Team Sauber-Petronas leapt back into the battle for fifth place in the constructors' championship following the United States Grand Prix Sunday, Heinz-Harald Frentzen taking the final spot on the podium, while team-mate Nick Heidfeld finished a solid fifth.

Both Sauber drivers benefited from their Bridgestone intermediates, the wet weather conditions severely handicapping the Michelin runners, and Frentzen drove perfectly to take third.

"I'm very happy! It's fantastic! Especially in our situation! We have had a very difficult season and podium finishes have definitely not been our regular targets. Today the weather and track conditions were just perfect for us," said HH-F, "I was about to come into the pits anyway, so I decided to ask the team to change to wet tyres just as it started to rain. As it showed, this was a crucial decision.

"The team did a great job and it seems that our car is more competitive in wet conditions. This was our joker. However, we had a similar situation in Monza two weeks ago when it looked very promising for us too regarding points. But today I just thought of enjoying my position as much as I could and was not so much thinking of finishing on the podium. Tonight we're going on to the streets to have a party! I'll invite the whole team. We definitely have a reason to celebrate. We made a big jump in the championship. My third place gives a lot of motivation to the team. I wish it all the best for the future."

Heidfeld was equally delighted, his fifth place netting the team a further four points - and will no doubt do him no harm as he seeks to secure a drive for 2004.

"A fantastic result for the team - and congratulations to Heinz-Harald for his third place," commented Nick, "I am happy with my own race. I made a good start and made up places, and though Button and I touched in Turn Four there was no damage. In my first stop I changed to dry tyres, which meant I had to come back in for wets soon afterwards, but that was the luck of the game today. We achieved the maximum this afternoon as a team, helped greatly by our Bridgestone tyres which worked perfectly in the conditions."

Team principal Peter Sauber was also over the moon, especially as the team is now fifth in the constructors' championship, where as pre-America the Swiss concern was ninth overall, and seemingly destined to do little better than beat Jordan and take eighth.

"10 points in a single race - after the sort of season we have been having in 2003 - well, it's very difficult for me to find the right words," concluded Sauber, "Under demanding weather conditions our strategy, the skills of the drivers, and the Bridgestone tyres, played decisive roles. The result is a well-deserved reward for the mechanics, the engineers, the drivers and Bridgestone, and in particular for our sponsors Credit Suisse and Red Bull, and Petronas who supplies us with the engine that also served us so well."

 

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