Belgian GP: Thursday press conference

Present Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) Anthony Davidson (Minardi) Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) Felipe Massa (Sauber) Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) Q: Anthony, what were your initial impressions of Formula One, what surprised you in Hungary? Anthony ...

Present
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
Anthony Davidson (Minardi)
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar)
Felipe Massa (Sauber)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams)

Q: Anthony, what were your initial impressions of Formula One, what surprised you in Hungary?

Anthony Davidson: How hard it is getting lapped. Getting lapped is really difficult. I think it was hard in Hungary to get out of everyone's way as there were so many marbles on the track. It's such a twisty circuit, you see people behind and you want to get out of the way as quickly as possible but you've got so many corners in front of you that you have to go quite far off line and you pick up so much rubber on your tyres that you slide around a long time after that. It's difficult.

Q: What chances of you continuing in the team after next week's Monza test?

AD: I don't know. I'll have a better idea after this race, I think.

Q: And next year?

AD: I'll tell you after this race. I've got really got no idea until after this event. You know how it is, it changes every day.

Q: Jenson Button says that it's almost impossible to make your mark after just two races. Would you agree?

AD: Yeah. I mean it's pretty tough to come in and just do two races and show exactly what you've got. It takes a long time to get to know the car and every track and the team and everything. It's going to be hard to impress the right people but I've just got to do the best I can.

Q: Are you expecting to go back to work with BAR after this?

AD: Yes, we're going to the Monza test with BAR and I'll be doing Tuesday and Friday there, as far as I know at the moment, maybe more days, but yes, that should be a good test for us.

Q: Eddie, can you tell us about the latest developments on the Jaguar?

Eddie Irvine: Yes, we have new front suspension on the car, new uprights just to try and stiffen the whole thing up a bit more.

Q: That's obviously what's required...

EI: Just one of the things.

Q: What else?

EI: Well, we'll see after this weekend. Obviously I tried the new front suspension at Silverstone and it helped in certain areas but I think we've got more work to do. This will be a much better test than Silverstone National circuit.

Q: Is there more stuff coming? Is development still continuing?

EI: I don't think so, I think that's pretty much it.

Q: There is a lot of speculation regarding your future, including going back to Jordan, B&H wanting a high profile British driver. What chances?

EI: High profile and British? I wonder who that is. I don't know. I'm in no rush to do anything, I'm quite happy just plodding along and see what happens.

Q: Another interesting one was that you might become test driver for Ferrari?

EI: That's not going to happen. Mugello's hard work, the idea of driving around Mugello for two or three days and then... you'd actually need a week of recovery after doing three days hard testing for Ferrari at Mugello. No, that's a joke that made a headline.

Q: Are you pretty confident though for next year?

EI: We'll see. I think I'm in a fairly good position and I know I can do the job. Actually, the last three races we've had bloody good races. Magny-Cours was going well, Nürburgring (he means Hockenheim) would have gone better if we hadn't had so many problems with the car, and Budapest, we were as quick as anyone apart from the really big guys... in fact we were a lot quicker than everyone else apart from the really big guys but the car broke down. We've definitely made progress. I think it will be interesting here, but it depends on what's going to happen in the war between Michelin and Bridgestone, to see how that affects us. If Bridgestone are ahead, that really affects us a lot and vice versa. We are not just on our own. Coming here with a better car won't turn the whole thing around if Bridgestone take the advantage here.

Q: Felipe, we thought you were doing so well in Formula One and then you lose your drive. Why do you think that's happened?

Felipe Massa: I don't know. Actually I think I've done a good job this year, my first year. I'm eleventh in the championship with four races to finish the championship and I hope to do my best and to score maybe more points. As for my future, I hope to find a solution.

Q: Do you think the team orders question, when you were asked to move over for Nick, had anything to do with it?

FM: No, actually I have a very good relationship with Peter. When he asked to change positions, I did so and a lot of people were saying that I was fighting with him. This is absolutely not true. I really like the Sauber team and also everybody in the team and I would just like to say thank you very much to them because I am really happy for this opportunity to be in Formula One and to do a good job with the Sauber team. For me, it's quite good to be here and I hope to do a good job in the last few races and I hope to do my best to maybe improve the points. If Sauber can be fourth again in the World Championship I will be really happy.

Q: I believe Peter Sauber has offered you a test drive. Are you going to accept that or are you looking for a race drive?

FM: For sure, I think for me the most important thing is to keep going in the race, I think that's really important for me. I'm young, I think I can learn a lot in races but for sure it's also a good opportunity to stay but now we try to study and to see what's the best for me.

Q: Have you raced here before at Spa?

FM: Yes, I did one race here in Formula Renault. It's an amazing track for every driver. I like this track a lot.

Q: Rubens, you've mentioned that the work with Bridgestone and reliability have been the keys to Ferrari's success this year. Could you elaborate on that?

Rubens Barrichello: It's fairly easy to say that by having Fiorano and Mugello you just go to Bridgestone and say we think we need a little bit more track, we think we need a little bit more support on the high speed and they quite quickly come with a response. So you have this kind of a relationship which makes the thing work. If you think this corner will be good for a type of racing track, this temperature will be good for another one, that's it. We built the car around the tyre and vice versa. And also the reliability, the two guys, Burti and Badoer are doing a super job just keeping on going around sometimes more than 500 kilometres a day just making the thing reliable.

Q: Now Ferrari are helping hopefully to clinch second in the championship which will make it your most successful season. How do you feel about it?

RB: Apart from the help, a lot of people are saying lots of stuff about the help, I think the beginning of the year was already quite good. I'm feeling good and I think it's just the best year of driving and staying focused on my job. The pole position in Australia was already a good one on the old car. Unfortunately I didn't score points for one reason or the other, but I think it is definitely the best year. I've always been saying that we have to give ourselves a chance, I've always thought the good years were still to come and right now I'm feeling very good inside the team, having the support. I'm in a position everyone would dream of, to have the Ferrari drive and to have the support of them.

Q: Apart from a pole here, this circuit hasn't been a particularly good one for you in terms of success...

RB: I've never really been on the podium here, if that's what you mean, but since I drove the Opel Lotus here and the Formula 3000, I've always done quite well here, I've won races here, the pole position was a good one. The last few years with Ferrari were not fantastic but it's a good track, it's one that I like. The last couple of years we've had problems in qualifying and last year I thought it was quite good but it was that type of rain/dry session where I had the wrong tyre, but it's definitely a good one.

Q: Juan Pablo, you have signed until the end of 2004, which is a very significant date in Formula One. Is there a particular reason for that?

Juan Pablo Montoya: No. That was the option that Frank had and he took it. Simple. It's not major deals going on or anything.

Q: It's not because certain other seats might become free?

JPM: No! I signed the deal back in 2000 for four years and that was it. Honestly, there is nothing strange - at least yet.

Q: No, why did it take so long for the agreement to be reached?

JPM: The agreement was there, it is just that it was Frank's option and he took a bit of time to take it. I don't know why.

Q: David Coulthard has had a few things to say about you. He said your reputation preceded you and that you were having a certain amount of criticism because the qualifying was good but you weren't actually getting the points.

JPM: Not really. That I can put a lap together doesn't mean I am putting in more effort in qualifying, you know. That is his problem, not mine.

Q: You think the comments are unjustified do you?

JPM: I think he should try and concentrate more on doing his job and trying to beat Kimi than talking about somebody else, that's what I think.

Q: Rubens, Cristiano da Matta has spoken about the help that you gave him. You told him Formula One was good fun. Is that true? What is your advice to him?

RB: I think the question with Cristiano is that he went the other route, to the States, but his dream was always to come into Formula One. I think he is a talented guy. He asked me if it was good fun and I told him that yes, it is. It is good fun and if he has a chance to drive for Toyota, which I think is going to be a really good team in the future, he should do.

Q: How well do you know him?

RB: We spent some time together in Cambridge in the very old house there. He stayed there one year when he was driving for Dick Bennetts, so I know him quite well.

Q: Juan Pablo, do you think it is the right decision for him to come?

JPM: If he wants to be in Formula One, I think Toyota has got a lot of potential for the future. It is a huge manufacturer and they are 100 percent behind the project so they have the potential in a few years time they could be a great team. I have worked with them before, I know they can do the job, and if you want to come to Formula One then come. If he doesn't do well I am pretty sure he could get his seat back in CART and I would think he could do well here.

Q: Eddie, Guenther Steiner is doing a brilliant job but how crucial is it for the team to get a technical director with Formula One experience?

EI: It is crucial. Guenther has done a really good job, but he is finding his way as we go along. He has probably got a bit too much to do, but what he has achieved so far has been good, some of the people he has recruited to the team have been very good and I think a large part of that is due to his personality and the confidence he instils in people. But we have a long way to go. He knows that and everyone there knows that. We have improved the car a lot since the beginning of the year.

Q: Rubens, how much does coming second in the championship mean to you?

RB: I think it's, like I said, if at the beginning of the year you told me I would be second in the championship and I said okay, thank you, I wouldn't be doing good. Just to think I would be happy by finishing second is not a good idea. But Michael has won already and that is the only place that is left, the best of the rest, so it is something that is important. It is an improvement over last year. But to be honest it is much more important to win the races itself and then see you finish second in the championship more than anything else, but I would be lying to say it has no importance.

Q: Rubens, as a member of Ferrari you have to accept team orders but as a driver and a person is it more difficult to accept. Do you think it will be difficult for Michael?

RB: I think in life we wish sometimes we didn't have them but it is part of the job and I have had to respect them many times. I don't think there was much of a discussion in Hungary because I was the whole time in front, even though if Michael was a second faster it would have been very difficult for him to overtake because it is a track that is impossible to do it. But it could be quite difficult for a champion to do, but it is part of the job.

Q: Now that the Constructors' Championship is secured as well, do you think there is a chance for team orders now to help you to be second?

RB: We will see. It depends pretty much where I am in the race. Last year I had the chance to win a race here but I had a bad start, I was third when Michael was first leading and I was behind the Benetton and just going backwards and he was really opening up the gap so there was no way to help me, so it depends pretty much on the situation on the race to see if the team can help me or not. It depends pretty much on me as well, for me to be doing a good qualifying and a solid job.

Q: Juan, Ralf has said that Eau Rouge has just become a normal corner and it wasn't very exciting any more. Is he missing something? What's your view?

JPM: I think it is very exciting. It's not an easy corner to do flat. I managed two laps last year in the morning before qualifying to do it flat and that was it. It's not a corner that it is easy to go flat through and it is a big challenge because you don't see the exit. I like it. I do enjoy it - it is probably one of the most exciting corners there is.

Q: Rubens, will you be let off the leash do you think and be allowed to race?

RB: Well, I hope so. It's a big wish to be honest. After all, we are here to race, that's the big thing. To win a race when it was easy, it doesn't give you that good a feeling, but I hope so, especially this year, the rhythm on the races has been quite good and I am physically quite a lot better than I was so many years ago, so I wish we could have good races this year.

Q: But Jean Todt says it is not beneficial for the team for the two drivers to race.

RB: Then he is the boss, so we just back off. We will see.

Q: Do you have the T-car?

RB: Yes, I have the T-car, yes.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Williams , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan