Sunday's Selected Quotes - Belgium
Kimi Raikkonen - 1st: "We did what we could today, and I'm thrilled to win here at Spa for the second time in a row. However Juan Pablo's retirement was a real shame and I feel sorry for him and the team as we could have left Spa with so much more as we really deserved a one two. Everything went well during the race with no real dramas and the car was great. When the safety car came out we took the opportunity to come into the pits and as Ralf was quite a bit lighter at this stage he was able to be in front of me. However I didn't push to look after the Michelin tyres. Consequently when it dried out I was able to really push and caught up with a series' of fast laps. I claimed the lead after the second pitstop as I could stay out longer than Juan Pablo and that was it. However there are mixed emotions as we should have had a one-two today."
Juan Pablo Montoya - DNF: "It's always tough to retire from a race but when it's caused by matters out of your or the team's control it's even harder. As I said in the pole position press conference yesterday I drive for my team. So my disappointment is even greater because as a team we were doing a great job. I now know that Pizzonia was trying to unlap himself on dry tyres and then hit me from behind whilst trying to do so. This was a disappointing end to what could have been the perfect weekend."
Ron Dennis: "Both drivers put in a faultless performance today which should have given the team maximum points. Kimi claimed his win in a disciplined and controlled manner in very difficult conditions. Juan Pablo was the innocent victim of other people's mistakes but this should not distract from his race which was executed with true team spirit. We of course take some satisfaction from winning eight of the last 11 Grands Prix. As you can imagine we are looking forward to Brazil in a positive frame of mind."
Norbert Haug: "Congratulations to Kimi on a great win and a perfect performance in the race. This was the almost ideal weekend for the team in which we performed very well in challenging conditions. We had the right strategy and were in control of the race. Unfortunately due to a competitor's mistake we could not take the full benefit of the team's efforts. However Juan Pablo did a brilliant job and didn't put a foot wrong throughout the weekend. I feel sorry for him as the accident was not his fault.
Fernando Alonso - 2nd: "It was a hard race for everybody this afternoon, with really difficult conditions, but we knew we had a competitive car and that we didn't need to take any big risks. Sometimes, these races can bring some big surprises, so I am pleased to come away with a normal result, which was exactly what I needed. The rear end of the car was moving about a lot in the high speed corners, which made it hard to attack a lot in the quick parts of the circuit, so I just backed off quite early and made sure I would take home plenty of points. I didn't make any mistakes, and P3 was going to be perfect for me, then I saw Montoya's accident - so P2 is even better, and it was nice to have some more help from McLaren. We were debating all the way through the race, and especially in the last laps, whether or not we should take the dry tyres, but I think we did the right thing: we didn't need to take the gamble, and played it safe. I want to say a big thank you to Michelin as well: we started the race in wet conditions, and finished with the track nearly dry, but the tyres they gave us were extremely quick all the way through. They have done a really fantastic job."
Giancarlo Fisichella - DNF: "The first few laps were perfect for me. I lost some positions at the start, but then the car was just flying: I was much faster than everybody around me, and just picking off the positions when I could to try and climb up the field. I was running quite low downforce, so the handling was tricky at times but I was still quicker than the guys in front of me. I had got to P7 when I lost the car in Eau Rouge. I don't really understand what happened at the moment, and I need sit down with the engineers to look at the data in a bit more detail."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "This was a very difficult race, and Fernando has got another fantastic result. The whole team did a great job, with some perfect stops and the strategy was what we needed. Everybody did a great job today. Fisico was pushing hard and really flying when he crashed. I think he did a great job too, but sometimes accidents happen - as we saw with Montoya as well. Fernando did the job he needed to, and now I think it will be difficult for Raikkonen to catch him; but the constructors' championship is much closer, and we will stay focused on that until the end."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "This was always going to be a race of nerves, and it certainly turned out that way. We had a number of difficult decisions to make, and it is very satisfying to take second place after that. In the early stages, Giancarlo was the fastest man out there and I am sure that without one mistake, we would have had two cars on the podium. But today was all about a team effort, and alongside a faultless drive from Fernando, the team did a fantastic job in a pressure situation. We had some problems with our pit-stops at the last couple of races, and the mechanics all worked very hard on it for this weekend. The excellent stops showed their work has paid off."
Jenson Button - 3rd: "It's fantastic to be back on the podium and I have to thank the team for their incredibly hard work to get us back into the game here. The first stint of the race wasn't easy. I had such bad oversteer I barely had to turn into the corners! At the first stop we adjusted the front wing which made things better but we were a little too optimistic in switching to drys so we had to come in again and change back to wets. Double stinting the tyres really made all the difference for us though. I have to thank the entire team and Michelin for making this result possible. The pitstops were great and the Honda engine was faultless all weekend. We have some new developments for the next few races so I'm feeling really positive. Let's hope we have a few more days like today before the end of the season"
Takuma Sato - DNF: "It was very tricky at the beginning of the race, but I made a good first lap and gained many positions. It was an exciting first stint and things were going well up to the first stop. The incident with Michael happened on the first corner after the restart, following the safety car. With cold tyres and brakes, it was very difficult to stop the car and unfortunately, I touched the back of him. Obviously, I am disappointed that we could not deliver a good result today."
Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director: "Exciting is probably a gross understatement to describe Jenson's race today. To finish on the podium from where we were earlier on in the race was fantastic. After good starts by both drivers the strategy became quite complex during the first safety car period. At that point it is fair to say we underestimated how low the level of grip was and how long it would eventually take for the track conditions to improve enough for dry tyres. Having put drys on at our first stop, we came back in to fit wet tyres and fell to the back of the pack for the restart. Unfortunately for Taku, who was having a very good day, the race ended soon afterwards with the turn one incident. From that point on, all went well for us as Jenson drove a real stormer in the late stages and was the fastest man on the track for many laps. The crew did a fantastic job under a lot a pressure, executing many pit stops perfectly in close succession. It is always good to go into the next race after a podium so onwards to Brazil!"
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "Jenson drove another very good race for a hard-fought podium. After struggling at the start with oversteer, he got more comfortable with the car after a wing adjustment. It was a shame for Taku that he had an incident with Michael shortly after his tyre change. The new spec engine ran without any problems, and we'll aim to keep up the momentum for the last three races."
Mark Webber - 4th: "It was a difficult race, strongly affected by many changes of tyres. It was a shame that we lost a lot of time when the Safety Car came out at the start of the race and we switched to dry tyres and then back to intermediates again. We obviously took a gamble, as everyone did today. We could have scored even a better result but it was also very easy to be in the wall today. It's long overdue for me to have, let's say a 'normal' race, and I want to give this result to the team because it has been a tough season so far and they have put in a great effort. It is still not the result we want but we made the right decisions after all. It was also a good job by BMW, to get through two tough races with the same engine."
Antonio Pizzonia - DNF: "The race was hectic with the track conditions changing and consequent tyre changes. We made our pit-stops just after Mark, where I lost some time, but that was part of the game. With regards to the accident with Montoya, I was on dry tyres, and lapping quicker than him. He was quite slow maybe because his tyres were not good anymore or maybe he was just cruising to the end of the race. I thought he saw me and when he braked really early I thought he was trying to let me by. I put my car next to him but obviously he hadn't seen me because he turned into his normal line and I couldn't avoid the crash. I am sorry for him because I am not here to destroy anyone's race. I destroyed my race too."
Sam Michael (Technical Director): "Today's race was a very exciting one for everybody. We picked up some good points with Mark. It was a good to go on dry tyres for the last laps. We tried earlier in the race to put both cars on dry tyres as did a lot of other teams. But it didn't work and both needed to pick up intermediates again. The Stewarts are investigating what happened when Antonio came together with Juan Pablo."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "This was a really eventful race. As the entire weekend, it was influenced by the weather. Difficult conditions resulted in several accidents. Today the right strategy was crucial, especially to find the right moment for the change from intermediates to dry tyres. Many drivers tried this too early. Dry tyres were only for the best choice for the last laps. This decision enabled Mark to improve to fourth position. Having started ninth, this is a very good result."
Rubens Barrichello - 5th: "Unfortunately we did not have enough speed today and that was a problem throughout the race. The decisions we made regarding tyre choice were good, as were the decisions about when to make the pit stops. That is the only reason why we managed to bring home some points. At one point we felt it was better to stay on the rain tyres as although they were getting slick they seemed to be working better. Unfortunately, after this stage had passed, the tyres went off quite a bit and I had to stop to change them. Then I lost fourth position because getting the dry tyres warm at the end was very difficult and Webber overtook me very easily. Considering everything that happened today, coming home with four points is not bad."
Michael Schumacher - DNF: "Every accident is unnecessary but this one seemed more unnecessary than usual. Obviously I am not happy about it, I did not see anything and just felt a bump at the rear of the car. It was stupid to finish the race like this when we had hoped that the mixed conditions might help us. We decided to try the dry tyres but it was immediately obvious that it was like driving on ice. We tried to be competitive today and we got a bit closer to that goal, but not close enough."
Jean Todt: "This was a chaotic and confusing race. We hoped to exploit the unusual weather conditions but this year, it seems that even the luck that can be a fundamental part of motor racing will not come our way. Maybe we have had too much of it in the past few years, but I hope we can now get back in credit on this score as quickly as possible. At the start of the race, Michael was a front runner, while Rubens who had started from further back, was struggling a bit. When the Safety Car came, out we tried to gamble on dry tyres on Michael's car, but very quickly, he realised the car was impossible to drive in these conditions. So another stop was needed to go back to rain tyres, but Michael's race lasted just one more lap, when he was hit by Sato in the braking area for La Source. This meant all our hopes rested with Rubens, who had moved into the points by this stage. His race was going normally, but when his rain tyres began to go off significantly, he had to pit again to fit dry ones with just a few laps remaining. The time he lost doing this and in getting the dry tyres up to temperature cost him fourth place."
Ross Brawn: "It was a day when some opportunities presented themselves, but we did not take all of those that came our way. At the beginning of the race we held our positions but we were not that strong. Then, we thought we would take a chance and try dry tyres on Michael's car when the Safety Car came out, but he realised there was no way he could drive on them. The lap times seemed to indicate that "dries" would work, but for some reason they did not and we had to change back immediately. Then, to finish it off, came the accident with Sato. Rubens struggled at the beginning of the race, then the car got better. But towards the end we tried to stay on the wet tyres, but they got too hot and changing to dries cost us a position. The only good thing is we have slightly increased our lead over Toyota."
Jacques Villeneuve - 6th: "This result makes it all worthwhile going into qualifying with a heavy fuel load! The decision to stay out when the safety car was deployed was exactly the right thing to do. As the race progressed things got better as the fuel load decreased, but I had plenty of adventures along the way. I was completely sideways in Eau Rouge on one lap and I really thought that was it. But I saved it, and then had some wheel-banging with Karthikeyan up at Les Combes, so it wasn't a dull race for me! As the track started to dry it got difficult on intermediates, but the reason Ralf caught me so much on the final lap was because I had to lap a Minardi in a tricky place and lost time. Overall this was a great result that brought me a lot of satisfaction, especially on this challenging track."
Felipe Massa - 10th: "What can I say? We could have been on the podium if I had stayed on intermediates, because I was way ahead of Button, My engineer Mike Krack asked me should we stay on them before my second stop, but the track was a bit like it was on Friday when the grooved tyres had worked okay in damp conditions, so I figured it was worth the risk and said let's change to dries. If it had worked we would have been heroes. As it was, the car just became undriveable."
Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "This was a dramatic race for everyone. Jacques had a very good drive to sixth and it had not been easy for him to go with the decision to adopt a one-stop strategy. In particular he did a very good job handling a fuel-heavy car in difficult conditions. Felipe was on schedule for a top finishing position, but we agreed with him to take a calculated risk to change to dry tyres, and unfortunately it did not pay off. His second stop came just a bit too early in retrospect, because the track changed five laps later, but at Team Sauber Petronas we are here to race and sometimes these things happen."
Ralf Schumacher - 7th: "That was a very tough race. The timing of the safety car period worked to our advantage early on and we were in good shape. We were quick in the conditions, everything was going well and the strategy was well defined. Then we just decided to go onto dry tyres too early. It was a very close decision, but we took it together and we got it wrong. Like everyone we expected the track to dry out a lot faster than it did. Instead the track was incredibly slow to dry out. It was amazing how slippery the circuit was, and I can't remember seeing a race like that. We came straight back in and that enabled us to score some points. The team did a great job but we just got one decision wrong."
Jarno Trulli - DNF: "Today I was definitely capable of fighting for a podium. The car was very quick, and we were able to run at the same pace as the McLarens early on. The car was handling well and we were very good on the tyres. But when the safety car came out we had to make a quick decision about which tyres to take. The track was still damp so I asked to stay on intermediates but the team decided to put me on dry tyres. It was a bit of a gamble and as it turned out it was not the right choice. When I came out I was barely able to maintain the pace of the safety car and we went to the back after we stopped again. I worked my way back up through the field but late on I was following Monteiro when he accidentally hit the pit limiter button. I had no way of avoiding him and I hit him, losing my front wing and going off into the wall."
Tsutomu Tomita Team Principal: "It's obviously very disappointing to have lost out on two possible podiums today, but we took a challenging gamble which didn't pay off. Our pace in the first stint was very quick and we were able to compete with the top cars. At that point were heading for very good results but once the safety car came out we made the wrong decisions on the tyre changes so it didn't work out. The timing of the safety car worked well for Ralf, but we switched Jarno to dry tyres because we could see the line was drying slightly. We had to make a call but we made the wrong call. Then we made another tight call at Ralf's second pit stop and that cost him too. Nevertheless I am happy with the strategy decisions we took today. We are in Formula 1 to win and I prefer that we take a challenging gamble like that to make it to the top than settle for second best. At least today we gained valuable experience about how to race in wet conditions."
Tiago Monteiro - 8th: "I have really enjoyed myself driving today on my favourite track, especially under these weather conditions as we know they suit us and we can improve our positions. The Bridgestone tyres worked very well all the way and I felt very confident. I am delighted for the whole team and myself, this is a real point and we definitely deserved it. We had a tough time yesterday in qualifying but our strategy paid off. I am so happy."
Narain Karthikeyan - 11th: "I made a very good start and Tiago and I were running at the same pace. Then the safety car came out for Fisichella's accident and we had to pit together. I was in the queue obviously and lost a lot of time. This is a pity as I had a good race and was able to fight with a few cars. I went on slick tyres maybe a bit early but the last laps were great. I am very happy for Tiago and the team to have scored one well-deserved point. "
Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "It is a fantastic result for everybody. Tiago and Narain drove storming races and avoided the trouble. 16 out of 16 for Tiago and another finish for Narain. After Indianapolis, we would not have thought we could take any more points but this is really great for everybody involved here at the circuit and back at the factory, plus our partners Bridgestone and Toyota."
David Coulthard - DNF: "That's the first engine failure we've had since December. We have to accept that these engines are stressed and occasionally one will have a fault; but obviously it's too early to know what exactly caused it. We took a punt on the dry tyres as we thought the safety car would be out for a long time, which would give the slicks a chance to get up to temperature. As we must now use one slick tyre for the race, it has to be a hard compound to last the distance. That makes it more difficult to get it into its operating window in terms of temperature; so putting a slick tyre on a damp track doesn't work. On the other hand, intermediate tyres on a dry track will overheat so you end up with this no-man's-land area where no tyres fit. It's very entertaining for the crowds, but it's dangerous for us because while the wet tyres are burning up, the slick tyres, as we saw, don't work in these conditions."
Christian Klien - 9th: "My start was really good and I made up three places on the first two laps. The track was wet, but as it was drying we changed to slick tyres when the safety car came out. However two laps later, I came back in and changed back to the intermediate tyres. The car was too uncontrollable on slicks on the damp surface and basically, we changed too early. I went back to slick tyres at the end of the race when the track was drier and ended up in ninth place. It's pretty disappointing as without mistakes, we could have easily scored some points here."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "The cross over point at which we could change from intermediate to slick tyres wasn't very obvious. I think we timed Christian going onto slicks near to the end of the race at the right time, but, by then, we'd given away too much track position. When we went to slicks earlier in the race, David immediately said it was still too wet and came back in along with Webber, Trulli and a few others who had also tried slicks. Christian did an extra lap before coming back in, which cost him around 25 seconds and probably lost him a point. But, he drove a good race and didn't make any mistakes. When we put him on slicks the second time, he was one of the quickest cars on the track. Unfortunately, David suffered the first engine failure of the year, it's disappointing but to get to the 16th race of the year without any before is pretty good going." Chris Jilbert - Cosworth F1 Race Engineering: "Cosworth suffered it's first race engine failure of the 2005 season in David's car during today's Belgium GP. There was no significant warning on the telemetry prior to failure. The engine was on it's second event of the demanding Monza/Spa combination, but the duty cycle was actually not as severe as predicted given the weather conditions this weekend. We will now check the logged data & inspect the engine to determine the cause of failure. This is a disappointing result given Cosworth's excellent reliability record this season, plus the fact that David would potentially have been able to add to his points tally today."
Christijan Albers - 12th: "I think today we achieved the maximum we could, considering the strategy we had. The race was really difficult on wet tyres, but then with the intermediates fitted, it was okay. Unfortunately, I had no second gear for much of the race, and lost a lot of time shifting up. There are four corners on this track where you have to go into second gear and then shift up on the exit, and it was difficult to keep the speed up. Considering the difficult conditions, I think the best aspect of today is that we were able to finish the race, especially for the home crowd. Special thanks to my engineer, Laurent Mekies, who helped me to get the maximum possible from today. We couldn't have achieved a better result, taking everything into consideration."
Robert Doornbos - 13th: "We were banking on some more rain so we started on full-wets from the pits, but soon discovered it was not the right tyre choice, as the lap times were really slow. Once we were on intermediates, it was not too bad, and we were able to run pretty consistently in the middle segment of the race. We had been gambling all weekend, so at the second pit stop, we decided to try the slicks, but it was impossible. I think I lost 60 seconds on one lap alone, so I had to come in and change back to intermediates. It was not the best weekend, and the Spa luck didn't work this time, but we'll aim to go to Brazil now and push hard there."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "We took a gamble today on the rain that didn't come and started on full-wet tyres. From that point onwards, our race was effectively compromised. That said, both drivers, and indeed, the whole team, got through a difficult race and a most difficult weekend. Full marks to Tiago for scoring a well-deserved point, and my thanks to the whole Minardi Team, including factory-based staff in Faenza, for their support."
Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities: "This was the race we have wanted for some time - a chance to see how our latest wet weather tyres performed in hard racing conditions. It was important to understand how the track might evolve and to identify the appropriate moment to change tyres, but hindsight shows that the decision to use intermediates throughout - in wet and drying conditions - was the best option. We are extremely pleased with this result. The Michelins were very competitive in the wet, which gave our partner teams an advantage, and they were able to capitalise on that as our tyres' performance held up in the changing conditions."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "There were lots of questions to be answered at the start of the race. How might our rivals fare? Would the confidence we have in our latest wets prove to be justified in the wake of so many encouraging tests? I think we can be very satisfied with the answers. We knew from our dominant victory in last season's rain-hit Brazilian GP that we had made progress with our wet-weather rubber - and we have continued to build on that. Today's result proved the point in no uncertain terms. We picked up lots of useful data today and this was a very satisfying victory.â€
Hisao Suganuma - Technical Manager: "That was a difficult race today. Track conditions were very tricky and tough on the tyres. In the initial stages Michael was running with the leading pack and we were expecting him to be able to close the gap until he had his unfortunate collision with Takuma Sato. Rubens on the other hand was caught midfield but did his best to climb through to take fifth place. It was quite a messy race with lots of tyre changing going on. Of the other Bridgestone runners it was Tiago Monteiro who impressed most. He had a steady race in difficult conditions and has done well to take a point for eighth place. Today was the first time this year where we have had such wet race conditions. We have gained plenty of valuable data today for further wet tyre development. Looking ahead now, we have three races to the end of the season and we shall be pushing hard to finish the season on a high."
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