Suzuka Japanese Grand Prix 2005

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella
F1 > Japanese GP, 2005-10-07 (Suzuka): Friday practice 1
Image by LAT Photographic

By Nikki Reynolds –

Giancarlo Fisichella paddled though the two Saturday morning practices for the Japanese Grand Prix to come out on top with a last minute 1:50.136 for Renault. It was wet and slippery at Suzuka and Jordan’s Narain Karthikeyan was second fastest, followed by the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher in third.

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli led out for the installation laps on a track that was declared wet for the first session. Minardi’s Robert Doornbos followed on, along with Ralf and Juan Pablo Montoya’s McLaren. The Minardi of Christijan Albers also made an appearance but it was a slow start.

Kimi Raikkonen, who will lose 10 places on the grid due to an engine failure on Friday, came out for an installation lap in the McLaren but didn’t hang around. Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari and Takuma Sato’s BAR did likewise, followed by the Jordan of Tiago Monteiro, and Michael was the first to put a time up.

The German clocked 1:46.543 but then spun into the barrier as the rain got harder, causing a brief yellow flag period. The Ferrari sustained damage to the front but Michael was unharmed. David Coulthard’s Red Bull was next to test the waters, as it were, and posted a time eight seconds off Michael.

Karthikeyan and Felipe Massa ventured out for an installation lap in the Jordan and Sauber respectively, and Albers made it all of three on the time sheet, over seven seconds off Michael’s time. He then had another go and moved ahead of Coulthard for second, six seconds off, and a couple of other cars took to the track.

Karthikeyan’s Jordan clocked third and Monteiro fifth, followed by the Williams of Antonio Pizzonia into sixth but then Raikkonen took the place off him. Karthikeyan moved up to second but was rapidly demoted by Pizzonia and then Montoya in quick succession. Raikkonen then took the place, over two seconds off Michael.

Christian Klien’s Red Bull made it nine on the time sheet, then Mark Webber’s Williams and the BAR of Takuma Sato also joined in at the end. Rubens Barrichello put his Ferrari seventh and Jenson Button’s BAR paddled into eighth and that was pretty much it. Michael remained fastest with Raikkonen and Montoya second and third.

Doornbos was the first to try his hand in the second session but spun off in the last sector before even setting a time. Obviously a complete lack of grip in the wet, the rain still heavy. Pizzonia had an installation lap but didn’t linger and headed straight back to the pits. Alonso tried a flier and clocked 1:55.798.

He then lowered it to 1:53.289 on his next couple of laps and Villeneuve and Klien slotted into second and third respectively. Fisichella took the third spot then Villeneuve and Klien in quick succession posted second. Barrichello appeared in fourth, behind Klien and Alonso. Jenson Button joined the party in second, followed by Trulli into third.

Ralf was seventh and Coulthard eighth, the times rapidly changing, Doornbos and Sato in the mix. Ralf improved to fourth and Coulthardto second, two tenths off Truli who has shot to the top with a 1:51.824. Ralf climbed again to third and Alonso made sixth in the pouring rain.

Webber was next to the top, 1:51.274, followed by Albers into second, four tenths down. Fisichella took over with a 1:50.818 but was swiftly demoted by Ralf’s 1:50.369, half a second up. In the closing seconds Karthikeyan belted out a 1:50.150 for the top but was ousted by Fisichella’s 1:50.136.

And that was it. There’s nothing to read into these times; the rain makes everything unpredictable. As if it wasn’t anyway. Final top eight classification: Fisichella, Karthikeyan, R. Schumacher, Button. Albers, Monteiro, Webber, Trulli.


Japanese GP: Ferrari Saturday qualifying notes

Rubens Barrichello
F1 > Japanese GP, 2005-10-08 (Suzuka): Saturday qualifying
Image by Ferrari Media Center

Japanese GP: Ferrari Saturday qualifying notes
Racing series F1
Date 2005-10-08

Japanese GP – Qualifying session

Jean Todt:

"We are very disappointed with the outcome of qualifying. After this morning’s free practice, we thought we would be fighting for places on the front two rows, but unfortunately, we find ourselves with one driver in ninth place and the other in fourteenth."

"Rubens did not manage to get the most out of his car, which was not perfectly balanced for the conditions prevailing when he made his run. Michael, who was very quick this morning before his accident, saw his qualifying ruined by the fact his turn to go out coincided with the moment when the rain intensified. The mechanics did a good job in repairing the car for this afternoon."

"The forecast is for a dry track tomorrow and so, looking at the grid, it is risky to make any predictions. All we can say is that, as usual, we will try and do the best we can."

Rubens Barrichello:

"There are two ways of looking at my qualifying. On the positive side, I was probably one of the last guys to make my run when the track was a little bit better with not too much rain. However, on the negative side, it meant that we were out on track in conditions where our package does not perform as well as it did in the past. On normal wets, the balance of the car felt a lot worse than it did in the morning when we ran with extreme wets."

Michael Schumacher:

"The rain arrived just as I had to start my run, which meant it was too late to fit the extreme wet tyres, so basically, all I could do was swim for home! In fact, in the first sector the rain was not so heavy that it would have justified the extreme rain tyres, although it certainly was on the rest of the lap. I think it is fair for to claim I was hit with bad luck today."

"This morning, we were very competitive, so in my mind, I was aiming for pole position. My accident in the morning was caused by a combination of riding the kerbs and aquaplaning. With a grid like this, it should be an interesting race tomorrow. I am happy for Ralf, who did a great job to take pole."

Ross Brawn:

"I don’t know what we could have done today in these conditions. It was just a lottery in which we did not pull out any winning tickets. It’s very frustrating. That was particularly the case with Michael, as the rain really got stronger just as he went out of the pits, which was very frustrating as this morning on extreme wets, before his accident he was very quick."

"It will be an interesting race tomorrow with the top four guys in the world championship starting at the back of the grid. It could be interesting or it could spoil the race. That is the problem with the current qualifying system when the weather changes like this."

Rubens Barrichello: 9th
1:48.248, 3 laps
Chassis: 248

Michael Schumacher: 14th
1:52.676, 3 laps
Chassis: 249


F1 > Japanese GP, 2005-10-08 (Suzuka): Saturday qualifying


FIA press conference: pole winner Ralf Schumacher with Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella
F1 > Japanese GP, 2005-10-08 (Suzuka): Saturday qualifying
Image by LAT Photographic

Japanese GP: Saturday press conference
Racing series
Date 2005-10-08

Japanese Grand Prix FIA Saturday press conference transcript with

1. Ralf Schumcaher (Toyota), 1m46.106s
2. Jenson Button (BAR), 1m46.141s
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m46.276s

Q: Ralf, difficult conditions but you got pole.

Ralf Schumacher: It was a difficult lap for all of us, I think. It was very slippery out there, you it saw with Jarno. He had a bit of bad luck and a lot of the other drivers did as well. He was just on the limit of what we could do and we were lucky with the weather. Especially, it was clear, you saw that with Giancarlo already that he could have gone faster but luckily the rain came in. It was actually down to our predictions, that was perfect, so thanks to the weather guy!

Q: You like Suzuka, you have always said that in the past, and looking at the grid now it is going to be an amazing race tomorrow because you have got a good chance of winning.

Ralf Schumacher: It is incredible. I have always loved Suzuka, I have been racing here since 1995. This is the first time for a Japanese team being on pole (here) which is obviously great. The team did a great job and I think we have a good chance tomorrow as well since some of the really strong cars are further back so we could have a really strong race tomorrow.

Q: And you are driving the new T104B Toyota, presumably for preparations next year. Could you talk a bit about the improvements compared to the standard car?

Ralf Schumacher: Yeah, thanks really to the pushing in Cologne, they brought the B-car to the last test and we decided it was a better car, more consistent, better front-end: It is basically an evolution to define directions for next year and it worked out.

Q: Jenson, you were out just after Ralf, was the weather maybe a little bit worse then?

Jenson Button: Not at all, it wasn’t raining when I was out so I think I was the last of the people in just greasy conditions. We were very lucky, both of us, but it was lucky more for me because I had a very difficult car to drive, a lot of understeer in the car. It’s great to be second on the grid and it’s Honda’s home Grand Prix, so it should be a very exciting race tomorrow.

Q: You did some running in the morning. How much were you plunging into the dark in the qualifying lap, you said the handling was not good, how do you live with that problem in the lap?

Jenson Button: Well, it’s the first time we ran this tyre because we ran a different tyre this morning. It was very difficult. On the out lap I knew I had some big issues, I had massive understeer, I couldn’t get my front tyres to work, I don’t know if it was temperature or just not enough wing in the car, but it just felt like a very, very slow lap, so to be P2 I am reasonably happy. I am sure all of us have set the car up for tomorrow in the race but for us we are very positive and think we can have a very good home race for the team.

Q: And what are your thoughts for the race in terms of your potential for winning tomorrow, bearing in mind the shape of the grid?

Jenson Button: It is never going to be easy even if the McLarens are so far back, we also have got Giancarlo here at the front with us. It is going to be an exciting race and I think we have a better car here in race trim than we have had at the last couple of races, we have solved a few of the problems we have had so we think it will be a strong race for us.

Q: Giancarlo, the rain was falling when you were out there, very difficult conditions, talk us through that.

Giancarlo Fisichella: It is true I have been lucky but unlucky because when I was out for my qualifying lap it started raining quite heavily in the last part of the circuit. I was really confident because his morning after the second free practice I was the quickest and the car balance was really good, so I was confident to do well. Considering the last part of the circuit was a bit too wet for the intermediate tyres I am really happy for today and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: And of course, the last qualifying with similar conditions was Australia and it worked very well for you there. What are your thoughts on tomorrow?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I am obviously looking forward to it. We have the two McLarens on the back of the grid which is good for us and for the Constructors’ Championship and for the race tomorrow and it is going to be an interesting race.

Q: Ralf, do you remember the last pole?

Ralf Schumacher: No, when was it? I have no clue. Last year in Canada?

Q: In a way this is Toyota’s first real pole because they did admit to running light at Indianapolis. What are your feelings on that, I guess you weren’t running light this time?

Ralf Schumacher: I guess so, we will find out tomorrow, won’t we! No, certainly not. But at the same time we have been lucky as well. I think we had particularly difficult circumstances but we saw there was not so much between DC and us, although he was out there first, but I was certainly lucky because Giancarlo would have gone a lot faster anyway. We could see that. But it feels great, I mean, being in Japan, on a circuit I like, with Toyota, the first time here on pole and it is a great result for the team.

Q: You mentioned you got the forecast right, did you know it was going to ease up for the first little batch of rain?

Ralf Schumacher: Well, actually, usually it never works to my advantage so that is why we were laughing amongst the mechanics and I said ‘okay, once Jarno is done it is fine but then it is going to start as usual!’ But just the prediction was simply great, I don’t know how it happened but it did happen.

Q: You got the right strategy for pole position?

Ralf Schumacher: I would almost guess that, I think we have known now since this year that we always have good strategies and I am sure it will work out tomorrow.

Q: Is there a difference between the strategy you might have used for say midfield?

Ralf Schumacher: No, no, no. After the morning and after yesterday we were fairly aggressive because we thought that even in dry conditions we might be slightly strong so we have no reason not to go and try to win the race. That could always happen with a bit of luck, the right car and the right tyres, so we are very aggressive in our strategies, so why not?

Q: Are you expecting it to be dry tomorrow?

Ralf Schumacher: That is what we expect, yeah. I think that is very common along the pit lane.

Q: Jenson, you must be pleased to be on the front row after the events of the past couple of weeks.

Jenson Button: It is fantastic and it is always nice to be on the front row, but especially at Honda’s home circuit. Again, as it was for Ralf, it was a little bit lucky, because it did start raining for Giancarlo just after my run. So, yeah, it’s a bit lucky but sometimes you get bad luck, sometimes you get good luck and it’s nice to get some luck this time.

Q: Did you get the forecast right?

Jenson Button: Yep, pretty much. I think we are correct with our forecast for tomorrow as well. As Ralf said, I think it’s going to be dry for the race.

Q: You were very quick in the second two sectors but not particularly quick in the first. What happened there?

Jenson Button: I just had very low front grip. I thought some of it was to do with the warm-up of the tyre but it wasn’t because I had massive understeer throughout the whole lap and I was very surprised to be second quickest, I really was.

Q: Giancarlo, the conditions very much changed during your lap. Did you realise that you were going to have to get as much as you could out of the first sector and just hope for the rest?

Giancarlo Fisichella: Um, unfortunately it was raining when I left the pit lane and the circuit was getting wetter and wetter, but especially in the middle sector and in the last sector it was a bit too wet for the intermediate tyres. But apart from that, I did a very good lap. I was already confident because this morning I was quickest, even with the full wet tyres. It is okay. I have been lucky but unlucky, I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am confident. We have both McLarens at the back of the grid and that is good for the Constructors’ Championship and for the race, so I’m confident.

Q: For the race itself, you have had the second quickest car in the dry, in theory you have a very good chance tomorrow.

Giancarlo Fisichella: We have a very good chance. We feel quite confident and we think we have a good strategy for tomorrow.

Q: Ralf, which part of the track do you feel is the most difficult to drive?

Ralf Schumacher: Well, for me it was almost every part because the car was very oversteery. I think you saw that during the lap. I went wide quite a few times, a snappy rear end, and due to the slippery conditions – it was particularly wet — to keep the car on the road and still be able to push (was difficult) and like Jenson, I was surprised. I just didn’t expect to do a 1m 46.1s.

Q: Ralf, how different is the new car to the previous version?

Ralf Schumacher: In detail, you have to ask Mike (Gascoyne) but it’s clearly a step forward in the way we use the front end of the car, more grip, which works a bit in my favour. I don’t know whether it was so helpful in today’s conditions but in dry conditions that’s really a step forward and that’s really to confirm and define the direction for next year. That’s why we brought it as early as possible, to learn more about it.

Q: Jenson, you often say McLaren is too good but now they are well behind you. Do you think you can beat them tomorrow?

Jenson Button: We will do everything we possibly can to do the best race we can but we have seen before when Kimi has started at the back or Juan Pablo, they have been very strong, especially in a circuit like this where aero is very important. I think we will see them coming through the field very quickly. But we will do everything we possibly can. We can’t go into this race feeling defeated already. We have to stay positive and look for the win, definitely.

Q: Is this the new order we can get used to, seeing Honda and Toyota drivers at the front of the grid?

Ralf Schumacher: Let’s hope you are right.

Jenson Button: We are hoping, but you never know. So much can happen during the winter. I am sure that both teams will be moving forwards very much. We are hoping we will move forward more, likewise for Ralf I am sure. I am sure in the future we will be very competitive and we will see both teams challenging for wins in the future.

Ralf Schumacher: As he (Jenson) said, basically. When both teams started, obviously Honda has been amongst us longer than Toyota. It’s obvious that it needs some time. Now, after four years this year, you would expect us to be further up the grid next year. That is what we all expect and that should be the case anyway. But it’s going to be a hard fight. McLaren is quite a bit down the road. Even Renault — we always forget about Renault – so there’s tough work to be done next year.

Q: When you qualify in conditions like that, but expect a dry race, are you running a full dry set-up, or pretty much that way?

Jenson Button: Yeah, you’ve got to. The race is 54 laps long and you have to concentrate on that. One lap in qualifying is important but nothing like the race, and especially the way the system is now, with the tyres and also the fuel load in qualifying, you have to think about the race.

Q: Giancarlo, the weight of the Constructors’ title is now very much on you. How do you feel?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I feel confident, I feel right. It is very important to get to the end of the race and do the best I can. Obviously it would be nice to win the race. We have a good chance, also because the McLarens are in the back of the grid so it is going to be difficult for them to score points – maybe not to score points, it’s going to be easy but maybe to get on the podium.



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