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Italian GP 2008

SEPTEMBER 14, 2008

Sunday Team Quotes

Heikki Kovalainen, Italian GP 2008
© The Cahier Archive


Felipe Massa (6th): "It was a tough race: I had hoped to do better but I'm also aware it could have been worse. In fact, I've managed to make up a point on my nearest rival so this is absolutely not a negative result. In normal conditions, in other words in the dry, I think I could have made it to the podium. In the first part, I was struggling because there was not much grip. In the incident when I overtook Rosberg, I lost a few seconds when the team told me I had to give back the position: that was probably the decisive moment because after the first pit stop, I found myself in traffic. On top of that, when it was time to switch from the extreme rain tyres to the standard ones, those who had opted to do just one stop definitely had the advantage. In the second part, I knew Hamilton was closing on me fast, but I could not see him in my mirrors because they were too dirty. Luckily, Rob helped me, talking me through the situation in real time. Then he dropped back a bit. I tried to attack Heidfeld but then I thought it wasn't worth taking too many risks and I chose to just bring the car home."

Kimi Raikkonen (9th): "This was a very difficult race for us. In the conditions at the start, as we have seen before in the past, we could not keep our tyres up to temperature and we totally lacked grip. I could do nothing but try to stay on the track hoping the conditions would change. When they did, unfortunately it was too late to aim for a points finish. The car worked well but without grip, you're not going anywhere. The situation in the Drivers' championship is now even more difficult, but I will continue to give it my best shot as usual."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We're definitely not satisfied with this result, but considering the circumstances in which the race was run, it could have actually been much worse. Once again today, we had confirmation that, in certain track conditions and temperature range, our car is not quick enough. Then, it only needs a slight change for the performance to return to being very competitive. Clearly we must take countermeasures as quickly as possible because similar conditions could occur in the remaining four races. Having said that, we must not forget that we have taken a small step forward in the Drivers' classification although our lead in the Constructors' has reduced substantially. There are four races to go and everything is still possible. Finally I would like to congratulate Scuderia Toro Rosso, which uses our engines and Sebastian Vettel on their first Formula 1 win: they did a perfect job all weekend and they deserve this moment of great joy."

Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Our race was conditioned in a very obvious way by the performance of the tyres. At the start, when it was still raining, we could not get them to the right operating temperature and we were too slow compared to our rivals. Then, all it took was for the track to dry a bit for the car to be pretty much transformed, as can be seen from Kimi's lap times in the final stages of the race. We must put some more effort into understanding how to improve our performance in these conditions, which could reoccur in the final stage of the championship. Felipe drove a good race and was slowed by traffic at a few key moments, otherwise he could have finished further up the order. Kimi suffered even more than his team-mate with the deficiency in tyre performance, especially in the early stages and then, when he did have the possibility, he showed the potential at his disposal."

BMW Sauber

Robert Kubica (3rd): "I'm very happy to finish on the podium today! Yesterday qualifying was difficult when I was the first one not to make it into the top ten. The only advantage of this was I could choose my race strategy, and we decided to go for just one stop with a very long first stint. At the start the visibility was really bad. When the Safety Car went in after two laps, I overtook Nick before the first chicane without even seeing him. It was really dangerous. Then I was able to drive at my own pace, but towards the end of my first stint I was having problems with the tyres, obviously because the car had been very heavy. We were then lucky with our pit stop, because it was just the right time to change to intermediate tyres. From then on I was easily able to control my position on the track. Third place was a well-deserved reward for the whole team. Congratulations to Sebastian and the Toro Rosso Team for winning here today!"

Nick Heidfeld (5th): "Coming from tenth on the grid it is okay to finish fifth, but still my race wasn't ideal. Unfortunately I lost a place to Robert right at the start. It was the right decision to let us start behind the Safety Car. When it pulled off the visibility was still so poor that I braked much too early and Robert passed me. This time it was the team who made the tyre choice. I left it to my race engineer as on the pit wall they had a lot more information about the weather. It was absolutely right to go for intermediates. Today it was important to avoid mistakes and keep the car on the track. I'm happy I had the pace to keep Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton behind me at the end. Warmest congratulations to Sebastian and the Toro Rosso team, this was a fantastic victory."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "As expected, it was an action-packed race, but not for the man in front. Under these difficult circumstances Toro Rosso had the best car, and Sebastian Vettel managed to score his and the team's maiden victory with this excellent performance. Hats off to them! For us as well it worked out perfectly today. The decisive part was the race strategy. We were able to pit late with both cars and changed to intermediates during our single pit stop. It was perfect timing, so both drivers were able to move up a lot of positions. Neither Robert nor Nick made a single mistake. Robert claimed the tenth podium finish for our team, Nick came in a strong sixth, and the team leaves Europe with another ten points in its pocket - Monza again was a good place for the BMW Sauber F1 Team."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "It was a very exciting race with a lot of overtaking manoeuvres and a great result for us. At the end of the European season we added another ten points to our tally. The good result is clearly due to the drivers who did a great job. Nick was one of the first drivers to change to intermediates, and Robert managed to climb on the podium under these difficult conditions. If you start the race from 10th and 11th on the grid and come home with ten points it is a great achievement. There were no technical problems. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso, who both did an excellent job today."


Fernando Alonso (4th): "I am very happy. The result today is very good because Monza was supposed to be the race that we were looking forward to the least. We made up the five points that we needed in our championship fight, which is really rewarding and a big source of motivation for the rest of the season. I am now curious to see what awaits us in Singapore."

Nelson Piquet (10th): "I had a good fight through the pack today and my pace was good considering the fuel load that I started with, which is quite satisfying. Unfortunately I finished outside the points, but I think that everything was decided in qualifying. I want to remain positive and will now concentrate on preparing for the next race in Singapore."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Once again, wet conditions gave us an exciting race and the long stint strategy worked perfectly for us, allowing us to have the best tyres at the best times. Both drivers drove extremely well in these difficult conditions, but today really belongs to Sebastian Vettel, congratulations to him!"

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "We could have finished on the podium today, but we still had a great race and have gained ground on Toyota, which was our objective. In these difficult conditions, our two drivers performed well and had good drives. For the four races to come, we will now try to build on this to finish in fourth place in the championship."


Kazuki Nakajima (12th): "It was a difficult race today with many close decisions to take. Starting from the pitlane to allow me to make some aero changes was not penalising as we started behind the safety car and it was a very good decision from the team. In the early stages of the race, it was very difficult with the poor visibility and also I struggled with the braking, so the pace just wasn't there to begin with, but we changed from extreme wets to wets at just the right time and from then on my pace was much better."

Nico Rosberg (14th): "The outcome today was really disappointing as we were in a great position with potentially the best strategy, but again I finished towards the back of the field. In the first stint I thought I should be able to maintain a good pace, but I really struggled with tyre degradation and I lost time to those in front of me. But what was really decisive today was the tyre decision for my stop, which really destroyed the possibility of a good finish in the points. Everyone else was staying on full wets, so we thought we were in a good position to do the same and to keep risk to a minimum. In any case, at that point there wasn't a dry line to see, but ultimately it proved to be the wrong choice."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a frustrating race to not be able to claim any points from a good starting position. We struggled for pace on Nico's car in the first stint with a heavy fuel load and then unfortunately at his pit stop window we stayed on extreme wet tyres, but within a couple of laps, it became clear that the track had shifted to inters and we were forced to make another stop, which cost us 25 seconds, and this really hurt us. On Kazuki's car, we started from the pitlane on a different aero level and this paid off at various stages in the race, but not enough for points."

Red Bull-Renault

Mark Webber (8th): "We came out after the first stop behind Robert (Kubica) and Fernando (Alonso) and lost a lot of time on the fresh tyres. That's when Heikki (Kovalainen) got a really good gap on me, so the first seven or eight laps behind them killed the tyres and trying to go through them wasn't easy so lost some time. The last section wasn't too bad, but when you're ten seconds behind starting it, then that's where you've finished. So we did give some points away today, but it's hard to get everything right on days like this."

David Coulthard (16th): "I had some difficulties in the beginning as my brake balance bar jammed, so I couldn't get rearwards on the brakes - they locked up and I went off at 2nd Lesmo. Thereafter I burned out the rear tyres early so I had blisters on the rear wets. Coming into the pitstop we put on the inters, but again seemed to burn out the rear tyres early, so I kept tip-toeing through the corners and kept losing places. In the end Nakajima came out around on the outside under braking at the Parabloica, but there's an arc through the corner and I couldn't avoid him - when he was turning in he hit my wing."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "First of all congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso on a fantastic result for Red Bull. Sebastian drove a fantastic race and totally destroyed the opposition. Red Bull Technology can be very proud of the car that they have provided. Mark's first stint in the race was good, unfortunately he dropped out in traffic and then a spin on his out lap on inters cost him places to Massa. However, he was very quick at the end of the race, but unfortunately, having dropped places on his out lap he couldn't regain them, so a frustrating result for Mark when the potential was there to do better. For David we gambled on running an inter on his one-stop with nothing to lose and unfortunately, towards the end of the race he started dropping back and then an accident with Nakajima finished his afternoon."

Fabrice Lom, Renault: "A difficult race for us. We were third on the gird, but in these conditions Mark nearly went off. We finished eighth with one point, so it's better than nothing but honestly very, very frustrating. In the end the pace was there - we were very quick. But well done to Sebastian and to Toro Rosso. First pole, first victory the same weekend - it's magic."


Timo Glock (11th): "Overall it was just quite a difficult day for us. I made a good start but I lost a couple of seconds soon afterwards when I spun as I tried to overtake Alonso. Early on it was very hard to see through all the spray when the track was at its wettest. It was hard to attack but I still managed to pull off some moves. Then the extra stop cost us the chance to go for points. It's obviously a shame to finish where we did but we were unlucky and our pace shows we can score again in the coming races."

Jarno Trulli (13th): "In the wet conditions early on I was going well on the heavy wet tyres but we had no luck with the strategy because the timings just didn't work out for us today. When I came in for my pit stop it was still four or five laps too soon for standard wet tyres. That meant we had to pit again shortly afterwards and we lost everything. Later on I was not as competitive because I was sliding around. So it was not our day today. Still, we were expecting this to be a difficult race but the next few races might be better for us. So I remain optimistic because we still have a lot of points to score and the season has been good so far."

Tadashi Yamashina, Team Principal: "Everybody did their best today but the weather did not help us. We qualified well and we went for a one-stop strategy. Unfortunately we were in exactly the wrong window because the teams who did two stops and the teams on a longer one-stop strategy could both time their stops better. We were caught in the middle, just like Nico Rosberg's Williams. Still, we were very quick in the first stint with the extreme wet tyres, the drivers did well and the car's performance was good. But there was not much more we could do today. Congratulations to Toro Rosso for their first win in Formula 1. Now we must look for a better return from the remaining races this year."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel (1st): "A fantastic race, a fantastic weekend with pole as well and a fantastic strategy this afternoon. As for the podium ceremony it was unbelievable and this is the best day of my life. I will never forget these feelings. It is so unbelievable. It is better than I had ever expected. A big thank you to everyone in the team for their great work. After a poor start to the season, we got better and better. Maybe in today's conditions, we could close the gap with a bit more effort or by staying on the throttle a bit longer. I'm speechless. As for the race, we were very fast in a straight line because we didn't go for high downforce as we thought it might be dry, so we stayed on the dry level. Being out in front with no visibility problems was the key and I could build up a solid gap to Heikki straightaway. Then I was pushing very hard, maybe going over the limit sometimes and I nearly lost the car. In the last stint I was in a very good position on the intermediate tyre. I couldn't believe it when it kept saying "P1" on my board. But I kept my focus and kept pushing so as not to lose concentration. A perfect weekend."

Sebastien Bourdais (18th): "I'm not sure what happened on the grid. When I tried to get first I couldn't and so then I let go of the flipper a bit quickly and when the gear selected I stalled, when normally the anti- stall should have come in. Then we couldn't get neutral and that was it, I had lost a lap immediately as the race started behind the Safety Car. It should have been a dream weekend with a chance of finishing first and third but sadly for me, it was first and nothing. However, this has been a great day for Sebastian and the team."

Franz Tost, Team Principal: "This was Vettel's race weekend. From Friday onwards, he controlled the pace and the situation and today, from start to finish, he drove a fantastic race without any mistakes under very difficult circumstances. I think today he showed that he will become a very successful Formula 1 driver. It was unfortunate for Bourdais that he had a problem on the grid, as he too had a good weekend up until today. The team, under the direction of Giorgio Ascanell also did a fantastically good job in terms of being prepared for the race and in how it executed the strategy and pit stops and we can all be proud of what we have achieved. It was great to get this result here in Monza in our home Grand Prix and I am particularly happy for Gerhard who has waited twenty years to get back on the Monza podium as a winner."


Jenson Button (15th): "We decided to start the race from the pit lane today as it may have given us an advantage with tyre choice, however when the race started behind the safety car it just meant that my tyres and brakes were very cold. The first couple of laps were quite difficult with the amount of spray and I lost a place which was disappointing. Then I got stuck behind Coulthard in the middle of the race when my lap times were good, which compromised my race quite badly. The last stint was a lot of fun though as we left the very worn wet tyres on and I had a couple of purple middle sectors. But at the end of the day it was disappointing to come home in 15th position and we have not had a good weekend here."

Rubens Barrichello (17th): "We made the decision on lap 16 to pit for the wet tyres as I felt the track was starting to dry out and it could give us an advantage. Although it was a positive decision as our lap times came down from there and I was gaining time on the cars ahead of me, it did interrupt our planned one-stop strategy. The wet tyres worked well in the middle stint but when I came up to my second stop with ten laps to go, the team asked if it was dry enough for slicks. It was not quite dry enough however they asked me to give it a go as we had nothing to lose. I tried my best but it was definitely too wet. We could have finished higher up by sticking to the wets but it was worth trying something different. It's been a tough weekend all round."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "From where we started the race and in view of the lack of attrition today, it was necessary for us to take some chances. We switched from the extreme wet tyres to the normal wets earlier than everyone else and I believe that was a reasonable call. Later in the race, at Rubens' second pitstop, we knew it wasn't really the right window for dry tyres but we thought it might be worth a chance. Jenson had a good race and we made the right tyre calls at the right time. He was looking pretty quick at the end but obviously starting as far back as he did, he didn't have much opportunity for points today. On a positive note the car looked a little more respectable in the race than it has through the weekend. Finally, congratulations to the Toro Rosso team on their win today. I have a lot of very good friends there and they did a fantastic job this weekend. There will be very few technical changes to the cars but the downforce levels will be quite different. Singapore is a high downforce track and there will be a range of downforce levels for the remaining tracks thereafter. We are testing in Jerez next week for four days but the focus there will be on projects for the 2009 car and in particular the KERS system."

Force India-Ferrari

Adrian Sutil (19th): "For sure it was not the best race for us. At the start I just had no grip on the extreme wets and I couldn't push. The second set of extremes was better than the first, but by then it was drying out so after 10 laps I lost even more grip and had some vibrations in the front. I came into the pits to change and we went over to the dry tyres. It was a little too early but we had to try it. It was pretty much a race to forget."

Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Accident): "I'm disappointed that after the good qualifying we couldn't convert this into a better result in the race. The conditions at the start were very wet but I had a good battle with Raikkonen and Hamilton. Coulthard then overtook me in the first chicane and in the corner he was slow so I touched him. Unfortunately the tap damaged the front nose and it went under the car. On the back straight I couldn't control the car and went off into the gravel."

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Ultimately we would have liked to convert the strong qualifying into something more, but as with all other teams in the field, the tricky conditions were difficult to read and we could not move up. What we have learnt however is that we are competitive in full wet conditions, which could be very useful in the next race in Singapore, which we need to focus on now. I must also extend my congratulations to Toro Rosso and Sebastian Vettel for a marvellous first victory, and to our engine partner Ferrari for their first win with a customer engine. It is very satisfying to see an independent team winning and this is a source of inspiration for us."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A disappointing race for us. Giancarlo had a good fight in the first few laps with the quicker cars behind him but unfortunately when Coulthard passed him he lost his front wing on the back straight. It was also a difficult race for Adrian. He had some tyre issues later in the race, so we took a gamble to put him on the slicks, which didn't pay off. We had had a good performance here in practice and qualifying so it was a very disappointing end to the weekend."


Heikki Kovalainen (2nd): "In today's tricky weather conditions I struggled to keep temperature in the brakes, and in the opening stages of the race I had problems with my extreme-wet tyres. First I thought it would improve after a few laps, but it didn't. Only at the end was I able to match the lap times of Sebastian Vettel in front of me. In today's conditions he was just too fast for me. Congratulations to him for his very first Grand Prix win. I'm happy to have scored eight points, and I look forward to the next race in Singapore."

Lewis Hamilton (7th): "I felt I drove a really good race and was moving through the field very quickly when the circuit was at its wettest. If it had kept on raining, I feel pretty confident I probably could have even won from 15th grid position; but, as the circuit dried out, my tyres overcooked and I had to defend my position from Mark Webber. Still, today was all about damage control: I came away with some points and kept my lead in the world drivers' championship. Finally, I'd like to offer my congratulations to Sebastian on winning his first Grand Prix - I know what a sweet feeling that is!"

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Heikki drove well to finish second and bag eight valuable World Championship points. The visibility in the rain early on was dreadful, and it was sensible of him to drop back a little from Sebastian in the first few laps. As the race unfolded we thought he might be able to catch Sebastian, but he was prevented from doing so when his tyres began to lose grip as the rain abated. Lewis made excellent progress in the wet conditions early on, moving swiftly from 15th on the grid to a potential points-scoring position, and he could well have been able to record a podium finish had the rain persisted and had he therefore been able to maintain his one-stop strategy. As it was, he was forced to make an unscheduled stop in order to exchange his extreme-wet tyres for wet-weather tyres, which dropped him back down the field. At first his wet-weather tyres performed well, and he began to catch up impressively; but then, along with various other drivers, his performance deteriorated as his wet-weather tyres began to overheat and lose grip on the drying track. Yesterday I congratulated Sebastian and his team boss, Gerhard Berger, on their first pole position; today I commend them on the occasion of their maiden win. It was good to see, and I want to say 'Well done!' to the entire Toro Rosso team for doing a fantastic job."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "At various stages of the race it looked great for Lewis, who drove a first-class race. Unfortunately, the rain we had expected for his one-stop strategy did not persist. However, after yesterday's grid position it's okay to score points. A good race from Heikki and another 10 points in the constructors' World Championship. Currently, we've scored 28 points more than our closest competitor, Ferrari, in the past six races, since Lewis' win at Silverstone, and now we will concentrate on continuing this trend. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Toro Rosso - a sensational and well-deserved victory."