• Japanese Grand Prix

Driver reaction from the Japanese Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
October 10, 2010 « Hamilton escapes further grid penalty for blocking | »
Felipe Massa retired on the opening lap © Getty Images
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Ferrari

Felipe Massa - DNF: "I think I was really cursed today! This morning in qualifying, because of traffic, I failed to get into Q3. This afternoon in the race, I didn't even manage to get through the first two corners. At the start, Rosberg, who was in front of me, got away poorly and at first I tried to move to the left, but Sutil was coming there. Then I moved to the right, but in so doing I found myself on the grass and the kerb. At that point the car took off on its own, I was unable to make it through the first corner and I ended up colliding with Liuzzi's Force India. It's a shame, because as Fernando showed, in the race our car had a good pace and I could have fought for a points finish. The main problem is still qualifying: again today I struggled, even if traffic played its part. In the race, the situation is better but we know how difficult it is to overtake. These past two races have been frustrating for me but we have seen many times this year how quickly the situation can change: I will be trying my very best in the remaining three Grand Prix."

Fernando Alonso - 3rd: "All things considered this was a positive day for us. On a circuit that seemed purpose built to show off the strengths of the Red Bull, we managed to get on the podium, losing just three points to the championship leader. We had a bit of luck because Kubica's retirement meant a potentially very strong rival was out of the reckoning. I did not make an ideal start, partly because of a problem with the clutch, but then I soon made up a place over Button. In the first part, we ran a defensive race, trying to keep the McLarens at a distance, especially Jenson, who was on a very different strategy to ours. Then when we realised they were no longer a threat we tried to put the Red Bulls under a bit of pressure, but there was nothing to be done. Here they were perfect and when that happens they are really hard to beat. However, experience tells us that it is not always like this, or they would have already won the championship. So we must try and make the most of every opportunity. We are trying to improve the F10 with every passing race: here for example we had a new oil from Shell and other minor aerodynamic updates. We will have further new parts in the next few races: maybe not so big but put together they could give us a few tenths which is always useful. We come out of this weekend with our heads held high, knowing that we must try and beat Webber in the coming races to close down the gap to the top."

Stefano Domenicali: "First of all, I want once again to offer our condolences for the deaths of the soldiers yesterday in Afghanistan, which has affected us deeply. Then I want to praise the team, who worked in impeccable fashion on an unusual day, with qualifying and the race following one after the other. We knew that, at this track, Red Bull would be very strong and as we saw this morning, other teams also proved to be competitive. This third place is therefore a great result, in line with our game plan and it keeps us right in with a chance in the Drivers' championship. Unfortunately, the situation in the Constructors' took a knock because Felipe had to retire after the accident at the start. I am very disappointed for our driver, who despite a less than brilliant grid position had every chance of having a good race. There are three Grands Prix to go in this championship which is proving very hard to predict: it will be vital to concentrate all the time and give our utmost, day after day. As we have said for a while now, the maths can wait until Abu Dhabi on 14 November. Finally, I want to congratulate our customer teams, who brought home a further three Ferrari engines in the top ten."

Force India

Adrian Sutil - DNF: "It was a real shame today. In qualifying we really struggled with the softer tyres and couldn't get as good a result as we would have liked but I made a fantastic start off the line and was already in the top ten by the end of the first lap. We came in quite early so I could push when everyone else pitted and I was in for a good shot of the points. Then coming up to the end of the race I went into the 130R corner and the tyres started to slide around and smoke started to come out the back of the car. I felt the car let go and then that was it: I had to bring it into the pits. At the time we didn't know what was wrong, but when I stopped we could see oil coming out of the car. A disappointing end to a hard day, but let's focus on Korea now."

Tonio Liuzzi - DNF: "I'm disappointed that for the second race in a row I couldn't do more than a couple of laps. At the time I was a passenger really. I had a great start and passed five or six cars before the first corner and thought I was pretty safe but then when I went into turn one I saw Felipe coming up on the inside - I don't know if he had broken something on the car but he seemed to come into my side like a bullet. I don't think he was in control of the car at the time, but it's a shame as it's another first corner accident and then retirement for me. I'm now going to go back to the factory to prepare for Korea and not dwell on this - it happens and we need to move on and concentrate on the next challenge."

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal: "Obviously we are very disappointed with today's outcome. Our qualifying performance wasn't as we hoped and the double DNF is a bitter blow, particularly when we are fighting for championship position. It's clearly something we need to look into when we get back to the factory next week so we can make the most of the opportunities that come our way. We will come back stronger in Korea for sure and look to regain our step in the constructors' title race."

HRT

Sakon Yamamoto - 16th: "I am glad about my best race result this season and I want to especially thank the Japanese crowd for their great support. It was a tough race and I had some fuel pressure drops. But even though we could fight for positions and could control one of our competitors during many laps. In the end, it was a special feeling to race again here in Suzuka and to be able to help the team achieve its sixth double-car finish this season. I also want to thank the team for doing a great job."

Bruno Senna - 15th: "I am really happy with today's result, as I was able to achieve my best result in a race this season, as well as helping the team who has now finished six races with two cars since Bahrain. After an exciting start and many incidents, it was a good decision to do an early pit stop, and I was able to fight for positions and do a good race. I can't leave Japan without saying thank you to all the spectators who have been supporting us during the weekend."

Dr. Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "We are very happy with the race result today and both of our drivers could achieve their best result of the season so far. We had some good fights for positions with the other new teams and could follow their pace. Bruno Senna decided to have an early pit stop during the safety car period and changed to prime tyres. Even with fuel pressure drops, Sakon Yamamoto looked after his car and managed to finish his home race. I want to thank the team for their hard work all over the weekend and now we hope to tie in this success at the next race."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen - 12th: "It was a wicked race, really absolutely fantastic for me, Jarno and the whole team. We decided to start with the soft tyre, which was a little bit of a gamble, and then stayed out during the safety car. The target was to build up enough of a gap to allow me to pit without losing places to the guys behind and we did that, though it was very close with Jarno when I came out. On the harder tyre the car just felt brilliant - I had a huge amount of grip from the second set and it was a lot of fun to push for the rest of the race. Our pace was amazing - we were only lapped once and at this kind of circuit, where we needed to perform, we could not have done any more. An amazing day for the whole team, and now we're another big step closer to that tenth place, which is obviously the main aim of the whole season."

Jarno Trulli - 13th: "What a great day for the whole team, just fantastic. I'm really pleased for everyone with the result, and congratulations to Heikki as well on a great race. I had a really good start and came in under the safety car to switch to the primes. I came out behind Yamamoto and immediately attacked him - I got past him pretty quick and then went after Heikki. We both had a strong run to the end, and even though I had another hydraulics issue in the last couple of laps, I managed to get the car home which was obviously the main objective."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A really fantastic result for the team today. 12th and 13th places are our best positions of the season so far, and I'm delighted for everyone that we had such strong performances from both cars today. Qualifying went very well this morning - we were just under a second ahead of the other new teams, and we carried that through to the afternoon. We had always planned to stop just one car if there was an early safety car, and that was the car ahead. When the safety car came out Jarno was in front so we pulled him in and put him on the primes. Unfortunately it took him a few laps to pass Yamamoto, and that really hurt his race strategy, and that, combined with the blue flags, meant Heikki stayed ahead of him on track. Despite that, it was a great race from both drivers. We had a small hydraulics issue on Jarno's car at the end, but it didn't slow him down and he was able to maintain 13th place. I want to say congratulations to the whole team for such a strong performance all weekend - this really was a job well done."

McLaren

Jenson Button - 4th: "At the start of the race, the drivers in front weren't struggling on the Option tyre as much as we'd expected. So we were a little bit compromised, and I think we stayed out too long for our first stint. As soon as we saw the others were quick on the Option, and I wasn't able to pull a gap, or pressure anyone in front, maybe it would have been sensible to pit at that point and fit the Option. We'll go away and look at the data, and the reasons for it. It was a tough race on such old tyres, but it was fun once we'd fitted the Option; the car felt great - I had a lot of grip, and the car was very fast. Still, we weren't quick enough today to beat the Red Bulls and possibly the Ferrari. And I don't think we'd have finished any further up. I'm in the same championship position as I was before this race, so the title's getting more difficult. We came here with a lot of different new parts - some of them worked really well, while others need a bit of work. We've just got to hope that when we put the new package on the car in Korea, we get the best out of it. For the next race, we'll hopefully have the performance we'd expected to have here."

Lewis Hamilton - 5th: "This wasn't a great weekend for me. I made a mistake on Friday, then we changed the gearbox yesterday and I got a grid penalty, and then I had another gearbox problem in the race. That's an unfortunate amount of collective bad luck, but the team and I will bounce back. With the gearbox, I was running normally, then downshifted into third, accelerated and lost the gear. After that, I had to rely on just fourth gear and above. I didn't think the car would make it - it was making a lot of strange noises, but I kept my fingers crossed, tried not to shift too much and looked after it to the flag. I'm thankful and so happy that I least saw the end of the race - it's my first finish for a long time. The championship doesn't look great at the moment. But there are still three races to go and 75 points available, so we'll remain optimistic and keep doing the best job we can. I'll keep fighting."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal: "The biggest positive we can take away from today's result is that both drivers clearly demonstrated significant pace against that of our rivals - and that's a motivating force that we'll take with us into the final three races of the championship. Obviously we played the long-game with Jenson, who was the only frontrunner to start on Primes. Ultimately, that strategy didn't come off as best we'd have liked because the others' Option tyres didn't fall away as quickly as we'd anticipated. Still, we feel it was a strategic choice worth taking. After switching to Options, Jenson showed excellent pace, and I think we had the second fastest car today. Lewis did a great job, consistently closing the gap to the car in front before encountering a gearbox problem towards the end of the race. Initial analysis suggests this was a dog-ring failure, that lost Lewis third gear. As a result, Lewis drove brilliantly, adapting his technique to race to the flag in fourth gear and above. We're confident it can be resolved for Korea without incurring a five-place grid penalty. For the final three races, we've got to make sure we have 100 per cent reliability. Lewis finished this race 28 points behind the leader in the drivers' championship, with Jenson trailing by 31. With 75 points to play for in the drivers' championship, and 129 in the constructors', our title challenge is still very much alive. We'll keep on pushing and developing this car. There's no reason why we can't be fighting for the championship in Abu Dhabi."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg - DNF: "It was a disappointing end to the weekend today. Due to a clutch problem, my start was poor but our strategy was good to change tyres under the safety car on the first lap which enabled me to recover the places and be racing in sixth position. My tyres were suffering from having done such a long stint so it was tough to maintain a good pace but it was enough to keep Michael behind. Then something broke on the rear of the car and put me into the tyre barrier which ended my race early."

Michael Schumacher - 6th: "I am quite happy with the race today and the car felt really good. The opportunity to make up places was just what I hoped for and sixth place was the maximum that we could have achieved. It was good racing and it must have been very entertaining for the crowd. It was fun to be racing Nico so it is a shame what happened to him. We are now heading to South Korea and although I don't really know what to expect, if our car is as good as it was here, then I hope for another encouraging race."

Ross Brawn: "We had a strong race today with both cars and it is very disappointing and frustrating that Nico was unable to finish the race. Our prime concern was for his safety and thankfully he is absolutely fine. Prior to the incident, he was in an excellent position having taken advantage of an early stop under the safety car to make up places lost at the start. Michael also had a very good race today with a great start setting him up to make up positions. It was an entertaining few laps when Nico and Michael were fighting for sixth place and we were happy for them to battle it out. We are looking into the cause of Nico's accident now and as always there will be a thorough investigation into what happened."

Sebastian Vettel drove a flawless race © Press Association
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Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - 1st: "This circuit is very special - the fans are incredible here and to get my second win in Suzuka is fantastic. It was a nice Sunday; to have qualifying and the race in one day is a unique experience and to finish top in both is great. Thanks to the team, to those here and also back in the UK - they all work very, very hard. We had some small upgrades here and they were a step forward. Our car loves this type of circuit and I'm very happy and very proud of today's result. Mark was running in second and was trying to put me under pressure, but having track position helps and the race was basically about managing the car and the tyres until the first stop. It wasn't certain when the soft tyres would go off, but the timing of the pit- stop was right. We were then behind Jenson at the start of the second stint. I wasn't pushing as I trying to control the gap while waiting for him to make his stop. It wasn't easy today, but it was a nice and controlled race."

Mark Webber - 2nd: "Sebastian had an extra half tenth this morning and pole position is a nice thing to have on the chess board going into this race. Ultimately qualifying was important, but I'm happy with how I drove today - I couldn't have got a great deal more out of the car. I wasn't that happy with the set-up on Friday, but the guys did a good job to get it back to a place where I was happier. I pushed Sebastian in the race - we pulled away on the soft tyre in the first stint and I was comfortable on the hard tyre after my stop. It was a formation finish and a one-two for the team; it's a great result for us in the Constructors' Championship and a good result for me in the Drivers'. Sebastian deserved the victory today, I'm happy."

Christian Horner, Team Principal: "It's been a fantastic day for the team with the added pressure of having to qualify this morning. We secured the front row and then converted that into a one- two finish this afternoon, it was a perfect performance from the team and the drivers and it's a fantastic result. We had to keep an eye on Jenson Button's strategy because of him running on a different tyre at the start of the race and he started to back things up a little bit after half-distance, but at no point were we overly concerned and both drivers did a very good job of looking after their tyres and cars. Mark's managed to extend his Championship lead over Fernando, who Sebastian is now tied on points with, while in the Constructors', we've obviously managed to open up a healthy margin."

Renault

Robert Kubica, DNF: "We made a good start and managed to gain one position up to P2, but then in the second lap behind the safety car I was warming up the tyres and I nearly lost the car. I thought to begin with it was a problem with the driveshaft, but apparently it was the wheel. I don't know if there was a technical problem but it became difficult to follow the safety car so I moved to the side of the track and then I Iost the wheel."

Vitaly Petrov, DNF: "I made a good start and managed to overtake Massa. I was then going passed Hulkenberg with Heidfeld on my right when he started to move left and so I also had to move left to avoid him. Unfortunately I hit the side of Hulkenberg's car and this is why I crashed."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "After such a strong performance this morning during qualifying, it's very frustrating to come away from this race empty-handed. Our car has been competitive throughout the weekend and we were looking forward to showing that in the race. Both cars made good starts off the line, but then we had the double disappointment with both cars out of the race after just three laps. We don't know exactly what happened with Robert, but it's a real shame for him because he has been exceptional all weekend and I'm sure we could have had a strong result today. All we can do now is regroup and look forward to the next race in Korea, which will be at new experience for everybody."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi - 7th: "I tried my best and I am very happy. It was a great race for our team, and I'm very pleased for the Japanese fans who have watched an exciting race. It is the second time we have got both cars in the points, and for me it was really something to come back here and race for the first time after seven years in front of my home crowd. Nevertheless it was a very tough race today. Qualifying and the race in the space of only a few hours made it quite a busy and unusual Sunday. After the start I saw the accidents in front of me, and I was really lucky not to be hit. Later it was not too easy to overtake and I had some contact. The car was damaged, but it was not too severe and I was able to finish the race. I really want to thank the team for the great job and the fans for their fantastic support."

Nick Heidfeld - 8th: "I'm quite happy - it is the best result for the team this season. In the end I could have finished one place higher, but I was on a different tyre strategy to Kamui and he was obviously faster with his fresh option tyres. I started on the option tyres. Obviously I was meant to push really hard in the early laps, but then the safety car came out and later I got stuck behind Rubens (Barrichello). The team did a very good job by calling me in early for the change to the prime tyres. Compared to Singapore, we made good progress in race performance. For qualifying, I think, there is more to come. I'm looking forward to the three remaining races."

James Key, Technical Director: "I'm delighted with the race and the result we achieved. We just missed out in qualifying, but our race performance more than makes up for that. Both drivers got a clean start and were able to avoid the problems in turn one. We decided for a split strategy with Kamui on the prime tyre and Nick on the option, and both strategies worked in the way we hoped they would. Kamui did a great job to hang on with the prime. He drove superbly to control his race, but overtook as well on a track where overtaking is very difficult. On the option tyres at the end he was absolutely spectacular. Nick also did a fantastic job. He drove exactly the race he needed to. The pace was good, and it's a great result in just his second race after coming back. The team on the pit wall did a great job as well as did the mechanics. It was a great performance from the whole team."

Toro Rosso

Sebastien Buemi - 10th: "It was a good race for us and I am happy to have got a point. However, it was a bit frustrating as, towards the end, I was catching Barrichello by around one second per lap and maybe if I had switched to the Option tyre earlier I would have been more competitive and got closer to him and maybe got past. The problem I had in qualifying with the floor of my car did not help, as it was the first time I have failed to get into Q2."

Jaime Alguersuari - 11th: "We knew it would be a tough weekend for us here and it was, although I had hoped to qualify better than I did. In the race, I pushed as hard as I could. In the later part, Kobayashi was much faster than me, but that is not a reason to let him past, so I fought as hard as I could and we touched and I had to pit for a new nose. I hope my team principal is happy that I was very determined. I am happy for the team that Buemi got a point."

Franz Tost: "I am pleased that Sebastien picked up a point today, because he has had a run of bad luck in the last few races and he deserved this point for tenth place. He posted some very good lap times and was surprisingly fast at times. We benefited from an element of luck as some of our direct rivals ended up in the gravel trap. Jaime also did a good job, producing competitive lap times throughout the race. Unfortunately, in the closing stages he was involved in a collision with Kobayashi which meant he had to come in to change the nose. One point might not be much, but it's better than nothing! So, with this morale boost for the team who did a good job, let's see what we can do when we discover Korea for the first time."

Virgin

Timo Glock - 14th: "The start of the race was reasonable for me but the safety car came out straight away, so we decided to do two pitstops in a row to get the Option tyre out of the way, which we hadn't been able to get to work on the car in Free Practice. We ended up behind Yamamoto and just couldn't get past him. He blocked me for most of the race and in the end all I could do was focus on just getting to the end of the race. It has been a strange weekend here in Suzuka and I think we'll be happy to head to Korea and hope for better things."

Lucas di Grassi - DNS: "I was happy with my qualifying performance in the morning but also confident there was more to come out of the car as I only managed 25 laps in total in Suzuka before qualy. I am disappointed that I wasn't able to take part in the race. I had a big crash in the 130R corner while preparing the car to go to the grid. I'm glad I'm physically fine and will keep pushing harder than ever together with my team."

John Booth, Team Principal: "Thankfully Lucas was unhurt in his accident on the way to the grid. We have studied all the information from his car and there is no indication of a failure. We took a bit of a gamble on strategy with Timo and unfortunately it didn't work out as he was unable to get past Yamamoto. He was at least able to bring the car home reliably to achieve another classified finish. We now hope for better fortune in Korea in two weeks' time."

Williams

Rubens Barrichello - 9th: "My car was skating all over the track this afternoon. I don't know why and, to make matters worse, I had quite a lot of vibration. We managed to salvage some points today, but I really thought we were going to finish higher up."

Nico Hulkenberg - DNF: "I had a bad start and I didn't get off the line at all. I then saw Petrov coming up behind me. He touched my front right wheel and that was it. You never want to finish a race that early, but today it happened and it was unfortunate for us both. The team are doing a really good job developing the car and that showed in our qualifying performance so it was a shame to finish that early."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was good to get a couple of points with Rubens for the Constructors'. However, our race pace was disappointing, particularly compared to our qualifying performance when we were comfortably in the top ten. The team will work extra hard in order to understand and improve our position ahead of the remaining races. Unfortunately, we had a poor start on Nico's car and then he was run into by another car before Turn One."

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