Present: David Coulthard (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Pierre Dupasquier (Michelin motorsport director), Hiroshi YasuKawa (Bridgestone motorsport director). Q: Can you tell us how the new circuit layout...
Q: Can you tell us how the new circuit layout will affect the tyres?
Pierre Dupasquier: We have done some simulations and it will probably not affect the tyre too much. It doesn't change our position on what should be an appropriate tyre for the Grand Prix anyway, so we don't expect any major modification of durability, consistency or graining or things like that. Not too much.
Q: Last year the winning strategy was one stop, the second placed strategy was two stop. Do you think it is going to affect strategy?
PD: I don't think it will affect the strategy. What will affect the strategy is the selection of tyres and the decision will be made to be very competitive and we will see after the first practice on Friday where we stand according to strategy. Maybe two, three or four stops, I don't know, something like that!
Q: Last weekend you had a bit of a hard time from the stones at Le Mans. Do you expect a similar problem in Grand Prix racing?
PD: In Le Mans you probably find out that it was the front cars that had a lot of punctures and some other cars had no punctures at all. The drivers of the three first cars had been asked to stay on the road, which helps a lot, and in addition they were two seconds a lap faster than the others. Fortunately in a Grand Prix you don't expect to have so much rubbish of carbon pieces and stones. They (Le Mans) said they would put round stones in the gravel trap but they put sharp stones and as soon as they are on the road the three first cars that hit the stones, they get punctures.
Q: The subject of special treatment between Williams and McLaren has come up again. Are you under pressure to provide special tyres?
PD: No. We reserve our very special treatment to everybody and so far we have not experienced any major trouble about it. Every time we did a significant improvement at the front or the rear of the car, it has been perceived as an improvement for both companies.
Q: Hiroshi-san. Do you expect any changes to the contracted teams next year?
Hiroshi Yasukawa: At this moment we are discussing with all the teams but basically we are not going to change. I think we will be able to stay the same but no-one knows for the future.
Q: New tyre regulations have been discussed where you may take one specification tyre to each race. What are your thoughts on that?
HY: I think we have to consider the safety issues, cost issues and the image of Formula One. If you want to change specification down to one, we are very pleased cost-wise, we can reduce things in our costs. Now with things like these new corners (at the Nürburgring) and the new course at Hockenheim, and for the future, perhaps we are going to a new course, in this case we don't have any spare tyres, this is a bit risky and we have to avoid spoiling the Formula One race.
Q: Is that the concern you would have over the image of the company?
HY: Yep, and also, if we are spoiling the race this is a very bad image, but also we have to be concerned about three major things in Formula One. Now, Formula One is one of the top class sports all over the world. Thirty years ago, the circuit was not so clean and of course some teams were, but now everything is tidier, the motorhomes, everything is beautiful. But if cars are going to start on worn out tyres, this is a very bad image and also this brings in all sorts of safety issues too. At Bridgestone we prefer keeping a good image, and this image has to work closely with a team.
PD: Thirty years ago Formula One was not too bad! But I agree with what Mr Yusakawa said, but the risk is if you screw up with your tyre selection, then you have no race at all. There is no back up, no nothing. Safety wise...if we were to have to change three or four times, that's alright, we would get through the race, but it would be ridiculous, and sometimes we would be stuffed after five or ten laps because if you get 40-42 degrees instead of 18 or 20 that were expected, then you are in trouble. Also, development wise, we like to develop our knowledge. If we are trapped with only one tyre, it is less development, you just gamble. We understand the target, but we don't like it too much.
Q: Coming to the drivers. I don't know how many of you have seen the first three corners, but if anyone has had a look, are there any comments?
David Coulthard: I had a look around yesterday and there are some quite low speed, tight corners. The second and third of those are more open, the first one reminds me of Magny-Cours a bit, except it drops down on the exit, but it is obviously a tight hairpin and it looks as if it might be quite tricky because if you look at where the pitlane exits, it is coming out as you cut in because the corner starts to turn slightly before the braking zone. It obviously creates a little bit more viewing for the spectators in that area but I don't think it will do anything particularly for the racing because the straight is relatively short, and usually when you have a hairpin you would think naturally that would create overtaking opportunities but I think it will only be like in the past if somebody makes a mistake off the last corner.
Q: And the start?
DC: It depends on so many factors. You look at Canada. You would have expected there to have been an incident there but this year there wasn't so we will have to wait and see.
Q: Michael. Have you had a look?
Michael Schumacher: Not a proper one. I had a look from the helicopter, and that is not valid because you don't see the drop of the circuit and so on. I am going to go and look later.
Q: David. We have talked about the performance of the car on different circuits. How will it do here. Would it be better if it rained?
DC: Obviously the rain factor depends very much on how competitive your competitors' wet tyres are and we don't have much experience of that this year, so I think we would prefer to go with the dries because that is obviously what we have been doing most of the development on. We have two tyres here that we have a lot of experience of, and we hope we will be quite racy. Even the not so soft option should still be racy, even if we can't get away with the first one. I wouldn't expect a big turnaround in Ferrari's performance so we are probably still chasing them and chasing Williams but we shall wait and see what happens. The new entry may create something that suits our car.
Q: Hopefully a light-hearted comment: an elder racing driver has suggested you are cannon fodder for Kimi Raikkonen and that you should go off to Toyota. What's your feelings about that?
DC: Old drivers are old drivers, aren't they! I think I have made my position quite clear. Actually I spoke to Ron in the week and I can't remember the wording exactly, but I put it in my Scottish way. My position with the team is clear, but the team are going to wait to make an announcement once the other positions of other people are clear, or something like that.
Q: Michael. Do you have a new engine here?
MS: No, not that I know of. We develop consistently but we don't have the new one yet.
Q: This is your home race. Do you still get a buzz about it, what's special?
MS: It hasn't changed at all. It's always the same procedure. You feel sort of comfortable to be here, you come a little bit earlier to the country to see friends and the whole environment is familiar. Obviously with the circuit change it's another new challenge to learn. I'm quite happy from the point of view that the circuit owners have changed the circuit to make it more interesting for us drivers, to have more overtaking opportunities, even to increase spectator facilities. So all in all I'm looking forward to coming here and doing well in front of our fans.
Q: Now, in the football, are you going to support your team-mate or your technical director in the first match, and are you going to come in early to watch the second match?
MS: We have bi-directional telemetry, so I'm sort of aware all the time what the scores are. As for which team I will support, I think I will stay in the middle and watch the two teams and see what they do.
Q: Ralf, you've had a couple of engine worries over the last two or three Grands Prix. Are you fairly confident those have been sorted out?
Ralf Schumacher: Yes, it was a bit of a coincidence really. I don't see any problem at all.
Q: Have you had reassurance from Mario Theissen?
RS: He doesn't need to reassure me. That's the reason why we have one of the best engines in Formula One, that's why we have this consistent development and we go to the limits. Certainly, if you go to the limits, things like this do happen. But it's not a problem.
Q: You have been criticised for not overtaking your brother in Brazil and others in Canada...
RS: First of all, many people have had problems overtaking Michael this year, not only me. In Brazil, there was never a chance and as long as I'm in the car I'm the one to decide when to overtake and when not to. If there is not a chance I'm not going to do a stupid move and lose points. I was never ever close enough in Brazil. Concerning Canada, when I had the chance, we both... at least Kimi went straight over the kerb, so did I because I couldn't go anywhere else and then I wasn't allowed to overtake and then after that I didn't have the chance. That's the way it is. We certainly weren't good enough out of corners, tractionwise I always lost slightly, and we weren't quick enough on the straights as well to close up and overtake. That was it. Whenever there's a chance, I will overtake. When there isn't, I can't.
Q: Would Ralf and David comment on the World Council decision on June 26, what the FIA should do about the Austrian Grand Prix?
DC: I don't have an opinion because I don't know what the format is for what they are looking at and all the rest of it, so when we know that, we will see what the result is and then I will know for the future.
Q: Ralf, how do you think you will go this weekend? Will the car be quite strong this weekend?
RS: Well, we've never really had a bad car this year, so it's going to be another reasonable race for us. Although I haven't seen the first corners, they look a lot tighter, certainly it has become a bit slower, which hasn't been really good for us, but we will see. Last year the car looked reasonable, we have a better car this year, so it should be fine. Concerning the weather, we will take it as it comes.
Q: Michael there was a period in Montreal where you had to push very, very hard, and then later on Montoya appeared to be closing in on you. He was saying afterwards that he thought you had blistered tyres. How close do you think it would have been had he not blown up?
MS: He was actually right, I had blistered tyres but I had them in the first stint as well. It isn't the best thing to have for performance, but still they performed good enough to win and I think it's one thing to get close, it's another thing to overtake. You see how difficult it was for Ralf to overtake and I think it would have been same because, at the time, when Montoya had done his pit stop, came out and did very good lap times, I was stuck in traffic. The next lap, on the lap that he blew up, I did exactly the same lap time as he did, so if you just watched that, it probably shows that we would have been competitive enough to stay where we were. It was a race, yes, but I don't think it would have been very easy to overtake, because we had very good straightline speed and I wouldn't have seen any opportunity really, unless you make a mistake or something wrong happens. But in normal circumstances I think we were racing tightly.
Q: Again, a question about football to Michael and Ralf. Michael, are you a little bit disappointed that you will miss the first part of the game tomorrow and to Ralf, are you now a little bit interested in football and the Germans tomorrow, because you haven't been before?
MS: Honestly, I would like to see the match but then we have reasons not to do the first part of it, but I'm going to watch the rest. I think it's the end which is the most important part to watch. I will keep my fingers crossed while I'm driving.
RS: And I will wait until the final, until Germany is in the final. Then I can watch.
Q: Michael, what is going to be the result tomorrow, what do you think?
MS: I think, honestly, from my point of view at least, if you look at this championship this year, there have been so many surprises already. Anyone who sort of feels he's able to predict what's going to happen could be completely wrong, so I see no point in putting a target out because I don't think it's realistic. I just cross my fingers and hope they do well.
Q: Michael, don't you get SMS on your steering wheel?
MS: Yes, that's what I said before. I shall be informed.
Q: This is for Ralf and David. The weather forecast for Sunday is rain. Do you think that the tyre you are going to use here will permit you to compete against the Bridgestone drivers?
DC: As I mentioned earlier, I don't think we've really established where we are relative to Bridgestone in wet conditions. We've got a much better idea in the dry. If it is wet, we will all find out, but I think, as I mentioned before, I will be much more comfortable if it is a dry weekend. I think that gives us a better chance of scoring good points.
RS: I'm relatively confident. We have had good tests. We have a sensible tyre concerning temperature and track but since we haven't driven here in the wet with the new tyre, it's difficult to say, but I've no doubt they will work.