Japanese GP: Friday press conference

Present Ove Andersson (Toyota president) Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone general manager tyre development) David Richards (BAR team principal) Otmar Szafnauer (Honda vice president) Dr. Mario Theissen (BMW motorsport director) Q: A question to...

Present
Ove Andersson (Toyota president)
Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone general manager tyre development)
David Richards (BAR team principal)
Otmar Szafnauer (Honda vice president)
Dr. Mario Theissen (BMW motorsport director)

Q: A question to you all: we've all heard the rumoured proposals concerning possible changes to Formula One. What are your views?

Mario Theissen: As I stopped reading after the paragraph, which was about swapping drivers, I think if that comes into place then I think every team will go for the cheapest driver because you get the expensive ones for free.

Q: What about the engine proposals per weekend, and tightening it up?

MT: To do one engine per weekend for next year is already just not possible any more. It requires a change, maybe in the engine concept, at least a significant change in the engine layout and this can only be done for 2004. Under normal conditions with stable regulations we would start engine design for the coming season in January or February. Now we are about to start before the end of the year, because of the regulation change and so you see there is no chance to do it for next year already.

David Richards: Well, you know they are so comprehensive; to go through them one by one would take us all afternoon. But I think you've got to start with the principal that I hope everyone acknowledges now... clearly the FIA acknowledges, Bernie Ecclestone acknowledges, we need the teams and the manufacturers all to acknowledge that we can't just sit on our hands and do nothing. We do need to do something. But in doing that, we also need to be very careful what we do. A sport steeped in heritage with great success to date; you can't do radical changes overnight without thinking about the consequences very carefully. And that's really about spicing it all up for the audience. I think that must be the number one priority about how we improve the show. As for cost-cutting and cost-saving, that's a tricky one because the reality is that if we save the budget in one particular area, it will be spent somewhere else, because I'm sure that BMW and Williams have decided how much it is worth to win the World Championship, as have Ferrari. We just move budgets around if we're not careful, so when you look at cost-savings, you have to look at them in a very different way.

Otmar Szafnauer: From Honda's perspective, some of the proposals were to penalise some of the technological advances of some of the teams and that's really not what we hoped to have done in Formula One. We would hate to see proposals that penalise technological superiority and hope that those types of things wouldn't come to fruition here. As for cost-cutting, like David said, that's a tricky one. Budgets just move around and you develop something else if you're not allowed to develop another part of your technology. I think that one has to be studied a bit before it comes.

Ove Andersson: Well, I think most of it has been said. I agree with David about the cost-cuttings. It's very very difficult to make radical changes overnight. We might, as easily as we improve the show, we might destroy the show, so I think it has to be very careful. Generally speaking we are completely against penalising the people who are doing a good job. We believe Formula One is the pinnacle of the sport, it's to show technical excellence and it would be a big mistake to penalise the people who have done a good job.

Hirohide Hamashima: I'm of the same opinion. Penalty for the advantage is not so good, or to develop parts for the same reason. I think if everybody agreed to the same money, in that case we would have to go in that direction.

Q: What about the proposals for individual tyres for teams, which surely is going to cost you money?

HH: If everybody pays so much money to Bridgestone in that case very happy (laughter) but maybe very difficult so I think we are happy with the current situation at the moment.

Q: What is required of this circuit and when did you make up your mind what tyres you are going to use here?

HH: This circuit is a very complicated circuit because the first sector until before the S-corner is very very serious for lateral force but each side is high speed course, so in that case, tyre degradation is very severe in the first sector. Then other sectors demand good traction and braking so I hope that the tyre which we brought here is working well for braking and handling and traction.

Q: When did you make those tyres?

HH: These were made on Friday because we prepared five proposed specifications for Suzuka then the final test was on Friday. After that we decided two specifications for this weekend. Everything arrived here on Wednesday morning. This is the only circuit where we have a logistical advantage. (Laughter).

Q: Ove, yesterday Mika Salo said that your second year was going to be your most difficult year. Do you agree with that?

OA: Well, I don't know, we have no experience of the second year yet, but for sure we have learned this year that the pressure of running a season, the pressure of trying to improve the car and also to look at what we're going to do for next year, for sure it will not be easier than this year, I'm sure of that.

Q: I believe that you had a big technical meeting earlier on this week to decide technical issues.

OA: No, nothing special. We discuss every week, basically, by internet or by telephone or video conference. There hasn't been any particular meetings this time. What we are going to do next year is already basically decided.

Q: Otmar, can you tell us about your specially specification engine that you're using here?

OS: Yes, that's twofold. For the race on Sunday we will be racing the engine that we used in qualifying at Indianapolis, so we have done some work in improving its longevity and reliability and we will be racing that engine for the first time, so it is a bit special. And for qualifying tomorrow we were able to find a step on Indianapolis and a bit better engine, a slightly higher step.

Q: Looking forward to next year, can you outline the advantages of having just one team, BAR?

OS: It's much easier just supplying one team. The chassis collaboration will also increase with British American Racing. As you saw in some of the Grands Prix this year, we treated both teams equally and sometimes we only had four engines that we could bring with the latest advancement so each team had perhaps two in a weekend. Next year it will be much easier with just BAR.

Q: David, it looks as though your lads did a sterling job with Jacques' car.

DR: Yeah, they got it back together again exceedingly quickly. They did an exceptional job to do that, it wasn't easy. They were out 15 minutes before the end of the session. They obviously didn't get back in until well into the period between the two sessions, so they did an excellent job. It was actually... although it looked comprehensive the tub took it very well, there wasn't anything substantial about it.

Q: The question as to whether Jacques will be driving for the team next year seems to have arisen again. Can you tell us what the situation is?

DR: From my position there is no question about it. He's driving with us next year. He has a contract with us. The fact that he visited a CART race in Miami and saw all his old mates seems to have started the speculation again.

Q: We read today that Werner Laurenz is leaving the team. How much of a loss is that?

MT: Well, of course, it is always a loss if a key figure leaves a team and Werner Laurenz has been instrumental in getting the team up and running and part of the success we have had so far certainly goes to him and his work. On the other hand, he has been leading a very strong and stable team as well, so we are able to fill the role internally and will not appoint anyone from outside. Heinz Paschen, who used to be chief designer of the engine, will succeed him and his role as chief designer will be filled by people who are in this department already. So it will not be a big change.

Q: He has obviously done a good job for you. So, are you worried he will do a good job for somebody else now?

MT: That's always a worry if a key man leaves a team.

Q: Is it true he is going to Mercedes-Benz?

MT: I cannot confirm that.

Q: Mr Andersson, you have not announced your driver line up yet, for next year, but is it fair to say that your second driver will be a Brazilian?

OA: I cannot comment on that for the time being.

Q: Your choice - is it going to be taken from a technical point of view or a marketing point of view?

OA: At the moment, from a technical point of view, we have already made our choice so we will consider other priorities now.

Q: David as you said, Jacques is staying next year, but was a proposal made by someone in CART to you or your team about taking Jacques for next year?

DR: Yes certainly. It was some months ago and it has become public knowledge now. It was to drive in the Players Team. We clearly needed a replacement for Jacques and when the time drifted on, and when Olivier had the offer from Toyota, without the replacement driver, it wasn't practical for the team. I think Jacques was not particularly enthusiastic. He was willing to work with the team on it, if that was to the benefit of the team, but he wanted to stay in Formula One. He is a Formula One driver and he is committed to Formula One and he wants to be here and I am very pleased he will be with the team here next year.

Q: Ottmar, is there a chance, in the future, there will be a crossover for the Indy and F1 engine programmes?

OS: No, not in the near future. We will be focusing all of our efforts from Honda r. and d. on Formula One which is different to years past because we had a CART programme as well from Honda r. and d. Our IRL programme will be North America based, so there will be no crossover in the near future.

Q: Who is stronger at Toyota in the choice of the second driver -- the Japanese side of the company or the European side?

OA: I think normally the one that pays the bills has the final decision, as far as I am concerned, and it will always be like that, but normally we discuss the issue from the various aspects and then a decision is made. Give us a little bit more time. I can't give any information at he moment.

Q: What prevents you confirming De Matta?

OA: I can't confirm something that hasn't been done.

Q: Mr Andersson, what's been good, bad and as expected for Toyota this year?

OA: You have to decide how we did in this first season for us in Formula One and in my mind I feel we came with the aim of showing that we are serious, in our efforts, and we came to qualify for every race and we got some points as a bonus. I feel it has gone better than I dared to expect when we started.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Salo , David Richards , Mario Theissen , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Williams , British American Racing