Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - French GP

Sunday July 2nd, 2000


David Coulthard: "I am delighted to have won this Grand Prix and today's result puts us back where we were after Monaco - right in the championship fight. The limited amount of running which I achieved on Friday and Saturday makes the victory even more satisfying. I knew that we had a quick car and that once I settled into the race I would find an opportunity to pass Michael. It has been a tiring weekend but my mechanics, engineers and everyone on the pitwall did a great job - thank you."

Mika Hakkinen: "I am really happy about today's result. It was fantastic for David, fantastic for the team and fantastic for me. We worked on my set up over night and the car's balance was much more to my liking in the warm up. I made a really good start but I got to the first corner and there were already two cars there! This meant I had to slot into fourth place at the first corner. As the race went on I knew I had the pace to pass Michael, and I was just waiting for the right opportunity which finally presented itself on lap 59. I really appreciate the efforts that my engineers and mechanics went to to make my car so competitive today."

Ron Dennis: "The results speak for themselves. A great race from David and a good result for Mika and the whole team. Our practice performance was a little frustrating but I suppose this makes the 1-2 victory even more satisfying. Our strategy, the performance of the mechanics in the pit stops and the drivers on the circuits were a credit to everyone."

Norbert Haug: "A great race from both our drivers especially David who really deserved that win. Thanks to all the team members for pushing so hard since the beginning of the season. We finished six races in a row with both cars and I hope we can continue this streak. Both World Championships are still open and we certainly want to reduce our points deficit further in the next races and try to win the titles at the end of the year."


Rubens Barrichello: "After I got past Coulthard at the start, I was just settling into my race and not pushing too hard as I wanted to look after my tyres. I thought I could keep the others behind me quite easily. Then after about ten or fifteen laps, my tyres suffered some give-up. This surprised me because the car had been good in the warm-up. Coulthard was very fast on the straight and putting me under pressure under braking and eventually he got past me when I ran wide at turn three. At the second pit stop, there was a problem with my front right wheel which cost me ten seconds. It was a shame, because I heard that Hakkinen had a so-so stop as well. Maybe I could have passed him. After Michael had his problem the team told me to slow down as I had a big lead over fourth place. I am sorry he did not finish the race."

Michael Schumacher: "The tyres on my car seemed to suffer a drop in performance earlier than on the others. This problem was at its worst after the first pit stop. At first I could control the situation, but then the tyres went off and I tried to look after them knowing there were still a lot of laps to go. Then I started to slow and Coulthard managed to get past me. Finally, on lap 59, I had an engine problem and I had to stop. Now we must find out why. I am disappointed, but this is motor racing and there is nothing you can do about it. I had said the championship was not over and unfortunately, today, I was proved right. I am sure we will quickly solve the problems we experienced here."

Jean Todt: "This has obviously been a bad weekend as our main rivals, who were stronger than us on the track today, picked up maximum points. We also experienced the first engine failure in a race this season, which cost us precious points for Michael in the Drivers championship and the team in the Constructors. Rubens drove a good race. At his second stop, a problem with the right front wheel nut lost him around 10 seconds, which put him third, where he stayed to the end. At the start, we seemed to be in a strong position but, of course, it is the order at the finish that counts. The rules of this championship are clear: if we don't win, they do. This happens at every Grand Prix and unfortunately, today went badly for us. We have now passed the halfway point of the season. We know and have always said that it would be tough and today demonstrated that fact."


Jacques Villeneuve: "I am very happy to finish fourth here, especially on a track where we didn't expect to be particularly strong. The start was so good that I even surprised myself! I settled into fifth and was also surprised that the first four didn't pull away from us. We were running throughout the race with more fuel than was necessary to give us flexibility over when to make our stops. I had a good battle with Ralf towards the end; he was better in the corners, but I was quicker on the straights. The only problem was when we came up to lap Diniz; I backed off and braked early to avoid any possible incident."

Ricardo Zonta: "There's not much to say. I was having problems throughout the opening laps with the balance of the brakes. The fronts were locking up a lot and I was having to brake earlier and earlier. On that lap, the car did not slow at all and I went straight across the gravel into the barrier. Not a good day."

Takefumi Hosaka - Managing Director, Honda R&D: "We are very happy with today's performance. Until now, the technical improvement could not be translated into results, but here we have delivered fourth place, finishing behind only McLaren and Ferrari. Now we can believe that we are moving in the right direction on the technical side and I appreciate the efforts that BAR has made since Canada. This result is thanks to the efforts of the whole team - Honda, BAR and Jacques - the strategy was perfect and Jacques pitted at exactly the right times. Hopefully next time we can get both drivers in the points."

Craig Pollock: "This has been the most fantastic team work I've seen since the start of British American Racing. Everything our people at the factory have done to develop an effective evolution of our car has paid off in the hands of the drivers. Jacques fought hard today and we are now looking forward to the Austrian Grand Prix. I especially want to add a big thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible."


Ralf Schumacher: "At the start I lost two positions to Villeneuve and Frentzen. I had the feeling that I could have been faster than Heinz-Harald but it was impossible to overtake him. Luckily, the team had a good pit-stop strategy so that I could overtake H-H after the first stop. Later I managed to overtake Trulli and got close to Villenueve but I didn't want to risk too much in the last laps and I slowed down a bit to save the two points which are very valuable for the team."

Jenson Button: "My start wasn't the best in the world and I think Ralf had the same problem as me. Then, at lap 12 I was able to get past Irvine at the hairpin and on the next lap Salo, so I managed to get in front and pull away. The car was working very well and I managed to catch the two Jordans and Ralf. My first pit stop was very good, except that Ralf and I almost had a collision afterward. I think we pitted too early for the second stop and I lost some time there and was never able to get past Frentzen. All round it was a good race and I enjoyed myself. It was just annoying that I could not pass Frentzen in the end."

Frank Williams: "A good race for the first six places especially at the very front. Good to keep the championship open a bit more like this. Clearly we are very pleased that we are scoring some more points."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "After a truly poor start both the drivers had to fight hard. Ralf regained his grid position and Jenson also won his place through tough duels. Both cars made it to the end and we have two more points in the bag, this is brilliant for the team. This makes us forget the last three races, when we couldn't score any points due to some accidents we were mostly not responsible for."


Jarno Trulli: "I had to push hard from the beginning. I made a good start and overtook Irvine going into the hairpin on the first lap. Then I passed Schumacher under braking for the last corner but he was able to get back in front because the Williams had better traction out of the corner. My first pit stop worked very well and, on the new set of tyres, I was flying. I got ahead of Heinz-Harald and pushed hard but it was very difficult to close the gap on Villeneuve, who was ahead of me in fifth place. I got the gap down to three seconds but then my tyres started wearing out. After the second and final stop, I was able to get close to Villeneuve again but I didn't have the speed to get by. In fact, that allowed Schumacher to overtake me but at least we can look forward to a new engine at the next race in Austria."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "It was disappointing. The car oversteered throughout the entire race and I was a little upset with Jarno when we touched wheels as he tried to overtake me and that damaged something on my car."

Eddie Jordan: "On the day we were just not as quick as Ralf (Schumacher) and Williams. It was a struggle for both our drivers but we've got Austria to look forward to now. The fight goes on!"


Giancarlo Fisichella: "I didn't get a good start at all as I had no rear traction and lost two places. After my first pit-stop I pulled up a few places and the balance on the car was much better and I was able to really push. The car was much better with high fuel and I drove hard for the whole race unfortunately 9th position was the best I could have hoped for."

Alexander Wurz: "I had a lot wheelspin at the start and couldn't pull away so ended up 20th. Then I was stuck behind Diniz and touched him a couple of times trying to overtake but it's just impossible here. After my first stop I was stuck behind Alesi who was really quite slow. The car had a lot of oversteer and was really hard to drive, but I thought I would just have to go for it if I wanted to get past Alesi. Unfortunately my brakes locked and I ended up in the gravel."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I think we made the most of a difficult weekend. Our first pit-stop managed to move us out of the backmarkers and from then on Giancarlo drove a determined race. We must, however, improve our qualifying performance."

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "After our poor qualifying session we were further compromised by both cars making poor starts. However after this, we modified our strategy and this allowed Giancarlo to show how competitive the car can be with fuel in it. He drove a good race to pull himself up from 16th position (after the start) to finish 9th. Certainly in race trim we appear to be equal with Jordan and Williams. What we must do is address our qualifying problems. Alex's race finished with an unfortunate incident but these sort of things are to be expected if you want to make any progress in the field."


Mika Salo: "That was one of the hardest races I've had. I was really struggling with the car. I made a great start, but we just weren't fast enough to hold on to that initial ninth place. I didn't have the traction I needed, and I was getting wheel spin exiting all the slow corners. New tyres made a difference, but only for a couple of laps, then I'd be fighting the car again. The engine was also hard to work smoothly, the power was coming in like a light switch."

Pedro Diniz: "For me this was a pretty tough afternoon trying all the time to find good traction on this surface, especially as the race was as hot as qualifying had been. It didn't help when I lost a lot of time near the end obeying the blue flags."

Peter Sauber: "I am happy with the reliability we have displayed all weekend, and to get both cars home ahead of the Jaguar of Irvine which started ahead of us. That is not so easy, but unfortunately, with our positions you don't score points and in the end it's only the points that count."


Nick Heidfeld: "I made a reasonable start and had a tough, but fair fight with Jean in the first corners. My car under-steered at Estoril and Jean overtook me. So did Fisichella two laps later, even though I was quicker. I tried to out-brake Fisichella in the hairpin, but I was a bit late on the brakes and I touched Jean, who spun, for which I am really sorry. Luckily, the balance of the car was not too badly affected. Then, I was able to catch the cars ahead and keep a good pace. Unfortunately, we had to make a third pit-stop to refill the engine air system. It was a pity because, even though the car was still over-steering a little, the changes we had made on the grid were in the right direction. Overall, it was not too bad, but if we had qualified better, we really could have had a much better result."

Jean Alesi: "Needless to say, I am terribly disappointed by everything that has happened this weekend and with the result. We have to put this behind us and concentrate on the next race to score a good result."

Alain Prost: "When you start so far back, the race is clearly going to be difficult, so when you also have several incidents, including the unfortunate coming-together of Nick and Jean, Nick stalling in his second pit-stop and having to make a supplementary stop, it is not at all easy. Whatever happened, however, we were not competitive this weekend, which is the most frustrating thing of all in regard to our results here in testing last week. We had the satisfaction of seeing both cars finish today's race, but that also is a cause of frustration when you do so but cannot score any points, since on each previous occasion when we have been able to score points, we have not had the reliability."

Corrado Provera, Peugeot: "Well done Nick for driving a fine race marked by some very respectable lap times and our apologies for needing him to make an extra pit stop to refuel his pneumatic valve system. Well done Jean for finishing the race in a car which did not give him a chance to show his qualities as a driver."


Eddie Irvine: "We know from qualifying that we can be quick, and we have things coming that are going to make us a helluva lot quicker. We just need to sort out all the other things that are going on and we still need to sort the starts. We think we've fixed the clutch, but there's another story going on as well, which we never saw until today because the clutch was always a problem. We just need to get all these things sorted. Eventually it's going to click - it's just not clicking at the minute. We can't continue to qualify in the top six and walk away empty-handed. It's another chance missed. My lap times during the race were competitive. It's just a shame I was so far back because I could have mixed it with the guys tussling for points."

Johnny Herbert: "We had another gearbox problem. I didn't have any drive when I came off the power, then it would come back when I touched the throttle, and then I lost first and second gear. I came in on schedule for my first pit-stop and the team was able to reset the gearbox system, but when I rejoined the race I still didn't have first and second gear. I then lost sixth then fifth and, by the time I came into the pits again, I had lost all the gears completely."

Gary Anderson: "A frustrating end to the weekend after the promise of Friday and Saturday which culminated in Eddie qualifying sixth and Johnny just outside the top 10. We had a problem with the fuel rig during Eddie's stops and unfortunately the gearbox gremlins struck again for Johnny."


Marc Gene: "A very tough race indeed, which I started badly because I was lined up on a bad grid position. The first set of tyres was old and not too much performing as a result, however I was running at the same rhythm as the group ahead. The second set of tyres was better and I managed to arrive behind Alesi, where I remained for the rest of the race. I was quicker than him but it was very hard to overtake. I tried twice: the first time we touched and the second time I succeeded but later on I braked too late and he was able to catch me. In the closing laps I decided it was better not to take further risks for a 15th place. My car was competitive but on this track overtaking is a true problem."

Gaston Mazzacane: "I feel very sad because honestly I expected to do a better race today. I made a good start and at least on the first ten laps, I was keeping a steady rhythm as I was aware that in a short deal of time I would have missed the tyre grip especially on the rear which would cost dearly in terms of car's performance. Later on I spun off as a result of this lack of grip. Actually I was no more able to maintain a good rear mechanical grip and the car was really difficult to drive. This morning during the warm-up we did a few tests in order to avoid this possibility but today's high temperatures have been penalizing."

Gian Carlo Minardi: "Today's race did not turn out to be one of our best race performances, given that Mazzacane left the scene very soon and Gen? spent most of his race struggling with Alesi for the penultimate position. It is worth forgetting about this race and concentrating ourselves in order to better exploit our potential on the circuit at Zeltweg."


Pedro de la Rosa: "Well, we had to retire! We had a problem with the transmission but before that in the race I made quite a good start but was squeezed into the wall by Herbert so I had to back off, I didn't manage to pick up any places and just couldn't keep the pace. I struggled on my first stint with a lot of oversteer but my second set of tyres were much better and I could increase my pace. The race strategy was good and we were trying to cover Salo which is why I pitted early on the second stint but unfortunately we didn't make it to the end. We learnt plenty this weekend though in terms of car set up for this circuit in the future and generally".

Jos Verstappen: "Over all it was a very disappointing weekend. The car was not doing what we wanted it to do and it was generally hard for us. At the start of the race we managed to make up some positions but I had oversteer and it was difficult to keep up with the guys in front of me. But the positions we made up are a positive point about this weekend but we have to work hard now to get the car back on form again".

Tom Walkinshaw: "Both drivers drove well in the race but it's difficult to make progress round here as it tends to go with your qualifying position. It's disappointing that both cars suffered with a similar transmission problem but we just have to look forward to the next races and keep working hard".

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