British GP Friday press conference

DRIVERS: Jenson BUTTON (WILLIAMS) David COULTHARD (McLAREN) Johnny HERBERT (JAGUAR) TEAM PRINCIPALS: Ross BRAWN (FERRARI) Ron DENNIS (McLAREN) TYRE SUPPLIER: Hiroshi YASUKAWA (BRIDGESTONE) Q. Ross, was it possible to learn much in...

DRIVERS:
Jenson BUTTON (WILLIAMS)
David COULTHARD (McLAREN)
Johnny HERBERT (JAGUAR)

TEAM PRINCIPALS:
Ross BRAWN (FERRARI)
Ron DENNIS (McLAREN)

TYRE SUPPLIER:
Hiroshi YASUKAWA (BRIDGESTONE)

Q. Ross, was it possible to learn much in today's often soaking weather?

Ross Brawn: Very little. The problem was the lack of consistency in the conditions, and although we did some tests it was difficult to draw conclusions. It gave the drivers a chance to learn about the track when it's very wet, but it was almost impossible to discover whether changes in the car's behaviour came from the track changes or from setup changes in the car itself. At the end we had a lot of trouble with aquaplaning, so we learned a bit about that.

Q. Today is the first time you have been to run your cars, in competition, under the FIA's revised electronic rules. How difficult has it been to adapt to the rules? Do you think they will be effective in discouraging the temptation to cheat?

RB: We have not had too many difficulties. As you will have heard in the pit lane, one or two people's speed limiter have been a little problematic. Our experience is that fuel consumption under the revised rules is a bit higher, but apart from that there has been no real change for us.

Q. Ron, what has been your experience at McLaren? I don't have to remind you that David Coulthard was fined this morning for excessive speed in the pitlane ...

Ron Dennis: We are still finding he limits of our system and I don't think David's fine was in any way attributable to the system itself. He was also fined at the last race, a fact which has already been pointed out to me by a couple of people. We are still trying to optimise the new speed limiter. Although a list of required changes was issued by the FIA, the teams have reacted differently. There was also some confusion about how they should be interpreted, and I feel there is still some greyness that will have to be clarified before the next race. It has been a little time-consuming for everybody.

Q. Tomorrow, because of the sodden state of the ground, the public car parks here will be closed, which means in effect that spectators who can't come by bus will not be allowed into the circuit at all. What is your reaction to that?

RD: First I would point out that here in England we have had 16 days of almost uninterrupted rain. Almost everywhere you look - especially for those who have flown in to Silverstone - the flood plains are flooded. Whether it's a back garden or the fields around here, everything is waterlogged. There have been times here in the past when we have had some delightful weather here over the Easter holiday. This year's conditions have just made an already difficult race even more difficult. I think the decision not to allow people to use the car parks tomorrow was taken to allow a reasonable crowd to get in here on Sunday and to ensure there is an opportunity for a reasonable race. It's not just a question of getting people's cars out of the car parks, it's also the matter of getting them in as well. As I understand it, there are some other complex issues relating to daylight hours and restrictions on spectators being allowed to gain admittance before dawn. Whatever the circumstances are between now and the race, it is going to be horrid for everyone. But that is mostly to do with the race being moved to this time of year, and - as always in England - to an unpredictable weather situation which has gone heavily against this particular Grand Prix.

Q. Hiroshi, please tell us about the selection of tyres that you will be offering the teams this weekend.

Hiroshi Yasukawa. The Bridgestone tyres which we brought for this weekend are a choice of the Medium and Soft compounds for the dry and two compounds for the wet. For the wet we intend to recommend the Soft option. For the dry, the choice tomorrow afternoon will be made by the teams. We will not be offering any Intermediate tyres here.

Q. What are the company's feelings about Michelin's expected return to F1 next year?

HY: We are very pleased indeed. When we first came into F1 in 1997 and 1998, everyone was talking about tyres because of the competition with another company. But last year, when we were supplying all 22 of the cars for the first time, there was hardly any talk about tyres. That's why I am so pleased that Michelin will be there next year to give us some competition again.

Q. Jenson, you've had a good start to the season and already scored a point. What are your aims now?

Jenson Button: Nothing has changed. I need to keep learning about F1, about the circuits. Every kilometre I do, I learn something. It would be good to get some more points and I hope they will come in he next few races.

Q. David, how bad were the conditions today?

David Coulthard: My car stopped on the circuit before the really bad weather descended. It was dry at the start of the session, when I did nine laps, and it was only getting damp when I had the problem with the engine. I wasn't running when the rain was pouring down. I remember the torrential rain in the GP here a couple of years ago, and it is never pleasant. Even though the track has been resurfaced, there is still a lot of standing water when it rains. If you're not leading, the visibility is terrible. From inside this press office you may wish to see a wet race, because it opens so many different scenarios as far as the result is concerned. But you just can't see anything in the wet, and from the driving point of view it is very dangerous. I believe we are competitive here this year in both wet and dry conditions, but I would much prefer to be racing in the dry.

Q. Johnny, you will have happy memories of the European GP at the Nurburgring last year, when you took Stewart GP's first victory ...

Johnny Herbert: Yes, but when conditions are like that, a driver's success depends on his being able to choose the right tyre at the right moment. I may be able to do a similar thing here, but then I might have to choose at the wrong moment. The window of opportunity is very small: let's see what turns up on Sunday.

Q. Do you get fed up with the constant talk about your bad luck?

JH: Yes, I do - and it's still happening. For most of the end of last year I thought the bad luck had washed away. But it started again, and what happened in Australia was probably the worst luck I have had with my cars in the whole of my career. It has got slightly better since then, but it was back again this morning. The sport is difficult enough when things are going well, so when you're out of luck - especially when you get get hit by it early in a session, like it did with me today - it's impossible to get any running. That's bad for a driver's morale. Now we have got to make the thing work. It's no good having one car running strong while the other one sits in the garage. Even last week, in the one day of dry testing, I spent most of my day in the garage, doing nothing. In those circumstances it is difficult to get one's motivation going. You have to hope that things will get better and allow you to move forward. It's an experience I have had for too long.

Q. Ross, one suggested cause of the aquaplaning you've been experiencing here has been not so much the lack of contact surface with the grooved tyres but rather because the car tends to bottom out. Because bad drainage seems to make the condition worse, is there a possibility that increasing the ride height would reduce aquaplaning?

RB: Certainly raising the ride height does improve the situation, and it's part of the compromise between setting up the car for wet or dry conditions. The topic has also been discussed in meetings of the FIA's own Technical Working Group. And one solution may be to put some grooved in the plank, because we feel that it aggravates the aquaplaning to have a large flat surface so close to the track itself. We will be testing a grooved plank in the next month or two, to see if we can reduce aquaplaning nd with a view to changing he regulations for next year. Meanwhile, we all see a reduction in aquaplaning when we rase the car's ride height, but that means a loss in performance when the track dries out. We have to find a compromise between the two requirements.

Q. Jenson, Button-mania will be peaking here this weekend. How distracting is it to receive all this attention? How do you manage to retain your focus?

JB: Button-mania! It's my job to keep my focus on my driving, and that's what is most important to me. This is my home race, in front of my friends and family as well as the British fans, but I have to regard it as just another race. It may be a little easier because there won't be as many people here as we expected. Let's see how it goes tomorrow ...

Q. David, why did you take off your shoes when you were helping to push your car off the grass? More seriously, are you worried about what would happen if your car stopped in the race lie it did this morning and the rescue vehicle couldn't reach it?

DC: I took my boots off because I pay for my shoes and the team pays for my socks. So I prefer to ruin the socks ... I agree that it is a little ridiculous that a recovery vehicle should have got stuck on the grass verge, but it's not something that I will worry about as I go into the race. If it happens again, then the Race Director will do whatever he has to do. The officials will just have to make sure that they have suitable vehicles ready in the right areas, and to know where the grass is soggiest. I stopped at the beginning of the straight, but usually a car stops in the area of he corners where there is quick-draining gravel to carry the water away.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Johnny Herbert , David Coulthard , Ross Brawn , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams McLaren , CIP