GRAND PRIX OF GREAT BRITAIN Thursday 08. July 1999 "Thursday Four" press conference Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Stewart), David Coulthard (McLaren) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan). Technical Director: Ross Brawn (Ferrari). Team chief: ...
GRAND PRIX OF GREAT BRITAIN Thursday 08. July 1999 "Thursday Four" press conference Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Stewart), David Coulthard (McLaren) and Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan). Technical Director: Ross Brawn (Ferrari). Team chief: Jackie Stewart (Stewart)
Q. Rubens, you set the 2nd fastest time in testing here last week. What modifications were made to the car to help you achieve that? Rubens Barrichello: We made changes to the sidepods and the diffuser. That's about it. Although it looks as though this is a better car, and I could feel more downforce, on the first day it was a little bit difficult to improve the balance. But that day was windy and it got better when we made some adjustments on the second day. Now I think it is a step better than it was at Magny-Cours.
Q. Have you made enough improvement to get on terms with McLaren and Ferrari? RB: I don't know, because we have no idea how much fuel other people had on board. But I can tell you that we weren't running in qualifying trim, which means it's quite good. Now we have to wait until Saturday to find out for sure. I won't describe Silverstone as a one-off circuit, but because of factors like the wind and the weather it is still difficult to judge here whether changes to a car have made it better overall or just at Silverstone. But I am very confident about it: it is definitely a move in the right direction.
Q. Jackie, what is your reaction to Damon Hill's retirement? Jackie Stewart: Well, I don't know if Damon Hill is retiring, and I don't even think you know! I am not even sure if Damon knows if he is retiring. To some extent it has been unclear, because when I spoke to him before Magny-Cours he said he was going to retire. But when I spoke to him again here, last Friday, I did not get that impression. At that point, in testing, the car was going very well and [Damon was saying], 'just as I am thinking of retiring, the car has come right and it feels great.' There is an on/off switch there which I cannot understand. >From my point of view, retirement was very easy. You can't be a little bit pregnant: either you're pregnant or you're not pregnant. And either you're retiring or you're not retiring. That is a big decision for any sportsman to make. You have to be very conscientious when leaking [information about] what you might do and what you have actually decided to do.
Q. As an old friend of the Hill family, what would you recommend to Damon about his future in racing? JYS: I think it is time [for him] to retire. He is 38 years of age and obviously getting more aggravation out of it than satisfaction. As long as that aggravation has been going on long enough, he has to think about the next phase of his life. He is going to live to at least three score years and ten. I was lucky: I retired at 34 and built up a whole new life for myself. I got just as much fulfillment out of that [as I did from racing], and I hope Damon enjoys that same privilege. All sportsmen have to retire at some time or another: the question is when you do it, and how comfortable you are that you're going to stay retired. That is the big issue, and you must be sure. If Damon is unsure, then he is quite right to stay out until his mind is made up and he can announce it.
Q. Ross, your results in the last couple of races have not been exactly what we expect these days from Ferrari. Can you afford to lose those points? Ross Brawn: Well, we have lost them already, so whether we can afford to do so or not, that is the situation. It would be true to say, though, that at the beginning of the season we managed to win races even though the car wasn't quite right. Now I believe the car is quite good, but we are managing to lose races. That is a trend we have got to reverse.
Q. What happened to the famously excellent Ferrari strategy in France? RB: Well, somebody else did a better strategy! We are very proud of our approach to races, but we don't get it right every time and in France Jordan did a better job. We did have some problems with the car, which had water in the electronics, although I cannot say exactly what difference that would have made [if it had not happened]. The water caused a lot of problems with the gearchange and various other things, but we were still not fully on top of the situation in France. It is something that we are going to change.
Q. David, your race was looking good in France, albeit only briefly. What went wrong? David Coulthard: Although it was an electrical problem, I don't know the exact details. Once it's finished it's gone ... and I am sure the team will make sure it doesn't happen again.
Q. You have been unlucky so often this year. How do incidents like that affect you mentally? DC: When you have put so much concentration and effort into achieving a goal, the instant that it is taken away from you -- whether it is a mechanical failure or a mistake on your part or something else -- of course you are disappointed. But it's not something on which to dwell because that would be a negative thought and it won't contribute anything to this weekend. I think about fitness, and on the setting up of the car. But although I haven't won a race this year and I haven't won a world championship yet, my motivation is as high as ever. Here at Silverstone there are still only ten points available, but to win your home Grand Prix would be fantastic, in terms of nationality.
Q. Heinz-Harald, we hear that your Canadian injuries have proved more serious than we were at first told and that you have some broken bones in your legs. What is the true situation? Heinz-Harald Frentzen: The fact is that I have some fractures in the right leg, both in the bottom part and in the top part. Inside the knee area there are some cracks, which caused some pain because that is where the nerves are. I was still having a lot of pain in Magny-Cours, so I wanted to find out exactly what was wrong. By then it was obviously too late to have done anything for Magny-Cours, and I only found out on the Tuesday after the race there. I hope there will be no harm, and I think it will be alright. The cracks are quite strong but not enough to have the leg apart (sic).
Q. But you were testing last week ... HHF: Yes, I tried to test [for one day], to see if it worked. But there are more g-forces generated here than at Magny-Cours, and it is especially painful when you are going from left to right through corners like Becketts. We had to work on the seat and modify the right side of the monocoque to make the knee area as safe as possible.,