Sunday's selected quotes
Giancarlo Fisichella - 1st: "This was a fantastic weekend, and a great way to mark my debut with Renault! The R25 performed well throughout the whole race, and was consistent and easy to drive. That meant I could manage the gap to the cars behind, and look after the tyres, without being troubled. I think this race demonstrates the good potential of the team this season: the team is pushing hard on the development of the car, and that should mean we can build on this start later in the season. We are already very optimistic for the next race in Malaysia.â€
Fernando Alonso - 3rd: "I didn't think I could finish on the podium today, but it was a great feeling to be up there! I was lucky during the race to have some laps without traffic at the end of each stint, which meant I could push really hard to gain positions. We are pleased to have a car like the R25, because as today showed, it is quick enough on the straights and in the corners to overtake some of our rivals on track. Thank-you to Michelin as well: during this race, I had to attack for every one of the 57 laps, and the tyres didn't drop off in performance at all. The only thing I would have changed this weekend was the weather yesterday afternoon!â€
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "It's a fantastic result for the entire team and the Renault group. We have made a good car this year, and Fisico and Fernando knew exactly how to make use of it this afternoon: they both drove fantastic races. We must take the season race by race, and I think there is still room for us to improve further.â€
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "This afternoon's results are a tribute to the work of the entire team, here at the circuit and back at our bases in England and France. Fisico marked his return to the team in the best possible way with a victory, and I honestly thought Fernando would struggle to score points this afternoon: it's an amazing achievement to be on the podium. I said before the race that the new rules would force the drivers to demonstrate new skills, and it was pleasing to see both of them demonstrate a deep understanding of their requirements so quickly. We must also thank Michelin: we couldn't have asked for better tyres for today's race.â€
Rubens Barrichello - 2nd: "I enjoyed every second of the race. The other teams have obviously made a step forward, but I must congratulate our team on producing a good car and the tyres held on very well - they could have done another race. I had a great start and passed Button immediately. Then I had a fantastic first and second corner and I was able to pass Villeneuve which I knew was essential. After fifteen laps, my rear brakes were locking really badly, the balance all went to the rear and it was like driving a kart. In the final stages, I was still pushing Fisichella because I had Alonso behind me, but I had to be careful as I was trying to conserve the engine, as we have to think about Malaysia and its high temperatures. I had a few problems with traffic. There are some new guys out there who were occasionally in the way, so I guess we need to give them time to get the F1 habit. We proved today that this car is still competitive, even though the new one will be faster."
Michael Schumacher - DNF: "All in all there are some positives to take away from this race. We were competitive - Rubens drove a super race - despite the fact we had last year's car. We had a great pace and I am pretty sure I could have passed Klien. We can be satisfied and regard this weekend as a good sign for the rest of the championship. The incident with Heidfeld? With this type of thing there are always different opinions and mine is that it is impossible to blame either one of us. I saw him behind me just as I came out of the pits and I made it clear I was defending my position. At one point I lost sight of him in the mirrors and went into the corner when I felt I'd been hit. I have seen the incident on film: Heidfeld was on the grass and so was not in full control of his car. I can't blame him for trying to overtake me. My car was slightly damaged in the collision and there was no point in going on."
Jean Todt: "The first weekend of the season ends with mixed emotions. On the one hand, satisfaction with Rubens's second place after he drove a great race. Given how things went into qualifying, it was quite a long call to expect a podium finish. On the other hand, there is disappointment for Michael, forced to retire when he was in the points, following a collision with Heidfeld's Williams. It is a shame, because Michael had staged a good climb up the order and could have brought home some valuable points. We proved we were competitive in the race and to achieve that with the F2004 M is encouraging for the future. However, we know that, along with Bridgestone, we have a lot of work to do to reach the level of performance we are aiming for. I want to congratulate Giancarlo Fisichella who drove a splendid race to take his second Grand Prix win. Today's result confirms our prediction that it will be a very very closely contested championship."
Ross Brawn: "We are reasonably happy, considering we came here with the old car. To finish second after such a dreadful qualifying is not bad. Both guys drove a great race. Rubens was exceptional, as he had a problem with the car from the early stages, but he was able to manage it very well. Michael had a race from the back of the grid and it was always going to be difficult with such a high number of finishers. It's a great shame he got taken out, because a couple of points from Michael would have been a nice bonus. We know we have the new car coming and further development on tyres, which were very good today. Second place with the old car cannot be bad and is a good incentive for all of us."
David Coulthard - 4th: "I made a good start and managed to get into third place. I struggled a bit initially with a heavy fuel load, then had lots of trouble with traffic and lost chunks of time. I hit a Minardi at one point. A podium finish was achievable today - that would have been a dream start for Red Bull and at one stage I was beginning to dream a little, but I can't complain about fourth place. It is much more than we expected. With Christian scoring points as well, it is a fantastic start for Red Bull Racing."
Christian Klien - 7th: "My start was OK, although I lost one position to Nick Heidfeld's Williams. Then I overtook Villeneuve and got back to sixth position, after which the whole race was pretty good. The car was consistent and the pit stops were OK, so it was a very positive race for us all. It is great that we have scored some points in our first race this season."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was an unbelievable race for the team. To have David running up there was great. Although we couldn't quite keep a Ferrari and a Renault behind us, fourth and seventh gives us seven points. It is a fantastic start and gives us a great platform for the future."
Gunther Steiner, Technical Director: "The whole team is so pleased! Our expectations were more than fulfilled. Everyone did a fantastic job and now we'll try to continue like this for the rest of the season."
David Prigg, Cosworth Racing: "The TJ2005 engine was strong and trouble-free all weekend. This contributed to a fantastic debut result for Red Bull Racing."
Mark Webber - 5th: "Coming 5th is not a bad start at all, but I think that we actually had an opportunity for a better result today. I lost one position to Coulthard at the first corner, when I was looking after my tyres and trying not to lock my wheels. After that I was stuck behind him, which was a bit frustrating. We have put the first race behind us and we have learned a lot about the car and the tyres. The car has proved to be reliable and this is very important."
Nick Heidfeld - DNF: "I gained two places at the start and then had a good first stint in fifth position, but after the first pit-stop I got stuck behind Trulli and Klien and couldn't do much .With regards to the accident with Michael I think that I made a good move. Michael just came out of the pits and obviously he had a bad exit from the first chicane because he wasn't on the ideal line. I went alongside him and I could have out-braked him but he didn't leave me any space and pushed me on to the grass, where braking is obviously impossible. Apart from this unfortunate end to my race, we had a good weekend here, probably better than expected and Mark finished in the points."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It is good to come away with some points, which is the most important thing. It is a shame that we could not get some more. We certainly were fast enough to score 2 or 3 more, however, it's only the first race of a long season. Mark drove a good race and Nick did too until his incident with Michael. We are looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix now to where we will bring some more performance to the car. The Michelin tyres were solid for the whole race."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Today a better result was within possibilities. Compared to the competitors, our lap times were ok, but in the course of the race luck was not really on our side. Both drivers got stuck in traffic and eventually lost positions. The accident of Nick and Michael Schumacher was unfortunate too. Over the course of the weekend we experienced no technical problems. According to the regulations Nick will now get a fresh engine for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The engine of Mark's car will be sealed and transported to Sepang."
Juan Pablo Montoya - 6th: "I'm pleased that we seem to have the speed with the MP4-20 package, and I would have been able to finish higher up had things gone our way. I lost some valuable time during my second stint as I was pushing really hard on the in-lap and got the rear tyre on the grass at Turn Eight. Later on there was a misunderstanding with one of the Jordans which meant I was pushed off the track. Towards the end I slowed down to conserve the package for Malaysia. After the race I have been told that I also had lost one of my deflectors which obviously affected the overall speed and the handling of my car."
Kimi Raikkonen - 8th: "The result might not show this but we have the pace to challenge for victories, which is great. However today my race was really over when I stalled the car at the start and had to begin my race from the pitlane. In the opening stages I was stuck behind Michael Schumacher which lost me some time, but when I got past him in the first round of pitstops I was able to pick up speed again. However my deflector came off and went underneath the car. The team removed it during my scheduled second pitstop but the loss obviously affected the handling of my car in the closing stages. I really look forward to Malaysia where hopefully we should be able to get the result we believe we are capable of and have some more consistent weather."
Ron Dennis: "Juan Pablo's race was unfolding as expected until he went on the grass. He also lost a deflector but if things had gone our way he would have finished on the podium. Kimi's grand prix was effectively over after he stalled the car at the start. During the race he was hampered by the loss of a deflector which subsequently jammed underneath the car. The positive outcomes of the opening race are the very good performance from our Michelin tyres and that we had the pace to win and as a result are looking forward to Malaysia and the rest of the season."
Norbert Haug: "Kimi's speed was reasonable, however after having to start from the pitlane a better place than eighth was not possible. Juan Pablo complained about handling problems in the last third of the race which we later discovered was due to a loss of a deflector. Our starting positions - tenth and from the pitlane - didn't help to get a better result. After only 15 laps, Kimi was already 40 seconds behind the leader and this was still the case after 58 laps."
Jarno Trulli - 9th: "The start of the race was very special, having secured Panasonic Toyota Racing's best ever qualifying result and first front row position in this morning's qualifying session. I got away well, kept my second place into the first corner and had a good first stint, fighting at the front. After my pit stop, I had a problem with the rear tyre which dropped me down the field and unfortunately out of contention for points. Yes, it is a shame that we lost a good opportunity to score points, but I have been encouraged by the TF105's performance over the weekend and we head to Malaysia where we will try to make up for the disappointment today."
Ralf Schumacher - 12th: "It is a pity because I had a great start and all was going well. I could not overtake at the beginning unfortunately, because it was not possible to get close enough to make a move. Then I had a problem with the seat belt which forced me to visit the pit once more. By then, the race was over for me, but I kept on pushing because you never know what can happen in Melbourne. I want to compliment the whole team for their outstanding efforts. The car was in good shape with a good balance and the pit stops were well executed. We could have had a great result today."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "We are naturally disappointed that we could not convert our front row qualifying result into points this afternoon. We had a very competitive first stint. Jarno was able to retain second and keep pace with the leader. But after his first pit stop, one of his rear tyres blistered and that meant he struggled thereafter, especially in the middle stint, dropping him out of the points. Ralf had a great first lap. After his first refueling stop, his seat belt became loose, so he had to pit for an adjustment. His final two stints showed the true pace of the car with some competitive running. There are many positives from the weekend. We scored our best ever qualifying result with Jarno starting the race from second place. Starting the race from the front row was fantastic to witness and particularly pleasing for the top executives from Toyota who joined us today. Additionally, I am encouraged by the performance of the TF105. Even with the problems that we encountered during the race, the car's reliability was excellent and we were able to finish the race on the same lap as the winner. Compared to last year, when we finished two laps down, I think that demonstrates the progress we have made over the last twelve months. And there is plenty more to come. With the new engine regulations in place, we have enjoyed a totally trouble-free weekend here in Melbourne with our RVX-05 and Toyota has no concerns for the next Grand Prix in Malaysia."
Felipe Massa - 10th: "It was pretty difficult to drive the car with a lot of fuel aboard but I managed reasonable times and was keeping ahead of Michael and Kimi until I got very close to Nick one lap and lost grip in his turbulence. Anyway, I just did what I could and finishing 10th wasn't so bad when you look where I started. In the circumstances, with lots of fuel, the car was good."
Jacques Villeneuve - 13th: "That was a very disappointing race. We were a lot slower than I thought we would be. The car was very difficult to drive and I couldn't get any grip at the start. That's it."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "We tried two different strategies today. Since Felipe had to start so far back we elected to run him on a one-stop plan, while Jacques made two stops. Unfortunately Jacques lost the majority of his positions after losing momentum battling with Nick in the first corner after the start, and we could not recover them. The season has started, we have learned a lot from this race, and we are already pushing forward with our development programme to put ourselves in a stronger position in Sepang."
Jenson Button - 11th: "I had a poor start to the race and I was losing up to three seconds a lap behind Villeneuve. Once I passed him after the second pitstop the car was pretty good. The car ran reliably but clearly this wasn't the way we wanted to start the season and we have a lot of work to do to get back up to where we need to be."
Takuma Sato - 14th: "It was a difficult weekend for all of us, particularly in the race with me starting at the back of the grid. The team did a great job repairing the car for me for today and obviously I drove the best I could to recover some positions, but generally we were off the pace and we will work hard to turn this around for the next race."
Geoff Willis, Technical Director: "On the positive side both cars ran reliably and we proved towards the end of the race with Jenson that we could record very competitive lap times. At the start of the race both drivers struggled with poor tyre warm-up and both found it difficult to follow other cars closely enough to give them the opportunity to overtake. In the last stint, once we were in clear air, the cars were very much better and performed as we expected.
"As we were out of the points, on the last lap we decided to stop both cars which gives us the opportunity to change engines for Malaysia without further penalty. This could be an advantage at a race where we normally encounter high temperatures.
"We are clearly very disappointed with this race performance and will be working very hard to identify our problem and find a solution."
Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer: "The cars were prepared well, ran reliably and it is a credit to the team that Takuma's car was repaired so rapidly after his accident in first qualifying. However, our car performance was not up to the standard that we have come to expect and our technical team must work to find more pace before the next round in Malaysia. Both drivers performed well and we must now give them the equipment they need to score Championship points."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "We have obviously had a disappointing day today. We have a lot of work to do, it's as simple as that."
Narain Karthikeyan - 15th: "I had a very bad start and then stayed behind Monteiro for a while. After the first pit stop, I pushed a lot and it was a trouble-free race. It is very good to finish the first Grand Prix of the season and I am looking forward to the next race, even though the weather conditions will be much warmer and humid."
Tiago Monteiro - 16th: "The goal was to finish the race and this is what we managed to achieve. We are not the only team apparently, as all the cars seemed pretty reliable. As I said during the weekend, we need to finish races and collect as much information as possible. There are so many things I have learnt today and that is the most important. For the next race, I would like to make some changes to my seat position and my seat belt. I had a great start but then I lost a lot of time when people were overtaking me so I have to work on that but otherwise I am very happy to have finished the race."
Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director: "We are very glad we finished the year's first Grand Prix. We got both cars to the finish and that is an achievement, even though it would have been nice to finish a bit higher up the results table. Now we are looking forward to going to Malaysia and if possible improving the car a little bit."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal & Managing Director: "Before the Grand Prix our aim was to get both cars to the end - so I am very happy that they finished the race in the same conditions they started in and that there were no nasty surprises. "
Patrick Friesacher - 17th: "It was a difficult race, but I'm happy to have finished my first Grand Prix, particularly since we never tested the car in this specification before. I found I was getting more confident with the car each lap, though, even though the handling was not quite to my liking. I particularly want to thank the guys, who did a great job changing the car to 2005 specification, and helped me to finish my first Formula One race."
Christijan Albers - DNF: "I lost second gear on the formation lap, and that caused me a bit of a problem at the start, as I had to shift from first to third. As a result, the race was difficult, since there are several corners here that require second gear. I was losing time in each of these. I was happy I could stay with Patrick, though, even with the problem, but then I also lost first gear. I knew when I came in for my pit stop that there was little likelihood I would be leaving again. Anyway, we will just hope for better luck in Malaysia."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "It was good to leave the politics at the starting line today and get on with the racing, especially as this marks the 10th Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The event remains undoubtedly the most popular race on the Formula One schedule. Driving cars they had never driven in the dry, and which had been modified in a way that was never intended, one should not underestimate the performances of either Christijan or Patrick, who on their debut in Formula One, clearly proved they have a future in this great sport.
"Today, we saw former Minardi drivers finish in first, third and fifth places in the race, again demonstrating one of the contributions the small, independent teams make to F1. Sadly, Christijan's race was curtailed by a gearbox problem; however, Patrick soldiered on for a well-deserved race finish in a car that, without question, was the most difficult in the field to drive. Finally, my sincere thanks to all members of the team, for the total professionalism they have demonstrated throughout a difficult week, and to the Australian people, for their overwhelming support of Minardi during this Grand Prix."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "We finished 2004 with a flourish - and it is very satisfying to begin the new season in similar fashion. We came to Australia envisaging all kinds of situations that might arise because of the latest regulations, but everything has run smoothly. We had no tyre wear problems at all. The temperatures were cooler than expected, so we had quite a margin to play with - it was clear from Giancarlo Fisichella's performance in the closing stages of the race, when he set his fastest lap, that he had been pacing himself very comfortably.
"Today's result vindicates the hard work we have done during the winter and gives us an excellent platform on which to build for the rest of the season. This has been a very productive weekend, because we had an early opportunity to assess our wet-weather tyres, which performed very favourably, as well as our dries. We won't rest on our laurels, though, because we know that there's plenty of hard work to do in the months ahead."
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Rubens started 11th and Michael 19th on the grid and Rubens managed to finish the race in second position which is a fantastic result. It really proves that the development direction we have taken is the correct one. The tyre performed well for both Ferrari cars and kept its performance from beginning to end. We've had no problems with the tyres which is very encouraging for future races. It's good to see the two rookie Jordan drivers finish the race. It's good experience for the team and I'm sure that they will assist our tyre development this season.
"Patrick Friesacher also finished his debut race which is encouraging. Overall, while we always like to win, the result was a good one. With the new tyre regulations the requirements of the tyres are different and today we saw that our tyres suited the new regulations and we now just have to push our development to continue to be competitive."
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