Reports & Results
What the teams and drivers said - Friday
( Jarno Trulli - 1st, Fernando Alonso - 6th )
Pat Symonds: "Jarnoís time justifies the confidence we
had in our performance here. Fernando was a little more cautious but there
is no doubt that both drivers can be highly competitive this weekend. The
balance of the cars is quite good, and we looked quick in all
circumstances, including our high fuel runs this morning."
Denis Chevrier: "Naturally,
we are very pleased with our performance this afternoon, and it demonstrates
that the problems we experienced this morning didnít handicap our
performance. After the results of first qualifying, we can justifiably hope to
challenge strongly tomorrow. We now need to continue our work in order to put
all the elements in place that will allow us to perform well on Sunday."
Jarno Trulli: "The car has been well balanced ever since we
started running and, even though I had some technical problems this
morning, we have been quick throughout. I managed to get in a clean,
mistake-free lap and I now have to look to repeat that performance
tomorrow: the new rules make things more difficult, but after having taken
three Friday Ďpolesí this year, I would like to get one on Saturday as
well before the end of the season. If we manage that, we will be in a very
strong position for the race."
Fernando Alonso: "I did a normal lap, but within my limits:
the day for taking risks is tomorrow. Our package is working well here and
as Jarno showed today, we are very competitive. I feel confident for the
rest of the weekend."
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Schumacher - 2nd, Juan Pablo Montoya - 8th )
Sam Michael: "We
have brought some new aero parts to Suzuka, which seem to work well and it
was obviously not a bad first day here for Ralf. Juan had a disadvantage
as he lost track time this morning due to a gearbox problem. We still have
a lot of work to do on the race set-up in particular, to get the balance
right for the Esses section, which is the most important part of the
Mario Theissen: "Ralf
put a very good lap together, especially in the second sector, where he
was the quickest. The changes on the set-up of the car were according to
expectation. Eighth place for Juan Pablo is also ok, considering this
morning he could only pur a very few laps under his belt due to a gearbox
problem. Also the last step advancement of the P83 engine ran today
without any problems."
Ralf Schumacher: "We
changed the car quite a lot during this morningís Free Practice and the
result was pretty good, which clearly shows we went the right way.
Tomorrowís Free Practice sessions will be very important to us since we
didnít have much running this morning due to some problems and we need
some more time to improve our car. However, I think it is looking
promising for us so far, also thanks to our Michelin tyres, which seem to
be very good and can provide an important contribution to our performance.
With regards to the revised track, I think they made a good job, just the
130R corner is a little bit too bumpy."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "It
was obviously very difficult for me to set a good time in todayís First
Qualifying due to the fact that I lost most of this morningís Free
Practice session because of a gearbox problem. During qualifying, my car
was not at all ideally set up nor was it comfortable to drive and I pushed
as hard as I could. Itís going to be quite a lot of work for us tomorrow
to make up for the lost time and get it back together. However, Ralfís
time shows that we have a good car and thereís definitely much more to
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( Michael Schumacher - 3rd, Rubens Barrichello - 7th )
Jean Todt: "As usual on Friday, we have
worked on set-up and on tyre choice. We know this is the decisive weekend
of the season, but we do not want this factor to put us under any extra
pressure. Along with Bridgestone on the tyre side and Shell as regards
fuels and lubricants, we are as well prepared as possible. Things went
pretty well for us in this afternoonís qualifying, even if Rubens lost
some time in the final sector. But for this, he could have finished higher
than seventh. Tomorrow, we have to make the final choices as far as
set-up, tyres and fuel levels for the start of the race are concerned. In
the afternoon, we will then tackle the final qualifying session of the
season and the relative positions on the grid will be very important come
Ross Brawn: "We adopted a rather cautious approach to this
qualifying and, given how things went, I think we can expect to be pretty
competitive tomorrow,Ē said Ross Brawn. ďThe drivers are happy with the
balance of their cars and the performance of the tyres. In tomorrowís free
practice, we still have a bit of work to do in terms of choosing between the
two types of tyre available. Overall, we can expect both qualifying and the
race to be very close."
Michael Schumacher: "I am quite happy with my lap and
my time, considering that, yet again going out first is a slight
disadvantage. Although, here it was less penalising than at some other
circuits. The car seems to be handling very well and is very competitive.
Looking at the times, the top runners are all very close, which means that
tomorrowís fight for pole will be good fun and the outcome will be hard
to predict. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Rubens Barrichello: "Overall, I am happy with this
result. The car went well and I was lucky to be out on track when the
conditions had improved. Theoretically, second place gives me a very good
start position for tomorrow afternoonís qualifying, but the
unpredictable weather could change everything. We still have some work to
do on the car set-up in the dry, given that we only managed two runs in
the dry before the rain arrived this morning."
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( David Coulthard - 4th, Kimi Raikkonen - 5th )
"A good solid day's work by both drivers and the team as a whole. As
always we are more focused on tomorrow's qualifying and the race than the
somewhat less important task of qualifying today. Hopefully the weather
will remain stable for the balance of the weekend."
"Two tenths of a second behind the best time and one tenth behind
Michael Schumacher mark a good beginning to the weekend."
"I'm reasonably happy with that lap and believe there is still more
to come as the car is performing well. I was a bit cautious going into the
hairpin and slowed the car too much, but what you lose on entry you sometimes
gain on traction. The track layout means that it's important to get the right
flow and a small mistake can upset your rhythm quite easily, but everything
went well today. The chicane is very difficult as you need to find the line
and ride the kerbs, so I think the drivers who took part in this morning's
Free Practice had an advantage. I look forward to tomorrow's second qualifying
and Sunday's race."
"My lap today was OK, but there is still room for improvement
especially in the first sector where I lost about four tenths of a second
compared to the best sector time. The gap to the competition is less than it
normally is in Friday qualifying, so we should be in reasonable shape for
tomorrow and Sunday. I'm pleased with how the car feels especially in the
second and third sectors, and I like the new chicane. At the end of the day we
are here to do our best and that is what we will continue to do."
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( Mark Webber - 9th, Justin Wilson - 15th )
Dr Mark Gillan: "A very pleasing day and one
which has generated over 770km for us without any reliability problems. The
top four teams have been very strong today at what is a very demanding and
technical circuit. To have posted the 9th fastest time, therefore, is an
extremely positive start to our weekend. Itís a little disappointing that
Justin wasnít closer to Mark but in all fairness, his lap times have been
steadily improving all day. We have achieved successfully our preparation list
for race day and our tyre and set-up work this morning was positive. With four
teams now fighting for that precious 5th place in the championship, tomorrow
promises to be a very interesting day and one which will significantly affect
the outcome of Sundayís race given how difficult it is to overtake around
Mark Webber: "Thereís some quick boys out there today and
I am pretty happy to have got 9th place behind the front runners. Itís
awesome driving around this circuit on very low fuel. There are some big
G-forces at work and itís a great playground for an F1 car. Itís a
very demanding circuit aerodynamically speaking and it puts a lot of
pressure on engines too. Itís going to be difficult to keep up with the
big boys this weekend but our battle is against BAR-Honda, Sauber and
Toyota Ė all of whom are chasing points and 5th place in the constructorís
championship. We have begun our campaign well and I feel quite good going
into tomorrowís decisive second qualifying session."
Justin Wilson: "I am reasonably pleased with
what is my quickest lap of the day. Itís a very difficult circuit to master
but one that I am getting the hang of. Sector One is particularly tough and
there is absolutely no margin for error. The slightest foot wrong results in
the car sliding wide and there is an awful lot of time to be lost and won
through there. I suffered some minor niggles in the first session this morning
but by the end of the second session, our preparation going into qualifying
was very good. I generated a good amount of mileage today and there is still
more time left in the car Ė something I aim to extract during tomorrowís
critical second qualifying phase. Getting my first championship point at the
U.S. Grand Prix two weeks was a great feeling but it leaves you with an
appetite for more and given how close the constructorís battle is, both Mark
and I will be making an aggressive charge for more points come Sunday."
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( Nick Heidfeld - 10th, Heinz Harald Frentzen - 12th )
Peter Sauber: "Our positions today are a good
result for us. Nick, with his top 10 result, has laid a good foundation for
defending our fifth place on Sunday."
"With my 10th place we can be very satisfied. It gives us a good starting
point in our defence of fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship.
This morning we did some long-runs which didn't leave a lot of time for set-up
work, but we made some changes for qualifying which worked out reasonably
well, though I still had some high-speed oversteer."
Heinz Harald Frentzen:
"I had great fun today, although the car was tail happy. I like this
track and I always enjoy driving here, but we still have some work to do on
the set-up for tomorrow."
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BAR ( Takuma
Sato - 11th - replaces Jacques Villeneuve , Jenson Button - 16th )
"I am delighted that Taku has had a positive start to his first racing
weekend with us; and that he has performed exactly as required. He needs to
focus on maintaining this pace and approach, then I am sure he will have a
good result. By contrast, Jensonís engine failure, just eight laps into free
practice, is the last thing we needed. As we saw in the subsequent qualifying
session, the lack of track time is a major setback, particularly at Suzuka
which is such a challenging circuit for any driver. Nevertheless, the whole
team is in a positive mood, and we will be doing all we can to get back to
where we should be tomorrow."
"Both drivers pushed hard this afternoon. We are sorry that Jenson
couldn't show his true potential due to lack of running time this morning
caused by an engine failure. Takuma did a good job under the pressure of
his first attempt at one-lap qualifying, which is exactly what we
expected, having worked closely with him over the past few years."
"We have had a very positive first dayís running with Takuma, who
applied himself very professionally throughout the day. He completed all
of our programme this morning, and this afternoon drove a very sensible,
solid lap. On the other side of the garage it was unfortunately a rather
different story. Early on in the session we had a major engine blow-up on
Jensonís car and the subsequent fire has damaged quite a number of
components. He was unable to complete any of his planned running this
morning, which left him to qualify without experience of the tyre or time
to get a good set-up."
"Iíve had a fantastic first day with the team and really enjoyed
working with them to prepare for first qualifying, especially with Jock Clear.
This is the first time Iíve taken part in one-lap qualifying, so that was
very interesting. Iím reasonably happy with my lap. I lost a bit of time in
the first sector but thereís plenty of time for improvement throughout the
rest of the weekend. Today I just wanted to take things steady, work through
my programme and establish a good footing with the team and engineers. To be
honest, Iím still coming to terms with actually being here racing this
weekend, but Iím pleased to have had a good first day and Iím very much
looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
"Itís really difficult at this circuit, especially when you arenít
able to run many laps, as was the case this morning. I lost about 45 minutes
as a result of an engine problem, and because of that, qualifying was a bit of
a shot in the dark for me. There have been some substantial changes to the
circuit this year and because of my limited running I havenít had the chance
to work out where the braking areas are or to get the right balance; I had a
bit too much understeer. I also didnít get the chance to run on new tyres or
with low fuel. It didnít feel like a solid lap and this isnít a great
start to a very important weekend for us. We have made it quite difficult for
ourselves heading into tomorrow but things can only get better."
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Toyota ( Olivier
Panis - 13th, Cristiano da Matta - 14th )
Ange Pasquali: "Not a great qualifying for us
today. We are not as competitive as we expected to be and we have to find
out why. Both Olivier and Cristiano lost time in different sectors
compared to their respective times from the free practice this morning.
Obviously, we will have a busy time this evening prior to tomorrow
morning's sessions in order to improve our overall performance level.
Ultimately, it is tomorrow's qualifying session that forms the grid, so we
are still confident for the rest of the weekend."
Olivier Panis: "We worked hard in this morning's practice
hour, but we are unfortunately not yet at the competitive level we were at
in Indianapolis. We are struggling a bit with the general grip and balance
of the car, but I like this circuit a lot, so we will continue to tune the
car to be quicker tomorrow. The whole team is giving maximum effort at
this final race of the season, and we will do the best we can in front of
all the Japanese Toyota fans."
Cristiano da Matta: "I am not really satisfied with the
performance we have shown today. We could already see in this morning's
practice that the car is not behaving as well around here as we had
initially expected it to, so we have to check a few things overnight. It
is not the easiest track to learn in just one hour, but it is a fantastic
circuit to drive - one of the best I have driven at all season. It is our
home race, so I am ready to push for a good result this weekend. I think
we will be in better shape tomorrow."
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( Ralph Firman - 17th, Giancarlo Fisichella - 18th )
"Itís a difficult track here: downforce is important and Iím
afraid we havenít got enough of it! This morning Motoyama did a very
positive job in testing. He ran with quite a reasonable fuel load and did a
good lap so I think his initiation into Formula One, just 40 laps, was very
Ralph Firman: "Itís great to be back here, itís like my second
home and the only circuit this year that I know really well. Iím really
enjoying it and itís only my second race coming back after the accident. Iím
working well with the team and weíve found a reasonably good balance but
thereís still more time to find, especially at the first corner, and our
final position is a bit disappointing."
"It wasnít the best today. I made a small mistake at the last
corner and lost maybe a couple of tenths of a second, but then we are three
seconds slower than pole anyway. But, itís my last race with Jordan and I
will do my best because itís important for us to score some more points. Iíd
like to do that for the guys because in two years with them, Iíve had a good
time. Obviously this season has been a bit tough but nevertheless the
atmosphere in this team is fantastic."
Satoshi Motoyama (Test Driver): "I am happy to get
this chance in Formula One, testing with Jordan and at my home Grand Prix
circuit. Itís the first time I have ever driven a Formula One car and I was
surprised at the engine power and, of course, the speed. I know the track very
well which was good and enjoyable, but in Formula One I felt it was a
completely different circuit."
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( Jos Verstappen - 19th, Nicolas Kiesa - 20th )
Paul Stoddart: "Overall, it was not a bad performance. To
have taken a second off last yearís qualifying time is more than some other
teams achieved today. Itís clear, however, that Nicolas needs a little more
time to learn the track, but Iím sure tomorrow will see both drivers
comfortable with their race cars for Sunday."
Jos Verstappen: "We did three runs trying different
set-ups this morning, and eventually ended up coming back to close to the
original. We also did the normal Friday tyre comparisons and on my last run,
which should have been the fastest, a Renault blew up in front of me and
spoiled the lap. The chassis balance was pretty good right from the start of
the morning session, and all in all, I think we did some useful work today. As
far as the qualifying run this afternoon was concerned, I think we did a good
job with what we had. I was on the harder compound tyre compared with my team
mate, as I felt it was the better option in high-speed corners, and this is
very much a high-speed circuit. The car was at the maximum, sliding through
the corners, and that is as it should be in qualifying."
Nicolas Kiesa: "It has been a hard day, as this is a
difficult circuit to learn. My qualifying lap was okay until I locked up the
right front wheel braking for the last chicane and lost quite a bit of time.
We made solid progress this morning, however, and weíve got a good race
Gianmaria Bruni (Test Driver): "Iím very
happy with my first time at Suzuka, which is definitely a tough circuit. We
worked on aero-balance and tried a new design of bargeboard, and the programme
went well. The chassis balance was good throughout the morning. Later in the
session, I tried for a time on a new set of tyres, and although I made a
mistake on my second lap, my best time was only 0.1 sec off the best Jos set
during the test session, so I was very pleased with that. Overall, Iím very
happy with the work we did today."
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