It was smiles and handshakes all round in the Minardi F1 Team garage at the conclusion of today's Brazilian Grand Prix, not only for the gritty drive that netted Christijan Albers 14th place, but also for the fact Fernando Alonso sealed the 2005...
It was smiles and handshakes all round in the Minardi F1 Team garage at the conclusion of today's Brazilian Grand Prix, not only for the gritty drive that netted Christijan Albers 14th place, but also for the fact Fernando Alonso sealed the 2005 FIA Formula One Drivers' Championship at the Interlagos circuit, the sport's youngest-ever champion having launched his F1 career with Minardi five years ago.
The race started dramatically for Albers and team mate, Robert Doornbos, the pair managing to avoid a first-corner crash, which required the Safety Car to be deployed. The debris was cleared quickly, but soon after the race resumed, Albers' car suffered a sensor failure that compromised the performance of the differential and traction control system for the remainder of the event, and made the driver's consistent pace all the more commendable.
Doornbos, too, ran a strong race, climbing as high as 13th place just before the first of his two scheduled pit stops. Unfortunately, he was not to see the chequered flag, though, as a broken oil pipe forced him to retire his car after 33 laps.
"I think it was a reasonable result today, as we finished in front of the Jordans, although Tiago's car appeared to suffer an engine failure. One thing for sure is that we had a good race strategy, as we had a heavy fuel load to start. That gave me the benefit of being able to make my fuel stop a little later than Karthikeyan, and I overtook him."
"Many thanks to the team for all their efforts this weekend, and I think it is clear we continue to make progress. I would also like to congratulate Fernando for winning the World Championship today -- it's great to think that a driver who started here at Minardi has been able to achieve such a result."
"I didn't finish the race, which was unfortunate. It's still a sport with a mechanical content, however, so as a driver you have to get over such disappointments. It was frustrating, though, as the race strategy we had was very good. I lost a couple of seconds to my team mate in the first stint, but we were able to fight the Jordans."
"We had a good first pit stop, which put me back in the Jordan 'sandwich' again, and I was catching Narain and Christijan with good lap times, but then I started to lose performance and there was smoke coming out of the car. As a result, we had no choice but to abort the race. We now look forward to Suzuka and Shanghai, the last two races of the year, as well as to having a good 2006 season."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth:
"On a day that Minardi produced its first-ever World Champion in Fernando Alonso, it was fitting to see him on the podium. I believe he will go on to be a very worthy champion and a tremendous ambassador for this sport."
"Like many drivers, Fernando started his career with Minardi, and even in those early days, there were obvious signs of his huge natural talent and ability. It was equally clear that with the right team and the right car at the right moment, today was always going to happen. We wish both Fernando and Renault all the best, and I think they have every right to be very proud of a job well done."
"As for our own race, I think it's fair to say we've been having our own private battle with the Jordans all weekend, but Christijan drove his heart out this afternoon to finish ahead of both of them. In the end, his determination allowed him to bring the car home in a well-deserved 13th place, despite struggling at times with the set-up."
"As for Robert, sadly, a broken oil pipe brought his race to a premature conclusion, which was a great shame, as both drivers gave their all this weekend. There are still two races to go, however, and the team and drivers will be putting in maximum effort to achieve strong results in both."
Best lap: 1 min 15.527 secs
Best lap: 1 min 15.792 secs