Pit & Paddock
Comments after the race at Zolder
Thomas Biagi: «I would like to thank everybody for the title win, my team especially. I would like to dedicate this title to several special people: my team mate Michael Bartels, who did not have the same points as I did because of injury. It is a shame I could not share the title with him. My thoughts also turn to Gilles Villeneuve who lost his life on this track. It is hard to describe the emotions I feel every time I pass the crash site.
My thoughts were also with one of my best friends, Alfredo Melandri, who passed away in 1998 during a Formula 3 test at Mugello. All I did was control things in the race. I didn't push too hard and when I caught sight of Hezemans I didn't give him any room to pass. The adrenalin was really pumping and it was the hardest races of my life. However, it was worth it».
Maurizio Leschiutta, Maserati Corse's Technical Director (2): «I would like to express all my gratitude and thanks to everyone at Maserati Corse and Maserati who have made a real contribution with their professionalism, passion and dedication. I would also like to thank the teams who had faith in us in choosing to race in our cars: Vitaphone Racing Team, Playteam Sarafree and JMB Racing. Thanks too to our technical partners, Shell and Pirelli, for the support they gave us throughout the season and also during the difficult periods we faced».
Michael Bartels: «It has been a very tough season with lots of ups and downs. However, it has ended in the best of ways with titles going to Thomas and the team. I am very pleased for Biagi as he waited two years to drive the top car and this wait has been repaid with success. Today's race was tough as it was obvious that the slightest mistake would have impacted on the title race. I tried to stay out of trouble and knew that I could count on the right strategy and a fine team. Thomas did the same and now can celebrate. I think that the key to success over the past three years has been the driver, car and tyre package. I am very happy with this result, especially for the Vitaphone team. It was disappointing that my friend, Bertolini, did not finish the race as he would have liked. He was a great opponent and good to race against. For now we can enjoy the win and then we will focus on 2008».
Andrea Bertolini: «It was a shame as we were going great in the race and the car was handling well. After yesterday's qualifying and this morning's warm-up, we decided to alter drastically the set up to find that missing grip that was also absent at Nogaro. I would say that the result was positive as we set good lap times. I really was pushing to the max when I ran off the track; I didn't have any option but go for the win and hope for the best. The back end locked up when I was braking and I couldn't avoid spinning. Unfortunately, being caught up in gravel meant that I had to wait for the race officials before I could get back on the track.The positive note from the weekend was that we managed to get back the grip that disappeared after Adria».
Andrea Piccini: «Today the car behaved very differently and everything went well. We made an error with a few technical choices and this compromised our last two races. Andrea's error was understandable seeing as he was really pushing hard and, over the whole season, we have not made any. The car was a little tricky to drive because it had a touch too much oversteer but it managed to generate heat and grip through the tyres and this made us quick. I would like to thank the team as they have always provided fine support, as have Pirelli who supplied another set of superb tyres today».
Alessandro Pier Guidi: «I would like to thank the team and Pirelli for all their hard work. The car handled brilliantly and it is no surprise that my fastest lap is still up on the monitor. As for the clash with Davies, I can only say that he closed the door on me even though he had already been lapped and after he had left a gap for me to get past. I am disappointed that the race ended early».
Giambattista Giannoccaro: «In terms of the race, I felt for Alessandro because he raced fantastically and was the fastest on the track for the entire weekend. It was a shame not to finish the race as he could have won it. Bertolini and Piccini gave their all but even the finest drivers make mistakes. I am also pleased for the team as it has been a great experience for everyone and we have learnt lots of things that will be useful in the future. At times during the learning curve of any company, you have to learn from your mistakes and we are here this year as drivers who are in the FIA GT for the first time, in excellent cars and racing against tough opponents. Over the ten events, the team showed that it has grown in stature and proved that it could match the competition».
Comments after the qualifying at Zolder
Christian Montanari: «I think that this ranks as my worst qualifying session after Zhuhai. There are many reasons for this, from the ballast to the traffic. Having said that, I was probably wrong not to push harder over the first two fast laps. I tried to create some space ahead of me but it is obvious that, by lap three, the tyres would not have that little bit extra to offer that they did on the opening laps. I cannot say that I am overly pleased as starting from ninth is not an ideal position. We need to put together a strategy that allows us to challenge for the places that count. We can count on a well-balanced and efficient car and tyres that were consistent over a free practice long run. The ballast makes itself felt here when braking and accelerating. The car takes longer to slow down and does not respond as quickly when accelerating out of a curve. There are lots of second gear braking points and accelerations on this circuit and the 80 kg of ballast adds up to about a second a lap».
Alessandro Pier Guidi (2): «The car handled superbly and I was happy with our performances right from free practice. We adjusted the set up slightly for qualifying and enjoyed a great result. I would like to thank Pirelli for supplying such high performing tyres».