Eddie Irvine: For a while it looked as though Eddie Irvine might repeat his usual Suzuka magic and get a helping of points, but in the end, it didn't happen. A great start put Eddie fifth, but after a delay at his first pitstop he was passed by ...
For a while it looked as though Eddie Irvine might repeat his usual Suzuka magic and get a helping of points, but in the end, it didn't happen. A great start put Eddie fifth, but after a delay at his first pitstop he was passed by Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. Later, Jacques Villeneuve nipped by him at the chicane, while Johnny Herbert got ahead at the second round of stops. Eddie followed Johnny home in what turned out to be eighth place after Ralf Schumacher's spin promoted him a spot. Adam Cooper spoke to him after the race.
Johnny Herbert may be counting down the final races of his career, but there's no sign of him taking it easy. In fact the last two races have seen him run at the sharp end of the field on race day, and threaten to finally break his 2000 duck. That has made up for a lot of disappointments earlier in the season.
"It's been good," said Johnny, "But it's unfortunate that we didn't score points in the US, which was our real chance. We didn't get that because of the pitstops, but this time we just weren't quick enough. We could have maybe done better in the stops, but I don't think our pace was quite on it.
"After the second stop I got in front of Eddie and was able to pull away a little bit, but the weather made it a bit difficult. There were probably two or three laps when it was quite tricky, and I nearly went off three times – fortunately I didn't. I closed up to Jacques [Villeneuve], but he may have had a problem."
In the latter stages of the race, both Johnny and Eddie were caught up in the lead battle as Schumacher put in a final surge before his second pitstop. "It was interesting trying to keep out of the way!" said Johnny. "The blue flags were out so damn early – half the time they weren't anywhere near me, which was ridiculous. I tried not to hold anybody up, and I don't think I did!"
Overall, it was a very satisfying performance, and a little attrition would have made a difference. As it was, only one car ahead retired. Johnny was on blistering form in his penultimate GP and just missed out on points
"It was good to beat Eddie at least, but it's just unfortunate that it was only for seventh – I seem to have a lot of them! But that's what I expected, because no-one dropped out last year either, and I finished seventh then. In the old days you could probably guess that you could start around 10th and get points, but the cars are getting too reliable now."
Meanwhile, Johnny was happy to see his former team-mate Michael Schumacher finally win the championship for Ferrari.
"I'm glad that it's all out of the way and it's done and dusted. He's finally won, and Ferrari have won. It was going to happen sooner or later. In fact, it's probably happened later rather than sooner!"
Now it's on to Malaysia, and Johnny's final grand prix. "I was very good there last year, and hopefully I can carry that on," he said. "I want to go out with bang!"