Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - Australian GP

Sunday March 4th, 2001


Michael Schumacher: "I was very shocked as we have only just heard that a marshal has died. I am sure everyone feels down about this. We must see what can be done to improve their working conditions from a safety point of view. As for the race I made a great start as a result of all the practice we did over the winter. Then I tried to split my race into a rhythm, to be fast when I needed to and not overdrive the car. The car was very good and although this can give us confidence for the season, we know we must not be over-confident. At the end I slowed my pace, because the important thing is to win, not the margin you do it by. I just wanted to bring the car home, as we have not done many race distances before coming here. The reason I had my hand on top of my helmet was that I had taped an air vent to stop wind getting in my eyes, but it was getting too hot and so I pulled the tape off."

Rubens Barrichello: "To score points is good, but you cannot be happy when a colleague who is there for you is killed. It is very bad news and my thoughts are with his family. I had a difficult race. I did not make a particularly good start and I was passed by three cars. Then when I was passing Frentzen, I was on the inside, but he kept coming and took me into the corner. We touched and that affected the toe-in on the left front wheel and from then I could not keep on the pace. In fact at the end of the race, my left front tyre was ruined. Then Alonso probably did not notice the blue flags, as he is a "new boy" and I had no space left and had to go on the grass. It was worse because the earlier damage to the car made right turns difficult. So David (Coulthard) got past me. Then, towards the end, Ross Brawn told me to back off so as not to take any excessive risks on the reliability side."

Jean Todt: "Just before going on the podium, Michael, Rubens and I asked about the condition of the track marshal. We were told that he had died and this affected us badly. We know motor racing is a dangerous sport and that an out of control car can lose parts which can hit those whose love of the sport sees them stand at the side of the track to ensure the safety of others. As for the race, Michael made a great start, while Rubens who dropped to fifth, did a great job to climb back up the order. Once they had settled into their positions, both men drove in such a way not to put too much stress on the cars. This is probably the quickest car we have produced over the past few years. We know what we have to do from now on to improve it still further and to keep it at an excellent level. The championship has only just begun but this is a good start. In the last few weeks in Maranello and then here at the track, the mechanics and engineers have worked hard. This result is the best reward for all of us."


David Coulthard: "I was quicker off the line than the cars in front of me but my front wheels got caught between their rear wheels but fortunately I got away without any damage. I'm happy with my performance because I was able to overtake Trulli and Ralf Schumacher to claim fourth and then get past Barrichello on the outside to take third which became second after Mika's retirement. Having to start from the third row I'm pleased that I managed to get six points today and we now have to further improve the performance of the car before Malaysia where we should be even better."

Mika Hakkinen: "Something broke on the car, which caused me to go off the track and hit the barrier at the entry of Stewart. I hit the brakes and then lost control of the car. I went to the medical centre for a check up as something hit my helmet but I'm fine. It was a shame as we were looking good and in hindsight our strategy might have given us a race win."

Ron Dennis: "We had the right strategy for the race and Mika was well positioned to optimise this advantage until his accident which was caused by front right suspension failure. David drove a great race and his overtaking manoeuvre to claim second was superb - combined with a well executed race strategy his result was well deserved."

Norbert Haug: "Mika's strong performance was unrewarded when his accident prevented him from challenging for the lead. David drove a strong race and performed well overtaking three cars. Both drivers were scheduled to have their pit stop late which we are convinced was the right strategy. We are happy with the reliability of the engine following the teething problems we had to overcome after Barcelona testing and we are definitely heading in the right direction."


Nick Heidfeld: "Scoring my first World Championship points is excellent, and this one race has wiped away my 2000 season. I avoided the traffic in the first corner, and later got safely through the big accident when thousand of pieces seemed to be falling from the sky. After that I was able to settle down to a good pace. The car and our Bridgestone tyres were consistent all the way through, and even at the end when I had real pressure from Heinz-Harald, I was able to keep cool and keep pushing. Finishing fourth is so exciting!"

Kimi Raikkonen: "It's nice to finish my first Grand Prix, and even nicer to score my first World Championship point! I made a pretty bad start, which didn't help, but then I got into my rhythm. My only problem was some understeer initially on my second set of tyres, which prevented me from going after Frentzen, but gradually the balance came back and I could keep pushing hard to the end. It's been a good day, and a great start to my F1 career."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The result today was better than we had dared hope for, and our lap times were very competitive all the way through. To have been so close on speed to Heinz-Harald was a real boost. I am delighted that Nick's great drive was rewarded with his first points, while Kimi Raikkonen was a miracle, lapping at the same speed as Nick and Heinz-Harald for the last 15 laps and scoring a point on his debut. This result makes me happy for our new partner, Credit Suisse, and is very, very important as it gives us a strong foundation for the season. It is a big compliment to the whole team to have created two reliable and fast cars. On a more sombre note, I would like to register our sympathy for the family of the marshal who was killed in the accident on the fifth lap."


Heinz-Harald Frentzen: (Before Panis's penalty) "I was pleased with my start although Coulthard and I touched wheels before the first corner. The car was very well balanced and I was enjoying the race, but then on my racing line, Barrichello hit me from behind whilst trying to overtake me and pushed me into a spin. That ruined the race for me. After these two incidents the car was suffering with understeer. I chased Heidfeld for the last 10 laps and did everything I could, but was not able to close the gap. I feel however, scoring a point in the first race of the season is a good result for the team. It demonstrates the car's reliability which is a positive step to build on."

Jarno Trulli: "I made a very good start moving across to the right whilst the other cars moved to the left, and was moving up positions on the straight before Barrichello closed me into the wall, forcing me to lift off the throttle. From the first lap there was something not quite right with the engine, and it got more and more difficult each lap until I had to retire on lap 33. It's disappointing because I was having a good race in fifth position, and even with this problem I was still holding off Panis and making ground on Coulthard. The positive thing from this race is that I had a good car set-up as we were able to understand and resolve the problems I experienced during qualifying."

Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive: "This result is a bit disappointing after the qualifying positions we had. The collision at the corner between Heinz and Rubens hindered Heinz from having a really strong finish, but he did well to drive back to the points. The data from Jarno's car shows there was an engine misfire resulting in a loss of power, but he was driving a super race and through no fault of his own was unable to finish. The good thing about this weekend is that the car has really been on the pace and performed well."


Luciano Burti: "Actually the start was pretty good. I managed to overtake a few people, and I managed to overtake more during the first lap. On the second lap I saw that Bernoldi was pushing me hard, and I thought he was too fast - for sure he was on a two-stop strategy. So I decided to let him go. And that was the right thing, because then he went off anyway. To start with my car had massive understeer, and then the safety car came in. After the restart my car was pretty good, so I was able to push. And then it was just a case of keeping track and trying to be consistent. I was fighting with Alesi, so when he came in for the pit stop I knew I had to push hard to get ahead of him, which I did, and it worked out. Then it was just cruising to the end. The hardest thing for me was that for the whole weekend I was struggling a lot under braking, and I had a different brake material compared to Eddie. We changed that for the race, so I used the same as he did, and the car was fantastic. I was able to brake as late as I wanted, I didn't lock a wheel once, so at least I know why I was struggling so much."

Eddie Irvine: "The T-car doesn't run very much, so it tends to give more problems. It was alright, but the problem was that Montoya shunted me off at the first corner. He just pushed me off. And then I was just running round. I had a misfire, and the misfire got really bad and I was driving round two seconds off the pace. I think the car wasn't as slow as we thought it would be here. There’s some reason for hope. I think we're ahead of Benetton, but behind Williams. We're the second best Michelin runner. We've got to keep working on that. I don't think we were that far behind Williams here, but Brazil for example might be a different story. I think they're going to be very quick there. But we should be okay in Malaysia. I think we've got good tyres for Malaysia, better tyres than we had here. Michelin doesn't have the best teams, but the are relatively competitive, I think you have to say."


Jean Alesi: "To finish the race is a first important step for us. However, the result is well below my expectations. I thought I could be more competitive here, but already in free practice on Friday we realised it would be very difficult to adapt our car to this circuit and we haven't been able to find a satisfactory solution for the race."

Gaston Mazzacane: "This was the shortest race of my career...I had a good start and the car was going well but I was still on my first lap when I felt the brake pedal was totally loose and I had to pull out. I am obviously disappointed, but I'm confident for the future."

Alain Prost: "The first race on this very unusual circuit, cannot give us a clear idea of where we really stand in respect to our competitors. However, we now know on which areas we still have to work hard. We have not exploited the true potential of the car, but it's already encouraging to see one of the cars through the checkered flag."

Henri Durand, Technical Director: "The positive point of this first Grand Prix is that Jean finished the race and that the engine-gearbox package has proved to be very reliable all weekend. We have identified the problem with Gaston's car and it should not happen again. On the negative side, it's clear that our car is not suited to this type of circuit, where we lacked downforce. We will act very rapidly in order to correct this. We believe that once we race on fast circuits, such as Interlagos and Imola, we will be able to exploit the full potential of the car. A big thank you to Michelin, for their great support throughout the weekend. We hope to improve together in the season and share some success."


Jos Verstappen: "I had a really good start, passed about four cars there and, by the time the Safety Car came out I was up to seventh. Settling into the race, I had a lot of understeer so wasn't able to push as hard as I would have liked, but most important for the team is that we finished the first race. We know what we have to do and hopefully we can get this done in a short time."

Enrique Bernoldi: "I didn't get the best start and lost two places in the confusion at the second chicane. The car felt good during the first couple of laps but, whilst chasing Raikkonen, I got a wheel on the grass and lost the car, race over. It was a mistake. Not the result I wanted from my first Grand Prix of course but I have definitely learnt a lot today and will try all over again in Malaysia."

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "Definitely a step in the right direction. We're pleased we have done our first race distance with the A22 at our first attempt and also that Asiatech have got on top of reliability. The performance is a little disappointing but with more test time we can only improve."

Didier Debae, Asiatech: "It has been a very positive weekend for Asiatech. The reliability shown throughout practice was rewarded by a strong drive from Jos Verstappen. It was a just reward for all the hard work put in by the team in Velizy and augers well for the future."

European Minardi

Fernando Alonso: "Today's objective was to finish the race, and that is what happened, so it couldn't have turned out better. The team worked flat out over the weekend, and the race result is a clear demonstration of that. My car went really well over the whole race, allowing me to push hard until the end. I am sorry for getting in (Rubens) Barrichello's way. I was rejoining the track after stopping in the pits and visibility in the rear-view mirrors was really reduced. I only saw him at the very last moment when it was already too late to let him pass. Apart from that, today's race helped me to understand and test my physical shape, which to me is definitely good. I was not tired at all, even towards the end of the race. The car just went better and better as the fuel load lightened, so much so that in the closing stages of the race, I was even able to improve my lap times. Now we have accumulated more miles on the car, we'll get ready for Malaysia, and hopefully another good race. I particularly want to thank all the lads on the team for today's result. They are working together really well, despite having come together as a group only a few weeks ago. They really did a wonderful job."

Tarso Marques: "There was a problem with my car from the first lap, I think with the battery. It started to misfire slightly, and then it just became worse and worse, until the engine stopped altogether on lap four. Also, I wasn't really happy with the brakes all weekend, and after a couple of laps of the race, the pedal developed too much travel and became soft. I think the car is basically very good. We just are suffering from a lack of pre-season testing time. I'm sure things will be better in Malaysia."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "When we came to Melbourne, just arriving felt like winning a Grand Prix. When we went out on Friday and Saturday, they were our first test sessions. When we qualified, I felt it couldn't get any better, but to take 12th place on our maiden outing, there are just not the words to describe the feeling. It is down to the huge effort that each and every member of the European Minardi F1 team has put in over the last few weeks that we have been able to achieve what is nothing short of a miracle. Fernando not only showed today what he is capable of, but also proved that the Gustav Brunner-designed European Minardi PS01 chassis will need to be taken seriously this year. I feel for Tarso as, without exception, every technical problem the team encountered this weekend was on his car. I'm certain, though, that we'll see a lot more of his true potential starting with the Malaysian Grand Prix. It's a great shame that such a wonderful day for our team should have been marred by the death of a marshal early in the race. We can only add our heartfelt sympathies to those of the other teams in the pit lane."


Giancarlo Fisichella: "I did a good start and was very careful as it was important to finish the race. The car was running well and it felt good, but then it developed a problem that we are looking into, which meant I lost power and so could only cruise to the end of the race."

Jenson Button: "I was very impressed with how good the car was off the line at the start. I pulled up to eleventh and then I had a little battle with Verstappen, which resulted in me running over the kerb and losing quite a few places. After that, the car felt well balanced and I was competitive, After my stop/go penalty there was a problem, which we think was the exhaust, which meant I couldn't push at all and it was a shame as this meant I had to stop so close to the end of the race."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:"The thoughts of the whole team go out to the family of the marshal who tragically died in the race. This extremely sad event clouds the results today."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "We are very pleased to have got one car to the finish and the other so close to the end, Our cars were running competitively until they both suffered what we think were exhaust failures, which meant we lost a lot of power, but I am very pleased as Renault Sport introduced a new spec. engine for this race with the aim of increasing reliability and this was certainly achieved today. Jenson was forced to stop shortly before the end due to an electrical problem from overheating, which was caused by the exhaust problem."


Juan Pablo Montoya: "It's disappointing that I couldn't see the chequered flag because I had a good race so far. I think WilliamsF1 and BMW did a fantastic job and my Michelin tyres were performing really well, especially at the end of the run when I did my fastest lap and it was looking quite good. The engine blew up without giving me any warning. I can say now that running in F1 can be fun. I first thought overtaking was going to be impossible but now I realise that you can if you plan it - like in Champ Car races - and it's also very exciting! The car looks good and I am quite confident we're going to show well through the season."

Ralf Schumacher: "I am awfully sorry that a man who was looking after our safety was killed today. My deepest sympathy goes to his relatives and friends. I was on the inside of the track going my way and being careful not to make any change of line. I braked and suddenly felt a huge bang in the back and saw Jacques flying over me. I spun hoping that I would crash nowhere. I think that Jacques overrated himself a bit, just like last year in Canada, when he ran into my car. After I got out of my car I had a look at the cockpit of the BAR, which was almost destroyed and I was glad to know that Jacques had already stepped out of it."

Patrick Head, Technical Director: "It's disappointing not to have a car at the finish here. Ralf made an early mistake but ultimately got put out when he was hit from behind. It could have been very dangerous for both drivers, and I am very sorry to hear that a marshal was killed. Juan Pablo made a good start but found himself in the wrong position at the first corner so lost a couple of places but he drove very well and made up positions. We were certainly on quite a high fuel load and I think we were in good shape to pick up a decent race result."

Dr Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We had a very unlucky race after a good qualifying session. Both the drivers had an excellent start and had to retire through no fault of theirs. We had an engine failure on Juan Pablo's car, though, due to a broken oil piping. The positive side of the weekend anyway, is the strong performance shown by our engine. With regards to the sad accident to the marshal I can only share Ralf's sympathy."

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