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

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Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Sunday

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

Sam Michael: "It was another fantastic performance from the entire team. Juan drove an error-free and superb race from start to finish. The engineers did an excellent job in preparing the car, and also the strategy was very good. We were able to pull away from the rest of the field right after the first pit stop. To be honest, it was surprising to us that quite a number of teams went for a two stop strategy. For us, the decision for three stops was very clear. Furthermore the tyre choice obviously was right as they worked very well in the heat. Unfortunately we lost Ralf's car only a few seconds after the start, otherwise, I definitely believe it would have been another one-two victory for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team today."

Gerhard Berger: "It was important for us to turn our strengths here into points. Especially regarding the Constructors' world championship we are now within striking distance of Ferrari. There is a lot that can happen over the remaining four rounds of the season. Juan Pablo drove a perfect race, but Ralf had bad luck.. Even under these hot conditions the chassis and our BMW P83 engine have proven to be very reliable."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "A perfect finish to a perfect race weekend. The car was excellent. I started from the clean side of the track and basically I just had to be consistent, to keep the same pace all race and to try not to make any mistakes. It was amazing how I could pull away and maybe because of this it was not too bad a race from the physical point of view. I am happy to be only six points away from Michael now, since there are just four races to go and it is so important to score points consistently, for me this counts now more than ever before. Things can easily go wrong for everybody as we have witnessed today when it happened to both of the Schumachers."

Ralf Schumacher: "It's obviously a huge disappointment but this is the way motor racing is sometimes. You cannot think about what people around you are doing and sometimes these incidents do happen. I was just trying to defend my position and I didn't make any sudden move or anything so there was all the time in the world for other cars to move away from me. The impact from Raikkonen's car crashing into my car, damaged all of the left sidepod and radiator and the floor and I couldn't do anything but retire."

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McLaren (  David Coulthard - 2nd,  Kimi Raikkonen - Retired )

Ron Dennis: "Another day of mixed fortunes for the team, but nevertheless an exciting race for Formula One. Kimi's retirement was a result of a chain reaction initiated by Rubens making a poor start, but that is motor racing. David drove an excellent race with the team contributing with a well-judged switch to a two stop strategy. This certainly influenced similar decisions to be taken by other teams which ultimately led them into serious tyre problems. Congratulations to our Partner Michelin who provided us with some brilliant tyres that had to cope with extremely high temperatures -- the like of which are rarely seen in Formula One."

Norbert Haug: "Kimi made a rocket start, but unfortunately he became a victim of cars touching each other on the run to the first corner. David drove an excellent race and the team performed a good strategy and showed what would have been possible for Kimi as well. Congratulations to BMW Williams and Juan Pablo Montoya."

David Coulthard: "I'm very pleased with my result after a difficult weekend. I made a good start and got past a few cars. Unfortunately Kimi got caught in the first corner accident which certainly cost the team valuable points, but I'm happy he is OK. My car was well balanced for most of the race and I could conserve my tyres, so when Michael and Jarno got problems with their tyres I was able to attack. I attempted to make the same manoeuvre on Jarno as Michael had but ran a little too wide at the Hairpin. However I managed to get past at the Mercedes grandstand when he made a mistake. I want to build on today's result and look forward to the next race in three weeks time."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I got off the line very well at the start and went straight down on the outside. I was past Barrichello when he hit my rear tyre. There was nowhere for me to go and I went into the tyrewall. I don't know who is to blame and it doesn't really matter, because there is nothing I can do about it, and at least I'm OK apart from feeling a bit sore. We lost a place in the Championship, but at the end of the day there are still four races to go and lots of points up for grabs."

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Renault (Jarno Trulli - 6th, Fernando Alonso - Retired )

Falvio Briatore: "This is good for the whole team, and particularly for Jarno, his engineers and his mechanics, who have scored their first podium for Renault. It was a hard race, especially in these hot conditions, but we chose the right strategy. We will continue working throughout the next three weeks in order to stay competitive in Budapest."

Pat Symonds: "We always knew this would be a difficult race, because of the very high temperatures which have a detrimental effect both on the tyres and the engines. The high quality of both of these enabled a double points finish for the first time since Monaco, and our fourth podium of the season. The team and its partners worked well to earn this result in the face of adverse conditions."

Jarno Trulli: "It is a wonderful feeling to score my first podium for Renault. I took advantage of the accident at the first corner and, during the first two stints, the car was very good: Montoya was faster than me, but I was controlling the people behind. However, fifteen laps from the end, I started suffering from blistering on the rear tyres. When the cars behind caught me, I lost two places, but Michael's problem was a stroke of luck which brought me a podium finish. We had a very good weekend, we were competitive right from the first session, and this is a good reward."

Fernando Alonso: "The result is OK, and it feels good to be scoring points again. We have been very competitive since Silverstone, and this is a good result for the team in terms of the championship. From my point of view, I pushed during the whole race: it was tough, and my mistake didn't help matters, but finishing fourth is not too bad after starting from eighth."

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Toyota ( Olivier Panis - 5th, Cristiano da Matta - 6th  )

Ove Andersson: "Today's result is a great achievement by the entire team and two cars in the top six is the proof that hard work pays good dividends. We have made steady progress in recent races and we have now showed everyone that we have what it takes to get a strong result. Both Olivier and Cristiano drove exceptionally well and the seven points that we have competitively won today means that the Panasonic Toyota Racing team is now sixth in the constructors' championship - a position we will try our utmost to defend over the remaining four races of the season."

Olivier Panis: "It was a completely trouble-free race for me today. The three-stop strategy we had was the right choice and my car was absolutely perfect. The team did a great job all weekend, as did Michelin to provide us with such competitive tyres. Cristiano also performed very well and to have two cars in the top six is such a fantastic result. We have worked so hard throughout this season and have demonstrated that we have a competitive package. Heading into the three-week break, Panasonic Toyota Racing has seven more points and this makes me determined to push for more of the same in Hungary."

Cristiano da Matta: "Everything ran smoothly for me in the race today. The car felt good and I got the most out of it. With Olivier getting fifth position, this is the first time that we have finished a race with both cars in points-scoring positions and it is a brilliant result for all the team's efforts. It shows that we are making progress, which is the most important thing, and we are getting closer and closer. We have to keep this level of performance up and continue to work hard. Then the results will keep coming naturally."

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Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 7th, Rubens Barrichello - Retired )

Jean Todt: "This was the most difficult and disappointing race of the season. After Rubens was knocked out of the race in the accident at the start, we witnessed a very intelligent race from Michael, who was on his way to bringing home a very good result in terms of both championships. Unfortunately, with three laps remaining, when he was lying second, a left rear puncture meant he had to drive slowly round to the pits for an unscheduled wheel change. He rejoined in seventh place. At least Michael managed to salvage two useful points.
There are four Grands Prix remaining: Michael leads the Drivers' Championship by six points, while Ferrari is ahead by two in the Constructors' classification. It is clear that the final outcome of the fight will be decided by the performance of the different packages: drivers, chassis, engines and tyres."

Ross Brawn: "It was a tough race, losing Rubens at the start and then disappointing at the end when Michael suffered a puncture while driving like the true champion he is. He waited for the right moment to pass Trulli, when the Renault driver started to have problems with his tyres. Losing second place like that was cruel luck. Michael's problem was a puncture; they happen occasionally, but in this case, it was particularly harmful, as it happened just after he had passed the pits. That meant he had to do almost a whole lap very slowly to come back in and change the wheel. Now we must discover what caused the puncture. Now we will regroup and come back stronger for the final four races of the season."

Michael Schumacher: "Obviously, I am disappointed to finish only seventh after a tough race which could have brought me eight points. Now I only have two, but at least I am still leading the championship. As I expected, Williams is now emerging as our main rival. I lost two positions after the start and I had to fight hard to get up to second. I have to say my car was working well throughout the race, even if I did not have the pace to catch Montoya, as he had built up a big lead by then.
Towards the end, I picked up a puncture on the left rear and now we need to find out what caused it. Four races to go; it's going to be very close and the battle for the title will be very exciting, just as we expected. I am looking forward to the fight."

Rubens Barrichello: "I am very disappointed. I had nowhere to go at the moment of the accident. I had an average start. I think both Ralf and Kimi took big risks, especially Kimi who went very wide to get past. Ralf moved to the left and gave me nowhere to go. I braked and then I was hit while not making any changes of direction with the steering wheel. A real shame, as today I could have had a good race and a great result."

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BAR ( Jenson Button - 8th, Jacques Villeneuve - 9th )

David Richards: "It's gratifying to see Jenson picking up another point for the second race in a row, especially as once again he had to come from the back of the grid. Jacques' race was also impressive, given that he was hit by Wilson in the first- corner incident and this upset his planned race strategy. With the extreme heat this afternoon I'm very pleased that both the cars and Honda engines ran strongly to the finish and I think this gives us encouragement for the remaining races and our ability to secure fifth in the championship."

Geoff Willis: "This was a tough, hot race for both the drivers and the engines, so we are pleased to have finished both cars and gained a point. Jacques' race was ruined when he was hit by Wilson at the first turn, so we had to pit him to check his rear suspension. We took this opportunity to change him to effectively a one-stop race and in retrospect this didn't quite pay off, leaving him just outside the points. Jenson did well to finish in eighth, having started so far down the grid. After the first quarter of the race, we had a sensor problem on his car, which meant that he was forced to use the override mode for the differential. This certainly hurt his race pace and made the car less predictable to drive. Given the championship position, we will continue to develop the car and engine for the last four races."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Once again Jenson fought his way through the field to score a point having started towards the back of the grid. It must've been really tough out there today in this heat and I enjoyed seeing our guys push so hard. Pretty frustrating for Jacques to finish just outside the points again but a good performance nonetheless. We need to continue to score points in the final four races."

Jenson Button: "I'm really pleased to finish eight today, it's just a shame that we couldn't collect two points instead of one. Still, every point counts and we did a great job from where we started. I have to thank the team and Honda because we were quick and reliable in tough race conditions. I had a real problem with my rears locking due to a diff control failure, so it wasn't easy trying to keep everyone behind - particularly Webber. It's a nightmare starting from the back and I have to do better in Hungary because I'm just making life hard for myself. We have to drive our car on the edge at the moment though and sometimes it's very easy to slip over the limit."

Jacques Villeneuve: "A frustrating end to a very tough race for me. I got hit from behind in the first corner and that just destroyed my race. It's a great shame because the car was good today and we had a good strategy. Because of where we were on the track, we changed to a one-stop strategy. This wasn't the best choice in the end, but we decided to take a gamble and it didn't work out. The engine worked well and the car was quick, so we had a good chance of points today and it's very disappointing."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 10th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - Retired )

Peter Sauber: "For reasons that escape me Heinz-Harald was hit right after the start by Firman, and Nick could not do better than 10th place."

Nick Heidfeld: "After the start I was able to pass some cars. I felt confident I could score some points after the accident at the start. To begin with my race was okay and I got closer to Button's BAR. The balance of my car was good, but I knew that I had to be careful to conserve the rear tyres. From the middle of the race I also had be cautious with the brakes, although that didn't actually influence the car's performance."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "Straight after the start there was a crash right in front of me. Everyone hit the brakes, but behind me someone obviously didn't realise that there was an accident and crashed into me. I lost my rear wing and came into the pits hoping that the race might be stopped and that I could take over the T-car, but instead the safety car was deployed. My car was too badly damaged, so that was the end of my race."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - Retired - Classified 11th, Justin Wilson - Retired )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "A very disappointing end to our race. Justin simply found himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The left-hand suspension was damaged in the first corner melee and even though the team did a good job of repairing it, we had no choice but to call him in on lap 9 and call it a day.
Mark made a very good charge through the field but struggled with grip quite early into the race. It then became very difficult to sustain the 5th place he achieved after the first lap and he found himself falling back quite quickly despite his very determined drive. The pace simply wasn't there for us today and in an effort to capture at least a point at the end, Mark made an effort to overtake Button but slid off the track at the penultimate corner. We obviously have a lot of work ahead over the remaining four races."

Mark Webber: "A very tough and frustrating race. I got onto the right side of the action on the opening lap and after overtaking the Mercedes-McLaren of David Coulthard at turn two, I was in 5th place. After that, however, it was all downhill. The race pace was suffering and I struggled a lot with balance and we clearly have some work ahead of us. I fought very hard to keep up and get past with Jenson Button and on the last lap, I could either choose between a no-points 9th place or take a stab at passing Jenson for a championship point. I did the latter but with grip and balance being such an issue, the car spun off in the Stadium section and that was that. I have no regret about making the move at all. The opportunity for a point was there and I had no choice but to have a go."

Justin Wilson: "I am very disappointed indeed. The charge towards the first corner was very strange in that I came into the corner and literally everyone in front of me braked early because of the accident. I then saw Villeneuve cutting in front of me and he hit my front left. As I took corrective action to avoid him, the Jordan of Ralph Firman hit me from behind. The team did an amazing job of fixing the car and getting me back out but a transmission issue forced my retirement. It's been quite a weekend for me and all in all, I walk away having learned an awful lot, albeit with so much more to learn. The car, team and everyone involved are great to work with and I can only hope for better joy at the next round in Hungary."

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Minardi ( Nicolas Kiesa - 12th, Jos Verstappen - Retired )

Paul Stoddart: "What a way to start your Formula One career! Full credit to Nicolas for pressing on to the end on a day when all drivers were struggling with their tyres. He showed true grit and determination and had a really responsible attitude to being lapped, especially near the end, when six leading cars came through racing for position -- it was a truly professional performance. By comparison, it was hard luck for Jos today. Unfortunately, a hydraulic problem brought his race to a premature end. We now look forward to Hungary in three weeks' time."

Nicolas Kiesa: "For quite a lot of the race, I was out there on my own, with no other cars around, and that can be quite hard. You haven't got anyone to judge your pace against, and you find your self pushing a bit harder and a bit harder, to the point where it would be easy to lose concentration and make a mistake. It was definitely a hard race, but I'm relieved to have my first Grand Prix behind me. I now know what to expect, which will definitely help me in the future. As for the car, it was good for the first four or five laps of each stint, but then the handling started to degrade and I found myself grappling with quite a lot of oversteer. I'd particularly like to thank everyone on the team, though, for making my Formula One debut a really good experience."

Jos Verstappen: "I got a reasonably good start, and then saw the accident happening ahead of me and was able to avoid it, although I did flat-spot my front tyres. The Safety Car helped us, as I was able to come into the pits and refuel the car. After that, the vibration from the tyres was so bad it was hard to see, so I was really pleased to come in for my scheduled stop on lap 24 and change them. I had a problem with the down change just before the stop, and then it was difficult to engage first gear leaving the pits. Unfortunately, it seems we had a hydraulic pressure problem and that caused the car to stop. It's very disappointing, but that's racing."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - Retired - Classified 13th, Ralph Firman - Retired )

Gary Anderson: "I suppose you might call that an eventful event. Ralph had a coming together with another car at the first corner and his race ended prematurely. Giancarlo avoided the accidents and we stuck with our strategy but then after the safety car went in, he had an electronic problem which caused the traction control to come in constantly. It caused a gear change problem and a traction control problem, he lost a lost of time while we were trying to figure out what to do to recover from it. We continued to find out about any other reliability issues and eventually he had to pull out of the race just before the end with a water leak which caused the engine to overheat. It was a disappointing day."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "That was a disaster for me really! I had a lot of problems: tyres, the car, electronics, the engine overheating - everything."

Ralph Firman: "It's very disappointing to go out of the race. I went into the first corner and didn't see anything that was going on but suddenly everyone slowed and I ended up tapping the back of Frentzen and damaging my front wing. I thought it might be okay but then I was off the circuit on the outside when Justin came into the side of me, and there was just too much damage."

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