Japanese Grand Prix 2011: The top six drivers’ reaction
We bring you the best of the drivers' post-race musings from Suzuka after Vettel sealed back-to-back titles
Jenson Button (McLaren) – First
“This was a hard race. The last five or six laps were extremely tough, I had to really look after the tyres and try to save a bit of fuel to get the car home, but it was an amazing victory. Sebastian [Vettel] came across at me on the start, he kept coming and didn’t stop, so I got on the grass and had to back out of the throttle, otherwise there would’ve been an almighty shunt into Turn One.
“He said he didn’t see me until he saw me backing out, so that lost me a place. But fighting back was so, so satisfying: the performance has been in the car all weekend. It’s such an emotional victory for me: there’s so much history at this circuit, and the crowd here has been amazing, this is second only to a home victory for me.
“I want to thank every single person here in Japan who’s supported us, hopefully we’ve planted a happy memory in their minds, because a lot of Japan has been through difficult times this year. We did our best and we put on a fantastic show.
“Seb has done a great job all season, and he deserved the title. He was given the equipment and just got on and did what was required of him. But, for us, there’s still more that we can achieve this year: I’d love to go out and fight to win the next few races, and I think we have the car and the team to go and do that. We’ll keep pushing and hope to get some more wins this year, but we’re also in a very good place right now, and I think that’s key to success in 2012.”
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) – second
“Congratulations to Sebastian! Winning two world titles at his age, in a season in which he has done it all: in qualifying, the races and every other way, so perfectly, is amazing and it is well deserved.
“For our part, we can do no more than try and do our utmost to try and beat him next year. Today, we did our best and we came close to winning the race. We know that in qualifying we are behind the Red Bulls and McLarens, but in the race, when there are variables like tyre degradation, then we can exploit some opportunities.
“Here, the others were very strong for the first five or six laps and then we closed up to them a lot. This podium is a great motivation for the final four races of the season. It was a fun race, in which the strategy was very important. Unlike recent races, today we had a pace that was good enough to fight for the win.
“We will try again in Korea, where we can go with our heads held high: we will try and win, or at least get on the podium again.”
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) – third
“A lot of people have been quite confident about the title, but one of the important things was that we didn’t allow ourselves to drift away with the thought too much. Instead we concentrated on every single step and everything we have done this year and everything we have achieved.
“I want to thank all the guys and girls in the factory in Milton Keynes, as it’s not just us here pushing very hard, it’s them as well ““ from the post office to the design office to the engineering office here at the track, their effort is just incredible.
“It’s hard to imagine you know, we have two cars and two drivers only and we carry that weight on our shoulders every time we go on track. Sometimes we don’t treat the cars as good as we should, but we always try to get every single bit out of them every race weekend. But it’s phenomenal what’s happened – we set ourselves the target to win the Championship this year and so, to win it by Japan with four more races to go, is difficult to put into words – it’s as confusing as the first one.
“I never imagined I would win one Championship and so to win this second one is amazing. I have a lot of good memories from Formula One, from watching it when I was young, to now and I feel fortunate and blessed to experience today.
“There were so many excited people when we did the drivers’ parade today and that was my last thought when I put my helmet on. For drivers, it doesn’t get much better than this, a sunny day and all the fans excited to see what you do – I think that’s what life is about. And so, to wrap up the Championship here is difficult to put into words – it’s more than fantastic.”
Mark Webber (Red Bull) – fourth
“Congratulations to Sebastian. To become a double world champion is a very good job. All the overtaking during the race was in the pit stops today, with not much on track. We passed a Ferrari and a McLaren, but it was quite even between all of us. I had some contact with Michael Schumacher, which did some damage to my front wing at a crucial part of the race as I was trying to come back through the pack. We made contact, but he got away with it.
“The safety car didn’t really come at the right time for me as I was hoping to have a look at Fernando [Alonso] around the stops, but when the field bunches up you have to go through the Michael situation again and it’s hard to undercut people.
“In the end it was a reasonable result; it was a great race for Jenson, it’s his second home race in many ways, and congratulations to Seb for the title.”
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – fifth
“This was a disappointing race for me, but it was a great day for Jenson and the whole team. Jenson did a remarkable job today, he really deserved this victory, but it wasn’t a great one for me.
“Still, I’m going to keep my head up and look ahead to the next race where I’ll hopefully have another chance. Clearly, our car has the pace to win, but I wasn’t able to compete today so I’ll go away and look at the data to work out how I can come back and be competitive in Korea next weekend.”
Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) – sixth
“I’m very happy with what we achieved in Suzuka today as we maximised our potential of the car, and managed to put in a good race.
“The team did a great job the whole weekend in finding performance and transforming it into the race. I think there was not more to expect and achieve. The pit stops were perfectly timed and everything worked out according to plan.
“I would like to congratulate Sebastian and his team who have been exceptional the whole year. It is extremely emotional to see him win the Championship again ““ I am very happy for him and even a little bit proud.”