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2002 Japanese Grand Prix 
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Drivers Championship Constructors Championship
Main Japanese GP Page
Track Layout (from the FIA)
Results & Reports

The Final Race of 2002

With both Titles and second places already decided the fight in the Championships now concentrates on the lower ranks.
In the Drivers' Championship, Juan Pablo Montoya in 3rd is 5 points ahead of team-mate Ralf Schumacher and for Ralf to take 3rd he would need to either win the race provided that Montoya finishes lower that second or to finish second with Montoya out of David Coulthard has a slim chance of winning 3rd place but that can only happen if he wins the Japanese Grand Prix with Montoya finishing 3rd or lower. Coulthard could take 4th in the Championship by finishing 4th and ahead of Ralf Schumacher.
Further down, a number of drivers will have a change to improve their final ranking but it will all depend on whether they can actually score points.
In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari, Williams and McLaren have secured 1st to 3rd. Renault have almost clinched 4th as Sauber would need to win the race with their second car finishing in the points to take 4th and provided that Renault would not finish either of their cars in the points and that is nearly impossible.
However with just 4 points separating 4 teams (Sauber on 11, Jaguar with 8 and both Honda runners BAR and Jordan with 7 points each), it will be a tough fight between those teams to decide the order in which they finish this season as the final ranking influences how much a team receives from the revenue of TV rights.
Ferrari are expected to dominate this race and Michael Schumacher is expected to be to strong here for Rubens Barrichello to challenge. If Michael manages to win the race, he will not only improve his record number of wins in a season but will also have a perfect finishing record this season as Michael has not retired from any race so far this season. That is an amazing record.
The fight between Williams and McLaren will be very close. Williams will benefit from their BMW power but McLaren have been improving and this circuit will suit their chassis. Both teams have suffered from engine failures lately and that could influence the outcome of this race.
Behind the top 3, Renault continue to score points left over from the top 3 teams while Sauber continues to struggle in the face of the tough competition. Jaguar struggled at the US GP but they should do better here and both BAR and Jordan would be hoping to get a boost from Honda and Bridgestone at their home track.
It is also the first Formula 1 race for Toyota at home and they would want to put on a strong showing with the aim of scoring a point or two so that they finish ahead of Minardi and Arrows in the championship.

Last year Michael Schumacher won the race starting from Pole with Juan Pablo Montoya finishing a strong second while David Coulthard finishing in 3rd. Mika Hakkinen, Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher made the top 6. The top 3 teams took the top 6 places.

A number of teams were testing last week. McLaren, Williams, Toyota and BAR were at Barcelona and McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz broke the lap record there. Ferrari were testing at Mugello with Sauber and at Jerez and Fiorano while Renault and Jordan tested at Silverstone. The teams concentrated on set-up for the Japanese GP as well as testing components for the 2003 season.

Ferrari: They will once again dominate and they are unlikely to face much competition from Williams of McLaren. Only reliability can stop them and that looks very unlikely. 
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10

Drivers: Michael Schumacher won the US GP even though he didn't. Having Barrichello win by 0.011 seconds was due to a mistake by Michael.
He'll win here unless he runs into reliability problems.

Rubens Barrichello will try to match Michael but at Suzuka he won't have a chance. He may even be challenged by Montoya or Raikkonen but that is unlikely.
Barrichello will likely finish in second place.

Williams: Following the clash between their 2 drivers at Indy, both will be extra careful when racing each other. Having said that, Montoya is likely to be too strong for Ralf here.  
Reliability  8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya will most likely be fighting for 3rd place but may have a chance of challenging for second with Rubens. Last year he did extremely well finishing in second on his debut at this track. It would be good to see him challenge Michael here but the Ferrari is just too good.

Ralf Schumacher finished last at the US Grand Prix due to his spin and bump into his team-mate. Last year he finished 6th here and he could do a few positions better this year especially that he is fighting with Coulthard for 4th place in the Championship.

McLaren: They continue to improve but with that they keep breaking down particularly with Raikkonen who suffered 3 engine failures at the last 3 events. They will challenge Williams and if their car holds we could see a podium finish from them.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: David Coulthard finished on the podium in the last 2 races but in 2000 he was a minute down on Hakkinen and last year Hakkinen let him through. This year he'll have Raikkonen to beat and it is unlikely that he'll beat him if Raikkonen's car lasts!. Coulthard though has a chance of taking 4th from Ralf in the Championship and that could give him the extra motivation he needs.

Kimi Raikkonen could finish on the podium if his car doesn't blow up!. 

Renault: They continue to score points and consolidate their 4th place in the Championship. They now need to make that big leap and mix it with the top 3 teams.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Jenson Button seems to be satisfied with what he has achieved with Renault. He has been continually out-qualified and out-raced by Jarno Trulli.
His 7th place in the Championship seems secure however Trulli can take it from him if he finishes 3rd and Jenson finishing outside the points. That is unlikely though.

Jarno Trulli continues to do well and will likely be the first to take the opportunity and score more points if one of the top 6 drivers struggle. 
Trulli needs to finish ahead of Irvine, Heidfeld and Fisichella so that he secures his 8th place in the Championship. 

Sauber: They may have settled for 5th in the Championship but that isn't 100% secure yet. Running the old Ferrari engines won't help but they may get a good Bridgestone tyre that enables them to stay with their main competitors Jaguar and the two Honda runners.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Nick Heidfeld is tied on points with Fisichella at 7. If he manages to score points here he could improve his final ranking for the year. That is unlikely though. 

Felipe Massa returns to racing after being replaced at the US GP due to a penalty. His future has yet to be decided but this will be his final race with Sauber. He will want to put on a good performance to please potential team owners but his reputation of being a bit reckless won't go away that easily. 

Jaguar: They had a disappointing race at the US GP failing to finish in the points. Their car has certainly improved but it appears hard to set-up. They need to finish ahead of the 2 Honda runners if they are to keep 6th place in the Championship. They also have a slim chance of taking 5th from Sauber but that is unlikely.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Eddie Irvine failed to finish in the points at Indy mainly due to a bad qualifying position. Irvine is in the middle of a pack fighting for 8th place in the Drivers' Championship and will be delighted if he can finish ahead of Trulli in the Renault.
Although his future isn't yet decided, this is likely to be his last race for Jaguar.

Pedro de la Rosa has failed to finish in the last 3 races. This will have a negative effect on his chances for next year as Jaguar have improved dramatically in those last 3 races. While he is on a contract for next year, he could be released from his contract and that is the most likely scenario. A top 10 finish outside the points is possible. 

BAR: Both their cars finished the race at Indy and that is a good sign. Villeneuve also managed to score a point. They will be trying their best to stay ahead of Jordan here as both run the same engines.
With Honda and Bridgestone running at their home race, they could do well.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve scored a point at Indy. Scoring another here is possible but will be very hard. It is that time of the year again that Villeneuve starts claiming that next year's car will be a big step forward. Lets hope he is right this time.

Olivier Panis will try his best to put on a good show in his final race for the team before moving to Toyota next season. A top 10 finish is possible.

Jordan: Will do all they can to beat BAR here and score a point or two. Not only does that show that they were the ones who should've secured the Honda engines but would also give them a bigger share of the TV revenues.
As with BAR, Honda and Bridgestone could give them a boost here at home
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella doesn't seem to be happy at Jordan especially that they have lost the Honda engines for next year and will use this year's Cosworth engines for next year. We may see Fisichella somewhere else next season but where ?
Points will be hard at Suzuka.

Takuma Sato will want to do well in front of his home crowds. He will be hoping that Honda and Bridgestone can give him some advantage and would love to be able to score his first points finish of the season. 

Minardi: Once again they will reserve the last row of the gird. Unless someone gets relegated to the back due to an infringement they don't have the power to match any team. 
They seem to be getting less reliable and that doesn't help!
Reliability 5.5/10 - Speed 6.0/10

Drivers: Mark Webber failed to finish yet again but not after showing some more promise. It will be interesting to see which team he'll be driving for next year. A deal with Jaguar is talked about but nothing has been confirmed.
A finish outside the top 10 is likely.

Alex Yoong will struggle to qualify here.

Toyota: Finished 14th and 15th at the US GP. They would want to do better than that at their first appearance in front of their home crowds
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.0/10

Drivers: Mika Salo will do his best to help Toyota score a point or two and move ahead of Minardi and Arrows but point scoring will be very hard.  
This will be Mika's last Formula 1 race as he is retiring following the Japanese Grand Prix.

Allan McNish continues to perform closer to Mika Salo but that won't be enough for him to find a drive for next season. Scoring a point in his last race would give him a career boost but that is unlikely. A top 10 finish is possible.

Arrows: They continue to be in a deep financial crisis and the longer it takes, the more likely the team will end up in liquidation. It will be another sad moment in the history for Formula 1 if that happens.
At the time of publishing, it is not clear whether they will be racing at Japan or not.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10

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Session 2002 2001
First Friday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Second Friday Practice Results Report Notes Results
First Saturday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Second Saturday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Qualifying Results Report Notes Results
Warm-up Results Report Notes Results
Race Results Report Notes Results

What the teams and drivers said
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

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