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2001 Japanese Grand Prix 
What the teams and drivers said - Sunday  

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What the teams and drivers said - Sunday

Ferrari ( Michael Schumacher - 1st, Rubens Barrichello - 5th )

Jean Todt: "This was a marvellous way to bring a great season to a close. This was Michael’s ninth win of the season, giving him the record for the most number of points and allowing Ferrari to beat its own record for the most number of points in one season. I wish to thank Rubens for the great contribution he has made to the team. He has finished third in the Drivers’ Championship at the end of a faultless year. I am also happy with Sauber’s result, finishing fourth, powered by Ferrari.
Now we head to Monza to meet our fans next weekend, where we will be able to celebrate with them and Ferrari owners. It will be great to share their delight with these successes. To celebrate winning both titles this year, we came up with a rather special cap, with two peaks, to thank our drivers for the exceptional work they have done this year. The idea was to give them equal billing. I would also like to say a special thank you to Luca Badoer, who has played such an important role this year. Finally, I would also like to express our gratitude to Bridgestone and Shell, along with all our sponsors and technical partners, without whose support none of this would have been possible."

Ross Brawn: "It was a perfect performance from Michael all weekend. Obviously, he did not need to win today, but his sheer competitiveness and enthusiasm drove him on to do it. He has been on top of everything all weekend and got the car right for the race. He also produced a fantastic qualifying lap and led every lap, apart from during the pit stops. This is a fantastic end to the season. It is always a concern when you win a championship so early but Michael won two more races than he needed and in the end we had nothing to worry about. Michael lives for racing and today he did a great job as always. We took a big chance with Rubens’ three-stop strategy because we thought he would be stuck behind the Williams. The only way he was going to be second in the championship was to win today’s race so we chose a rather extreme strategy. As things turned out, he could not get past Montoya."

Michael Schumacher: "I have to say I am pleased and happy about all the records and things which have happened this year - except of course for what happened just before Monza in the U.S. But I also have to say I now look forward to our winter holiday.
When I had the battling with Mika, I have to admit, I felt a bit like in the old days. And knowing Mika, I am sure he enjoyed it. At least, for my part, I enjoyed it a lot. We have had so many nice wins this year that I would have difficulties to find the best one. I prefer to see it like this: We should take the season as a whole and just say it was wonderful.
Now I really look forward to some time off. Next weekend in Monza, it will be nice to party with our tifosi. So everybody is invited to come!
In a certain way this victory was symbolizing the whole season. And in another way I am quite happy it maybe corrected the performance, as in racing people tend to doubt it very soon. After a third of the race the car was better to handle. The more rubber was on the track, the better was the handling, as there was simply more grip."

Rubens Barrichello: "In order to win, we had to try something special, like going for a three stop strategy. Unfortunately, this did not pay off. The Williams were very quick down the straight and I could not stay ahead of Montoya when I was running my best set of tyres. Then I lost more time during one of my stops, when the engine cut out. That meant I was no longer in with a chance of even getting on the podium. All the same, I enjoyed my battle with Montoya, although I think Ralf went a bit over the top in our fight together.”

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Williams ( Juan Pablo Montoya - 2nd, Ralf Schumacher - 6th )

Patrick Head: "This is a good result for both BMW and WilliamsF1 with both cars in the points at the season finale. This is something we have only achieved twice before this season in Nurburgring and Monza. It’s quite an achievement for the three top teams, Ferrari, McLaren and ourselves, to finish here with all their cars in the points. It’s also pleasing the tyres proved so good , which shows the Michelin technicians and our engineers have worked well to get the best out of them."

Gerhard Berger: "Today’s result underlines we have made a constant progress during the season. We finished with both cars, they were both in the points and Ralf set the fastest race lap. Even in qualifying it was foreseeable Michael was going to be unbeatable here. However, Juan Pablo with a near perfect, mistake free race proved again he just might cause Michael problems in 2002. Juan Pablo has gained a lot of experience this season. Ralf missed his chance of a podium finish because of the incident in the chicane and the resulting stop and go penalty, but we have to accept that. All in all it has been a great season with an encouraging finish."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I am happy with the result as we had to be realistic about what we could do against the new Ferrari that Michael had. He got away on new tyres and I think that is where he won the race. I had a battle with Rubens in the first few laps and I had a good race up to then. As you could see Rubens was on new tyres and I was on old tyres and on the first few laps Michael got away and pulled out a big gap. I have enjoyed my first season and want to thank the team for everything and now it is up to us to work hard for next year.”

Ralf Schumacher: "Unfortunately the stop and go penalty has cost me third place, but I have to accept the penalty as this is the rule, although my advantage was only a couple of tenths of a second. After the first pit stop it seemed the speed limiter on Rubens’ Ferrari got stuck so this is why I had to swerve at the end of the pit lane to avoid hitting him. All in all I am looking back on a season which was better than expected, therefore, I would like to thank the whole team. I am confident we are going to make another step forward in 2002."

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McLaren ( David Coulthard - 3rd, Mika Hakkinen - 4th )

Ron Dennis: “A good race strategy coupled with reliability yielded third and fourth places for us today. However as always we came to win and that is definitely our objective for the 2002 season. Of course we are also happy for David to achieve his best result in the World Championship so far, but we are all looking forward to be even more competitive next year. The entire team wishes Mika an enjoyable and well-earned break and will soon be welcoming Kimi to West McLaren Mercedes."

Norbert Haug: "A nice end to a tough season. Runner-up position in the Constructors’ World Championship and David’s second place in the Drivers’ Championship provide good motivation for going one better in 2002. We wish Mika all the best for his break. Thanks Mika – you did a lot for West McLaren Mercedes and the team certainly will miss you.”

Mika Hakkinen: “The race was as I expected it to be. The team performed well and we had the right strategy. I want to thank everybody who I have worked with for the past nine years for all the effort they put into making my career so successful. I’m happy that David finished on the podium, and I must admit that by letting him past I wanted to give him something back for the occasions in the past when he has helped me. It will take some time to understand my new life and establish whether I enjoy it or not. Right now I’m looking forward to my sabbatical but I’m sure I will also miss Formula One.”

David Coulthard: "I had a fairly uneventful race to be honest, but its great to finish the season on the podium. The balance of the car wasn’t too bad so I was trying to push myself and learn things for next year. I locked up a few times going through the hairpin and the chicane but nothing major. I think Mika let me past towards the end of the race as a goodwill gesture and I will thank him later. There is no doubt that I have enjoyed working with him for the past six years and liked our battles. I look forward to working with Kimi, and I’m sure he will be pushing me very hard. I’m having a small break before going back to work on next year’s car and our 2002 Championship challenge."

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Benetton ( Jenson Button - 7th, Giancarlo Fisichella - Retired )

Flavio Briatore: "The team did a very good job in the race today ­ and I think we have a strong platform on which to build for 2002. We are satisfied with this result and Renault has made good progress since coming back to Formula One. We had a tough start to the season but that is now behind us. I would like to thank Giancarlo for the work he has done with us ­ and also to Benetton, in whose colours we were racing for the last time today."

Pat Symonds: "Today's result is not an ideal end to the Benetton era. Over the years Benetton has been a source of pleasure and inspiration for many, but now we should look to the future. Despite today's result, the progress made by the team during its transition to Renault has been clearly demonstrated over the last few months. We must now work hard through the winter to capitalise on this as we look to start winning races again next season. Jenson drove a steady race today and used a conservative strategy designed to consolidate our championship position. He did all that was asked of him. We must also say a special thank you to Giancarlo for his efforts over the years and particularly in this difficult season. We wish him well at Jordan and regret that a failure of fourth gear on his car robbed him of a competitive finish today."

Giancarlo Fisichella: "This weekend began well and things looked very promising. I made a strong start and was lying fifth. Unfortunately I spun after three laps and that cost me several places, although I managed to recover most of them. Right at the end I lost the use of fourth gear and came into the pits to retire. It's a shame to end my last race with the Benetton Renault team that way. I have had a very good time with Benetton and will always have good memories. I would like to say thanks to the whole team for their support throughout my four years here."

Jenson Button: "Our target for this race was to make sure we kept seventh place in the championship for constructors, which we managed to do. Only this year's top three teams managed to beat us today, which was satisfying, although the afternoon was hard work. This circuit is really tough, but it's fun to drive. I did not have any problems and my two pits stop went well. It would have been good to have scored some points, but I promise to do that when we come back here next year."

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Jordan ( Jarno Trulli - 8th, Jean Alesi - Retired )

Eddie Jordan: "There is not a lot to say about today. I feel for Jean as this was a sad way to end his career. He is very philosophical about it though, and has clearly enjoyed the weekend immensely. Jarno deserved better this season with us – he had a particularly unlucky season."

Jarno Trulli: "I really wanted to win points for Jordan before leaving and I think we deserved to do so. But, it was a tough race and we were not competitive enough today. I just was not able to go any faster - I don't know why we were so slow. I feel really down about finishing the season like this but I have good memories from my two years at Jordan and I want to say thank you to my mechanics and engineers and all my friends in the team."

Jean Alesi: "It is sad to finish my career in this way, but that is motor racing and I have to accept this situation. Both Kimi and I were really lucky to get away without any injuries and I am so relieved that I did not hurt him as he spun right in front of me and there was no way I could avoid him. There are just too many people I would like to thank so I can only really say that I think they know who they are and I will be seeing them again! A special thanks goes to Eddie and the team. We have had a lot of fun over these past races."

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Sauber ( Nick Heidfeld - 9th, Kimi Raikkonen - Retired )

Peter Sauber: "Our fourth place in the World Championship for Constructors is a tribute to the whole team and the consistency of its commitment all season, and to all of our partners and especially to Petronas, Credit Suisse and Red Bull. I thank everyone for their effort, and look forward to building on this wonderful success when our cars wear single numbers in 2002."

Nick Heidfeld: "At the start the anti-stall came in because there was so much grip on my side of the track, and I got away quite slowly. In the first corner I tried to go round the outside of Trulli and Button. I got squeezed on to the grass and almost spun. That lost me a lot of places. I was then really lucky to miss the flying wheels in Kimi's accident. I had to brake to avoid one of them and that lost me further time. After that it was difficult to set a good pace running close to other cars because of course I lost downforce, and in any case the car was understeering too much. I'm pleased to hear that Kimi is okay, and delighted that we confirmed our fourth place in the World Championship."

Kimi Raikkonen: "I'm not sure what happened on the sixth lap. The lap before my car had begun to understeer in the fast left-handers behind the pits, but that lap the back end suddenly snapped round and I spun. The next thing I knew Alesi hit me and there was debris everywhere. It was a pretty big shunt and I have a bit of a head and neck ache. But otherwise I'm fine. After this last race for the team, I would like to say thank you to Peter Sauber for giving me my chance to race in F1, and wish him success again in 2002."

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BAR ( Jacques Villeneuve - 10th, Olivier Panis - 13th )

Craig Pollock: "The team worked incredibly hard all weekend and have been fantastic. They certainly made up for our performance at the last race. Both drivers did a great job and we saw Jacques drive like a champion to get us the result we needed. I'm delighted that we held on to fifth place in the constructors' championship. Today really showed the true quality of this team. It has been a very tough season and everyone has survived it brilliantly. The team deserves a good break now then all our thoughts will turn to giving us the car we deserve for next year."

Malcolm Oastler: "We immediately switch focus now to next year's car and today's performance has made us all the more optimistic that we will come back fighting in 2002."

Jacques Villeneuve: "That was a fun race. We managed to fight hard and actually be more competitive than the guys who qualified in front of us the Jordans and the Saubers. They were a lot quicker than us in qualifying but today showed us what this team can do. It's great that we finished up fifth in the championship and everyone is ready to race hard next year when I'm sure we'll have a better car."

Olivier Panis: "I'm really happy for everybody that we finished fifth in the championship. We need that result to give us the motivation to really fight next year. I'm sure the team will work hard to give us a good car. The weekend has been quite tough for me but we all have to think about next year now. I'm looking forward to a break now then coming back for a positive second season with Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda. I hope we can get some great results together."

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Minardi ( Fernando Alonso - 11th, Alex Yoong - 16th )

Paul Stoddart: "Today was a prelude of what is to come from European Minardi F1, with a gutsy drive from Fernando to finish in a very, very creditable 11th place. When one looks at the machinery that finished behind him, you realise just how good a drive it was. For Alex, this Grand Prix – only his third – marked his first Formula One finish. It was a particularly gritty drive since he suffered back cramp for much of the race. All of Malaysia has good reason to be proud of his performances this season, and now he has the winter to work on his race fitness and build up those all-important testing miles. There’s a lot better yet to come from Alex. Our reliability the whole weekend on such a demanding circuit is an indication the team means to carry on in 2002 as it has finished the 2001 season – with significantly improved reliability and consistently higher grid positions. My heartfelt thanks go out to the whole team for a relentless effort this season, sometimes under highly trying circumstances. This has been a ‘building’ year for European Minardi, and having achieved our first-year goals, it’s now onwards and upwards to 2002. Roll on Melbourne!”

Fernando Alonso: "I believe today I have driven my best race of this first season in Formula One. I was aware I could count on a car that had proven to have strong potential throughout the weekend and I therefore pushed to the maximum from the very beginning of the race. I feel delighted that I was able to finish the year with such a fine race outcome. I would especially like to say thank you to the team - they have been just great all season long."

Alex Yoong: "I had a bit of a drama at the beginning because of a problem on my race car and switched to the spare car. The mechanics were able to fix the problem before the race started, however, and the decision was taken to switch back to the race car and start from the pit-lane. For some reason, when I got back into my race car, the seat was not quite right and I started to feel pain in my back. After the first three or four laps, and for the rest of the race, I had cramps and couldn’t drive comfortably. I therefore feel glad simply to have finished the race.”

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Prost ( Heinz Harald Frentzen - 12th, Tomas Enge - Retired )

Joan Villadelprat: "Apart from the unfortunate difficulties we encountered in today’s race, we have proved that our car was very competitive. It is a shame that Heinz-Harald had to pit soon after the start, because he drove a fantastic race, posting 7th fastest time and achieving very high speeds. We are very thankful for the excellent work he has done for us. I am sorry that Tomas could not see the chequered flag especially after the determination he has shown throughout this weekend, but the safe decision was to bring him in because of his brake problem. We are really glad that the year is over now, as it has been a very difficult season for everybody in the team. Everyone has done a very good job, especially all the people back in the factory and I would like to thank them for the efforts they have put in constantly. Needless to say, we are now looking forward to next season."

Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I started the race with a huge handicap since I had an early contact with Pedro De la Rosa which broke my front wing. Broken pieces were stuck underneath my car and I had to drive at the speed of a bicycle to the pits where the team changed my car’s nose. The car was really fine after that and I attacked each lap very hard trying to catch the time lost back. I had an exciting race actually, with several good overtakings. I must say this was one of the toughest race of my career: each lap was like a qualifying lap and it was very demanding to race at that speed. But I really enjoyed it. I want to thank all the team for giving me such a reliable car and for the very good job done since we started working together."

Tomas Enge: "Unfortunately everything went wrong for me in this race. I was a bit disturbed that Verstappen overtook in the formation lap and did not know whether I should overtake him back. We decided that I would start from behind him. My start did not go really well, and I have been held up in the traffic for a while, especially by Verstappen until he got his penalty on lap 17. After my first pit-stop things went better, I pushed hard and improved my times lap by lap. Unfortunately, I made a mistake when I looked at Minardi’s pitboard and thought the team was calling me in. They were obviously not ready when I went into the pits and I came back again the following lap. This cost us a lot of time of course, but anyway, soon after I experienced a brake problem. I did another stop so that the team could check the problem and went back on the track, but I came back to the garage immediately. It would not have been safe to continue. This is not an ideal end to the season but I want to thank the team warmly for giving me the opportunity to drive in the three last races. This was the hardest and most exciting school of my life. Now I hope I can build up on this to be on the starting grid next season."

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Arrows ( Enrique Bernoldi - 14th, Jos Verstappen - 15th )

Graham Taylor: “I think we had our fair share of dramas today. Jos had to switch to the T-car as his power steering failed on his lap to the grid then Enrique's car stalled on the grid and he had to start the race from the pit-lane. Jos got his usual good start, getting up to 16th place from 21st, then Enrique's power steering went off. He had a very hard first stint before we were able to reset it during his pit-stop. Performance-wise we're not happy with the season, compared to 2000. We were strong in the races up to mid-season but have fallen behind which was shown most vividly here in Suzuka. The plan now is to put this year behind us and crack on with our preparations for next season."

Enrique Bernoldi: "That was a really tough one for me! My car stalled at the start of the formation lap and couldn't be re-started so I had to start the race from the pit-lane. My power steering failed on the second lap which made the car very very heavy to drive. The team was able to reset it at my first stop but it was only working intermittently after that. I have to say that I've really enjoyed my first year in F1. It's been hard but it has been progressive so that's good."

Jos Verstappen: "That wasn't one of my favourite races. I'm annoyed about my stop-go penalty as Enge looked like he was stopping after the hairpin and, as we are told to stay close together on that lap, I passed him to catch up with the rest of the field and didn't realise he was behind me until we got to the grid. This year has had it's fair share of ups and downs. This race was one of the 'downs' but next year we should be able to make good progress."

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Jaguar ( Pedro de la Rosa - Retired, Eddie Irvine - Retired  )

Niki Lauda: "Everybody at Jaguar Racing is disappointed with a race that should have secured us 7th place in the Constructor's Championship. A lot of time and thought went into this race strategy and everything was going to plan until Eddie's pit-stop. It's a very strange thing to have happen, but we inexplicably lost the power supply to both fuel rigs. It's too early to explain why this happened, but it happened. Eddie drove an excellent race up until that point and he would have re-joined the race around two seconds ahead of Fisichella. A perfect job done by everybody and a very harsh blow to follow. Pedro also drove a determined race this afternoon, but he retired with an oil leak problem. Not a great way to end what has been a succession of good performances. We have finished the season in 8th place in the Constructor's Championship and we'll now focus everything we have into next year's challenger, the Jaguar R3. There is clearly a lot of work ahead of us."

Eddie Irvine: "I'm thoroughly disappointed. All the hard work was done. I had climbed up to 7th place in the race and had the fuel rig worked, we would have come out ahead of both Benettons – which was our target for this race. I don't know exactly what happened during the pit-stop. As planned, I came in on lap 23 and what looked like a brilliant stop turned out to be a total disaster because no fuel went into the car. I came straight back again, but problem re-occurred on the second fuel rig too and I had no choice but to call it a day. From what I understand, it seems that there was a power failure on both rigs. The team tried to switch the power source and in Pedro's case, it worked – but not mine. I don't really know what else to add. Getting 7th in the Constructor's Championship is what we were aiming for here and for a moment, it looked like we were there. The car felt good and I was pushing it to the absolute limit, but there's no way of preparing for bizarre issues like this. We will, for sure, investigate very carefully into why this happened. It's been a very hard season for everybody at Jaguar Racing, and while it may have looked like a tall order at the beginning of this race, we again proved our ability to race hard and fight for points."

Pedro de la Rosa: "That was a very hard race. It was very difficult to mount a serious challenge and I just kept pushing. The car has felt well balanced all weekend, but the lack of downforce has cost us dearly. Nonetheless, we knew this would hamper us before we came here and the team came very close to staging a serious challenge for 7th place in the Constructor's. My retirement was down to an oil leak problem. We came so close today to grabbing 7th place away from Benetton-Renault and yes, we are all disappointed, but that's motor racing for you. Benetton-Renault did a better job than we did today and they deserve the reward. We know what we have to do for next season and we're already underway with that work. It's going to be a long and hard winter ahead for everybody at Jaguar Racing." 

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