Quotes of the week
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
Regarding the 2007 World Drivers Champion, Ecclestone said Alonso has "done nothing" for the sport since winning back to back titles in 2005 and 2006. "Kimi Raikkonen," Ecclestone added, "barely talks to anyone." He added, "It is painfully obvious to me that the right guy to be world champion is Lewis. In fact my main fear would be if he didn't win it. If Lewis wins the drivers' championship he will act like a real world champion. He will know exactly what is expected of him and what he has to do." Ecclestone hails Hamilton as a "miracle worker" following the dramatic retirement of seven time world champion Michael Schumacher. "But for him I'm not sure where the sport would be heading," he said.
FERNANDO ALONSO, reigning 2 times F1 World Drivers Champion, McLaren Mercedes
"I am really interested to know where I have lost this time, because I do not think I have lost six tenths in the other 100 laps that I have done this weekend," Alonso said. He answered "no" when specifically asked if he suspects McLaren of sabotage, but he also said he has "no idea" if he has been weighed down with much more fuel than pole sitter Hamilton. "If I was 3 or 4 thousandths behind, it doesn't mean anything -- it could be small differences in fuel levels or small details such as that. But six or seven tenths ... I can't remember any time that I was so far behind anybody. That was the strange thing about (qualifying for the Grand Prix of China). "If you have not had a good weekend, you say 'ok, I did not get comfortable with the car, with this corner' ... but I have been fast all weekend, also in qualifying-1 and 2. To be so far behind in qualifying-3 -- I am the most surprised of all." When Alonso was asked how much optimism he will now carry to Sunday's grid, he answered "None. Very little. You are fourth, you have to recover so many points, hope for the rain, hope for the others to have problems and you have the luck to finish." Alonso was also critical of the "atmosphere" he encounters at McLaren at every race, and accused Ron Dennis and his other bosses of planting negative stories about him in the German and British press. "When I joined the team, I hoped for more. I arrived with two world championships, we have improved the car as much as we can -- last year they were struggling to go into qualifying-3 and this year then are going to win the championship. The truth is that the treatment has not been very good."
Alonso seemed particularly bitter about Dennis, a day after the McLaren principal said he was "disappointed" that the Spaniard had not defended the team's principles of equality. "Sometimes it is better to shut up than to lie," Alonso responded. "And if he did that more often, I believe his team would be a better one. I believe that many of the things and the scandals that have occurred this year have been caused by him. I have spoken a lot with Coulthard, Montoya, with Kimi, and all of them left the team and found great happiness. There must be something. If something is going to improve, it has to start with them (the team). You always hear about, or I am always told about, the so-called equality of the team. It is impossible to have it in Formula One -- there is always a better engine, a better lap to stop, always a better something or other." Alonso is staunchly quiet about his plans for 2008, but he said he hopes to be able to prepare for next year "soon". "Sometimes, by the things you hear or the actions, it seems like they also do not have any desire (to continue together). I don't have a problem; I have another 10 teams that could be interested in me. Staying here ... it is necessary to look at whether it is the best thing to do or not," he said (After oddly qualifying six tenths behind his McLaren teammate and runaway title leader Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai, the reigning world champion did not try hard to hide his suspicion that the Woking based team had deliberately slowed down his car).
LEWIS HAMILTON, Formula One driver, McLaren Mercedes
“We were having a great race,” an emotional Hamilton said. “We didn’t know whether it was going to rain or not and the tires that I was on were just getting worse and worse. At the end I could almost see the canvas underneath. I was coming into the pits and it was like ice. I couldn’t do anything about it. The thing is, my mirrors were completely dirty so I couldn’t see through them, so I couldn’t see my tires but it just felt like they were completely finished," he explained. “And I was coming in that lap, so it could have worked out perfectly. I think we had the pace in the dry. It’s unfortunate, I'm sorry for the team, they did a fantastic job as always. It was the right decision and just unfortunate. It's my first mistake all year and to do it on the way into the pits is not something I usually do. You cannot go through life without making mistakes. The tires were finished, it was like driving on ice," he added.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Formula One driver, Scuderia Toro Rosso
"P4! A Fantastic race. In the beginning it was quite difficult, starting in the mid field. For a couple of meters the visibility was okay and then you got all the spray. After the start, I used my momentum to go round the outside of several cars. Even though it was really slippery I took the risk. I kept pushing as hard as I could. After I passed Kovalainen I had a clear track ahead of me and was able to push harder. Just as I changed to dry tires the rain came, but fortunately it went away quickly. I fought with Jenson, but when we realized he was on a two stopper, I didn't worry. The last 20 laps were unbelievable and even though I had the situation under control and slowed the pace, it was tough. A fantastic day for the whole team, especially with Tonio in P6. Yesterday I wasn't happy with my grid penalty but today I got my revenge on the track. Finish fourth is fantastic. When I left the factory in Italy, the guys said 'Sebastian, you must bring back some points' and I said I'd try. In Fuji we got close and today came this great result. Now I will celebrate with the team who did a great job in the pit stops and with the strategy."
FLAVIO BRIATORE, Managing Director, Renault F1 team
"(Ron) Dennis has often alleged to be very good at managing drivers, especially the Latin ones. "With the problems he's had with (Ayrton) Senna, (Juan Pablo) Montoya and Alonso, he must have lost the instructions manual. Maybe he did not study Latin at school."
JEAN TODT, Team Principal, Ferrari
Todt described Nigel Stepney as a "difficult character" whose unhappiness increased when he did not receive the promotion he wanted following the departure of Ross Brawn. "I was never expecting the guy to lose his head," Todt said. "He lost his head, that's all. Unfortunately, sometimes you have people who lose the sense of things and it's a shame because we all have some personal responsibilities. You should have some limits, some discipline, and he did not know how to place limits on himself and the problem is that there is a high price to pay." Todt insists, however, that Ferrari has no reason to fear Stepney's accusations, despite news recently that the Briton's planned autobiography was quickly pulled from publication without explanation. Todt said, "I have read so many times 'wait until you know all what Ferrari has been doing', but I'm quite (happy with) my conscience over the past 15 years and, believe me, if Ferrari had been (doing anything wrong), after all these controversies, it would have come out."
DAMON HILL, 1996 World Drivers Champion
"To call him [Sir Jackie Stewart] 'a certified halfwit' would be on the first level unkind, but on another level is nothing other than a wicked joke designed to visit the utmost humiliation on its victim. Regardless or not of whether he was alluding to his dyslexia, what he [Max Mosley] said was a gross insult to one of the sport's leading figures over the last four decades and a thrice world champion. Not only is it bad manners, it also calls into question the character and judgment of the man who represents motor sport throughout the world through the august institution of the FIA. It is conduct most unbecoming of an FIA president and, in my humble view, brought the sport into disrepute, a crime he seems so keen to eradicate. I would like to emphasize that my motive for writing is sheer indignation and outrage at what I see as abuse."
PETER M. DE LORENZO, Author, 'The United States of Toyota - How Detroit squandered its legacy and enabled Toyota to become America's car company'
"It's no wonder then that this inevitable plateau reached by NASCAR had caused anguished cries of "What the f---?" from people who should have seen it coming a long time ago, because the herd mentality that is so pervasive in corporate America is driven by one fundamental guiding principle day-in and day-out – and that is that there's never too much of a good thing – until that good thing bites you in the ass."