Team principals: Ron Dennis (McLaren-Mercedes), Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber), Jean Todt (Ferrari) and Frank Williams (Williams).

Press conference.

Q:
Can I have all your thoughts on the Japanese GP last weekend?

Mario Theissen:
Our drivers got into a collision with another driver and it was very difficult to avoid this under the circumstances. Apparently we had two special occasions, both with Robert, when he touched with Lewis Hamilton first and when he had the final part with Felipe Massa. You can always argue about race situations and if you ask 10 drivers you will get 10 versions. What struck me was that only Robert got a penalty of all the drivers who had a collision. I think that was not justified.

Jean Todt:
First of all we were completely unhappy the way the information was given about the tyres which had to be taken to start, which compromised our race. We decided, rightly or wrongly, to take intermediate tyres and after two or three laps we had to go and change the tyres and then move from the second row to the last row. I just feel it is completely inappropriate to start the race and to spend 19 laps out of a race of 67 laps behind the Safety Car. It was the right decision to start behind it but I don't understand why you do 30 per cent of the race behind it. I can understand two, three or four laps but not 19. The race should have been delayed. They are my two main comments.

Ron Dennis:
It was apparent to everyone it was appalling conditions. There was communication between Charlie (Whiting) and some of the teams, certainly our team. Our drivers were very concerned about visibility more than anything else and of course there were incidents, some of which may or may not be ongoing, but I think the reality is we should look at that race and say that we were fortunate no driver was hurt. It was a race in probably the worst conditions and all drivers tried to do the very best they could in those difficult circumstances. We should learn from the race but realise there was no perfection about last weekend. I think everyone has comments which could be made but in the end I don't believe any driver did anything other than his best.

Frank Williams:
I am well aware there were visibility problems behind the Safety Car. Our drivers were calling in about that but to take a positive note away, I think we should understand that what we were looking at were superhumans in racing cars, because the conditions were unbelievable. I think if you were riding as a passenger, you'd opt out within a few seconds of getting going.

Q:
Frank, your feelings about your drivers' performances this year, including Nakajima, and where he might go on to in the future?

FW:
I think Nico is a star of the future, Alex has been very reliable but I am not sure whether he is going to race again next year. Nakajima - too soon to say if he will have an outstanding future or a medium future in F1, but I think he is Formula One material.

Q:
Might he stay with you next year?

FW:
No comment.

Q:
Ron, how close did Lewis come to not getting the Formula One drive this year?

RD:
The decision was taken, I honestly can't remember, but I think it was in November and questions that followed on through to March, everyone that was asked I tried to answer truthfully. But I can't remember when the turning moment was, I think November.

Q:
Much has been said about Fernando Alonso potentially changing teams. What is your view on that?

RD:
Both Lewis and Fernando have contracts that extend beyond next year, we have made it abundantly clear to everyone involved inside and outside the team that we are focused on the balance of this season, trying to give equal opportunity for the drivers to compete for the world championship. That is the way it is going to be until after Brazil. If there's necessity for discussion then that is the time it will take place, not before.

Q:
Jean, Kimi is in with a chance of the championship but not Felipe. What has happened to Felipe, was it early in the season he lost his points?

JT:
It's mainly due to reliability problems. Our drivers have not made mistakes and have done a good job and as a team we did not do a good enough job to let them finish every race. If you want to compete for the championship you must be quick and get to the end of the races. Felipe had a few problems with reliability and had DNFs and it was the same with Kimi. On performance they have been very close and competitive and we are pleased with both of them.

Q:
Robert Kubica yesterday said he is disappointed in his own performance. Are you disappointed in him or is he just disappointed with himself?

MT:
I would say he is disappointed in the results he achieved and it is not just down to him. He suffered several technical problems in the early season, then the Montreal crash and then he missed the next race. It was clearly not his fault. It took him quite some time to acquaint himself with the new package, especially the standard spec tyre, but I don't see a weakness in him. Every driver has ups and downs and certainly Robert didn't have luck on his side this year. I am convinced he will be stronger next year.

Q:
And in comparison to Nick Heidfeld?

MT:
Nick had the upper hand. He had less technical problems although he had two today, and the season went much more smoothly for him and so he is ahead on points. To compare both drivers in terms of raw speed or performance, I don't see a big difference. It depends on which track a driver prefers or who has a strong day. They are quite close to each other.

 

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