Friday Five Press Conference

Friday 24 April 1998 Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press conference - Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) and Toranosuke Takagi (Tyrrell) -- Team personnel: Gary Anderson (Jordan), Giancarlo Minardi (Minardi) and Jean Todt...

Friday 24 April 1998

Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press conference - Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) and Toranosuke Takagi (Tyrrell) -- Team personnel: Gary Anderson (Jordan), Giancarlo Minardi (Minardi) and Jean Todt (Ferrari) Q. Jean, Ferrari has been using X-wings for the first time in public today. What benefits do they give? JT: We have been using them for the first time on Eddie's car. He likes them, and although they don't make a huge difference he found that he preferred them after doing a back-to-back comparison. Tomorrow we will have a second set for Michael. Q. There are rumours of a ban on this type of wing by the FIA. What is your reaction to that threat? JT: Aesthetically I suppose the X-wings are not very attractive, so I can understand it if the FIA doesn't like them. But a ban would need the unanimous agreement of the teams, and first we want to see how things go tomorrow. We will wait until the end of the weekend before making a final decision. Q. What does Giancarlo Minardi think? GM: We are preparing to use them this year and we will wait to see what the FIA decides. We would be happy to continue with them for the rest of the year. Q. Gary, what are your thoughts on this subject? GA: We have run them both in Argentina and here. Anything that's ugly becomes suddenly beautiful if it is quick. Since we don't have an technical regulation to prevent ugliness I think they are OK, and we should keep them at least until the end of the season. They don't do any harm, so let's leave them alone. Like the other teams which are running these wings, we have put time and effort into developing them for our car. If the regulations can be suddenly overturned it would be like putting money in the rubbish bin. I don't see the purpose of that. Q. You have brought a substantially modified car here to Imola. What were the problems with it that you have been seeking to overcome? GA: Poor lap times, actually. We wanted to make it go faster! There has been an accumulation of many little problems, and every time we took the car out we recognised something different which required a solution. The basis of the package of new pieces which we brought here dates back to the final Barcelona test before the Melbourne race, but it has taken all this time to manufacture the hardware. This revised car has things like more downforce and better driveability, and so on. We recognise the problems and now we are trying to fix them. Q. Your own publicity preview for this race suggests that the modifications were a stab in the dark. Is that a fair assessment? GA: We obviously believed in what we were trying to do, but the weather at Silverstone last weekend was a mixture of snow and rain which made it very difficult to evaluate the revised car. Most of the changes have been made in response to the drivers' feelings, not to any clearly defined aerodynamic or engineering requirements. I have to admit that it was a bit of a gamble to have come here without first evaluating the revisions in testing and optimised the setup. But we were confident that we would be able to get on top of it quite quickly and we are happy today. The drivers' attitude to the new car has been positive. They both believe it will be effective and feel we are going in the right direction. Q. What is your evaluation of the relative performances of Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher in this year's races? GA: At the beginning of the year we were obviously somewhat disturbed. We had built our new car and taken it for testing to Barcelona, which in itself is a tough circuit on tyres. At that time, the front tyre we had for testing was not adequate to develop the car. Since then, however, Goodyear has brought out a new front tyre which has enabled us to separate the tyre problems from the car problems, and to get down to work on it. Now the car is having a whole new lease on life and I am hopeful that it will come together well. Q. Did you expect Damon to be faster than Ralf? GA: In general, Ralf is very quick, while Damon has the years of experience which help him in races. He has brought the car home three times in three races, albeit out of the points, and now we have to give him the tools to get the car closer to the front of the grid. At the moment it is not good enough to do that, but we are working as hard as we physically can to achieve that objective. Q. Giancarlo, how are you settling in with your new team? GF: I am doing well. Benetton is a very professional team, just as Jordan was last year. The guys are very nice with me, like a family, and I want to give them a good result, maybe on Sunday. Q. You have had a strong challenge in the races from the tall Austrian in an identical car ... GF: Yes, Alexander is very competitive. He is quick and he did a very good job in the last two races. I had some problems, but he has impressed the team -- and a lot of other drivers -- in the last two races. Anyway, I feel confident about Sunday. I found a very good setup for the car today and I intend to hold my place in the first three rows in qualifying tomorrow. Q. Tora, you seem to have adapted well to F1, and especially to the circuits which are new to you. Have there been any surprises for you? TT: I have been quick in qualifying, yes, but not quick enough in the races yet. I am working on improving. Q. What is your problem in the race? TT: It is a lack of experience. I want to see how things go for the rest of the season. Q. It is known that you still cannot speak English well. Does that affect your performance in the car? TT: Yes, a little bit. I am learning more by speaking to people on the team, and from tapes.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Damon Hill , Jean Todt , Gary Anderson , Toranosuke Takagi
Teams Ferrari , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan