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

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Drivers Championship Constructors Championship
Reports & Results

What the teams and drivers said - Sunday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 3rd )

Jean Todt: "The result brings enormous satisfaction. I would like to embrace everyone at Ferrari and our partners, both the technical ones, especially Bridgestone and Shell and the commercial ones such as Philip Morris, Vodafone and Olympus. I want to share this victory with them. The tension we felt was as strong as our will to win. It was almost as if the team was trying to win for the first time ever. As a group we aim for success and we work hard to achieve it. After yesterday's qualifying, we knew we had a chance and we took it.
It was an indescribable feeling standing on top of the pit wall stand during the prize-giving, with all the fans shaking me by the hand. As from tomorrow, for those who stayed in Maranello, we will be immediately concentrating on the remaining two events. On Tuesday we begin another intensive test session, working at three circuits: Jerez, Fiorano and Monza. Today was only the first step on a steep climb. The nearer you get to the peak of the mountain, the harder it gets."

Ross Brawn: "What a day! After the pain comes the pleasure... The drivers were fantastic, the car worked really well, as did the Bridgestone tyres. Everything worked out for the best and Ferrari has proved it did not give up after the recent poor results. It was incredible to see how happy our fans were from the podium. Being this competitive today augurs well for the last two races of the season. We worked very well all weekend, learning all the time. Michael had an exceptional race and Rubens also drove very well."

Michael Schumacher: "I think this is the greatest day in my career. It is a long time since I won. We made a big push over the summer break with everyone in the team giving more than a hundred percent. To everyone in the team who was so motivated and worked so hard, from the engineers, the mechanics and even the lady who cleans, I have to say a big thank you. We have worked a lot on our starts and mine was good, but I made a mistake at the first chicane which allowed Juan to close. We had a good fight; it was hard and fair.
After that I was able to build a lead. The second stint was not so good, but in the final stages I opened up the gap again, easing off when Juan slowed down. After my second stop I got a shock, as the team told me the Williams was coming. I thought 'how did he do that' but then I realised it was Gene. I nearly went off, I was pushing so hard to stay ahead. It was a beautiful and emotional feeling on the podium. The result is also a relief. We believed in ourselves and we knew we could fight back. The championship is still very open. We have improved and we keep on improving. The engine guys have done a tremendous job and that should help us in the last two races."

Rubens Barrichello: "I am quite happy to be third. It is better than being in the wall, like the last race! My car was very good at the start, but I lost time on the first lap with Trulli. He was alongside me and put me on the grass and so I had to back off, which meant I had to defend my position against Raikkonen and I almost ran into Trulli when he had a problem. By then, Juan was already 2 seconds ahead, even though I was able to close on him a bit. Unfortunately, my tyres were not as good on the second stint when I had too much understeer. I also had a problem with backmarkers. Nevertheless, I was able to maintain position ahead of Raikkonen. I am happy to have helped Ferrari close the gap to Williams in the championship."

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Williams ( Juan Pablo Montoya - 2nd, Marc Gene - 5th - Replaced Ralf Schumacher )

Sam Michael: "The team had a good, hard race today and we did what we could, but Michael obviously did a little bit more. Juan drove faultlessly to a valuable second place and Marc did a fantastic job, considering the little time he had to prepare and showed a great pace in the race. The team also performed perfectly and produced good pit-stops. We are looking forward to an extremely close finish to the season."

Gerhard Berger: "It was a hard race as expected, but Ferrari had the advantage today. It will become very hard for us to crack the Ferrari nut, but I do expect an extremely exciting fight for us until the very end. The true winner for me today was Marc Gen´┐Ż, who made the most of his chance and did an excellent job for the team today. What was very important given the championship situation was to bring both cars home in the points today."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "After a good start I took the first opportunity I saw to try to pass Michael Schumacher at the first chicane. We came out pretty even, but he had better acceleration than me and he kept the lead. We competed cleanly as neither of us could afford a DNF. In the second stint I managed to catch up on my next set of tyres which worked really well. Unfortunately in the third part of the race I was caught in traffic and I made the decision to pace myself.
We were expecting Ferrari to be strong here, so to only lose two points to Michael and be only three points behind with two races to go is okay. Ferrari had a good top speed compared to us at this low downforce circuit , quite unlike the next two tracks, where I think we will figure strongly."

Marc Gene: "This is the best result in my Formula One career, and I am really happy. I think a good performance was to be expected, as I had one of the best cars on the grid. At the start I had a problem with Jarno Trulli which cost me three places, but apart from that the race was good. If you get the chance like I did today, you have to make the most of it, and my main priority was to avoid making mistakes, and I think the team is happy with the points I managed to score. I believe the more a driver tests, the better he becomes."

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McLaren (  Kimi Raikkonen - 4th, David Coulthard - Retired )

Ron Dennis: "Our race pace was quite competitive, but our qualifying positions and the inevitable delays caused by back-markers really took away any opportunity to take advantage of our race strategy. However there are 20 points to race for and we are only seven behind so clearly its possible to win. As always we will fight hard in the remaining two races."

Norbert Haug: "More than fourth place was not possible today, maybe a third, but with a seven points deficit Kimi is still in with a chance for the Drivers' World Championship, and we certainly will not give up. I'm sorry for David who had to retire with a loss of fuel pressure -- the cause of which we have to investigate. Congratulations to Michael Schumacher on a deserved victory."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I think we did what we could do today, but we were not quick enough to fight for the podium. I was close to Rubens but not enough to really have a go. Obviously I'm now seven points behind in the battle for the Championship, so it is more difficult, but you never know what will happen in the next two races. We knew that Monza would be difficult, and overall to leave with points is positive particularly as we expect both Indianapolis and Suzuka to suit us better, so it's not over yet."

David Coulthard: "I had a pretty quiet and uneventful race in fifth place until the engine began to sound a bit rough and my pace dropped which allowed Marc Gene to close up. All of a sudden the engine stopped and that was it. I was struggling with the balance throughout the race with lots of oversteer which made it hard to attack the corners. We tried to rectify the problem by dropping some wing in the pitstops, but no luck."

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BAR ( Jacques Villeneuve - 6th, Jenson Button - Retired )

David Richards: "We achieved our target with a solid haul of points for Jacques, which now moves us ahead in the fight for fifth place in the Championship. Jenson's retirement was disappointing given the strength of both cars today, and of course a lost opportunity, but nonetheless our improved performance bodes well for the remaining two events of the season."

Geoff Willis: "This is a very good result for Jacques and the team, which has allowed us to widen the gap to Toyota and keeps us in front of Jaguar in the fight for fifth place in the championship. Jacques benefited from a clean exit from the first chicane to pass Jenson and Webber as they were fighting for track position through Curva Grande. He was able to jump Panis at the first pitstop after running for longer and a better stop, and he drove a fault-free race to finish in sixth position.
Jenson reported problems with downshifting into second gear shortly before his first stop. Unfortunately these problems caused terminal mechanical damage to the gearbox, causing him to retire after 24 laps. We had a good car here and both cars qualified in the top ten, so it is disappointing to not make the most of a solid points-scoring opportunity. We will continue to work hard for the last two races to consolidate our fifth place standing."

Shuhei Nakamoto: "Jacques drove a steady race today and I'm pleased we've picked up some more points at this crucial stage of the championship. Not a good day for Jenson. We will have a challenging final two races."

Jenson Button: "I lost second gear early in the race so I had to rely on first. I was doing quite well considering, and I managed to stay ahead of Frentzen and Panis, then I lost first, sixth and seventh in close succession. It's a real shame after such a positive qualifying performance because I felt that we could easily have achieved points-finishes for both cars today. Jacques did a good job though and three points for the team is still very important at this stage. We have to maintain the momentum in testing next week now and make sure we do as good a job in Indy and Japan."

Jacques Villeneuve: "I'm really pleased to finish sixth today and get three more Championship points for the team. The race was a great team effort and the guys did a fantastic job during the pitstops. We didn't qualify as well as we hoped yesterday but we were working for the race, so it was great to stay reliable and be able to make the most of a good race set-up. Let's hope we can build on that at Indianapolis in two weeks now."

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Jaguar ( Mark Webber - 7th, Justin Wilson - Retired )

Dr. Mark Gillan: "A very tough weekend but the net effect is positive. Justin's retirement from the beginning of the race was down to a first-gear selection problem and he had to start the race with second gear. Once the race got underway, we realised the problem was terminal and decided to call him into the garage. We are extremely disappointed for Justin and naturally very frustrated with not having given him reliable machinery for the last three races.
Mark, however, drove yet another storming race. While we know the pace of the R4 could have been better around this circuit, the fact that Mark finished with two championship points is testimony to his determined approach and reliability of his race package, particularly the engine and brakes which are under considerable pressure at this circuit. He made an excellent start but lost some time today by pulling over for the race leaders who were lapping him.
We are delighted and fortunate to have come away with another two championship points but we have an awful lot of preparation work ahead of us if we are to seriously challenge for fifth place. The Cosworth engine performed very well today as did the Michelin tyres and we now head for Indianapolis looking to add more to the tally."

Mark Webber: "We had a tough test here last week and a challenging build-up to the race this weekend. Monza has not been our most competitive performance of the season and if someone had told me before the race began that I would finish in 7th place with two championship points, it would have been hard to believe.
It was an eventful race that began by me making a mistake! As I came out of the first chicane besides the BMW WilliamsF1 of Marc Gene, the back end of the car stepped out and I realised that I had forgotten to turn the traction control back on. I managed to programme the system after the second chicane and than settled down into the rhythm of the race. To have salvaged two points from what was a tough weekend for us is a big, big result -- especially in light of Villeneuve's 6th place.
We had to compromise on straight-line speed to look after the tyres and while I did suffer from understeer and some blistering, the end result is extremely pleasing for everyone in the team. Unlike Justin who unfortunately retired, my car was reliable today and the balance was very good. With two races to go and fifth place still beckoning, the battle is far from finished."

Justin Wilson: "During the formation lap, I experienced a problem in engaging first gear. With no time available to address the problem, I had no choice but to start the race in second gear. As we have long gears for Monza, I didn't even make it off the line when the red lights went out. It has been a tough weekend all round but as Mark demonstrated again today, making it to the chequered flag is where the points reward is.
I am, therefore, very disappointed not to have finished my third consecutive race for Jaguar and with only two races left now, I am naturally hoping to see a race distance. The team have worked incredibly hard all weekend and to have a suffered a retirement before the first lap is extremely unfortunate for all concerned. We are, however, one point behind BAR-Honda and we will simply have to pick ourselves up and aim for reliability at the U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks from now."

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Renault (Fernando Alonso - 8th, Jarno Trulli - Retired )

Falvio Briatore: "I'm very sorry for Jarno, who made a fantastic start and was competitive all weekend: we still don't know exactly what happened. As for Fernando, his car was damaged but he drove an incredible race. His lap-times were extremely consistent, and that allowed him to score points."

Pat Symonds: "Fernando's race today was all about damage limitation and after he had to stop at the end of the first lap, this became even more the case. At this point, we decided to switch to a one-stop strategy and we have to be grateful for a point at the end of a very difficult day. Fernando's lap-times towards the end were as quick as those fighting at the front, and we can take some consolation from that. Jarno was extremely unlucky, having put in a great performance all weekend. He stopped on the first lap with what we believe may be a hydraulic failure."

Fernando Alonso: "Both myself and the team had a pretty unlucky weekend: Jarno was in a good position when he had to retire, and I had problems in qualifying and the race. Starting from the back of the grid is always a risk and unfortunately, I lost the front wing at the start: I hit Jos' car as he was trying to avoid the Jaguar. I lost a lap by stopping and after that, all I could do was push to the limit for the rest of the race. Our lap-times were good but, with all the problems we had, it wasn't enough to score big points today."

Jarno Trulli: "There's nothing much to say. I got a flying start and was fighting with Michael and Juan Pablo in the first few corners. I was going through the second Lesmo when I felt that the power steering had failed, then the engine cut out. It's a real shame, because the car was good today."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 9th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - Retired  - Classified 13th )

Willy Rampf: "Our race result is very disappointing considering that Heinz-Harald was running in seventh position and Nick ninth only two laps from the end. Then Heinz-Harald was forced to retire due to a technical problem which awaits analysis, and to our intense disappointment Nick was passed by Alonso on the very last lap and thus lost a valuable championship point."

Nick Heidfeld: "During my first pit stop we changed the front wing adjustment on my car and after this it was going well. I had a good race until I had to let Gene lap me on the last lap. At the same moment Alonso, who was right behind me, took the chance to overtake. He had got close to me in the first place because I'd been baulked badly by Baumgartner for several laps and had thus lost valuable ground."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "When I came out of the chicane right at the end I heard a strange noise in the area of the transmission and then the car just lost drive. I don't know exactly what broke. Up until that point I'd been having a really good race and the car was going well. It would have been so nice to finish in the points."

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Jordan ( Giancarlo Fisichella - 10th, Zsolt Baumgartner - 11th - Replacing Ralph Firman,  )

Gary Anderson: "We had a gear change problem on the warm up lap and brought Giancarlo in to reset the electronics and at the same time we converted him to a one stop fuel load as we had already planned to stop early. It is nice to get two cars to the finish as it has been a while since that has happened for us. Two finishes is the first step, but unfortunately on the way there we need to find a bit of lap time. There are two races to go and we're still fighting."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "I had an electrical problem at the start of the formation lap so we stopped to sort that out and changed the strategy at the same time to make it one stop. I was last, but finished 10th, which is not too bad. It was quite difficult because the car was heavy but I drove as hard as I could."

Zsolt Baumgartner: "I'm happy that I could finish the race and that the car was reliable. It was a good experience and I am pleased with finishing 11th just behind Giancarlo. For my first complete race, I think I did a good job."

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

Paul Stoddart: "In an action-packed race, it was disappointing that we didn't get both cars to the finish, but I had to make the difficult decision to retire Jos's car when a persistent oil leak on to the right rear tyre made it too dangerous for him to continue. Full credit, though, to Nicolas for completing his third Grand Prix -- if not a record, it certainly marks the first time in a long time that a Formula One rookie has completed three straight races. The team looks forward to its all-important test in Mugello on Tuesday, and to the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in two weeks' time."

Nicolas Kiesa: "The strategy we chose for qualifying, which focused more on trying to achieve a consistent performance in the race rather than an ultimate qualifying performance, pretty much paid off. The car was easy to drive in the race and it was comfortable even on the occasions when I needed to push it really hard. In addition, both pit stops went perfectly and everything on the car worked exactly as it should. It was a really nice way to finish a weekend that started out a bit rough for us."

Jos Verstappen: "It was disappointing not to finish the race today. I also feel sorry for Fernando (Alonso), who drove into the back of my car at the start. I wouldn't have held him up, as he is involved in the World Championship battle and needs the points, but a Jaguar stopped on the grid in front of me and I guess he couldn't see it from where he was. It's a shame, but that's racing. We eventually retired with an oil leak. There was a lot of smoke and oil was getting on the rear tyres as well, so it was just too dangerous to continue, as much for the other drivers as for me."

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

Ove Andersson: "A very unfortunate outcome to what could have been a good result for Panasonic Toyota Racing today. What happened to Cristiano is a pure racing incident and could have happened to anybody. Olivier was running well and was looking good to score some good points, but the car developed a terminal problem with the brakes. Again, I think the car has shown the capability to score points, but all we can do now is to look towards the final two races in Indianapolis and Suzuka to see if we have some better luck."

Olivier Panis: "I had a fabulous start and was up to sixth on the first lap. Marc Gene got past me, but I continued to run well in the points. We put a lot of fuel in on at my first pitstop and we were having a good race. Unfortunately shortly after the second stop, the brake pedal went completely to the floor and I had to stop in the garage. It has been another encouraging weekend, and we have demonstrated that we have the potential to score points. We now have to look ahead to the next race in Indianapolis with this as our target."

Cristiano da Matta: "I didn't have a great start but I recovered my position and everything was running okay, so being forced to stop is a real shame. All of a sudden, I felt a big vibration at the rear and I started to lose the car straight away. At this stage we are not a hundred percent sure what happened, but most likely, I picked up some carbon fibre debris after an incident on the start-finish line. For both myself and Olivier to retire is a missed opportunity, as I reckon we could have added to our points total today."

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