British GP: Thursday press conference

British Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with Jenson Button (BAR) David Coulthard (Red Bull) Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) Mark Webber (Williams) Q: Giancarlo, Renault's form here in past races hasn't been fantastic,...

British Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with

Jenson Button (BAR)
David Coulthard (Red Bull)
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault)
Mark Webber (Williams)

Q: Giancarlo, Renault's form here in past races hasn't been fantastic, what are your feelings? Is a podium as much as you can hope for, as Fernando has said?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I think it's too early to say. It wasn't too bad during the last test we had here. I think McLaren's pace was really strong. I think that apart from McLaren we are there, so we can fight to score points, to get on the podium for sure. Yeah, the characteristics of the circuit are maybe not perfect for our car, but I think we are still able to do a great result.

Q: What about your own personal performances? It's almost as though if you qualify sixth or seventh you have a really good race; if you qualify at the front you don't have such a good race.

Giancarlo Fisichella: I have had a lot of trouble this year. I have been very unlucky, even in the last race I had a couple of problems during the pit stop. It's not easy on that side of things. Even in Canada I was the leader of the race and I had a lot of problems, so apart from the problems, if I carry on like Melbourne, I won the race. I have a great car, I have a great team. But it's been a very unlucky period for me. I hope to change that lucky period on Sunday, already.

Q: There's still 50 percent of the season to go.

Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, yeah. We have a lot of races ahead. I'm looking forward to them. We have a very good car, the team is pushing really hard to develop the car in any way, the package, so I'm sure I will have other chances to win some races.

Q: Mark, how's your bum, how did this burn happen during the French Grand Prix?

Mark Webber: It wasn't my bum, it was my hip anyway! Basically where the loom comes into the chassis, from the outside into the cockpit is normally sealed off, but it was open from about lap seven and the guys could see on the telemetry that the box got a lot hotter inside the car, and that was flowing onto my right hip which has been substantially burnt and which isn't very happy at the moment but we will see how it goes tomorrow.

Q: Had you actually dislodged something when moving in the car?

Mark Webber: No. The seat is quite a long way away from that part, but obviously there is a lot of flow going over the cockpit so then you get a negative pressure which pulls the air through the car quite heavily, so I was getting the temperature from especially the radiator but also the exhaust going through the car. It was frustrating to have it so early in the race.

Q: And it hasn't happened in previous races?

Mark Webber: No, no. We knew that with the new bodywork that the flow inside the car, the pressure can be a bit higher when you change things externally, the pressure can be higher so there was a problem on Friday when both Nick and I made adjustments. We made them but it wasn't enough.

Q: What about the consistency of the car; it seems to have been very up and down so far this year?

Mark Webber: Yeah, it has been very difficult for us so far this year, no question about it. The pace hasn't been where we expected it to be, and clearly not at the level that Williams is after and we're progressively trying to get back to the front as soon as possible. Magny-Cours for both Nick and I was a very tough weekend. We both did the best job we could in the race but clearly we are a long long way away from where we expect to be, so hopefully at Silverstone we can drag back a lot of that performance and get towards the front again but it was only four days ago, so I don't expect any miracles.

Q: And also, of course, the rhythm at the moment is just so fast with another two Grands Prix coming up and then the testing moratorium.

Mark Webber: That's right. This is the time of year when you want everything in your favour, not to be trying to dig yourself out of performance related problems, so timing is everything and at the moment we need to find more pace very quickly.

Q: David, it's a little bit the same with Red Bull Racing, isn't it?

David Coulthard: Yeah, the actual pace in the race in Magny-Cours was comparable with Nurburgring but for the qualifying performance, we put ourselves in a bad slot. I think I had sixth fastest race lap which in previous parts of my career I wouldn't look at too much, but I think it's significant that we were quicker than Williams, obviously, as Mark has explained his problems, quicker than the Ferrari in the race, catching those guys so the car shows good pace in certain circumstances.

Q: So what about here, is this going to be one of those certain circumstances?

David Coulthard: Well in the test we weren't that quick here relative to the others, so I think it's very much down to how the tyres perform, the track temperature on that day. We will just have a better picture on Sunday.

Q: Not until Sunday?

David Coulthard: Yeah, because even if you've had a good test, there's no points, there's no result yet. It's in the races that you judge so we shall see.

Q: And since last weekend we've had the news that you've signed for 2006... Is that a relief? How do you feel about that?

David Coulthard: No, relief was December last year when I signed for this year! I am delighted, I am very happy that Christian has taken steps to sort that out early, it's much earlier than I've had in previous years. It gives us a clear direction, we've made our bed and let's get on and do the best we can.

Q: Jenson, was there a bit of relief after last weekend?

Jenson Button: Yeah, there was. It hasn't been the easiest year for us and it was nice to actually show our pace. We are not on the same pace as the McLarens or the Renaults, but I think it was nice to show that we're reasonably competitive and to get something back after the whole team, for me doing a great job this year in difficult circumstances. It was nice to finish fourth, just a pity we were so far from the Renaults.

Q: We keep hearing, perhaps unofficially, that you're really going to be performing well for the rest of the year and then you come here and say 'well, actually we don't think we're going to be all that competitive here at Silverstone.'

Jenson Button: I don't think anyone's got a chance compared to the McLarens here, from what we've seen of testing. But I think that we can still have a good race. I think we will probably be a bit closer to the Renaults here and Ferrari will be very good competition and you never know what's going to happen with Red Bull and Williams. It's going to be a competitive race, and I'm sure we can put on a very good show, but it's just what the end result is.

Q: So your money is on McLaren.

Jenson Button: Definitely. They are going to walk it, I think. I don't really want to say that but I think it's true.

Q: A question now for all of you, particularly David and Mark: we notice that the drivers and the FIA seem to have a bit of conflict at the moment. Is there anything you want to say about that, what's it all about?

David Coulthard: I think that what's in the public domain is quite clear and doesn't need to be interpreted, the letters that are there, you can all understand and I think that in terms of the drivers having sent something out, it was just to show disappointment with the events after Indianapolis and we obviously want to sit down and discuss that and we thought the best way was to do it face-to-face but that's obviously not possible. Personally, I'm a little bit disappointed that my views on... it was only my opinion of how the current rules are, are being confused as being part of the GPDA safety initiatives. They are completely separate. I'm sure you all have opinions as to what your favourite qualifying set-up was over the years and what you think should happen with the regulations so that is disappointing, but nonetheless we obviously got an indication that we can meet at some point in the future and discuss it.

Mark Webber: I think that on the GPDA side, we all strive to get to Formula One as the pinnacle of our sport and we all love the sport as well, and we all want to represent the sport in the best light for ourselves as well. Safety is something which is clearly at the top of our list as drivers and we're always looking to improve that. Clearly there has been a bit of friction. There have been open letters which sometimes are a bit of a quiet voice and I think that the open letter just stated the fact that when we do have opinions we get criticised and we are all together, we support David, David was the one that got the 'phone call but we all, as drivers, you saw clearly that we are all together, we are supporting each other for the benefit of the sport and to make it safer. The invitation is still clearly there for Max to come to the meeting with us tomorrow, he can still come and meet us. We want to talk about safety, we don't want to talk about the regulations. We want to talk about safety. I think that the obligation from the GPDA and myself as one of the directors, is to look at making the sport better, short term, long term so kids can have a sport that they can look up to and have some respect for the sport at the end of the day, for the drivers. We don't want to run the sport, we just want to have something that young kids can look up to and a sport that we all aspire to.

Jenson Button: They've said pretty much how it is. All that's left really is to say that we are all in the same situation here. We all are looking at improving the safety and it's great that we can all stick together because we all do have the same feelings when it comes down to safety.

Giancarlo Fisichella: I agree with them. We just invited Max to have a meeting and to talk about safety and we don't know why he doesn't want to meet with us.

Q: To all the drivers, how does it feel to start a weekend on a day like this, with all the events in London?

Jenson Button: I think I speak on behalf of everyone involved in Formula One, that we are obviously deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened in London today. My heart goes out to all the victims and the victims' families that have been involved. It is obviously a difficult way to start the weekend for everyone, but we are going to try to put the best show on we can for the fans in the situation we have.

Q: It looked on the onboard cameras at Magny-Cours, and I think in Canada as well, that Michael (Schumacher) did virtually all the race with his overalls unzipped about 12 inches at the top and his collar flapping in the breeze. I just wondered, what is the regulation about that, is it in any way dangerous, and have you guys ever done a race with the overalls on in that way?

David Coulthard: It is fairly logical that the suits are designed to be raced zipped up but I guess sometimes it is possible for things to come undone, in the same way that seat belts, you have to tighten them during the Grand Prix, because as you lose fluid and sweat you start to move around in the car. So you have to adapt as you go through the races. I am sure I must have (done the same). I have done so many races, there are all sorts of things. I have done races with the seatbelts half undone because they have popped out and you haven't got a choice. Ideally you wouldn't have that happen, but things happen from time to time.

Q: Any other experiences on that?

Jenson Button: My helmet came loose in Hockenheim last year, but I felt it was safe enough to continue so I did.

Q: So, there is no safety issue with that?

Mark Webber: We have fireproof underwear as well, obviously, and sometimes the top collar might not be particularly comfortable in very hot conditions, so it might be open a little bit for a bit more flow onto our undergarment, which is also fire resistant, and then the balaclava, which is also tucked in. So, yeah, maybe it is just a bit more comfortable for the driver.

Q: A question about the role of Michael in the GPDA. Is it true you want to dismiss him from the role of director?

David Coulthard: The members of the GPDA are all very clear. Michael's role is clear as a director and there is no change in that, so there is no point saying any more on that.

Q: Did you have any problems coming here today?

David Coulthard: Yeah, for sure, it was a lot busier coming out of town, understandably.

Jenson Button: I stayed here last night

Giancarlo Fisichella: I stayed here last night

Q: Can you explain what the GPDA does for safety inspection of each track before a GPDA meeting?

David Coulthard: We take it in turns to be responsible for looking at the circuit. Obviously the FIA and Charlie are doing that as well, but at this stage of the GPDA, because it has been going for several years, a lot of it is just if there has been a significant change to a barrier we have an observation. When you go back to ten years ago, when it first started, one of the members of the GPDA would fly to the track before the Grand Prix, which obviously in places like Canada was quite a commitment from the members, but that isn't necessary now. We compile a report after every Grand Prix which is sent to the FIA, to Charlie, to Bernie, with our comments. And any other issues that we had, that we learned during the weekend, that we hadn't seen from walking the track, we discuss in the drivers' briefing on Friday.

Q: Jenson, last year you had such a good season, so this year must be a horror. How have your feelings been this year?

Jenson Button: It's obviously been a tough year, not just for myself but for everyone in the team, but the good thing is that I am with a very strong team in Formula One and I think they are going to go on and achieve a lot in the future. So it is not such a big issue, and I think if I was with a team that would not achieve whatever they do, it would be a lot more difficult. It has also not been just one issue why we haven't scored any points this year. We were unreliable at the start of the season, which we solved, the problems, then we got disqualified from three races, and obviously Indy, and Montreal I put it in the wall, so all our bad luck and our mistakes have come at once. The biggest thing, as I said, is that we are a very strong team and we will turn it around. I am not saying we will be winning races in the near future, but we will close the gap to the top teams.

Q: If you said you are going to have success with this team in the future, it means you are staying...

Jenson Button: No, no, I said the team will have success in the future.

Q: To all drivers, as far as we know, your teams don't want to see Max Mosley re-elected as FIA president next October. What is your opinion?

Mark Webber: I think the sport should be run, at the highest possible level, in terms of the responsibility. And, I cant talk about the teams, but we need someone at the highest possible level to run the sport.

Giancarlo Fisichella: No, it is a question maybe for the team principal. Obviously we had problems after Indianapolis and now there is a big mess, so everyone is a bit disappointed about what is going on in Formula One. And maybe because of that problem in Indianapolis, they don't want to see Max Mosley as the head of the FIA.

Jenson Button: It is very difficult to comment on, but as Mark said I think it needs to be, um, yeah, not much to say really. I think it is more for the team principals to comment on that subject. I am sure they all have slightly different views, but it is something for the future.

David Coulthard: Well, I have had my phone number changed and I am ex-directory but I am not convinced that certain people might not have connections with BT, so I am not going to say anything.

Q: Just another offshoot from Indy was the apparent thought that the FIA and team owners are now getting together to try and have one tyre supplier next season. What do you think about having a single tyre, a rock hard tyre, that is a control tyre for everyone?

Jenson Button: I think it is going to help Ferrari, because I think the Michelin is a superior tyre.

Q: If Ferrari were on Michelins now, where would they be?

Jenson Button: I think they would be more competitive.

Q: Any other thoughts on that?

David Coulthard: It is tricky one, because on the one hand I think Formula One should be at the pinnacle of technology, and that includes obviously that the tyres are very influential. I have raced with one-make tyres and you still see a spread between the teams. So, if you think of just pure competitive Grand Prix racing, then I think you should have more than one manufacturer, in my opinion. But to control speeds and avoid issues that we saw in Indianapolis, I think it is unquestionable that one tyre manufacturer can control that better.

Mark Webber: I think David is right. The competition between the tyre companies is going to push the boundaries down. Of course, with safety issues, for us, it is very important that the tyre manufacturers are doing a good job. They have both had tyre failures in the last three or four years, that is what competition does, and one tyre, it would be nice and resilient, and hard. It is a tricky one, yeah. Competition would be good. It is part of the race to have a few different manufacturers out there, but as David said, you still get the spread on one tyre anyway, so it's not easy.

Jenson Button: If slowing down cars is the aim it is definitely the best way if it is just one tyre company with a controlled tyre.

Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, I think that just one tyre company would be a bit better for safety, we would slow down the car with just one compound, it could be an even harder compound, but obviously Michelin did a fantastic job this year and it would be nice to carry on with them.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jenson Button , Mark Webber , David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , McLaren , Williams