Schumacher, Alonso, San Marino GP 2006

Schumacher, Alonso, San Marino GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive


Fernando Alonso (2nd): "Second place and eight points is a perfect result for me this afternoon. We suspected that we had qualified with more fuel than the others, and the race showed we were right to pick that strategy. At a normal circuit, we could have won but this is Imola where overtaking is almost impossible. I could see that I was much faster than Michael in the second stint, and I was just trying to put pressure on him, hoping he would make a mistake. We did not plan to make our second stop when we did - we pitted early to try and overtake him but it didn't quite work. So I stayed in his slipstream and in the last five laps, put all the revs on the engine and tried to overtake. But the Ferrari was a lot quicker again at the end, and it didn't happen. Looking at the championship, though, this is perfect. My closest rivals at the start of the weekend were Fisichella and Raikkonen, and I have taken points from both of them. I am happy with this, and I know we will be stronger again in the Nuerburgring."

Giancarlo Fisichella (8th): "This was a race to try and recover what happened in qualifying yesterday afternoon and I cannot be happy to finish eighth, but I still got into the points. The start was fantastic but I got crowded out as others drivers closed the door, and then struggled with the grip in the first stint. We took off some front wing at the stop, and then the pace was in the car. I was much faster and started to make up a lot of ground because we ran further than the other cars, but in the end, there were only a couple of seconds in it at the second stop - and I came out just behind Button and Webber. The race showed the speed is there in the car, though, and I think we can have a much stronger weekend in Germany in two weeks."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We saw a very typical Imola race this afternoon, and an interesting reversal of last year's result. I think the Renault was the faster car but in fact, this appearance was probably exaggerated by the fact that Schumacher had such a dreadful middle stint. With Fernando stuck behind him, we were left with very few options to try and capitalise on our performance advantage, as we believe our planned lap for the second stop was, contrary to what the figures on television seemed to indicate, very close to his. We pulled in early because running longer was unlikely to pay off for us, as the Ferrari's tyres seemed very quick at the start of a stint. So we tried to get Fernando a lap of clean air to beat Michael in the pits and it didn't quite work but as the phrase goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". And in this case, nothing lost either. Giancarlo had a steady race, and he was unfortunate not to get ahead of Button at the final stop. Realistically, though, his race was all about mitigating the effects of qualifying yesterday, and he did everything that could be asked of him."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "The Renault was very competitive this afternoon, and we only just lost out to Ferrari on a circuit where overtaking is so difficult. Fernando did everything he could, but we just didn't quite have the answers we needed to beat Michael this afternoon. Fisico was always going to have a hard day, but did his best to get to the points, and managed it. We had both cars in the points, Fernando has a big lead in the drivers' championship, and it was another good team performance today."


Juan Pablo Montoya (3rd): "I'm pleased with today's race and that we managed to get a podium position and some important Championship points. I made a good start off the line but was squeezed by traffic going into the first chicane and had to lift in order to avoid an incident. I then got stuck in traffic which cost me some time. I think it was clear as the race progressed that we had qualified on quite a heavy fuel load, but we were really able to take advantage of our strategy during the race. The guys did a great job in the pit stops which helped, but once I was in clear air the leaders were already about 13 seconds ahead, and it was too late for me. The focus was then just to bring the car back and get third place and some points. Everybody has been working hard for the past couple of weeks, and I think we have definitely made some progress with our package, I can't wait for the rest of the season and hopefully winning some races soon."

Kimi Raikkonen (5th): "I was not entirely happy with my car today and wasn't able to really go for it. My start was not very good and I lost a couple of positions, and then traffic hampered my progress during the first half of the race. After the second stop the car improved quite a bit and became easier to drive and I could start pushing again. However I got stuck behind Felipe Massa and to overtake here at Imola is virtually impossible as we could see in the race today. We can leave Imola with some points which is important and I now look forward to the next race in Germany."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Juan Pablo had a relatively uneventful race. He made a good start but lost of some the advantage when he was squeezed coming into the first corner. However his strategy unfolded well and a fully deserved third place. Kimi's race was badly influenced by a rare mistake in qualifying which cost him some grid positions and was further compounded by him not making a particularly good start. However he drove in a disciplined manner to pick up valuable points for himself and the team. We could have raced a little harder but suffered badly from traffic. Everybody is now looking forward to the Silverstone test next week and the European Grand Prix - both of which should see us move further forward in our competitiveness and World Championship objectives."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A difficult race after an unsatisfactory qualifying during which Juan Pablo and Kimi improved to third and fifth respectively starting from seven and eighth. Once they were out of traffic, which hampered the progress of both drivers during the first half of the race, they showed that the pace was there. Again we demonstrated reliability in the race. We will continue to improve our performance and are looking forward to the first of Mercedes' two home Grands Prix at the Nurburgring in two weeks time."


Michael Schumacher (1st): "I am very happy! The result shows that work pays off and that the effort put in by everyone - the team and our partners - has delivered its reward. The key moment was staying ahead after the second pit stop. As we saw last year, overtaking at this track it's almost impossible, unless the guy in front makes a mistake. With all my years of experience, I knew that what I wanted to do was keep Alonso behind me, but at my pace, not pushing flat out and that's what I did. At this time I had a bit of graining, as had been the case in free practice and now we must work out what caused it. I hope we can keep up this standard in the coming races and I think that from now on, we will be very competitive."

Felipe Massa (4th): "It was a very difficult race, but it turned out well for Ferrari in the end. Michael's win and my fourth place make a very nice result. I would have liked to have been on the podium, but I am still pleased with this as it was important to bring so many points home. I had some problems in my second stint, but in the third one I could push as hard as I wanted again."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "When I was going up to the podium, I said to Michael that I could not remember the way anymore, as it had been such a long time since the last victory! This result comes courtesy of all the hard work over the past few weeks carried out by the team and our partners, first and foremost Bridgestone and Shell and it was made all the better coming in front of so many of our fans and employees who filled their own grandstand here. Michael secured a fantastic win, rounded off with a good fourth place from Felipe. We had expected it to be cooler and the heat saw us suffer a bit, which shows how just the smallest variation in temperature can affect the pecking order. It's and odd thing to say, but in Australia we wanted it hotter and it was cool and here we have the opposite! This result is very encouraging for the future and is a great boost. There are fourteen races still to fight for and we know that if all the parts of the jigsaw puzzle are in place, then we can look for the wins in order to meet our targets."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "Naturally, we are very happy with this result. Winning in front of our fans is something very special. It was a very tough race and the team did a great job in Michael's final pit stop, which got him back out on track ahead of Alonso. We struggled a bit in the second part of the race, probably because of the tyres, and we could not maintain the pace we had in the first stint. In these laps, Michael drove perfectly, managing to keep Alonso behind him. Felipe drove a strong race. He had some difficult moments but he proved capable of getting out of them in fine form, driving very well. A fantastic result down to great work from the team, from Bridgestone and from Shell. It is the first "real" win for a car designed by Aldo Costa, which is particularly pleasing. Let's hope this is a good omen for the rest of the season."


Ralf Schumacher (9th): "It is a pity that we missed out on the points but that was not the best afternoon for me. We had a very aggressive strategy but circumstances played against us. We were a bit unlucky with traffic and the safety car didn't help us but we also struggled for grip in the early stints. The pace improved in the latter stages when I was gaining ground on Fisichella and Button so there must be some problem. I don't think it is related to the tyres because other Bridgestone teams did a good job so we need to investigate where the issue lies. We will test some new items next week and I believe we can improve at the European Grand Prix."

Jarno Trulli (DNF, Steering): "A lot of bad luck seems to be coming my way at the moment and today was no exception. We still have to investigate exactly what happened but something seemed to go wrong with the steering column and that meant I had to retire. It's a pity because we have been looking good all weekend and I was confident that we could have had a better day today. I made a very good start and I made up a place on Raikkonen as I went through the field. Unfortunately the car in front had a moment at the first corner so I had to slow down. It's frustrating because whatever I do, something goes wrong. But I will keep pushing because I know that the team and the package are good. Once everything starts working for me I know I will have a lot of success."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "It was a disappointing Sunday for us and the results were not so good. But I'm sure that our car is quicker than it was able to show today. It performed well this weekend and was well matched to the Bridgestone tyre in the conditions. Unfortunately the race started very badly when Jarno had to stop with a mechanical problem with his steering column. We are very disappointed about that so apologies to him. Ralf raced hard on a three-stop strategy which should work here because of the short pit lane. However you risk losing out if you have a safety car in the first stint, which is exactly what happened. That meant the strategy was hampered early on. He had some inconsistency with grip during the race which we need to investigate but Ralf's pace in the last stint when he was free of traffic was good and encouraging. I am sure that our car has the potential to bring better results in the next few races. Nonetheless we clearly need to develop further and push hard to improve performance during the coming tests."


Mark Webber (6th): "Today's result is positive after a difficult start to the weekend and all in all, we had a great race with the boys doing a good job on the strategy and our stops worked well. The only tricky part of the race was the first few laps on high fuel which made the car hard work on turn in and under braking, especially because of the bumps. Apart from a reasonable finish today, we also learnt plenty about Bridgestone. The job now is to keep finding more pace."

Nico Rosberg (11th): "This weekend was pretty up and down for me because qualifying wasn't too bad but I have definitely had better races than today. I didn't feel 100% comfortable in the car, especially on used tyres. My main problem was racing in traffic all afternoon and even when I should have pushed hard to gain some ground, there was someone ahead, preventing me from making progress. No points isn't such a good outcome, but now I am looking forward to doing a better job at my home race at the Nurburgring as Mark has shown today that we can compete in strong pointscoring positions."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a good result to get both cars to the finish and improve significantly on our starting positions today. Mark overtook Kimi on the first lap then drove well to sixth place and the strategy he was on worked well. Nico had a a really good start but lost out on the first few corners, but nevertheless improved on his start position of 13th to finish 11th. Bridgestone's new tyre worked well. Overall a satisfactory day, but we are pushing for more."

Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "Great to get a Cosworth powered car back in the points again at Imola and my thanks to everyone at Cosworth for the huge effort put into the CA2006 programme. Once again Cosworth worked very well with WilliamsF1 and this time we came away with something to show for it. We'll need to have a good look through the data and inspect both engines prior to their second event."


Jenson Button (7th): "There is no doubt that we missed out on the chance of a podium today as the car was quick and we had a good strategy. I had a problem at the first pitstop with the right rear wheel going on and then in the second pitstop the lollipop was raised before the fuel hose was disconnected. Unfortunately when that happens, it takes all of the pit crew with it. The Chief Mechanic has lifted the lollipop perfectly hundreds of times before and I know he'll make sure this never happens again. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt and I know the boys will be back giving it their all at the next race. Today has been disappointing but we had the pace and we have certainly moved forward a lot since Australia. We've said this many times before but we just have to stay focused and keep pushing."

Rubens Barrichello (10th): "It was disappointing for us today at the end of what has been a strong weekend. I had a bad start and then lost a lot of time at my first pit stop. The nozzle failed and the team had to switch me to the other one. The pace of the car was okay, particularly on the first run, but it was a bit more difficult in the middle section. The lack of pace was due to the rear tyres locking; even though the brakes have got a lot better, the rears were locking on new tyres. However, the balance of the car is better so we are getting stronger, we just need to work hard at the areas which are catching us out. If it wasn't for the problems with fuelling today, I could have finished in the top six. The team is working well and we're much happier with the tyre-warming issues, so we should make a fresh start in Nurburgring in two weeks."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Needless to say this was a difficult day for us when unfortunately it all went wrong in the pits. On his first stop, Rubens had a fuel rig failure and on Jenson's second stop the problems were more dramatic but thankfully no one was hurt as a result of the incident. We are certainly all disappointed with the final results, however if we had not had such an uncharacteristically bad day in the pits we would most likely have been fighting for a podium position. Our car pace this weekend was competitive and it is onwards and upwards to the Nurburgring now."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Overall the race was disappointing today. We have not been able to get the best out of the car or ourselves this weekend so we have to refocus for the Nurburgring in two weeks."

Red Bull-Ferrari

David Coulthard (DNF, Driveshaft): "I had a broken drive shaft. Possibly as a result of something that happened after the pit stop, because when I pulled away I had a problem with the engine taking a lot of revs. It's a shame, because although we had seen this in winter testing, it had never happened in a race so far."

Christian Klien (DNF, Hydraulics): "The whole weekend has not been good for me with a lot of problems, starting in the first free practice session. In qualifying I had that bother with the speed limiter and now in the race I had a hydraulic problem. The race did not go well: I started behind Scott Speed and with it being so hard to pass here, I lost a lot of time behind. When I had a clear track ahead of me the car was actually quite respectable until it stopped."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A very disappointing race with both cars not making it to the finish. It was very difficult to score points today with both Ferraris, Renaults and McLarens coming home in the points. It's clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us, starting next week at the Silverstone test."


Jacques Villeneuve (12th): "It was not that exciting because I had a problem in the first pit stop. We were not as competitive as we expected. However, the balance was good and with this we should have been able to do some quick laps. The start was bad but then the first corner was okay. For the next race we have a new engine and that should help a lot, which is important as we are racing in Germany."

Nick Heidfeld (13th): "This was a disappointing race for us especially as I had expected our race pace to be higher. But unfortunately this was not the case. My start was okay but still I couldn't gain positions. One of my main problems was lack of grip, but at the second pit stop we changed the front wing settings and the tyre pressures so the last stint was a little bit better."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Over this Imola weekend only the free practice on Friday was really good for us. Neither in qualifying nor during the race were the drivers able to set the lap times we expected. It was only in the last stint of the race that Jacques was able to match the speed of the top drivers at certain times. During Jacques' first pit stop there was a problem when two wheel nuts got stuck, but even without this problem he would not have made it into the points. On the positive side for the first time this season our engines have completed two full race distances at the same time, so they have passed this test successfully."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Our average race speed was not as quick as we expected. After the second stops both drivers were quicker and happier with the balance of the cars, but in the middle of the race we were far to slow. We have to analyse these fluctuating lap times. Jacques had a slow first pit stop due to sticking wheel nuts and this lost him approximately 15 seconds."


Tiago Monteiro (16th): "Another finish, which is important of course, because every finish gives us more data to work with. We had two strategy options, depending on how the start went. Actually, it was our best start so far this season, so I managed to stay in front of Sato and from that point I was just pushing hard to follow the Torro Rossos. I couldn't do that, but in that type of situation, you have to keep pushing hard the whole race, because you never know what might happen to those ahead of you. So you push to explore the potential of the car and you push to improve your focus and concentration over a race distance. It's actually not too bad, because we learned a lot. Personally, I discover new things about the car every time out. Unfortunately, we're in a situation where we get overtaken, but we analyse this to see where our opponents are quicker. Obviously, this is not where we want to be - we would prefer to be fighting with the others - but I think our pace is improving all the time. We just need a little bit more, and we're almost there."

Christijan Albers (DNF): "For me, this was really a bad end to the weekend. It's a shame, because we had a fantastic start. On Friday, we were really quick; we were on the pace. On Saturday morning, we were also pretty quick. And then the bad luck started: we had a software problem on the engine side that held us back in qualifying. For me, this was really, really sad, because I felt we had a chance to make it into the second qualifying heat, even though we still had a lot of fuel in the car. And then, during the race, I felt I had a reasonable start that ended up being wasted by an unnecessary race incident. With all due respect to the Super Aguri drivers, they are being much too aggressive in trying to jump ahead of us at the start so that they can hold us up during the race, as they've done in the past. They are taking too many risks, and we saw today how dangerous this can be. I don't understand this tactic, because I would have conceded the position to (Ide) had he been in a position to take it. I had a lot of fuel on board and driving to a certain strategy, so I wasn't trying to hold anyone up. But instead, he just pushed me off the road from behind. It's too bad, because the car is severely damaged. The team worked very hard to give me a good car this weekend, and they deserved a better result than this."

Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "It was not such a good weekend, to say the least. Tiago did a good job to bring the car home under difficult circumstances, after his car developed a problem. As for Christijan, well, it's obvious what happened and it was certainly not his fault."

Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "Thankfully, Christijan's OK after being shunted off on the first lap. Sadly, it's just one of those things. Tiago brought the car home in P16 and given the problems he had, that was probably the best we could have hoped for. We've got some things to work on to get ready for the next one, but we're up for the challenge."

Toro Rosso-Cosworth

Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th): "It was a so-so race for me. We ran at our pace in qualifying which meant we started a long way back on the grid, which made it difficult to go anywhere. We had a decent race pace but we couldn't pass anyone as it is so difficult at this track. I had a problem with the brakes from about lap 3 onwards so I couldn't push as I was locking up the front or the rear. The car handled well and without the brake thing I could have done much better."

Scott Speed (15th): "I might have passed Heidfeld if I had not get so badly held up around the pit stops. I was unlucky in that I let Michael by a couple of corners before he pitted so I lost about five seconds there and then, when I came out of the pits I had a bunch of traffic. The car's pace was good, we were quicker than Heidfeld and quick enough to keep up with our "senior" Red Bull team! To add to my bad luck, my drinks bottle didn't work all race."

Gerhard Berger, Team Principal: "We had a good race with strong lap times. Again we brought both cars home which is encouraging and we were stuck in amongst BMW and to be stuck behind a BMW is no bad sign for Toro Rosso. We could have gone quicker if we had been able to pass them. Looking at the lap times, if we qualified a bit better, I think we could run three or four places further forward. Overall, it was actually a reasonable result for us."

Super Aguri-Honda

Takuma Sato (DNF, Mechanical): "It is disappointing not to finish the race as we have had no reliability issues all weekend. I had a reasonable start to the race and I was able to make up a position, but the car was lacking in pace so I could not improve any further. The boys have done a really great job all weekend and we have made good progress so we shall just keep working hard to improve our performance."

Yuji Ide (DNF, Mechanical): "I didn't think I was pushing too hard at the start, but when I was exiting the second chicane Albers was the one on the racing line and I could not avoid contacting his car. After the contact the car was not stable in the corners and my front-left suspension was damaged. I later had a rear suspension problem and had to retire from the race. My lap times were a little faster this weekend, so I want to keep my rhythm and do better in the next race."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I knew that this would be a tough race as the circuit here makes conditions difficult for us. The team was very excited coming to Italy and has tried its best to get a good result for the first European grand prix. I know that our performance level is not high at the moment, but I see the team and drivers working very hard, so I regret that we have not been able to provide them with a new car as yet. Until we introduce the SA06 we will face a hard time, but we have very high spirits and I believe that the team will continue to do its best."