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2003 European Grand Prix 
What the teams and drivers said - Sunday  

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Sunday

Williams ( Ralf Schumacher - 1st, Juan Pablo Montoya - 2nd )

Sam Michael: "It was a fantastic day today. Ralf and Juan drove superb races and the team did a great job in terms of preparing the cars and strategy. The mechanics also did an excellent job at the pit stops. It is a great result for our team and also for the championship. We know our car is competitive and we are looking forward to being strong over the next couple of races. We will maintain our aggressive development programme for the up coming races. Juan overtaking Michael was a fantastic manoeuvre that should be a normal part of F1. The fact that Michael spun was a racing incident."

Gerhard Berger: "It was just a perfect weekend for our team. First we finalised the extension of the contract and then we achieved a one-two victory on BMW's home ground. I feel really happy for the team and especially for Ralf. Today he demonstrated to everybody that he is a first-class driver. I would suggest we have all earned a glass of champagne now."

Ralf Schumacher: "It is great to win after a long time and especially after I failed to turn two poles into victory in the last two races. I had a very good start and for some reason Michael did not. I took the chance and jumped into second position into the first corner. I think that seen from the outside that manoeuvre looked more spectacular than it actually was. I believe I could have caught Kimi, even if it would have been difficult. We had a perfect car with perfect tyres today and if we consider we were about ten kilos heavier than the others at the start, it was a very good performance."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am pleased with second position, especially because after the start I dropped into 5th place. I had some problems with tyre graining, so I decided to change only the rear tyres at the first pit stop, but it wasn't the right choice so I changed all of them at the second stop. On new tyres the car felt much better. With regards to the overtaking manoeuvre on Michael, I braked late and gave him enough room to go around the corner on the inside. We touched and he spun. It was a racing incident, even if I must say that overtaking Michael at his home GP was much fun."

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Ferrari ( Rubens Barrichello - 3rd, Michael Schumacher - 5th )

Jean Todt: "We expected a close and tough fight and that is what we got. Third and fifth places for Rubens and Michael respectively have brought us some valuable points for both championships. A first analysis of the race reveals that our chassis, engine, tyre package was not the quickest out on the track, but its reliability allowed us to get both cars home in the points. Michael was fighting for second place, when he spun after a collision with Montoya who was trying to pass him. Thanks to the track marshals who pushed him out of the gravel, he managed to continue, going on to score very important points in terms of the championship. Rubens drove a very solid race to get to the third step of the podium, which was the best we could do today."

Ross Brawn: "It was a difficult race for us. Our rivals proved to be clearly more competitive and there was not much we could do to change that situation. I don�t think there is one specific area that was to blame today. We must work on the whole package to improve our performance level. It was our reliability which meant we got both cars home in the points, thus extending our lead in both championships."

Rubens Barrichello: "You are never really happy with third, but considering the difficulties I had with the balance of the car, this is a fairly good result. I had a good start and managed to pass Juan Pablo. After that in the first stint, I could match the pace of those ahead, but could not catch them and I was also conserving fuel a bit at that point. It was disappointing that Montoya got past me in the pit stop. However, after the pit stops, the balance of the car was not as good with the full fuel load, and it improved a bit as the car got lighter. I was a bit happier on the second set of tyres and was catching Michael quite rapidly. Basically, I was fighting the balance of the car all the time and we tried fixing it by changing tyre pressures and the front wing settings. Now, I am hoping we can go better at Magny-Cours, although it should be another tough weekend."

Michael Schumacher: "Considering that my lead in the world championship has now increased to seven points, I cannot really complain about the result of this race. Especially as with the new points system it takes longer to catch up, except in the case of a non-finish. As for the collision with Juan Pablo, in my opinion it was a straightforward racing incident. He was faster than me, tried to pass, gave me just enough room to survive. Maybe I could have wished for a little bit more space, but I have no problem with Juan Pablo over this. No one was to blame. Of course, I am happy for Ralf, keeping it in the family at our home race."

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Renault (Fernando Alonso - 4th, Jarno Trulli - Retired )

Flavio Briatore: "I am very happy with the result. I'm sorry for Jarno, who was very quick all weekend and did a fantastic job during the race. As for Fernando, he didn't crack under the pressure and scored some more valuable points."

Pat Symonds: "A very hard race for Fernando, who had to push all the way through to hold off the challenges of David and Michael. He withstood the pressure well, to give us a satisfying fourth place. Jarno provided an excellent performance all weekend, and was looking very comfortable in the race until what we believe was a fuel pressure problem stopped him out on the circuit. The cars performed well in race trim, and our tyres were well suited to this track."

Denis Chevrier: "This was a race run under constant pressure. There were no surprises with the conditions, and we didn't suffer any problems on Fernando's car. There is still a question mark over Jarno's retirement, as the car stopped in a telemetry blind spot out on the circuit. However, we believe he suffered a fuel pressure problem. In summary, this was a good race where we showed ourselves to be, if not capable of beating the front runners, certainly in a good position to challenge them."

Fernando Alonso: "A good race for me, and a strong result after a difficult weekend. I had a good fight with Jarno in the first few corners, which he eventually won coming out of Turn 4. I managed to get past him when he pitted before me, but I lost some performance during the last stint, even though we made small aerodynamic changes at both stops. I was under a lot of pressure during the last stint, first from Coulthard and then Michael, but I managed to keep my position. Ralf's win means I have lost my third position in the Championship, but I'm not too worried: we did a good job this weekend."

Jarno Trulli: "Unfortunately, I think my car stopped with a fuel pressure problem. Until the retirement, I was having a good race: I managed to keep up with the leaders at the start, but then lost time behind Fernando during the second stint: I was a little bit quicker, but could not overtake. It looked like we were going to get two points finishes today, and it is therefore a shame to leave with just one."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 6th, Antonio Pizzonia - 10th )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "Our tyre choice, race strategy and yet another fine drive from Mark has earned us a precious three championship points today. We were quite comfortable going into this race knowing that we had opted for a race strategy all weekend as opposed to putting too many eggs into the qualifying basket. This paid off today! Both drivers made a good start and even though Mark lost a couple of places at the first corner, he recovered very quickly to stamp his authority further up the grid. We modified our strategies to suit the changing race order and both drivers pushed very hard out there today. Antonio was unlucky to have suffered from a stop-go penalty and we'll have to look at the data to see exactly where the offence was committed. Nonetheless, we are clearly making an impression on our reliability targets and combined with the competitiveness of the Jaguar R4, we will be looking for more points in Magny-Cours next weekend. Michelin, Cosworth and the team have done a great job this weekend in that we haven't suffered from one issue since we arrived. Credit must also go to everyone back at base who has done an excellent job and with back-to-back races, have another hard week ahead of them. Excellent work all round."

Mark Webber: "A tough and sometimes frustrating race but one which has given us three more championship points -- both on the Constructor's and Driver's table. I'm a little disappointed not to have achieved a better balance on the car and at times, the rear tyres were simply too good. I suffered understeer during the first two stints but after my second stop, the car came good and very competitive. It was interesting and quite enjoyable to fight the BAR-Honda of Jenson Button out there today and in the end, my pit-crew did a great job to help get me out ahead of him. I kept pushing very hard towards Jenson and once ahead him, the aim was to keep driving hard and away from him. The balance of the car was very good and Michelin have done an incredible job here this weekend. The reliability is also clearly much better and with seven races left on the calendar, we are far from finished in the points battle."

Antonio Pizzonia: "A frustrating race for me in that there was some confusion between myself and the pit-crew when it came to the tyre change during my second stop. We are looking into how this happened, but it appears that the wrong tyres were put onto my car and this didn't make for an easy race. The car was difficult to drive and coupled with my ten-second stop-go, I was forced to finish outside the points. I've struggled to find an optimum set-up here all weekend and we have made several changes to the car to try and help cure this. The reliability, however, keeps on going from strength to strength and combined with the competitiveness, we are clearly making good progress. Just a shame not to have shared some championship points with Mark today."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 7th, Jacques Villeneuve - Retired )

David Richards: "Jenson drove a faultless race, although we have to accept that our final position was achieved through attrition rather than pure performance this weekend. Having said that, the increased reliability and performance provided by Honda is has made a significant contribution. Nonetheless two points are two points and we now move into a clear fifth place in the Championship. Jacques� race was very disappointing with an early spin, a pitstop requiring a new nose, then ending with a transmission failure which we now have to get to the bottom of. With only one week before France and the summer testing ban looming on the horizon, there�s not going to be much rest for our team over the next three weeks leading up to the British Grand Prix."

Geoff Willis: "This has been a difficult weekend for the team so it is very good to finish with two more points. Jenson drove a solid race, particularly resisting the pressure of those behind him during the middle stint of the race. A great deal of credit must go to the pit crew today; they did an excellent job to change Jacques' nose in record time and get him out before Jenson came in on a scheduled stop just 10 seconds later. Jacques had a fairly dismal race; he started poorly and dropped to 19th, then had to fight his way past the Minardis. A subsequent mistake at the chicane saw him damage the front wing and finally his race came to an early conclusion with a second-gear failure, the cause of which will now be investigated."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Jenson drove a good race and I'm pleased the team is back to points scoring form. We're encouraged by the overall performance of our engine this weekend and look forward to being fully able to demonstrate its capacity at Magny-Cours. Jacques obviously had a hard day. I hope he'll be back refreshed in France next weekend."

Jenson Button: "I'm very happy to finish where we did because we weren't really on the pace at all today. The start was poor and there must have been a 30-metre gap between me and the guys in front, but I caught up at the first corner and managed to get past Webber in the process. I was really struggling with oversteer and I had to take it really easy on the first couple of stints to conserve the tyres, otherwise it would just have been oversteer all the way. It's been a tough old weekend here so I'm pleased we were able to get a couple of points into the bargain because the boys deserve a bit of a boost. Their work in the pits today was incredible with Jacques and I in on the same lap. I hope we can all expect something more in Magny-Cours next weekend."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I'm pleased to see the end of a very bad weekend. Once we got going the pace wasn't too bad, but it was hard to be stuck behind the Minardis. I made a couple of mistakes as well and I was lucky to recover from my spin in the chicane. Just as it looked as if I was at least going to be able to finish the race, second gear broke and it was over. I guess we just have to hope for a better weekend in Magny-Cours now."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 8th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 9th )

Peter Sauber: "To score one point after starting the race from the pit lane is a fantastic achievement, particularly considering our current situation! The fact that both Nick and Heinz-Harald finished in the top 9 clearly shows the good performance of our team and, of course, the drivers. In comparison with our competitors the improvement in the performance of the car was also clearly visible.
Unfortunately we couldn't make more out of it from our starting positions. Thank you to the whole team. This weekend for us was like sitting a really tough exam, which we have passed."

Nick Heidfeld: "After I didn't get a timed qualifying lap yesterday I decided to start the race from the pit lane. At the beginning it was not easy to pass both Minardi drivers and I also got stuck behind Villeneuve. But after that the car was going well. I am just very happy about my result!"

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "My congratulations to Nick! I am happy for him and for the whole team! We have scored one point and also both cars were undamaged today and we were both able to finish the race. Normally, this shouldn't be unusual, but after yesterday's qualifying session our results today are a surprise to me. At the beginning I was fighting with Firman, but then I was able to get on with my own race and I'm happy to finish in the top 9."

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Jordan ( Ralph Firman - 11th, Giancarlo Fisichella - 12th )

Eddie Jordan: "Obviously it's disappointing to work so hard and not get anything in return, but it was positive to have two reliable cars get to the finish. We are doing everything in our power to get ourselves into a better position."

Gary Anderson: "That was a tough race. Three stops here penalised us - all the cars that did three stops ended up together in the results so that proves something about the strategy. We thought it was worth a shot to see if we could pull anything out of it, but it didn't work. I'm impressed with our reliability, but the reality is we need to be faster to score points."

Ralph Firman: "I had a good start and first couple of corners, but straight away the circuit was very different from yesterday. The car had oversteer and I struggled with that through the whole race - even when the circuit picked up grip we didn't make up any lap time, which is obviously quite disappointing. It was a very difficult race so I'm looking ahead to the next one."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "My launch control didn't work very well at the start and the engine nearly stalled so I lost a few places. I had understeer for a couple of laps and then huge oversteer for the rest of the race which made it very difficult to make up time. Three stops maybe wasn't the best strategy, we didn't get the best car balance and we were not quick enough."


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Minardi ( Justin Wilson - 13th , Jos Verstappen - 14th )

Paul Stoddart: "It was a tough race, but both drivers did a fantastic job in difficult circumstances. This was a weekend when we simply had no grip in the dry. It�s always good to get two cars home, so we leave the Nurburgring proud of the job done by the team and drivers, especially in the pit stops, and hopeful that there will be more grip available for us in France."

Justin Wilson: "It was quite an interesting first stint from my standpoint, as I had a good battle with Jos and Jacques Villeneuve. Jos was able to drive down the inside of him at Turn 1, but I couldn�t quite make it and had to tuck back in before the next corner. I then went a bit wide at the corner and couldn�t shut the door, which allowed Heidfeld to get through. I was able to close on Jos, though, who was clearly struggling with his car, before Jacques had a big spin, which allowed both of us to get by him again. I eventually caught Jos, passed him and was able to get away. During the first stint, the car was sliding really badly, but after the first pit stop, the tyres seemed a little better in terms of grip. I just concentrated on driving smoothly and keeping the car on the track. The pit stops today were spot on � the guys did a good job this afternoon, and I�d like to thank them for that. In the end, it was nice to get the car home again."

Jos Verstappen: "That was probably one of the worst races I�ve ever had � the car had so much oversteer and so little grip, it was like driving on ice. I just couldn�t do anything. I pushed as hard as I could for the first half of the race, but then just decided the best strategy was going to be to try to bring the car home in one piece. I feel particularly sorry for all the mechanics in the team, as they worked hard all weekend, but that was the best we could do today."

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McLaren ( David Coulthard - Retired - Classified 15th , Kimi Raikkonen - Retired )

Ron Dennis: "Our drivers' comments and the obvious outcome of the weekend say it all. With seven races to go our objective will be to put today firmly behind us and concentrate on the remaining part of the season, and we must not lose sight of the fact that we have a very competitive package."

Norbert Haug: "Kimi was the fastest man on the track today. He was clearly ahead when an engine failure finished his race shortly before half distance. He did everything right during the weekend and I feel very sorry for him. With regards to David's incident it looked as Alonso slowed down very suddenly and David had to take evasive action to avoid having a high-speed accident. We will work hard to reduce the seven points deficit to Michael Schumacher at the next race in France this coming weekend."

David Coulthard: "A frustrating weekend for the whole team. During the race I was benefiting from what was happening at the front and as a result was making good progress. In the latter part, I was fighting with Alonso for fourth and there were a couple of incidents, one in particular at turn eight when I ended up on the grass. However a few laps later I was forced to take evasive action to avoid running into the back of him as he braked incredibly early and that was the end of my race. I have my own views on the incident which I will discuss privately with Alonso, but at the end of the day it's for the Stewards to decide."

Kimi Raikkonen: "Obviously I'm extremely disappointed as we could have won today. I made a textbook start from pole position and was able to control the race and was pulling away until I had to retire with an engine failure. I had no indication that it was going to happen and the car was feeling great. However that is motor racing and we have to focus on the French Grand Prix. The gap to Michael can easily be closed with a good result and that is what we want to achieve next weekend."

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Toyota ( Cristiano da Matta - Retired, Olivier Panis - Retired )

Ove Andersson: "Words cannot explain how upsetting this result is for the whole team after the strong showing we achieved on Friday and Saturday. The reason for Cristiano's retirement was quite clearly an engine failure, but the exact problem will have to be investigated. Olivier was suffering from intermittent brake locking, which made his car difficult to control, ultimately resulting in the spin that put him out of the race. But, again, we do not know the precise cause of this. We now travel the short distance back to the factory in Cologne, where we will study the race data in detail to determine exactly what went wrong. I absolutely refuse to be downbeat. The team and drivers have done an impressive job this weekend and we must simply learn from the race and look ahead with optimism to next weekend's French Grand Prix."

Cristiano da Matta: "Not a good afternoon for us unfortunately. I made a reasonable start, retaining my tenth place and everything ran smoothly until about a third of the way through the race, when my front end plate was damaged. This meant an unscheduled pit stop to change the nose, but the guys did an outstanding job to get me back out quickly. In the end, my retirement from the race was down to an engine failure, most likely to be the result of an oil leak, or something similar. We'll have to look closely into this to find the exact cause."

Olivier Panis: "I was in eighth place by lap ten and gaining on Alonso, but then the front brakes locked up, which made it impossible to turn, causing the car to spin. Luckily, I kept the engine going, but it happened again later in the race and on this occasion the engine stalled and I was unable to continue. We don't yet know what the reason was. It goes without saying that I am extremely disappointed with the outcome of today's race. I was so sure we could pick up a good points finish after such competitiveness in practice and second qualifying. The team has done a good job and I am very positive about the next race in Magny-Cours - my home grand prix."

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