Sunday team by team: Part 1
Autosport.com's Formula 1 editor Jonathan Noble gives a rundown of what was happening up and down the pit-lane during the Brazilian Grand Prix
Not the end to the season that the team had hoped for, but a third and seventh placed finish was probably the best Ferrari could hope for considering the mixed weather conditions that punished its Bridgestone tyres. Rubens Barrichello had certainly wanted more in front of his home crowd, while Michael Schumacher bounced back from an early spin to at least bring the car home in the points following his disastrous Saturday.
RUBENS BARRICHELLO: "I am very proud of the whole team and want to thank them and all the fans who turned up to watch today. The circumstances of the race, in terms of the rain, did not favour us and I could have not done better. So I can still leave here with my head held high, even if actually that might be difficult as my neck is hurting a lot and I have to admit I feel very tired. Maybe it was the stress of the whole weekend. Our strategy worked okay, but the final result is a bit disappointing after I had been dominant in terms of pace throughout the weekend and I was confident for the race, having qualified with quite a good fuel load. We are best in the rain and best in the dry, but if we have a weak point it is in the damp conditions that we had after a few laps, when we know that those running the other make of tyre can make an earlier change to dry tyres. The weather just did not play into our hands, but I am happy to be on the podium, even if the win is still to come for me here."
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: "We can be very proud of what we have achieved as a team this season. There have been a lot of wins and the two championship titles, so there is no real reason to be too disappointed today, although I have to say I feel sorry for Rubens. As for my race, when I realised it was raining, at first I thought it would be a good opportunity for me. But to be honest, it was not wet enough and I think if it had rained harder and longer it would have been an advantage for us. I still feel fresh and ready to race but I know that now the important thing is to take a break before preparing for next season."
Juan Pablo Montoya delivered the perfect leaving present for Williams with a brilliant win in tricky conditions to hold off future team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Despite making a poor start in the damp conditions, Montoya grabbed the lead on lap six following a pit-stop for dry tyres and a side-by-side dice down the pit-lane with Kimi Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher took fifth place after a fairly disappointing afternoon.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: "It is just unbelievable! The very first laps were difficult because I lost some positions at the start before the tyres got up to temperature, but then I seemed to have more grip than the others. Still, the race was decided by a good strategy put together by all of my engineers and by Sam Michael, who called me in to change tyres from intermediate to slick at the right time. Later in the race they made another good call when I had Kimi behind me. They managed to get me out on the track ahead of him by just over a second. I could see him behind and I was thinking I could not afford to make even the smallest mistake! It's fantastic to give such a good end to these four years at Williams BMW. I want to say thanks to Frank and to everyone in the team who made this possible! And if you ask me what was the hardest thing in the race I'd say it was the pain in the neck, since this is an anti-clockwise circuit and we are not very used to all those left turns!"
RALF SCHUMACHER: "What a shame, due to the rain my strategy did not pay off at all. But I have to say that I was not fast enough to overtake Alonso and as a consequence I think I missed out on a podium today. It was great to be with this team for the last six years and it's a true pity we didn't enjoy even more success. I wish the Team all the best for next year!"
Kimi Raikkonen had been confident all weekend about challenging for victory but, despite taking the lead on the first lap, he just lost out to Juan Pablo Montoya's supreme consistency. It was still a strong finish to the season, though. David Coulthard had a miserable send-off from McLaren, getting caught up in a first corner bump after starting on dry tyres and coming home a lacklustre 11th.
KIMI RAIKKONEN: "I was close to winning but just not close enough. It was a good race and I enjoyed it, but I would have liked to finish on the top step. I started the race on Michelin intermediates and was able to take the lead after a few corners. However, after my first stop I just didn't have the speed to keep up with Juan Pablo. We were side-by-side down the pit lane, and I did what I could to keep him behind me - perhaps in hindsight I could have been a bit more aggressive coming into the corner. 2004 has been a tough season for the entire team, but everybody has worked so hard to turn things around, and to finish 2004 on the podium is a good reward for all. I now look forward to next season where hopefully Juan Pablo and myself will be able to challenge for wins and the Championship from the beginning."
DAVID COULTHARD: "A disappointing outcome of the weekend and a difficult race. I lost a lot of places in the first couple of corners with cars pushing, touching and wheels banging. It took me a few laps to feel comfortable with the dry Michelin tyres as it was quite slippery out there. Once everything had settled down I was too far back to really make an impact. I want to thank the boys both at the track and back at base for all the efforts and hard work during the past nine years. It's an emotional moment to say goodbye to the team after all this time, and the memories I will be taking with me will be of my 12 victories, 51 podiums and 412 points that we have achieved while working together.
Renault lost its fight with BAR for second place in the constructors' championship, but the team was relatively pleased with its performance in Brazil. Both Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve opted to start the race on dry tyres - a decision that allowed Alonso to lead during the early part of the race. He eventually dropped to fourth, having lost too much time with graining front tyres, while Villeneuve recovered from an early race off-track excursion to come home 10th.
FERNANDO ALONSO: "The choice to start on dry tyres was really a big risk: the car was very hard to drive and I went off on the formation lap and the first lap! However, it gradually got better and I managed to take the lead, but after the first stop, I didn't have the pace to get on the podium. The car was understeering badly because of the graining during the second stint then we took a risk in leaving the tyres on. This meant I ultimately lost more grip but in spite of the problems, I attacked 100% all the way through, kept the other cars behind and thanks to that, I am fourth in the drivers' championship. That was my main goal today and I am delighted to have achieved it."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE: "I think my race pace was actually very good today. I was behind Fernando in the first laps and it would have been too much of a risk to try overtaking in the conditions. I lost time when the track was wet but after that, I feel we were quite quick in the second and third stints. I didn't manage to score any points at Renault but I think my performances got better and better with each race. It was very tough to adapt but I want to thank Renault for the opportunity they gave me."
BAR ended its most successful season in Formula 1 without a podium finish, but it had already done enough this year to clinch second place in the constructors' championship. Jenson Button did not make it to the finish, with his Honda engine expiring early on following a smoky start to the race, while Takuma Sato came home sixth after a gritty drive.
TAKUMA SATO: "It was a really hard race today. The start was tricky for everyone because of the shower just before the start. The circuit was actually quite damp but some of the drivers had chosen to start on dry tyres. We chose to run on wet tyres, but as I was originally on a two-stop strategy, I lost quite a bit of time when I had to come in to change to dry tyres. After my last stop, I had a great battle with three other cars. Even though we were quicker than them in the infield section, we struggled on the straights so I wasn't able to get close enough to outbrake anyone into turn one, which was a little bit frustrating. Nevertheless, we have finished second in the championship, which is excellent, and the entire team has done a fantastic job. I would also like to thank our partners Lucky Strike, Honda and Michelin for their efforts. I look forward to carrying this great feeling and momentum through to winter testing and I am sure that we can challenge for another great season next year."
JENSON BUTTON: "It's disappointing to retire from the last race of the year. We were optimistic of achieving another podium here today which would have been a nice way to see out the season. From the first red light on the start I knew I had some kind of problem and there was a lot of smoke and fire as I left the grid. I was able to continue for a while and had hoped that the problem would go away, but the damage had been done by that time and I had no option but to retire. That disappointment aside though, we have to look at the bigger picture which is that we have pulled off second in the championship - an incredible achievement for everyone in the team. Third place in the drivers' championship with 10 podiums is also a pretty special way for me to end the season. I'd like to thank each and every member of the team for their hard work and support this year and they deserve the celebrations that will be taking place here in Brazil and back at the factory this evening."
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