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Japanese Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 09 Oct 2005

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005 Third placd Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005 Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, 9 October 2005

An action-packed afternoon at Suzuka, filled with incident and overtaking. The men involved explain the race of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (1st):
"I think that was one of my best races ever with a lot of hard work and I really enjoyed myself. Considering all the problems we have had here to come away with a win is just fantastic. There was a lot happening on the first lap and both Juan Pablo and myself got involved, which is often inevitable when you are starting so far down. I was pushing as hard as I could and the car just got better and better. My seventh gear was a little too short which meant that the revlimiter sometimes kicked in and made it difficult to overtake. I knew that Webber and Button had to pit before me, and after the second stop I had gained enough on Fisichella to go for it and I did. I got past him on the last lap coming into the first corner, and it was one of those opportunities you have to take. Today's result means that I have the best possible position for qualifying in China, but as this weekend showed that is no guarantee. I look forward to Shanghai where we will do everything we can to win the Constructors' Championship."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (2nd):
“That was a tough race this afternoon. I got a good start, but the early safety car period certainly cost me - it kept the field very close together in the early stages, and I wasn’t able to pull out the kind of gap over the quick cars at the back of the field that I would have hoped for. Even so, the strategy worked well to get me out in front of Ralf and Jenson, and after that I just concentrated on doing my race, and trying to lap quickly and consistently. The team told me Kimi (Raikkonen) was close after the last stop, and he caught me up quite quickly - especially when I got chopped by a backmarker into 130R, which cost me a lot of time. He was very fast in the final part of the lap, and I did my best to hold him off, but he held the line into the first corner and that was that. I am disappointed, of course, but this is still a good result for the team in the championship.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd):
“It sounds strange, but I am quite disappointed with third: the car felt just fantastic today, and I thought that we were probably a match for McLaren for the first time since the start of the season. So after starting ahead of them and having the opportunity to beat them, it didn’t really work out for us today. There was a strange incident with Klien, when I was seven seconds ahead and told to give the position back, which surprised me a little bit. And then with the strategy today, I just seemed to end up in traffic behind slower cars all the time. But for the first time at Suzuka, I had a car that was good enough to overtake, and there were some special moments – especially with Schumacher and Webber. I think I have done maybe two or three overtaking manoeuvres all year up to now, and today there were about fourteen, but I could afford to take the risks because there was nothing to lose. It was good to get my fourteenth podium of the year this afternoon, and I want number fifteen in China.”

Mark Webber, Williams (4th):
“We did pretty well today, but I am not completely happy with my position, because this is not the result we wanted, after all. The most positive part today was the job the team did at both pit-stops, when we passed Coulthard first and then Button, but in the final laps I just could not hold Alonso behind me. The car has clearly improved because the guys in the aerodynamic department keep pushing and BMW is giving us a strong engine but today we couldn’t compete on the straight.”

Jenson Button, BAR (5th):
"I'm obviously very disappointed to finish 5th after starting from 2nd on the grid. I lost a place off the start but the early part of the race was looking good and I was able to keep pace with Fisichella. At my first stop the fuel flap failed to open and the crew had to do it manually, which lengthened my pitstop by over six seconds. After that we were struggling for pace and then I lost another position in the second stop. It's very frustrating from where we started and we have to do better in China."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (6th)):
“From the team’s point of view, we’ve got to be satisfied, as there are some strong teams out there. I had a good battle with Jenson (Button) in Turn one and our pace was good at the start. It was only after the fuel stop I began to struggle. We have to put quite a lot of fuel in our car, which can upset the balance. However, as more fuel gets burnt off, it improves. It’s happened quite often this year - we put fuel in the car and lose some performance in the middle stint of the race compared to the others. We were competitive with Williams all weekend, and they finished fourth, so, while we’ll gratefully take the points, I was hoping for more.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (7th):
“The best thing to come out of today is that we have secured third place in this year’s Constructors’ championship. Considering the performance of our package this season and the tough time we have had, this is not such a bad result. Especially, when you consider that, in the ten years I have been with Ferrari, this will have been our worst season. As for the race, I was disappointed that, unlike in Brazil, I was unable to keep pace with the Renaults. Sure, it is fun to have a good fight on the track, but it would have been better if I had been more competitive. At my second stop, we had to make some adjustments to the car, which cost us time and lost me a place. All in all, going to Shanghai two points ahead of Montoya is nice but unexpected.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (8th):
"That was a pretty tough end to a weekend that promised so much. I made a great start and was getting away from the rest of the pack when the safety car came out, which was bad news for our three-stop strategy. When it stayed out for so many laps it effectively put an end to our chances. We still raced as hard as we could and fought to grab as much out of the race as possible. Unfortunately in the second half of the race I had quite a heavy vibration and so I had to back off again. Without the safety car our strategy could have put us somewhere between third and fifth place but I guess a point is better than nothing. We'll hope to do better next time."

Christian Klien, Red Bull (9th):
“I had a good start, although the car felt a bit sluggish off the grid; I’m not sure what caused that. I was fighting hard with Sato in Turn one; he tried to overtake me, but I defended my place, although the first ten laps were difficult. The car felt heavy and my hard tyres made it tricky on the green track, meaning I lost some time. The Renaults and McLarens were in a different league to us and there was just no chance to defend from them. The car improved as the race went on and I began to set faster lap times, but by then it was too late. I’m not so happy, I must say. From fourth on the grid you expect a lot more, not really to finish in ninth position.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (10th):
“I had a problem with the anti-stall activating itself at the start, which didn't help as I lost places. I got past Jacques with my two-stop strategy, which was good, and the car was okay. The balance was fine, but we just weren't quick enough today."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (11th):
"We changed my strategy after the safety car came out, but once the others who had already pitted came by ahead of me as I rejoined after refuelling I knew that was it. The car was good, and I think mine was faster than Felipe's. I was catching him at the end but big deal, we fought for 10th place. Not a glorious day!

"As for Montoya on the first lap, I never even saw him so I have no idea what he might have been trying to do when he went off."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (12th):
“This was a tough race for me, ruined by what happened on the opening lap. I was trying really hard to overtake Villeneuve around the outside and everything was going okay. I could not close the door too much on Jacques. I had Sato in my sight so I could see him going off the track. With him in front of me as he went off the track, I found myself with no downforce and also ended up in the gravel. Then I had to come in as my left rear tyre was punctured. With the Safety Car on track, we changed strategy, going for a single refuelling stop, but I was too far back and there was not much I could do.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (13th):
"This is a very disappointing result for me after the incredible support that I have experienced here from the fans. The start was difficult and through the first corner I was side by side with Klien and ran wide. Rubens came from behind, ran off in front of me and we made contact, which damaged the front of my car and then both of us went into the gravel. We changed the strategy but it didn't work well for me and then I had the coming together with Trulli which was another blow to my race. I'm hugely disappointed for the myself, the fans, the team and Honda, but I will be back here racing at Suzuka."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (14th):
“I think I had a good race on a track I did not really know in the dry. I was wondering how it was going to be, but I managed to get quickly behind my direct competitors at the beginning and I pushed really hard all the way. We were on a great optimum fuel strategy, I needed to be really close to them and push as much as possible when they came to pit. I didn’t make any mistakes and I am very happy to finish 14th here on a difficult track.”

Robert Doornbos, Minardi (15th):
"It was a good race. We brought it to the chequered flag, so I'm happy about that. My rhythm when the Safety Car first came out, though, was not as good as it could have been. I still have to learn a more about how the tyres react in such situations, but the result was that I wasn't able to push as hard as I would have liked once the race restarted. After the first pit stop, though, I started to push hard, and was able to pass Karthikeyan's Jordan in the last chicane, which was good motivation. Finally, I have to say sorry to the pit crew, as I lost a bit of concentration, missed my braking point for the second pit stop, and clipped one of my mechanics, Roberto Venturi. I now know that he is okay, if bruised, but I'm relieved for that."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (16th):
“I made a good start but I got it a little bit wrong in the first corner because it was the first ever lap for me on these race tyres due to my problems on Friday afternoon and the grip level was not perfect. After the safety car went in I was able to hang on behind Massa until my first stop. After the stop the front tyres were graining a lot and after the second pit stop, I have really struggled with the car balance, as it was understeering a lot. Near the end of the race, I had to change my right front tyre, which unfortunately cost me some time. In general, it was an average race.”

Christijan Albers, Minardi (17th):
"I was having a really good battle with the Jordans and had a faster car, but unfortunately, I made a mistake when I overshot the marks during my second pit stop. That led to a refuelling problem and the fire, which effectively put paid to my race. Apologies to the team, and in particular, to the front jack man, Sandro Parrini, and the refuellers."

Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (DNF):
“I spoilt my race just making a mistake really. I hit a kerb on the inside, which I shouldn’t have done and lost the rear of the car. That was it, really. All I can take for me is the experience of learning the track and putting another race under my belt. Unfortunately it didn’t end the way we wanted.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (DNF):
"Sato tried a manoeuvre that was obviously impossible. He just tried to overtake me but instead he hit me and pushed me off. There was no reason to try that move so I don't know what he was thinking. He's been causing problems for a long time and the FIA has to take action to stop it. The race had been going okay for me until then. We started from the pit lane to try a different strategy but we never had a chance to see it through. I'm obviously disappointed with how the weekend has gone but I knew that these last two races would be hard before I arrived. The new car has been difficult for me all weekend. But we'll carry on and hope to get something more out of Shanghai."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (DNF):
"What a disappointment for me and my team. I would have liked to take part in this exciting race which I watched from the pitwall. We probably could have had a one-two today which would have been fantastic for the team. I got off the line well, but it was a bit crowded at the first two corners, and I think Kimi and I gently touched, but fortunately nothing happened. However then Villeneuve missed the chicane and pushed me off the track, and that was the end of my race. All in all a difficult weekend. However I'm now off to Shanghai to prepare for the last race of the year where hopefully we will win the Constructors' battle."