A typically tough Japanese Grand Prix claimed eight retirements today including Jaguar Racing driver Pedro de la Rosa. Eddie Irvine, however, drove his Jaguar R3 to ninth place but the team’s sixth place position in the Constructor’s Championship was lost as the Jordan-Honda of Sato finished the 53-lap race in fifth place. Instead, Jaguar ends the 2002 season with seventh place in the Constructor’s Championship. A hot and sunny track greeted the drivers for the final race of the season but the problems experienced by Jaguar all weekend got no better with both Eddie and Pedro complaining of a general lack of grip. Pedro’s race, however, ended prematurely with 13 laps to go with a transmission problem.
Niki Lauda – CEO and Team Principal
"It’s been an extremely tough season and one that we have managed to salvage something out of given the horrendous issues we began the season with on the Jaguar R3. To have finished the season in seventh place is just reward for the incredible hard work that has gone into correcting the problems we began the season with. We started the season as the last team on the grid and it very unusual to correct serious issues like we had, albeit over the course of a season. Finishing the year in sixth place would have been a dream but not really reflective of the reality. Since Melbourne, we have changed everything possible on the car apart from the drivers’ tub but there is a limit to how much can be achieved mid-season. Nonetheless, the car improved drastically from the one we started with and no doubt the highlight of the season was finishing on the podium in Monza – something that no other teams have achieved this season except Ferrari, BMW Williams and McLaren-Mercedes. A lot has been learned and passed onto the development of next year’s car, which is now well underway. In fact, we begin testing the brand new 90-degree engine next month and given the magnitude of changes that we have made this season at every level of our organisation, we are now all focused on the exciting new project that is the Jaguar R4."
Eddie Irvine Position: 9th Chassis: R3-05 T-Car: R3-03
"There was simply no grip out there today and this made life very tough indeed. It was always an ambitious target to prevent the Hondas from scoring points today and in the end, they took away what they deserved. I love racing at Suzuka but today was a tough challenge, particularly when it came to passing anyone. We have suffered from a general lack of downforce all weekend but seventh place is an improvement on last year and that’s about as much as anyone could have asked for given the shocking problems we began the season with."
Pedro de la Rosa Position: DNF Chassis: R3-06
"Yet another race I want to forget about. I don’t really have anything different to what Niki and Eddie have already said. The car has been a handful all weekend and given the huge aerodynamic demands the circuit places on cars, none of us are really surprised with today’s conclusion, although the transmission problem came as a surprise. We all expected a hard time here and that’s exactly what we got. It is, however, unfortunate to have lost sixth place in the Constructor’s Championship but that’s racing. We have learned a lot this season and we must now look forward and focus hard on 2003."
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