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Japanese Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Sunday
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What the teams and drivers said - Sunday
Jean Todt: "A dream finale to a
dream season. We could not ask for more. We have achieved a lot: fifteen wins,
nine one-twos, Michael taking his third consecutive world title with Ferrari,
after eleven races and Ferrari taking its fourth consecutive constructorsí
championship after thirteen races. Rubens took second place in the Driversí
classification with one race to go and we have scored 221 points, which is the
same as all the other teams put together. Itís hard to imagine anything
better. These figures are the result of the work done by a fantastic team,
which, even in difficult times, has always enjoyed the support of President
Montezemolo and the shareholders. This is the best way of thanking them.
Michael Schumacher: "Itís hard to
find the words to describe this season, but the results speak for themselves.
Finishing all the races on the podium shows the quality of the work done by
all the team. What they have achieved is unbelievable. I think todayís race
was great for the Japanese fans as they saw two winners; me and Sato getting
his first F1 points in his home event. As for the race, I got a good start,
built a gap and that meant the pit stops could be planned at just the right
time. All weekend we were quick so I was not surprised at the gap. I want to
thank Bridgestone for a superb tyre, which worked very well even though we had
never done a long run with it in these hot conditions. I am very happy for
them that they have taken their 70th win in their 100th GP and in their home
event. I also want to mention Ross (Brawn) who missed a race for the first
time. Get well soon!
Rubens Barrichello: "I am very happy for me and for Ferrari. To be part of this family with such a great car is incredible. I must thank Bridgestone, with whom we worked even closer than usual over this weekend. We have had a wonderful season with them and all the hard work paid off and we will be even stronger next year. At the start, I lost a bit to Michael and then for the first few laps the car was bottoming out a bit too much, so I was being careful not to spin and damage the tyres. After the first stop, I was not completely happy with the balance of the car, but that was my only problem all afternoon and I could cope with it. Maybe we went a little bit the wrong way in our set-up for the race. But with the gap to those behind me, I just had to concentrate and maintain my pace. Anyway, with two wins in the last three races, I am very happy."
Ron Dennis: "Despite the progress that we have made in the last two races, we are under no illusions that next yearís Ferrari will be only better. We have not lost the ability, knowledge and motivation required to win and coupled with the extensive restructuring and recruitment processes in both McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, the increased efforts from Michelin and ExxonMobil and the total commitment of David, Kimi and Alex, we believe that we can look forward to a much more competitive 2003 season. Both drivers did an excellent job this weekend. Our apologies to David and well done to Kimi."
Norbert Haug: "Itís nice for Kimi and the team to finish with a podium position in the final race of the 2002 Championship. Itís a pity for David that he had to retire early. We definitely know that we have to catch up the opposition. A very busy winter is lying ahead of the team."
Kimi Raikkonen: "Ralf Schumacher got past me at the start and as a result I was initially running in fifth. I had a fairly straight forward race until a few laps from the end when I experienced a fault with the throttle control system, which fortunately was rectified by the default strategy. At the end, I was able to take the final podium position when Ralf Schumacher retired. I claimed third in the first race in Australia and finished the last race in my first season with West McLaren Mercedes in third. I have enjoyed this year and am already looking forward to the start of testing."
David Coulthard: "I would have liked to finish the season with a podium which I think would have been possible today, so obviously Iím disappointed. I had the pace and was able to open up a gap to the cars behind. However I lost throttle at turn nine which I was told was due to a failure on one bank of the control system. I was able to get the car back to the garage but there was nothing the team could do. I will now enjoy a bit of a break and then we will resume testing on 26th November in Valencia."
Sam Michael: "It is a shame to have one car fail in the last race. Ralf did a good job with a solid drive for 3rd place but then unfortunately retired due to an engine problem. Juan brought home his car in fourth place to secure his third place in the driversí championship. We had good pit stops today and our pit crew has shown a good step forward in the pit lane throughout the season. Todayís race highlighted again that we have a lot of work to do before the next season starts in Melbourne. Ferrari has dominated the whole year as they did here in Suzuka."
Mario Theissen: "Ralf drove a fantastic race, with no mistakes. He missed the podium position that he was hoping for at the very last moment due to an engine failure. We will clarify the reason for the failure in Munich by stripping the engine. It is cold comfort for us the fact that in the 2002 season we have completed the highest number of laps of all teams."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "The strategy for me today was really bringing the car home and this is what I did. The car was a bit oversteery in the first part of the race but it improved after we made some little changes during the pit stop. I started closing the gap to the cars in front of me but then towards the end I thought that it was really pointless to push anymore and jeopardise my position. After Ralfís failure I was told to take it easy and this is what I did. I am obviously delighted that I have achieved third place in the Driversí Championship in my second season in F1. Itís been a good season and the only regret I have is that I could not get any race victories."
Ralf Schumacher: "I was having a good race today, my car was well balanced and third place was only four laps away. The fact that I had to retire is therefore even more painful. Now we are going to collectively concentrate on the next season in order to do a better job."
Eddie Jordan: "I have to admit I didnít expect Takuma to come here and qualify seventh and finish fifth. He drove a perfect race and showed the talent Iíve been telling everyone about. He had a little problem with understeer in the middle of the race but the team called the right shots when James (Key) and Gary (Anderson) decided to give him more front wing at his pit stop. You could see it transformed the car to make it more competitive and then he was away. It has been a tough battle in the Championship midfield this season and finishing sixth is very important to us as it brings us respectability. Iím very pleased for Takuma as he did a great job. The crowd went wild for him and Iím sure there will be a party in town tonight."
Takuma Sato: "That was incredible! One point was what I was after, but Iíve scored two, which is excellent for the team. I really appreciate what the team and especially the mechanics have done. The car was really good and the strategy, tyres and engine all worked together well today. The crowds were unbelievable, waving at me on every single lap and I saw everything! It was great and I appreciate the fans. This is one of the best feelings in my life and Iím so happy to score two points for the team."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "The start was bad when my race car blew up on its installation lap. I jumped into the T-car, which was set up for Takuma, the engineers and mechanics did a good job to quickly change it for me. My race start wasnít good and unfortunately there was a lot of understeer, which was completely different from this morningís warm-up. Later the engine gave up. Iím really happy for Takuma for finishing fifth though as itís fantastic both for him and the team."
Flavio Briatore: "It was a good way to conclude this season. We are satisfied because we have fulfilled our objective for this year by securing fourth place in the Constructors Championship. However, we are still too far behind the top teams and we have to work very hard over the winter to try and close the gap. I would like to thank the whole Team for their dedication and commitment this season, our main partner Japan Tobacco and all our sponsors for their continued support. Special thanks to Jenson, who has done a great job and who will not be with us next season. We sincerely wish him the best of luck and success for his future."
Pat Symonds: "Today was a difficult race dictated by our poor grid positions. In the first stint both drivers reported that the Jordan was holding them up, so we decided to stop early. This worked and got Jarno and Jenson in front of Sato. Unfortunately for us, it appears that he made a few adjustments to his car in the first pit-stop which improved his times. We were not able to keep track position after the second stop, this coupled with losing time with the blue flag, meant we weren't able to re-challenge him again later in the race. Nevertheless we finished the season in much better shape than last year and finished with three point-scoring races in a row. Now we must look forward to next season and to be able to regularly challenge for podium positions."
Jenson Button: "It's great to get a point for the team and myself. It has been an up and down season, but has been good for my experience. It has been fun working with the team and I wish them all the best for next year."
Jarno Trulli: "Unfortunately it has been an unlucky weekend for me here in Suzuka - especially after the car looked so promising after qualifying yesterday. Through the start of the race the car was performing well, with good lap times. Just before my second pit-stop I experienced a mechanical problem. We haven't yet been able to get to the bottom of it yet. Even though I didn't finish the race, I am happy for Jenson, as he drove a good race to get sixth. Jenson has been a good team mate and we have worked well together this season and I wish him well for next year."
Peter Sauber: "I am relieved that we were able to retain our fifth place in the World Championship for Constructors. Looking at the season overall, SAUBER PETRONAS deserved this result. We were not competitive enough in the last part of the year to continue our fight for fourth place, but given the intensity of the competition we should not be disappointed. I want to thank the entire team for creating such a reliable car and for the marvellous job they have done throughout this season. We are already working hard on the C22 for 2003, and will incorporate all the valuable lessons we have learned this year."
Nick Heidfeld: "I made a very good start and went from 12th to 10th, so I was happy with that. The balance of the car was pretty good in the first two sectors of the race, but went off a little in the third. I really would have liked to score a point, but it was most important to finish and we achieved this. Congratulations to the team for its fifth place finish overall."
Felipe Massa: "I got my car over the kerb exiting the Degner Curve and then I lost a bit of downforce as I was right behind Villeneuve so I just couldn't get back on the road. I'm disappointed to finish my last race for the team this way, but I would like to say thank you to Peter Sauber for the opportunity to race in Formula One this year, and to all my engineers and mechanics for their help and support."
Fujio Cho: "I am sorry that Allan did not race today, but I am pleased that Mika concluded Panasonic Toyota Racing's first season in F1 with an eighth-placed finish. I am very grateful to both Mika and Allan for their performance over the last two years. We have realised that F1 is much tougher than expected. We do want to make significant progress in 2003 and the experiences we have gained this season will be a real benefit to us."
Ove Andersson: "I am very happy we could end our first season in Formula 1 on a relatively high note with Mika finishing the race in 8th. However, I am sad for the Japanese fans that they couldn't see Allan racing today. To sum up, I think that for a debut year we have had a very successful season and I look forward to an even better one in 2003."
Mika Salo: "It wasn't the most exciting of races to be honest. There was a problem with the final set of tyres, which gave a lot of understeer. We had a sensor failure, which cost us a lot of time in the middle of the race, but again the guys used bi-directional telemetry to help that. All in all the race was nothing special, but it was good to see the chequered flag on my last race with the team."
Allan McNish: "I was very disappointed not to be racing in Suzuka with Panasonic Toyota Racing at the last race of the season. Following yesterday's accident I rested overnight and I did the warm-up this morning feeling fine. As a racing driver, I would have liked to race this afternoon, but I accept the FIA medical team's decision and I am very sorry for the team and all the Japanese fans."
Niki Lauda: "Itís been an extremely tough season and one that we have managed to salvage something out of given the horrendous issues we began the season with on the Jaguar R3. To have finished the season in seventh place is just reward for the incredible hard work that has gone into correcting the problems we began the season with. We started the season as the last team on the grid and it very unusual to correct serious issues like we had, albeit over the course of a season. Finishing the year in sixth place would have been a dream but not really reflective of the reality. Since Melbourne, we have changed everything possible on the car apart from the driversí tub but there is a limit to how much can be achieved mid-season. Nonetheless, the car improved drastically from the one we started with and no doubt the highlight of the season was finishing on the podium in Monza Ė something that no other teams have achieved this season except Ferrari, BMW Williams and McLaren-Mercedes. A lot has been learned and passed onto the development of next yearís car, which is now well underway. In fact, we begin testing the brand new 90-degree engine next month and given the magnitude of changes that we have made this season at every level of our organisation, we are now all focused on the exciting new project that is the Jaguar R4."
Eddie Irvine: "There was simply no grip out there today and this made life very tough indeed. It was always an ambitious target to prevent the Hondas from scoring points today and in the end, they took away what they deserved. I love racing at Suzuka but today was a tough challenge, particularly when it came to passing anyone. We have suffered from a general lack of downforce all weekend but seventh place is an improvement on last year and thatís about as much as anyone could have asked for given the shocking problems we began the season with."
Pedro de la Rosa: "Yet another race I want to forget about. I donít really have anything different to what Niki and Eddie have already said. The car has been a handful all weekend and given the huge aerodynamic demands the circuit places on cars, none of us are really surprised with todayís conclusion, although the transmission problem came as a surprise. We all expected a hard time here and thatís exactly what we got. It is, however, unfortunate to have lost sixth place in the Constructorís Championship but thatís racing. We have learned a lot this season and we must now look forward and focus hard on 2003."Paul Stoddart: "Well done to the drivers and to the whole KL Minardi Asiatech team. Finishing ninth in the World Championship is no mean feat when you consider our budget and the political turmoil that has ruined most of the season for us. We derive a lot of pleasure, however, from the fact the team scored quite possibly the most popular two points in modern Formula One history in Melbourne this year. Our on-track performances, in the main, have been far better than the financial and technical resources available to the team should have permitted. Our thanks go to our drivers this year, Alex, Mark and Anthony, as well as to all our commercial and technical partners. I would particularly like to single out our engine partner, Asiatech, for a special mention. We have enjoyed a truly amicable and productive relationship with them all year long, and we genuinely wish them well in whatever they choose to do in the future."
Alex Yoong: "I caught the lights just right and made a great start, but then de la Rosa squeezed me and I wasnít able to gain as many places as I should have. I also had a small touch with Mark on the opening lap when I passed him, fortunately without any damage to either car. The chassis balance wasnít bad, but the track was quite slippery compared with this morning and, as a result, there was some oversteer in the car. Unfortunately, my car was not fitted with power steering this afternoon, and when youíre correcting for oversteer all the time, it wears you out a bit. I had a small slide at turn two, but without the power assistance, I just wasnít able to catch it in time. Itís a shame not to have finished, but considering this is very much a power circuit, I was happy with my lap times in the race."
Mark Webber: "We had quite low grip all afternoon and that, combined with the fact Alex had a lot less fuel at the start of the race, meant he was able to get by at the beginning. I knew, though, it was a matter of time and I could get the place back. I just did my best this afternoon, and tried really hard in the last few laps to get even more out of the car, which was when I set my fastest lap. It wasnít easy for us today, but Iím really happy for the guys. We got another 10th place finish, which is important for us, and the guys have done a fantastic job all year."
"This isnít the way we wanted to conclude the season but we have to put
the disappointment behind us now and look to the future.
"2002 has been a difficult year and a much bigger challenge than I
anticipated. However, thanks to a great deal of hard work by the team behind
the scenes, we have begun to see improvements from our reorganisation earlier
in the year.
"I didnít get a good start and lost 5 places on the first lap, but
things started to pick up after the first pitstop. I was having a good battle
with Fisichella but heís a very tough guy to overtake because his car can be
very wide! If weíd carried on like that we could have ended up going off and
thatís not a very fair way to go about racing. In the end, the engine gave
way and that was the end of my race.
"I felt something tighten just a few laps into the race and I stopped in
the pits for the team to check out the car. I did another lap before pulling
into the garage and the team did a great job to identify the problem. I
rejoined the track for another lap but the car was undriveable and there was
no way I could continue. Itís disappointing because I really wanted to
finish well for the team today but it wasnít to be.