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Quotes of the week

Bernie Ecclestone

BERNIE ECCLESTONE,  President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association

"Ron [Dennis] gave Raikkonen the championship," Ecclestone said, referring to the decision to change Hamilton's strategy to a three-stopper after his gearbox went into neutral.  "He made no time on the road and lost 25 seconds making the stop.  If he had only lost 15 seconds he would have been fourth.  (Now) Raikkonen is champion.  I just hopes he starts talking more."  (Ecclestone, who made no secret of his desire that Lewis Hamilton should beat the Ferrari driver or Fernando Alonso or the title, said McLaren committed a "silly" strategy error that cost rookie Hamilton the sport's biggest prize.)

LUCA DI MONTEZEMOLA, President, Ferrari
"I've read what Bernie Ecclestone had to say about Lewis Hamilton's skin color and that it would be even better if he was a Muslim," Montezemolo said.  "Bernie would be better off talking about how the dishonorable decision taken by the FIA was humiliating for everyone, starting with him."  Montezemolo also cynically denounced the World Motor Sport Council for earlier this year declaring McLaren's car as illegal but allowing Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to continue fighting for the title.  "I've already thought about competing in the next championship with a 8 liter engine -- the team would be disqualified, but the driver would still win," he defiantly mocked.  He compared the concept of a McLaren driver winning this year's title to a "jockey who races with a doped horse."

Jean Todt

JEAN TODT, Chief Executive Officer, Ferrari 
"I could never expect that something like that [spy scandal] could happen. I am very bitter about this unnecessary story, where our main competitor did not have the vision to stop when they could have stopped it. So that is why we had to fight against that.  In a way we are still fighting against it outside the sporting world, but that is something I could not expect. I did not know that it could exist, but sometimes maybe you learn things. Maybe you are a bit naïve on certain things, but we had to move along on the sporting situation. And to move along was to try to win races and possibly to be first and second but we always kept the two things separate." Todt has also taken satisfaction in eventually mathematically winning the Constructors' championship on the track rather than via the FIA's judgment against McLaren. "To be very sincere, I was counting the points. I knew we had won, but I knew that it would always be said that we had won only because of the FIA's decision, not because of the sporting results. So I will say it is better now that it has been done normally."

DAMON HILL, 1996 F1 World Drivers Champion
"Rules are rules," Damon said. "The FIA have found some teams are in breach of the regulations. If this had been something McLaren had done during the season, do you think the FIA would have insisted that their cars were legal or illegal? I think on past performance they're prepared to persecute McLaren for any infringement that they've made this season.  It does get quite difficult to see where the consistency lies because if you go back to the beginning of the season, McLaren's argument is that Ferrari won the very first race using a device which was later found to be illegal by the FIA. They removed it but the result stood. It's very unsettling to have this appeal, but there is so much at stake and the FIA have to find somehow a way of being consistent. I can see how a couple of degrees fuel temperature can be regarded as being so negligible that it wouldn't make any difference but we're talking about such tiny differences all the time in Formula 1, there has to be a line where you're one side or the other."  Hill added, "You have to say there's no doubt there does sometimes seem to be one rule for Ferrari and another for everyone else."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, 4-times Champ Car World Series Champion, 2008 Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 driver
"I think nobody is irreplaceable," said Bourdais.  "Obviously a driver is one part of that success, and Carl Haas always seems to be able to find the right guy for the job, and it doesn't necessarily need to be Sebastien Bourdais, I guess. It's been other people before, and obviously great names, between Michael, Mario and Nigel and Cristiano, and I'm sure they'll find someone else that can get it done just as well and build a new group and start a new adventure."  Bourdais continued, "I can't really say what's going to be the toughest part of the next challenge. It's obviously different from Champ Car. In Champ Car everybody has the same car, and it's up to you and your team to do the best you can to beat the other guys, just by setups. In F1 it's a bigger scale. You need the best design, you need the best engineering team to use the car at its max when it's on the track, and it's more people involved, so it's a little more complicated.  You know, it's still a car which has an engine and four wheels, and you've got to make it around that racetrack as quick as you can. So we'll see how good we can do."

JOHN FORCE,  14-times NHRA Funny Car Champion
"I remember staging and looking at Coil walking away and thinking that I needed to get after Kenny Bernstein.  He's a killer leaver on the lights.  And the next thing I remember was somebody cutting my pants open and I was seeing bones, and that was pretty terrifying.  I broke a lot of bones and tore a lot of ligaments and tendons but I really had no head injuries.  And that's the safety stuff that we did that was really important from Eric's crash because my crash was worse.  My car was ripped into more pieces and I never saw a car pulling through.  It did save my life [safety measures instituted after Medlen's accident].  No doubt about it.  Maybe I just want to believe it.  But even my doctor, who's a big sports buff and has seen as lot of crashes, said 'You were just open.  Your arms and legs were flat outside.'  If you look at my cars now, they all have tubs in them.  It's expensive, but we got with Murph and Kenny and we got with all the Ford people and worked with the NHRA and said we're doing this."  John continued, "I found myself, when I was humped over in the car, not in pain.  It's amazing in that deal with all the blood that I didn't feel a lot of pain but I was feeling, 'This could be the end.'  And I remember trying to get right with God.  And first of all I don't know how to do it, didn't know how to do it, screwed that up, too.  And then I stood there and said,  'Look at you whining.  You think you're going to go.'  And I said, 'God can we do our deal now?' "  John added, "In four to five weeks is my appointment.  I'm going back to Dallas.  I'm going to have the two doctors take me apart and put me back together that started this.  The bottom line is I think I can build a better race car.  I'm going to live with those odds of getting hurt.  For 32 years I never got hurt.  Those kids I saw in the hospital that were paralyzed, no legs.  This ain't hurt, but it's what we do.  I'm not trying to be no hero, it's what we do."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE, NASCAR driver, Bill Davis Racing
"It's just fun racing. You just have to look at the racing and it's just good racing which hasn't been the case at most tracks in Formula One," Villeneuve said.  "I did 10 years of Formula 1 and it was time to move on and there's only one other big series in the world and that's NASCAR. It's the only one that's as challenging and I've always done things for the challenge -- and it's a huge challenge." (Despite the most recent disappointments in the Truck series, the former F1 world champion says he's enjoying his initiation into stock car racing.)

JEFF OLSON, Motorsports Journalist, Senior Writer for Racer magazine
"Believe it or not, Dancing with the Stars consistently pulls about a 13 rating, or more than 20 million viewers. The last Indy 500, and it pains me to say this, got a 4.3. Castroneves knows exactly how many people are watching him dance, and he knows the potential to boost his true calling. He’s fully aware that one win on the dance floor would be bigger -- not as significant, just bigger -- than both of his Indy 500s combined."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (to ESPN NASCAR reporter Mike Massaro)
"I'm starting to get impatient and driving really hard and over my head at times and wrecking guys, and putting myself in situations that I shouldn't be or normally wouldn't put myself in. Winning and going to victory lane is so addictive and you crave it so much. As patient as I want to be, it's hard."

On His Future Hendrick Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon Battling for the 2008 NEXTEL Cup Championship: "It makes my mouth water. Makes me wish I was in the middle of that, with that opportunity that they have. When I made the decision to go drive for Rick Hendrick, right off the bat I had two choices I could make. I could say, 'Now the pressure's on; now I've got to perform; man, I feel pressure; I feel a big load; what am I going to do? I'm in this great stuff, if I don't make it what's going to happen, what are people going to say?' Or I could be like the kid coming down the stairs Christmas morning ready to see what's under the tree. I can't wait to get there. I can't wait to feel, see how the cars turn in the corner, and see how they drive. I can't wait to work with the engineers. The goals now are for me to be the guy that's easy to get along with, surprise you at how hard I drive, and how much better of a race car driver I am than you thought I was."

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