Saturday's Selected Quotes - Japanese GP
Michael Schumacher - 1st: "It is no secret that we have a great car and this result proves it. I am not surprised at our performance, especially with the job Bridgestone has done for here. I was having great fun throwing the car through the Esses. At the end, I went out again because although we were confident, there were still some other cars who could have done a good time. I decided to stay out and finish my flying lap to see what I could do as we had made a set-up change to the car. Once we found out that McNish was okay, the gap was useful to analyse our data and make changes. I want to win the race tomorrow, but I expect to have a nice fight with Rubens. If I finish on the podium, it will mean I have done it in every race this season. That would be the result that demonstrates our team effort, because reliability does not come from luck, it comes from a lot of serious work.â€
Rubens Barrichello - 2nd: "I enjoyed myself today and the car was especially fun to drive through the Esses. After we heard that Allan was okay, it was a case of using the gap in the session to work on the car and then get my concentration back before getting in the car. Sector three was difficult for me today, though not the 130R. It was more a case of finding some dust on the track and I locked up the brakes and lost a couple of tenths. I think I could have beaten Michael's first quick time but not his final one, so second is good enough today. I am happy with my performance as this is such a difficult track technically and I managed to improve the car a lot.â€
Jean Todt: "Two Ferraris on the front row is what we wanted for the final qualifying session of the year and to celebrate Bridgestone's one hundredth grand prix in the best way possible. We were all shocked by McNish's accident and are glad that he emerged from it without serious injury. This incident shows how much improvements have been made on the safety front, as regards the cars and the circuits, thanks to collaboration between the teams and the FIA. Our goal for tomorrow is simple: we are keen to win as it would be the perfect end to a dream season.â€
David Coulthard - 3rd: "I'm happy with my performance, the car and our positions on the second row. We have improved our qualifying performance throughout the season. On my second run things were going well, but I had to abandon it due to Alan's accident, and I'm pleased that he was unhurt. After the long break I went out on used tyres to assess the track conditions. I could have improved further on my last stint, but I had a little understeer in the first sector. I'm optimistic for the race and am aiming for a podium finish."
Kimi Raikkonen - 4th: "I ran wide at the first corner during my last run but was still able to improve my time to move up a couple of positions. The red flag didn't really affect me as I had already abandoned my flying lap, because I made a mistake in the first sector. The car was working well throughout the session. At some point the team suspected a small problem with the pneumatics and as a precaution prepared the T-car for me. However in the end there was no need, and I look forward to an exciting finish to the 2002 season tomorrow."
Ron Dennis: "A disrupted but nevertheless exciting qualifying session. Both David and Kimi and the team did excellent jobs in difficult circumstances. We now look forward to the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug; "A good performance by David, Kimi and the entire team and the gap to pole position is closer than in most of the races this year."
Ralf Schumacher - 5th: "I was running quite well until McNish had his accident and I had to abort my lap and was called back into the pits, but you can't do anything about it. It is always nice to be in front of your team-mate even if also this time, as many times before, the gap is very tight. We are not happy to see both the McLarens in front of us but I am also sure that we will be able to make their life difficult in the race."
Juan Pablo Montoya - 6th: "A disappointing qualifying, no doubt about it. The car wasn't well balanced and I also made a couple of mistakes, especially in my last run, so I blew away my last chance to improve. It's a shame to start so far away on the grid. Unfortunately today I have equalled my worse qualifying position this year which I set in Australia."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "Having both the cars on the third row is quite a disappointing qualifying result. We are obviously far behind Ferrari and it is also pretty clear that the McLarens have moved in front of us here. But the race can be always a different story. We will concentrate on our race set-up now and see how we can finish the 2002 season."
Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "The McLarens were strong as expected and this time they have pushed us back to the third row. I am expecting a difficult race but I also hope that we can improve our position and finish the last race of this season with a further podium position. A driver easily misses his rhythm in such a long break as we had today in the qualifying session but this was the same for everyone."
Takuma Sato - 7th: "I'm so happy. That was my best qualifying result all season and one of my best moments in a Formula One car. The team made a great recovery after a difficult morning with my engine problem. The mechanics did really well and James (Key), my engineer, did a brilliant job. The car was good, I was comfortable and drove exactly as I wanted to. I just nailed it! The fan support here is superb, they reacted as if I had won the race and it was just qualifying. Realistically the race is still going to be tough, but my target is to score points."
Giancarlo Fisichella - 8th: "It's very impressive. I wouldn't have expected us to be 7th and 8th so it's really good for the team. I'm happy for Takuma because it's his home Grand Prix and he did very well. Unfortunately on my last run the automatic downshift went completely mad and I couldn't improve my time. I think there was the possibility to be even better yet, but unfortunately that little problem happened. Anyway, it's been a good day."
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "The delay in the session after McNish's accident didn't seem to hurt anyone and we certainly managed to get going again. It was a very good effort from Takuma and nice to see him have a little bit of luck for a change, at his home Grand Prix. We didn't have any big problems although on his last run Giancarlo had trouble with the gearshift, which wasn't working correctly, and that lost him a little bit of time. Our target was to get both cars in the top ten and we've done better than that so we're very happy. All the cars we're dicing with in the Championship are behind us so it's all about the race. Anything can happen. It is good to see that Allan McNish is okay after such a huge accident, the FIA should be proud of the safety developments that they have put in place over the last few years."
Jacques Villeneuve - 9th: "That was a huge crash for McNish so I'm pleased he was OK. That's the important thing but the red flag obviously disrupted the session. I had to abort my first run after the restart because Montoya completely blocked me, so it's lucky I managed to get a clear lap on my last run. There was still some time left in the car but not enough time left in the session to make the most of it. Top 10 is good for us today and the Suzuka engine had enough power to make a difference. The team have done a great job to salvage the weekend after yesterday's lack of running. We ended up being more competitive than we expected."
Olivier Panis - 16th: "What can I say? I'm really frustrated because this isn't what I'd hoped for at my last Grand Prix with B.A.R. The qualifying session was very difficult anyway but when you get technical problems and cannot exploit your runs, you're up against the wall and there's nothing you can do. I hope the team can resolve the problem so it doesn't occur in the race tomorrow and I will do my best to finish the season on a more positive note."
David Richards, Team Principal: "After a difficult start to the weekend, it's gratifying to qualify at least one car in the top 10 today. It's very disappointing that we haven't achieved the same for Olivier however. We were unable to supply him with the same development parts that Jacques has for this race and, on top of that, he's suffered gearbox problems today. Nonetheless, it's very encouraging that three Honda-powered cars qualified in the top 10 today and bodes well for their plans to make a significant step forward in performance next season."
Jenson Button - 10th: "A good qualifying for me, compared with the last two races, in Monza and Indianapolis. It's great to be in the top ten again. Everything has worked fine during the session and I could even have improved my time. All my runs were clear but I made a slight mistake on my last one into the chicane I got crossed up and went sideways, losing a bit of time there. Fortunately I had made up some of ground in the last sector."
Jarno Trulli - 11th: "I am quite disappointed with my qualifying today, after the weekend had looked more promising. I had a good first part of the session, but after the break (McNish's shunt) I just couldn't keep up with the others, who in the meantime had got quicker. Now, I just have to look ahead and do my best for tomorrow's race."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Today we felt we should have had both cars in the top ten. We were confident enough in Jarno to allow him only three runs in order to save the tyres for the race. Unfortunately, during the two runs after the red flag, Jarno didn't get a good lap and as a consequence he dropped to 11th position, while the track was rapidly improving. Jenson had one run aborted by the red flag, but he managed to put in some strong runs afterwards, reaching 10th position. He was extremely lucky because during his last lap the telemetry showed there was a problem, however we managed to get him across the line before stopping."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Race Engineering (Engine): "Everything was promising until the red flag. The morning was productive and we thought qualifying would bring us good news, as we knew the top teams were improving. But tomorrow things may take the right turn for us."
Nick Heidfeld - 12th: "My biggest problem this afternoon was that I never got four clean runs. I lost my second timed lap because it was the one on which Allan McNish had his accident, but of course I'm pleased to hear that he is okay. On my next one I got held up by Michael, and my best was my last run, which I spoiled with a mistake near the end. I also had a problem with the tyres graining from the Spoon Curve onwards. So overall it could have been a lot better, but at least we know that we have improved the car significantly since yesterday."
Felipe Massa - 15th: "I'm very disappointed with the way things went this afternoon. The balance of my car wasn't as good as it had been this morning, when the car felt pretty neutral, and my second run was spoiled by the McLarens. I set my time on my third run, but my last one looked pretty good for the first two sectors until the tyres started graining. By the time I got to the chicane I had too much understeer and wasn't able to improve."
Peter Sauber: "Despite Nick's strong performance we weren't able to make the top 10. But the times are close, and it seems likely that the excellent reliability of the SAUBER PETRONAS C21 may be the deciding factor in tomorrow's battle for fifth place in the World Championship for Constructors. We are well prepared for the fight, and above all I wish Nick and Felipe success and an accident-free race."
Mika Salo - 13th: "I thought we could have gone a bit better around this track. I gave it my absolute maximum but we do not seem to be able to get rid of the understeer on the car. I was going well on my final run but a car ran wide in front of me and I collected some grass on my tyres, losing me a couple of important tenths. All in all disappointing, but I am very pleased to hear that Allan is okay after his crash."
Allan McNish - 18th: "First of all, I feel fine. I have had a check-up and my knee is sore, but I am confident of getting back into the car tomorrow morning. Basically, everything felt good through the 130R corner but the car suddenly snapped into a big oversteer and I reversed heavily into the barrier. My natural instinct after the crash was just to make sure everything was still in working order and thankfully it is. I have got to see the medical crew tomorrow morning for a check-up but I am confident for tomorrow. The best thing is to get back in the cockpit as soon as possible."
Keizo Takahashi, Technical Co-Ordinator: "We are all relieved that Allan is okay after his accident. It says a lot for the safety in Formula 1 cars. As for Mika the balance of the car was very good and Mika gave his best effort to improve the performance of his car. We are sure Allan will be all right to race tomorrow. Nothing would make the Japanese fans happier!"
Niki Lauda: "We knew we were in for a tough time at this circuit given the high downforce demands it places on cars. As demonstrated at Spa and Monza, we have come a long way since the beginning of this year, especially when it comes to low downforce configurations. We are, however, exposed at places like Suzuka where maximum downforce levels are a must. Eddie could probably have ended up a place or two higher, but his qualifying session came to a premature end after an engine failure â€" a rarity with the Cosworth engine. It was an instantaneous failure that came with no warning whatsoever and because of this, Eddie was unable to complete his final timed lap. With three Honda-powered cars in the top ten it is going to be very hard to hold onto our sixth place position in the championship but as we have seen at Suzuka so many times, anything can happen."
Eddie Irvine - 14th: "A very disappointing end to a session that was getting better for me towards the end. The track was obviously getting faster as the session neared the end but an engine failure prevented me from taking full advantage of the last ten minutes when most people achieved their best times. Given that I was nearly half a second up coming out of 130R on my third run, it was obvious that there was a big improvement to come and it's very disappointing to have lost the opportunity. Nonetheless, we very rarely suffer from engine problems and we'll just have exploit our race pace tomorrow. I started from 13th on the grid last year and if it wasn't for a fuel rig failure during the race, we were in with a chance of grabbing a point. Nothing is impossible and given the high attrition rate at this circuit, getting across the finishing line can sometimes result in reward of some kind."
Pedro de la Rosa - 17th: "Simply put, I suffered from a general lack of grip. The track conditions were quite good and while the balance of the car improved over each run, the outright pace wasn't enough to make an impact higher up the order. I made a couple of mistakes during my first timed run but improved in the second. My third run was compromised by a BAR-Honda that got in the way and while my last run improved significantly, it made no difference to the overall position. Very frustrating given the front-end set-up improvements which we made over the one hour session. It will be a very difficult race tomorrow. The lack of pace during qualifying doesn't bode well for tomorrow and I have little choice but to go out there and take some chances."
Mark Webber - 19th: "That last flying lap was not a pretty one, but we did the best with the amount of grip we had available. The last run was still quite low grip for us. In picking the Prime tyre, which Michelin recommends for the race tomorrow, we hope that the sacrifice in qualifying today will have been worth it. We ran as fast as we could this afternoon, and now we'll see how tomorrow unfolds."
Alex Yoong - 20th: "The car was a lot better this afternoon than it was this morning, and was really enjoyable to drive. I was also pleased with the time. The chassis had a little understeer through the quick corners on the last two runs, and I could probably have found a bit more in terms of lap time as a result. It 's good to end the year with a strong session, though, after the difficulties we've had in qualifying this season. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart: "First of all, we're just very pleased that Allan (McNish) is okay - that was a seriously heavy accident by any standards, and once again serves to highlight the strength of current Formula One cars. Despite winding up P19 and P20 for tomorrow's race, both KL Minardi Asiatech drivers had an excellent qualifying session, resulting in the closest margin between the two of them that we've seen all season. Significantly, this was achieved on one of the most challenging circuits we visit. We now look forward to a strong performance from the team in the final Grand Prix of the year."
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Saturday's Selected Quotes - Japanese GP
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