Austrian GP 2003
MAY 18, 2003
Race Notes - Schumacher takes third straight win
World Champion Michael Schumacher took his third victory in a row to win the Austrian Grand Prix. In what could be the last Austrian GP, there were cheers for the German, who one year ago was booed by the crowd when he took the win after team orders had his team mate Rubens Barrichello move over for him at the last corner. Schumacher, however, was lucky to take the win this year after having a fire on his first pitstop when the fuel rig jammed.
In second place was McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, 3.3 seconds behind Schumacher. The championship leader battled it out with Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello in the closing laps, the Brazilian taking third place - after having a long first stop with fuel rig problems as well.
After two aborted starts, Schumacher took the lead in the first corner, followed closely by the Williams-BMW of Juan Pablo Montoya. On Schumachers first pitstop, mechanics rushed in with fire extinguishers as flames licked the side of the Ferrari as the jammed fuel hose was pulled from the car. Schumacher was lucky to escape damage to his car, and rejoined after only a 20 second stop in third place.
Juan Pablo Montoya led the race for eight laps, until his engine blew up on lap 32.
Raikkonen retains a narrow two point lead over Schumacher in the Drivers Championship after six rounds, while Ferrari have taken a one point lead in the Constructors Championship.
In fourth place was the BAR-Honda of Jenson Button, 42 seconds behind the leader, followed by David Coulthard in his McLaren-Mercedes in fifth and Ralf Schumacher in his Williams-BMW in sixth.
As he did in Spain, Australian Mark Webber finished seventh in his Jaguar, while Jarno Trulli took the final points paying position in his Renault.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - MAY 18, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h24m04.888s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h24m08.250s (+ 3.362s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h24m08.839s (+ 3.951s)
Q: A fiery dramatic pit stop, Michael, tell us about it from your point of view and your concerns about the car thereafter...
Michael SCHUMACHER: Well, I don't think there is much to say, everything has been shown on TV. I guess the mechanics felt I was little bit too cold and cool and wanted to warm me up! Anyway, I thought they did a great job under the circumstances to still control everything and the car survived. I had a little doubt for a moment, whether we had a problem or not because of that fire and how serious it was, but the car obviously worked very well, we were able to do very fast lap times to secure the margin we needed for the strategy.
Q: It was a very good race towards the end there as well, but tell us about when Juan Pablo Montoya blew up. There was smoke and at the same time you seemed to pass Kimi Raikkonen...
Schumacher: Yeah, that was a tricky little moment, not extremely tricky because there was a sort of gap and I was already by Kimi at this stage but the point was I didn't know what Juan Pablo was going to do, whether he would stay off line or he was going to suddenly pull over and think he was still racing, so it was a little bit concerning. But in the end he stayed off line and he did a proper job. He could probably have stopped a little bit earlier instead of continuing around for the rest of the lap with an oily engine but I guess he was lazy and didn't want to walk back to the pits.
Q: Kimi, you had a lot of pressure from the Ferraris all day but made a great second place and you took something like four seconds out of Michael when it began to rain in the first third of the race.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, the car was quite good, it was good to finish in second, but I'm still disappointed not to have won the race. When it started to rain, I think the Michelins worked a little bit better than the Bridgestones under those conditions and we were able to go a little bit quicker but it was not enough.
Q: Rubens, you're a little bit under the weather and it was a hard race for you, particularly with that long pit stop affecting your race with Kimi...
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, I didn't actually feel good for the whole weekend because I have a little bit of a cold. It was hard to push because I was sweating quite a lot in the car but, having said that, I think it was a great race. It was a pity about the pit stop because it's a bit frustrating when you feel that you could have won the race or you could have done better and you lose time but things like that happen and I still finished on the podium, still more points, it is a place that I like very much. I think I paid the price in qualifying for having different tires and it was a bit of a pity because I could not get past the guys in front, plus the problem in the pits. But the car felt good the whole time. I had probably the most consistent of the quick times, so I was quite pleased. I was almost ahead of Kimi but there was no way through, so I had to give up.
Q: Michael, what was it like from your point of view when the rain started?
Schumacher: When you're in the position that I was in with a lead you tend to be a little bit more careful and, in terms of strategy, I felt pretty confident that we were running lighter and anything that you have to go wrong in the first stint does help you, so you just need to be in front and then maybe use the extra lap or whatever to pull out the gap. So I was just doing a careful job, I didn't know how much it was raining because it was quite heavy actually at turn one and two for a while, not so extreme at three and five and the rest of the circuit, so it was a bit tricky to anticipate what the circumstances were. Even being the first car, you sort of have to go through it. I don't know whether the others behind had the opportunity to see the car in front, how it was behaving because if you can see the car in front, you have a reference and you know what the circumstances are and you can react a little bit better. Anyway, at the end of the day, it was enough and it worked well for us.
Q: Michael, quite a lively afternoon for you and three race wins in the last three races...
Schumacher: Yep, it is good for us obviously and it was an interesting and entertaining race I think. It sort of started to go our way and then came the pit stop which made it very interesting.
Q: The car seemed to perform fantastically...
Schumacher: Yes, but honestly that was no surprise. We saw all weekend that our consistency was very good and our performance was great - we have a fantastic car, we know that.
Q: When fire breaks out beside your right ear, are you tempted to jump out of the car? What do you do, what do you look at?
Schumacher: In these circumstances I was watching around what was going on and seeing the fire wasn't nice. But I felt the guys reacted very well with their extinguishers and setting them off immediately. I kept going but at this stage I didn't know whether we had done any damage to the car or not because I didn't know how long the fire had lasted.
Q: But you weren't tempted to jump out or anything?
Q: And then later you had the rain, and also Alonso's oil as well, I think you went off on the oil at the first corner. How bad was that?
Schumacher: Yeah, I saw the yellow flags, braked earlier, slowed down. There was only a single yellow flag so you do as much as you think is necessary, but there wasn't any oil warning and it meant that I drifted very wide. It was a crucial stage of the race where I had to make sure that I didn't lose too much in terms of lap time in comparison to Kimi because I knew he would stay out longer, so it wasn't a nice moment to have that happen.
Q: Without that run-off it could have been terminal, couldn't it?
Schumacher: Yep, but that's why we want those sort of run-off areas for certain circumstances. You don't gain anything because you go very wide, it's very dirty, but still you keep the car together on the road and you keep on going. I think it's fair for everybody because everybody wants to see the cars racing, rather than stopping in a gravel trap and leaving only a few cars running.
Q: Kimi, second place, what happened at the start first of all?
Raikkonen: I did not have a very good start. I lost a place to Montoya and then I just tried to keep Rubens behind me and after the first few laps it was a little bit more stable and more settled to push again.
Q: What about the end, he actually got ahead of you. How hard was it then?
Raikkonen: Yes, I just tried to keep him behind and managed to hold onto my second place. It was quite difficult because we had a few problems with the car and to finish second was the best that we could do today.
Q: Can you tell us exactly what those problems were?
Raikkonen: A bit on the engine side but it lasted at the end and that is the main thing. It was hurting our speed a little bit but the main thing is to finish the race and score as many points as possible.
Q: When did you have that problem from?
Raikkonen: Quite early on, but what can you do? The team tried hard and everything stayed together and we had quite a strong race.
Q: Without that problem do you think you could have given Michael a bit more of a hard time?
Raikkonen: Maybe, but I don't know. There is no point talking about that because afterwards it is easy to say that maybe if we didn't have any problems...but no, I am quite happy with what we achieved.
Q: And at least you are still the championship leader...
Raikkonen: Yeah, but it is getting smaller and that is the bad thing. But we need to keep fighting and do our best.
Q: Rubens, first of all, you had quite a good start and nearly overtook Kimi...
Barrichello: Yeah that is true. It was actually a little bit difficult because when I turned it was too dirty and I couldn't keep the line. I wish I was not as I was side by side, if I was a little bit behind I could have maybe cut across but I saw I was a bit ahead when we were trying to turn in but I couldn't so it was a pity.
Q: So how did you manage to get alongside him coming out of Remus and going into Gosser?
Barrichello: I forced him to the inside, he was running with a little bit of understeer in that particular corner so I just analysed that and said okay I try to do the opposite because after turn three you have a turn to the right. With a little bit more I could have crossed really in front but as it was he was brave enough to keep his line and forced me on the outside to turn five and I got onto the dirt so there was no way back.
Q: And you weren't able to do it again?
Barrichello: No because after that he improved is pace a little bit so I wasn't quick enough to get him. I had a quick car and could close the gap on him quite fast but when I got behind him the turbulence affected me quite a lot to actually get by.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Michael, have you ever had to deal with fire before and how do you prepare for circumstances like that?
Schumacher: I guess when I was a little boy I was playing with fire but I actually did, in my car in Formula Three, have a little fire in the cockpit but you sort of know that you have protection, you have the overalls and you know you can survive for a little while but I didn't feel very concerned, honestly. If you had seen fuel splashing around and fire burning it would have been a different story as we have seen with Jos (Verstappen) in 1994 in Hockenheim, but that didn't seem to be the circumstance here.
Q: Michael, you almost spun in qualifying and you started on pole position. Today you had fire in your car and you won the race. Do you consider yourself a lucky man?
Schumacher: I don't know whether you should call that lucky. I think I was very unlucky to have the problem, honestly.
Q: Rubens, I know it was the same for everybody but after all the false starts was it difficult on the first lap because the tires were quite cold?
Barrichello: Yeah, a little bit. I think we all tried to put some heat on the tires as we went there but I think the cars were running a little hot, every car was a little hot. For example, Juan Pablo didn't have the initiative to start. I had done it twice. You are there, concentrating yourself, and when something happens you need to go. But I thought my reaction was quite good because I had two starts and twice I had to press another button and brake not to run into Juan Pablo so it was a bit tricky today actually.
Q: Michael and Rubens, do you both feel Kimi is already at the same level as a competitor as Mika Hakkinen used to be?
Schumacher: I don't think it is fair to compare, honestly. I think the point to make is that he is a very good competitor and a very strong competitor and obviously you see that with the results he gets.
Q: Michael, after the critics last year do you feel a special satisfaction about your victory today.?
Schumacher: I feel like a winner now, yeah.
Q: Kimi, can you explain how Michael overtook you because we did not see it on TV and secondly do you think the program has changed for the new McLaren after this result?
Raikkonen: The new car, we are testing that next week for the first time and it all depends how good it is. If it is reliable straight away and quick then who knows we might end up having it at the next race but so far it is not been planned. But the pass with Michael, he passed quite easily. I decided to take the inside line but he had much better traction out of the corner and I was not able to keep him behind and he just got past me at corner two.
Q: Michael, the next race at Monaco is the one track that everyone wants to start at the front. Tell us about the difficulties in the strategy...
Schumacher: The point is you want to have the right strategy but you want to be quite far in front so you have to find the right compromise and you work out over the weekend what is the right compromise.
Q: Michael, were you following the battle between Rubens and Kimi because if he had overtaken Kimi you would be leading the championship now?
Schumacher: I was crossing fingers to be honest, not only for that. Rubens, being my team-mate and my friend I would choose him to be second rather than a competitor and also for the championship and seeing the final lap with them fighting, I saw Rubens already by and I was like, yeah! And then it was the other way around but that is racing.
Q: There was a moment before the race started when you were warming up tires and Montoya pulled alongside you when you were stopping and starting and signaled to you and was a bit nervous about it. What do you feel you can or cannot do in those circumstances?
Schumacher: First of all, the leader dictates the pace and the others have to adjust to whatever the leader is doing but I don't think I was doing something unreasonable. It would have been far more unreasonable to go very high speed and suddenly brake because then it is very difficult to react. I was just accelerating in first gear up and down, up and down and he was doing the same and coming beside me. I don't see any problem, honestly. I don't think anyone would have considered it to be an overtaking maneuver even if he had just gone by and then gone back. I don't think that's something anyone would be worried about, just a normal procedure.
Q: Michael, a brilliant Grand Prix, really entertaining. How would you rank it among your victories over the years, it was one you really had to fight for?
Schumacher: The point is that we had been down to third position and fighting our way back up to first position due to some lucky circumstances, the blowing up of Montoya's engine and passing Kimi, so naturally fighting back from a low position gives you greater satisfaction if it happens at the end.
Michael Schumacher (1st): "Three wins in a row is good for us. Today, it was going our way until the pit stops. I could see the fire - maybe the mechanics thought I was cold and wanted to warm me up! But the team did a good job to control the situation, reacting quickly with the fire extinguishers. I did wonder how serious the problem was. I had a couple of tricky moments, the first when Montoya blew up in front of me. I had already passed Kimi at that point, but I was not sure if Juan Pablo would continue racing or get off the line. Then, I saw the waved yellow when Alonso went off, but no oil flag, so I ended up going very wide at the first corner, at a crucial stage of the race when I did not want to give away time to Kimi. When it was raining, I was able to be a bit cautious as I was leading. In fact, this situation is difficult when you are leading, as you do not have a car in front of you to judge how the cars are reacting to the conditions. The car's consistency and performance was good, allowing us to build a big enough advantage for our strategy to work."
Rubens Barrichello (3rd): "I am happy to be on the podium and to score points, especially as I have been feeling under the weather all weekend with a cold, which meant I was sweating a lot in the car. It was a great race, except for my first pit stop, which cost me time. Without that, maybe I could have finished higher, but these things happen in racing. I think today I paid the penalty for my tire choice, even if the car felt good in terms of consistency throughout the race. At the start, I nearly passed Kimi down the outside. I got slightly ahead, but I was unable to turn in to take the position as the track was dirty on that side. In the closing stages, I pulled alongside him again. I could see him understeering, so I tried to push him to the inside of the corner. The move did not work and then he increased his pace a bit and I could not get too close to him because of the turbulence."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "What a race! It was evident today that, although we were up against very strong opposition, we had the best package. I think this race will go down in history. When Rubens came in for his first stop on lap 21, there was a problem with the refuelling rig, so Michael's was used. Then, on the next lap, it was Michael's turn to pit. A small amount of fuel was still in the nozzle from the previous refuelling, which dripped onto the car and caught fire. Thanks to the bravery and efficiency of the team, he was able to rejoin the race in third place. Michael went on the attack, got back the lead and brought home a third consecutive win of the season. Rubens had an extraordinary drive: but for the problem at his first pit stop, he could have won or at least come second. With this win, Michael has closed the gap still further to the top of the Drivers' classification and the 16 points picked up today allowed us to take the lead in the Constructors' Championship. I must congratulate the team on doing a fantastic job and also Bridgestone, who provided us with very good tires. Obviously, it is a great pleasure to have secured this result in the presence of Fiat Group President, Umberto Agnelli, who is with us today. The result makes us even more proud to be part of such an important industrial group."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a great day for us and an encouraging performance. As for the pit stops, we had a problem with Rubens' fuel rig so we switched to the other one. Then we had another problem with Michael, this time with the refuelling nozzle. It is never pleasant to have a fire, but there was not actually much fuel around and it looked worse than it was. The guys reacted very well to deal with the situation, however, we do not usually have problems with the rigs and now we will have a proper investigation to find out what happened. Our tires worked perfectly and the car was very strong."
Ralf Schumacher (6th): "After a difficult weekend I have three points in my pocket, which is some compensation. I made a few mistakes, but I managed to recover some of the lost ground. The main problem I had in the race was with the balance of the car with the third set of tires and in particular the fronts which were graining badly. Otherwise the car was okay and I think the team has demonstrated that it has raised its performance."
Juan Pablo Montoya (DNF, Engine): "The guys did a great job all weekend, and I'm not angry, what happened was just racing. Right from the start we were looking really good and everything was working to plan. Even when some drizzle came I was catching Michael at a rate of two seconds a lap, which I think clearly shows that the FW25 has potential, the team is going in the right direction and the Michelins are working well. Then I started losing water pressure and I knew the race was over. A shame, but at least we know we have the potential to win."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "It is a shame that we had a water leak with Juan's engine, otherwise he looked strong, he had a lot of fuel on board and he could have won the race today. The chassis and the tires were working well together. Ralf started from further back, but none the less managed to claim three important constructors' points. In summary the team is looking forward to Monaco, the car is definitely improving and we must now translate this potential into results."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Of course it's disappointing if you retire from the lead of a race. Juan Pablo could have won this eventful race. We were aware at the start that a regulation standard valve which limits water pressure was not operating correctly. The cooling system continuously lost water, and obviously even without water the best engine cannot survive. Ralf improved progressively from tenth position and had fourth place within his reach, but his third set of tires made the car difficult to control, and he dropped back to sixth place. In summary, a disappointing result, but clearly improving performance."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "I'm pleased that I managed to keep the lead in the Championship even though it is getting smaller. I was a bit slow getting off the line at the start and lost a position to Montoya. I was then fighting to keep Rubens behind me but after a few laps the car became more stable and I was able to start pushing again. We did not always rev the engine to its full potential after the mechanics had done a great job this morning in fixing a valve problem and all their efforts meant that I was able to finish second. Towards the end Rubens and myself had an exciting fight but when we had started the last lap and were through the first corner I knew I could stay ahead if I kept my line."
David Coulthard (5th): "It was good to score some points after struggling throughout the weekend with the balance of the car. I had a tough race with a lot of battles, overtakings and heavy traffic. Fortunately the team's strategy helped me to claim fifth place. I'm now looking forward to Monaco which is a great drivers' circuit and we will work very hard to ensure that we have a competitive package there."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Another weekend where our race strategy rewarded us with points scoring finishes. Our ability to fight for the lead was hampered by Kimi's poor start whilst a need for him to look after his engine required him to drop his pace. David's fifth place gave us valuable Constructors' points and it's great going to Monaco still leading the Drivers' Championship. The whole team is looking forward to the first run of the MP4-18 next week."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A super job by Kimi, David and the whole team. Kimi fought like a lion under difficult circumstances and stayed cool under a lot of pressure. To stay ahead in the World Championship is a good reward for his and the team's efforts. Thanks to the guys who fixed Kimi's engine by changing an exhaust valve this morning. He drove his car for quite a while with reduced revs but brought it home safely."
Jarno Trulli (8th): "A tough race, definitely. I made a mistake when I slid in the light rain, losing control on the first corner which cost me quite a few positions. Then I was stuck in traffic. The drivers ahead of me were slower and the team decided to change strategy. Thanks to that, I was able to climb up again but somehow the car wasn't quite right after my first pit stop and I just couldn't improve as I wanted. Eight place and one point is not too bad but I had expected much better from this race."
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Engine): "I started the race from the pit with the T-car and I made good progress throughout the race. The one-stop strategy was right and I was in eigth position when I was forced to retire because of an engine problem. It's the first time I haven't finished a race this season and hopefully the last! However, today we have proved to be competitive on this circuit which is not the best for us, so I am very optimistic for all the races to come."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A very difficult race from the beginning with Fernando starting the race from the pit lane, due to a last minute engine failure. However he improved his position dramatically throughout the race when another engine failure put an end to his fight for fifth place. Jarno's race was compromised when on lap 15 he had a spin which dropped him back. Soon after he came in for his first pit stop and afterwards he appeared to struggle. Now we have to examine what happened and why we were not more competitive."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "For the first time this season, we have experienced an engine failure during the race, costing us a potential fifth place for Fernando. Unfortunately Jarno could not optimise on his good starting position on the grid and lost two places, bringing however home one point. Overall a disappointing first race for our new spec engine reliability but from a performance point of view, it's quite encouraging."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "A weekend that was marked by a series of problems and that ended in a very disappointing way for us. The only consolation is the one point we scored which makes us keep third position (equal with Williams) in the Championship. Now we have to focus our efforts and make sure that this doesn't happen again."
Nick Heidfeld (DNF, Engine): "I am very disappointed, of course. I came into the pits later than many people expected and other drivers did their first pit stop at a similar time. So it looked quite good for us and I was sure we would have been able to score points today. Then the engine began to lose power and I began to drop back. It is particularly frustrating for me as I have been forced to retire in three races already this season!"
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (DNS, Clutch): "Just before the second restart I realized that I had a clutch problem and was not able to start the engine. What exactly happened must await analysis. I tried to switch to the T-car, but it was set up for Nick and we ran out of time so I was not able to start the race. That's life."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "We went into this race convinced that we could score points. Unfortunately Heinz-Harald experienced a clutch problem before the eventual start and could not participate. Nick proved by his fourth-place starting position how well he can perform, and drove strongly until the first pit stop. Unfortunately, however, the engine had begun to lose power after 20 laps and got progressively worse until he had to retire on lap 46. Once again a good performance went unrewarded."
Ralph Firman (11th): "We were a bit worried about the temperature build-up with the two aborted starts, as the clutch can get too hot, but it was all okay with no problems. The car was quite good in the race and I managed to get past Coulthard at the safety car re-start, although my out-laps after the stops weren't very good. It rained on my first one and on cold tires the car locked the rears when I downshifted and I nearly spun. On the second out-lap Da Matta got on the inside of me and pushed me wide, but the car was not too bad after that. It's a shame we weren't able to score points."
Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Fuel): "I'm not happy at the moment. That was another disappointing race and my third retirement in three. We had a very difficult race, with extremely low grip levels. It is not good at all and we need something for the future. I know the team are working really hard and I hope we can find some improvements quite quickly."
Eddie Jordan, Team Principal: "We are just not quick enough. It's disappointing that we had another failure with Giancarlo and we are working very hard to prevent these things from happening. Ralph again did a good job to finish."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Not the best afternoon, actually it was quite a non-event for us. The only exciting bit was Michael catching fire and seeing him sitting there just watching it go out and then going off to win. We weren't quick enough really, and it was a challenge. Giancarlo suffered from blistering on the rear tires and I'm sure Ralph had the same. It looks like Giancarlo's failure was a problem with the fuel system. The data showed that the fuel pressure dropped to zero for some reason and then he retired. We know that the correct amount of fuel went in so we'll have a closer look later. Roll on Monaco - all the people we saw going off the edge of the track at the A1 Ring won't be doing that there!"
Mark Webber (7th): "The work we undertook here on Friday and Saturday paid dividends today. The balance and pace of the car were excellent and I wish I could have actually stayed out there for longer. I really enjoyed being behind the wheel of the Jaguar today and two more points is very satisfying for all concerned. My qualifying run from Saturday wasn't the best and that cost me this weekend. A higher place on the grid could have meant something very different this afternoon but you cannot win them all. Both Antonio and I finished the race and given the reliability issues we suffered at the start of the season, you've got to credit the team for making some impressive improvements recently. The pace of the car was also very strong this weekend and when you add all this together, you can see why I have decided to hang around Jaguar until at least 2005. Monaco is next on the list and it's one of my favorite tracks. The all-round team performance at Jaguar Racing just continues to go from strength to strength and I cannot wait for Thursday morning in Monte Carlo."
Antonio Pizzonia (9th): "I am obviously pleased to have finished the race but being only one position away from a points finish is a little frustrating. The aborted starts were very confusing because I had no idea what was going on or why the race kept on being declared stopped. This didn't help my preparations on the grid and because the delay affected tire temperatures, it made the first few laps quite tricky. This, however, didn't last long and it wasn't long before I started getting into a stride and posting some pleasing lap times. I posted the 8th fastest lap of the race and the car's performance was very good indeed ? something we have been demonstrating all weekend. Because of the light rain showers mid-way into the race, I ran wide at one of the corners through lack of grip and this cost me some time. I think many other drivers suffered the same fate, particularly at turn one where grip was a problem. Nonetheless, the potential of our race car is becoming clear for everyone to see and being a consistent points challenger is something we are very fast turning into."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Yet another very pleasing performance from a race which didn't exactly go our way. Given that Mark was due to start the race from 17th on the grid and combined with the race pace we knew the car was capable of, we decided to take a measured risk and start Mark from the pit-lane. We fuelled-up the car for a long first stint but because the race didn't officially start until the third attempt, our fuel top-up was declared illegal and consequently we were given the ten second stop-go penalty ? strange given that we didn't actually gain a competitive advantage of any sort from doing what we did. We knew the rules stated this but we simply didn't expect the race to suffer two aborted starts! Nonetheless, both cars demonstrated great pace today and all the work back at base is paying dividends on the reliability side. Mark drove a very determined race today and worked his way up to the points. He was eating chunks of time out of Ralf Schumacher ahead of him and posted the third fastest race lap behind the two Ferraris. Simply fantastic! Antonio also drove a strong and committed race and was unlucky not to have got into the points. He suffered a minor ?off' which cost him some time but his scrap with the Renault of Jarno Trulli proved his credentials today. He was unlucky not to pass Jarno but made his point nonetheless. All in all, we are very pleased to have left the A1-Ring with more championship points and in particular, the on-going improvement in the Jaguar R4. The pace, balance and reliability of the Jaguar make for some very interesting races still to come."
Jenson Button (4th): "I had a great race; I really enjoyed it. I matched my best race finish today so it's great to be back up there getting the points again. The team did a superb job in the pitstops to get me out ahead of the Ferrari and everything just went well for me. I had a bit of oversteer because we ran new tires on the rear, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. This is just what the team needed ' and deserved. We earned our result today; it wasn't just a fluke. I've had a great weekend all round really. I think we've shown how quick we are all the way through practice and qualifying, and today's was a genuine race performance. It was nice to be able to challenge the front runners, which is what we are capable of doing. We have to maintain the momentum now and I'll be doing three days testing in Valencia next week in preparation for Monaco to make sure that happens."
Jacques Villeneuve (12th): "We had a problem all the way through the race because the electronics on the steering stopped working on the first lap. I had no limiter button, no idea of which gear I was in, no neutral - no nothing. I had to do it all manually. My race engineer was even counting my speed down for me coming into the pits! Then the electronics problem caused a stall at the second pitstop. We had decided not to change the steering wheel at the first stop because it can mess up the electronics, but after the car stalled we changed it but had to wait for the system to reset. It was a fairly disastrous stop and I lost a lot of time. When you lose a lap because of mechanical problems there isn't much you can do. I've had problems in four races out of six now and it's obviously very frustrating. It's a great shame because it will be difficult for us to get a car that's better than this in race trim. It felt really great. We keep getting a very good set- up for the race but I haven't been able to make the most of it. I'll just have to continue working hard and hopefully things will come good for me soon."
David Richards, Team Principal: "A great race from Jenson and a result gained through performance rather than attrition, as both drivers challenged the leading group throughout the race. I'm sure that this will act as a strong morale-booster at a point where the season really starts to get underway. The problem that Jacques experienced was very frustrating and one has to wonder when his luck will turn. Given the overall performance of the team this weekend, I am very confident that this is just around the corner."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This was an excellent drive from both drivers. Jenson achieved a well-deserved fourth place but Jacques was denied an equally strong or stronger finish by technical problems. We had qualified both cars on the same fuel and, despite Jacques' mistakes in qualifying, we felt we were going to be very competitive today. Unfortunately, Jacques' steering wheel electronics failed very early on, leaving him with no information display or pitlane speed limiter. At the second stop, the car stalled as it shifted into second gear. Honda and ourselves must now work to improve engine mapping and drivability in this area, and review our anti-stall strategy. This result reflects our genuine level of performance, however we finish the weekend happy but frustrated. We deserved more points here. We are testing new parts and engine developments next week and we continue to work hard on our reliability."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Today's race was half pleasure, half pain for us. A great result for Jenson who fought so hard this afternoon and I'm really happy to score some more points. Jacques was also having a good race until the problem in his second pit stop so it was a tough day for him as he had a points finish in sight. Our engines ran well all weekend and we will continue to upgrade the performance to keep this momentum going."
Justin Wilson (13th): "I made a launch-control start, which worked well, and then pushed hard every lap. We were scheduled to make two stops for fuel and tires today, but when the opportunity presented itself to make a very early pit stop, we took it, as that gave us the possibility to reduce the number of laps between the other two stops. It got a bit slippery when it started to rain, but it wasn't a problem to stay out on dry tires. The car was reasonably well balanced today, and in fact seemed to get better as the race went on. It was definitely a good feeling to see the chequered flag for the second Grand Prix in a row."
Jos Verstappen (DNF, Electronics): "It has been a very disappointing weekend, what with the problem in final qualifying yesterday and then another at the start of the race today. The launch control worked fine in practice, but then not when it counted, in the race. It might be something to do with the two re-starts we had, but we don't know for certain yet what the problem was. Hopefully, we'll have more luck in the next race. On the positive side, we did a lot of testing this weekend, and we now think we understand the aerodynamic behavior of the car better as a result."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "It was another solid run from Justin today, but a problem at the start sadly saw Jos out of the race before the first corner. It's not quite the performance we would have wanted in Austria, but full credit to Justin for a gutsy drive and a well-deserved finish. We will have to analyse the software to see exactly what happened with Jos's car in order to make certain the problem is sorted before Monaco."
Cristiano Da Matta (10th): "At the start, I pressed the launch button as I normally do and the car just stalled. There was something wrong with the launch electronics. For the restart and the pit stops, we decided not to risk it and instead did manual starts. I would say that the weekend is below the expectations I had, but considering the difficulties in practice on Friday and Saturday, I think tenth place is more or less the best we could do today. Things were not made easier starting from the back of the grid. The tricky part has come from us not finding a proper set-up on the car for this circuit, so we have to learn from this and make it better for Monaco."
Olivier Panis (DNF, Damage): "I am not really sure what happened. We took advantage of the safety car period at the very beginning to refuel the car, and effectively switch to a one-stop race. Shortly after I rejoined the track, I felt something hit the barge board and there was a puncture on the front left tire. Basically I turned in and the car simply continued straight on and I had to stop. I thought that the suspension was also affected and when the guys checked the car back in the garage, they found some damage to the front suspension. It is another shame and it has not been a fantastic weekend for us, so we have to keep motivated and think about the next race in Monaco in two weeks."
Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I am very disappointed. This whole weekend we have not found a good set-up on the car. We struggled badly on Friday morning and have spent the rest of the weekend trying to catch up. Cristiano did well to get tenth after the problem at the start with his launch system put him at the back of the grid. As for Olivier, I just cannot believe how one man can have such bad luck. The only thing we can do is to learn from this weekend and look to improve for the next race, but I am done with making predictions, so I am not going to give a Monaco forecast."