Japanese GP: Williams preview

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's performance at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season at Indianapolis secured second place in the FIA Formula One World Championship. This marks another year-on-year advance in the achievements of the team which...

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's performance at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season at Indianapolis secured second place in the FIA Formula One World Championship. This marks another year-on-year advance in the achievements of the team which finished the 2001 season in third place.

While the constructor's battle with McLaren has been resolved, BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher will head a three-way contest with McLaren's David Coulthard in Japan for third place in the driver's standings.

The Suzuka circuit is a fast, power-based track that is expected to suit the WilliamsF1/BMW combination. Montoya heads the pack of three chasing third place in the driver's table, but Schumacher holds the current lap record of 1:36.944, and whatever the outcome of the final race, that honour will remain Ralf's as the unique 'figure-of-eight' circuit has been altered since last year. Suzuka also marks a century for Ralf as this race will be his 100th Grand Prix.

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"I like the Suzuka circuit and I would count it among my favourite tracks. It is fast and similar to Spa, with a lot of changes of direction which tends to suit my driving style. Last year I qualified and finished in second position, which gives me reasonable confidence for this year. I would be surprised though if we could be close to Ferrari in Japan."

"Last week in the US we secured second place in the Constructors' Championship, which was our target, but the Drivers' Championship is yet to be decided. While it is a pity that we fly to Japan when the Championship has already been decided, I expect the Japanese fans will be as excited as always, and it is amazing how passionate they are."

Ralf Schumacher:

"I am not sure if I have a favourite track in the Formula One calendar, but Suzuka is one of my prefered venues. The S-corner and the very fast 130R are probably the most demanding combinations of track that Formula One offers, making them a real challenge for car and driver alike."

"I am due out in Toyko one week before the race due to a BMW marketing commitment. I enjoy staying in Japan after my experience of racing Formula Nippon in 1996. Hopefully our race performance will produce a positive end to the season to give us the essential motivation to close the gap to Ferrari for next year."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):

"Suzuka is the last race on the calendar and is one of the most exciting circuits, in the same league as Spa. The high speed flowing corners to start the lap combined with a hairpin, a chicane and the infamous high speed 130R are a tall demand from the drivers, and rhythm is an important aspect of being quick at Suzuka."

"The Japanese circuit requires higher downforce and a stiffer than normal set-up to ensure high speed stability. Braking is also important for the two stops at the hairpin and the chicane. Michelin have taken a good step forwards over the last two GP's. They brought a strong tyre to Japan last year and I am sure this trend will continue."

"Engine power is important to be able to run the high wing levels. This aspect also makes it difficult to overtake, although a great opportunity exists into the chicane. The high fuel penalty and tyre degradation usually means a two-stop strategy in the race."

Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director)

In my view Suzuka and Spa are the greatest Formula One circuits on the current calendar. Suzuka is extremely challenging for the drivers, chassis and the engines alike. As a driver Suzuka has always been one of my favourites and I won there twice, in 1987 and 1991. That said, we are under no illusions that the track will suit the Ferrari. Closing this gap requires a quantum technical leap. As a consequence, the end of the season will be welcomed so everybody can concentrate on preparations for 2003. As concerns the engine we are pleased with the progress. We tested for the first time the completely new P83 engine on September 18th in Barcelona.

-williams-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams