Toyota's Mika Salo looks ahead to the last race of 2002, the Japanese Grand Prix. "I am already in Tokyo, having flown straight here from Indianapolis the day after the United States Grand Prix. I wanted to get some time with my wife Noriko and...
Toyota's Mika Salo looks ahead to the last race of 2002, the Japanese Grand Prix.
"I am already in Tokyo, having flown straight here from Indianapolis the day after the United States Grand Prix. I wanted to get some time with my wife Noriko and son Max - both of whom flew out before Indy - before a heavy schedule gets under way next week."
"The weather out here has been pretty poor since I got here and even delayed my arrival. Tokyo airport was closed because of the high winds and heavy rain, so circled for ages, waiting for conditions to improve. Then, once I had landed, I wanted to catch a train to where Noriko is staying, but the rain was closed because of flooding. In all, it took me 27 hours to get from Indy to Tokyo and I'm still feeling a bit tired as a result. Let's hope that the weather improves prior to next week's Japanese Grand Prix."
"It's good to be back in Japan because it's like a second home for me now. I lived here for four years while racing in the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship and I met Noriko out here. To cap it all, I'm now racing for Panasonic Toyota Racing, so it's pretty hectic out here, whether it seeing friends of Noriko or doing promotional activities for the team."
"I think we have a lot of public relations work planned for the start of next week. Understandably, the local media have a lot of questions to ask us about our first season in F1 and I can only apologise to them in advance for being unable to speak Japanese because that would make the interviews a lot easier. Instead we will have to communicate via an interpreter."
"There will be a lot of autographs to sign and people from within the Toyota family to meet. While all this is part of my job, I know it will feel good to get into the car next Friday and concentrate on the driving. Suzuka is where I made my grand prix debut in 1994 and it's a totally mega circuit. There are several fast corners to keep your attention and I particularly like the Esses, the section of track behind the pits. You need to left-foot brake there to help the car change direction and it's a place which proves how well or badly you have got your car working."
"I know the track well, having driven hundreds of kilometres there in both races and tests in the past, so I hope that local knowledge will give me an advantage over some of the guys who only race there once a year. We tested the TF101 test car at Suzuka in October last year, so we will have some track data to work from. Nothing would please me more than to end my time with Panasonic Toyota Racing on a high, and as always I will be aiming for a points finish."
"When I get out of the TF102 for the last time after the race on Sunday afternoon I will be a little sad because I have really enjoyed my time at Panasonic Toyota Racing and it's always sad when good things come to an end. But I like to think that I have played my part in bringing the team forward and I can only wish Olivier Panis and the team luck next season and for the future."