Italian GP winners' press conference

Q. Congratulations, David, on your second victory of the season, and on that magnificent start which brought you through from 6th on the grid to 3rd place at the first corner ... DC: The start is always one of the most...

Q. Congratulations, David, on your second victory of the season, and on that magnificent start which brought you through from 6th on the grid to 3rd place at the first corner ...

DC: The start is always one of the most important things you do in a race, because it is possible to spend the whole of a race trying to get past another competitor. At the start, though, it is possible to pass two or three cars quite easily, and that is why I have always concentrated myself on making good starts. I don't always get it right, but today I did!

Q. How well did things go in the rest of the race?

DC: I just tried to keep calm and stay out of trouble until the pit stops. I knew we would have a quick stop because we were able to run quite a long time longer than the others and that meant we would not have to put in so much fuel [as they did]. It was the key to getting past Jean.

Q. You said that part of your strategy was to be watching Benetton. What was the plan?

DC: The team obviously had a better view of everything, so they called the stops. It was down to the boys, who did a fantastic job - and we just nipped into the pits ahead of Jean, then nipped out again ahead of him.

Q. How did you feel to have beaten him in the pits?

DC: It confirmed what I had expected, and then it was my real belief that I could win the race. That was the key moment. Overtaking here is so difficult, so to win here is a complete team effort.

Q. Was there more pressure in the first half or the second?

DC: The first half, because you are trying to judge at what pace other people are going to run, and how long they will keep going until they make their stop. The second half was really just cruising. The best way to drive a race is of course to be driving the car flat out, but neither do you want to make a mistake once you have established a lead. And it felt very comfortable.

Q. Your team has had some reliability troubles this year Were you worried about that happening again today?

DC: Not at all. This weekend we actually found something on the car which may have contributed to the unreliability. It was modified this morning, at the track, and the warm-up confirmed that the problem had been improved. So I had no doubts at all about any part of the machinery. I knew brakes would not be an issue either. And the engine just kept on pulling. It was a great day for everyone.

Q. This has been a difficult weekend for British people. Have you been affected by recent events?

DC: Yes, I was thinking about it in the last ten laps. I know that a driver should always be paying full attention to the next corner, but my thoughts did go out to what happened yesterday. I was also wondering whether we should spray the champagne if we managed to win the race. In the end I had a quick conversation [by radio] and we felt it was the right thing to do. I am sure that everyone was thinking about it, including me as I drove round at 200 mph. I was happy to hear our national anthem at the end ...

Q. Jean, after leading from pole position, I am sure you are a little disappointed with second place ...

JA: Obviously yes: after doing a good first part of the race I was looking for a win, and my car was working really well until the end.

Q. There was a period after lap 16 when your lead started to come down. Was there something wrong with your car?

JA: I had a little bit of oversteer in low speed corners. It made it quite difficult to judge how to use the throttle. I had a little accident this morning like that, maybe because I was not being careful enough, and I lost the rear. When I started to have this same feeling again in the race, I slowed down a little bit.

Q. Very soon after that you had Coulthard and Frentzen closing up behind you. Was that a lot of pressure?

JA: Not really, because it is impossible for anyone to overtake here unless you make a mistake. So I was really concentrating on using the car to the maximum without making a mistake. And that is what I did.

Q. Heinz-Harald, in the early stages you were the meat in a sandwich with Alesi and Coulthard. Was that exciting?

HHF: Yes, I suppose so. At the beginning I picked up a bit of understeer and didn't want to risk pushing the tyres too much. I had a comfortable gap behind Jean, then towards the end of that first run I started to close up on him. But as he says, it is very difficult to find a place to overtake here.

Q. Did you make your pit stop a little too early?

HHF: Yes, from this aspect. But in the heat of a race it is difficult to get your judgements 100 per cent right. Now, after the race, we are a bit more experienced. It was obviously a good move by David to make his pitstop late. He was setting good lap times all the way through his first run, and his team was very quick in the pits. I have to congratulate them on that.

For this and the other press conferences see: http://www.fia.com/presse/f1conf-en

--- David Goodwin

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Series Formula 1
Teams Benetton