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Japanese GP 2007

SEPTEMBER 30, 2007

Sunday Team Quotes

Heikki Kovalainen, Japanese GP 2007
© The Cahier Archive


Lewis Hamilton (1st): "A very eventful race and I am so happy to have won here at Fuji. There were moments when I thought it would have been better to stop the race; however, when the rain faded a little, conditions improved a bit. I didn't feel too much pressure and think I would have been able to push a bit harder if necessary. I was lucky that nothing serious happened to my car when Robert Kubica hit me. I didn't see him come so the impact caught me by surprise, and I spun. Afterwards I stayed concentrated and focused on keeping the car on the track. I want to say thank you to everybody in the team who have done a great job throughout the weekend. This was an important victory for the championship, but I do not want to think too much about it and will focus hard on the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend."

Fernando Alonso (DNF, Accident): "A difficult race in difficult conditions. After my pit stop I came out into traffic and was fighting for positions in the field. It was very difficult to see anything because of the spray especially when you were coming down the straight. As a result I did not see Vettel in my mirrors and was surprised when he hit me. I think the car was damaged quite a bit by that, but I was able to continue. However when I was braking for Turn Five I just aquaplaned and spun. Unfortunately the walls at that corner are very close to the track, so I hit the barrier heavily, and that was it. Of course, it is a difficult situation for me now in the championship; however, I will keep fighting until the end - as last year's Championship battle showed anything can happen."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "The weather conditions here at Fuji created their own challenges for all the teams throughout the weekend but by staying focused we made sure that both Lewis and Fernando had a chance for victory today. However, unfortunately for Fernando he aquaplaned off the circuit after driving a controlled race in very tricky conditions - particularly after his car was damaged due to a collision with Vettel. Lewis's performance was masterful, and he was in control throughout. The team is now going to focus on the last two races where both Lewis and Fernando have a chance of claiming the title. We will make sure that they both have the opportunity to do so and look forward to an exciting end to the Championship."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "An extremely difficult race in challenging conditions. Lewis showed a first class performance and did not put a foot wrong. He had a handicap and lacked downforce after his car had been hit by Robert Kubica and had been damaged at the rear. Fernando was in a difficult situation fighting in the field after his pit stop, he had aquaplaning, spun and hit the wall - that is a shame but this can happen in conditions like these, and it was not Fernando's fault. The entire team worked really hard throughout the weekend achieving double pole, race win and fastest lap. We now look forward to the remaining races in China and Brazil and stay focused to maintain our 1-2 lead until after the final of the season."


Heikki Kovalainen (2nd): "It has been a rollercoaster year for me, and it was like that again this weekend. We took a risk with the set-up yesterday, hoping for better conditions and when we got up this morning and saw the rain falling, we didn't expect to have a fantastic afternoon. But it just goes to show that no matter how bad you think the situation is, you never give up. The strategy worked perfectly today, and the team deserves at least one podium today! Everybody has asked me about the last few laps with Kimi, but my mirrors had steamed up completely and I couldn't see him. I was watching the pit-board though, and every lap the gap was coming down, so I knew he would try something. He got past me into turn 6 on the final lap, but I wanted P2 so much that I went back round the outside on the way down to turn 10. The car was aquaplaning all over the place, but I kept my foot in and got back ahead, hoping I wouldn't lose the car. It is a fantastic feeling to score my first podium. Now, we need to try and maintain the momentum in Shanghai."

Giancarlo Fisichella (5th): "It was one of the most difficult races I have ever driven, the conditions were just so wet all the way through, and it didn't seem to improve at any point. The main thing today was to keep the car on the track, and to avoid making mistakes. The balance was a bit inconsistent, particularly at low speeds, and it was aquaplaning on the straights as well. I don't think we achieved our potential today, but this was still a strong result in a race where a lot of other cars failed to finish."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "The conditions today were extremely difficult and it was imperative not to make any mistakes. We didn't, and seized the opportunity to score our first podium finish of the year. Heikki put in an extremely assured performance: he was under intense pressure at the end, but showed the right blend of aggression and tenacity to keep Kimi behind. It demonstrated once again what a good racer he is. His first career podium is made all the sweeter by getting both cars in the points for the first time since Silverstone, after Giancarlo drove a solid race to finish fifth. The team did not put a foot wrong all day, and credit goes to every one of them for performing so well in exceptionally tough circumstances."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "At the last wet race in Germany, we didn't make the most of the situation and only scored one point. Today was completely different. The team got everything right, and Heikki did not make a single mistake. We scored twelve points with our twocars, and our rookie drove like a man with a lot more experience. Congratulations to the team: after a difficult season, they deserve this result."


Kimi Raikkonen (3rd): "We raced with virtually zero visibility. The hardest thing to work out was where the other drivers were and what they were doing. My race was ruined by the enforced pit stop on lap three. We had chosen to start on standard rain tyres but we will never know now if this decision would have paid off. Once I was back at the pack we tried our best to move back up. All in all, third place is not a result to complain about. I did a lot of overtaking always in very difficult conditions. Our set up might have been more competitive in the dry, but all the same the car was very quick and I certainly didn't lose any time because of this choice. Clearly the situation in the championship is now much more difficult, but I will still give it my all right to the end of the season as usual."

Felipe Massa (6th): "The result of this race has put an end to my chances of fighting for the title, but over the whole of the championship, I think I have always been competitive. Unfortunately, sometimes the reliability was not there and that cost me valuable points. As for today's race, I knew that, given the championship positions, I could take the risk of running different tyres to our rivals, but it was not the right choice, on top of which there was the decision of the Stewards that we were unaware of and which is nevertheless serious. Then I tried to do my best. I managed to get up to the front places again but I had to pit again because I did not have enough fuel to get to the end. Winning the duel with Kubica on the final lap was the best moment of this race."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The race was held in weather conditions so extreme that the start had to be given behind the safety car and it stayed on track for no less than 19 laps. In light of the weather forecast we had obtained, we chose to start on standard wet tyres but, after a few laps, we were informed of a decision of the stewards that demanded the use of extreme wets. The team had not been informed and only after the race, did we find that an e-mail had been sent to Stefano Domenicali which arrived after the start of the race. We were amazed and had to immediately call in the drivers to the pits to change tyres. From then on, our target was to make up for lost ground in a manner that was somewhat perplexing. After a strong climb up the order both drivers managed to get back into the points, with Kimi ending up on the podium in third place. Clearly, given the result, the situation in the Drivers' Championship is now compromised with only Kimi still in the hunt. It will need a miracle, but what is certain is that we will do our utmost to win the final two races of the season."

Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Our race was ruined by the stop both drivers had to make to switch from standard wets to the extreme ones, which came as a result of a decision of the Stewards of which we were unaware. We had specifically chosen to start on those tyres because the start was behind the safety car and we though that weather would improve. Stuck at the back of the pack, we tried to save what we could from the situation. Both drivers drove a great race in virtually zero visibility, given they were always behind other cars. The cars, despite being set up with a dry weather bias, worked well."


Rubens Barrichello (10th): "I'm obviously disappointed that our strategy did not work out today but to be honest, in my view, the race should have been stopped very early on. The conditions were so difficult and it was impossible to see anything for the entire race. We tried to work the conditions to our advantage but the decisions did not work out today. We will put this race behind us now and focus on next weekend in China."

Jenson Button (11th): "It's hugely frustrating that we weren't able to take advantage of our strong qualifying performance in the race today. The conditions and visibility were so bad that it felt really dangerous out there and it was really difficult to keep the tyres warm enough to be effective. I had already lost my front wing after a coming-together with Heidfeld, then I had an engine sensor problem which put me back in last place. I had to come in to get a new nose and after that it was just a case of trying to stay on the road and pick up positions where possible. All in all it's a real shame as we could have scored some points today but we take some comfort from a good performance yesterday which put a smile on the team's faces."

Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "It is disappointing to end our home race in 10th and 11th positions, especially with Jenson having started from the third row of the grid. His ability to challenge for points was unfortunately lost at turn one when he lost his front wing after a coming together with Heidfeld. The visibility was so poor that you cannot blame either driver for that. Rubens drove a steady race from 17th to 10th, but unfortunately the deployment of the safety cars did not match his fuel strategy. We feel we missed out on an opportunity to score some good points today and that is frustrating."

BMW Sauber

Robert Kubica (7th): "Unfortunately the beginning of the race was very risky and for me the decision to race was a bit too early, as it was difficult to see 50 metres in front. Anyway we had some problems with the water coming into the air filter and into the engine, so I lost a position at the start because I had no power in the engine. With the higher revs it cleaned up and I overtook the two Renaults. I was doing a good pace but unfortunately I touched with Lewis Hamilton, had my pit stop, then a penalty, which I was surprised to get. I was running much quicker than him and in corner 13 or 14 he was doing a completely different line or made a mistake, so he was completely wide. I stayed on the inside, he cut into the apex and I was there and unfortunately we touched. I think it was a race accident. On the re-start after the second safety car I had the misfire problem again with the water so it cost me time again as I had to stay behind Rubens Barrichello. Then the finish was the fight with Felipe Massa, which was a bit risky. He overtook me before corner six, then I overtook him back and then into corner ten if I had turned normally he would have hit me and I preferred to finish the race. He pushed me out, I tried to overtake him on the last corner but he went wide and there was more grip off the track and he won the position. We made a bit of action and in the end we laughed."

Nick Heidfeld (14th): "In my opinion the race should not have been started under these weather conditions. For me it was a very difficult situation when the safety car came in after 19 laps. My radio didn't work and I had a misfire. Because the decision whether the safety car comes in or not is made during a lap, the team couldn't even tell me on the pit board. So I always tried to see the safety-car which wasn't easy. Fortunately I saw when it switched off the lights to come in. Due to the misfire I was only in sixth gear on the straight which means I was relatively slow. That was very dangerous because the drivers behind me could hardly see me. I tried to find a line where I would be as safe as possible. That's why Kimi Raikkonen could pass me on the left hand side. I was just happy we didn't crash. But then Jenson Button crashed into my car and damaged it. First I wanted to pit but then decided I could drive the car somehow. Basically my race was ruined with the accident. In the end I still could have finished 6th, but then my car broke down."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "As is usual with wet races this one was very dramatic and our drivers where not left out of this drama. Nick lost his chance of a good result on the first lap after the Safety Car pulled off due to a collision. Later Robert also had a collision and dropped back due to a drive-through penalty. Both then fought their way back into the points. On the penultimate lap Nick stopped with a technical failure, which we are investigating. It was a race to forget for our team. Congratulation to Lewis Hamilton who seemed to be totally unaffected by what was happening around him on the track, and drove his car home safely. He took a big step in the direction of the championship."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "It was an extremely disappointing race. We lost our good grid positions right after the Safety Car pulled off. Nick was hit off from behind and Robert had to brake because of that. Anyway they both fought back and made up some positions. Just before the end of this spectacular race we were sixth and seventh, but then Nick had to stop because of a technical problem. In the final metres Robert had to let Felipe Massa pass after a hard fight."


Jarno Trulli (13th): "It was a very difficult race from the beginning. Even behind the safety car the conditions were really bad - there was a lot of spray and it was hard to see anything on the straight. Behind the first safety car unfortunately I made a mistake in the hairpin. While I was warming up the tyres I shifted down and this caused a shift down of one gear too much and the car spun. Because of that I lost several positions, then when the safety car came in the race was very wet and visibility was really, really poor. They were difficult conditions and I was suffering with lots of aquaplaning and poor grip. I think it was a tough afternoon for everyone out there and obviously I am disappointed with this result."

Ralf Schumacher (DNF, Tyre): "We've had a tough time all weekend and today that continued. Unfortunately my radio stopped working midway through the race but then with all the rain, water got into our electrics and that forced me to pit again. My crew fixed the problem but we had a puncture so that was that. It wasn't a very enjoyable race because of the rain, which made the track really slippery and meant there was pretty much zero visibility when we were running under safety car at the start. It was a real challenge to drive with all the spray but the conditions improved a bit as the race went on. There's not much more to say about this weekend - I just hope we can get a better result next week in China."

Tadashi Yamashina, Team Principal: "Today it was very difficult for us. Towards the end of the race, on Ralf's car, the main electronics box failed because of water in the cockpit but the team did well to fix the problem so Ralf could continue and race in front of our Japanese fans. Then we found the new set of tyres had a slow puncture, we think this was because of debris. For Jarno, we still have to analyse what happened because obviously the car wasn't competitive. We need to focus our energy on improving mechanical grip and aerodynamics. We must push very hard to make improvements. Our car was not competitive in these conditions but now we will do our best for the Chinese Grand Prix. I would like to say congratulations to Fuji Speedway for hosting this race for the first time in 30 years. The facilities here are excellent and the race was well organised. It is a shame we could not get the result we wanted in this race."

Red Bull-Renault

David Coulthard (4th): "That was very, very difficult. It's a crazy thing to be a racing driver - on the one hand you're scared, but on the other, you're having the time of your life because every moment you're right on the edge, even on the straights. I'm happy to score points, but obviously I'm sorry for the team to lose what looked like some great points with Mark. I'm glad the race is over, but it was a lot of fun out there."

Mark Webber (DNF, Accident): "That was a completely disastrous finish. We were in very, very good shape to challenge Lewis for first today. We were strong and I didn't make any mistakes despite the tricky conditions, cars were aquaplaning and the visibility was very poor. Fernando's crash caused the second safety car stint, which bunched everyone back up again. That wasn't great; I would have liked to have continued to the end of the race. Vettel was a bit wild behind me during the first safety car period and then did a very good job of hitting me very hard under the second safety car. I think today he will have learnt a very valuable lesson."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "In Formula One you face many emotions and today Mark was driving a fantastic race. He had food poisoning this morning, which he was battling with and he even threw up in the car during the initial pace-car period. In true Aussie fashion, he kept pushing and today he was quick enough to win the race. Obviously, it was very disappointing that an incident happened behind the pace car but, on days like today, I guess anything can happen. David used his experience and was competitive throughout the race. It's a shame as fourth would normally be a great result for us, but in today's circumstances it's frustrating as to have both drivers in the points would have elevated us in the Constructors Championship."

Fabrice Lom, Renault: "As we expected we had a strong package today and the opportunity to score a lot of points. We had a strong car, a strong engine and two performing drivers and we could have scored 11 points which would have been fantastic and put us in front of Williams. Unfortunately Mark was hit by Vettel under the safety car and we missed an important opportunity in our fight for the Championship. We got a strong result with David who scored 5 points, but it's still a frustrating result for the team as we know it could have been even better!"


Nico Rosberg (DNF, Electronics): "It was a tough race today, probably the worst conditions I have ever raced in. I couldn't see a thing, I was aquaplaning and had a couple of big moments which were really close - it was all I could do to keep the car on track. Eventually I had an electronic failure which caused a variety of problems, most significantly in the conditions, was the loss of traction control and consistent gearshift, which made the car impossible to drive through the right hand corners and I was forced to retire."

Alexander Wurz (DNF, Accident): "I was next to Felipe Massa and everything was fine when I was hit from behind. I guess whoever it was couldn't see me, just like I couldn't see anything else. Normally I am happy to drive in the wet, but it was really bad out there today. It was fine when you had no-one in front of you, but if you were following another car, you couldn't see a thing. The only way I can describe is if you close your eyes and run through your house at high speed - then you have some idea of how it was."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "The weather threw up a lot of difficult conditions for the drivers, but none the less it's disappointing to come away with no points. Alex was out quite early and Nico had the pace at various times during the race, but then in the last third of the race, we had a problem with an electrical sensor and we need go through the data to identify what failed. Encouragingly from analysing when others came in for their first pitstop, Nico's qualifying pace yesterday showed strongly."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Vitantonio Liuzzi (9th, Penalised 25 seconds for passing under a yellow flag): "It was a great race with 67 laps of pure tension because we were aquaplaning all race long. I drove well, especially given that I had qualified badly, after choosing a set-up with little downforce. Therefore, given the conditions this afternoon, I chose to start from the pit lane in the T car that was set up for the wet. In the end, I managed to score a point which is really a boost for the whole team. Conditions were definitely critical for everyone, but we are drivers and it is our job to race and in any case, this is a very safe track."

Sebastian Vettel (DNF, Accident): "I made a good start and the race was going well. Then, with the final safety car, I was behind Lewis and Mark and exiting Turn 13, I looked to the right and saw Lewis going really slowly, I don't know why, but I thought he had a problem. Probably he was heating his brakes. Then, by the time I looked forward again, I was already in the back of Mark's car and I think he had also reacted to Lewis. I apologise now to Mark because I ruined both our races."

Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Let's start with the positives: Tonio scored our first point of the season today. Because of the weather, we switched him to the T car set up for wet conditions. He put in a good performance but the advantage gained from the wet set up car was lost at his pit stop that came at exactly the wrong moment because of the safety car. Sebastian also showed what he could do. He made a very good start moving up to third and was almost able to match the pace of the McLarens. He came into the pits 3.3 seconds ahead of Webber. After the pit stop he continued to put in quick laps but after the safety car came out again, unfortunately he crashed into Mark Webber which was the end of the race for both of them. Until then, it had been an impressive performance and the mistake is one that can also happen with more experienced drivers. I continue to look forward to working with him in the future. Of course, we are unhappy about the incident, especially as it happened under the safety car and especially as it happened with a Red Bull car. They could have finished second and third, but that's part of the game, that's racing."


Adrian Sutil (8th): "It was a tough race for everybody, with a lot of water on the track and long periods behind the safety car. In very difficult circumstances I think we made some good decisions and in the end we had the right balance and set up on the car. We could do a lot of fighting, changing positions quite a lot, and we were so close to getting that first point, but finally we ended up in P9. All the same it's a success for us as we were 14th in Spa and now 9th, so we are getting there. In special weather conditions such as these today I think we are very strong."

"For sure I think we deserved this point after all the hard work this year and we finally got it. It is a great feeling, even if we didn't get it on the track. I think it was the right decision, there was no green flag after this yellow flag from turn one, so we were definitely right and that is why we got this point."

Sakon Yamamoto (12th): "This was a really hard race, probably the toughest I have ever had, because the weather conditions made it really difficult to drive at any kind of speed, even behind the safety car, and when you were following somebody you couldn't even see 20m in front of you. I think we also should think of the Japanese fans as they were watching right to the end when it was so cold and wet! I was so pleased that I could finish my home Grand Prix in front of so many people and now I want to finish the next race with an even better result. Also thanks to all the team members as they really supported me today."

Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "We're getting there steadily - 14th in Belgium and now 9th here - so I think it proves that the investments we have made and the progress we have taken is finally paying off. Of course it is disappointing not to have scored our first points today, but if we keep progressing at the way we have done in the last three races, I do not think they will be far away. China cannot come soon enough for us."

"We had clear evidence that Liuzzi passed Adrian under yellow flags and I am pleased that the Stewards of the Meeting agreed. The decision, which has ultimately given us our first-ever point, is a just reward for Adrian, who drove an excellent race today. It is also a well-deserved boost for all the team's hard work this year. Now we have this milestone ticked off, we can now focus on on moving forward and being in the points on a more regular basis. We're all looking forward to China now."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "It's a case of mixed emotions for us. We had a very good day, with a solid performance from both drivers and the team in very difficult conditions, but it's also disappointing not to have picked up a point. Once again in wet conditions we proved that we were on top of the strategy, although we were unlucky with Adrian in that the second safety car period fell when he was due to come in and lost us several positions. We were still able to get some of them back, but it was just not quite enough. But well done to both drivers; Sakon again drove a very good race and although we can be happy to finish in front of the works Honda and Toyota teams, ultimately it's a disappointment not to have picked up our first point."

Super Aguri-Honda

Takuma Sato (15th): "I have never experienced such a long period with the safety car before and it was very cold in the cockpit. Once we started visibility was zero on the main straight and then suddenly someone braked in the middle of the straight in front of me, we touched and I damaged my front nose. When the rain got lighter in the middle stint I had fuel to the end and a new set of extreme tyres. With this combination unfortunately the tyres overheated and I lost a lot of grip. I wanted to try my first set of tyres again, so we used the opportunity during the last safety car period to pit. This seemed to work much better and I was able to improve on my pace for the last stint and overtake a few people, but in the end it was a disappointing result for the team after a tough weekend for everybody and I would like to thank the fans who have supported us through such terrible weather."

Anthony Davidson (DNF, Throttle Sensor): "It was a very difficult day here in Fuji. Very wet conditions made it very hard for all the drivers. I was pleased to make it through without any mistakes, but unfortunately at the end I retired due to a throttle sensor failure, which put me out of the race. It is disappointing after doing a good solid job, but I am looking forward to China where we can hopefully rectify the situation."

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "It was a very difficult race today due to the weather. Both drivers did a good job and it is a shame that both encountered problems during the race. Fog and rain is the usual weather at Fuji, even though today was wetter than normal. Our team has to survive in these types of race conditions and I think that we were unlucky with our result today."