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French Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Sunday
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What the teams and drivers said - Sunday
Jean Todt: "I am very happy with the outcome of this race, as much for Michael's win as for Ruben's really great drive. He started from the fourth row, made up two places at the start and one more on the first lap. Rubens got the most out of the change of strategy brought in at the first pit stop in order to gain him a few places. This result has further extended our lead over our closest rivals and it's a nice way to celebrate my eighth anniversary with Ferrari. It goes without saying that the team will keep its feet on the ground and work with the utmost concentration right to the end of the championship. The whole team worked really well. Even though this is my home race, I was happy to ask Rubens' race engineer, Carlo Cantoni to pick up the team prize in recognition of the great job done by his group of engineers, who brought a difficult weekend to a brilliant conclusion.”
Michael Schumacher: "I had a problem with the clutch at the start and nearly lost position to David and it was very close in the first corner. I had the inside line and he was on the outside but it was still close up to Turn 3. I knew I had to be ahead of him or it would compromise our strategy. I was alright being behind Ralf, who was very fast in the first stint. I think our strategy worked better as we went shorter than them. The fact Ralf had a problem in his first stop also helped. My second set of tyres was very good and I was flying, but then I had some problems with the third one. This is a great result and Rubens did a perfect job to make it a perfect day for Ferrari. I am too realistic to think about the championship. Until it is mathematically impossible for me to lose I will keep fighting, but this is a very comfortable lead. However, there are still seven races and 70 points available."
Rubens Barrichello: "I must admit I am a little surprised to be on the podium. This morning we sorted out my qualifying problems and the car was a lot better. During my first stint, I was going very well and saving fuel. Then the team came on the radio and suggested I switch to a three stop strategy. I asked if it would do more than get me ahead of the Jordans and then I agreed to try it. I must thank the team very much because it was a hell of a race. My only problem came on my last set of tyres, which blistered very early. This did not affect me in terms of putting the power down or changing direction, but it did affect my braking, especially at Turn 5. That his how David managed to come alongside me, once because I braked at my usual point and nearly went off and the second time when I got held up by a backmarker. It was a good battle, but from where I started I knew I would have to fight today. Eighth to third is a good achievement. I am very happy for the team, which thanks to Michael's win leaves France with a first and third place."
Patrick Head: "Obviously a mixture of pleasure for Ralf’s second place and disappointment because Juan Pablo retired. It would have been nice to have Juan Pablo on the podium as well. There was a problem with Ralf’s first stop, which messed his race up a bit, but all in all again a good result for us and we are looking forward to Silverstone."
Dr. Mario Theissen: "Even though we had some problems with our tyres, we managed another second place, collected six points and are very happy with this. We have now had three consecutive podium positions, which no one expected before the start of the season. Juan Pablo’s retirement looks very much as if it was due to an engine failure. We will find out the reason when we get the engine back to Munich."
Ralf Schumacher: "Second place is good, but of course from pole you hope to win. I expected to beat Michael at the start, which worked, but after a few metres I had problems with the brake balance. Later we had a problem at the first pit stop and then my second set of tyres did not work well so I pitted early for my second stop. Juan Pablo would have finished ahead of me, so it is a pity for him he had a problem."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "I think we had a problem with the engine as the lap before it started losing power and then it just died. I am a bit frustrated, but yesterday we sacrificed the performance in qualifying for the race and it paid off as I was running second. I was pretty pleased with the performance of the car in the race. The main thing was being on a different strategy to Ralf to try and beat him and I was ahead of him."
Ron Dennis: "I think David’s comments after the race say it all. Mika’s problem was caused by an incorrectly assembled component in the gearbox. At times like this it’s important to remember that through thick and thin we are a team and we all make mistakes. The Championships are not over and we will immediately start to focus on our home Grand Prix at Silverstone."
Norbert Haug: "David had the speed to compete upfront, but unfortunately his stop-and-go penalty prevented him from having a chance to win today. Mika couldn’t take part in the race when his car didn’t start due to a gearbox problem before the formation lap."
David Coulthard: "The 10-second stop and go penalty ruined my race. It was a shame because we were competitive today, but I had to face the consequences of my mistake after which I was pushing as much as possible. I was really close to Rubens in the closing stages but was unable to get past as he was pulling away in the first three corners. The World Championship has not been won or lost at Magny Cours. The points gap between Michael Schumacher and myself has increased and the situation is difficult but not hopeless. There are still seven races to go and I just take them one at a time because you can never guess what will happen. I’m now going to concentrate on the team’s and my home Grand Prix at Silverstone in two weeks time."
Mika Hakkinen: "At the time I didn’t know what the problem was, but I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there whilst the mechanics were trying to get the car started. Obviously I’m disappointed but things happen – it just seem they are happening to me more this season."
Eddie Jordan: "It's important to get two finishes, particularly going to Silverstone. We wouldn't want to be going into our home race with yet another DNF. It was vital to get two cars to finish today and finishing fifth at the moment is about as good as we can make it. We'll take all the points we can get!"
Tim Holloway: "I think overall we needed to bring cars home today. That was the most important thing after a barren spell with silly little problems. We achieved that, which is satisfying. Jarno did a very good job but Heinz was delayed by a problem with the refuelling nozzle actually going on; we couldn't get it attached straightaway during his first stop. I noticed other teams had a similar problem; maybe it had something to do with the heat. We'll have to investigate. It cost Heinz a couple of places and it is very difficult to recover from that. Still, we brought two cars home and we can build on that."
Jarno Trulli: "The start was good for me but the problem is, we don't have the speed. We still have work to do with the engine because I was passed by Montoya (Williams) and Barrichello (Ferrari) on pure speed. I couldn't do anything. My set-up was perfect and I tried to keep close to them but they were able to open a gap. I have been running in the points at some stage since the first race of the season but then I've had some mechanical failures. But you need to be determined and I always push every single race. I knew that today was going to be a good chance to score points and I kept pushing hard. The car felt perfect from the beginning and the lap times were good but it is difficult to keep close to the three top teams. I think, to be honest, that fifth is the best we could achieve under the circumstances at the moment and I'm very happy with that."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "It wasn't so bad during my first stint but I don't know what happened during my first pit stop. It took about twice as long as it should have done and one of the Saubers passed me as a result. I had a good fight with Eddie Irvine but, when he got alongside me coming into the final chicane, there was no way we were both going to get round the corner side-by-side. So, I cut across the chicane and stayed in front, but I knew I had to let him through otherwise I was going to get a 10-second penalty for missing the chicane. After that, I just pushed as hard as I could. The car had been good to start with but on the second and third stints I was fighting with pretty bad understeer. It's always good to finish but obviously I want to score points at the very least."
Peter Sauber: "It was very hard to score a point in this race, so I am really happy for Nick Heidfeld who made the most of his good qualifying performance and drove extremely well. Kimi Raikkonen started on a flexible strategy, and our sixth and seventh places proved that we got it right. To finish both cars in today's conditions was a fine job, and we achieved our goal which was to safeguard our fourth place in the World Championship for Constructors."
Nick Heidfeld: "It feels good to finish in the points for the first time in four races. Really good. And the car was definitely better in the race than it was last week, so we have made some valuable progress."
Kimi Raikkonen: "My car was really good in the early stages of the race. But after my second stop, I thought the tyres were degrading because I was having trouble with traction and with oversteer in the high-speed corners."
Craig Pollock: "Another difficult day for the team and very disappointing for Jacques not to finish. Olivier drove a good race but was unable to get anything more from the car. The team has to take stock now we need to focus all our efforts on resolving our problems and making significant testing progress for the next race and the rest of the season."
Olivier Panis: "I had a very difficult race today. I did the best job I could and so did the team. Everyone worked very hard and both pit stops were very good. We were really struggling for grip and it was difficult to attack the race because the car was sliding around so much. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to score points in front of my home crowd but I look forward to testing next week and making some progress ready for the British Grand Prix."
Jacques Villeneuve: "Whatever went wrong, it happened very suddenly and took me by surprise the engine cut and the car just stopped. I don’t know the cause of the problem yet we’ll need to take a look at the data but it seems to be some sort of electrical problem. It’s a great shame because it felt like we had a really good car today and I thought we could finish well."
Alain Prost: "Competition is made of good and bad results. Once more we have been very reliable and the work done this week-end has been very productive. But we did not expect to lack competitiveness on this kind of track. Magny-Cours is the type of circuit where it is always difficult to finish in the points as the overall reliability level is high. All we have to do is maintain our reliability and improve our performance to be able to score some points anytime it will be possible. We must improve in order to secure our future. Thanks to all the team for the hard work done before and during this Grand Prix, and to Luciano for his particularly good performance throughout the week-end. We hope that our fans are not too disappointed and thank them for their wonderful support. It gives us even more determination to know that they are behind us."
Henri Durand: "Obviously we were expecting much more from our home race, as we came here with a new aerodynamic package. Once we had demonstrated in practice that it was an improvement, we have not been able to use all its potential and we have struggled throughout the weekend with lack of grip and consistency between the different sessions. We must understand why it happened. Despite we are disappointed by the overall result, we will not be bittered and we know that the secret of success is hard work. Let’s get on with it."
Luciano Burti: "I think this was a good race. We had a good start and managed to get our start control to work properly now. In the beginning, I could follow Panis and Irvine, even being faster than Olivier at one stage. But then the car started suffering from heavy oversteer. After my pit-stop, on my second set of tyres, the car became very difficult to drive and had no grip at all. It was pretty much like driving in the wet. The third set was much better but I lost my position to Fisichella during the pit-stop. I was able to catch him up and overtake him soon after which was good fun. I would have liked to finish higher than 10th for me and for the team, but our performance has been quite good, and overall I feel happy with the job we have done today."
Jean Alesi: "Today’s race is the result of a difficult week-end, during which we have never been able to set-up my car properly. I feel so disappointed for the team and for the public. We have been working hard towards progress and results in the past weeks and this Grand Prix must not change our objectives and motivation."
Mike Gascoyne: "Giancarlo was delayed at the start by his brush with Verstappen and in fact both our drivers were trapped behind cars that were slower than ours. We decided to bring both cars in early after the first stint, in order to gain track position, and that paid off. Unfortunately when we later brought Giancarlo in for his second stop, it was at the same moment that Jenson had a fuel pressure problem and we had to bring him in on the same lap, but we knew we could turn them both around without losing any places. It did cost Jenson the chance of making further progress, however. Giancarlo actually picked up a place during his second stop, but both drivers suffered oversteer in the closing stages of the race. As a result, Giancarlo lost one position and Jenson had a spin. With our new race engine spec it was a shame not to get both our cars to the finish, but Jenson pulled up with a problem just before the end. We have not yet had chance to identify what went wrong. We have a test in Barcelona to look forward to and we now have more engines available, which will allow us to maximise the improvements that are coming. Although we are taking one small step at a time, we can look forward to some solid improvements in the second half of the season."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I had a bad first lap because I touched Jos Verstappen's Arrows and lost a few positions as a result. I think I must have done a little damage, because something felt strange in the suspension and the car was odd under braking, But things improved as the race wore on and it did not work out too badly for us. I am not too unhappy to have finished 11th."
Jenson Button: "Giancarlo and I both got a lot of wheelspin at the start, but I passed Giancarlo and also got by Alesi at the hairpin. My first stop took a long time, which cost me a place, but the car was pretty good during the second stint. The engine started to cut before my second stop, and when I pitted Giancarlo was already there not ideal, but because I had a fuel pressure problem I had no option but to come in at that moment. I had a small spin towards the end because I had lots of oversteer and I was pushing so hard that I flat-spotted a tyre and had to cope with a good deal of vibration in the final stint. Finally, something locked at the rear of the car and I slid off the road."
Mika Coughlan: “Enrique was driving a good race before he was stopped with the same engine problem that caused Jos to stop last weekend at the Nurburgring which is disappointing. AsiaTech will be working hard to rectify this problem. Jos did a very good job today but was let down by a fuel rig failure in his first pit-stop. This has happened before so we'll be working with the FIA to ensure it doesn't happen again. All in all it was a difficult race with tough handling adding to the problems.”
Jos Verstappen: "What can I say? A very very bad race for me. The start was okay but there was a problem with my first pit-stop so I lost a lot of places. There was no grip out there at all and on my last set of tyres it was particularly slippery. It's good to finish of course but it was a lot of hard work for 13th position. Not a good race."
Enrique Bernoldi: “The car just stopped a couple of laps before I was due in for my first pit-stop. It's unfortunate as I was having a great race until that moment, really enjoying battling with my team-mate. I have to just put this behind me now and concentrate on preparations for Silverstone.”
Bobby Rahal: "I'm obviously disappointed but I take comfort from how far we have come in such a small time frame. Eddie drove a magnificent race and I think he's overtaken more people this year than anybody. He was also one of the fastest guys out there today and we have learned the same lesson here as we did at the Nurburgring - we need to qualify better. The car obviously needs more work, especially during Qualifying, but the potential is there. The tyres are good and the package is coming on well, but it's clear that we need to do more. We lost a point today and maybe even two. It's the home race next and we have some new bits for the car. The team will head to the Monza test next week and look at where we are going wrong in an effort to get it right."
Pedro de la Rosa: "That's a race I want to forget about. I lost my throttle on the formation lap and for a while it looked like a retirement. It then began working again and I had no choice but to race hard and see what happened. The feeling of frustration is made worse because of how good the car felt. It was well balanced and again the tyres worked very well indeed. There's very little you can do in those situations apart from getting your head down and just hoping for some luck to come your way. The less said about this race, the better."
Eddie Irvine: "Again, qualifying below our potential ruined our weekend and on this occasion I shoulder some of the blame for not doing a better job yesterday. I couldn't have driven a harder race today and to have started from 12th and ending up fighting for points proves that we are capable of better things. We keep saying it, I know, but we need to make better use of Qualifying. It seems to me that the Bridgestone tyres are great during Qualifying but we have a far better Michelin tyre during the race. It wasn't easy getting past Panis and Frentzen and the pair of them were killing me through the faster corners. I knew where I wanted to pass Panis and after a while he began covering himself. I spent sometime allowing him to think that I wasn't going to take him at that point and in the end I pounced and made it through. It's great fun racing in the manner that we did today and very satisfying to come through the field and scrap for points. Big shame about the way it ended though!"Paul Stoddart: "On a warm Magny Cours afternoon, European Minardi F1 was pleased with the performance of both its cars and drivers in today's French Grand Prix. Fernando, who was the only driver on a one-stop strategy, drove an excellent race, although we did have to bring him into the pits five laps from the end for a precautionary stop. Tarso, who was on a more conventional two-stop strategy, drove faultlessly in the hot conditions and fully warranted his 15th-place finish. European Minardi now looks forward to participating in one of its two 'home' Grands Prix, at Silverstone, in two weeks' time."
Tarso Marques: "It was good to finish the race cause this is very important for us. We knew it would be a hard race because the track here in Magny Cours is very changeable. In addition, I did not have a good warm-up this morning due to a gearbox failure on the first run, which forced me to switch to the spare car. As for the race, it all went fine, except in the closing stages, when I started to have some gear-selection problems that caused me to lose time. I feel happy, however, to have seen the chequered flag today."
Fernando Alonso: "It is frustrating to retire with only five laps to the end of the race, however, the positive aspect of the day is that I was able to accumulate further miles and experience. The handling of my car was fine, confirming its good reliability. In Germany, we drove a trouble-free race. Today, both cars could have reached the finishing line if we had been just a bit luckier. It is a clear sign that the team is doing a really good job."