Japanese Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 30 Sep 2007
Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel on his collision with Red Bulls Mark Webber; Ferraris Felipe Massa on the race that ended his title hopes; and Renaults Heikki Kovalainen on his maiden podium finish. All 22 drivers review Sundays action
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (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 didnt 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 didnt 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.
Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (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 (Raikkonen), 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 Six 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.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (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.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (4th):
That was very, very difficult. Its a crazy thing to be a racing driver - on the one hand youre scared, but on the other, youre having the time of your life because every moment youre right on the edge, even on the straights. Im happy to score points, but obviously Im sorry for the team to lose what looked like some great points with Mark (Webber). Im glad the race is over, but it was a lot of fun out there.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (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.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (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.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (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.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (8th):
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.
Adrian Sutil, Spyker (9th):
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 ninth, so we are getting there. In special weather conditions such as these today I think we are very strong.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (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, Honda (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.
Sakon Yamamoto, Spyker (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.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (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.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (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 didnt work and I had a misfire. Because the decision whether the safety car comes in or not is made during a lap, the team couldnt even tell me on the pit board. So I always tried to see the safety-car which wasnt 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. Thats why Kimi Raikkonen could pass me on the left hand side. I was just happy we didnt 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 sixth, but then my car broke down.
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (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.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (DNF):
Weve 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 wasnt 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. Theres not much more to say about this weekend - I just hope we can get a better result next week in China.
Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (DNF):
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.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (DNF):
It was a tough race today, probably the worst conditions I have ever raced in. I couldnt 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.
Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (DNF):
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.
Mark Webber, Red Bull (DNF):
That was a completely disastrous finish. We were in very, very good shape to challenge Lewis for first today. We were strong and I didnt make any mistakes despite the tricky conditions, cars were aquaplaning and the visibility was very poor. Fernandos crash caused the second safety car stint, which bunched everyone back up again. That wasnt 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.
Fernando Alonso, McLaren (DNF):
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 years Championship battle showed anything can happen.
Alexander Wurz, Williams (DNF):
I was next to Felipe Massa and everything was fine when I was hit from behind. I guess whoever it was couldnt see me, just like I couldnt 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 couldnt 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.