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Team Quotes - Sunday 1 October


2006 China GP

Team Quotes - Sunday 1 October

The Renault F1 Team finished a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix in second and third positions this afternoon in Shanghai. Fernando Alonso's second place finish came after a race in which the Spaniard dominated in both the wet and the dry. However, two crucial periods of the race cost him vital track time. The first came at the end of the stint when, after discussions with Fernando and Michelin, the team chose to change the severely worn front tyres only. As Fernando returned to the track, he was unable to regain his previous level of performance and was rapidly caught by Giancarlo Fisichella and Michael Schumacher behind. As a result of this he elected to stop early for dry tyres and fuel to the finish on lap 35. However, a pit-stop problem when a wheel nut came loose from the gun cost him vital seconds. The team is currently investigating the origin of the problem. After the leaders had stopped, he was 25 seconds behind with 15 laps to go. Although he subsequently closed the deficit rapidly, time ran out before he could catch leader Michael Schumacher. As for team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, he ran competitively on the heaviest fuel load among the front-runners during the opening stint, then led strongly through the middle stages as the circuit dried and Fernando Alonso struggled. He changed to dry tyres on lap 41, and eventually finished third behind his team-mate. This collective performance by both drivers means the Renault F1 Team retakes the lead of the Constructors' Championship from Ferrari by a single point, while Fernando Alonso lies on equal points with Michael Schumacher, with two races remaining. With the two drivers tied for the championship lead, a title showdown in Brazil in three weeks' time is almost certain.

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: We are all very sorry for Fernando. He was simply fantastic today, and dominated in both the wet and the dry. After a performance like that, there is nothing more frustrating than to see a win slip through your fingers. Giancarlo drove well to be on the podium, and his points mean we go back ahead in the constructors' championship. This evening, our main feeling is frustration. Looking further ahead, though, we had the quickest car today and both championships are equal. We know we have the team and the performance to win.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: We are making no excuses today. This is a race we should have won, because the Renault and its Michelin tyres were dominant in all conditions. The fact we did not do so is intensely frustrating for the entire team. Fernando drove brilliantly from the start, and as we approached the first stop, told us on the radio that his front tyres were very badly worn. In consultation with Fernando and Michelin, we decided to change them and leave the rears on. It soon became clear that the track was drying quickly, and that the decision had been the wrong one. As a result, we took the risk of stopping very early to switch Fernando to dry tyres in the hope he would be able to gain time on the leaders. A delay in that pit-stop cost us more time: we know that the nut fell out of the wheel gun, but not yet why. Afterwards, Fernando once again drove fantastically to close in on Michael, but we simply ran out of laps. Giancarlo drove well at the critical points of his race, and was unlucky to lose the lead after his second stop when he was caught out like many others this afternoon by the slippery track while running a set of dry tyres that were not yet up to temperature. His podium finish, though, gave us the means to re-take the lead in the constructors' championship, and that fact shows that we have the performance to win both titles. The Michelin tyres were superior in the wet and the dry today, and it was easy to get the best out of the car in the changing conditions. We now go to the final races with renewed confidence. Today showed that the Renault is the fastest car out there. We fully intend to make use of it in the final two races of what is proving to be a thrilling title showdown.

Team McLaren Mercedes driver Pedro de la Rosa finished today's action packed Chinese Grand Prix in fifth place gaining two places on the final lap. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen retired on lap 19 due to a failure of the engine throttle mechanism. Kimi had his pitstop on lap 16 (9.3 seconds) whilst Pedro came in on laps 17 (7.7 seconds) and 36 (10.3 seconds). Both drivers will now travel to Tokyo for a few days before heading to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix

Ron Dennis: "Obviously an action packed Grand Prix. Kimi's strategy and car set-up were more than capable of winning the race. Unfortunately a failure of the engine throttle mechanism forced him to retire. Pedro struggled with front-end grip and had a spin following his pitstop. However he did well to finish fifth, and the entire team now looks forward to the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka next weekend."

Norbert Haug: "An eventful race which began promising with Kimi running second. However a problem with the throttle activation system led to his retirement. The reason for this is being investigated. Kimi's lap times were strong and good enough to win the race. Pedro drove a solid race, had a spin after changing to grooved tyres and came home fifth. With two more races to go we want to clinch the victory we missed today."

Eighth win of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, the seventh courtesy of Michael Schumacher. This is win number 191 from 739 races entered by Ferrari, the second in the Chinese Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher recorded his ninety first victory from 248 Grand Prix starts and his first at this track.

Jean Todt: This was an incredibly intense race in which Michael's genius, the team's talent and the exceptional Bridgestone tyres all made this extraordinary result possible. It was a shame for Felipe who was staging an exceptional climb up the order from the penultimate row of the grid. A collision with Coulthard put him out of the race, which prevented him from picking up any points that would have been so important for the Constructors' championship. However, this can do nothing to detract from the joy of such a fantastic victory, obtained here in Shanghai in the face of very stiff opposition. Now, both the titles will be decided in the space of two races. If we look back to where we were after Montreal and to the fact that Michael has now caught up his closest rival and that we are only one point down in the Constructors' classification, it is further confirmation that one should never ever give up!

Ross Brawn: It was a fantastic race in which Michael performed exceptionally well. On the rain tyres we were struggling when there was still a lot of water on the track, but we were still able to keep up with the lead group. Then, as the track began to dry, the situation changed in the way we had been expecting, namely in our favour, thanks to the performance of the Bridgestone tyres, which worked very well in these conditions. The team also did an incredible job and all the pit-stops were impeccable. A shame for Felipe: starting from the back of the grid because of the engine change, he was having a great race and could have brought home some important points for the Constructors' classification. All the same, we are very happy and we can be reasonably optimistic as we prepare to tackle the final two races, but we will have to remain concentrated and not leave the slightest detail to chance.

Panasonic Toyota Racing will leave China empty-handed after a desperately disappointing afternoon's work at today's Chinese Grand Prix. The unsettled weather that has disrupted the whole weekend continued on Sunday, with showers at the Shanghai International Circuit throughout the morning. The rain stopped shortly before the start but the race still took place on a wet track. After the problems during yesterday's wet qualifying session, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had it all to do today from their grid positions of 16th and 17th. It was slow progress in the early part of the race as both drivers were caught in a snake of traffic for most of the first stint. Because of the lowly positions the team took a gamble of switching to dry tyres and filling up until the end of the race. The switch came while the track was still wet and both drivers struggled for the next set of laps, losing a lot of ground. But as the track dried out, Ralf twice set the fastest lap of the race up to that point. Unfortunately he did not make it to the finish, succumbing to an oil pressure problem on lap 49. Jarno earlier retired with a loss of pneumatic pressure on lap 38. Toyota will now head to Suzuka hoping for a better performance at next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the team's home race.

Tsutomu Tomita Team Principal: "Starting from where we were on the grid after our bad luck with the weather and the red flags yesterday, we knew it was going to be hard to make up ground. So we had to be aggressive to try and salvage something from the day. The first part of the race the pace of the car was okay, but we were blocked behind Coulthard who was apparently on a different strategy. From then on we had to take a risk to try and catch up otherwise we would have ended up far from the points. We were fuelled quite long for the first stint just to be able to wait for the track to dry out. When we were about to pit the conditions were still not perfect for dry tyres, but still we went for it because it was the only possibility to come away with a good result. It was a risk that did not pay off but we had to try it and I still think it was a good decision. Both drivers performed well but later in the race we had some issues on both cars, Jarno with a pneumatic consumption problem and Ralf with oil pressure so we had to retire both cars. I'm very sorry for the problems to the fans and to the drivers but we will now work hard for a result at Suzuka next week."

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1: "It was good to break the points drought today. Mark drove a great race in the wet and then in the drying conditions. Nico drove well, but he was stuck in traffic after the first stint and it was difficult for him to make any ground. The variable conditions aside, the car has definitely improved both in reliability and performance and we will go to the last two races with a target to score some more points."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth: "It was good to get both engines to the finish and great to score a point with Mark. Cosworth had no problems during the race and both drivers used the available engine performance to good effect."

The Honda Racing F1 Team's Chinese Grand Prix ended pretty much as it began today with drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button locked together as they brought home a fourth consecutive double points finish for the team. Having started from 3rd and 4th on the grid, they finally ended the 56-lap race with Jenson 4th and Rubens 6th after a race-long battle in the changeable wet-dry-wet conditions.

Two faultless pitstops for both drivers were well-timed to ensure a safe switch to dry tyres. Jenson had been struggling for grip in the latter part of the first stint, pitting much earlier than planned. At the same time, Rubens was really making up ground as his car and tyres were performing well. From the point of Jenson's first pitstop he was in his element, edging closer to his team-mate to produce some real 'edge-of-your-seat' racing for the fans. Both drivers sat tight on dry tyres as the rain started to fall again in the last few laps before Jenson seized the moment and passed first a McLaren, then his team-mate and finally a BMW in quick succession to secure a hard-fought 4th position.

After a real adrenaline buzz of a race in Shanghai, the team heads to Japan for its home Grand Prix next weekend, where it hopes to put on an equally exciting show for its legions of Honda fans.

Gil de Ferran, Sorting Director: "What an exciting race! Although we didn't get the podium we were hoping for, having Jenson and Rubens in the points again is a good result for us considering the unpredictable and difficult conditions. After a good start from both drivers, the first issue we encountered was when Jenson started suffering an imbalance which was costing him a lot of time towards the latter half of his first stint. As a result we brought him in earlier than scheduled to change the tyres. Rubens wasn't suffering with the same issues and we retained the same set of tyres on his first stop. The track was taking a long time to dry out and we just about hit the right time to change to dry tyres when both drivers had to come in for their second stop. From then on, Jenson and Rubens were not only fighting each other but they were also challenging Heidfeld ahead as well as being pursued by De La Rosa. This fight culminated in a very exciting last few laps when it started drizzling with rain and they all shuffled positions. In the end this was a good result for us and hopefully we can go one step further in front of our home crowd in Japan."

Red Bull
Christian Horner: In very difficult conditions, we got the strategy right for David today. He was on the right tyres at the right time. He was very quick in the middle of the race on worn intermediates and we changed to slicks at the right time to get him out ahead of Massa and Webber. Unfortunately, Massa had a collision with David at the hairpin, which damaged his steering. As a result, David locked up a couple of laps later and lost a place to Mark. Robert was the victim of a first lap incident and had to change his front wing, but after that he drove very well. He was quick on worn intermediates, but lost some time, as did others, after changing to new intermediates at his first pit stop. Once on slicks, he set some very competitive race laps and, apart from the first lap incident, it was a good job by him today.

BMW Sauber
In the Chinese Grand Prix the BMW Sauber F1 Team had to settle for two points for Nick Heidfeld. The German started the last lap of the race in fourth and became the victim of dubious manoeuvres. Robert Kubica was up to fifth before half distance, but then lost any chances of a good finish due to changing to dry tyres too early, and the Pole came 13th.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): This race result is extremely disappointing for us. Nick was clearly on his way to fourth. In the final stages of the race he was slowed by lapped competitors and lost a four second advantage to the cars behind. One of these guys even hit the rear of his car. These incidents are under investigation by the Stewards. Robert was pushed off in the first corner, dropped back to 21st and then caught up in a very impressive way to fifth. At his first stop he asked for dry tyres, we took the risk but it was a mistake. The necessary second tyre stop threw him to the back of the field. Technically both cars ran without problems.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director): Both drivers lost ground at the start, but regained positions in the race. We expected a wet track and, therefore, our strategy was for very long first stints. Compared to qualifying, the track was extremely slow to dry. At Robert's stop after lap 24 we knew it was a high risk to go to grooved tyres, but in agreement with him we did it and it was wrong. The track was still too wet, especially at the pit exit, so the tyres cooled down straight away and lost grip. It was clear we had to change again. For Nick the strategy paid off, as he drove stints one and two on intermediates and gained positions. He was fourth when the last lap started, therefore, the disappointment is enormous that he only finished seventh with a damaged car after the incidents on this lap.

After great positive performances off the track during the weekend, the debut of a new livery, confirmation of Christijan Albers for 2007 and a Ferrari engine deal the third Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai was a disappointing damp squib for the Spyker M F1 Team.

On a soaking wet track at the start of the race both drivers struggled valiantly in the tricky conditions. Ultimately Christijan Albers came home in 16th place while Tiago Monteiro spun out after 38 laps.

Dominic Harlow, Head of race and test engineering: "We didn't think the weather conditions were in our favour for this race - it felt more like Spa than Shanghai! The drivers struggled for grip under the wet conditions early on and although we made good decisions with regards to tyre changes we weren't able to capitalise on these. Tiago went to dry tyres at just the right time but unfortunately spun and for Christijan the problems continued throughout the race."

Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was a shame that with such a great amount of excitement and anticipation within the team after our various announcements this weekend that we couldn't perform in the race. I genuinely believe that we do have a package capable of being more competitive than we showed today and hopefully dry races in Japan and Brazil will show this"

Toro Rosso
Gerhard Berger: Tenth place for Tonio is not exactly reason to have a party but it is an okay result and nothing to be disappointed about. Both guys made a good start in the wet, making up some places. Tonio had what we can call his 'usual' spin, but otherwise everything went fine. His pit stop was well timed and congratulations to the team for getting him at just the right time to switch to dry tyres. We were the first to catch that precise moment. As for Scott, he didn't get his tyres working and I'm not sure why at this moment.

Super Aguri Sakon Yamamoto brought home his SA06 to finish his first grand prix with the Super Aguri team. Team mate Takuma Sato passed the chequered flag in 14th position giving the SAF1 Team another double finish. The weather once again played an integral part this weekend and made for an eventful 2006 Chinese Grand Prix.

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: I am very happy because we have once again achieved a two-car finish and Sakon has finished his first F1 race. Taku's lap time was very good and he drove a solid race in difficult conditions. The Chinese Grand Prix was very important to the team as it is just before we travel to Suzuka. Our car has shown reliability here, which is extremely important and we have had a very good race today so I am very happy indeed.

Bridgestone shod Michael Schumacher claimed an emphatic Chinese Grand Prix victory this afternoon in front of a roaring crowd of fans to put him in the drivers' championship lead for the first time this season. Although Fernando Alonso took second place and is equal on points, the Scuderia Ferrari driver has one win more than his rival, just giving im the edge. Schumacher's win was the 103rd victory taken by a Bridgestone driver. Felipe Massa unfortunately retired from the race after 44 laps, and Ferrari has subsequently dropped back to lie one point behind Renault in the constructors' championship. Fellow Bridgestone runner, Mark Webber, took a well earned point for the WilliamsF1 team after running a strong and steady race to finish eighth. Crucially for Bridgestone today, after the disappointment of Saturday qualifying, the 56-lap race provided the ideal conditions for its wet and dry weather tyres. Drivers had to contend with a wet but slowly drying track after heavy morning rain and the timing of tyre changes proved the deciding factor for most teams today. The Formula One paddock now hastily packs up and heads over to Suzuka in Japan for next weekend's penultimate race of the season.

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone Motorsport: What a race! Congratulations to Michael on his 91st win and to Mark Webber on taking a point in very difficult conditions. Admittedly, we felt a little deflated yesterday after qualifying but today's result was a real boost. Our wet tyre was performing in ideal conditions this afternoon, unlike yesterday, and it was great to see. We had the right wet tyre for the conditions and the key was that it was then able to connect to the dry tyre's performance range as the track dried up. It was also good to see Sakon Yamamoto go the full race distance, which is always good for experience and confidence. It was just a shame Toyota and Spyker MF1 could not capitalize more on the Bridgestone tyres. It was a tough race in ever changing conditions but at least for some of our teams our tyres and hard work paid off. However, we will not have much time to reflect on this result as next week is our home race. Our teams have just two race weekends to claim as many points as possible and for Ferrari, who are in a possible to take the championship titles, it will be more like a two race shoot out so we need to make sure we provide the best tyres for the Bridgestone teams.

Ross Brawn, Technical Director Scuderia Ferrari: We knew there would be opportunities in the race, particularly when the rain stopped when it did. We expected the Bridgestones to be very good if the track dried and that's what happened. Michael did a great job in the fully wet conditions and as the track dried it all started to come towards us and we had to use every opportunity we got. That's what the tyre war is all about.

Circumstances might have denied Michelin another Formula One victory in today's Chinese Grand Prix but the Clermont-Ferrand company illustrated its tyres' performance advantage in changeable weather conditions. Defending world champion Fernando Alonso (Renault) built up a comfortable lead on a wet track in the early stages and fought back after mid-race delays to post a searing series of fastest laps once conditions dried. He finished just 3.1s behind Michael Schumacher and the two men are now level on points with two races to go.

Michelin drivers filled eight of the top 10 places. Giancarlo Fisichella was third ahead of Jenson Button, Pedro de la Rosa, Rubens Barrichello, Nick Heidfeld, David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Nick Shorrock, Michelin F1 director: "That was a very exciting race. The result wasn't what we were hoping for, but from a technical perspective this has been an immensely satisfying weekend. We proved our superiority in wet conditions during qualifying and had the upper hand in variable conditions today, although a combination of circumstances ultimately thwarted us.

"The decision to switch Fernando Alonso to new intermediate tyres at his first stop was taken jointly by Renault and Michelin and obviously that cost him time while he waited for them to scrub in. With the benefit of hindsight that was a mistake, but in the heat of a race split-second decisions have to be taken.

"Conditions were unusual today, but we cantake a great deal of heart from the way our products performed and feel buoyant about our prospects as we head into the final two grands prix with both world titles still wide open."

Alain Dassas, president, Renault F1 Team: "With two races to go we are in a very strong position" "This was a magnificent race for the spectators and to get two cars on the podium is a great result for us, even though we would prefer to have been first and second. But with two races to go we are in a very strong position we are leading one world championship and level-pegging in the other."

Pat Symonds, executive engineering director, Renault F1 Team: "Michelin's tyres have performed superbly in wet and dry conditions this weekend. It was easy to get the best from the car whatever the weather. Rain might well play a part in the final two grands prix of the season, so we feel quietly confident as we head for Japan and Brazil."


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