Team and Driver Quotes following the Japanese F1 Grand
( Michael Schumacher - 2nd, Rubens Barrichello - Retired )
Jean Todt: "Fifteen wins, thirteen of
them with Michael, from the seventeen races held so far. The numbers say
it all. After taking a fantastic pole this morning, Michael dominated
the race, leading from start to finish. The car was perfect, the
Bridgestone tyres were perfect, and the team did a perfect job of
handling this day which was different to any other, because of what
After qualifying, we knew Rubens would have to make his way through the
field and despite having a very competitive car, it was hard for him to
He fought for around half the race, making up several places before
retiring with broken front suspension, following a collision with Coulthard.
We were targeting the win here and we are happy to have succeeded. We were
keen to do so for a variety of reasons, first of all because this is the home
race for Bridgestone, a partner that plays a fundamental role in our success.
It is good to see that our will to win is as strong as ever, even though we
have hit all the targets we set ourselves quite a while ago and our team has
set so many new records. Now we want to end the season on a high what has been
the longest season in the history of Formula 1 with another win in Brazil."
Ross Brawn: “After China, Michael was determined to do well again
and today, we saw him at his best. Everything worked very well and I must
congratulate the whole team for putting the car together in a way that was
pretty much spot-on for the race, with very little prior practice. Once we saw
the others' pit stop strategies, it was just a case of controlling the race.
Tyre choice was the proverbial educated guess and I don't know if it was the
best choice, but the tyres were excellent, consistent and also quick on the
first lap. They worked well with our aggressive strategy. We are so pleased to
have won the race in Japan with Bridgestone, at their home grand prix. Rubens
was having a good race, driving really quickly and his car was going well, so
it was just a shame that he collided with Coulthard, but he had no option but
to push hard.”
"This was a historic day for Formula 1, taking pole and the win on the
same day. It was certainly exciting, but I think I prefer the old system! This
one is quite stressful for the engineers and mechanics. We wanted to do well
for Bridgestone in their home race to thank them for all their efforts.
The fact that I did not do well in China, certainly helped my qualifying in
terms of when I made my run in pre-qualifying. It was clear to us that we
would have a strong race pace, but after the start, I had Ralf in my mirrors
for quite a while and the gap between us was not growing as quickly as I had
expected and he was certainly hanging on.
Because there had been no running yesterday, it was hard to understand what
the other teams' race strategies would be and before the race, I was concerned
about this. But in the end, it all worked out fine and I had a trouble free
"I was certainly penalised in qualifying by being first out in the wet
pre-qualifying. It was a shame about the incident with Coulthard. I think I
caught him by surprise, he didn't see me, closed the door and we touched. It
was a racing incident. I was having a great race, the car was very good and I
was doing excellent lap times. In the early stages, I got stuck behind Montoya
and Trulli, but then I was able to push very hard. The set-up was really good
and the team did a fantastic job of finding the right solution in a rush. Now,
I head for Brazil, thinking only of the way things went in Monza and China."
Back to Top
Williams ( Ralf Schumacher - 2nd, Juan Pablo Montoya -
Sam Michael: "Today we achieved a good result with regards to
the FW26 performance and constructors' points. Ralf drove a fantastic race,
typical text book style. The fast work of the pit crew at the stops was
fundamental to get Ralf's result, to help him avoid traffic. Juan did a good
job to come from where he qualified helped by some aggressive overtaking. Both
cars were well balanced for the race, which is interesting after the little
time we had to look after the set-up. We had no mechanical problems."
Mario Theissen: "Considering the difficult circumstances of
this year's Japanese Grand Prix, it has been a very successful weekend for our
team. Ralf demonstrated excellent performance in the qualifying and in the
race. After he had quite a hard time he achieved a podium again.
This means fresh motivation for the entire team after a difficult season.
Today's positive result was completed by the fact that Juan Pablo managed to
grasp two points after having started 13th. Furthermore regarding the engines
everything ran according to plan."
Ralf Schumacher: "The start went ok and I was surprised I was
able to follow Michael. I pitted four laps earlier than he did, so he was
obviously heavier. But after the pit stop I got stuck in traffic and when you
are fighting at the back it is always difficult. Our car was good today.
We chose the right strategy and the result speaks for itself. We had a good
overall weekend considering the good starting position I achieved. We also
widened the gap to McLaren which is important. Now I am happy to go back home
and celebrate with my family."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "My starting position compromised my race
today. I got stuck in traffic and I was losing between one and two seconds
every lap. The best I could do in that situation was collect some points, and
that is what I managed to do. I can only hope my poor position today will
maybe give me an advantage so as to get into a good qualifying position at the
next race, as Ralf had here."
Back to Top
BAR ( Jenson Button - 3rd, Takuma Sato - 4th )
Qualifying: "I'm very pleased with the performance of both drivers in
very difficult circumstances. We are now well-placed to consolidate our
Championship position and achieve our objective of a strong points finish for
both cars this afternoon."
Race: "3rd and 4th is an excellent result; giving us our 11th podium
of the season, and for the second race in a row, B*A*R is the top scoring
team. This really shows how consistently the combined efforts of B*A*R, Honda
and Michelin are delivering, and gives us a tremendous foundation on which to
build for next year. Taku is achieving very solid results, and despite the
pressure of his home Grand Prix, he kept it all together and drove a faultless
The fact that Jenson was two-stopping really underlined the strength of his
fifth place on the grid, and he did well to keep up the pace on heavy fuel. In
the end we still have a lot of work to do to take the race to Ferrari, but we
are on the right track."
Race: "A tenth podium for Jenson, and Taku's best-ever Suzuka finish is a
pleasing result. Both drivers coped really well with qualifying on a drying
track and drove very solid races. If I'm being greedy, I'd say it's a shame
Taku couldn't join Jenson on the podium at his home race. We'll be aiming to
round off the season with a strong performance at Interlagos!"
Qualifying: "Given the circumstances with the track drying through both
sessions we had very good qualifying sessions this morning. The track was
completely wet for first qualifying but drying throughout so that Jenson and
Takuma did well to pre-qualify in the top ten. The second session was only
just dry enough for dry tyres to start but improved rapidly. There were still
tricky damp patches when Takuma and Jenson ran but they were only
out-qualified by drivers that ran after them. This qualifying puts us in a
good position for the race and to defend our 2nd place advantage in the
Race: "In the last three races B*A*R has scored 33 points with
another two-car finish and its 11th podium place at this important 'home'
race We ran different race strategies with the two drivers and in the end
Takuma was not quite able to make the small advantage of the three-stop
It was difficult to find a good race set-up without any dry-running and
this showed up with both drivers finding the car balance poor and low grip
throughout the race. We have recently been working on improving our starts
and this start showed the benefits with Takuma jumping Webber and Jenson
beating them both. After the first few laps running just in front of
Takuma, Jenson let him pass to allow them both to run at their own
After that both drivers' races went much to plan. We were not quite quick
enough to get ahead of Ralf Schumacher at the second stop and were helped
by the collision between Coulthard and Barrichello, but were able to keep
ahead of the Renaults throughout most of the race. This is just the result
the team needed for the Constructors' Championship 2nd-place battle,
allowing us to go to the last race with a 16-point advantage."
Qualifying: "It wasn't a bad lap considering the difficult
conditions. Much of the circuit is dry but there are some parts that are
still very wet and it is very difficult to see them. It's not just a
slight loss of grip either; it's big oversteer as I demonstrated in the
chicane on my timed lap. I'm happy to be a second ahead of the McLarens
though and of course both Taku and myself are ahead of both Renaults which
is a good place to start fighting to retain second position in the
Race: "Achieving another podium is a fantastic result here as we
celebrate B*A*R's 100th Grand Prix and in the 40th year since Honda's F1
debut, so I'm very happy. It's also a great team result, with Taku
finishing 4th and our combined result enabling us to pull even further
ahead of Renault. The car was very difficult to drive at first because
with a two-stop strategy I was very heavy on fuel.
As we got further into the race though, the car felt great and, once
again, two-stopping really paid off for me. I think the last few races
have demonstrated a great team effort by B*A*R, with Takuma and I
achieving exactly the results we needed to beat Renault. The whole team
should be very proud of that. There is still one race remaining though and
although Renault will have a very very tough job on their hands to beat
us, we'll wait until Brazil before celebrating what has been a pretty
amazing year for B*A*R."
Qualifying: "The conditions were very tricky but I'm pleased with my
lap under the circumstances. The track has continued to get drier and
faster with each car running, so I think the conditions will be good for
the start of the race. The cancellation of yesterday's running was
disappointing for the fans here, so I very much hope we can make up for
that with a strong race this afternoon."
Race: "It was great that we managed to have a race this afternoon
after yesterday's cancellation, although it was extremely difficult to
work out the set-up as we were not able to practice on a dry track. That's
why we ran two different strategies to enable us to cope with the widest
range of possibilities. As it turned out, I was not able to get the result
that I wanted and be on the podium, but at the end of the day, it was a
great result for the team and really helps us to secure 2nd in the
I felt so much support from my home fans; they were fantastic and really
motivated me during the race. We have one more race left in Brazil and I
will be doing my best to have another strong race performance there."
Back to Top
( Fernando Alonso - 5th, Jacques Villeneuve - 10th )
Flavio Briatore: "Overall, this was a disappointing result
after a difficult weekend for everybody. I think Fernando did the maximum
today but the car was not quick enough to allow him to fight the cars in
front. Looking to Brazil, it is hard to remain hopeful about our championship
chances but as long as we have a possibility of re-gaining second position,
then we will be motivated to try and seize it."
Pat Symonds: "It
was a very different day to normal and we had to choose strategies and tyres
with a minimum of information, but of course everybody found themselves in the
same situation. Fernando drove a strong race and had he not lost time early in
his third stint, he might have been able to beat Sato. Jacques struggled with
significant amounts of understeer, owing to the lack of time we had to set up
the car, and that penalised him in the race."
Fernando Alonso: "It was a good performance in the race
today. Qualifying didn't really favour us today: I suppose that sometimes
we get lucky with the conditions, like we did in Spa, and sometimes not.
From eleventh position, the only thing to do was to go maximum attack.
Unfortunately, when you start back in the field, you never have a clear
track in the early laps - and it was only at the end of my first stint
that I could run at my true pace. That meant I was no longer able to fight
for the podium. I think I did the best I could have done today but
unfortunately, the points I scored will be more useful in the drivers'
championship than the constructors."
Jacques Villeneuve: "When the race started, we quickly
found that the set-up was not ideal for the dry conditions. The car was
understeering a lot, so we added front downforce at both pit-stops, but I
could not increase my pace in the final stint. It's a disappointing
result, especially as our main rivals scored points with both cars this
Back to Top
( Kimi Raikkonen - 6th, David Coulthard - Retired )
"The finishing positions of the race pretty much reflected
qualifying, which unusually took place on a Sunday morning on a drying
circuit. David was lying fifth until the collision with Rubens. Kimi's sixth
place from 12th on the grid was the result of the team's strategy which served
both drivers well. We now all look forward to the final round of the 2004
World Championship in Brazil."
"Not the result that we had hoped for but coming from grid positions
eight and 12th your chances are limited. Unfortunately there was a
misunderstanding between David and Rubens which cost David a good points
scoring position because he was able to keep up with Takuma Sato and Jenson
Button. Considering his grid position Kimi did a good job finishing sixth. We
now look forward to the last race in Sao Paolo where we want to finish the
season on a high."
"A fairly uneventful race for me. I was struggling with the car and
from 12th it's fairly limited what you can do. I didn't make a brilliant
start, but I gained one place and that was really it. I had an incident
with one of the Jordan cars when I was trying to lap it towards the end of
the race at turn nine. Basically I was on the inside and he just turned in
on me. He hit me quite hard and damaged my steering a bit, so I was
struggling to keep the car on the road. A race to forget to be honest but
bring on Brazil."
"It goes without saying that I'm really disappointed with the end to
my Japanese Grand Prix. We were looking to score points but unfortunately
on lap 38 I had a coming together with Rubens at the Chicane whilst he was
trying to pass me. I don't think anybody is to blame; it's just one of
those things which happen when you are battling for positions. The
incident broke the front right hand suspension and that was it, but it was
a good race until then. I gained a place at the start but got stuck behind
Webber, however when I finally got past I was immediately able to speed
up. It was a shame for things to end this way ? it would have been nice to
have scored five points or even more."
Back to Top
( Giancarlo Fisichella - 8th, Felipe Massa - 9th )
Peter Sauber: "Apart from the extra point we scored, the
highlight of today's race was the performance of Giancarlo and Felipe.
Giancarlo proved his complete professionalism by recovering strongly from
his moment and pushing hard all the way, while Felipe's drive demonstrated
once more his great fighting spirit. Together, they proved that overtaking
is possible in Formula One. My compliments to the team, who once again
underlined the reliability and speed of the Sauber Petronas C23."
"For me it was an excellent race. The car was really good, and my
only problem came on lap 16 when I ran off the road briefly in the Spoon
Curve. There was a sensor problem with the fuel alarm and I was just
radioing the pits for a report; unfortunately I left my braking a little
bit too late as I lost concentration, but I recovered quite well. The best
I could have hoped for without that was seventh, so I'm happy. It was
great to push hard all the way and do lots of overtaking. A point today
was our target, and we achieved that."
"I wasn't very happy with myself after my mistake in qualifying, but
I think I made up for that in the race today! It was fantastic! I really
enjoyed myself. I was able to push hard right from the start and I did a lot
of overtaking. I pulled some really good moves, so it was really, really
Back to Top
Toyota ( Jarno Trulli - 11th, Olivier
Panis - 14th )
Tsutomu Tomita: "I think it was always going to be a
difficult race for us today. Both drivers did a good job in qualifying
this morning to put both cars in the top ten. In the race, Olivier did not
have a good start and then struggled on the softer compound Michelin tyre
for the whole race. Jarno, on the harder compound, fought very strongly
and was racing near the front for some time. Unfortunately, he also had
difficulty with tyre degradation and ended up in 11th place at the
Overall, I am impressed with how easily Jarno has settled into Toyota. It
was a hard race debut for him, but I think we have worked well together as
a team. I would like to thank all the Toyota fans and employees who turned
up to support us this weekend in our 50th grand prix. Their level of
enthusiasm is highly appreciated as we look to great achievements in the
future. On behalf of the whole team, I also thank Olivier for his
contribution over the last two seasons. We are all looking forward to
working with him for the next two years."
Qualifying: "Sixth place on my Toyota race debut is quite a
satisfying result. It has been a tough weekend with the wet weather on
Friday, then the typhoon warning on Saturday and now a drying track for
qualifying. We had a bit of luck in pre-qualifying when I set the fastest
time, but I expected a slightly better result in the second session.
However, sixth place on the grid is not too bad, especially as I think we
might struggle a bit in the race."
Race: "I do not think that we could have achieved anything better
today. After a good qualifying, which put me sixth on the grid, I got a good
start and was up to fifth place at the end of the first lap. Unfortunately,
during the race, there was a big tyre drop-off, which compromised the car
balance and grip levels and made it a tough afternoon for me. However, there
are only positives to take away from this weekend; it was my race debut for
Panasonic Toyota Racing and I gathered a lot of valuable experience, which was
my priority here in Suzuka this weekend."
Qualifying: "The track conditions were quite difficult after all
the rain that we have had this weekend. We were lucky to go out late in
both qualifying sessions because the track was always drying out, so we
benefited from improving conditions. This Japanese GP is important for
Toyota as our home grand prix and we have a lot of support from the many
fans in the grandstands, so to have both cars in the top ten is very
Race: "Although I am not satisfied with the result, we did our best in
today's race. We took a risk with the tyre choice after the bad weather
restricted our running on Friday, but I had a lot of graining this afternoon
and I simply could not push. I am very happy that I could complete my last F1
race in front of all the Japanese fans. To stop racing after eleven years is a
special moment. I would like to thank everyone in Panasonic Toyota Racing for
two enjoyable years, all the support and for the F1 car that has been
generously given to me as a gift. Although I have stopped racing, this is not
the end because I have signed a two year contract as third driver. Now we have
to continue the challenge."
Back to Top
( Christian Klien - 12th, Mark Webber - Retired )
Dr. Mark Gillan:
Qualifying: "Despite a lack of preparation time on track the team has
done an excellent job today in delivering two strong cars and qualifying in
good points contending positions. Mark drove two very clean qualifying laps
which saw him secure a well-deserved third place on the grid and Christian who
has only ever completed twelve laps in total here finished fourteenth. All in
all, I am very pleased with our performance so far and we are now focusing on
the race with the aim of delivering some more Championship points."
Race: "Mark's start was not good and he lost three places by the first
corner. He then started to fight back and was being held up by Jarno Trulli.
On lap seven he mentioned the increase in temperature in his cockpit area and
when he first pitted we tried to sort it. A forced pit stop later to further
investigate the problem and it was clear that the heat was only getting worse.
Eventually on lap twenty-one he had to stop racing due to the dangerous
conditions being generated by the heat.
This is of course frustrating for us all, but the pace of the car was
excellent this morning and given the lap numbers when other teams carried out
their first-stop you know that his pace in qualifying was impressive.
Christian did a good job today since he has had no dry practice on this
circuit and actually only twelve laps in total before the race. He brought the
car home and drove solidly. It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride of
emotions today but we know what we are capable of and we will travel to Brazil
focused on the task ahead and upbeat about our potential as a team."
Qualifying: "It's been a good start to the day for us here in Suzuka. We
would have liked to have had more time to prepare the cars for today but as it
has turned out I am really pleased to be in 3rd position for the start of the
race. My first qualifying session made it possible for me to go out much later
in the second session, which has helped us. The boys have done a great job
preparing the car given the little amount of track time we have had and our
third position is a good morale booster. I am really looking forward to the
race and although it is a long race I will be doing everything I can to finish
in a points scoring position."
Race: "Starting from third position on the grid today was a good
result after all the hard work that has been carried out at Jaguar Racing
during this season. The team did an excellent job in preparing the car for
this weekend, despite the lack of practice that we experienced in the run up
Unfortunately my start was not as good as I would have liked and I lost three
places. Then I was being held up by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli so that was
frustrating for us. It was then on lap seven that I noticed that the cockpit
was becoming increasingly hot and in particular my right-hand side. I pitted
as planned on lap eleven and the team tried to cool me down and solve the
problem. We could not find the cause for the heat and so I carried on in the
hope that it would cool down or at least remain static. It didn't and the heat
soon became excruciatingly hot and I had no option but to retire.
You need to be completed focused on the race and when the temperature is so
high that you are being physically affected and thus distracted then you need
to take the decision to stop. I am of course disappointed that I could not
have continued with the race and finished in the points. We enjoyed a good
morning today and I hope that by securing third in qualifying goes some way to
rewarding the team for their unwavering commitment and in addition highlights
the pace and future potential of our car."
Qualifying: "Before today's qualifying I had only managed to complete
nine fast laps and those were in extreme wet conditions. I knew the guys were
going to prepare the car as best they could so it was up to me to give it my
best shot in qualifying. The track was drying up this morning and this has
made conditions easier to drive in. My first qualifying was ok but I am
pleased with my second session when I finished fourteenth. The circuit is not
easy to drive and I think that this afternoon is going to be
Race: "My start was ok today and I did my best to maintain my position
although with a Ferrari behind me this was not do-able. I was also in an
unfortunate position in that I had not had any dry practice on this track and
so the race was really my first opportunity to learn the track. As the race
progressed I became more comfortable with the track and the car and although
we had not had any time to set-up the car the balance was ok.
The circuit is incredibly challenging on the car and driver and I was pleased
that my race went smoothly and I was able to finish. It's disappointing for us
not to have scored points but the pace of the car was really good and I am now
really looking forward to the race in Brazil."
Back to Top
Jordan ( Nick Heidfeld - 13th, Timo Glock -
James Robinson: "It was a hard race and we had a number of
technical problems. We had to limit Timo's performance because of an
engine problem, which was unfortunate, and although Nick had a good hard
race, from where we qualified it was tough to make any impression. It was
a challenging day for Timo but given his first lap around here in the dry
was lap one of the race today, we feel he came through okay. We are all
looking forward now to the last race in Brazil."
"I got a good start and gained a position or two. For the first part
of the race I had quite a loose rear and we made some adjustments at the
first pit stop, which certainly helped. I had one or two small electronic
issues, maybe something on the gearbox as on one of the pit stops I
couldn't get into neutral. Also at one point suddenly the pit lane speed
limiter was on while I was on the circuit and I lost a couple of seconds
there. Otherwise, I think in the circumstances, given that we did not have
a lot of time to practice here, I'm happy with our starting set-up and
what we achieved in the race."
Timo Glock: "My start and first couple of laps were not too
bad but overall it was difficult today. The car set-up was not that good
and I had everything: oversteering, understeering, changes in the pit
stops didn't seem to help much and the car didn't feel easy to drive. I
had big problems and couldn't find a rhythm. Added to that I had gear
problems and a crash with Kimi Raikkonen that I didn't see coming all in
all it was a bad race for me."
Back to Top
( Gianmaria Bruni - 16th, Zsolt
Baumgartner - Retired )
Paul Stoddart: "In what proved to be a difficult weekend
for Minardi, it was satisfying at least to get one car home, with Gimmi taking
the chequered flag. Both drivers drove solid races, although Zsolt
unfortunately spun off just after making his final pit stop of the afternoon
and failed to finish."
Bruni: "It turned out to be quite an uneventful race, but it was
good to finish here at Suzuka, as that is always the first ambition of the
team. We struggled with the package we have, though, and in particular today
with oversteer, but I'm looking forward to Brazil now and hoping to get
another solid finish there."
Zsolt Baumgartner: "Overall, it was not my weekend here at
Suzuka, although my pace in the race wasn't too bad, especially considering I
had never driven in the dry here before. I like high-speed circuits, which is
probably why I got used to this one quite quickly. Unfortunately, I made a
mistake while pushing really hard after my final stop and went off the track.
I'm upset not to have finished, particularly for the guys, as I caused them
quite a lot of work this weekend. I'd like to thank them for their efforts."
Back to Top
Sunday Notes - Michelin
Back to Top