Grand Prix of Japan Suzuka "Friday Five" press conference -- Drivers: Shinji Nakano (Minardi) and Toranosuke Takagi (Tyrrell); Team principal: Rocco Benetton; Industry: Perry Bell (Goodyear), Hirotoshi Honda (Mugen-Honda) and Hiroshi ...
Grand Prix of Japan Suzuka
"Friday Five" press conference -- Drivers: Shinji Nakano (Minardi) and Toranosuke Takagi (Tyrrell); Team principal: Rocco Benetton; Industry: Perry Bell (Goodyear), Hirotoshi Honda (Mugen-Honda) and Hiroshi Yasukawa (Bridgestone)
Q. Shinji, is there a chance of you remaining in F1 next year?
SN: I don't know yet, because we are still in negotiations. But I hope so. We should know during November, but I would like to stay with Minardi. I learned a lot of things in these two years, mainly about how to get along with people. There are so many differences between the Japanese and western cultures that I was a little afraid at the beginning of last year. But now I am OK. I know the people who work in F1 and I am able to work with them and to enjoy my racing.
Q. What advice would you give to young Japanese drivers who have the ambition to move up from a junior formula into F1?
SN: It would be very easy for me to tell a Japanese driver to learn a European language and to get used to western culture. I would say these are very important, but also it is advisable for a Japanese driver to come here to learn in European F3 or F3000, because then they would get experience in those categories.
Q. Tora, is that a valid point? (Q translated)
TT: Same opinion.
Q. So you accept that you should have come to Europe before F1, to race in F3 or F3000?
Q. Does that mean you have found it very difficult in F1 this year?
Q. What have you found difficult in F1?
Q. And the driving of the car?
TT: English is the most important thing. That affects how fast I can go round a track.
Q. How much faster would you have been if you spoke English?
TT: Maybe slower.
Q. Mr Honda, what can you tell us about the plans of the forthcoming Honda factory team in F1?
HH: My position is very delicate, so I prefer to say No Comment. You will probably hear something in the near future. Please ask Honda.
Q. Rocco, what are your plans now you are in control at Benetton Formula?
RB: I myself arrived at Benetton one year ago. As far as human resources are concerned, I found a very good team. Technology-wise, we are one of the most advanced F1 teams: very soon we will have our new wind tunnel, which will be the top available in F1. In reality, there is nothing revolutionary to be done, it is a question of optimising the different elements and being well organised. My aim for the team is to put it in the best possible competitive position.
Q. Your predecessor David Richards wanted to have a major engine manufacturer as a partner. Do you share that wish?
RB: Absolutely. This is one thing on which we agreed: the team needs an engine manufacturer as a partner who shares our targets. Today we have Renault, which has been a great partner in the past and with whom I am very happy. There are up s and downs in every relationship, and now Renault has decided, for its own reasons, that it has to step out of F1. We are supporting the decision 100 per cent, which is what it means to be a good partner, and we remain open to whatever decision is taken in the future. We still hope that our relationship will stretch into the future.
Q. Hiroshi-san, looking to the future and the FIA's requirement of a fourth circumferential groove in the front tyres, how did that idea come about?
HY: We have always worked closely with the FIA. We not only discussed that idea but also another, from the FIA, which involved 20 lateral grooves in the tyre. Eventually, after more talks, they came to the decision to require the four circumferential grooves. After this GP we intend to test here at Suzuka in order to see what effect the extra groove has on tyre performance.
Q. Perry Bell, does Goodyear intend to release all its contracted teams to allow them to take part in the Bridgestone test starting here on Tuesday?
PB: We have issued a letter to all five teams, releasing them from their contracts with effect from Tuesday. They will therefore be able to test here, too.
Q. What's next for Goodyear, then?
PB: It will be a sad day on Sunday. Then we have to shut down our British racing operations at Wolverhampton, a process which may stretch to January.
Q. Is there any possibility of a come-back for Goodyear?
PB: We certainly hope so. I am sure the management will take it into consideration, so let's hope it won't be too many years before Goodyear returns to the sport.