Japanese Grand Prix Irvine 2nd, Schumacher retired Suzuka, Sunday 1st November Eddie Irvine: second at 6.491s 51 laps Michael Schumacher: retired, right rear tyre puncture Luca di Montezemolo "We all knew it would be very difficult to win...
Japanese Grand Prix Irvine 2nd, Schumacher retired Suzuka, Sunday 1st November
Eddie Irvine: second at 6.491s 51 laps Michael Schumacher: retired, right rear tyre puncture
Luca di Montezemolo "We all knew it would be very difficult to win the championship on this circuit and I am very disappointed that we did not manage it. I think we can take consolation from the fact we did all we could right to the very last. We are at the end of a magnificent season. That is down to the determination and talent exhibited by the whole team."
Jean Todt "We knew we faced a difficult task and obviously Michael's problem at the start made it virtually impossible. Despite his incredible climb through the field we did not reach our target. The unexpected tyre problem, whose cause we do not yet know, robbed us of any chance. Eddie had a great race to second place, but it was not enough for the championship. It was a very competitive season with many ups and downs. I want to mention the fabulous work of our strong and competitive team who have demonstrated their ability all season. Now we must think about next season and our objective is clear. We have the team and the necessary means to achieve it. I thank Goodyear, which is leaving F1 after so many successes with us. I also thank all our sponsors who have supported us, Philip Morris, Shell, Asprey, Telecom and Magneti Marelli."
Eddie Irvine "I am very pleased to be second. Of course, with Michael at the back, everything changed and I had to flick a switch in my mind. We had looked at every possibility except me at the front and Michael at the back. I had a fantastic start and pushed very hard to try and put Mika under pressure. But towards the end of every stint, my tyres started to go off and I had to drop back a bit. It was just a race between me and Mika, but I could not push harder. The best thing for me was that the modifications we made to my seat really worked and I was able to drive and brake harder. It is a very positive sign for next season as my back has hurt all year until this weekend."
Michael Schumacher "First of all I want to congratulate Mika Hakkinen and his team. They performed better throughout the season and so they deserve the title. I think we did not lose this championship today in Suzuka, but in the early stages of the season, when we were too far behind. I do not feel too disappointed, because I think the team can be proud of what we achieved this season. I feel sad for the boys, as all their hard work did not pay off in the end. At the second start, the engine stalled because the clutch did not free itself and I do not know why. All the work this weekend was then wasted as I had to start from the back. The first couple of laps were good fun. All the other drivers were very fair and did not try and make life difficult for me. I did not expect a rear tyre to explode as I had problems with a flat-spotted front, which caused a lot of vibration. Life goes on and now we must look forward to trying again next season."