Japanese Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 12 Oct 2003
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (1st):
"I am so proud to have helped Ferrari win four of their titles and to win this race on what is considered a driver's circuit is another reason to be proud. Along with Silverstone this year, these are the two best races of my life. I want to thank everyone at home in Brazil for staying up to watch and this victory pays them back. All the team, the engineers and mechanics have done a fantastic job to give us a car with such reliability and performance. My race was very tough until the final stages when I could ease up a bit. After the start, the track felt slippery and at Turn 12 going into Spoon, the car went sideways, I backed off and Montoya got past. He was very quick, but then I began to catch him, but I was having trouble with my visor fogging up, there was also oil on it and I had to concentrate very hard. I kept pushing because I was very worried it might rain, in which case I could have lost everything in just one lap. You cannot compare drivers from different generations, but what Michael has done today is a fantastic achievement. I think I have had a much better year in terms of my performance, compared to last year, when I had more points and was higher in the championship."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (8th):
"I find it difficult to say what I am feeling at the moment because, honestly, this has been a tough year, a tough last part of the season and today was one of my toughest races. But I can say what I feel about the team: they are more important and again today did an incredible job and Rubens had a fantastic drive winning in great style. After we had been written off earlier in the year, we never gave up. The team is always fighting and that is its strength. We are a big family and we can all be proud to be part of it. Personally, I feel empty and exhausted after this race. I went flat out after I lost my nose, because I knew Montoya was out and the two McLarens were behind Rubens. I was a bit messy after the accident and it was a strange race, cutting through the traffic, especially with Da Matta and Ralf. I knew I had to finish eighth, because although Rubens was in the lead, in Formula One you always wonder if the car will finish and think of the worst situation. After the incident with Da Matta, I had a huge flat spot on the tyre and the vibration was so bad I had vision problems down the straight. I was also worried about a puncture and was just trying to get the car to the flag. It feels strange, as usually I have won the championship with a victory, but now I am here in eighth place, so there are some mixed emotions."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (5th):
"A fantastic race for me: we didn't expect to score points after starting at the back, and if it hadn't been for the traffic after my second stop, I could have finished fourth. I want to thank the team, who gave me a strong car all weekend. The real damage was done on Saturday, when I could have got pole if it hadn't rained. We proved during the race that we were quick enough to fight at the front."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
"It's a big disappointment to retire: I was fighting for the victory, and we were probably going to make one less stop than Rubens. We have had a great season, but the opportunity was there to win at the last race, and it's not a nice feeling to lose it."
Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (9th):
"The start was good, but between Turns One and Two Wilson hit me a few times and consequently pushed me into the dirt. I lost some places, which was annoying. After that I was able to catch up lap by lap. Unfortunately I finished only ninth and couldn't score points, so sadly we couldn't defend our fifth place in the Constructors' World Championship. We dropped a position, but BAR-Honda was simply too strong today."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (DNF):
"It's a shame that I couldn't finish my race, but at least Nick was able to have a good one and to catch up after the chaos after the start. Ralf Schumacher hit the rear of my car quite hard so I had to go to the pits, where we discovered that oil was leaking from a damaged cooler. Later the engine broke, so that was it."
Ralph Firman, Jordan (14th):
"That was an unfortunate end to the season. I had a fuel rig problem in the pit stop and a pick-up problem in the fuel tank, which meant in my second stint I had to carry a lot more fuel than planned. Nevertheless, the team have done a good job all year and I've really enjoyed working with them - hopefully I can look forward to a long future with them."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (DNF):
"The car just cut out, it seemed to be a fuel problem. It wasn't going too badly before that, in fact I was having quite a good race as the car balance was quite reasonable. Unfortunately it was my last race with Jordan and we didn't get to the end so I'm a bit disappointed, but that's life. I'd like to say thank you very much to the team and I wish every one of them all the best and I hope we both have better seasons next year."
Mark Webber, Jaguar (11th):
"A tough race and one which was quite low on grip. The balance of the car was OK but we just didn't get the car to bite all afternoon. A little surprising, yes, but that's how it goes sometimes. It is not the finish we wanted but overall we have had a strong season and while it would be nice to finish on a high, it didn't happen today. We do, however, remain very motivated and we'll be working hard over the winter. The opposition did well today and they deserve respect. As a consequence, it makes us all the more hungry to do a better job in time for next season."
Justin Wilson, Jaguar (13th):
"A difficult race and one which didn't go our way today but we gave it everything under the circumstances. The team did an excellent job all weekend but the outright pace wasn't there. The grip levels were not what we expected and the opposition took full advantage. After my third pit-stop, I suffered from an engine problem but given how far from the points I was, it didn't really make a big impact on my race. I have very much enjoyed my five races with Jaguar and I of course hope to continue with the team in 2004. For now, however, I am going back to the UK to relax and take stock of what has been a very intense few months, albeit ones which I have enjoyed a lot."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (7th):
"That was a fun but tough race and I am very pleased to score two more championship points in Toyota's home race. We started from a strong grid position and we were able to translate our improved performance yesterday into a points finish. Having said that, I think we were capable of more. We started well and ran in fourth for a long time, but we then lost some positions to the guys who were two-stopping. For my debut season in F1 and the team's second, I think that we have done an excellent job, even if the points have been difficult to come by. We have learned a lot over the last sixteen races and shown the full potential of the Toyota team, so I am looking forward to more improvement next season."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (10th):
"I think we deserved more from today's race. We decided to do three stops and try to maintain our excellent qualifying positions, but ultimately we couldn't match the pace of the teams who opted to stop twice. On a positive note, we were able to get both cars past the chequered flag in front of the Japanese fans. We must now look ahead to next year with big confidence. I continue to be impressed by the work of the whole team. Together, we have grown a lot throughout the season and we have made really big progress with the car. We can remember the 2003 season with some good memories and look to more highlights next year, with a faster car, strong grid positions, more points, and who knows what else?"
Jos Verstappen, Minardi (15th):
"From my point of view, I think we were consistent today, although the grip was pretty low throughout the race. I came in at the end of the formation lap, as we had decided to take a gamble in qualifying to see what we could do with a very light fuel load. Nicolas was on a normal two-stopper, and I finished ahead of him, so I think ours was the right strategy. The season is over now and we will be concentrating on next year. It is absolutely my goal to stay in Formula One, as I am not finished with the sport yet, but it would be nice to have a little bit more competitive car next season. I would like to say a special thank you to my crew, who have done a very, very good job all year. I think they are the best mechanics I have worked with in my career, and I would like to thank them very much."
Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (16th):
"It has been great to finish all five F1 races in which I've competed, and I'd like to thank everyone at Minardi who has made this possible. It is incredible, with the very limited resources available to this team, how it is able to keep the cars running so reliably. It would just be nice to find a bit more pace over the winter, as the motivation and commitment of everyone here is amazing, and the guys really deserve some decent results for the tremendous effort they put in. I really admire them. As for today's race, it was hard physically, but I think I also encountered an aerodynamic problem after about 10 laps that made the situation a bit more difficult. It didn't get any worse as the race wore on, but basically, the car lost grip in the high-speed corners. Changing from fifth to sixth gear at Spoon, the back end was stepping out at 280 km/h! I had no choice, though, but to live with the problem through to the end of the race. Otherwise, I didn't have any difficulties this afternoon. I would like to say thank you to everyone on the team, and especially to Paul Stoddart, for giving me the chance to be in Formula One. It has been the most amazing experience of my life, and I really hope to be back here again next year."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (12th):
"I am obviously massively disappointed about the result of this race as the outcome could have been completely different. I started the race from a difficult last position and I was able to pass several cars getting into the points positions but in the end I didn't take any reward from it. The whole team has not been rewarded for their great effort, in the end."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (DNF):
It's a true shame as our car has been very reliable this year and the effort that WilliamsF1 and BMW have put into this Championship has been huge. There's nothing you can do, this is motor racing and these things happen. My start today was quite good, the track was a bit damp but I still got past Rubens on the first lap, at my second attempt. I was coming out of the hairpin really slowly and I think Rubens was trying to protect his line and touched the white line, going slightly sideways and had to lift the throttle a little, so I went for it. I had to and it worked. Then I thought I had just to pace myself. I was very pleased with the way the car was performing and we had a really good strategy. Then, bad luck, on lap 9 I felt a loss of some controls and that was it. With hindsight, I'm not that displeased that I was no longer in the battle for the Drivers' Championship, because retiring at the last race, in this way, would have been much harder. If I look back at the season, I am very, very happy with the job I made. I learned a lot from last year and I have matured as a driver."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
"Obviously I'm a bit disappointed not to win the World Championship, but we needed a bit of luck to do it, and whilst we were close, we were not close enough - however at least we took the battle to the last round. I want to thank everybody in the team, both here and back at base, who have worked so hard during the season and pushed as much as possible, and I'm confident that we will mount an even stronger title challenge next season. I made an OK start, but we were quite far down the grid after weather affected our qualifying yesterday, which always makes things more difficult. I struggled with the handling on my last two sets of tyres but continued to push as hard as I could until the very last lap as you never know what might happen in racing, but it was not enough. I have enjoyed the 2003 season and am already looking forward to next year."
David Coulthard, McLaren (3rd):
"I was able to run at a reasonable pace today and was pushing as hard as I could to make the best from my three-stop strategy. I experienced a few handling problems with my second set of tyres, but at the end of the day third was what we could do today. I had a relatively unexciting race and was not really involved in any battles, but I was pleased that we were on the pace. Congratulations to Kimi on finishing second in the Championship and I'm sure that next year we will be back with an even stronger challenge."
Jenson Button, BAR (4th):
"That was incredible! We came here fighting for two points and came away with eight, which is just amazing. We really deserved this result today and to finally secure fifth place in the Championship is a great way for the team to finish the season. It was a very tough race though. I got a great start and took Webber on the outside, which was very important for us at that stage as we didn't know what strategy they were running. I had two perfect pitstops and after that it was just a question of conserving everything and staying as consistent as possible, because it's hard to keep your concentration here. It was nice to lead again for the second race in a row - even if it was only briefly on this occasion."
"Takuma has been under a lot of pressure all weekend and he rose above it. I'd like to thank Honda for a fantastic race engine and all the race team for a great job this weekend, especially in the pitstops today. I'd also like to pay tribute to the team back at base for sticking with it during a very difficult year. This is a great boost for all of us for the winter."
Takuma Sato, BAR (6th):
"I'm absolutely thrilled. Racing here this weekend came as a total surprise but to finish sixth and play a part in securing fifth place in the Championship is just amazing. And all in front of my home crowd! I made a great start and jumped two places off the grid, then I managed to pass Wilson and Webber, which was important for the team. I had a close call with Michael in the chicane, but I had the line and he came up on the inside of me. This is a great way to start my racing career with B·A·R and now I can't wait for the start of the next season. I'd like to thank everyone from the team and Honda for making my return to racing so successful."