JAPANESE GP - SUNDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (1st): "This win is a surprise for us all, a beautiful surprise. After qualifying, Ferrari seemed to be a long way in front, but as soon as we started racing today, I could feel that the car was well-balanced, and that we had the same speed as Ferrari. I took a risk to pass Jarno at the start, because it was the only chance, and then later in the stint I could see Ralf was having problems - and I got a run on him into turn 1. After the second stops, I still thought I could win, because the gap to Michael was only five seconds, so why not? Then I saw the smoke coming into turn 8, and I was watching the asphalt for oil. I thought it was a Spyker in front of me, and only when I went past did I realise it was Michael. After that, we turned the engine down, and just took things carefully to the finish. This win means a lot to the Renault team, and we have deserved it, and been waiting for it, ever since Hungary. The guys at the track, at the factories in Viry and Enstone, and at Michelin, have never given up all season. Now we feel confident for Brazil - but we are taking nothing for granted. The races are long, and you have to get everything right to make sure you finish in front.We have a good situation for the championship, but we will be racing the same way at Interlagos, to win."
Giancarlo Fisichella (3rd): "This was a great result for me, for Fernando and for the whole team. But psychologically, this has been a hard weekend for me. My best friend ever Tonino (Visciani) died last Thursday, and it hasn't been easy for me. I just want to dedicate this podium to him, and to say 'ciao'. In terms of the race, the car was not bad and we had a good strategy, because I was able to pass the Toyotas at the stops. The Michelin tyres worked perfectly as well, and we had the pace all the way through the race. Now, we need to go to Brazil and be aggressive. The team is determined to win the constructors' championship, and I want to make sure I get third in the drivers' championship. So we will be aggressive, be focused, and try to win."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "This 2006 world championship is building up to be even more exciting than anybody had imagined! I am sure that last week in China, on Saturday evening, Ferrari were wondering how ever they could win. A similar thing was true of our team yesterday. But this season is throwing up surprises week after week, and we now go to Brazil with a statistically improved situation and, more importantly, the full belief we can win again. Fernando and Giancarlo managed their races perfectly today, and the Michelin tyres came good at the right time. We said yesterday that qualifying was only a means to an end and, when it counted in this afternoon's race, the tyres were perfect. This is not just a win for 80 people here at the track, but 800 in Enstone and Viry - and for Michelin's employees as well in Clermont-Ferrand. Everybody has worked incredibly hard over the past months, and it only makes this win all the sweeter."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I want to say thank you to our team for this result. We have had some difficult weeks, losing races we should have won, but we stayed together, stayed close and stayed focused. This is a success for everybody to enjoy. Fernando did an incredible job, Fisico was perfect and made his strategy work for him, and the pit-stops were faultless. We will enjoy our victory this evening, but we haven't finished the job yet. That will be our sole focus for Brazil."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th): "That was a good result for where we started the race, but it is not really enough to be fighting for fifth place, and not what we wanted out of the weekend. The car felt a lot better today especially in the long runs, but our race was lost in qualifying yesterday where we just couldn't get the speed out of the car that was possible."
Pedro de la Rosa (11th): "That was really a difficult race for me today. Starting from 13th on the grid it was always going to be tough to move through the field, as everyone around me was on very similar strategies. I really struggled to get any pace out of the car as my tyres just had no grip. This weekend could have been a lot better if we had been on different tyres."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A tremendous race by Kimi, fifth place was the best he could do under the circumstances. Our race pace was not so bad and would have been even better with the right tyre choice. With that in mind we are looking forward to Brazil where we expect to be more competitive. Pedro drove a solid race. However coming from this low grid position it was difficult for him to improve further through the field."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The race speed was better than qualifying had indicated. This was shown by Kimi's fourth fastest lap of the race. However more than fifth place was not really possible, taking into account that he came from 11th on the grid and we probably didn't take the optimum tyre choice. We now focus all our work on being more competitive in the final race at Brazil."
Felipe Massa (2nd): "What happened to Michael when he was leading is a great shame. I also had a problem in the first stint, with a puncture in my right rear wheel, which had led to a slow but gradual loss of air. As a precaution, the team brought me in for my pit stop three laps earlier than planned. I went out on track behind a slower car and that cost me my chances of staying ahead of Alonso and, as things turned out, of winning the race. We can still win the Constructors' title, even if we know it is very difficult. For my home race in Brazil, I will give it my all to achieve that."
Michael Schumacher (DNF, Engine): "We are a great team. Our guys are the best and I have a great affection for everyone at Ferrari and am always more than satisfied in the way we work. Incidents like today's can happen and they are part of racing. You win together but you also lose together. Today we did our best, I was leading the race and then my engine broke. That's the simplest way to sum it up. That is Formula 1. We can be proud of what we have achieved since Canada: we were twenty five points behind and no one could have thought we would be back in the fight for the championship, but we did it. Now we are nine points behind in the Constructors' classification and we will do all we can to win this title in Brazil. As for the Drivers,' it is lost. I don't want to head off for a race, hoping that my rival has to retire. That is not the way in which I want to win the title."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "A feeling of huge disappointment today. We had within our grasp the possibility of turning up in Brazil with everything lined up to win both championships, having had Michael leading and Felipe third for around half the race. However, the situation was completely turned on its head and compromised our position. We are well aware that the basis of all success in Formula 1 is reliability and today we were lacking in that respect and hence we have paid a very high price. The drivers and the team did a very good job, as did Bridgestone. We must congratulate our closest rivals who have now staked a claim on both Championships. There is one race to go which will carry a special symbolism as it will be Michael's last one. As we have done for years now, we will put all our heart and soul into getting the best possible result. Today, however, we have a really bitter taste in our mouths."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We are disappointed, very disappointed. It was a very hard race, but Michael was controlling the situation until his engine problem from which there was no escape. A puncture in the first part of the race compromised Felipe's chances of staying ahead of Alonso, as we had to bring him in early as a precaution, thus altering his strategy. The weekend had got off in the most promising way but finished in bitter disappointment for us. It's true that our chances of final victory are very slim, but there is still one race to go and we will do our utmost to end this year in the best way possible."
Jarno Trulli (6th): "Three points is not a bad result at the Japanese Grand Prix, but we thought we would do better today. I made a good start but I was boxed in going into the first corner and when I tried to go around the outside I lost a place. Early on the car felt good and I was easily able to stay with the leading cars. After the pit stop I was able to put in a quick lap on new tyres and I gained a place. Unfortunately it turned into a hard race for me after the second stop. Our strategy was pretty good, but I had several problems and struggled with my last set of tyres, especially on the first ten laps. We need to analyse what was different to yesterday, but the conditions were a bit cooler today and so that maybe affected our tyre performance. My pace improved after that but by then I was in traffic and it was difficult to pull away. So we could have had more but the important thing is that we both scored points for the constructors' championship."
Ralf Schumacher (7th): "I'm glad that we have come away with a total of five points for the team but we could have achieved more today. We made a strong start and I held third position into the first corner. In fact the car felt good early on and we were able to keep up with the pace of the front-runners until the first stop. Jarno managed to get ahead of me on his new tyres and from then on I spent most of the day following him around the track. After the second pit stop he was slower than me. I tried to overtake but decided that it was too dangerous and too much of a risk with points at stake. Still, given our difficult weekends at the last two races I think we can be pleased with what we have achieved today."
Tsutomu Tomita, Team Principal: "That was an exhausting race and we are hugely disappointed because our target was to finish on the podium today. Yesterday's qualifying gave us fantastic grid positions and the dry conditions were perfect. We made good starts and although Jarno lost a place after Alonso's brave move we were able to keep up with the pace of the leaders during the first stint. Our first pit stop came just one or two laps before most of the other cars so our strategy was right again. Jarno was able to get ahead of Ralf on new tyres at the first pit stop but our pace was still strong in the second stint. At that stage a podium was still realistic, particularly given Michael's later problem. Unfortunately after the second pit stop Jarno suffered a problem that we will now have to investigate, which meant that he was slower for the next ten laps. He also held up Ralf, who was quicker at that stage, so that a few cars who should have stayed behind us were able to pass us. That's how we were in 6th and 7th at the finish. Today again shows that our car is still just short of the very top cars, but we were happy to have fought well in clear conditions without the safety car. We had a lot of support today so we would like to express our gratitude to all our fans, sponsors, TMC, distributors, partners and our subsidiary companies. A big thank you to all of them and we're sorry that we did not come away with more today."
Nico Rosberg (10th): "Unusually, we didn't have the best start. I don't know why, but it meant I lost one place in the first couple of laps and then I had a bit of a struggle passing Barrichello, who had a problem with his front wing. I had to go around the outside, which wasn't ideal, and I made a little mistake and lost another place to Kubica, whom I had just passed. Also, the conditions were not perfect for our tyre today, especially in the last stint when the temperatures dropped. I think the maximum result achievable would have been a ninth place. It was not a bad weekend for me because it's my first time at Suzuka, which is one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar. It was also the second race in a row that I have finished, which is good as it gives me more race experience."
Mark Webber (DNF, Accident): "I was struggling for balance at that chicane all day really. When we put fresh boots on after the first stop, I had massive power understeer. I had no front grip and the car then went just two inches onto the grass and I couldn't bring it back. It's a shame. There's only one race to go now so I hope we will have a good finish in Brazil."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "After the start, we lost a couple of positions with Nico and struggled to make them up. There were no problems with any of the systems on the cars; we just need to go faster. Mark spun out at the last corner, on lap 40, so we will now investigate why that happened. Nico drove a solid race to finish tenth. We'll now return to the factory, analyse the data and head to Brazil for the final race of the season with expectations for a stronger finish."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "No engine problems in Suzuka in terms of reliability or engine performance. Mark will therefore get a fresh engine for an emotional final race in Brazil. As Mark's engine will then only need to complete one race distance, Cosworth will pull out all the stops for what is potentially our last race in Formula One."
Jenson Button (4th): "I'm reasonably pleased with 4th place here today. We had a solid race and I think we did the best job possible given the fight going on for the Championship. We started a little better and I overtook a Renault off the line. The tyres came good and we were able to get past the Toyotas. Again, the team did an amazing job in the pitstops; we've been right up there since Hockenheim. We just haven't quite got enough to beat the two Championship contenders right now, but we will get there, trust me! I'm very sad that we won't be coming back to Suzuka next season because this feels like a home Grand Prix for me. For now though, it's nice to get another 4th place and pick up five more points for myself and the team."
Rubens Barrichello (12th): "It was very unfortunate that I had another coming together with Heidfeld. He closed the door really fast and I had nowhere else to go so I locked wheels and tapped him. Sadly, I damaged the front wing. After that I was very fast but this is Suzuka where it's very difficult to overtake. A disappointing result for me in front of our home crowd but I still have my own home race in Brazil to look forward to and hopefully we can do better there and end the season on a high."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Jenson made a good start and gained one position before the first corner. Subsequently, when we saw some of our competitors stop early, we fuelled Jenson relatively long in the middle stint to beat them on both speed and strategy, which was very satisfying. Jenson drove a customary hard-charging and faultless race and once again extracted the best from the car. Unfortunately, Rubens damaged his front wing in the first corner and was playing catch-up from then on. We leave Suzuka happy to be in the points once again but also sad that we will not be returning next season to a track that has brought so much joy and many exciting moments over the years. Sadly, we have just one more stop before the end of the season. We have enjoyed the challenge so much this year that I wish we could just keep going."
Robert Doornbos (13th): "It ended up being quite lonely on the race track this afternoon. I had a very poor start, I don't know why, I think maybe there was a problem with the clutch, which meant I couldn't defend my position as I pulled away. But, after that it was good to overtake the guys again and get the positions back. I was behind Tonio (Liuzzi) and David (Coulthard) for quite a long while. Tonio lost a little time, I don't know why, and David unfortunately stopped so I was out on my own in thirteenth towards the end of the race."
David Coulthard (DNF, Gearbox): "I had to retire my car when it lost fourth gear. We were racing the Spyker team for much of the race and it was clear we were quicker in some areas, but slower in others. After Tonio (Liuzzi) spun, I got stuck behind Scot Speed's car who was running a little slower than me, that held me up a bit, but other than that I was just trying to run my race."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Starting from where we did on the grid it was always going to be a tough race today, but both drivers showed reasonable pace. The strategy we adopted moved them forward, although shortening the strategy to benefit from new tyres bought them out in a bit of traffic, which wasn't ideal. The pace of our cars looked more respectable today than it did yesterday and, although it was disappointing to suffer a gearbox failure on David's car, Robert drove a sensible race."
Nick Heidfeld (8th): "My race was good and relatively unspectacular. At the start I gained one position and moved to eighth. The car was good, but I had trouble with the tyres. In all three stints I had graining on both the front and rear tyres. I have been on the softer compound, which was certainly the worse choice for the race. However, the decision had not been easy as, due to the weather conditions on Friday, we were not able to compare the compounds on long runs."
Robert Kubica (9th): "It was a good race and I was happy with my pace. But from the beginning I struggled with grip, as I already had an oversteering car from yesterday. I also made a mistake, which lost me about ten seconds, because following cars here in Suzuka is not easy, especially in the quick corners. I perhaps risked too much, but I was able to come back and at the end finish very close to Nick."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Today's race result was not a surprise after yesterday's qualifying. In view of our grid positions we only could expect to just make it into the points. Nick managed this and scored an important point, which has allowed us to defend fifth position in the constructors' championship. Today we have not been as quick as in the recent races, but it was another weekend without technical problems."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "After yesterday's qualifying and, considering the performance all weekend of the Bridgestone teams, we couldn't expect a better result. At least we scored a point, but have not been as strong as in the last races. The positive thing is we approach the season's finale in Brazil fifth in the championship after a trouble free weekend here."
Tiago Monteiro (16th): "Overall I think we had a decent race, the first stint was very good considering we were carrying a lot of fuel. I was able to fight with the Toro Rosso and Red Bull cars after passing Sato and Yamamoto very quickly. I followed the rhythm of the people in front very closely, knowing I had more fuel onboard. We were the last to stop but during the second stint we had some tyre issues which made the car difficult to drive. The times dropped off and although we were good towards the end of the race we need to analyse what caused this. We brought the car home which is always good and it's nice to be back finishing races again."
Christijan Albers (DNF, Driveshaft/Damage): "After the start we had some problems but we still managed to be competitive with the Red Bull cars. They were holding me up a little in the corners but then their top speed meant they were able to pull away on the straights. I think it was a shame for all the guys as we worked hard this weekend. The team will investigate what happened to cause my retirement and we will see what we can achieve in Brazil."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "We had high hopes for this race as once again we looked competitive with our rivals throughout the weekend. Christijan was unlucky to suffer his mechanical failure as he looked as though he had out-run his rivals approaching the first stop. Tiago drove well to finish the race as I know he had balance and tyre issues. We now head for home before looking forward to finishing our season on a high in Brazil."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a very tight race but a disappointing result for us. It was very competitive and until Christijan went out with a mechanical failure we were pushing our rivals, as we had done all weekend. We will investigate what took place and make adjustments to avoid this happening again. Tiago was on a good race strategy with a long first stint but he struggled with car balance in the middle of the race. This meant he lost a lot of time and prevented him making much of an impact towards the end."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (14th): "It was a very difficult race and it started with a collision with Mark which I think affected the handling of the car for at least the first five or six laps until I got used to it. I also had some graining on the tyres at the beginning, which caused me to spin. After that, I was struggling a bit with set up, but as we were far away from getting any points, it did not make much difference."
Scott Speed (18th): "I've had great starts all season and this was another really good one. I was battling around the outside of Tonio but I didn't want to crash into my team-mate, so I gave up fighting for that particular position. I had a strong first stint managing to keep David behind me, but we lost out to them in the pit stops when they came in ahead of us. Then I had a spin because I was pushing probably a bit too hard trying to pass Doornbos. I turned in a bit early and clipped the inside kerb which is hard to see at that corner. I was over aggressive. I pulled into the pits at the end with a power steering failure."
Gerhard Berger, Team Principal: "Unfortunately both our drivers had a spin each! I was expecting a bit more as, after qualifying, there was hope we could do something good. But as is often the case, things turned out differently in the race."
Takuma Sato (15th): "This is an absolutely fantastic result for the team - we could not have asked for anything more. Our performance at the beginning of the weekend was not as it should have been, but I believe that we have done everything that we could for the race. The start was very exciting. I overtook a few cars into turn one, but then I got held up and re-overtaken, but then at the Esses I re-overtook Scott Speed, which was an exciting moment. Unfortunately my pace then was not enough and I was overtaken by Speed again. But after I settled into the race the car worked very well and the Bridgestone tyres gave superb performance, so I was able to run competitively. The boys in the team did a tremendous job - I think that the pitstops were the best we have done all season - very quick and very accurate. And the fans were incredible! We had great support and at the end I could see all of the flags shining through the sunlight. For me, counting down the laps to the last lap at Suzuka is a very special feeling, but also very sad as the race is ending, and especially as this may be our last race here for a while. I think that the team is really satisfied with our two-car finish today."
Sakon Yamamoto (17th): "I really appreciate the support from everyone who has come to the race this weekend. Their support gave me the extra power to finish the race. I would like to thank the team, sponsors and everyone who has supported me through my career. It is a fantastic feeling to finish my home grand prix at the Suzuka Circuit, but on the other hand I am a racer, and I always want to go faster, so I will review my race and prepare myself for the next grand prix in Brazil."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "I would like to say 'thank you' to everybody - my team, the fans, everybody who has been supporting us. It is a great result for us to have a two-car finish here and both drivers have done a great job today. At the moment, however, it is a perfect result for us whilst we are still a small and new team. So I am very happy that we have achieved this result here at Suzuka today, especially as it may be the circuit's last grand prix."