Ralf Schumacher, French GP 2006

Ralf Schumacher, French GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive


Fernando Alonso (2nd): "That was a long, tough race for me but in the circumstances, a perfect result. We went into the race with two possibilities on the strategy, and once we saw that Ferrari would be three-stopping then we knew it would be hard to pass them on the track. So we chose to rely on the consistent tyre performance, and make two stops. The car balance was consistent all the way through the race, and I pushed hard to make sure I could get ahead of Felipe in the final part of the race. Given where I started on the grid, I think second is everything I could have hoped for because we knew that Michael was a bit quicker this weekend - like in Imola and the Nurburgring. Back then, everybody thought that Michael would win all the races after two wins in a row, and we responded very strongly. Hopefully, we can do the same at Hockenheim in two weeks' time."

Giancarlo Fisichella (6th): "This wasn't a great race for me to be honest. The car was getting more and more difficult to drive during the race, with tyre graining in the second stint that meant I couldn't build a gap over Ralf and Kimi to stay ahead, and then a lot of problems under braking in the final part of the race as well. We need to have a look at what happened, but you have to take the positive part from the results. I finished in the points, I am still third in the championship after a tough weekend and we completed a second race on the C spec engine without any problems. I am optimistic for the next races, and confident we can regain our advantage."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Fernando's race this afternoon was essentially determined by the time he had completed the opening lap. He fought hard to find a way past Massa, but wasn't able to do it and therefore lost any chance he might have had of challenging Schumacher. We had gone into the race with an open mind about doing two or three stops, but having lost time in the first stint, it was obvious that two stops was the way to go to ensure we at least finished second. Giancarlo's race was always going to be hard from seventh, and the graining he experienced in the second stint meant he was unable to exploit the strategy to make up ground. We are now looking forward to Germany, where we will have substantial revisions to the aerodynamics and engine. We lost two races to Ferrari earlier in the season, and bounced back strongly. That's what we intend to do again, beginning in Hockenheim."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "This turned out to be a difficult weekend for us, and Fernando got the best possible result from it. Giancarlo struggled in qualifying and in the race too, but he still scored valuable points. Of course, it is disappointing not to win the race in front of the 6000 Renault personnel who were at the race today, but we are staying calm about the championship and we still have a good advantage. The team is working hard to develop the car and engine at Enstone and Viry, and we know what is coming in the next few weeks. Michelin will be pushing even harder to regain the advantage in Hockenheim, and I am confident we can come out on top in Germany."


Kimi Raikkonen (5th): "A disappointing race as the car was handling really well. We were lacking the speed to win, but I lost a few tenths in the second pit-stop which cost me fourth place today, so we definitely could have done better today. The car is steadily improving and we have further developments at the next test so we now look forward to the next race at Hockenheim in two weeks time, where hopefully we will score better in front of Mercedes-Benz home crowd."

Pedro de la Rosa (7th): "The car had the speed today and felt really good to drive. I feel I really could have scored more points if I had not lost position to Mark Webber at the start of the race. This meant that I lost a lot of time in the opening stint trying to pass him and when I eventually got passed during the pit stop I was behind a lot of traffic on different strategies. As a result following the first round of stops I was over 20 seconds behind Ralf Schumacher, so it was very difficult for me to improve on my position. I really enjoyed the race and I am pleased to have scored some points for the team and be one the fastest of the Michelin runners."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "We had a much more competitive pace today which indicates the continued improvement of the car. Unfortunately Bridgestone had an advantage and we will work hard with Michelin to reverse the situation at Hockenheim. We varied our race strategy in an attempt to improve the outcome of the race but to no avail. Both Kimi and Pedro drove well and as always we look forward to getting better results at the next grand prix."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our grid positions were decisive for the outcome of our race, the pace was better than in qualifying. So it was very difficult to improve on sixth and eighth despite the fact that our lap times were among the fastest of the Michelin runners. Kimi was the second placed Michelin car, but we want to do better. Pedro put in a good performance as well, however after the start he got stuck behind a slower car for the first third of the race. Once he could run free he was immediately one and a half seconds quicker than before. We are now looking forward to our home grand prix at Hockenheim in a fortnight and will work hard to further improve our performance."


Michael Schumacher (1st): "A fantastic result, even if in all honesty it was unexpected. We did not know how the race would pan out, especially as we had not been able to do many long runs over the previous days. For these ten points, I have to thank the great guys in the team and our exceptional technical partners, starting with Bridgestone. The whole package - car, engine, tyres - was excellent today. I got a good start and from then on I could run my own race. Now we have to keep this momentum going. The championship is far from over and these two points we have made up on our main rivals are very important. I hope we can soon make up more ground."

Felipe Massa (3rd): "I think this was a very good result for us, although of course I would have liked to keep second place. I was on a three stop strategy and Fernando was switched to a two stop race and that meant I was not able to fight with him on the track. I also had a lot of traffic in my second and third stints and this effectively spoilt our three stop strategy and cost me second place. But overall, sixteen points in the bag means we make up a bit of ground on our rivals in both championships. The 248 F1 and the Bridgestone tyres worked better than I expected, possibly because of the extra rubber which gradually got put down on the track."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This is a great result, picking up first and third places with Michael and Felipe respectively. We knew this would be a very tough race in which tyre performance would be critical and that prediction turned out to be true. The team did an excellent job, the drivers drove very well, the cars proved reliable and the Bridgestone tyres were up to the task in hand. The combination of all these elements means that both championships are still up for grabs. There are seven races remaining this season and as we have always said, we will do all we can to meet our targets. This victory is particularly significant for me: even if I am a European, living in Italy, I am happy to celebrate my thirteen years with this brilliant Ferrari team with a win here in France. In Maranello, we have managed to put together a group of people with great qualities, supported by exceptional technical and commercial partners and it is nice to be here together with them to celebrate this success."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It's a really great result at the end of a weekend when the whole team did a great job. Right from the start of the weekend, we had opted for a rather aggressive tyre choice, which paid off from yesterday's qualifying. Then today we prepared and managed the tyres during the race. Actually, they were very good and on Michael's car, fantastic. We lost a bit of performance with Felipe from around half distance and we need to understand why. It was a shame, as his pace early on was very strong. Now we have to keep on moving forward, trying to improve race by race."/p>


Ralf Schumacher (4th): "We can be very satisfied with what we achieved today. It's a pity that we had a problem with the wheel nut at the first pit stop because we could probably have made the podium but these things happen. It was also a pity that Jarno had his problem but apart from that it was a very good weekend. We expected the car to be competitive because that is the way it has looked ever since Friday practice. The race was good for us too - the car was quick and the Bridgestone tyres were very good too. Our tyres have had the edge all weekend and we made a very good choice aimed at this two-stop strategy for the race. Our package has improved at every race recently so we can now look forward to maintaining this kind of performance for the rest of the season."

Jarno Trulli (DNF, Brakes): "That was a real pity because everything was running smoothly in the first stint. The car was quick and our Bridgestone tyres were great. Because I was on a two-stop strategy while everyone else was on three stops I was confident that I could have fought for the podium. Unfortunately after the first pit stop I felt a slight drop-off from the engine. Soon after that the brake pedal started getting longer and longer and it was too dangerous to continue so I had to come in. So again it was very unlucky and I'll add it to a long list of things that have happened this season. I've had some good races this year but points have been hard to find. But you can't blame the team because it is never the same problem twice. Our pace has been great all weekend so despite the difficulties we are definitely on the up. Step by step we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "It is difficult not to be disappointed today because even if that was one of our better finishes of the year, both of our cars had the pace to be on the podium today. We made a very good tyre choice and because of the consistency of our Bridgestone tyres we were able to opt for a two-stop strategy today, which was the correct move. That, combined with the progress we have made on the car, led to a very competitive race weekend from us. Everything ran smoothly from Friday practice right through qualifying yesterday but in the end we failed to make the podium because we are still having some reliability issues. Today we had a problem with the left rear wheel nut at Ralf's pit stop which cost us more than ten seconds while Jarno had to retire with a leak on the braking system. So we have to say sorry to Jarno and well done to Ralf who did a very good drive. We are going in the right direction and we will push to develop further. Our pace is improving with every race and we are still chasing our first win this season."


Nico Rosberg (14th): "It was very hard for me today, first of all because I started from the back and then because the car was very difficult to drive. I was doing one qualifying lap after another, and I was on the limit all the time, but I just couldn't drive any quicker. We were struggling with the tyres, and I was also unlucky with the pitstops. When we decided to stop for the first time, Button also pitted just in front of me and I lost some time there. We showed some progress in qualifying yesterday so it's a shame that the race went this way. I am now looking forward to Hockenheim, my home Grand Prix, in two weeks' time."

Mark Webber (DNF, Retired): "Of course I'm massively disappointed because we could have scored a point here today. I was trying hard to stay with the quicker guys but we had some heat issues with the inside edge of the tyre and then the aerodynamics were affected as a result of the damage. We're making it very hard work for ourselves at the moment, everyone is working so hard but we don't have anything to show for it."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had problems with our tyres running over temperature. We didn't see any sign of it in practice so it caught us out in the race. We then had a wheel rim failure on Mark's car so we retired him early as he had too much damage. We will need to look into both of these issues to ensure they don't occur again. It was going to be hard for Nico to get in the points from the back of the grid and we then needed to bring him in for an unscheduled stop as a precautionary measure following the problems with Mark. Both cars had great starts and Mark defended well against Pedro de la Rosa."

Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "No Cosworth problems today for either Mark or Nico. Both CA2006 Series 6 engines will be good second event engines for Hockenheim."


Jenson Button (DNF, Engine): "With the package that we had this weekend, we were doing a decent job today and were definitely going better in the race than in qualifying. I was up to 11th and catching up with Scott Speed in front of me and I think we could have got him. I felt a loss of power as I came onto the back straight and as I was changing up through the gears, the power just went. We'll have to see the data later to find out exactly what the problem was. It's really frustrating because although we were struggling in the first stint, we were much better in the second and third stints after the pit stops. The car is feeling reasonable and the balance is there, it's just a lack of overall speed. That comes from engine power and downforce, and that's what we're lacking at the moment, along with reliability. It's massively frustrating, not just for me, but the whole team who have worked so hard this weekend."

Rubens Barrichello (DNF, Engine): "It's difficult to know at the moment what the problem was but it looks like the engine because there was a lot of smoke and I lost all the power. We were hoping for a better pace in the race but the whole weekend has just not gone as planned which is very sad. I believe in this team and we will react to this. I am very concentrated and motivated, and I really believe that we will turn the corner. We have to keep our feet on the ground, keep our motivation high and keep working at it."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "This was a difficult weekend for us. Rubens had a failure early in the race, as did Jenson in the later stages, something we obviously will investigate and address. Jenson fought hard all day from his low grid position, maintaining an impressive rhythm throughout, with good strategy calls and clean fast stops gaining a couple of positions. Despite these positives, we come out of France disappointed on one hand, but on the other, we are even more determined to turn things around."

Red Bull-Ferrari

David Coulthard (9th): "That was pretty much the worst result we could get, having started from ninth on the grid. It's very disappointing. We're just the vultures of the paddock at the moment, picking up points when other people fall out. I enjoyed driving this weekend, and you always learn something as a team. We're beginning to gel, as there's been a lot of new people, and I think we're becoming one of the most organised teams in the pit lane. But that means nothing if you're not quick enough to score points."

Christian Klien (12th): "I had a problem at the start; I lost revs and dropped about two or three places, which was really disappointing. The race was very difficult in such hot conditions. My rear tyres were going off and I couldn't drive in the slip-stream of other cars as my car's temperature went a little too high. At the end of the race, the car felt better and I was able to make up five or six seconds on the BMW, but overall it's been a disappointing weekend. A shame we haven't been able to get any points here."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Having qualified ninth, to finish ninth, just outside of the points, is the worst possible result because ultimately we take nothing away from the event. But, we got two more cars to the finish and we ran competitively with the BMWs and the Williams again. Once again three teams dominated the top eight and we were genuinely contenders for points. Christian lost some ground at the start and I think the place that David lost to Heidfeld on the first lap was a decisive moment between scoring a point or not. We'll keep pushing and trying to build on the last few races as we move to the next European events."


Nick Heidfeld (8th): "My car was okay, I scored a point and more was not possible today. Unusually for me, my start was only average. I didn't gain any positions, but I didn't lose any either. On the first lap I overtook David Coulthard in the hairpin, and that was important as at the finish he was only a few seconds behind me. All in all my race was trouble free and I rarely got stuck in traffic, although I was wrongly shown blue flags for Pedro de la Rosa."

Jacques Villeneuve (11th): "The beginning was exciting and I had to overtake Rubens Barrichello, but after that it was quite a boring race. The car was very good. When I came in for the pit stops the tyres were good and then for a few laps I needed to run them in, but by the end of the runs they were quick again. It was the right choice, we thought it was a big risk but, as we expected, once the track rubbered in it worked well. The only problem was my qualifying result."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "It was a typical Magny Cours race with not a lot of overtaking and few incidents. In view of this our hopes of climbing from midfield to the front were limited. Despite this Nick scored a point from 11th on the grid and Jacques made up five positions. Taking into account the starting positions, this is an acceptable result. This track also demonstrated there is a significant gap to the top of the field. Before Hockenheim we will work hard on the development of the car."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "As it is difficult to overtake here and considering our cars' grid positions, the only sure way to improve our positions was during pit stops. The championship point was well earned. Being realistic about Jacques' chances, there was no hope of him getting points from 16th on the grid, although his overtaking manoeuvre was very good. Both Jacques and Nick drove consistently in a race during which we had no technical problems. We are working hard to improve the car's performance for Hockenheim."


Christijan Albers (15th): "We had some problems after the first pit stop that prevented me from using the gearbox properly. I lost first gear and was having problems shifting into other gears, which made me lose a lot of performance. That was really unfortunate, because I think that until that point, our performance was quite good. I think that had this problem not occurred, I might have been able to overtake Rosberg, because I had the speed. Still, even with this problem, I wasn't losing too much ground. So we have to look into it to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Tiago Monteiro (DNF, Mechanical): "It's been a tough, tough weekend, to say the least. I've been fighting to find the right set-up for my car, and although we tried everything, it was one of those weekends where we just couldn't get the balance right. My engineers know me very well and we usually find solutions for these problems, but for some reason, we just couldn't sort it out this time. I guess that's racing, and sometimes it goes that way. Unfortunately, I got squeezed at the start of the race and got overtaken by two cars, so I was stuck behind Montagny for a few laps. I was fighting to overtake him, and then, suddenly, something happened at the rear of the car. I have no idea what it was, but the car snapped around completely at the entry to the first high-speed chicane and I went flying over the kerb very violently. That was the end of it. I lost hydraulic pressure and the car died. Now we have a test in Jerez, and we'll have to work hard to tune the set-up and get ready for Hockenheim."

Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "Unfortunately, Tiago had a problem with his car that prevented him from finishing, which is a shame, because both our cars had strong pace all weekend. Christijan drove a good race and even though he had a gearbox problem, he was still only 4.48 seconds behind Rosberg at the finish. The rest of our rivals were not too far ahead, either. We are making progress, but we have to keep pushing to gain positions."

Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager: "Considering the circumstances, we did a pretty good job this weekend. We had genuine race pace, which I think could have ended up being better had we not run into the problems that cropped up. The final result isn't really an indication of where we are, because in terms of performance, it was one of our best efforts of the season. I think it's another step forward, one that we can take that into the next round in Hockenheim and hopefully build on."

James Key, Technical Director: "It wasn't a bad afternoon in terms of lap times, etc., but not good for our final result, really. Christijan was racing with a competitive pack of cars - I think there were seven cars all challenging for 12th place, at one point - but sadly, we had an issue during our pit stop that lost him a fair amount of time and dropped him behind that group. But he did a good job to catch up to them toward the end and run competitively for the duration, even with the problems he had. That's somewhat satisfying, but as I said yesterday, we need to stay with them to be in a position to race. Tiago had a problem during the race that led to his retirement, which we're investigating now. Hopefully, we'll figure out what the problem is and be in good shape heading into our test in Jerez where we'll have a lot of test items in the programme. We can take heart from the performance we've shown this weekend, but we need to improve our track position, which is our main problem right now."

Toro Rosso-Cosworth

Scott Speed (10th): "This was one of the toughest races I have ever driven, because I was in so much pain throughout the race. I had a really good first lap battle with Rubens, which was actually a lot of fun. It was cool - an awesome fight! After the first pit stop, I was in so much pain it was difficult to concentrate. I went off the track at one point as I couldn't concentrate on driving, braking, adjusting the traction control and deal with the pain all at the same time. But our pace was okay, the car performed well as we had done a good job setting it up."

Vitantonio Liuzzi (13th): "To say the obvious, being at the back is not the best way to start a race, especially at a track like this where there are not too many chances to overtake. I don't think having a V10 helped us. But the tyres and the car worked well."

Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Both drivers had a difficult day: overnight, Scott developed serious back pain and trouble breathing as a result of his Friday crash. He was seen by a doctor, had an X-ray and our physio team worked on him. He decided to start the race and I think he drove his best race of the season. Tonio had to start from the back and did the best he could under the circumstances. He did a good job too and so we hope to have a better weekend in Hockenheim."

Super Aguri-Honda

Franck Montagny (16th): "Well, from my point of view it's a good result because I finished the race. I had a good start and I could fight with the others. I cut the chicane only because I had been overtaken by Monteiro and I couldn't get into the chicane. So it was a good start in terms of being able to race with the other cars and after that I just tried to focus on the tyres and on the car and to give my maximum and see how it works. And we finished the race. The team and the engineers did a good job this weekend and I have to thank the SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM and Aguri Suzuki for giving me the opportunity to race with them."

Takuma Sato (DNF, Clutch): "Obviously I'd like to say big thanks to the SA05! The car has done a great job since the beginning of the season, but this was not the end to the weekend that we wanted. I had a clutch problem on the formation lap and so at the start I really struggled to pull away. When I finally moved everyone was already in the distance, but I rapidly caught up with the group on the straight and I overtook one Midland into the hairpin! But then I couldn't select the gears and there was nothing else I could do. It is a great shame for the boys who have worked so hard. We split the strategy between Franck and me and I should have had a really strong package. I am very pleased for the team and for Franck that he had a fantastic race today."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "Unfortunately for the team Taku had to retire due to a clutch problem, but I am very happy that Franck finished the race not only because the French Grand Prix is very important to him, but we also needed to cross the finish line again. Franck's lap times were very consistent and he made no mistakes and I think that the team did an extremely good job all weekend. We must remember that this is still the SA05 which is not a competitive car, but with our new car making its debut in Germany, we can hope for an improvement in our results."