Motorsport.com's Mark Gledhill's interview with Jonathan Palmer, manager of Justin Wilson and ex-Formula 1 driver at the Minardi press conference on Tuesday, December 17, 2002 in London, England.
Mark Gledhill: In what way are you going to help Justin this year?
Jonathan Palmer: My sort of role is large done. Obviously I'm going to be following very closely, particularly on the commercial side, I manage him, I'll be at most of the Grands Prix giving him advice, but the way he has run in Formula 3000 he is pretty independent and I certainly don't get involved in areas that I don't know much about these days. I'd never get involved in discussing car set-ups with the team. I'm too far out of it and it would be totally unprofessional for me to start sticking my oar in. I'll get involved in areas which are strictly my areas but I'll leave Justin to sort himself out in technical areas with the team.
Mark Gledhill: You have a huge amount of experience in Grands Prix. Can you give him any advice about fitness or strategy.
Jonathan Palmer: I think that he knows that more than anybody. To be honest I wasn't the fittest driver around by a long way. I think Justin is doing very well. He's got his stuff worked out pretty well. He certainly sorts his fitness out. In terms of strategy it's for him and the team to sort out. I shall certainly give him the odd comment from time to time but, as with 3000, part of it is giving moral support, whether it is with the media side, or politically within Formula One. He needs very little help to be honest, he just gets on and does it himself. The side where I get involved in is teeing up drives, setting up contracts, these sort of bigger issues on the commercial side.
Mark Gledhill: How much of a help was Formula Palmer Audi to him? What did he learn from that he can take to Formula One?
Jonathan Palmer: I think to be honest without Formula Palmer Audi he wouldn't be here. I think what it really did for him is it gave him a platform on which he could demonstrate his talent. He would never have had a big enough budget to get a dominant car in Formula Three, so he wouldn't have one in Formula Three. It's only because we had this level-playing field approach with all the cars' costs cut right down that his ability could then shine and he could prove himself he was the best. That concept was fully justified. He won the prize of a Formula 3000 drive and then he won that championship, and so I think what FPA had done is put him on the pedestal, which he deserves. In fact it has provided the environment for him to put himself on a pedestal, that he deservers. But it has also taught him that he hasn't grown up having the best car in the field. He didn't do it in Formula Palmer Audi - he had the same car as everybody else. Even in Formula 3000 he didn't drive for the favourite Super Nova or Petrobas, he drove for Nordic who were a team with potential but at the time they were a midfield team, and the slumped back to being a midfield team after he left the team. He knows he has to graft at it.