The Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team was just 4.5secs away from scoring its first World Championship point today at a chaotic, rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix. Adrian Sutil again drove a highly impressive race to scythe through the field from...
The Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team was just 4.5secs away from scoring its first World Championship point today at a chaotic, rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix. Adrian Sutil again drove a highly impressive race to scythe through the field from 20th on the grid to 9th at the chequered flag, passing racing veterans Barrichello, Trulli and Button on his way.
After a long battle with Liuzzi, in which the pair traded positions several times, he was sadly unable to keep the advantage and score his and the team's first points. Sakon Yamamoto had a very successful home Grand Prix, finishing as the highest classified Japanese driver in 12th position.
The 67-lap race got underway behind the safety car as torrential rain soaked the 4.5km Fuji Speedway. Sakon took advantage of the lengthy safety car period to pit for a maximum level of fuel and tyres on lap 13 and was able to capitalise and move up the order when racing began at the end of lap 19.
The 25-year-old Japanese driver was up to 11th before his second stop, and demonstrating a cool composure in only his fifth race for the team, fought back up the order to claim a comfortable 12th position, 12 secs ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli.
Adrian's one and only pit stop unfortunately then coincided with a second safety car period caused by an accident for Alonso. The delay dropped him down to the tail end of the field, but he was able to use his knowledge of the Fuji Speedway to move into 9th by the end of the race. Although missing scoring a point was ultimately a disappointment after such a tough race, the top ten finish is nevertheless the team's highest finish to date.
"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 9th, so we are getting there. In special weather conditions such as these today I think we are very strong.'
"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.'
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer:
"It's a case of mixed emotions for us. We had a very good day, with a solid performance from both drivers and the team in very difficult conditions, but it's also disappointing not to have picked up a point. Once again in wet conditions we proved that we were on top of the strategy, although we were unlucky with Adrian in that the second safety car period fell when he was due to come in and lost us several positions."
"We were still able to get some of them back, but it was just not quite enough. But well done to both drivers; Sakon again drove a very good race and although we can be happy to finish in front of the works Honda and Toyota teams, ultimately it's a disappointment not to have picked up our first point.'
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director:
"We're getting there steadily - 14th in Belgium and now 9th here - so I think it proves that the investments we have made and the progress we have taken is finally paying off. Of course it is disappointing not to have scored our first points today, but if we keep progressing at the way we have done in the last three races, I do not think they will be far away. China cannot come soon enough for us."