Jenson Button, Chinese GP 2006

Jenson Button, Chinese GP 2006 

 Â© The Cahier Archive


Fernando Alonso (2nd): "This was a difficult race for the team because we lost a very good opportunity today. I built up a good lead in the first 20 laps, but my front tyres were badly worn - and the conditions were difficult as the track was drying very slowly. We made the decision to change the fronts for a new pair, and it was the wrong one - as we saw with Fisi and Michael, who kept all four tyres on the car and were much quicker. After that, the only thing we could do was go to dry tyres as early as possible - and hope to catch up the time to Michael. In the end, there were not enough laps left. So it was a bad day, but this is a fantastic fight for the championship, and I go to Japan feeling really confident. We had the quickest car today, and we have two more good chances to win. I believe we can do it."

Giancarlo Fisichella (3rd): "This was a good race for me - and a good result for myself and the team. Finishing third means I go ahead of Massa in the drivers' championship, and the team is leading the constructors' championship again. I started with the biggest fuel load of any car at the front, so the first laps were quite tough - but the conditions came to me really well as the circuit dried. We kept the same set of tyres at the stop, and I was able to be very competitive and pull away from Michael. But when I came out on dry tyres, the track was so slippery - and the tyres weren't at temperature yet. I slid wide, and Michael got past. After that, we turned the engine down to save it for Japan, and made sure of the podium finish. After seeing how the car performed today, we know that we have the performance to win both titles, beginning next weekend in Japan."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We are making no excuses today. This is a race we should have won, because the Renault and its Michelin tyres were dominant in all conditions. The fact we did not do so is intensely frustrating for the entire team. Fernando drove brilliantly from the start, and as we approached the first stop, told us on the radio that his front tyres were very badly worn. In consultation with Fernando and Michelin, we decided to change them - and leave the rears on. It soon became clear that the track was drying quickly, and that the decision had been the wrong one. As a result, we took the risk of stopping very early to switch Fernando to dry tyres - in the hope he would be able to gain time on the leaders. A delay in that pit-stop cost us more time: we know that the nut fell out of the wheel gun, but not yet why. Afterwards, Fernando once again drove fantastically to close in on Michael, but we simply ran out of laps. Giancarlo drove well at the critical points of his race, and was unlucky to lose the lead after his second stop - when he was caught out like many others this afternoon by the slippery track while running a set of dry tyres that were not yet up to temperature. His podium finish, though, gave us the means to re-take the lead in the constructors' championship, and that fact shows that we have the performance to win both titles. The Michelin tyres were superior in the wet and the dry today, and it was easy to get the best out of the car in the changing conditions. We now go to the final races with renewed confidence. Today showed that the Renault is the fastest car out there. We fully intend to make use of it in the final two races of what is proving to be a thrilling title showdown."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "We are all very sorry for Fernando. He was simply fantastic today, and dominated in both the wet and the dry. After a performance like that, there is nothing more frustrating than to see a win slip through your fingers. Giancarlo drove well to be on the podium, and his points mean we go back ahead in the constructors' championship. This evening, our main feeling is frustration. Looking further ahead, though, we had the quickest car today and both championships are equal. We know we have the team and the performance to win."


Pedro de la Rosa (5th): "A difficult race for everybody. I made a wrong call after the first stint when I asked my engineer for a different set of intermediate Michelin tyres. In hindsight I should have stayed on the ones I had, like Kimi, as the track was drying, and I suffered from graining. This lost me a lot of time but apart from that our pace was good. I didn't see much of what happened towards the end of the final lap. It had started raining slightly again, and we were all on dry weather tyres coming into what is a hard braking area. I was lucky to stay out of trouble and gained two places as a result. Our car seems to be on the pace. I'm sure we will win a race before the end of the year."

Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Throttle): "That was a shame as it was looking like we could achieved a win today. I don't know exactly what happened, but all of a sudden the throttle didn't react correctly and the engine went into safety mode and selected neutral. I made a good start and then got on the outside and gained a couple of places - it was a bit tight, so I didn't manage to get past Fisichella at that point. I overtook him later on and was gaining on Alonso before my first scheduled pitstop. I'm disappointed, but at least we showed that we have the speed, so I'm looking forward to Japan now."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Obviously an action packed Grand Prix. Kimi's strategy and car set-up were more than capable of winning the race. Unfortunately a failure of the engine throttle mechanism forced him to retire. Pedro struggled with front-end grip and had a spin following his pitstop. However he did well to finish fifth, and the entire team now looks forward to the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka next weekend."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "An eventful race which began promising with Kimi running second. However a problem with the throttle activation system led to his retirement. The reason for this is being investigated. Kimi's lap times were strong and good enough to win the race. Pedro drove a solid race, had a spin after changing to grooved tyres and came home fifth. With two more races to go we want to clinch the victory we missed today."


Michael Schumacher (1st): "I am so happy! I want to thank the team for this result, as they did a fantastic job. After the start, I was surprised to find that I could match the pace of those ahead of me, which was better than I had expected. After a while, I was able to close up on Fisichella. I thought that if I could pass him, even if I could not win, then at least I would only lose two points to Fernando and given where I started that would have been a good result. It was very important to reduce the gap to the Renaults when the track began to dry. The crucial moment came with the switch to dry tyres. I knew that even if Fisichella managed to stay ahead of me after his stop, I would have the chance to pass him going into the first corner as he would be in trouble with the temperature of his tyres and that is what happened. In the final laps, I drove very carefully. I had a good gap but the track conditions were getting difficult, however, I was never worried about getting caught. Now we go to Suzuka, a track that I love. But it is difficult to make any predictions and as usual, tyre performance will be crucial."

Felipe Massa (DNF, Damage): "I was very quick all through the race, both on the wet track and when it was drying out. Maybe it was a bit of risk fitting the dry tyres a bit early, but once they reached the right temperature, I was one of the quickest on track. It's a shame what happened with Coulthard. We were right in the middle of a fight and at the end of the straight, I went a bit long because the track was slippery and we ended up touching. Unfortunately, I damaged the front left suspension and had to retire. I could have finished in the points, helping the team in the fight for the Constructors' and to defend my third place in the Drivers' classification. I have to say I plan to make up for it and do my best in Suzuka."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was an incredibly intense race in which Michael's genius, the team's talent and the exceptional Bridgestone tyres all made this extraordinary result possible. It was a shame for Felipe who was staging an exceptional climb up the order from the penultimate row of the grid. A collision with Coulthard put him out of the race, which prevented him from picking up any points that would have been so important for the Constructors' championship. However, this can do nothing to detract from the joy of such a fantastic victory, obtained here in Shanghai in the face of very stiff opposition. Now, both the titles will be decided in the space of two races. If we look back to where we were after Montreal and to the fact that Michael has now caught up his closest rival and that we are only one point down in the Constructors' classification, it is further confirmation that one should never ever give up!"

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a fantastic race in which Michael performed exceptionally well. On the rain tyres we were struggling when there was still a lot of water on the track, but we were still able to keep up with the lead group. Then, as the track began to dry, the situation changed in the way we had been expecting, namely in our favour, thanks to the performance of the Bridgestone tyres, which worked very well in these conditions. The team also did an incredible job and all the pit-stops were impeccable. A shame for Felipe: starting from the back of the grid because of the engine change, he was having a great race and could have brought home some important points for the Constructors' classification. All the same, we are very happy and we can be reasonably optimistic as we prepare to tackle the final two races, but we will have to remain concentrated and not leave the slightest detail to chance."


Ralf Schumacher (DNF, Engine): "It's been a difficult weekend for us. Given that we were starting from so far down the grid, we knew that today would be hard work and so it proved. In the race we were reasonably competitive but I spent much of the early laps in traffic. So the team took the risk to change to dry tyres before the track was really ready. It was a difficult decision to make but we took the gamble because we were such a long way back. It enabled us to fill up until the end of the race but we lost a lot of time in the first few laps after the stop. The situation gradually improved and ten laps later I even twice set the fastest lap of the race that far. Unfortunately we then had an oil pressure spike so we need to look into that. But we just need to get things right during a weekend and then we can be competitive."

Jarno Trulli (DNF, Engine): "That was a day to forget. Of course it was always going to be difficult starting the race from so far back. We haven't been competitive all weekend in wet conditions. The balance was not too bad on the first stint but we were in a very long queue of traffic. The pit stops came before the ideal time to switch to dry tyres but the team took a gamble because we were so far back and we had nothing to lose. Unfortunately it didn't pay off. It was very hard to keep the car on the road after that and we lost a lot of ground on the rest of the field. To make matters worse I then suffered a problem with the engine's pneumatic pressure and we had to retire. But every day is different so we head to the next race hoping for a better weekend and a change of luck."

Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "Starting from where we were on the grid after our bad luck with the weather and the red flags yesterday, we knew it was going to be hard to make up ground. So we had to be aggressive to try and salvage something from the day. The first part of the race the pace of the car was okay, but we were blocked behind Coulthard who was apparently on a different strategy. From then on we had to take a risk to try and catch up otherwise we would have ended up far from the points. We were fuelled quite long for the first stint just to be able to wait for the track to dry out. When we were about to pit the conditions were still not perfect for dry tyres, but still we went for it because it was the only possibility to come away with a good result. It was a risk that did not pay off but we had to try it and I still think it was a good decision. Both drivers performed well but later in the race we had some issues on both cars, Jarno with a pneumatic consumption problem and Ralf with oil pressure so we had to retire both cars. I'm very sorry for the problems to the fans and to the drivers but we will now work hard for a result at Suzuka next week."


Mark Webber (8th): "I had a reasonable start to the race and I got into the groove okay and started to catch David (Coulthard). Once I had got past, I started to think about when I should change to dry tyres, but the track took a long, long time to dry, so we decided to leave the same tyres on in the first stop, which was the right thing to do. However, I did have a spin and it took an age to get the traction back on the synthetic grass. When we eventually did stop for dry tyres, I had another 360 0 spin but pushed hard to keep the gap from Coulthard behind me right to the end and make sure we finished in the points, which is great for the team."

Nico Rosberg (11th): "It was, without doubt, a difficult day. What messed up my race was not being able to get past Coulthard and I lost a lot of time behind him at the beginning of the race. It was just very difficult and I didn't want to risk too much and compromise the rest of my race. Then when we switched to dry tyres the situation improved, but towards the end of the race it became difficult again with graining on the front tyres. This took me off the dry line occasionally, and it was not easy to hold the car in the wet! I have learnt a lot again today about a new circuit and of course a lot about tyre behaviour under different track conditions."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was good to break the points drought today. Mark drove a great race in the wet and then in the drying conditions. Nico drove well, but he was stuck in traffic after the first stint and it was difficult for him to make any ground. The variable conditions aside, the car has definitely improved both in reliability and performance and we will go to the last two races with a target to score some more points."

Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "It was good to get both engines to the finish and great to score a point with Mark. Cosworth had no problems during the race and both drivers used the available engine performance to good effect."


Jenson Button (4th): "I'm really pleased to have finished where I started in 4th position. Initially the car felt really good; I was pulling away from the field well and staying in touch with the cars in front. Then I started to struggle with the rear tyres which were practically bald so I had to come in early for my first pitstop. I had no rear grip and because of that I was losing 3 seconds or more a lap. In the dry there was only one line and from that point I was just in my element really! It was a lot of fun and reminded me of the karting days when I won the European Championships back in 1997. Into the last corner I was in front of Rubens and De La Rosa and I came down the inside of Heidfeld, turned into the corner and when I looked into my mirrors I could see the people behind me were going straight on and into each other. There are a few areas where we are weak which we need to work on, but we are still fired up for our home race in Japan next weekend."

Rubens Barrichello (6th): "My race was OK, although my car was better on the wet tyres than the 'slicks'. It was a real shame that my last lap was ruined and there were some problems with the backmarkers so I lost time and two positions. Heidfeld was forced to make an avoiding manoeuvre in turn 2 but I was there on the track already and we touched, which damaged my front wing. With the resulting loss of front downforce, I lost more time over the remainder of that final lap. There was more confusion at the hairpin, and again Heidfeld and I came together, but I managed to recover to finish the race. 4th and 6th is another good team result. We are looking competitive for our home race next weekend when I hope we can secure another good team result in front of the Japanese crowd."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "What an exciting race! Although we didn't get the podium we were hoping for, having Jenson and Rubens in the points again is a good result for us considering the unpredictable and difficult conditions. After a good start from both drivers, the first issue we encountered was when Jenson started suffering an imbalance which was costing him a lot of time towards the latter half of his first stint. As a result we brought him in earlier than scheduled to change the tyres. Rubens wasn't suffering with the same issues and we retained the same set of tyres on his first stop. The track was taking a long time to dry out and we just about hit the right time to change to dry tyres when both drivers had to come in for their second stop. From then on, Jenson and Rubens were not only fighting each other but they were also challenging Heidfeld ahead as well as being pursued by De La Rosa. This fight culminated in a very exciting last few laps when it started drizzling with rain and they all shuffled positions. In the end this was a good result for us and hopefully we can go one step further in front of our home crowd in Japan."

Red Bull-Ferrari

David Coulthard (9th): "That was a tough race. At the beginning, my intermediate tyres had quite a lot of graining and I was being passed left, right and centre. I was also heavy on fuel. But as the track dried, the tyres wore down and it all came good so I was very quick at that point. Unfortunately I later had an incident with Massa. Two or three laps before, he'd come down the inside of my car, but I managed to avoid him. He tried the same again, which resulted in us colliding. I'm disappointed as it damaged my car. I lost steering assistance in left hand corners, so it was pulling to the left. I was able to still go quick, but had difficulty braking at the hairpin and ran wide, which allowed Mark to pass. That was us out of the points."

Robert Doornbos (12th): "That was pretty exciting for my first race with Red Bull, but I was hoping for a bit more having started tenth on the grid. It was tight going into Turn one, I touched Kubica's car and lost time when I had to come in the pits to change the front wing. But it was good fun after that. I passed eleven people on the track, which was a good performance on used intermediates. We got the switch right changing to dry tyres, did the job and finished the race. I'm looking forward to the next one."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "In very difficult conditions, we got the strategy right for David today. He was on the right tyres at the right time. He was very quick in the middle of the race on worn intermediates and we changed to slicks at the right time to get him out ahead of Massa and Webber. Unfortunately, Massa had a collision with David at the hairpin, which damaged his steering. As a result, David locked up a couple of laps later and lost a place to Mark. Robert was the victim of a first lap incident and had to change his front wing, but after that he drove very well. He was quick on worn intermediates, but lost some time, as did others, after changing to new intermediates at his first pit stop. Once on slicks, he set some very competitive race laps and, apart from the first lap incident, it was a good job by him today."


Nick Heidfeld (7th): "This was the most disappointing race of my career - not only in F1 but in my entire life. Right up to the end I was certain I would be fourth, but then a few backmarkers caused trouble. The first one was Albers, who stayed on the dry line and didnít let me pass. I had to brake on the wet, almost spun, went on the grass and lost a few seconds. Then Super Aguri Honda driver, Sato, blocked me for almost a lap. He was fighting, although he was a lap behind, and using an advantage he had at this stage of the race due to his Bridgestone tyres. Because of this, the other two Hondas caught me and Albers and Sato were in the way. Barrichello crashed into the back of me and after this I had to be happy to make it to the finish. Before all this happened I was very quick today."

Robert Kubica (13th): "The race was very difficult as already in the first corner I was hit, I think by Robert Doornbos, so I was at the back. After that I was doing a pretty good job, but I didnít know I was as quick as I was. Then unfortunately I risked putting on grooved tyres too early. It was impossible to drive, and I went off twice on one lap and lost a lot of time. I changed back to intermediates, and re-started behind Giancarlo Fisichella, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso and was keeping up with their pace. However, after this it was game over for me in the race."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This race result is extremely disappointing for us. Nick was clearly on his way to fourth. In the final stages of the race he was slowed by lapped competitors and lost a four second advantage to the cars behind. One of these guys even hit the rear of his car. These incidents are under investigation by the Stewards. Robert was pushed off in the first corner, dropped back to 21st and then caught up in a very impressive way to fifth. At his first stop he asked for dry tyres, we took the risk but it was a mistake. The necessary second tyre stop threw him to the back of the field. Technically both cars ran without problems."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Both drivers lost ground at the start, but regained positions in the race. We expected a wet track and, therefore, our strategy was for very long first stints. Compared to qualifying, the track was extremely slow to dry. At Robertís stop after lap 24 we knew it was a high risk to go to grooved tyres, but in agreement with him we did it and it was wrong. The track was still too wet, especially at the pit exit, so the tyres cooled down straight away and lost grip. It was clear we had to change again. For Nick the strategy paid off, as he drove stints one and two on intermediates and gained positions. He was fourth when the last lap started, therefore, the disappointment is enormous that he only finished seventh with a damaged car after the incidents on this lap."


Christijan Albers (16th):

Tiago Monteiro (DNF, Spin):

Colin Kolles, Managing Director:

Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager:

Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer:

James Key, Technical Director:

Toro Rosso-Cosworth

Vitantonio Liuzzi (10th): "Overall, quite a good race as P10 is pretty much what we could have expected from what we saw on Saturday, when we saw we had good pace and hoped we could fight for points today. But the fact the track dried up did not suit us so well as the bigger teams had much better pace in these conditions. I was expecting us as a team to have a better day as we were lying 8 and 10 after the start, but then I had problems with my rear tyres as I was on a one stop strategy and so had a heavy fuel load. But we called the pit stop at just the right time which was good, but still no points today. Now, I'm looking forward to Suzuka."

Scott Speed (15th): "The car was pretty good at the beginning and I got by some cars. Then I picked up some understeer, but it was looking good as I knew that on a two stop strategy and I knew the track would take a long time to be ready for dries. Then I came in and took on new intermediates and the car felt horrible and I was losing three seconds, as with all the new tread on the tyres we didn't have enough grip. After the next stop for dry weather tyres, I struggled a bit for a while, but then it was pretty good towards the end."

Gerhard Berger, Team Principal: "Tenth place for Tonio is not exactly reason to have a party but it is an okay result and nothing to be disappointed about. Both guys made a good start in the wet, making up some places. Tonio had what we can call his "usual" spin, but otherwise everything went fine. His pit stop was well timed and congratulations to the team for getting him at just the right time to switch to dry tyres. We were the first to catch that precise moment. As for Scott, he didn't get his tyres working and I'm not sure why at this moment."

Super Aguri-Honda

Takuma Sato (14th): "It was a fantastic result for us really and indeed it was a truly exciting race in incredibly difficult conditions for everybody. I did a lot of communication throughout the race with my engineer and I think that we chose the right tyre at the right time. At the beginning of the race I got held up, but when I got clear air I was then able to push really hard. At one stage we had a small gearbox related problem, but we were able to fix it quickly. I think that this was a great team effort and it was so important for us to have a good race here in China so that we could carry our good momentum on to Suzuka."

Sakon Yamamoto (17th): "It was a really tough race for me because the track and weather conditions were constantly changing. We made a decision to change to slick tyres too early one time and I found the car difficult to handle, but after that I pushed hard for the rest of the race. This was my first F1 finish and it feels brilliant. I would like to thank everyone who has always supported me and, of course, the SAF1 Team boys, engineers and everyone at the factory. I am now looking forward to returning to Suzuka with good motivation from my race in China."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I am very happy because we have once again achieved a two-car finish and Sakon has finished his first F1 race. Taku's lap time was very good and he drove a solid race in difficult conditions. The Chinese Grand Prix was very important to the team as it is just before we travel to Suzuka. Our car has shown reliability here, which is extremely important and we have had a very good race today so I am very happy indeed."