Quotes of the week UPDATE #4
NEEL JANI, Champ Car driver, PKV Racing
Neel Jani was very impressed with the Australian Champ Car race organization and the interest shown by the public. “This many spectators, I have never seen in a motor sport event. Not even in Formula 1 last year!”
10/22/07 A new quote has been added by Lewis Hamilton.
LEWIS HAMILTON, leading contender for World Drivers Champion before GP of Brazil, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
"It would be wrong," Hamilton said if he was declared World Champion if it meant stripping Kimi Raikkonen of his title on appeal. "For me, I want to win it on the track. Being promoted after some people have been thrown out is not the way I want to do it." He said winning on appeal "would feel weird after Kimi did such a fantastic job in the last two races." He continued, "He won yesterday and to have it taken away is a bit cruel and probably not good for the sport."
10/22/07 A new quote has been added by Fernando Alonso.
FERNANDO ALONSO, defeated 2-times World Drivers Champion, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
"It doesn't seem like the season has been managed very well," Alonso said. "The result speaks for itself. McLaren lost the championship probably because of some of the decisions they took, especially in the second half of the season. It's no secret that they haven't helped me a lot. What Ron Dennis said in China about them not racing against Raikkonen but against me was a declaration of their intent," he added. "So McLaren did its part in losing the title, but Ferrari did a better job than the rest. In the last races both my hands were tied - I had no power," added the former champion. "I had to do it all the way they said and that made it harder to close the gap. They preach equality, but perhaps if they had invested in a driver for the championship they would now have the title. They know what they did or did not invest in me, especially in the last half of the year," he added. Alonso demonstrating the depth of his rift with McLaren chiefs, said he would be "embarrassed" if Ferrari's Raikkonen is stripped of the title. "It wouldn't be fair," he said. "I will hide my head in shame, it would be a lack of respect. It would sink the sport if they won the title this way." (McLaren wants the Court of Appeal to find three rival cars guilty of using illegally cold fuel at Interlagos; a decision that would hand the drivers' championship from Kimi Raikkonen to Lewis Hamilton. Alonso says McLaren lost the drivers' title not because of rivals' illegal fuel, but because of their own errors and bad management.)
A new quote has been added by Luca di Montezemolo.
LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLO, President of Ferrari
"It looks to me like it is a useless stress for everyone," said Luca di Montezemolo. "The regulations say that even if some car gets disqualified, it doesn't mean that the points are automatically given to the others. Enough of that, let's look ahead and let's send professional stewards to the races instead of amateurs at large," he said. "It must be said that the complexity of today's cars creates difficulties in checks and verifications, from the electronics to the fuels, aerodynamics and everything else. Everything is about hundredths of seconds." Montezemolo also said, "It would have been paradoxical if a driver had won with a car that was judged irregular and suspended," referring to Ferrari's bitter pursuit of British rivals McLaren this year in the espionage affair. "Yesterday was a triumph of sport in the face of disloyalty." He added, "After Hamilton's start and that needless attack on Alonso, I knew we could do it." (A stewards inquiry following the Brazilian Grand Prix has put in question Kimi Raikkonen's world championship triumph. It has emerged from Interlagos that investigations are currently taking place regarding the BMW-Sauber and Williams teams after fuel samples from the cars failed post-race scrutineering checks.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, 4-times Champ Car World Series champion, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver
"Well, it's been quite an above average day, I should say. You know, it's just the success of an awesome group of people within that McDonald's team. We started that relationship back in 2003. Just all the results really speak for themselves. You know, it's how good these guys are. And they proved it today again when we came in the pits in third and came out first. From there, it was in my hands to try to make it stick. We had a great fight with Justin when he short-filled and got ahead of us. Then we had to, you know, stay with him with a heavier car, and we pulled it off. Then coming to that last corner, it's just all the emotions flowing through your mind. Just you realize how much has come to you and how much you've achieved with these guys and you get the sense that it's coming to an end very closely now. What a fun five years it's been. I'm surely not going to forget about it any time soon. It was one of those races where I decided to have fun with it and give it all we had," said a happy Bourdais. "To win the race, win the championship, be the first repeat winner in Surfers - what a day!"
BILL ELLIOTT, Veteran NASCAR driver
"I never raced so hard to get nowhere in all my life." The veteran driver finished 34th, which will force the Wood Brothers entry to qualify on speed for next weekend's race at Elliott's home track of Atlanta.
PAUL TRACY, 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, Forsythe Championship Racing
"This is probably the biggest of any motor racing event in terms of the show and crowd support," Tracy said. "They bring new race promoters and venues to this event ... this is the model that Champ Car wants to achieve. There is so much crazy stuff that goes on here that legally in the United States you could never do," says Tracy. "You can't have helicopters flying 300 feet off the ground, people doing burnouts with dragsters and doughnuts. You just can't get insurance for doing things like that ... the lawsuits would be horrendous." (Commenting on the extraordinary Champ Car race in Surfers Paradise, Australia)
ORIOL SERVIA, Champ Car World Series driver, PKV Racing
"I've been to many European races, Monaco, the Formula Ones, and from a driver, from a fan, it's the best race on the planet," said Servia. (Commenting on the spectacular Champ Car event in Surfers Paradise, Australia)
DAVID HIGDON, Executive Vice President, Strategic Development and Communications, Champ Car World Series
"It is like a light bulb went off inside my head. This [Surfers Paradise] is the perfect model for a Champ Car event. It has been here for 17 years and progressively grown and solidified its fan base. We have to do things at each event as they are done here," Higdon said. "We think that Will Power is not only a big Australian fan favorite, but has huge potential to be a global name. I have spent a significant amount of time with him and I am convinced, because of the way he carries himself and his personality, he could be a big name for Champ Car for the future. It is not ridiculous to suggest that an Aussie Flagship could steer Champ Car." (As the head of strategic development for Champ Cars, Higdon says the Surfers race not only houses the blueprint, but also the personality that can take the series out of its current plight)
KIMI RAIKKONEN, 2007 World Drivers Champion, Ferrari F1 team
As he celebrated becoming Finland’s third world champion, Raikkonen said, "We were not in the strongest position but we always believed that we could recover and do a better job than the others, and even with the hard times everyone was sticking together and we did not give up. I was not really 100 percent sure if someone would stop but there were people who needed to finish and we did not know 100 percent and it took a long time to hear that we had finally won it. It has been a good finish of the season and I am really happy. An amazing day!”
Asked if he thought beating his Woking based successors Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso was "justice" at the end of a tumultuous 2007 season, he answered: "I think so, maybe yes." Ferrari inherited the constructors' title earlier this year when McLaren was disqualified for the spying affair. "I have enjoyed formula one much more this year than I enjoyed the last few years, for many reasons -- not because of the driving, but for some other reasons. It is such a nice big family (at Ferrari), great people to work for. I'd rather win with them than anyone else," Raikkonen added. It was immediately apparent, however, that rising to the top of his sport had not fully cured his monosyllabic approach to the media. Kimi began an answer with the words "not much" when he was asked what went through his mind as he crossed the Interlagos finish line as F1's newest champion. "It's not going to really change my life too much," he later elaborated in the news conference, revealing that his reputation as a lover of parties would be exercised not only in Brazil but also when he returns to Europe in the coming days. "People will probably try to make up more stories about me but I'm not going to change myself, I never did before and it's not going to happen in the future. I lead my life as I want and that's it."
LEWIS HAMILTON, leading contender for World Drivers Champion before GP of Brazil, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
“It’s been a crazy year, but I can’t really say that I’m gutted or that I feel I was robbed,” he said after losing by a single point. “It was just unfortunate. We’ve all of us had some bad luck this year; it’s just a shame that mine seemed to come all at the end of it. All along I said to myself that, whatever happens today, who would ever have thought that I would lead the world championship? It’s been a great feeling, having the possibility to win it. The team have done a fantastic job for me all season, and of course I wanted to win. But I guess it wasn’t our turn after all this year. But I will come back next year stronger, for sure. The start wasn’t that great and I got boxed in behind Kimi, then Fernando came past me and I locked up a bit behind him and lost some ground. But I knew that we had the pace to get that back. But then when I was downshifting for Turn Four the gearbox just went into neutral. And I coasted for an awful long time. I still don’t know how but I managed to coax it back into operation and get going again, but I had to be careful to manage the engine because the revs were very low. When that was happening, coming so soon after China, I just found myself thinking that for sure somebody didn’t want me to win the championship! Even after that, though, I refused to believe that it was over. The first time I thought that was when I saw the checkered flag. I never stopped thinking it was still possible. Our pace wasn’t bad today. Not quite the same as Ferrari’s, but we could have been a little bit quicker with more luck. After my mistake in China it was tough to have this luck here, but that’s racing. I’ve gone from GP2 to being ranked second in the world and I have every confidence that in 2008 I will come back even stronger, do an even better job and win. I’ll be better prepared and I have the experience of the whole thing. At the end of the day I’m second in the world championship, and I beat my team mate who is a double world champion. That’s a great result. I said I would be a winner, whatever happened today. I think that, apart from the start, I drove one of my best ever races today, so that’s why I say I don’t think I was robbed.”
ANTHONY HAMILTON, Lewis Hamilton's father
"We didn't win the Championship but we beat everybody this year, not just in driving -- in style, in character, in personality, and application. Everything you need to be a normal human being, we've done it this year. So I'm not unhappy one bit."
FERNANDO ALONSO, 2-times World Drivers Champion, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
“The result today is of course disappointing but we already knew that it would be difficult starting from fourth to win the race and the championship today. I predicted at the start of the season that it was going to be very close and that it would come down to the race here in Brazil, I just hoped that it would have been in my favor, but that is not the case and I just have to accept that for this year. It was a difficult race for me. During the first laps, I thought I was able to match the Ferraris’ speed; however, when they began pushing they were just too fast. Our car was fast and competitive throughout the year and I won four races. I am still satisfied with this season.”
CARLOS GRACIA, President Spanish Motorsport Federation
"It is perfectly normal for a British team and British fans wanting to succeed in formula one but it is ironic that the racists in England are having to rely on a colored pilot," said Gracia.
ANNE GIUNTINI, F1 Journalist, French daily L'Equipe; wife of Denis Chevrier, Renault F1 team
"Is that what you call the best job?" she grilled Lewis Hamilton. "Are you a sportsman?" She continued, "Do you think you can do everything you want and then you just apologize -- is that the way it works in Formula One?" Giuntini aggressively pursued Lewis Hamilton following accusations that he held up title rival Kimi Raikkonen on a qualifying flying lap in Brazil. She heatedly and repeatedly suggested that Hamilton did not easily let Raikkonen past on a decisive flier. Hamilton bristled back saying, "What do you want me to do? Put the indicator on?" before eventually refusing to answer any more of Giuntini's questions. Ron Dennis is quoted as shouting at Giuntini later in the paddock, "You will have problems, you will have problems," bringing Giuntini close to tears.
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
"Of course it's fair. All the races are fair," Ecclestone said. "If McLaren were favoring one driver I doubt whether we would ever find out, it's that easy. There are a million things people could do if they wanted to favor one driver. I don't think they need to favor anybody, I think Lewis will win quite easily so I don't think there is any necessity to favor anybody. Just look at his CV and you'll see the reason. He's proved it. He's the new kid on the block and he's leading the world championship in the last race."
NIKI LAUDA, 3-times F1 World Drivers Champion
"I would give him [Alonso] a court case for damage he has done to McLaren and Mercedes," said Lauda. "Then (I would say) let's sit down, you have a contract my guy, and you drive." (Commenting on speculation that Alonso is considering driving for a different team in F1 next season.)
RON DENNIS, Team Principal, McLaren Mercedes F1 team
"It was a mistake with the language," said Dennis. He admitted that he should have used the word 'he' rather than 'we', which implied that the McLaren organization in general was maneuvering against Alonso. "What I meant to say was that Hamilton was fighting more against Alonso than he was with Raikkonen. I was attacked by the press about something that I did not mean. It was a small and a bad mistake. My team always strives for equality between our drivers." (Ron Dennis at Interlagos tried to play down a slip of the tongue that further aggravated relations between his McLaren team and Fernando Alonso's supporters. Ruing Lewis Hamilton's pit entry mistake two weeks ago in China, the McLaren boss had said: "We weren't racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando." The comments were interpreted as further evidence that McLaren wants Hamilton, rather than his teammate Alonso, to win the title.)
ROBBY GORDON, NASCAR driver, Robby Gordon Motorsports
"I do...I mean I don't ever see it coming back. Do you? It's done..." (In response to a question asking if open wheel racing is dead in this country.)
MARIO ANDRETTI, Formula One World Champion, 4-times Indy Car Champion, IROC Champion, Daytona 500 winner
“From where I’m sitting, it is probably because of the money (in NASCAR),” said Andretti, a multi-series champion who crossed over to NASCAR and won the Daytona 500 and is considered by many to be the greatest driver of all time. “Every individual would give you a different reason. I think the strongest one might be financial. It’s not the only motivating factor but it is a strong one. And right now, the best chance to earn some money is NASCAR. Looking at certain drivers who have pretty much been open wheel the majority of their career, if open wheel was what it should be, I don’t think they’d even be thinking of leaving,” Andretti said. (Commenting on Open Wheel drivers moving to NASCAR)
ROBIN MILLER, Veteran Open Wheel Racing Analyst
“This makes no sense,” said Miller. “Neither Franchitti nor Jacques Villeneuve need the money. Jacques was making $20 million a year driving Formula One. These guys have already made it financially and have won major championships, so maybe they look at this as their 401K years. Open-wheel racing is such a dead industry now,” lamented Miller. “It’s so hard to get money and there’s so little sponsorship. Right now, Champ Car and the IRL have only limited seats in which drivers can make a decent living. Open wheel racing hasn’t provided a platform for these guys to succeed, especially these young kids. When I go to the sprint car races, all these kids are talking about the NASCAR development deals,” he continued. “They’re not even looking at the Indy 500 because they know it’s a dead end and they have no chance unless they have $4 or $5 million to bring to the table. Again, NASCAR wins because it has a viable ladder system in place that is supportive and you can be taken right to the top. You just have to bring your helmet and your talent and that’s the way racing is supposed to be.” He also said, “NASCAR races are not one-and-a-half or two-hour races like these open wheel guys are used to. You can’t go for the throat and run as hard as you can the whole race. These guys have to focus on conserving tires, staying awake, making 9,000 pit stops and trying not to crash. Franchitti is a very patient guy and it might play to his strengths because he’s got 500-mile races to get the car dialed in." Miller continued, "As far as the owners are concerned, even if you’ve got someone to be patient with you – Sam Hornish does with Roger Penske and he’s not going to throw Sam out after one or two years. “Whereas, will Chip Ganassi be patient with Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti? Don’t bet on it.”