Japanese GP: BAR race notes

Today's 2002 Japanese Grand Prix was anything but the swansong Olivier Panis or the team had hoped for. He encountered the first signs of an as yet unidentified problem just three laps into the race and pitted twice while the team fought a...

Today's 2002 Japanese Grand Prix was anything but the swansong Olivier Panis or the team had hoped for. He encountered the first signs of an as yet unidentified problem just three laps into the race and pitted twice while the team fought a desperate battle to resolve it. Olivier tried to rejoin the race but was forced to retire after completing only eight laps. Jacques' race got off to a slow start and he lost five places on the first lap. He regained momentum after the first round of pitstops but then suffered an engine failure halfway through his race.

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda bid farewell to the 2002 season with mixed emotions today. They have little cause for celebration at the season finale but there are clear signs that things will get better in 2003.

Olivier Panis

"I felt something tighten just a few laps into the race and I stopped in the pits for the team to check out the car. I did another lap before pulling into the garage and the team did a great job to identify the problem. I rejoined the track for another lap but the car was undriveable and there was no way I could continue. It's disappointing because I really wanted to finish well for the team today but it wasn't to be."

"It's always sad when you leave a team, especially when you have worked well together. This year has been tough for me but the team have made good progress and I'm glad I was able to contribute to that. I want to thank everyone - the race team, the test team and the people back at the factory - for all their hard work over the last two seasons. I have really enjoyed working with them. I would also like to thank Jacques for being a great team-mate. Our relationship has been very good and I wish him and the team every success for the future. Auf Wiedersehen!"

Jacques Villeneuve

"I didn't get a good start and lost 5 places on the first lap, but things started to pick up after the first pitstop. I was having a good battle with Fisichella but he's a very tough guy to overtake because his car can be very wide! If we'd carried on like that we could have ended up going off and that's not a very fair way to go about racing. In the end, the engine gave way and that was the end of my race."

"At least we've made progress throughout this season and this is the first time that has happened at B.A.R so that's a positive. Next year will definitely be a lot better so we have to look forward now. I wish Olivier all the best for the future. He has been a great team-mate and we've worked very well together over the past couple of years."

David Richards, Team Principal

"This isn't the way we wanted to conclude the season but we have to put the disappointment behind us now and look to the future."

"I never underestimated the challenge of transforming B.A.R into a future World Championship contender and the same is true of our partner Honda. We have endured some difficult times this season but we have worked together to overcome our problems and make steady but significant progress. I would like to thank the team for all their hard work and congratulate them on a job well done. It has been a very tough season but when I look at where we started and where we are now, I am convinced that this level of commitment from everyone at B.A.R Honda bodes well for some very rewarding times ahead."

"Finally, I would like to wish Olivier the very best of luck for the future. He has been a great asset to the team over the last couple of years and has played a significant role in our development."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director, on the 2002 season

"2002 has been a difficult year and a much bigger challenge than I anticipated. However, thanks to a great deal of hard work by the team behind the scenes, we have begun to see improvements from our reorganisation earlier in the year."

"The performance of the chassis is largely determined at the initial design so we have been restricted in our ability to improve it to any major extent. However, we have made a good step forward with our mechanical reliability and have introduced a number of performance improvements. Honda have certainly made progress, particularly towards the end of the season, and this gives us great encouragement for the potential of our partnership. Our strategy for next season is to build a solid, reliable car, capable of regular points finishes. The steady progress we have seen this year gives us the momentum we need to go on and achieve that."

Driver/ Chassis
Jacques Villeneuve
Position: DNF (27 laps)
Best lap time: 1:38.058

Olivier Panis
Position: DNF (8 Laps)
Best lap time: 1:42.082
T-Car: BAR004/09


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards