Atlas F1 News Service

Today's Selected Quotes - Japanese GP

Saturday October 7th, 2000


Michael Schumacher: "Pole position provides the best opportunity to win the race. That has been our target all weekend, but the job is not finished yet. Obviously this is the best start and we have a good car to get the job done. I only did 9 laps because I felt the track was not in the best condition early in the session and I did not see the point in wasting a set of tyres. The team did a good job to get me out at the right time. Today we had a very high quality fight for pole. I knew it would be tight and either one of us could have been on pole. Actually, this position is not as important here as at some other races, because the surface on the main straight is not very abrasive on the racing line. On the inside it is more abrasive but more dirty. Of course this is not a race like any other, as we can finish the championship here which raises the stakes. There is no point in celebrating pole as it is not the end result. I am ready to fight for that tomorrow. I have no tyre worries as the new ones we have here are good in all respects. A good start will be important and traditionally we have had some difficulty doing that here. But we have adapted and learned. If I can lead into the first corner, it will be a very good opportunity to win."

Rubens Barrichello: "We waited around half an hour before going out for the first run, as the track was still dirty. Then when it became clear that we could post competitive times, we went out. Unfortunately I was not able to do my last run because of time lost earlier when I was called in twice for the weight check. I set my best time on my third run, when I managed to get the most out of the car. As for the fourth run, we had decided to try something different with the set-up, but I never got the chance to see if it would have worked."

Jean Todt: "The battle for pole was very close and exciting. As I expected the fight for the two front rows came down to a duel between ourselves and our season-long rivals. Schumacher secured his eighth pole of the season, the ninth for Ferrari. I am disappointed for Rubens, who on his final run failed to beat the chequered flag by just one second. In any case, he has managed to get a good place on the second row. Michael used only three sets of tyres on his way to pole. Now we just have to concentrate on the race. We know how important will be the start, the strategy and the reliability of the cars."


Mika Hakkinen: "A great battle for pole position with Schumacher and myself exchanging fastest times. We were making adjustments to the car throughout the session but unfortunately on my last run I was not able to get the acceleration absolutely right coming out of the last chicane, which meant that I lost that little bit of time. However the race is tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it."

David Coulthard: "I'm reasonably happy with being on the second row taking into account that I have been unable to find the right balance until today's qualifying. However, after we made some changes following this morning's practice sessions I felt confident enough to really attack the circuit, but still we didn't make enough progress to get pole position, but I believe we will be competitive in the race."

Ron Dennis: "This year’s qualifying times are clearly much closer than last year. There is no reason that the outcome of qualifying should not provide us with the opportunity to contest the World Championship in Malaysia. The first corner is important but not critical."

Norbert Haug: "The closest qualifying session of the season ended with Mika and David being second and third; Mika nine thousands of a second behind Michael Schumacher’s pole time and David four tenths down. We are in a good position for the start of the race and obviously our goal has to be to try and go in a one-two formation into the first corner. However even if this doesn’t happen we can still win the race and keep the World Championship open until Malaysia in a fortnight."


Jenson Button: "It's fantastic, really. To come here for the first time and be so competitive is really very, very pleasing. I had to work really hard for this; when I got out onto the track for the first time yesterday I realised I had an awful lot to learn about the place and not much time to do it. So to be on the third row is better than I could've imagined. I was third fastest this morning, but it would seem that maybe Ferrari and McLaren were carrying a bit more fuel than us then. They must've been, because they suddenly found a lot more time than us in qualifying. But I can't say I'm disappointed; I'm not. It's clear we're established now as the third team and I think in my and BMW's first seasons that's quite an achievement. I'm really looking forward to the race but I think it could be quite tiring for me. These long corners are tiring my hands out - I've got really skinny hands and they seem to be tiring out. I'll have to get them to turn the power steering up."

Ralf Schumacher: "I didn't get the set up quite as good as it was this morning, but I must take the blame for this. The car was just a little bit more difficult than this morning, but I'm sure it will be good in the race. I think a podium would depend on one of the Ferraris or McLarens dropping out but that's possible, sure."

Patrick Head, Technical Director: "The top two teams are still a bit out of reach but I think getting both of our cars on the third row is an illustration we maximised our potential. The next aim is some points tomorrow."

Frank Williams, Team Principal: "Both drivers did a terrific job, along with their engineers and I'm impatient for tomorrow."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "It's good to see such equality between our two cars. The grid position reflects our situation in that we are clearly the number three team now. This meeting has shown too that we are gaining ground on the two in front of us. I think we should be pleased with our efforts so far but that doesn't mean we're ready to accept where we are."


Eddie Irvine: "I couldn't have gone much quicker. At first I thought I could, because I was a little bit slow on the entry to a couple of corners, so I tried going in a little bit quicker in, but I just slid and was a bit slower. So really that was as quick as I reckon we could go. On a perfect lap we could have been ahead of the Williams-BMWs, but who gets a perfect lap round here? But seventh is a good place to be. The outside is a lot better than the inside line. We'll just have to wait and see."

Johnny Herbert: "I was not very happy at all this morning with the balance, but we went back a couple of steps to what I ran earlier and it was better straight away. But I just couldn't dial out enough understeer, especially through the Esses, the second Degner, and the last part of Spoon. You don't want understeer here, and unfortunately I had just enough to scrub off a little speed and not carry it through the corner. We're in the right ballpark, but a couple of tenths would have been nice, and bumped us up to eighth. But it's not too bad. Hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow, but again it's going to be down to the balance and being able to look after the tyres. But it would be wonderful if we scored points; it would be great to end the season that way. That's what I want to do."


Heinz Harald Frentzen: "Of course, it's not good to be this far down the grid, but, after the difficulties I had this morning, eighth is actually not too bad. In our fight for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship, BAR and Benetton are behind us on the grid, so that's positive. I'm not happy with the way the car performed and we don't know why exactly. I know this track very well and I tried to get the optimum out of it, so that's the best I could do."

Jarno Trulli: "I don't know why, but the balance of the car was perfect yesterday but no good today. I didn't have enough running to find the solution and, on top of that, I couldn't get a light enough feel from the power steering, so it was a big struggle."


Jacques Villeneuve: "It's disappointing to be ninth, especially after qualifying went pretty well, but we have known all season that we don't have the best of cars. Suzuka is the one circuit of the year where the car counts more than any other; there is nothing but corners here. We have tried everything this weekend to find a good set-up, but we are just lacking a bit of downforce. We need to score points tomorrow to improve our position in the championship and if we manage to make it into the top six I'll be very happy."

Ricardo Zonta: "We did everything right, but for some reason the time just did not come. We don't know why. We missed the first half of the session, but the new engine was the same spec as the previous one and although I could only use nine of my 12 laps, there was still plenty of time left to do the job."

Takefumi Hosaka, Managing Director, Honda R&D: "The team made a big improvement over the performance from last year and the engine performance was very good, but we were not able to synchronise the chassis and the tyre settings to give maximum confidence to the drivers. Tomorrow we will use this specification engine in the race for the first time. I hope we will be able to push hard to improve our position in the race and put on a good show for the thousands of Honda fans who have come to support us this weekend."


Alexander Wurz: "We expected to be in the top ten and we didn't manage it so maybe we were doing something different to the other teams in the practice this morning. I am happy with my performance although I struggled on top speed and seemed to be a bit down on power. I want to thank the mechanics who have worked really hard on my car this weekend particularly after all the problems I had in the session yesterday. Now I am really looking forward to Giancarlo getting his hair cut, as this was our bet if I outqualified him!"

Giancarlo Fisichella: "I am pretty disappointed as after yesterday and the session this morning we thought we would qualify much higher. The car seemed different in qualifying and not as good as it was this morning so I just couldn't get a really good lap in."

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: "After this morning's session we expected to be in a better qualifying position. We need to work now to get a better performance for the race tomorrow."

Pat Symonds, Technical Director: "I had hoped after this morning's practice that we would have both cars in the top ten and additionally, it appeared that our closest rivals Jordan and BAR would be behind us. The result is not satisfactory and we need now to discover why."


Pedro de la Rosa: "Just all the problems that we haven't had so far this weekend have been concentrated in this qualifying session, which is not what you want at all, such as some electronic and hydraulic problems, so basically I could do very few clean laps. I'm disappointed really as I think we could have been a few position higher, particularly as the car has been so good during practice. This is qualifying and this is the time that you need a quick car and the right frame of mind and if one or the other fails then you don't qualify well. I was really motivated here and think we should have qualified higher up".

Jos Verstappen: "It was quite a good qualifying session as we improved the car each time we went out. I thought we had qualified a little bit higher up than we actually have, which is a bit disappointing but I have also suffered with some understeer which is costing us time too".

Tom Walkinshaw, Team Principal: "It was a fairly disappointing qualifying session as minor problems occurred preventing both drivers achieving their full potential. But tomorrow's another day so we have time to resolve things and look forward to a strong race performance".


Nick Heidfeld: "We cannot be too happy with our positions today, but at least I feel that Jean and I have got the best we could from our cars on this circuit. There was not much more we could do as we have not had any major improvements on the car for this final part of the season. But, far from accepting this, we are still working hard and hope to produce a strong race tomorrow."

Jean Alesi: "I have experienced a lot of difficulties in adapting my car and in finding a good compromise here. I do not feel sufficiently confident to have pushed to the maximum as I would have liked to on this circuit. All this has not left me the ideal condition to find a good balance or to be competitive. But of course we remain ready to take advantage of any opportunity in the last two races."

Alain Prost: "When looking at the gaps between the lap times today, it was difficult for us to do better and we should not feel too frustrated. It is a confirmation of our difficulties in qualifying, after starting the weekend without any particular problems. We remain motivated, right to the end, to claim a good result and we will, once more, make the best of all the circumstances in tomorrow’s race."


Pedro Diniz: "One way or another it's been a pretty tough day. It started when my engine failed this morning. The team told me the car was on fire, so I knew I had to try to get back to the pits where the fire could be handled most efficiently. Then I learned of the penalty the stewards imposed, to take away by two best qualifying times. It certainly made it tough to go out there this afternoon knowing my two best efforts would be worthless, but I tried as hard as I could. The car was still understeering, and lacked traction at times, but my best time of 1:38.077 would have moved me much higher up the grid, and that was done with a relatively heavy fuel load. The penalty certainly compromised my qualifying, and will of course affect my race tomorrow."

Mika Salo: "After the first run in qualifying my race car developed a problem when an electrical connection broke, so I had to take over the T-car. This was set up for Pedro and there was only time to switch seats, so I had a hard time trying to drive the car and that's reflected in my qualifying time."

Peter Sauber: "It certainly wasn't our day today, and the negative things started immediately with Pedro's engine failure. That lost him most of the morning’s running, and of course the stewards imposed their penalty which affected his qualifying too. It was very hard for Pedro. Meanwhile, Mika had the problem when an electrical connection to the alternator broke early in qualifying, and he had to take the T-car with Pedro's settings. This was all a great pity because the drivers like Suzuka very much and our cars go well here. As it is, our qualifying positions are clearly not an accurate reflection of our true potential here."


Marc Gene: "I am a bit disappointed because today’s problems prevented me from capitalising on my qualifying session. A sudden increase in the gearbox oil temperature forced me to stop and I switched to the T-car, set up for my Team mate. It is a shame because on this circuit I could have exploited all the runs available getting the best lap after lap. I feel sure I could have lowered my time by 4 tenths at least. Perhaps my only consolation from today’s performance is that we improved by 1"6’ compared to last year’s qualifying. In any case it is better to experience all the problems today and to drive a trouble free race tomorrow. The car set-up is good and I feel happy with the balance we have achieved. Hopefully I will enjoy a good performance tomorrow."

Gaston Mazzacane: "I am totally disappointed with both my grid position and the time I set. However today we did a good job, in the attempt to claw back the time I lost yesterday during the free practice. Yesterday’s problems were definitely penalising for me. Today I improved my time constantly and, considering the high level of difficulty of this track and my lack of experience, I feel satisfied with the job done; honestly I believe I did my best. I feel disappointed for I did a mistake in the first sector during my last run. Without that error I could have improved my performance further."

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