CHINESE GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Barrichello wins Chinese GP

Rubens Barrichello, Chinese GP 2004

Rubens Barrichello, Chinese GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Rubens Barrichello took his Ferrari to win the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today, winning by 1 second over Jenson Button in his BAR-Honda and Kimi Raikkonen in third in his McLaren-Mercedes, 1.4 seconds back. The Brazilian led from the start, but was pressured for most of the race by Raikkonen, the two using a three-stop pit strategy - and also by Button who was on a two-stop strategy.

It was Barrichello's second win in a row, and Ferrari's 14th win of 16 races this season. The win also clinches second place for Barrichello in the Drivers World Championship.

Fernando Alonso finished in fourth in his Renault, Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth in his Williams-BMW, and Takuma Sato finished in sixth in the second BAR-Honda.

Sauber-Petronas team mates Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa took the final points in seventh and eighth positions.

Michael Schumacher - after starting from the pitlane after a spin in qualifying - continued to have troubles throughout the race, coming together with Cristian Klien in the hairpin (forcing the Austrian to retire), having a spin on his own at one point, and also suffering a tyre puncture later in the race, finishing in 12th place.

Eleventh place was all that Jacques Villeneuve could manage in the Renault on his return to Formula 1 after nearly a season out of the drivers seat.

RACE REPORT

RACE RESULTS

RACE INCIDENTS

PRESS CONFERENCE

SUNDAY PHOTOS


Ferrari

Rubens Barrichello (1st): "I have spent much of this season trying to catch up Michael and now I am going through a good phase and here in China, everything has gone well all weekend. I must thank the team for giving me a good set-up that allowed me to push hard when I needed to. The reception we have had from the Chinese people has been fantastic. I had a very good start and I was amazed at the amount of grip I had on the first lap. Kimi pushed me quite hard but I was able to keep a gap. I was not sure I had command of the race until my final pit stop when Ross told me that I should be okay. So, as I left the pits I still pushed flat out and then at Turn 3, I looked in my mirrors and saw no one behind me so I knew I was okay. Towards the end, when I had a lead of about eight seconds, the team told me to back off a bit, but then I had to step up the pace again when Jenson got closer. Also at one point, I had to lap Villeneuve who did not see me at first as he was fighting for position but then he let me through correctly. This track has been really challenging, but with a variety of possible lines through the corners overtaking is possible and that is all we need for a good race."

Michael Schumacher (12th): "I am happy that Ferrari won today. If one driver fails, the other is there is the way we share our responsibilities, so congratulations to Rubens. This was a slightly more interesting race than I would have wanted! But at least all the unlucky things have come in just one race weekend, so hopefully we will have no more this season. I tried to pass Christian (Klien) when I saw the door was open, but he turned in as I was halfway alongside. It was just a normal racing incident. Then I had a spin as I was following Alonso very closely in his slipstream and lost downforce. Finally, came the puncture on the left rear tyre which cost me a lot of time as I had to drive a long part of the track at very slow speed, coming into the pit much too early which meant the team decided to change my strategy."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "We knew it would be a fight and so it was. Both our drivers faced difficult tasks. All our chances of victory rested on Rubens, given the start positions, while Michael faced a climb through the field after what happened in qualifying and the decision to start him from the pit lane. Rubens responded in grand style driving an amazing race. The difference between a two and a three stop strategy was very fine, with neither driver nor team in a position to afford making even the slightest mistake to take the win. Rubens and the team were perfect in this respect. Michael had a laborious day and, as if the handicap of the start was not enough, he also had to deal with a spin and a puncture. But he still wanted to leave the mark of a champion on this race, setting the fastest lap on the final lap. With this result, Rubens has made sure of second place in the Drivers' championship. So, for the last two races our sole objective is to secure victory, as our will to win is still as strong as ever, despite all our successes to date. We really wanted to win here today. China is a very important country for our future and we want to dedicate this win to the tens of thousands of fans who packed the grandstands at this fantastic facility, which is the most modern race track in the world. Furthermore we wanted to win for our partners; commercial ones like Philip Morris and Vodafone and technical ones such as Bridgestone, Shell, AMD and Olympus. I am proud that Ferrari's name is the first to go into the record books for this Grand Prix."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It is great to win the first ever Chinese Grand Prix. It was a fantastic race from Rubens. He had a very good start and was quick when he needed to be, in order to keep Kimi behind him. It was a perfect race from him and a very, very good job. He deserved the win because he has been strong all weekend. Michael's race was very messy. Obviously, it was going to be tough from a pit lane start, after yesterday's qualifying but on top of that, we had a spin and what looks like a puncture and that destroyed his race. I am not sure where he would have finished without these problems, but days like this happen and luckily all this misfortune came on the same weekend. I am looking forward to Suzuka. As usual, Bridgestone did a great job, especially considering we had no previous data from this track."

Williams-BMW

Juan Pablo Montoya (5th): "My start wasn't too bad and I was able to pass Panis but then I went to the inside and it was so dirty that it was like stopping and everybody passed me back. I tried to regain my position and I overtook Jacques Villeneuve twice but I didn't have enough traction and he just passed me back. It was real fun! In the first part of the race I was stuck in traffic, but the second part was better. I was quite close to Sato but I made a mistake before the pit-stop and it cost me a little but then he made a mistake and I got him back. It's good to have achieved fifth position from where we started and I am glad to have collected some good points for the team."

Ralf Schumacher (DNF, Retired): "It's a true pity that my race had an early end. My car had a puncture following contact with Coulthard. He tried to overtake me but I think his move was a bit too optimistic. Anyway, I came into the pits to fix the car which we thought had been damaged but after a careful look, the engineers decided that I could continue the race. However, too much time had elapsed by then and it was too late to get out on track again, because I would have been two laps down. It's a shame, because my race had been good until then and I had been fighting in the top five positions. It's true I had lost a place at the start, but all in all I was in a position to collect some useful points."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was not a good day in terms of results. However, the car pace and strategy was not bad. At least Juan drove through the field and picked up some points. Juan had a good initial start but then had to avoid a Toyota and lost a few positions. On lap 37, Ralf had an incident with Coulthard which resulted in a puncture and caused him to pit. Unfortunately we were expecting Juan Pablo for his pit-stop. What happened between Ralf and Coulthard was a racing incident and unfortunately it resulted in Ralf's car not scoring points. In terms of reliability, we had no problems."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "It was a successful Premiere in China but the race result doesn't match our expectations. Both our drivers lost some positions at the start and were held back in the first part of the race. This cost Ralf the chance of fighting in the top positions. After the collision with David Coulthard, Ralf came into the pit right before Juan's second stop. Since we didn't know that his car had been damaged, we refuelled and changed tyres to Juan's car first, as scheduled, but when it became clear that Ralf had only a puncture, it was too late to send him out again. Anyway, Juan collected four good points for the team today."

McLaren-Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen (3rd): "From where I was sitting that was a close and exciting debut race and hopefully the Chinese fans agree. I was able to keep up with Rubens but just lacked that final speed to get past and take the lead. As always we are here to win races and decided to change my strategy in an attempt to get past Rubens with a short middle stint. However it didn't work out and we lost second place to Jenson, but I'm not too disappointed. The car has felt good throughout the weekend and once again my Michelin tyres were working well. My times were consistent during the race and I'm looking forward to the last two races where we will continue to go for victory."

David Coulthard (9th): "An exciting race with a disappointing outcome for me. As always with a low grid position it is difficult to achieve a decent result particularly as you inevitably get involved in the mid-field battles. There is no doubt that the pace was there, but I got stuck behind one of the Saubers in the opening stages and lost a lot of time. On lap 37 I unfortunately had a coming together with Ralf Schumacher at the hairpin and damaged my left front wheel. I'm sorry for him but it also affected my race significantly as I could have finished higher up in the points. It took me quite some time to reach the pits to replace the wheel. At the end of day the team could have used the points, but at least we put on a good show in China."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A thrilling race and a fantastic debut for Formula One in China. We have always made it clear that we exist to win and that was what we wanted to do today. As a result we took the decision to change Kimi's strategy to see if we could get him ahead of Rubens. On this occasion it didn't work out and in effect we handed second place to Jenson. David's result was affected by his starting position and the often inevitable mid-field incidents, which put him out of contention despite having the speed."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "An exciting race which saw two strong Ferrari challengers with Kimi performing exceptionally well. Our speed was good throughout the race and Kimi could put a lot of pressure on Rubens and Jenson. David was quick, too but lost the possibility of scoring quite a few points in his accident with Ralf Schumacher. This was an important event for Formula One and our team here at this debut in China. The outcome shows the development of the MP4-19B continues to go in the right direction, and we are looking forward to the next race in Japan, where we will try to do two places better."

Renault

Fernando Alonso (4th): "It was a pretty good race. We started the weekend with quite a lot of problems, we improved the car throughout the weekend and it got better during the race. I think these five points will be important for the championship at the end of the year. The next two circuits should favour us more than the last ones have and I am feeling good. My motivation his high and I am focused on scoring the points we need to get back second place in the championship."

Jacques Villeneuve (11th): "I learned a lot during the race this afternoon: I know the R24 better, I have got a full race distance under my belt and I have also understood what a 2004-style race is like. To be honest, I just needed too long to get into the rhythm at the start of the race. I made a good start but I hadn't warmed the tyres enough and lost a lot of the positions I had made up. As soon as the circuit rubbered in more and the grip improved, I was able to attack but unfortunately, I couldn't stay close enough behind Webber in turns 9 and 10 ? which meant that I was too far behind to try and overtake when we got to the braking zone for the hairpin at turn 14. Even so, I feel ready for Suzuka now."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It was a disappointing race today and we were not quick enough. Both drivers did everything they could and their races were near perfect. Jacques had settled in by the end of the race and I am sure he can pose a threat to our competitors in Suzuka. As for Fernando, he drove strongly and didn't put a foot wrong. This circuit didn't really suit the R24 this weekend and we do not exactly understand why. However, we did some good damage limitation by scoring five points and we hope to be more competitive in Suzuka."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "Our race was easy to analyse: we weren't quick enough today. We are disappointed but we still got two cars to the finish and one at the foot of the podium. The team worked well during a difficult weekend and the drivers did a great job: Fernando pushed until the very end of the race, and Jacques succeeded with a difficult challenge. We have said that the championship fight with BAR will go down to the wire and that will certainly be the case. Our aim, more than ever, is to reclaim second in the championship."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (2nd): "It's fantastic to finish on the podium in the first-ever Chinese Grand Prix and to achieve my fourth 2nd place finish this season. We came here needing to keep Renault at bay for second in the Championship and a nine-point lead is exactly what we were looking for. It's a great result for the whole team and well done to them for a great job. I didn't get a good start; in fact losing two places off the grid was disastrous. Today proved again that our first win is getting closer but starts are something we'll need to look at before we can take the next step up. Our strategy was good but it was so hard to push versus the three-stoppers, so in the end I had to concentrate on keeping Raikkonen behind me. It's been a great race for BAR, China and F1 and I'm looking forward to keeping up the fight in Japan in two weeks' time."

Takuma Sato (6th): "This is a great result for the team! I am delighted with our performance today, with one car on the podium and my car starting from the back of the grid still scoring good points. I fought a hard battle having heavy fuel on board, but I was able to enjoy the race and at the end of the day to be able to finish in sixth place is a great team effort. I am happy that we have moved even further ahead of Renault. This first Chinese Grand Prix has been a great success with really exciting racing and I am now really looking forward to the next race at Suzuka."

David Richards, Team Principal: "Well that was a pretty dramatic first race for China, and it really could have gone any number of ways right to the end. Jenson drove fantastically, and given that he lost a couple of places at the start and dropped behind the leaders, it made the rest of his race even more impressive. Naturally I am pleased to see yet another second place for Jenson, but I am particularly delighted with sixth for Taku from the back of the grid, perhaps his best drive to date. Everyone from Honda, Michelin and all the BAR crew have worked very hard for this, and now with just two races to go we have a nine-point lead over Renault and a fighting chance of securing second in the championship. In any event we are assured of third place in both the drivers' and constructors' championships and that is a good reason for celebration!"

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This race proved again how well the team can perform at a brand new circuit. This was the result the team needed with excellent drives from both drivers putting us on the podium for the 10th time this year, taking us to over 100 points and securing our position in the Championship. Jenson's two-stop strategy worked as planned and the sharp pit work at his first stop allowed him to get out in front of Webber into free air. Although it probably did not affect the outcome of the race, the decision of McLaren to run a short 3rd stint made our race easier; nevertheless we were watching Raikkonen closely over the last few laps. Takuma drove a really strong race making his two-stop plan work well to recover 6th place despite starting in 18th place. Our second and sixth place result extends lead over Renault to 9 points going into the last two races. Although second place in the Championship is not guaranteed, it does give the team a lot of confidence going to Suzuka for Honda's home race."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "I think we put on a good show for the new Chinese audience today. Both drivers clearly gave it everything and we have done very well to get them both solidly into the points. Let's go one better at Suzuka next time!"

Sauber-Petronas

Giancarlo Fisichella (7th): "I'm happy with seventh place, because my tyres were graining really badly from the start. After each stop the car was very, very competitive on new tyres and the balance came back again, but when the tyres started graining I was two seconds slower than the car's true potential. Considering all that, scoring points with both cars is a great result."

Felipe Massa (8th): "I had a fantastic opening lap. I really enjoyed my fight with Button and was very happy to overtake him again after he had gone past me. But after two laps I had incredible graining on the tyres and the car was understeering so much I was holding everyone up. I'm actually surprised that I didn't lose more places. After the stops I could push hard again and catch up, but over the final seven laps I had a flat spot on a front tyre and it was so difficult turning into right-hand corners that I was afraid I might not finish. It was a good fight with Coulthard at the end, and I'm happy to score another point in the circumstances."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The first Chinese Grand Prix was a great experience for everyone. It was an interesting race and, for us, exciting throughout. Our lap times were competitive with those of the top teams and we were always in contention to score points. I am happy to go to Suzuka with another three in our pocket."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (10th): "I knew that the race was going to be tough and it was. The circuit is very demanding technically for both the driver and the car and we were giving it our all out there. The car felt well balanced and the team had done an excellent job ahead of the race. I made a good start and took Juan-Pablo Montoya by the first corner. From that point on until the end of the race I did everything I could to make up places. Everyone was good and reliable today and points were always going to be difficult. I was struggling for traction at times but given the pace of the Renault and the Ferrari behind me I was pleased to finish in tenth. The R5 is a really good package at the moment and I would love to be scoring some points in it. We have two races to go so I will be doing everything I can to fight for some top eight finishes."

Christian Klien (DNF, Suspension Damage): "I made a good clean start off the grid and was pleased to make it round the first corner without incident. The R5 was feeling well balanced and competitive and I was enjoying the race. When I was on lap twelve on the long straight I could see the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher a long way behind me. As I neared corner four I looked again for Michael and I could not see him and consequently then turned in only to make contact with his car. I carried on and came in to pit as normal but it was clear that my race was over. The rear suspension had been damaged in the incident and it was impossible to continue. I am very disappointed with the outcome of my race today as the car was very well prepared for this weekend and we had completed some very successful testing. The track is very challenging to drive and I would have liked to finish this first ever Chinese Grand Prix, but it was not to be. I now travel directly to Australia to continue with my training ahead of Japan."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Our reliability this weekend has been very pleasing and as a result we have made a great deal of progress on our development. We have focused on our aero package and also on our mechanical and tyre preparation. This clearly paid off in the race when Mark made a good start and raced a very tough 56-laps to finish tenth. His pit stops were quick and although we did not manage to score points we outpaced our nearest competitor by some distance. Christian also made a good start and was racing well until he unfortunately made contact with the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, which ended his race. His right rear suspension was damaged and he could not continue. I am impressed with the way the team has prepared for this weekend and their continued motivation and commitment is inspirational. We now return home to further analyse our data from this weekend with the goal of scoring points in the remaining races of the season."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (14th): "The problem at the start of the race ended a good chance for a points scoring result in today's Chinese Grand Prix. Basically, the anti-stall kicked in unexpectedly and the car would not get going, so I was at the back of the field heading down to the first corner. All I can say is that we will work hard together to try and find a solution for the future. It is a terrible shame after a strong qualifying performance yesterday. During the race, the car felt good and consistent, so it was clear that we could have done well this afternoon. Basically, it was a missed opportunity for the whole team."

Ricardo Zonta (DNF, Gearbox): "I had a great start and a really good first lap, during which I managed to overtake some other cars and gain several positions. I was happy with the performance of the car and my speed in the race was quite competitive, so I was able to fight with Coulthard and Fisichella. Even if I did not have the opportunity to overtake the cars in front of me, I was putting some pressure on them. After my last pit stop I lost my fifth gear and I had to come back to the garage, where unfortunately the race finished for me. A disappointing end as I think that we could have scored minimum one point today."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "Olivier got an anti-stall at the start due to a problem related to the engine and it was something that he could do nothing about. This made his race very difficult and we have to be thankful that he brought the car home. After an excellent effort in qualifying, he deserved a better result. Ricardo had a great opening lap, making his way up to ninth place. He drove a strong race and was looking almost certain for a points finish until he lost fifth gear and was forced to come to the pits to retire. We have enjoyed a good reliability from the gearbox this season, so we will have to look into what happened. Obviously, a very disappointing result after a strong weekend for Toyota in China. We now have to look ahead to Toyota's home race, the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, where we will be aiming to get a good result, not only for the team, but also for the Toyota family and our Japanese supporters."

Jordan-Ford

Nick Heidfeld (13th): "I'm quite happy with the race and it was good fun, especially at the start where I made up some places. After that I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to keep up with the cars in front. Unfortunately after the first pit stop, with the second set of tyres, it got a bit worse because I experienced a lot of graining on the front tyres which took a long time to disappear and that's why I lost some lap time. In the end I just worked really hard to keep Panis behind me and I'm happy because I think it's a good achievement for us."

Timo Glock (15th): "My race was a bit difficult. I had a bad start compared to Nick, with more wheel spin than normal. The first five laps I experienced graining and understeer and watched Nick speed away ahead of me. After that when the tyres came back, the lap times were pretty good and I could get closer to Nick again. I pushed a little bit too hard at the end of the first stint and had a spin that kind of ended my race because after it I couldn't close the gap to Nick. That was bad but on the positive side, the lap times were good and consistent. After the second stop I lost some grip and the car was oversteering, but having said that I was able to do my fastest lap on the last lap. Overall I am satisfied with myself because the car was nervous and I didn't find a good rhythm. It's good to have done another race - it was my aim to finish and I did it."

James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Given yesterday's positive qualifying from Nick, starting where we did today, he had a good hard race and beat the Toyota of Panis on the track, excellent. He also had a good fight with Michael Schumacher and chased Villeneuve for a good third of the race, finishing just 17 seconds behind Michael on the line. Timo had a hard race, learning the car and where the limits are. Unfortunately he got on the wrong side of the blue flags which pushed him further down the charts than his performance should have indicated. I am sure he will go away from here more the wiser."

Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "Every single person involved in putting on the Grand Prix in Shanghai should congratulate themselves. It's one of the slickest and most professional efforts you will find and the welcome and happiness of the people here is a compliment to this fabulous new event on the calendar. I can't wait to return."

Minardi-Cosworth

Zsolt Baumgartner (16th): "For me, this was one of the most difficult races of the season. I struggled with the balance of the car after each of the pit stops, although it then gradually improved as the stints wore on and I was able to set more competitive lap times. I was probably too easy letting the quicker cars overtake during the race, as I lost a lot of time this way. I was upset about the incident during my last stop, when I hit one of my mechanics, but the surface of the pit stop area was very slippery and the brakes locked up as I came in. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, although there are one or two bruises to be seen. This is a challenging circuit to drive, and I am happy I was able to finish the first-ever Grand Prix in China."

Gianmaria Bruni (DNF, Mechanical): "I was in front of my team mate at the start, but then Glock blocked me and Zsolt got ahead. I decided the best strategy then was to maintain a good pace, avoid making any mistakes and bide my time. Unfortunately, I suffered a puncture on lap 10, but was able to make it back to the pits for an earlier-than-scheduled stop. I lost a lap in the process, but was then able to reduce the gap to Zsolt pretty steadily over the following two stints, before the front wheel came loose. This is a very nice circuit and I am upset that I wasn't able to finish the race today, but there was nothing I could do - we just had bad luck, and will have to hope it improves in Japan."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "It has not been a very good day for Minardi. Gimmi's race was interrupted by an early puncture and terminated with the loss of a front wheel, when he was simply too far from the pit lane to be able to drive safely back to the team's garage to have the problem dealt with. Zsolt, meanwhile, was stuck in traffic for much of the race, and going off the racing line here to allow faster cars to overtake costs you a significant amount of time. As a result, it was a tough race for him, but he nevertheless recorded a well-deserved finish. On a positive note, at the conclusion of this historic weekend, we must congratulate the Chinese for building a superb new motor racing facility, which sets new standards for Formula One."

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