The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka - Toyota's home grand prix and the final race of the 2002 season - saw Mika Salo take the chequered flag in 8th position after a character-building weekend for the team. After an FIA medical decision following yesterday's qualifying accident, Allan McNish did not start the 53-lap race, which was watched by thousands of Japanese Toyota fans from the grandstands.
Mika Salo - Car No. 24
Position: 8th, 52/53 laps completed
"It wasn't the most exciting of races to be honest. There was a problem with the final set of tyres, which gave a lot of understeer. We had a sensor failure, which cost us a lot of time in the middle of the race, but again the guys used bi-directional telemetry to help that. All in all the race was nothing special, but it was good to see the chequered flag on my last race with the team."
Allan McNish - Car No. 25
"I was very disappointed not to be racing in Suzuka with Panasonic Toyota Racing at the last race of the season. Following yesterday's accident I rested overnight and I did the warm-up this morning feeling fine. As a racing driver, I would have liked to race this afternoon, but I accept the FIA medical team's decision and I am very sorry for the team and all the Japanese fans."
Ove Andersson - President, Panasonic Toyota Racing
"I am very happy we could end our first season in Formula 1 on a relatively high note with Mika finishing the race in 8th. However, I am sad for the Japanese fans that they couldn't see Allan racing today. To sum up, I think that for a debut year we have had a very successful season and I look forward to an even better one in 2003."
Fujio Cho - President, Toyota Motor Corporation
"I am sorry that Allan did not race today, but I am pleased that Mika concluded Panasonic Toyota Racing's first season in F1 with an eighth-placed finish. I am very grateful to both Mika and Allan for their performance over the last two years. We have realised that F1 is much tougher than expected. We do want to make significant progress in 2003 and the experiences we have gained this season will be a real benefit to us."
Weather: Dry, hot and sunny all day.
T-Car: TF102/06 set up for Mika Salo.
Review: The team worked on the standard Friday programme during yesterday's sessions, with both Mika and Allan preparing car set-up for the race and tyre comparisons. Completing 43 laps each, Salo was classified 11th and McNish 14th. Salo qualified for the race in 13th position getting the most from the TF102, but a big accident half-way through the scheduled hour meant that Allan McNish could not complete the session and qualified in 18th.
Preview: With the 2002 season now at an end, Panasonic Toyota Racing is already thinking ahead to the 2003 season. Testing of the TF102B resumes on 26 November at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain for three days.
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