British GP: Friday press conference

Drivers: Jenson Button (Renault), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) And Allan Mcnish (Toyota) Team Members: Patrick Head (Williams) And Martin Whitmarsh (Mclaren) Q: To both team representatives, to what extent are you resigned to losing the championship...

Drivers: Jenson Button (Renault), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) And Allan Mcnish (Toyota)

Team Members: Patrick Head (Williams) And Martin Whitmarsh (Mclaren)

Q: To both team representatives, to what extent are you resigned to losing the championship this year?

Patrick Head: I don't really tend to think long term about championships. I tend to think about each individual race and try to do the best we can in each individual race, and sometime around about the end of the year, or near the end of the year, you then look at where you are. But in truth, the Ferrari is an excellent car. It certainly has been better than ours so far and it's very difficult to imagine that we can challenge them in either championship. But that doesn't make us think 'well, we'll give up and think about next year'. We will be trying as hard as we can and anyway, we've got these people (McLaren) warming out tails so we've still got a lot of work to do. But I think about it race by race anyway rather than by championship.

Martin Whitmarsh: I guess, like Patrick, we don't over-resign ourselves to not winning the championship, but the reality is that Ferrari have done a really good job this year with their package and we recognise the difficulty of going out there and trying to win a race, let alone win a championship. But I think you always, throughout the year, strive to improve your car and do a better job. You've got to look and compete throughout the whole season. If you don't try and go out there and compete then I think the momentum of the team falls away and you're not there trying to win races. So certainly, at the moment, we are not looking to the championship, we are looking to try and win a few races during the rest of this year.

Q: At this stage of the championship, Martin, what would like to change for the second half of this season?

MW: Well, we'd like a better car, a better engine and would like to do a better job, but I think we're working to develop our car and understand that the elements of the package aren't good enough to compete at the moment. I think we've had one or two reasonable races just recently but we recognise those are special conditions and circumstances. The reality is that we are some way off the pace of the Ferrari and the Williams, but we're striving to be better. I think Renault isn't far behind us and we are very conscious of that. That's motivating us as well, so we are trying to continue to improve.

Q: Are there plans for you to take Ilmor more under McLaren's wing?

MW: No, but clearly DaimlerChrysler are becoming increasingly involved in the programme. As a team, DaimlerChrysler, Ilmor and McLaren are trying to work together and there is always a competitive edge in any team. The chassis people will always look to the engine people to do a better job, and vice versa. When you're not as competitive as you thought you were going to be at the beginning of the year, then there's always people looking at each other within the team, trying to wonder if their partners are going to do a better job. That creates some tension, it's not always negative but it can be if it becomea excessive. But we're working together. DaimlerChrysler are bringing enormous resource and support to the programme. We're not doing a good enough job for them, we're not doing a good enough job for the team, so we will strive to do better next year.

Q: Patrick, what sort of element of frustration is there within the team after three poles but average results from the last three races?

PH: Obviously, it's true the results in the last three races have been poor. I think, undoubtedly we have been rather harder on our rear tyres than certainly McLarens have been and one or two other Michelin teams. That probably helps us in qualifying but hurts us in the race. But in truth, we are much more interested in where we end up on Sunday afternoon than where we are on Saturday afternoon. We've been working hard, we had a very good test at Barcelona last week where we covered an awful lot of ground and learned a lot about how to reduce the damage we do to the rear tyres and we're making progress.

Q: You've been quoted in an Italian magazine as saying that Ralf needs a bit of a wake-up call, that he's too complacent. Is that what you said?

PH: Well it often surprises me that journalists sometimes seem to have a habit of putting words that they want to say into other people's mouths. I did hear about this and it caused some consternation but it turned out that, when it was looked into, it was a comment that I made in the middle of last year when somebody asked me about Ralf in the latter part of the year being overtaken by his team-mate. And in a way, towards the end of 2000, certainly Jenson did a very good job, relative to Ralf, and towards the end of last year and when I was asked about it, I don't think I said Ralf needs a wake-up call. But whatever it was, the comment that has been regurgitated in an Italian magazine was a comment made in the middle of last year, but it's been re-written now as if I said it a week ago or whatever. I don't think it's really too important. Chip wrapping!

Q: Eddie, have you been able to evaluate the modifications today, or has it been too wet?

Eddie Irvine: Obviously today we would have liked to get some miles in and get a proper feel for it but we weren't lucky in that respect. It's impossible to know what the story is. We got it for Barcelona, I only did 15 laps with it. It was better in some areas, but there were a few issues with it. We haven't had a chance to really do any set-up work with it because it means running the car in a totally different way and we haven't done any running.

Q: Is it going to take time anyway then?

EI: It depends. It could be a simple fix or it could take us longer. We don't know because we haven't done any running.

Q: In terms of your own position within the team, what do you feel you have to do to hang onto your seat for next year?

EI: The same as you always do, do good. If you do good, you stay, if you don't, you go. It's the same for every driver in the pitlane. We've got to just keep working on this car, trying to make it reasonable and then hopefully we can get some results. Until then, I'm not making any decisions, and vice versa.

Q: Jenson, similarly, are you confident of your future?

Jenson Button: From a driving point of view or with teams?

Q: With teams?

JB: I think so. I've got some options for next year but again I'm not thinking of where I'm going to be next year yet. I've got to just concentrate on this weekend and the races coming and then when I know what my options are, I will make a decision.

Q: You were quoted last weekend as saying you had a place at Williams that you could go to...

JB: I've been quoted as saying a lot of things that I didn't actually say. That I would drive for less money is a good one. Who would do that? I haven't made a decision as to what's happening next year. I've got some options but I want to see what else there is first before I make my decision.

Q: Would you like to put the record straight as to what you did or didn't say?

JB: No, not really. I think a lot of people know I wouldn't have said some of things that have been in the press lately.

Q: Allan, what do you think of your first British Grand Prix as a driver?

Allan McNish: Well, from the point of view of the sessions, not fantastic but the actual event itself is obviously a big event. There will be a lot of support throughout the weekend and I think on Sunday it is going to be quite entertaining but from the point of view of today it was like any wet Friday, a bit like Imola in actual fact, where we had similar sort of conditions, and we are working to try to balance the car, something that we didn't really achieve, we didn't get the correct balance or grip or feel into the car.

Q: Now, a lot of people are coveting your seat at Toyota. How are you going to hang onto it - I suppose it is the same for all three of you?

AMcH: How am I going to hang onto it? By doing the same job as I am doing now. At the end of the day we have got to develop the same, we have got to work with the car and I have got to get out there and drive. I have been in the points-scoring positions before and we know that is possible on the right occasion, and I know that we can do it in the qualifying and in the races, so I just keep on doing my job. Like Jenson said, there are a lot of things said and there are a lot of rumours, but there is not very often very much to substantiate them.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Eddie, how much input as a driver have you had in this new package? Have you been asked what you want or are you just told to get on with it?

EI: Obviously they design it in the wind tunnel and it goes on the car and then I drove it at Barcelona and I made my comments. They sort of had a look at it but I had to leave then so then Pedro took over and at the end of the day they tried something different that seemed to make a difference. We have a similar issue here but we don't know whether it is a tyre issue or a circuit issue, so we have just got to hopefully have a dry session tomorrow when we can do some laps. But obviously, they go away, do the work, then I drive it and I say what I think, they go away, do some more work, come back and I drive it until I say 'oh wonderful.'

Q: Someone in the team said the drivers thought the car was easier to drive. Is that the true?

EI: It is honestly; the rear end, for sure, is more stable on the entry but it is way too early to say really what the true story is. For sure, we have got a lot more downforce but it is being able to use it which is the important thing and we probably can't use all the potential. We'll find out tomorrow what the true issue is.

Q: The dice are still up in the air?

EI: Very much so.

Q: Patrick, with the possible demise of Arrows, do you think it is conceivable that you and the big teams might have to run three cars sooner rather than later to make up the numbers?

PH: I obviously hope that Arrows do manage to continue, but I have heard the subject mentioned, but obviously running a third car is a considerable extra cost, so before anything like that would be able to be done, one would have to work out what mechanism would achieve the income that would allow one to run a third car. I think it's got some downsides in that generally the top teams are pretty reliable. We haven't been in the last two or three races, but generally the top teams are pretty reliable. At the moment with Ferrari, Williams and McLaren it takes one of those team's cars to break down for the middle teams to pick up six and fifth place. In 2000 that is generally what happened. We were racing and waiting for cars to break down to pick up small points. If you have got the top three teams running three cars each, that's the first nine positions filled, so four of them have to break down before a middle ranking team can get a point. So I think it has got some down sides for the teams that aren't right at the top but we are not there yet and I hope, obviously, Formula One can be strengthened so that we can continue to run as ten-plus teams.

Q: It is 54 years since Silverstone organised its first British Grand Prix here and at last there is some decent access roads. How did each of you get into the circuit this weekend?

AMcH: I'm staying in a hotel about a mile away, so I drove in from there, which was through the back entrance road and very straightforward.

JB: I'm staying in the circuit so it is no hassle to me at all.

EI: Helicopter.

PH: I came in by helicopter this morning but I shall be going out and coming in on a scooter tonight and tomorrow night. I am sure it will be fine. I haven't really had a look at the new access roads.

JB: Just remember your crash helmet.

PH: Yeah, that's it. Ha! Thank you!

MW: I came by helicopter although with the visibility this morning I wish I was coming on the new access roads.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Jenson Button , Allan McNish , Patrick Head , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams