F1

Japanese GP winners' press conference

Q Well Damon, after 67 grand prix and 21 wins, you've finally done it. Has it sunk in yet? DH No, it's all too much. I'm sorry I just can't really put it into words how I feel, I don't know. When I got the word that Jacques was out...

Q Well Damon, after 67 grand prix and 21 wins, you've finally done it. Has it sunk in yet?

DH No, it's all too much. I'm sorry I just can't really put it into words how I feel, I don't know. When I got the word that Jacques was out it threw me for a while because I just couldn't really take it all in as I was driving. I wanted to win the race for Williams so I'd like to dedicate this, my final victory and my final drive with the Rothmans Williams Renault, to everyone at Williams and also to Renault, but if you don't mind I'll take the championship myself.

Q When did you find out or rather how did you find out that Jacques had gone off the circuit?

DH I just got word that Jacques was out with about 15 laps to go or something.

Q And that came over the radio from the pits?

DH Yeah.

Q Going back to the race you seemed to get a very good start, which must have pleased you enormously?

DH Yeah, Jacques got a bit too much wheel spin I think and I made quite a good start so it was worth all the practise starts that I did. I got in the lead and I was able to just judge my pace as I went along.

Q What happened about 3 laps in because we saw you have a bit of a clash with Gerhard Berger? It looked a bit hairy for a moment or two.

DH Erm, no not really.

Q You just closed the door on him, maybe you didn't notice how close he was to you about 3 laps into the race?

DH Well I heard an engine noise, that's all I heard from Gerhard, so I was just keeping my line and then when I looked in my mirror he was a long way back.

Q The pit stops were they planned or were they on call were you waiting to see...

DH ...no they were as we planned so we followed pretty well all the plans we laid down before the race.

Q 1 lap from the end you came very close to the pit wall. Was that as a warm up for the team?

DH I was just so happy to be out there in the lead I thought I'd give them an early one anyway, just to get in the spirit of things.

Q Damon, well done. Michael you won here in 1994 and 95. Did things go as planned today?

MS I can't remember I did win in 94, to be honest, I thought it was him (nodding to Damon) but nevertheless.

DH I think you're right.

Q 93 and 95.

MS 93? This is true, OK. The race did go well. I had a bad start I would call it, not too good. I lost 2 positions against Gerhard and Mika but then the race went well. We made a good pit stop strategy again and for this, 2nd position was the most we could hope for.

Q Did you feel under pressure from Mika towards the end or were you pretty confident you'd be able to stay in front?

MS No, obviously there is pressure if someone is behind you but I knew when I was behind him and I was quicker there was just no way to pass if you're not a lot quicker and as I was in front of him I could pretty well judge the pace he was doing and where it was possible to overtake but he never was in a position to do so.

Q How does it feel to be handing over the championship to Damon?

MS I mean to be honest I have to say he deserves it. He waited long enough for it. He did a good season and obviously, as he is going away from Williams, it's very good so I only can congratulate him.

Q A point for you - Ferrari are now ahead of Benetton in the constructors championship, so that must be very pleasing for you?

MS Yep, it is for sure not unpleasant.

Q Mika you had a good race today. Obviously Suzuka is one of your favourite circuits because you have finished well here on many occasions.

MH Yeah, that's correct. It is my favourite. There are a lot of great circuits in Formula 1 in the world but Suzuka is probably one of the best, with Spa. I think whoever designed this circuit should design all the Formula 1 circuits.

Q You made a very good start. Can you tell us how you felt things were going right at the start of the race?

MH Well I had a very good start, I have to admit. I really didn't have any problems and only was worried, I guess it was the worry for everyone, was because the first start was stopped and all the engine temperatures and clutches everything got really hot and it was a pretty hectic moment because the temperatures were raising so high it was really close to lose the water from the radiators.

Q So Damon, what are the plans for tonight?

DH Celebrate.

Q Thank you.

-- David Goodwin

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