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GP Week : Issue 32
>>F1Japan Flav says his boys are ace! FLAVIO Briatore has heaped praise on Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet after the team recorded its best result of the season with a win and fourth position netting the team 15 valuable points. Briatore spoke of Alonso’s great drive to record his second win in a row, but saved special mention for Piquet after arguably the Brazilian’s most genuinely competitive race to date. “I believe the car is much more competitive and gives the opportunity to the drivers to drive in the car,”Briatore told GPWeek. “Nelson had an amazing start and after that was brilliant. He was in really, really, really good shape and Fernando was typical Fernando: very consistent, very relaxed. We turned down the revs I believe after the second pit-stop and, you know, the only problem was to make sure they finished.” The Italian confirmed the team’s confidence as it nears the end of the season, stating that for the first time he believes they have real pace. “We knew that the car was competitive. Yesterday in qualifying we had 18 laps like everyone else. It was the first time we fought equally with McLaren and Ferrari. Kubica was about six tenths slower than us. When I saw Fernando second and everybody fighting like mad, I thought it was an incredible chance for us. “The car is very good overall. Nelsinho yesterday was very good. He needs to learn to qualify because his races are very good. Yesterday he missed out on third qualifying by nothing, but today he was very confident. I said to him ‘Have fun. Drive and have fun.’ He finished fourth and at one point was very close to attacking Kimi Raikkonen. But we didn’t want him to. For him it was too important to finish.” Briatore confirmed that he was happy with where his team was now headed, but could not shed any light over the future of either of his drivers. “With both drivers we’ll decide at the end of the season. At the first race already people asked me if Fernando was going to Ferrari, and afterwards in BMW, and afterwards in Toyota but nobody asked me about GP2,”he laughed, “Nobody was thinking about GP2 as well, but I just decide at the end of the season. But I think I’m very happy, I think the team has done a very good job in the last three or four races.” Solid weekend for Toyota ... or was it? TOYOTA had a race of contrasting fortunes at their home circuit. Jarno Trulli was in solid form to take fifth place for the team and admitted that while the overall result had been disappointing, he could not have driven any better. “We have to be happy with that today but honestly I wanted to give a bit more both to the team and to all the Japanese fans who cheered us on. I was really hoping that we could make the podium but this fifth place was all that we could have done this afternoon. I gave everything from start to finish but we could not do any better today. We’ve been competitive all weekend and the car was good again in the race but the lower temperatures didn’t help us. That meant that the car was slightly unbalanced. I tried to keep Piquet’s Renault behind me but they were very quick today.” His team-mate Timo Glock put a brave face on the disappointment of retiring from an event in which he had looked like a genuine challenger. Glock topped the second practice session on Saturday and after also proving quickest in the first qualifying session it was obvious Toyota were not showboating in front of their home crowd. The pace was real, and on a heavy fuel load the team was hoping for a serious points haul. The German, however, was forced to retire on only the seventh lap. “I made a good start but I lost ground when everyone went wide at the first corner and I was pushed off the track. Then, following David Coulthard’s accident it felt like I drove over some of the debris. After that the car felt strange and in the end I lost the car on the kerb at the exit of turn 6. I went over the grass and the car launched through the air. When I landed it felt like something broke on the rear, causing us to retire. It’s a particular pity because we had a lot of fuel, we looked strong all weekend and we were confident of picking up a good result in front of our home fans.” 27