Malaysian GP Friday press conference

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) Ralf Schumacher (Williams) Team chiefs: Ron Dennis (McLaren) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Gabriele Rumi (Minardi) Jean Todt (Ferrari) Q. First question for the two drivers. What are...

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) Ralf Schumacher (Williams) Team chiefs: Ron Dennis (McLaren) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Gabriele Rumi (Minardi) Jean Todt (Ferrari)

Q. First question for the two drivers. What are your impressions of this circuit now that you've had one day's experience of it? Giancarlo Fisichella: It's very nice. Already when I drove round it in a road car I realised it was fantastic. In the F1 car it is completely different, but still nice. There are a few places where I am still looking for the best line under braking and I lost the first session because I had a little problem with electronics.

Ralf Schumacher: Basically it looks a lot easier than it really is. It is very wide and some corners look quicker than they actually are when you are approaching the apex and they get tight. I guess we are all still looking for the best lines. With the fast parts and slow parts, there is also some difficulty in finding the right setup. It is a really challenging circuit.

Q. From your point of view, team owners, what are your impressions? Gabriele Rumi: It is a truly modern circuit which reflects the most up-to-date construction techniques. The location and accommodation put it among the top GPs.

Ron Dennis: This is the first completely new circuit on which we have raced [since the Hungaroring in 1986] and it has obviously required a considerable investment. The promoters have obviously made the best of the advice they've had from other circuits, because the facilities here are second to none. It makes life much easier for a team when you have good facilities. I am expecting a good race, with more overtaking opportunities [than elsewhere] due to the width of the circuit. It is going to be an interesting weekend.

Jean Todt: It is a beautiful circuit and we were very interested to see how much has been able to be done, from scratch. We cannot bring our usual facilities here [like we do in Europe], but immediately we have been able to make ourselves very comfortable here. The drivers very much appreciate the layout of the circuit, which is really demanding. The only thing to be handled now is the weather, which may be difficult to do.

Eddie Jordan: This is a circuit for the new Millennium. The investment which has been made pays a great tribute to the country. Malaysia should be very proud to have created a different kind of structure, based on a democracy that seems to be very clear. You need a firm political structure to be able to make such a big investment, and this is an indication of where Formula 1 can be in the future. I am overawed by everything, from the airport to the hotels and last night's Gala ball. Let's hope that we put on a sensational race, to be able to repay Malaysia for its commitment to motor racing.

Q. Giancarlo and Ralf, you both led the Nurburgring race at different stages, when it was raining, but were unable to finish. With the possibility of rain here on Sunday, what chance is there of you being able to lead here again?

GF: When I look back on the Nurburgring race it makes me very sad. I believe I was driving so well -- I was quicker than all the other drivers in the same difficult conditions -- that I am not worried about the possibility of rain again here. But I still think that dry conditions will be best for us, and also for the public.

RS: The Nurburgring race was very disappointing. It would have been great to have finished the season with a top result like that. The team did a great job and we were capable of going very fast in all conditions, dry or wet. For us the only chance to repeat that result would be in the wet: at present we are still struggling in dry conditions.

Q. Gabriele, there are reports of Telefonica taking a greater participation in Minardi, even of a takeover. What stage have the discussions reached?

GR: We are still in the final stages of negotiations with Telefonica. The only statement that I can make at this time is that we expect to reach an agreement with Telefonica, but until the negotiations are complete I am not in a position to say anything more.

Q. Where is Minardi as far as finding an engine is concerned?

GR: The negotiations for an engine are also not yet complete. They will depend very much on the finalization of the deal with Telefonica. But we must have an engine, of course.

Q. Eddie, how do you rate your chances of taking the world championship this year with Heinz-Harald?

EJ: They're pretty slim, after Nurburgring. That doesn't mean we will give up: we will be fighting right to the end. Everyone here seems to want to forget about the Nurburgring, because virtually all of us had an opportunity at one stage or another to win that race -- and we all blew it in our different ways.

Q. Is there a chance that you could be advantaged by the fighting between Ferrari and McLaren?

EJ: We would have to have chances like the ones that came our way at the Nurburgring, then make sure to take them. You don't often get the kind of chances that came our way at the Nurburgring. Had we taken that opportunity, then the result would have been a different story. We would have liked to have been up there, but unfortunately we didn't do well enough in the earlier part of the season. That is no reflection on Frentzen: Heinz-Harald has done a remarkable job to become the major surprise of the 1999 season.

Q. Jean, with Michael Schumacher now firmly back in place at Ferrari, how would you describe his performance here, both in and out of the car?

JT: He has done very well. This morning he was immediately quick in the wet conditions. But that was no surprise after the testing he did last week, both at Mugello and Fiorano. I would say he is virtually back to normal. Of course, after three months away he has not been able to do a normal job, and after the inevitable doubts he is now very happy to be back and feeling very comfortable.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Eddie Jordan , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan