Japanese Grand Prix, 2001 - A final look

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/G/Grandprix.jpg' class='caption'> The final Formula One Grand Prix of 2001 is to be staged at Suzuka, Japan this Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Suzuka, Japan:

The final Formula One Grand Prix of 2001 is being staged at Suzuka, Japan this Sunday and will help decide the final points tables for the season. Michael Schumacher may have to decide whether to allow teammate Rubens Barrichello in front of him to win, so he can clinch the necessary points to move ahead of David Coulthard in the drivers' championship. One of the men who will make that decision is Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn who has been discussing the difficulties of the Suzuka track and his drivers' chances. There is a dilemma in the Ferrari camp ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. Michael Schumacher could try to help Rubens Barrichello win or he can claim another record for his collection. Another eight points will take the German past the all-time career record of 798.5 scored by French four times champion Alain Prost, who retired in 1993. However, Brazilian team mate Barrichello also needs at least eight points if he is to have a chance of overhauling Briton David Coulthard for second place overall in the championship. Ferrari's Formula One world champion cannot have it both ways at the scene of his emotional title triumph last year. The extremely technical track is known to favour the more gifted drivers. Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn shares his thoughts on the track. "I think Suzuka is thought of as a drivers circuit. I think if you look at Monza for instance, that is very much a car circuit, because there are not a lot of technically challenging corners. Suzuka has a lot of great technical challenges for the driver. The 'S' complex behind the pits is very challenging to the driver. There are several fast corners, which are a real challenge. It is rather like Spa where you see the real difference between the good and medium drivers," feels Ross Brawn, Ferrari's Technical Director. David Coulthard is not the only other driver that is challenging for top places. Finland's Mika Hakkinen will also want to produce a top finish in what will be his final race before his year off. Ross Brawn discusses the drivers' abilities to cope with the challenging track. "It is one of the reasons Michael has been so successful here, his skills really come to the forefront here. Rubens is pretty good as well. But it is really a technical driving challenge for the driver and the car. It will sort the men from the boys," says Brawn. Schumacher arrives at the season's final race having already locked up both the drivers' and constructors' titles once again. He has collected a record 52nd career win along the way and amassed more points in a single season, 113 so far, than any other previous driver. The press was out in force on Wednesday at a news conference hosted by the car manufacturer Honda in Tokyo. But it wasn't for the unveiling of a new car but rather a new driver as Jordan confirmed that they had signed Japan's Takuma Sato for next season. The 24-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the team with an option of a further two years. Sato first came to the teams notice while testing last December and since then has confirmed his ability by becoming the first Japanese driver to win the British Formula Three championship, taking a record 12 race wins out of a possible 13. He's now been given an opportunity at the highest level and is determined to take his chance. "To win a race is one of my goals in Formula One. I would like to be a strong contender in the world of Formula One. I understand it is hard to win a race right away, but it is my dream. I appreciate Jordan for giving me the opportunity to make my dream come a step closer," says Takuma Sato, Jordan. Team boss, Eddie Jordan, who some believe signed Sato to secure a long term Honda engine deal, was full of praise for his signing. "His English is perfect, he drives very quickly, we're in a very lucky position and Jordan is very happy to be partners and we will make the most of it," he said. Sato's arrival means the end of veteran Jean Alesi's distinguished career, with Saturday now being his 201st and final Grand Prix.

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