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What the teams and drivers said
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What the teams and drivers said
The Ferrari team have continued their domination of the Australian GP with a 1st and 3rd finish, this was Ferrari's 3rd win in a row in Australia and their 5th GP win in a row.
Jean Todt: “Just before going on the podium, Michael, Rubens and I asked about the condition of the track marshal. We were told that he had died and this affected us badly. We know motor racing is a dangerous sport and that an out of control car can lose parts which can hit those whose love of the sport sees them stand at the side of the track to ensure the safety of others. As for the race, Michael made a great start, while Rubens who dropped to fifth, did a great job to climb back up the order. Once they had settled into their positions, both men drove in such a way not to put too much stress on the cars. This is probably the quickest car we have produced over the past few years. We know what we have to do from now on to improve it still further and to keep it at an excellent level. The championship has only just begun but this is a good start.”
Michael Schumacher: “I was very shocked as we have only just heard that a marshal has died. I am sure everyone feels down about this. We must see what can be done to improve their working conditions from a safety point of view. As for the race I made a great start as a result of all the practice we did over the winter. Then I tried to split my race into a rhythm, to be fast when I needed to and not overdrive the car. The car was very good and although this can give us confidence for the season, we know we must not be over-confident. At the end I slowed my pace, because the important thing is to win, not the margin you do it by. I just wanted to bring the car home, as we have not done many race distances before coming here. The reason I had my hand on top of my helmet was that I had taped an air vent to stop wind getting in my eyes, but it was getting too hot and so I pulled the tape off.”
Rubens Barrichello: “To score points is good, but you cannot be happy when a colleague who is there for you is killed. It is very bad news and my thoughts are with his family. I had a difficult race. I did not make a particularly good start and I was passed by three cars. Then when I was passing Frentzen, I was on the inside, but he kept coming and took me into the corner. We touched and that affected the toe-in on the left front wheel and from then I could not keep on the pace. In fact at the end of the race, my left front tyre was ruined. Then Alonso probably did not notice the blue flags, as he is a “new boy” and I had no space left and had to go on the grass. It was worse because the earlier damage to the car made right turns difficult. So David (Coulthard) got past me. Then, towards the end, Ross Brawn told me to back off so as not to take any excessive risks on the reliability side.”
Mika Hakkinen failed to finish in Australia for the 3rd year in a row, however David Coulthard managed to finish in 2nd.
Ron Dennis: "We had the right strategy for the race and Mika was well positioned to optimise this advantage until his accident which was caused by front right suspension failure. David drove a great race and his overtaking manoeuvre to claim second was superb - combined with a well executed race strategy his result was well deserved."
"I was quicker off the line than the cars in front of me but my front
wheels got caught between their rear wheels but fortunately I got away
without any damage. I’m happy with my performance because I was able to
overtake Trulli and Ralf Schumacher to claim fourth and then get past
Barrichello on the outside to take third which became second after
Mika’s retirement. Having to start from the third row I’m pleased that
I managed to get six points today and we now have to further improve the
performance of the car before Malaysia where we should be even
Mika Hakkinen: "Something broke on the car, which caused me to go off the track and hit the barrier at the entry of Stewart. I hit the brakes and then lost control of the car. I went to the medical centre for a check up as something hit my helmet but I’m fine. It was a shame as we were looking good and in hindsight our strategy might have given us a race win."
Following the penalising of Olivier Panis for passing Nick Heidfeld under yellow, the Sauber team has managed to score 4 points in their first race compared to a total of 6 for the whole of 2000!
Peter Sauber: "The
result today was better than we had dared hope for, and our lap times were
very competitive all the way through. To have been so close on speed to
Heinz-Harald was a real boost. I am delighted that Nick's great drive was
rewarded with his first points, while Kimi Raikkonen was a miracle,
lapping at the same speed as Nick and Heinz-Harald for the last 15 laps
and scoring a point on his debut.
Nick Heidfeld: "Scoring my first World Championship points is excellent, and this one race has wiped away my 2000 season. I avoided the traffic in the first corner, and later got safely through the big accident when thousand of pieces seemed to be falling from the sky. After that I was able to settle down to a good pace. The car and our Bridgestone tyres were consistent all the way through, and even at the end when I had real pressure from Heinz-Harald, I was able to keep cool and keep pushing. Finishing fourth is so exciting!"
Kimi Raikkonen: "It's nice to finish my first Grand Prix, and even nicer to score my first World Championship point! I made a pretty bad start, which didn't help, but then I got into my rhythm. My only problem was some understeer initially on my second set of tyres, which prevented me from going after Frentzen, but gradually the balance came back and I could keep pushing hard to the end. It's been a good day, and a great start to my F1 career."
After starting from 4th on the grid, Heinz Harald Frentzen moved into 3rd and could have finished on the podium if he was not tipped by Barrichello.
Heinz Harald Frentzen:
"Coulthard and I touched within seconds of the start but I managed to
move into third place. Everything was okay until I suddenly felt a big
bang from behind as Barrichello tried to overtake and I found myself
spinning into the gravel on the outside of a corner. I did my best to keep
the engine running and stay in the race. I rejoined in 16th place and
began to work my way through the field. I got as far as sixth, chased
Heidfeld to the flag and did everything I could but he just held on. Under
the circumstances that proves we have the reliability and that's a very
encouraging start. But, at the end of a day like this, our overriding
emotion is for the marshal and his family."
The team issued a statement following the death of a safety marshal caused by a wheel from Villeneuve's car. Later on, the team also received news that Olivier Panis was penalised for passing Nick Heidfeld under yellow and lost his 4th place finish.
Craig Pollock: "It is with great sadness that we learned that a marshal has died and that 11 spectators received injuries as a result of this incident. On behalf of Jacques, the British American Racing team and myself I would like to express our sincere condolences to his family. Rest assured that we intend to co-operate fully with the official investigation."
Craig Pollock also commented on the penalising of Panis and said "I am extremely disappointed for the team and for Olivier. Losing 4th place in the first race of the season is a further blow for the BAR. This will make us even more determined for the next race in Malaysia."
Jacques Villeneuve: "Ralf was in the middle of the track and I didn't know which way to overtake him - on the inside or outside. When I went to the outside he braked and I had no choice but to run into him. My back feels a bit tight, it felt like a big one."
Luciano Burti: "I
was pleased with my start because I managed to overtake a few people on
the first lap, I'm happy to have finished in eighth place. We will now
focus our efforts towards getting more pace out of the car, but overall
I'm encouraged by the way the season has begun."
Alain Prost: "The first race on this very unusual circuit, cannot give us a clear idea of where we really stand in respect to our competitors. However, we now know on which areas we still have to work hard. We have not exploited the true potential of the car, but it’s already encouraging to see one of the cars through the chequered flag."
Jean Alesi: "To
finish the race is a first important step for us. However, the result is
well below my expectations. I thought I could be more competitive here,
but already in free practice on Friday we realised it would be very
difficult to adapt our car to this circuit and we haven’t been able to
find a satisfactory solution for the race."
Mike Coughlan: “Definitely a step in the right direction. We’re pleased we have done our first race distance with the A22 at our first attempt and also that Asiatech have got on top of reliability. The performance is a little disappointing but with more test time we can only improve.”
Jos Verstappen: “I had a really good start, passed about four cars there and, by the time the Safety Car came out I was up to seventh. Settling into the race, I had a lot of understeer so wasn’t able to push as hard as I would have liked, but most important for the team is that we finished the first race. We know what we have to do and hopefully we can get this done in a short time.”
Enrique Bernoldi: “I didn’t get the best start and lost two places in the confusion at the second chicane. The car felt good during the first couple of laps but, whilst chasing Raikkonen, I got a wheel on the grass and lost the car, race over. It was a mistake. Not the result I wanted from my first Grand Prix of course but I have definitely learnt a lot today and will try all over again in Malaysia.”Paul Stoddart: “When we came to Melbourne, just arriving felt like winning a Grand Prix. When we went out on Friday and Saturday, they were our first test sessions. When we qualified, I felt it couldn’t get any better, but to take 12th place on our maiden outing, there are just not the words to describe the feeling. It is down to the huge effort that each and every member of the European Minardi F1 team has put in over the last few weeks that we have been able to achieve what is nothing short of a miracle. Fernando not only showed today what he is capable of, but also proved that the Gustav Brunner-designed European Minardi PS01 chassis will need to be taken seriously this year. I feel for Tarso as, without exception, every technical problem the team encountered this weekend was on his car. I’m certain, though, that we’ll see a lot more of his true potential starting with the Malaysian Grand Prix. It’s a great shame that such a wonderful day for our team should have been marred by the death of a marshal early in the race. We can only add our heartfelt sympathies to those of the other teams in the pit lane.”
Fernando Alonso: “Today’s objective was to finish the race, and that is what happened, so it couldn’t have turned out better. The team worked flat out over the weekend, and the race result is a clear demonstration of that. My car went really well over the whole race, allowing me to push hard until the end. I am sorry for getting in (Rubens) Barrichello’s way. I was rejoining the track after stopping in the pits and visibility in the rear-view mirrors was really reduced. I only saw him at the very last moment when it was already too late to let him pass. Apart from that, today’s race helped me to understand and test my physical shape, which to me is definitely good. I was not tired at all, even towards the end of the race. The car just went better and better as the fuel load lightened, so much so that in the closing stages of the race, I was even able to improve my lap times. Now we have accumulated more miles on the car, we’ll get ready for Malaysia, and hopefully another good race. I particularly want to thank all the lads on the team for today’s result. They are working together really well, despite having come together as a group only a few weeks ago. They really did a wonderful job.”
Tarso Marques: “There was a problem with my car from the first lap, I think with the battery. It started to misfire slightly, and then it just became worse and worse, until the engine stopped altogether on lap four. Also, I wasn’t really happy with the brakes all weekend, and after a couple of laps of the race, the pedal developed too much travel and became soft. I think the car is basically very good. We just are suffering from a lack of pre-season testing time. I’m sure things will be better in Malaysia.”
Mike Gascoyne: "We are very pleased to have got one car to the finish and the other so close to the end. Our cars were running competitively until they both suffered what we think were exhaust failures, which meant we lost a lot of power, but I am very pleased as Renault Sport introduced a new spec. engine for this race with the aim of increasing reliability and this was certainly achieved today. Jenson was forced to stop shortly before the end due to an electrical problem from overheating which was caused by the exhaust problem."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I did a good start and was very careful as it was important to finish the race. The car was running well and it felt good, but then it developed a problem that we are looking into, which meant I lost power and so could only cruise to the end of the race."
Jenson Button: "I was very impressed with how good the car was off the line at the start. I pulled up to eleventh and then I had a little battle with Verstappen, which resulted in me running over the kerb and losing quite a few places. After that, the car felt well balanced and I was competitive. After my stop/go penalty there was a problem, which we think was the exhaust, which meant I couldn't push at all and it was a shame as this meant I had to stop so close to the end of the race."
Patrick Head: "It's disappointing not to have a car at the finish here. Ralf made an early mistake but ultimately got put out when he was hit from behind. It could have been very dangerous for both drivers, and I am very sorry to hear that a marshal was killed. Juan Pablo made a good start but found himself in the wrong position at the first corner so lost a couple of places but he drove very well and made up positions. We were certainly on quite a high fuel load and I think we were in good shape to pick up a decent race result."
Ralf Schumacher: "I am awfully sorry that a man who was looking after our safety was killed today. My deepest sympathy goes to his relatives and friends. I was on the inside of the track going my way and being careful not to make any change of line. I braked and suddenly felt a huge bang in the back and saw Jacques flying over me. I spun hoping that I would crash nowhere. I think that Jacques overrated himself a bit, just like last year in Canada, when he ran into my car. After I got out of my car I had a look at the cockpit of the BAR, which was almost destroyed and I was glad to know that Jacques had already stepped out of it."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "It's disappointing that I couldn't see the chequered flag because I had a good race so far. I think WilliamsF1 and BMW did a fantastic job and my Michelin tyres were performing really well, especially at the end of the run when I did my fastest lap and it was looking quite good. The engine blew up without giving me any warning. I can say now that running in F1 can be fun. I first thought overtaking was going to be impossible but now I realise that you can if you plan it - like in Champ Car races - and it's also very exciting! The car looks good and I am quite confident we're going to show well through the season."