2003 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix
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What the teams and drivers said - Sunday
Ron Dennis: "An excellent race for the team and a great performance from our strategist. Both drivers excelled in difficult conditions and a good win for David. Our apologies to Kimi whose 1.1 kilometre pitlane entry speeding excess was caused by a team error. We look forward to Malaysia which should suit our package."
Norbert Haug: "The key to our success was the original one-stop strategy and the decisions made by the team at the right time. Both drivers performed excellently. The fact that there were three competitive teams made for an exciting race."
David Coulthard: "A great end to what has been a difficult weekend and a superb start to the season. During the installation lap, the circuit was still wet, so we decided to start the race on wet tyres. However, during the first lap the track had dried enough for dry tyres and I came in for a quick change and fuel top up at the end of lap two. I'm really happy with the result especially as it is such a stark contrast to yesterday's qualifying. The team did a great job and we had the right strategy, which allowed us to optimise the unusual circumstances with the weather and the safety car. I think our performance showed that we have taken a step forward with the MP4-17D and further improved our competitiveness and hopefully we are all in for an exciting season."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I'm obviously a bit disappointed because I was caught speeding marginally in the pitlane which possibly cost me the victory. However I'm pleased that the team won and we could start the 2003 season with a good result for everybody. During the formation lap I realised that the track was drying quicker than we had expected and we decided to come in for dry tyres, so in effect I started the race from the pitlane. I had a long battle with Michael Schumacher and managed to keep him behind me. He always seemed to get a fast exit out of the last corner, which allowed him to catch up and challenge me during braking for the first chicane. At one point we were side by side but I knew that I was on the inside and the corner wasn't wide enough for two cars so I stayed ahead-- it was real fun. All in all an exciting race."
Sam Michael: "It is very good for Juan and for the team to start the season with a second place. We are obviously very happy. It is a pity that at Ralf's pit stop a problem with the right rear wheel cost him about ten seconds. After all the winter testing it was very interesting to see how strong the other cars were in the race. Obviously Ferrari and McLaren are very competitive again."
Gerhard Berger: "This was an exciting and turbulent race from the start to the end. We went for a good strategy but unfortunately Juan Pablo missed his chance of a victory. After his spin he defended his second place in a fantastic way. We are happy with this second place in the first race even if we could actually have won."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "In spite of this good outcome I must say this was a pretty disastrous race for me. We started on dry tyres and this was an excellent decision but then the safety car came out twice and just cancelled our advantage both times. Then when I finally got the lead again I went into turn one and simply went sideways when I picked up the throttle. It was absolutely my fault, but also the only mistake I made this weekend. In my second pit stop I did not change tyres as they were excellent and I was sure the car would be less competitive on new tyres. The last laps were very difficult as I felt a lot of pressure from Kimi Raikkonen."
Ralf Schumacher: "It was an exciting race with mixed emotions for the team. Juan's second place is obviously good for us, but at my first pit stop a problem occurred during the tyre change. I was third when I came in but dropped to last position when I went back on track. My race was over there already. However, I think we shouldn't rely too much on today's result. McLaren did a fantastic job and won the race despite starting on the wrong tyres. I found it strange that Ferrari too started on wet tyres. It is obviously wonderful for the team to have achieved a place on the podium in the first race . However, something is clear, we have a lot of work ahead of us as the new Ferrari is going to arrive shortly as well as the new McLaren."
Jean Todt: “It was a very strange race and not really because of the new rules. The weather at the start and in the early stages, which saw some drivers running wet tyres and others on dry ones, the Safety Car appearing twice and the different strategies, were all factors which made the race hard to read and different to usual. Five points is not exactly a great tally, given that we started with an all-red front row. The result shows that the slightest mistake results in a heavy penalty. It was a shame for Rubens, who lost control of the car when the track was still slippery and ended up in the barriers. As usual, Michael never gave up. But when he had a clear track ahead of him, he was unable to push to the maximum as his car was damaged. Today’s result brings to an end a run of 53 consecutive races featuring a Ferrari on the podium. Now we must attack once more. We know this will be a very tough season, but we also know we have all the right elements in place to be able to fight for success at the end.”
Ross Brawn: “The race did not work out for us, especially as the
safety car did not fit in with what we were trying to do. I think we made the
wrong call in terms of the tyres we started on. We were on intermediates and
the track dried up much faster than we expected. We had a problem during his
first pit stop and then Michael went off the track at Turn 12 and damaged the
car. After that, Michael drove really well, because the car was no longer
Michael Schumacher: “The changing weather made for a chaotic race today. We could not have predicted there would be two Safety Car periods and in this situation it is just a gamble whether or not it works in your favour at the right time. At one point I hit the kerbs, damaged the car quite badly and lost a lot of time because of it. Apparently, on the lap before my last pit stop, some parts started hanging off the car and that was badly affecting its handling. It felt as though the car was damaged and I even thought I might have a puncture. So, all things considered I think we can be happy with fourth place today. It was an interesting day with plenty of action and these 5 points will be important later in the year. The F2002 is still very competitive.”
Rubens Barrichello: “A disappointing day, but it’s not a case of Australia being unlucky for me. It was just one of those things. There is no need to panic about this result. We just have to dig in and concentrate on Malaysia. The F2002 is still a very good car, as could be seen by Michael’s lap times, even when he had lost some bodywork. As for my start, we will have to investigate what happened, as I was holding the car on the brake as much as I could, but it just wanted to start early today. We felt intermediate tyres were the best choice, but the track dried very quickly. Just before the accident, we were talking on the radio about my penalty. I went into Turn 5 too fast, had understeer and could not hold it. The car was going well, but the front tyres were already in trouble, because the track dried quicker than expected and I was still having to push hard. We must now put this race behind us, look to the next one and get used to the new rules.”
Flavio Briatore: "I am simply delighted with our result in this first race of the season. My best congratulations go first to the whole team which has done a fantastic job throughout the weekend. As for the drivers, they have both done a great job. Jarno driving an impeccable race and scoring four points and young Fernando showing already all his talent with his 2-points finish. I'm also pleasantly surprised by our lap times, much more competitive than I expected."
Mike Gascoyne: "A very good finish to a positive weekend. The team has done an excellent job. Unfortunately the first safety car meant we couldn't exploit the right tyre choice but both drivers were very strong in the first part of the race and they drove very well through the rest of the race, bringing both cars to a good points scoring finish."
Denis Chevrier : "We can be quite satisfied from this first race, which ran very smoothly on the engine side. We showed a level of competitiveness which confirms us as the fourth team. It's a very encouraging start."
Jarno Trulli: "I feel great! We chose the right strategy from the beginning and the car felt very good. I feel encouraged especially because it seems that we have now managed to achieve the reliability we were lacking and to score points with both cars at this first race is a fantastic start of the season. A big thank you to the whole Renault F1 Team who has been working very hard to get to this."
Fernando Alonso: "This is the best result I could expect from my first race of this season. The car was good and competitive throughout the race and we were constant and reliable from the beginning. These first points are a great achievement for me personally and also for the team who has done a great job."
Peter Sauber: "It was impossible for us to start on grooved tyres, and then after the drivers had changed from wets the safety car came out. Considering all these problems so early on, to finish sixth and score three points is fantastic. Thank you Heinz-Harald for a successful return to the team. And thank you to the team for keeping its head in trying circumstances. It was unfortunate that Nick was hit by another car early on, but we are delighted to start the new season so strongly."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "It was pretty tight out there in the early laps! But then it dried out very quickly and I had to come in and change to grooved tyres. After that the car was very consistent all through the race and my only problem was trying to get by Trulli, who blocked one way, then the other. But it was all fair stuff, and in the circumstances I'm happy to finish sixth and keep Alonso behind me."
Nick Heidfeld: "The opening laps were really good fun, but my wet tyres quickly lost efficiency. If I had started further back I would have opted for grooved tyres, but since I was starting well up the grid I took the safe option. Once I had changed them the car did not feel normal because in the heavy traffic somebody had moved over and hit my right front wheel. Later on the suspension broke as a result of that, and I was really lucky not to hit Ralf (Schumacher) when the car veered out of control."
David Richards: "It has been a very encouraging weekend in terms of our pace and reliability. Credit must go to all the team, who worked long hours and performed admirably during the pitstops. Unfortunately, in hindsight, it looks like we called the wrong race strategy here and we will be reviewing that over the next few days. Our problems were compounded by the fact that Jacques seemed unable to hear his radio properly, which resulted in him pitting at the same time as Jenson. On the positive side we know we have a competitive car and we can look forward with confidence to a much more successful season."
Geoff Willis: "All the hard work that went into our testing paid dividends this weekend. At the first stop for tyres we were unsure whether the slicks would last long enough to enable us to take only one more pitstop. With the benefit of hindsight that turned out to be the wrong decision, which resulted in us failing to score points which were there for the taking. A disappointing end to the weekend but we'll bounce back in time for Malaysia."
Shuhei Nakamoto: "Being so close to a points finish is really frustrating. Both Jacques and Jenson had to pit early on to change to dry tyres and ended up pitting three times, which meant we just lost out on points. But all in all I think we've shown that we have a fast car over the weekend so I'm encouraged for the rest of the season."
Jacques Villeneuve: "I had radio problems so it was very difficult to communicate with the pit wall and both cars ended up pitting at the same time. We went with what we knew about the tyres but we didn't expect the slicks to get to the halfway point. It took a long time to get the tyres working and I didn't get enough time on any set. Our strategy would have been good without the safety cars but things definitely didn't work out for us today."
Jenson Button: "It was very frustrating that we made the wrong tyre choice at the start and for my team-mate to come in on the wrong lap was disappointing and quite embarrassing really. The car worked very well in the practice sessions and qualifying so it was very disappointing to finish where we did today because we were very quick in the race."
Paul Stoddart: “Today's Australian Grand Prix marks the first time a Minardi PS03 has completed a full race distance. It was gratifying to see Jos racing as high as eighth place, and with the team adopting a slightly risky strategy that relied on rain, it was a gamble that almost paid off. Nevertheless, to get Jos home in P11 was a very credible team performance. Sadly, Justin's car suffered a holed radiator, and despite a valiant effort by the team to repair the car, sadly, it was not able to rejoin the race. Our congratulations, however, go to Justin, on making his overdue Formula One debut, and to Jos the Boss, on making his well-deserved return to Grand Prix racing.”
Jos Verstappen: “I think the most important thing for the whole team is to get the car to the finish, and that's what we did today. I had to jump into the T-car because of an oil leak in my race car. That was a bit difficult, as the spare car was set up for Justin, but it was still reasonably all right. The balance felt pretty good, especially on the first set of tyres, but after the first pit stop, the balance was gone. After that, it was just a tough race to the chequered flag for me.”
Justin Wilson: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity of getting towards the midfield and being able to race some of the other guys and drive past them. It was good fun and an enjoyable experience, especially in my first Grand Prix. It was just bad luck to get a stone through the radiator, which caused us to have the terminal problem. Other than that, I didn't have any particular difficulties today.”
"Obviously it was a race marked by adverse conditions at the start
but everyone suffered them and I believe that we did a decent job. Our
fuel strategy in qualifying was correct and we made the right call to use
dry tyres. I am quite happy although we were not going to score a point
today as Giancarlo was running 9th after having the drama with the fuel
hatch. Then we had the gear shift problem, but I'd rather have that when
we weren't going to score!."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "Well, lots of things happened in the race. First of all I lost three or four positions at Turn 6 on lap 1 when I lost the car a little under braking. Then when Ralph had his accident bits of debris hit my car smashing off the wing mirror and damaging my rear wing. After that I was running at a good pace but we had the problem on the pit stop with the fuel cover and then at the end of the race the car had some gear problem."
Ralph Firman: "I was not pushing one hundred percent when the accident happened. I was well within myself but then suddenly had major oversteer, lost the car and hit the barrier. Rubens went off there and I understand there was a possibility of some oil on the track but I honestly don't know. It was going well before then, I was cautious over the first few laps and this is an unfortunate outcome. The team did a very good job to make the right call on tyre choice, so it's naturally very disappointing not to finish."
Dr Mark Gillan: "Obviously not the end-result
we wanted but we are not too disappointed. It's been the first weekend
under the new regulations and combined with a new race package and new
driver in Antonio, one of our many aims was the generate a data bank of
information and understanding prior to the next race. The decision to
change back to dry tyres on the grid was a risky one but proved correct in
the end. Mark drove an excellent race to get up to fifth place and at one
point, our pit-board man was unsure as to where the Michael Schumacher
sign was given how long it's been since we've used it! Given his debut on
the Albert Park circuit and the very limited track time he has had all
weekend, it was always going to be tough for Antonio but nonetheless, we
can take nothing away from his performance today. He drove a determined
and hard race and in the process, generated some valuable race experience
for himself. The Jaguar R4 has proved very responsive all weekend and we
leave Melbourne encouraged about the potential of the race package. There
is still, however, a lot of development work ahead of us but one thing is
for sure, we have a race car that is significantly better in every
department than the car we raced here last year. The Michelin tyres worked
very well indeed and Cosworth Racing must also take credit for the
tremendous effort they have put into the all-new CR5-V10 engine. It's been
the first race of sixteen and we have a lot to look forward to after this
Mark Webber: "To have retired from fifth place at my home race is a little disappointing but I remain positive because of the clear potential we showed today. Up until race day, it has been very difficult to get a crystal clear position of where we are relative to the competition because of the different strategies teams have employed on tyres and fuels. Once the race began, the performance of the car was good and I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there. I was on a two-stop strategy today and even though I knew Michael Schumacher was probably running a little heavier than me on fuel, it was a very nice feeling indeed to be fighting him on the race track. The team has made absolutely the right calls all weekend -- both in terms of set-up and strategy. The boys have worked tirelessly and while it would have been great to have rewarded everyone with points or even the podium, the long season ahead will undoubtedly highlight the potential of the race car we have."
Ove Andersson: "I am disappointed but I am not concerned because I think the TF103 car has shown really good potential. We can look forward now with careful confidence for the upcoming races. I am sorry for both Olivier and Cristiano for what has happened today, but that is racing and we have to live with that. They have been around long enough in racing to know that."
Olivier Panis: "We have been having a problem
with the fuel pressure sometimes during the weekend and it came back
during the race today. We made a good decision to start the race on slick
tyres and it is a real shame because we were going so well. I am sure we
missed out on a podium today, but I want to remain positive. The car felt
really good and I think the whole team has done a good job and we have
shown our potential this weekend."