Friday 24 July 1998 "Friday Five" press conference: Drivers: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Mika Salo (Arrows) and Jacques Villeneuve (Williams); Team principals: Gustav Brunner (Minardi) and Peter Sauber Q. Gustav, your boss Mr Rumi wants to...
Friday 24 July 1998
"Friday Five" press conference: Drivers: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Mika Salo (Arrows) and Jacques Villeneuve (Williams); Team principals: Gustav Brunner (Minardi) and Peter Sauber
Q. Gustav, your boss Mr Rumi wants to push Minardi forward, but first you have to get a competitive engine. What are your feelings about this year's engine, and what are you doing to improve the situation?
GB: Yes, we are trying, but it is difficult to get anything better. Unfortunately we still have the handicap of not having a top engine, but the engine market is too small and we may end up with the same supplier.
Q. No chance of Ferrari helping Minardi again?
GB: No, unfortunately not. There was a glimpse of hope of getting a Ferrari engine, but after some hesitations Mr Peter Sauber signed again with Ferrari -- and that was our hope gone. I don't blame him, in fact I can't understand why he even hesitated, because [the Ferrari] is the best engine.
Q. Herr Sauber, you have renewed the engine contract with Ferrari, but only for one year. Why only one year?
PS: It's not a one year contract, in fact we have renewed a two-year contract. So in total it is a three year contract.
Q. What are the plans of your own team to develop an engine?
Q. Where does that leave your engine specialist Mr Goto?
PS: We have other engine projects which are not linked to motorsport. Mr Osamu Goto is looking after these projects too. The engine we will use in F1 next year will be known as the Sauber-Petronas V10.
Q. Mika Hakkinen, now that Michael Schumacher has closed to within two points of your total in the championship, are you worried about the effect that your team mate David Coulthard might have on your ability to take maximum points?
MH: Yes, naturally. Your team mate is always a threat, because he has equipment that is equal to your own. You just have to make sure you keep him behind. That doesn't mean that your team mate is automatically your enemy, in fact you must try to make him an ally -- both at races and test sessions -- because that is one way to improve your own performance. So, yes, he is a threat, but it is a way to keep the team strong -- and it keeps me on my toes.
MH: Yes. We have done a lot of testing since the last race, we were at Monza for four days. Not too much of it was aimed at this Grand Prix, although there were a few things. I am extremely happy about the development, both in the McLaren factory and at Mercedes. I am sure we will see how far we have made progress, both in Sunday's race and later in the season. It will take us further and further, in the right direction, and the car will get quicker.
Q. Mika Salo, how do you feel about today's performance after being classified 18th?
MS: It's been the same on Fridays at the last couple of races because we have so few of the next-spec engines available. We will get the better engines tomorrow, and only then will we know how much of an improvement they are. We didn't see the difference at Silverstone, which is a high speed track, and most of the changes had gone into improving driveability and power out of the corners. Power on the straights was not the priority.
Q. Do you expect the latest Arrows engine to offer a big step forward here?
MS: I have a good feeling about it. It felt very good when we tested it, and it should be good here. But it is very difficult to make a comparison based on Friday times.
Q. Jacques, it has been announced that you will join BAR-Reynard in 1999. A lot of people have suggested this is a huge gamble. What are your own feelings?
JV: Anything new can be a gamble. You just have to quantify the good sides about it, and there a lot of positives [at BAR]. The people in the team are people I worked with in the past. I know that they can do a very good job, and they showed me a lot of things that made me confident in what they could achieve in the future.
Q. To what extent was it that you wanted to leave Williams or that you wanted to join BAR?
JV: I was happy at Williams. This is my third year [there] and I'm working pretty well with the team. I'm well integrated, although the results didn't come this year as we wanted. But at least the team is working very hard to go forward and get the good results again, and even now we are better off than we were at the beginning of the season. I expect next year to be an interim season, and I just don't want to do another season like this one.
Q. Do you have any influence at BAR over whom your teammate would be? Do you want to be sole number 1 rather like Michael Schumacher is at Ferrari?
JV: No, no I'm not fighting to be in the same situation as Michael and Eddie are. I don't think it's right for a team, and you [only] do that if you are afraid that someone else is going to beat you. I'm not afraid of that. I can compete. If someone goes quicker, then you just raise your game. It just makes it more interesting. So, no, I didn't even ask for that.