichello (1st): "I have had a few wins, but this is the first time I win twice at the same race and it is just as magic as the last time at Monza. Some people say F1 is boring but there was nothing boring about today's race. It is an unbelievable feeling. This has been the best season ever and all that was missing for me was a win. It came because we have a fantastic team and I say a very big thank you to all of them and all our tifosi. Thanks to them, I loved every moment of this weekend. When it is your day, it is your day! It was a difficult decision regarding tyres at the start, but I was worried I might be caught up in an accident with people spinning so I felt it was better to fit the rain tyres and push as hard as possible and try and escape the pack. I had actually chosen a set-up that slightly favoured the wet. Maybe if I had come in to change to slicks one lap earlier, my middle stint would have been easier. Then when Michael and Pizzonia passed me I thought all was lost. But when my fuel load came down I was just pushing all the time and it was a good call from the team to change the strategy. I said to myself, 'just push the throttle and go." Then I saw I was P4 and I could see the other three cars ahead so I knew I had a chance. I could not believe it when the team told me I was P1 and said something rude in Portuguese!"
Michael Schumacher (2nd): "It was an interesting race with interesting battles. I never thought I could go from almost last to second. At the first chicane I could not stop the car in time and then at the second chicane, I got into a nice four wheel slide but Jenson was outside me, we touched and it spun me round. It was very frustrating waiting for the cars to go past before I could start again. But the car worked fantastically well. As for my tyre choice at the start, I knew that really there was no right choice, so when I saw that Rubens had gone for rain I decided to go the other way, so that at least one Ferrari got it right. But with this result, it seems that both decisions were good. Rubens deserves this win as he drove a great race after a fantastic qualifying."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It was an amazing race! After going off in almost opposite directions, Rubens and Michael found themselves crossing the line one behind the other, but most importantly ahead of the rest. Rubens had started on rain tyres, while Michael opted for dry ones. The opening laps were very difficult for us: Michael had a spin and dropped to the back of the pack. Rubens pulled out a slight lead before having to come into the pits to fit dry weather tyres on lap 5, as the track was drying very quickly. We knew we had a faster package than the others in terms of car, engine and Bridgestone tyres, but overtaking still proved difficult. Therefore we decided to go for broke, getting Rubens to do an extra pit stop. Both drivers strung together some exceptional series of lap times. The key moment came when Rubens went back out on track after his final stop as the Brazilian managed to hang onto the lead, while Michael pulled a brilliant passing move on Button at the end of the main straight. This is a rewarding one-two and is the fruit not only of all the good work of the team, but also the extraordinary support of our partners, especially Bridgestone and Shell who play a fundamental role in our success. I am proud of our team, our drivers and our entire company. Today, I am particularly pleased for Rubens as this win is the icing on the cake: a stupendous win in a great season. Winning this way in front of our fans and our staff is really a very emotional moment."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We knew that if we have an Achilles Heel, it is our performance on a damp track. With hindsight, it is difficult to say whether Michael or Rubens made the best choice. In any case, after a few laps, things were looking very bad and we thought at that time that the best we could hope for was a points finish or maybe a podium. But when we saw our performance level, first with Michael, as at that point, Rubens had a lot of fuel on board, we decided to change Rubens' strategy as he was in a better position. Rubens drove a fantastic race, as did Michael in fact. Once again, the Bridgestone tyres were exceptional. It is hard to find the words to describe finishing first and second after those opening five laps and with no outside intervention such as an appearance from the safety car. It is really fantastic!"
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th): "I didn't have enough grip at the start and I lost one position to Alonso. My car was pretty good in both the first and the second stints when we were close to the cars in front and quite competitive. However, in the last stint the car became very difficult to drive. After the pit-stop I dropped from 3rd to 6th position and I could not keep up with the cars in front anymore because of a gearbox problem. Today we collected some more points, which is good, but you would expect a better finish when starting from the first row."
Antonio Pizzonia (7th): "My race was basically compromised on the very first lap, when I got hit from behind and spun off. I was very lucky to get out of the gravel and that my car wasn't damaged but still I dropped to 19th position. After that, I basically spent my race climbing up the field and I eventually finished in 7th position behind Coulthard. We were very close and I hoped that I could overtake him but he had more speed than me on the straight and I just couldn't pass him. I had a good opportunity with a couple of laps to go when David made a mistake in the last corner and I got very close to him coming out of the Parabolica, but we both locked our wheels and hit each other going in to the first chicane, luckily with no consequence for either of us."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It is a disappointing result considering where Juan was earlier in the race when he was fighting with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. We lost time during Juan's first pit stop and we had to hold him due to a lot of traffic in the pit lane. Towards the end of the race Juan had to slow down with a gearbox problem. Antonio had an unfortunate first lap and came round last. From then on he drove an excellent race finishing seventh, in the process setting the third fastest lap time and the quickest Michelin runner."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "If we look at our lap times, we could have achieved something better, today. We had the potential for a podium finish. Still, both of our cars finished in the points. At the start of the race the track was damp and this resulted in a hectic opening sequence to the Grand Prix. Juan Pablo maintained third position until the first stop when he was delayed due to two cars passing by in the pit lane at exactly the time when he had finished his pit-stop. On top of this he had some problems with the gearbox and he could only achieve 5th place in the end. After his collision, Antonio showed great recovery skills. Both engines have successfully passed the notoriously hard Monza engine examination."
David Coulthard (6th): "Considering the circumstances, we have to be relatively satisfied with sixth place. Based on my experience from last week's test I thought it would still be damp in the forest section of the track and decided to start the race on intermediates as did Rubens. However it already became clear on the installation lap that dry weather tyres were the right choice and I went into the pits to change. As a result the team changed my strategy to a one stop. Towards the end of the race Pizzonia hit me from the back whilst he was trying to overtake me under braking. To be honest I was ready for it as I knew he would try something like that and managed to keep the car on the track and salvage three points."
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Engine): "I think we could have been in a strong position for a podium finish today. However it was not to be, as after only two laps it became clear that my engine was losing water pressure. It was a shame as I made a good start and gained a few places. Things were looking good and this is not the way I would have liked to finish the European season, but at least we now have the pace to fight for victories."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A frustrating end to the weekend. It was a race several people could have won and Kimi was one of them. However we were quickly out of contention after Kimi's engine suffered a water leak which ultimately damaged the engine. David's race was hampered by tyre choice, but he managed to get sixth. At the end of the day we are here to win, so a disappointing result of the Italian Grand Prix for us."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "It's a shame for Kimi to retire as he had the speed for a podium position today. His retirement was due to a water leak we detected on lap two which led to engine damage, the reason for which we are still investigating. We changed David's strategy when he went into the pits before the start of the race for dry weather tyres, and we took the opportunity to put additional fuel in the car, so he only had to come in once more, and sixth place was a good result for him taking into account his delayed start."
Jarno Trulli (10th): "This was a very tough race for me. I struggled in the opening stages when the grip levels were low - I could not find a good pace and could not feel how the car was handling. As the circuit dried out, the handling improved slowly but the car was still difficult to drive. I was quick towards the end of my stints though, and particularly at the end of the race, but by then it was too late to make up any positions."
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Spin): "The first thing to say is that we will bounce back from this result. Monza was the worst circuit of the year for our car but I was competitive and fighting with BAR. I hope the next Grand Prix will see us climb back up the table. As for the race itself, we made the right decision on tyres at the start, I made a good start and then everything went as normal. Jenson overtook me during the first round of pit-stops, but I was keeping up with him. My spin occurred when I took too much kerb in the second chicane and lost control of the rear end of the car but after that, I was surprised that the marshals decided not to push me, as the rules allow them to. But that's life: we now need to focus on the last three races to re-take second place in the championship."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "The race began very promisingly for us, after we made the correct tyre choice in the damp conditions and Fernando drove a very aggressive first stint during which he led the race. It was a shame to see him retire after spinning but that happens sometimes when a driver is taking risks and pushing to the limit. Jarno once again had a troubled race however our real reason for disappointment is that we have lost our championship position. The final three flyaway races will all be key races in determining the outcome of our season."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "It was frustrating day for the entire team. Fernando was attacking a lot, driving on the limit and keeping up with Button. His speed was quite reassuring for us all. As for Jarno, it is unfortunate that he did not finish in the points. He was very quick at the end of the race and we do not understand why he did not have the same speed at the start. After fifteen races, our season will now come down to the last three rounds: our objective will be to close the gap to BAR."
Jenson Button (3rd): "It's fantastic for BAR to move into second in the Constructors' Championship after such a great result today. We came very close to our first victory here but third and fourth for myself and Taku is amazing and I dedicate this podium to the team who have done a great job all weekend. I didn't think the Ferraris were going to be that strong from what we could see earlier in the race, but all credit to them for turning things around in the closing stages. We did a good job to get into third place by the first stops and we had a strong race, but unfortunately not as strong as the Ferraris. In the end I focused on looking after the tyres and extending the gap between myself and Alonso. I think we have an exciting end to the season ahead of us and I now look forward to the challenge of a new race in China in two weeks' time."
Takuma Sato (4th): "It was a very spectacular race. We started in damp conditions with half the circuit still wet, so I think everyone seemed to struggle a bit in the beginning. My start was good but I could not pull away at the exit of the first chicane, so I lost quite a few places. Once the conditions improved though I was able to get back on the pace. The most important thing is that the team have come home second in the Championship and the momentum from today must be carried forward for the last three races of the season, which will be extremely exciting."
David Richards, Team Principal: "To move up to second place in the championship is fantastic! Every single person in the Team; back in England, aswell as Honda and Michelin, should be very proud of today's achievement. We took the fight to Ferrari on their home ground, and although we had to bow to them in the end, we showed how strong the team is with third and fourth, and with just five seconds between the two drivers. That elusive win is all that is missing for us this year and I am sure that we have a good chance of achieving that in the last three races. China in two weeks should be a very exciting weekend."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "We came to Monza confident of a good result, nevertheless to finish third and fourth and move to second place in the Championship is just reward for the excellent job the team have done all weekend. Both drivers ran very well- controlled races and certainly deserved this result. After the first stop, where perfect pit work saw Jenson able to return into the lead it looked as though an even better result was possible. However, once again, the Ferraris impressed everyone with their relentless pace. Nevertheless this result shows the strength in depth of the whole BAR Honda partnership."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "I am very happy. Both drivers did an excellent job today, our lap times were strong throughout the race and neither made any mistakes. Although it is a good feeling to be second in the world championship we are conscious of the performance gap to Ferrari and know we have a lot of work to do."
Giancarlo Fisichella (8th): "A point was what I expected, but also not what I expected, given the unusual circumstances at the beginning of the race. I was always confident overall that we could score, but to begin with I lost vital time through the combination of low downforce, a high fuel load and dry tyres. But once the track began to dry I felt more confident and was able to start pushing hard and have a very good race. At the end I saw Pizzonia and Coulthard collide and hoped momentarily that I might get even more, but I am satisfied with a point for eighth today."
Felipe Massa (12th): "I had a good start and I think it was the correct decision to go for intermediate tyres on my car. I made up a lot of positions and got as high as sixth at one stage. Once I had switched to dry tyres I got on to a damp patch and slid into the back of Nick Heidfeld. That was annoying because I wasn't even trying to pass him, and it cost me my front wing. Overall, however, the car was very quick and I could match the pace of the leaders. Without my problem I'm sure I could have scored more points this afternoon."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "This was a very strong race for us after the uncertainty of the opening laps, and Giancarlo was very close to both Williamses and the McLaren by the finish. When you look at where we started this was a great performance and we can be satisfied to score another point. Both drivers performed very strongly and their lap times were excellent once the conditions had stabilised. Felipe lost time after his great start because of a small incident with Nick Heidfeld, otherwise he would also have battled for points again."
Mark Webber (9th): "The rain overnight managed to change the track conditions quite considerably by this morning and so starting the race today was a bit of a lottery on the tyre front. We made a good decision though and I am pleased with how our start went. I was keen to stay out of the collision zone of the second chicane and I managed to do so. The car felt good out there although we were suffering slightly from under-steer that was making it more challenging to drive. The boys have prepared the car well this weekend and I am pleased with ninth position. We have had good reliability all weekend and this is as a result of the hard work that we have been doing. Looking ahead to the final three races, we are all keen to finish on a high and thus will be looking to score as many points as possible between now and the end of the season."
Christian Klien (13th): "My start was good into the first corner and fortunately through the first chicane cleanly. Although it was not raining at the start of the race the track remained quite damp and it was actually quite tricky at times to drive. For me the beginning of the race was really enjoyable and the car felt very good. I enjoyed racing and the Michelin tyres were working well with the car. We did change my front flap slightly however to help with the balance and some under-steer that I was suffering and this seemed to help. My second stint was a bit tricky with the under-steer and it made the car more difficult to drive. However, going into my third stint I made up some time and aimed for the chequered flag. I did have to do a drive-through though of the pit-lane as it appears that I was speeding in the pit-lane during one of my pit stops. I did overtake the Renault of Jarno Trulli at one point though and that was great fun. Overall I enjoyed the race and I am pleased with finishing. I am now looking ahead to the final three races with the goal of scoring points to help the team finish seventh in the Constructors Championship."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Both Mark and Christian made reasonable starts off the grid today and managed to avoid any contact through the first chicanes. The weather conditions had changed from very wet this morning to quite warm and damp by the start of the race and our tyre choice fortunately seemed to be the correct one. The balance of the R5 was not bad through the first stint of the race although during the pit stop we did make changes to the front flap on both of the cars, which again improved this. I am generally pleased with our results today given the track conditions this morning were not good and also the reliability of the other teams. Ninth is a good reflection of our pace on track and both Mark and Christian enjoyed some good over-taking manoeuvres throughout the race. Points would have of course been a bonus, but we remain 7th in the Constructor's Championship and we will be looking to add to our point's score during the remainder of the season. With only three races to go there is everything to race for."
Ricardo Zonta (11th): "The start was good. I just took care not to make contact with anyone because I was not sure how slippery the track would be after all the rain that we had during the morning. It was difficult to increase the temperature of the tyres at the beginning when the track was still damp. Every time I was behind another car, I lost downforce and the tyre did not perform. Throughout the whole race, I suffered from low grip levels and I simply had to try and retain my position. I am not pleased to finish in 11th position after all the effort we have put in this weekend."
Olivier Panis (DNF, Accident): "I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of today's race. I think the team made a good strategic decision to start on slick tyres despite the damp track conditions. I gained a place into the first corner, and I was racing closely with Pizzonia at the second chicane with the field very tight. I picked up a bit of understeer and ran into the back of his car, which broke my front wing. I then ended up in the gravel and my race was over. It is a real shame after what has been a difficult weekend for me."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "That was a disappointing race for the team. We had problems on the opening lap when Olivier retired after making contact with Antonio Pizzonia's BMW-Williams. Ricardo made a good start up to tenth place, but seemed to struggle thereafter, complaining of poor grip levels. We made the decision to start on dry tyres, which was the correct choice in the improving track conditions, and it is difficult to understand why we fell back when everyone else was able to set competitive times right from the start. We lost a lot of time in the first stint, but the lap times then improved during the last two stints of the race. We now need to analyse why we were not quick enough from the beginning. We have a test in Silverstone next week, which is a high-speed circuit and one that will be beneficial to prepare our TF104B race car for the three remaining races of the season in China, Japan and Brazil."
Nick Heidfeld (14th): "I am relatively happy with what we achieved, as I think we managed to get the maximum from our resources. Early on I had problems overtaking the Minardi because he seemed to have better top speed than me but once I got past, my pace was good. Then Felipe tried to overtake me and ran into the back of my car which did a little damage but thankfully it had no big influence on the balance. We converted to a one-stop strategy which worked out, although it wasn't easy with a heavy fuel load and having to really look after the tyres. While I would always be happier with a better position, I think we did everything we possibly could have so I'm satisfied with our efforts."
Giorgio Pantano (DNF, Accident): "I don't know exactly what happened but at Parabolica very soon after my second pit stop, I think perhaps I found some water or something on the track and the car just suddenly spun. I saw Nick running wide there as well, just ahead of me. Once I had spun there was nothing I could do and it was quite a big crash. I'm really disappointed and it's a shame to retire from my home Grand Prix like this."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Congratulations to Rubens for his fantastic recovery and drive to a memorable win. At Jordan we have a busy week to focus on with Timo testing at Silverstone on 14 September and the team preparing and packing up our cars and equipment for the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, which we are very excited about."
Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "It was an exciting race which is good for the sport's fans. Well done Rubens for winning his first race this season and to Michael on having secured his seventh drivers' championship at the last race. Looking at Ferrari's strategy here and the problems they encountered at the beginning, at lap five you wouldn't have thought they would finish in the top three. But they showed their brilliance yet again and went on to take a 1-2 victory - both drivers and the whole Ferrari team have all Jordan's congratulations. As for us, we put a huge effort into this weekend, for very little return and in very difficult circumstances so I want to thank everyone in the team for their commitment and hard work. We've no points to show for it but that has no reflection on the ability and dedication that everyone contributes."
Zsolt Baumgartner (15th): "I think we had not too bad a race. It was a bit tricky at the beginning, but I think we made the right choice to start with slick tyres. I lost a little time on the damp track in the first couple of laps, but then the grip came in and I was able to pick up the pace. I then had a good, really fair race with Gimmi. As the race wore on, I was struggling with the balance of the car a bit, but we were able to adjust the handling during the stint. I'm happy I was able to finish the Italian Grand Prix, like last year, and I'm now looking forward to China, where I hope we will be able to have a good race. Overall, I'm happy with today, but most of all, I'm relieved that no one was hurt in the fire this afternoon."
Gianmaria Bruni (DNF, Retired): "I again made a very good start and had overtaken seven or eight cars after the first few corners. As the track was drying quickly, however, I made my first planned stop a little early, which put me behind Zsolt when I came out of the pits. I then closed the gap right up to him during my next stint and was expecting to overtake him after the second stop. Unfortunately, when the refuelling nozzle was placed on the car, it seems a small amount of petrol leaked out, and when it hit the hot parts of the car, there was instantly a fire. Fortunately, it was extinguished immediately, but some of the fire retardant got into my helmet and I couldn't breathe properly. I'm fine now, but it's really a pity for the guys, as the car was good and I think we could have a solid finish today."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Whoever thinks F1 is boring wasn't around the Minardi garage this afternoon when Gimmi's car erupted into flames shortly before leaving the pits after his second stop. The mechanics did a fantastic job to extinguish the flames immediately, but unfortunately, Gimmi inhaled some of the fumes. Zsolt, on the other hand, drove a solid race to record yet another well-deserved finish at this, one of Minardi's 'home' GPs. I cannot thank the guys enough for their thoroughly professional behaviour and quick reactions that undoubtedly helped to avert what could have been a major incident this afternoon. As for the fire itself, the team is still investigating the cause of the fuel leak in order to understand exactly what happened."