Britisch GP "Friday Five" Interview

British Grand Prix Silverstone _________________________________________________________________ ...

British Grand Prix Silverstone _________________________________________________________________ Friday 10 July 1998 "Friday Five" press conference -- Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) and Eddie Irvine (Ferrari); Team principals: Ron Dennis (McLaren) and Frank Williams; Industry: Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone) _________________________________________________________________ Q. Giancarlo, you have made a good start to the weekend. How do you feel about today's results? GF: It's a good feeling to be sixth today. I hope to be 5th or 6th again tomorrow, behind McLaren and Ferrari, and although I am a little more confident than I was at Magny-Cours I cannot say I am completely pleased. The setup is still not very good and we have a lot of problems with the car, which is very nervous in slow speed corners. Q. Your team has announced the extension of its deal to use the Mecachrome engine. Are you happy with that situation? GF: I am happy because the engine is good, although I hope it will have more power in future. Tomorrow we will have a new qualifying engine, which is better at high revs, but we expect more power within two or three months. Q. Eddie, you must be pleased with your results this year ... EI: It's gone well because I have taken plenty of podiums. But I measure myself against Michael, and Michael is going better than me. I am aiming to be where he is, so in one sense it is disappointing to be behind him. To beat him, I just have to keep pushing. But at the same time it can't be too bad to be in 4th pace in the world championship, five points behind Coulthard. Q. Looking forward to next year, do you feel that staying at Ferrari is going to be the ideal solution for you? EI: It's not something that one should talk about openly. I know what I want to do and I am working towards achieving that. Let's see what happens. Q. You have been quoted as suggesting that McLaren has already thrown away the championship. Do you stand by that statement? EI: I think I would, although I know we are going to have a hard time with the McLarens here. It's like France in the World Cup: although they're not 100 per cent, they have the advantage of competing at home. Certainly McLaren should have been a lot further ahead on points at this stage of the season than they are. They have made mistakes in strategy and reliability, things which we haven't done. Strategy-wise and in terms of reliability, Ferrari is second to none. OK, we need a faster car, but we are working on that, too. Q. Ron, how would you respond to that? RD: I am sure you would all be delighted if I allowed myself to get involved in a game of verbal tennis with Eddie. I have a respect for racing drivers, who have a difficult task to be competitive in a Grand Prix car. But he is wrong. Most opinions expressed by drivers are wrong. And the reality of the situation is that we are a focussed, dedicated organisation. Of course, when you are pushing things to the limit you will inevitably make mistakes. We have made mistakes, but no one can be harder on the team than we are on ourselves. Q. Would you agree that the technical advantage which your cars possessed at the beginning of the season has now been somewhat eroded? RD: I believe we did a very good job during the winter. One factor -- tyres -- played a crucial role in the performance of the team at the beginning of the season, and we obviously owe considerable thanks to Bridgestone for doing a great job in the first half of the season. But as Mr Hamashima will agree, we didn't have the better tyre at the last GP, in France. That's motor racing, though, and we worked really hard in the test here. Bridgestone responded very well, although it is still too early to say exactly where we stand right now. One thing that is for sure is that we have got back to where we were, or at least we're closer than we were at Magny-Cours. I am very comfortable with the way we're going. I am disappointed with the reliability we have suffered, especially when it can be traced to human errors. Generally speaking, though, we are as determined as ever to get back to winning. Q. What exactly happened to David's fuel rig in France? RD: The nozzle suffered an internal mechanical failure. Under the regulations we are not allowed to change any of the components [on the rig], so it could have happened to anyone. In this instance some of the components were not quite right. Q. Frank, there are rumours buzzing about the future of your team. The name of Alessandro Zanardi has been mentioned, and there is talk of a deadline for Jacques Villeneuve to make his decision. What is the truth behind all this? FW: The truth is that I learned many years ago not to make any contributions to the Silly Season. I just keep out of it, and we will announce the identity of our drivers when we have signed them. The decision will be known some time soon. But in the meantime I don't wish to discuss private company business in public. Q. Mr Hamashima, we understand that your production people back in Japan did an exceptional job with the new tyre you're using here. Can you tell us more? HH: Because Silverstone is such a tough circuit on tyres -- especially in terms of wear -- when we found a good solution last week we put the new compound into production and brought it here. The decision to go ahead was made at lunchtime on Friday, and the new tyres were here in England on Wednesday night. The people in Japan were working 24 hours a day. If we win, I think they will be glad we made the decision to go ahead.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jacques Villeneuve , Frank Williams
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton