I'm continuing my regular feature of selecting the best quotes of the race weekend with this article. Come the end of the season, I'll pick my favorite ten.
After the slim pickings in Malaysia (albeit a race weekend that gave us "Felipe baby"), there has been an outpouring of notable quotes this time out in Shanghai.
Race Build Up
Renault team principal Flavio Briatore kicked the weekend off as he reckons that now the controversial diffusers have been ruled legal by the FIA, the championship will be fought for between the two Brawn GP cars.
Briatore told the told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper: "The drivers in our teams have been and are World Champions, while the Championship is now fought between a driver who was almost retired and another one who is a good guy but a paracarro [Italian for "kerbstone"]. I don't know where credibility has ended up with all this. To make up the gap we have to those teams is impossible."
Not only did Flavio call Jenson Button a "paracarro," but he is stating the Nelson Piquet, Jr. is a world champion! Just goes to prove that Briatore is a crazy Italian and must think he has Piquet, Sr. driving for him!
Briatore went on to point out that now the FIA have ruled the controversial diffusers legal, it is going to cost seven teams a lot of money to redesign theirs: "Just when there's talk of setting a budget cap to $30 million, we've spent $15 million for KERS and $10 million more for the diffusers. We're left with five to travel and to pay the employees."
After Friday practice the "almost retired" and "paracarro" drivers responded.
Button hit back by saying: "He needs to remember that he tried to employ me for this year. He is obviously a very angry man after the diffuser issues, and he is obviously very disappointed that they haven't produced a car that is as competitive as ours. We have worked very, very hard in very difficult circumstances and it is very, very unfair for Flavio to comment as he has just because he is a little bit bitter."
Barrichello kept his response short: "There are plenty of good people in the paddock and plenty of bad losers."
Renault boss Briatore just couldn't stop himself having a dig at Brawn GP this weekend when talking about the revenue share that Honda would have received possibly being given to Brawn GP he suggested that he might have to rob from the rich (Brawn), to give to the poor (Renault).
“...since (Ross) Brawn was our technical delegate, and he forces me to spend money I don't have in my budget, and since Honda's money have luckily not been shared yet... My proposal will be as follows. Brawn is richer than anyone else, because he's had his team paid for in full by Honda, plus he's had 130 million given to him (by Honda). He's certainly richer than I am. I don't want to be a Robin Hood, but when there's a situation where everyone is transparent then it's fine.”
Later on in the race weekend Ross Brawn, “a person of supreme arrogance” as described by Ferrari lawyer Nigel Tozzi during the week, responded to Flavio's comments: "Flavio's very flamboyant; he's great with the one-liners, and that's his forte. It's a shame that he brings those things into the public arena as they're FOTA business, but that's his style. I'd rather not talk about it." For future reference, Flavio, that's how team bosses should act.
Moving on from one serial Renault whiner to another, Alonso has been making his feelings known about Bridgestone's decision to bring super-soft compounds as the option tyre for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, and came out with some wonderful quotes.
"I don't know if Bridgestone made the decision or the FIA, but they have to reconsider this type of decision because we look ridiculous on television and we look ridiculous for the spectators, and it is a joke to be in front of TV six seconds slower.”
Now he knows how Piquet feels every race weekend, and Alonso, you would look ridiculous no matter what tyres your car has on it with that garish Renault livery and your mono-brow.
Alonso should be part of the rule-making team at the FIA as he came up with a brilliant idea to improve overtaking: "And if they want to be funny and mix the results and have overtaking, they can do a better job – a funny solution, maybe they can put us on the wet tyres or something. Like this it looks more spectacular – the difference in the speed. I don't know... maybe we can pick up our number and then whoever picks up number 15 can put on wet tyres, or whatever, and it is a better show and it's funny. Like this it is not funny."
Don't worry, he wasn't done yet: “I'm very worried about this and I'm very sad about this, because we look strange in front of people."
Alonso needs to take a look at those pictures of Flavio Briatore in a thong to see what looking strange in front of people looks like.
But still there was more: "One will be too hard and one will be too soft. The right tyre is at home! The soft tyre is at home, and this happened in Australia as well.”
Reminds my of the story "Goldie Locks and the Three Bears," but I think a more appropriate comparison would be Briatore on the radio saying, “Fernando baby stay cool, we're bringing you the right tyre. Stay cool. We're in a good position, OK?”
Another comment that came out this week was Williams CEO Adam Parr questioning the design of Ferrari's cars over the past decade, saying that the Italian team had won championships using "illegal" cars.
Team principal of Ferrari Stefano Domenicali told Autosport, "During the Court of Appeal hearing I was told that someone said that Ferrari won the championship in the last ten years with an illegal car, I was quite astonished to hear that. I was surprised that Ross (Brawn) did not try to respond to that either.”
I think Stefano needs to clarify what he means by "astonished." Is he astonished that Parr would say such a thing, or astonished that everyone did not know?
Thursday Press Conference
Red Bull's Mark Webber was asked about the start to the season and came out with his best quote of the season so far: “We had a pretty good run in Melbourne until the first corner. I think Heikki hit Rubens. I haven't spoken to Heikki about that yet but Rubens and I said we are going to bash him up later on. Yeah, that happens.”
Heikki replied, “You guys brake so early for the first corner. Next time I will run over you even more!”
When asked what the drivers had been up to since the last race and Heikki said, “I went back to England after the last race, spent four days in Woking working with the engineers with a bit of simulation as well and then got back on Saturday, went to Singapore for a few days, found a nice golf course. Then when I lost all the balls I turned up here!” All this proves he is as rubbish at golf as he is at starting a race.
Mark Webber said: ”Yeah, I went back to the UK as well and I got here as late as possible and I'll leave as quickly as possible.” Webber doesn't like being in China then.
After Friday Practice:
Ferrari's Felipe Massa is learning all the time; it's only taken him three races to notice what we all knew in Australia: "We learned first of all, in my case, that we don't have the same car as last year."
What gave it away, Sherlock? The larger front wing, smaller rear wing, or the zero point tally?
The Ferrari drivers seem to have differing opinions on KERS and Kimi has gone all Shakespearian.
Raikkonen said: "The balance of the car isn't bad and one doesn't feel the lack of KERS.”
Friday Press Conference
BMW team principal Mario Theissen apparently said "apparently" a lot, but his best "apparently" came when his was talking about development work on a new diffuser: “Apparently we have started to work on it and we will have an aero update for Barcelona.”
Are you not in charge Mario? Surely you should know what development work is going on back at the factory, apparently not!
BMW's Mario Theissen took that as an opportunity to jump in and shot back with: “He decided to be unlucky!”
Obviously still feeling hard done after his driver Robert Kubica was involved in a racing incident with Vettel.
Horner quickly changed direction: “But thankfully he told the truth.”
Mercedes boss Norbert Haug saw that as an attack on McLaren and Hamilton: “I think it was OK.” Is he referring to the Vettel and Kubica incident, or Hamilton lying to the stewards?
Horner went on: “He (Vettel) told the truth in front of the stewards and got a ten place penalty. He was unlucky in Melbourne, a racing accident.”
That ended the exchange between the three, however, later on Horner and Haug were having a little dig at each other again over the amount of equipment each team now takes for a race weekend.
Horner started it off with: “I think McLaren had about 18 boxes; we weren't far behind and I think that will be a trend for the rest...” Horner couldn't finish his sentence as Haug interrupted simply saying: “Red Bull 19.”
The pair continued with Horner asking: “Did you get your cases?” To which Haug replied: “Well, I count yours and you count ours and then we see.”
Brilliant stuff, Horner and Haug are a great double act and should be at every Friday press conference!
Mark Webber as team leader isn't going to be showing his teammate Vettel any quarter: “I'm doing what I can to give the youngster (Vettel) a hard time; we're pushing each other hard and it's working very well!"
Alonso didn't want to play ball when Marco Degl'Innocenti from La Gazzetta dello Sport asked him about whether he was using a new diffuser on his car: “I think you ask too much, always. You all want to know KERS/no KERS, diffuser/no diffuser. It's like if a cyclist tells the press when he will attack in the mountains. This is a little bit confidential.”
That's quite a random quote, even for Alonso. I hope there are no cyclists waiting to attack me next time I go hiking in the mountains!
Meanwhile, further down the grid, Lewis Hamilton was trying his best to get a new sponsor: "They were pretty hardcore laps! They were almost beyond the limit. Step by step, we are moving forward. And thanks to all the guys back at the factory for doing such a fantastic job and for churning away on all the new parts, every little bit helps us catch the leaders.”
That's right Lewis, "every little helps." I can see the advert now: Lewis is driving a shopping trolley being pushed by Heikki and Pedro De La Rosa around TESCOS, grabbing at all the amazing offers!
Vettel admitted he names his cars and at Shanghai it was "Kate's Dirty Sister" he drove to victory: "My original car was called 'Kate'. Like a ship, it should be named after a girl, as it's sexy. But then my monocoque got smashed at the opening race in Australia. So we called this one 'Kate's Dirty Sister' because it is more aggressive and faster!”
Before the race, Vettel made former Red Bull driver David Coulthard blush when he was talking about naming his cars as they were females: "It's important to have a close relationship with a car. Anyway, you are the man when it comes to women."
Jenson Button had been waiting for Webber to pull a magic trick on him during the race and "appear" in front when he said, “For me I was pretty much just always out of control. I was just waiting for Mark to appear, well not appear in my mirrors, but appear in the front. I locked up the fronts in that corner. I was struggling there with locking up the tyres.”
But Webber demonstrated that he wants Button to do his own magic trick and "blow up," saying, “I must say that normally when I'm in that position, to gain positions, I like to see the guy in front have a problem and blow up... of course if it was Jenson, I would like to see him blow up, but it was Sebastian so it was a bit different...”
Mark wasn't even racing though; he was just out having fun splashing in the puddles: “Another little mistake. Just playing with the rivers, you know, just playing with them, how aggressive you can be with the rivers and how much you can get away with. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. It was a fantastic challenge.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had this to say on the result: "It's a breakthrough result for us. It's a long season ahead, and we can see that we're competitive with both drivers, so I think the sky's the limit." Is that a very subtle plug for "Red Bull Gives You Wings"?
Horner got a little arrogant and added, "Imagine when we get our double diffuser..."
Sebastian Bourdais showed the French mentality to surrender doesn't go away: "I started 15th and finished 11th, even with a couple of spins. I've got mixed feelings, because I don't think we should have raced, as there was so much aquaplaning... I could have spun 15 or 20 times and Sutil's crash showed what could have happened. The one positive thing is that it was probably a good show for the fans."
Meanwhile, Martin Whitmarsh is getting a bit paranoid: "This talk of him being disliked by his mechanics over what happened to Davey is just rubbish. The reality is that there is an agenda here, some people are out to get us.”