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Japanese GP 2008

OCTOBER 12, 2008

Sunday Team Quotes

Nelson Piquet, Japanese GP 2008
© The Cahier Archive


Kimi Raikkonen (3rd): "Even if third place has put an end to a run of poor results, I am a bit disappointed because today we had the means to win. At the start, I got away well but then, at the first corner, the two McLarens arrived too fast at the braking point and prevented me from turning in, taking me off the track. That lost me a lot of ground and I found myself in the middle of the pack. On top of that, the car was not quite right as I was hit by one of the McLarens: the steering was a bit light and there was other damage as well. I tried to do the best I could but I was not as quick as I'd hoped, especially in the second stint. Before the second stop, I closed on Kubica but I couldn't pass him in the pit stop because on my in lap I found myself behind Rosberg a lap down. Then I tried several times to attack Robert but he defended his position well. At one point, I did find myself slightly ahead of him going into turn 3, but I was on the outside and he did not give up the line so I had to go off the track. After that, I had a bit of graining and so I was not able to catch up again. In any case, I am happy to have brought home important points for the team."

Felipe Massa (7th): "A strange race with everything that happened on track. In the end, seventh place is definitely not a disaster given that my closest rival failed to score points. At the start, I got away well and had passed Alonso and Kovalainen. Then Hamilton braked over the limit and I found myself sandwiched between one car on the inside and one on the outside and all I could do was brake and stay behind. I think the duel that followed with Hamilton was hard but fair and the drive-through really penalized my race. In the second part, on the hard tyres, the car was flying, which is very encouraging for the next races. As for the incident with Bourdais, I think there's little to say: I had already entered the turn and he hit me from behind, spinning me round. In the duel with Webber I saw a space down the inside and went for it. He moved over on me a little bit towards the wall which might have looked a bit scary but it was not like that from the cockpit. Anyway, it was a very important moment in the race and I had to try. Now we will give it our all in the next two races. We have great potential available to us and we must do all we can to exploit it."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "A bitter sweet taste after this race in Fuji. On the one hand is the regret at not having been able to exploit our great potential: today we saw that this weekend we had everything in place to come away with everything. For one reason or another, from the less than perfect qualifying yesterday, to the chaos at the start today, we never managed it. On the other hand there is satisfaction from retaking the lead in the Constructors' classification and for the slight gain made by Felipe in the Drivers'. Today, our Brazilian drove an amazing race, with an incredible climb up the order, some great passing moves, showing great maturity. Kimi drove a good race, taking a nice third place which puts an end to a bad run for him which had been going on too long, and brings home important points for the team. His car was not quite right after the collision with a McLaren at the first corner and then he was nearly always having to fight in traffic. Indeed, a backmarker at the crucial moment before his second stop meant he lost the chance to rejoin the track in second place. I want to congratulate all the guys in the pit crew. After what happened in Singapore they were definitely under pressure but they worked very well. Now we head immediately for Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix. Our aim remains the same: we will continue to work hard and with determination to get the best possible result."

Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Definitely a difficult race, affected by what went wrong at the start. A shame as we had a great potential, as we went on to demonstrate during the race. In particular, Felipe put on a great performance, with incredible lap times. Kimi did his own race but was struggling a bit in the second stint, unable to stick with Kubica. He would however, possibly have managed to pass him at the pit stop, if he had not got stuck in traffic on his in lap. His six points are still very important for the Constructors' classification. The F2008 proved to be very competitive at this track and I think that will also be the case in China. We will give it our all for the final two races."

BMW Sauber

Robert Kubica (2nd): "My start was good but the clutch slipped a little, therefore Jarno Trulli was able to pass me on the straight. I then decided to take the inside line and braked very late, too late actually and I locked the front wheels. But then everybody went wide while I was more or less able to keep my line, and after the second corner I was in front. I then tried to pull away, but I couldn't. My tyres were graining and I lost time, particularly in the last sector. I was pushing as hard as I could, but after the pit stop, Fernando Alonso was in front of me and I was not able to match his pace. At the beginning of the final stint the tyres were graining heavily and my lap times were slow, so I came under strong pressure from Kimi Raikkonen and we had a great fight. At one point he was beside me in corner two, but I was on the inside, just didn't back off and was able to keep him behind. After a few laps the graining went away and I was able to run at my normal pace. It's a great result for the whole team at a time when it is not easy. We have been struggling a little bit recently and we were under pressure from some teams, so this second place is a real boost for our morale. Now we have nothing to lose, but everything is possible."

Nick Heidfeld (9th): "Compared to the Williams cars in front of me, my start was okay, but the Hondas behind got off the grid even better. There was an awful lot of traffic in the first corner and I was lucky to get through all the hassle. For me the nicest moment of the race was certainly when I managed to overtake two cars at the same time on lap four. I was on a one stop strategy and, as well as that, the second last one-stopper to pit. It was not easy to handle the heavy car. Now I'm looking forward to next weekend's race in Shanghai where we should do better in qualifying."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "This was a really strong performance from Robert. In the first corner chaos after the start he took the lead. Later in the race he had to let Fernando Alonso go, but defended successfully against Kimi Raikkonen. It was our team's eleventh podium of the season, and Robert has now been on the podium seven times in 2008. Nick also did a good job by improving from 16th to tenth, but couldn't score points today. We are now looking forward to exciting final races in China and Brazil."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Contrary to all the prophecies, this was an exciting race. Robert had the best result at the start as he managed to take the lead, thanks to a little bit of luck and lots of guts. He was in the lead until the first pit stops, but after that we weren't able to match the pace of Fernando Alonso. In the third stint Robert defended his position from the attacks by Kimi Raikkonen in a clever and fair way, and claimed his well earned seventh podium of the season. That was really a brilliant performance by Robert. Nick managed to move up to tenth with a one-stop-strategy, but unfortunately, because of coming from 16th on the gird, more than this was not possible."


Fernando Alonso (1st): "It's still difficult to believe what we have done today! Winning in Singapore was unexpected, but we benefited from special conditions. Today we won again on a circuit that was not supposed to suit us. The team has really done a remarkable job to fight back this season and we are now the third strongest team. It's unbelievable and I am extremely happy this evening."

Nelson Piquet (4th): "I am very happy with this great result for the team. I had a bit of luck at the start, but after that the car handled really well, I was on the pace, and I just had to remain concentrated and keep pushing. The team is having a really strong end to the season and I hope that is going to continue."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Winning the last race was very welcome, but it's much more satisfying to win here in two ways: firstly it was a more straightforward race that showed our true capability, and secondly because both cars achieved a good result today. Congratulations to the team and to both our drivers."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "I am very happy as this is a superb result for the team, Fernando, Nelson and Renault. The victory is well deserved: Fernando and Nelson had great drives, our strategy worked wonderfully and after our difficult start to the season I want to thank all the members of the team for their efforts. We had said that we could come back to the top and we confirmed that here today."


Nico Rosberg (11th): "Our start was poor due to a technical problem so I just fell to the back of the pack. I was also quite heavy with fuel. I'm satisfied with my performance and it was actually good fun out there today. I was able to overtake in the first part of the race and to drive one qualifying lap after another the whole way through. I gave it 100% and was as quick as Heidfeld, who was on the same strategy. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to score any points, though. I'm flying to Shanghai tomorrow and looking forward to collecting some points there."

Kazuki Nakajima (15th): "That was a shame. It was very disappointing to have an accident in the first corner, but I couldn't do anything about it. After the incident, I just tried to do my best for the rest of the race. I don't think our race pace was that great, though, so I couldn't make any progress. We need to go away and work on our performance to see where we can improve for the next time."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had poor starts on both cars. Kazuki then lost his front wing on the first lap and that put him at the back of the pack after an unscheduled stop. From that point on, it was difficult to make any progress with Kazuki. Nico was fuelled long and was the heaviest out there but he lost a lot of time behind slower cars on their first stints in the opening stages. His pace was respectable though so a better start would have left him fighting for the top of the one stopper positions. Our starts were great at the beginning of the season, but now they are poor. It is something that the engineers will put a lot of effort into resolving before the final two Grands Prix."

Red Bull-Renault

Mark Webber (8th): "After a poor start, which put me at the back, I had a good first stint passing Heidfeld twice amongst others. The second stint was difficult pace wise, as I was having a tricky time on the options. I had some front graining and it was hard to maintain a good pace at the end of the race. Felipe (Massa) had fresh tyres towards the finish and also a faster car, so I knew it would be difficult to keep him behind me as his traction was so much better. I pushed him to the limit when he made his overtaking move, but that's what it's about, trying to get another point for the team. It was too difficult against his car though and he passed me."

David Coulthard (DNF, Accident): "It's disappointing to go out. I was trying to go down the inside of Bourdais' car into turn one and naturally he came back across a little bit towards the apex. Piquet was in front of us both and I found myself between the two of them. There was a little bit of bumping and grinding as we went through the apex of Turn one and then, as I accelerated out of Turn two, whatever damage was done in the apex of turn one let go and the car had a tank slapper and I went it to the barrier. I guess it was suspension damage rather than a tyre as normally you'd feel it if a tyre was going down. We'll need a new chassis for the next race."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After a nasty looking accident, thankfully David isn't injured. Contact at the first corner put his car in the air and then the rear suspension broke, which turned his car acutely left and into the barrier. Mark lost a huge amount of time at the start, but thereafter, on a risky one stop strategy, drove a very good race to claim a Championship point. He came within two laps of getting another, but unfortunately Massa was too fast to hold back. It was a very good drive on a one stop strategy."

Fabrice Lom, Renault: "That was a difficult race. It was a very bad start for both drivers. David had an accident and had to retire and Mark nearly stalled at the start, which put him at the back of the field. He did a very good job after that and overtook a lot of cars to give a very impressive performance today. Congratulations again to Renault for another win."


Jarno Trulli (5th): "We have to be happy with that today but honestly I wanted to give a bit more both to the team and to all the Japanese fans who cheered us on. I was really hoping that we could make the podium but this 5th place was all that we could have done this afternoon. I gave everything from start to finish but we could not do any better today. We've been competitive all weekend and the car was good again in the race but the lower temperatures didn't help us. That meant that the car was slightly unbalanced. I tried to keep Piquet's Renault behind me but they were very quick today. Still, I'm glad to come away with some points to give the home support something to cheer."

Timo Glock (DNF, Damage): "That was a short afternoon's work for me. I made a good start but I lost ground when everyone went wide at the first corner and I was pushed off the track. Then following David Coulthard's accident it felt like I drove over some of the debris. After that the car felt strange and in the end I lost the car on the kerb at the exit of turn six. I went over the grass and the car launched through the air. When I landed it felt like something broke on the rear, causing us to retire. It's a particular pity because we had a lot of fuel, we looked strong all weekend and we were confident of picking up a good result in front of our home fans."

Tadashi Yamashina, Team Principal: "Jarno did a very good job today, as did the whole team in our home country. We were expecting both cars to finish in the top six, but unfortunately Timo retired early on. When he went off, the shock on the monocoque caused the seat fixation to work loose. We tried to keep him in the race but there was no way to recover from that, which was a shame. Today we had lots of Toyota fans who had come here to watch and encourage our team. I appreciate that and thank them all very much."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Sebastien Bourdais (10th - Dropped from 6th place after the race with a 25 second penalty for a collision with Felipe Massa): "The start seemed like a big mess, but fortunately I survived it. The incident with Massa? I was coming out of the pits, he turned in, I was on the kerb and there was nowhere else I could go and I was racing him for position. It was a good showing today for me, running consistently in the top five with only one mistake in what was a tough race. All in all, a very eventful race and I am happy to have scored three points."

Sebastian Vettel (6th): "At the first corner, I was forced to run wide as there was an incident on the inside, losing a lot of places. After that it was difficult to fight my way back. Nevertheless, getting both cars in the points is a strong showing from us, even if we could have been looking for a few more points today. Two more races to go: I hope to add to our total in both of them."

Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Another really good race for one of the Red Bull teams. Bourdais had a very good start and was a front runner right from the beginning, going on to have his best ever race for us. Vettel struggled a bit at the start, completing the opening lap eleventh. Then he put in a strong performance so that in total we have picked up another five points which strengthens our position in the Constructors' championship. Now we are looking forward to racing in China in a week's time, where we will do our best to continue this positive trend."


Rubens Barrichello (13th): "I had a great start to the race today, passing three or four cars on the way down to the first corner and was able to hold the position well. Unfortunately I was then hit from behind by Fisichella which damaged the rear end of the car and affected the balance for the remainder of the race. From then on, we were really limited by the poor performance and pace of the car this weekend. We did all that we could but were not able to make any headway up the field."

Jenson Button (14th): "The race began really well for me and I was running inside the top ten at the first corner after making a great start. Unfortunately going with the option for my first stint didn't work well and I really suffered from this in the early laps. I was passed by a few cars around the first lap and from then on had graining on the front and rear tyres which meant I was slow through the corners and we couldn't compete on straightline speed, particularly with a heavy fuel load. Once we put the prime tyre on for the second stint, the balance was much better, but by then it was impossible to catch up and make progress."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "Given that our car is not well-suited to this track, and our current package, this was always going to be a difficult race for us, especially from our grid positions. We took a gamble starting Jenson on the option tyre, looking for a good start and end of first stint performance. Jenson did indeed get a good start off the line, making up seven places, but then the tyres quickly grained and he lost all of that advantage. This was the risk associated with this strategy. Rubens also had a good start but appeared to be experiencing problems with the car balance after he was struck from behind by the Force India car of Fisichella. As our focus has already switched to 2009 I'm afraid we anticipated a tough time until the end of the season, but we will reap the benefit of this decision later next year."

Force India-Ferrari

Giancarlo Fisichella (DNF, Gearbox): "The start off the grid was fantastic for me and I could overtake a lot of people. In the first corner there were a lot of cars across and off the track and a lot of mess, so they slowed down a lot and I touched Barrichello at the back of his car and I damaged my front nose slightly. I decided to stay out and it was looking good. We were considering a one stop strategy which was much more comfortable and I was doing a good race, but then unfortunately at the end I had a problem with the gearbox and seventh gear. At least we are fighting again."

Adrian Sutil (DNF, Tyre): "I had a puncture on my right rear tyre and then suddenly on the straight the tyre blew and I had to stop the car. It was a shame as we were running 10th and it was feeling really good. We had a fantastic start - from 19th to 11th at the end of the first corner as I stayed to the inside and clear of all the problems, and I was in 10th position within a couple of laps. It was going very well and we had a good strategy, it was just so unlucky again."

Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "This weekend has been another mixed event for us. Adrian was driving an excellent race and there was high potential there for him to score points, as he did last year, but then our luck ran out. Giancarlo too was very strong and unfortunately had a mechanical problem. We have however proved yet again that we are strong contenders and can fight hard with the other teams, all we need now is a bit of a break."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Today was a shame for the team as I think we had every chance of doing very well. Adrian had a good first lap and on a two stop strategy it was looking promising for the rest of the race. Unfortunately he picked up a puncture, which was the end of his race. Giancarlo was also putting in a strong performance despite some contact in the first corner, which damaged his nose and gave some understeer as a result. He was on a one stop strategy, but had a gearbox failure just before the midpoint of the race. While it was a great shame for the team, it's good to see a strong race pace once again."


Lewis Hamilton (12th): "Obviously, I'm not happy after a result like today's - but I'm already getting over it and tomorrow will be another day. Disappointingly, I didn't make a great start, but I slipstreamed Kimi and went up the inside. I braked a bit late - but so did everybody. A lot of cars went wide at Turn One - and I just went a bit wider than everyone else. But you can't undo the penalty or change today's result. On lap two, Felipe went wide and I went up the inside, giving him room, but he tapped me quite hard into a spin. There are positives to take from today; I've only lost two points to Felipe in the drivers' championship, so it's definitely not over. Now I'll forget today ever happened and move forward; we've got two more races to go and my target is still to win both of them."

Heikki Kovalainen (DNF, Engine): "Today started with so much promise and ended so disappointingly. I made a good start and, although I ran wide at the first corner, I still managed to slot in behind Robert and Fernando. I was feeling pretty confident about catching them both because the car was feeling just fantastic and then, all of a sudden, the engine stopped. That was a real pity because our reliability has been fantastic all season. Nevertheless, my pace today was good and I head to China feeling positive that we can once again show the same sort of pace we had this weekend."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Well, today was a very challenging day. We were a bit surprised that Lewis was given a penalty in respect of the first-corner incident, simply because we've all seen similar first-corner incidents that triggered no such penalty. Drivers miss braking points, they run wide; these things happen. As for Heikki, he was in a very strong position, fuelled significantly longer than the cars around him, when he suffered an extremely rare engine failure. All in all, then, as far as the championship is concerned, I guess things could have been worse; but there's no getting away from the fact that it was a disappointing weekend. However, Lewis is still five points clear in the drivers' championship, with two races to go, and I know that our whole team will dig deep from here on in."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A chaotic start and one lap later Felipe ruined Lewis's race when he first ran wide and then cut the chicane short and pushed Lewis into a spin. The next grand prix will be held already next weekend and neither Felipe nor Ferrari benefited too much from today's result. Despite Felipe's action, Lewis still leads the drivers' championship. We will investigate the engine failure on Heikki's car tonight and tomorrow in Brixworth. Unfortunately this failure happened today when Heikki had a chance of winning; he was third, had the speed and was on the superior strategy. I am sorry for him and the team, it's bad that things like this happen even if you previously performed reliably for two years. But we will work hard to make sure that such a failure will not happen again."