Ron Dennis Q&A

The French GP was a race of mixed emotions for Ron Dennis. On the one hand the McLaren team outperformed Williams and had its best race day showing since David Coulthard's Monaco win, but on the other Kimi Raikkonen lost victory when he slid wide on oil and was passed by Michael Schumacher. Inevitably the different sides had opposing views on that by the time they had to face the stewards. Raikkonen's story was that, knowing flags were out, he had taken it easy once he'd realised he was sliding wide, knowing that in theory the Ferrari was not allowed to pass. Meanwhile, Michael claimed that he had not seen the Finn when he edged the silver car off the road at the very spot where he had a territorial dispute with DC a few years back. Not the first time that his peripheral vision has failed him when a World Championship was at stake! Wisely perhaps the stewards chose to stick with the original result. Shortly before their decision was announced, Dennis made his feelings clear about both the controversial passing move and McLaren's apparent improved form

Ron Dennis Q&A

"We're very pleased with the strategy. If we were not very good in Silverstone, I think we reasonably competent here!"

"Michael just passed under the yellow. It's for the stewards to decide whether they want to put the appropriate penalty in, but he passed under a yellow. Kimi was not off the circuit when he was overtaken. No more so than at any other moment than when they put the wheels off. He was pushed off line, and you have to see all the camera angles to appreciate that. There is no dispute by any official that I've spoken to that the manoeuvre took place under a yellow. There's no question, that is agreed. It was a yellow, and they had not passed a green at Post 11, which is the next post. There were no oil flags, so Kimi lost it a bit under braking. It's absolutely true that he ran wide, and ran over the white line, But everywhere here you run over the white line. You run over the white line entirely on the exit of the pit straight corner, and at several other places. It does not constitute that you are leaving the circuit. Even so he pulled back onto the circuit with seven eighths of the car, the left hand wheels are on the rumble strip, and then Michael comes into him and either Kimi had to turn away or have an accident. And he turned away, onto the rumble strips, and on to the grass. My view is that he was overtaken under a yellow. It's frustrating that the marshals didn't display an oil flag. Maybe they're not qualified to know when an engine fails like that, I think it's a forgivable error. Of course if there's no oil flag then we are unable to communicate to the driver to be cautious on that corner. Not that we're looking for exoneration, but we didn't actually have the ability to have input into it. Kimi arrived, went a bit wide, and Michael overtook him in a section that was under yellow flags. That's the way we see it."

"We sent a message in, an e-mail, [saying] that it had taken place under yellow."

"The fact is that it's immaterial. The question is, was he overtaken in a yellow flag zone? That is an explicit regulation. If you remember, in Austria this year, the very same thing happened with a Williams, I think. The Williams was off, bumping across on the last corner, with four wheels off the road, in a gravel trap. And it was an overtaking manoeuvre. What constitutes an overtake? You haven't overtaken the car until you're completely passed it. And when you see Michael start to push by all four wheels of Mika's [Kimi's!] are on the road, and then he pushes him onto the strips. He was on the circuit when the overtaking manoeuvre took place. I don't care about the championship, I just care about the rules, and if the rules are applied correctly, we won the race. That's what I'm here to do, it's my job."

"It's taken the shine off what was a good day for the team. There are various qualities of motor racing enthusiast, and the knowledge varies from individual to individual, and I think everybody could see that our strategy was well executed. I'm sure that there were some armchair experts who after our stop said, 'ha, ha, they've blown that, because we came out behind the Williams.' But of course we were fuelling long, and that meant our next fuel stop was going to be short. The Williams had to stop before us, and at the point they stopped before us then we could push. When we stopped we had a sorter pit stop and we'd gained track time. That basically earned us second and third positions...which should have been first and third!"

"It's impossible. I remember a long time ago winning an F2 race and speaking to someone and saying one swallow doesn't make a summer, and I think it's the same here. We'll just see how it unfolds, and we'll do our best at every race."

"Absolutely. If he's not...And I hope David was!"

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