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What is next for Michael Schumacher? - Have Your Say  

Hang in there Mika - this could 
be your last chance
  Issue 32 - The Heretic  

October 5 - 8 News

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8-Oct: Rubens Barrichello (4th) was happy to be part of the Ferrari team in winning the Drivers' championship and added "I am happy for the team but the happiest man in the world right now must be Michael. I feel that with all the work I have done at the races and in testing and in collaborating with the engineers, I have contributed my part to this great day for Ferrari. Now I will concentrate on helping the team to win the Constructors’ Championship in Malaysia."

Jenson Button (5th had a bad start to the race as he dropped from 5th to 7th but managed to recover and said "My start wasn’t one of the best, but I kept pushing and got back to fifth by passing Ralf, who had a problem. The car was very well balanced, worked very well and I was putting in quite good times, although obviously not as good as McLaren and Ferrari. I think that it’s fantastic Michael Schumacher is world champion because he deserves it and has for many years. I am sure he will be celebrating tonight so I’ll try to be there."
His teammate Ralf Schumacher who spun out of the race said "I can barely tell how happy I feel for my brother. This year for sure the best driver in the best car and the best team has won. I had a very good start and at the beginning everything wasn’t too bad. But as it started to rain and it became quite slippery I went off the track twice through my own fault. I then spun when a Minardi driver decided to let me through at the very last moment. Gene braked unexpectedly and I had to brake suddenly myself, got on the kerb and went off."

Jacques Villeneuve (6th) managed to score a point for BAR and move them ahead of Jordan in the Constructors' championship. He was satisfied with his car and added "I made a bad start and was caught up in a big battle with the Jaguars. I tried to stay close to Button, so we could try to overtake him in the pits, but I was losing too much time behind the other cars and it is very hard to pass here. At least we have scored a point to move into the top five of the Constructors' championship. We are only two points behind Benetton and I am three points behind Fisichella, so it's possible that we will be able to overtake them in the final race in Malaysia."

Johnny Herbert has once again finished in 7th position just outside the point but he was happy to see Jaguar fighting with best of the rest and said "My first set of tyres were not quite right, the back end of the car felt very loose so it was difficult to be consistent around each lap. It's yet another seventh place for me but it was good to see the team up there with the best of the rest."
His teammate Eddie Irvine was 8th also complained about a loose rear end and preferred to be in Italy when he said "I made a great start and got past Button and Barrichello. My second stint was slow because the rear end was very loose. In the third stint the car didn't work as well on new tyres as I was hoping. Italy will be the place to be tonight."

8-Oct: At the Winners' press conference, Michael Schumacher describes his win here as similar to Monza but without the tears. He added that the track conditions were not ideal due to the light rain but it was enough to secure the title.
As for the crucial second pit stop, he indicated that while Hakkinen made his stop a couple of laps earlier, he had traffic and on his in-lap a Benetton spun in front of him which made him think that after his stop he would still be behind Hakkinen. But once he rejoined the track and Ross Brawn told him that he was in fact leading, he was relieved and described the feeling as amazing.
He couldn't describe the feelings he had when he crossed the finish line and just said that it was outstanding.
As for his plans for celebrating the championship, he indicated that they had no plans as he specifically asked that they don't plan anything until they do win because he thinks that brings bad luck but they will be celebrating for sure.

Mika Hakkinen described his feelings as so sad but understands that it is sometimes another driver's turn to win and in order to be a good winner one has to be a good loser and congratulated Michael Schumacher on winning the title. He added that it was Michael's turn this year as he has done the best possible job this year. Naturally he felt a bit disappointed but added that life continues and racing continues and hopes to have some good and exciting races in the future.
Regarding the crucial 2nd pitstop, he said the his stop was a couple of laps earlier than Michael's which gave Michael an advantage running a lighter fuel load and add to that some traffic and light rain and the result was Michael overtaking him in the pits. He tried his best towards the end but he couldn't catch him.

David Coulthard described his race as a very quite one as he didn't have much of a battle so he concentrated of keeping the car on the track in what he described as very difficult conditions.

8-Oct: Japanese GP - Race: Michael Schumacher wins ahead of Mika Hakkinen. David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve make the top 6 ... Full Report ... Timed Results.

8-Oct: Ricardo Zonta has signed as a test driver with the Jordan Grand Prix team for the 2001 season. Zonta was test driver for Jordan in 1997 before joining BAR. Chief Executive of the Jordan team Eddie Jordan said "I am delighted to have Ricardo back with our team. He was an exciting talent before, and now he has added experience to go with it, which will be hugely important to Jordan as the team doubles its testing efforts in order to mount a championship challenge. Ricardo will be very busy next year.

While Ricardo Zonta said "Returning to Jordan and staying involved with Honda is the ideal situation for me to build my experience. Of course I would like to race, but I am happy to be a part of building Jordan-Honda into a winning team.

Click here for the latest in driver and team movements

8-Oct: Japanese GP - Warmup Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session over half a second ahead of Mika Hakkinen. Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli make the top 6.

Only the top 4 are within a second and the top 8 are within 2 seconds.
Jenson Button who appeared to have problems during the session but in the end he managed to put the 5th fastest time over 1.6 seconds off the pace. His teammate Ralf Schumacher was in 7th place.
The Sauber pair of Salo and Diniz who qualified in 19th and 20th were 9th and 10th in the warmup possibly indicating a lighter fuel load than the rest of the field.
Eddie Irvine who qualified 7th only managed 11th this session while Heinz Harald Frentzen who qualified in 8th appeared to struggle this session and only managed 19th fastest almost 3 seconds of the pace.

Jean Alesi covered the most number of laps with 19 followed by Alexander Wurz with 15. Gaston Mazzacane who went off during the session did the least number of laps with 6 and Jenson Button only managed 8. Most other drivers completed between 11 and 14 laps.

Click here for the history of the session
Click here for the timed results

7-Oct: At the post Qualifying press conference, Michael Schumacher indicated that grabbing pole position is the first step in achieving their aim of winning the race and the championship here. He added that they have the perfect starting position and a competitive car but while that is a positive thing, the task at hand is not finished and that is why he doesn't see a need to celebrate this pole position just yet.
As for only running 9 laps during qualifying, he indicated that he simply didn't have time for a 4th run.
Regarding the start tomorrow and given that he had a bad start here last year and stalled on the grid 2 years ago, Michael's only comment was "See tomorrow!"
Michael finished by saying that he feels more pressure as this race is like no other but he is used to this and while he expects to fight very hard to win tomorrow he feels that he is ready.

Mika Hakkinen indicated his disappointment to miss pole position especially that his last run was very quick but made a slight mistake on the last chicane. He added that he was happy with the car and didn't need to do any major changes to the car during qualifying.

David Coulthard indicated that he struggled with the setup and balance of his car and didn't feel that he had a competitive chance of a front row on the grid.
Regarding what he can do to help his teammate tomorrow, Coulthard believes that everyone has been overplaying what teams can actually do in a situation like this. Nevertheless, he did indicate that he is not as quick as Michael or Mika and if he manages to get ahead of one of them at the start he won't be able to be as quick and finished by saying "Let's see what happens at the start first of all"

7-Oct: Japanese GP - Qualifying Session: Michael Schumacher grabs pole position just 0.009 seconds ahead of Mika Hakkinen. David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Ralf Schumacher make the top 6 ... Full Report ... Timed Results.

7-Oct: Japanese GP - 2nd Saturday Practice Session: Mika Hakkinen sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button. Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard make the top 6 ... Full Report ... Timed Results

7-Oct: Japanese GP - 1st Saturday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard. Jenson Button, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jacques Villeneuve make the top 6. Hakkinen is in 13th place ... Full Report ... Timed Results.

6-Oct: At the Friday press conference for the Japanese Grand Prix, Eddie Jordan has indicated that he has released Mike Gascoyne (ex Jordan Technical Director) to Benetton. He added that they (Jordan and Benetton) have come to an agreement without the need to go to court. Eddie Jordan was then asked about the situation with Tom Walkinshaw regarding the release of Eghbal Hamidy from Arrows, Eddie didn't elaborate and just said "I'm sure Tom will be able to tell you what the deal is."

Flavio Briatore indicated that he is not yet sure when Mike Gascoyne will start at Benetton and added that they are using this year and next in preparation for 2002 when Renault expects to become competitive. As for the lack of results from mid season onwards, Briatore said that they have been concentrating on next year's car while their main competitors (BAR and Jordan) have been progressing.

Alain Prost has indicated that he is still working on finalising the new sponsorship deals and once that is done he will announce the second driver and the new technical director but that could still take weeks or months. He is confident that they will be able to fund the cost of the customer Ferrari engines to be supplied from next year.
He confirmed that Jean Alesi will be driving for the team next year and that he will also stay with the team and is excited about the challenges ahead as he is putting a new team together just like he did 3 years ago.

Rubens Barrichello was asked how will he approach the race given that his teammate will be fighting for the championship and said "It's just a normal situation for me and I don't want to put any more pressure on myself that I need to. The situation between Mika and Michael is quite clear now. They have to fight for this championship. Now we must wait until mid-race to see where we are, and if I can help I will help 100 per cent. But if I start thinking now that I have to start doing something else to help the situation, then I would be putting pressure on myself, which I think would be the completely wrong thing to do."

David Coulthard was asked the same question and said "None of us knows what's going to happen, either tomorrow in qualifying or at the start of the race itself. We have to be patient. There's no plan we can make, other than to do the very best that we can."
As for his jump start at Indianapolis, Coulthard said "The first thing is to wait until the red lights go out. That's all. You can't anticipate when it will go out, although you can prepare yourself, which means staring at the lights and making sure you don't blink. But to actually anticipate it is difficult to do, although there's a rhythm that's built up through the season that could give you an idea how quickly the lights will normally change. But I obviously just moved a bit too soon."

Mika Salo indicated that he feels at home in Japan as he raced here for a long time and his wife is from Japan. He added that he has been in Japan for a week and is planning to stay for another week after the race.
As for the team he will be joining as a test driver next year, Mika indicated that he has been to the Toyota factory in Cologne and was impressed with everything they have there. He added that they have so much space that they could build an indoor circuit!
Regarding when he expects to drive the new car, Salo said that the plan is to have the car ready in March but if Toyota want him to test some other car before then then he'll be happy to do that.

6-Oct: Japanese GP - 2nd Friday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher continues to set the pace ahead of Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli make the top 6. A strong earthquake hits during the session but results in no serious damage ... Full Report ... Timed Results.

6-Oct: Japanese GP - 1st Friday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella make the top 6 ... Full Report ... Timed Results.

6-Oct: "Hang in there Mika - this could be your last chance" is the title of the 32nd issue from the Diagnosis and Prognosis Series for the 2000 season. In this issue, the Heretic looks at the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix - Check it out here !!

5-Oct: At the Thursday press conference for the Japanese Grand Prix, Takefumi Hosaka (Honda) has indicated that Honda will be providing works engines to both BAR and Jordan from next year (as previously announced) and will work with BAR on chassis collaboration. He added that they will be hoping to push ahead of the other leading teams in terms of performance and will also try to introduce new ideas on the chassis side with BAR.
As for being fair to both BAR and Jordan, he indicated that they have the necessary experience in providing several teams as they have done in the past in Formula 1 and currently in the CART series.
Honda will be introducing a new engine for qualifying and practice at Suzuka and Mr. Hosaka hopes to achieve a good result but indicates that it will be very difficult.

Norbert Haug (Mercedes) indicated that the engine failure on Mika's car at Indianapolis was due to a problem with the pneumatic valve system as some of the parts used were from a bad batch. Mr Haug is confident that the problem has been resolved although he cannot guarantee 100% that it will not happen again. He added that they have covered a lot of laps in testing since then and hopes that they will have a good race.
Regarding the championship, he is hoping that they can take it to Malaysia but acknowledges that Michael Schumacher is looking strong and it is not going to be easy for Hakkinen to beat him but at the same time it won't be easy for Schumacher to beat Hakkinen either.

Hirotoshi Honda (Mugen Honda) has indicated that this might not be the last Japanese race for Mugen and added that Mugen are in discussions with Honda and they will be making a public announcement at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mika Hakkinen indicated that he was very disappointed by the retirement he had at Indianapolis but that is motor racing and he had to get over it. He added that he is confident that he'll be able to win this race and take the championship challenge to Malaysia and that is his only way to continue to fight.
As for the pressure, he said that he had similar pressure the last two years and it is no differnet. He added that anything can happen and while an eight point difference is a lot with only two races to go, the difference could disappear if the result here was the opposite to Indianapolis.
He finished by saying that at every corner will try to brake three meters later.

Michael Schumacher is hoping to clinch the championship here as he prefers to finish it sooner rather than later and will be going for a win as that is what is needed to win the championship. As for the eight point difference, he said that 8 points are a nice cushion but are not enough so he is not stupid enough to believe now in the title.
He finished by saying that if Mika Hakkinen will try to brake three meters late, he'll brake five meters late. Mika Hakkinen then said "See you in the gravel" to which Michael replied "We'll meet together"!

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