Monaco GP: Thursday press conference

Present: Team principals Patrick Faure (Renault), Eddie Jordan (Jordan), Peter Sauber (Sauber), Jean Todt (Ferrari), Frank Williams (Williams). Q: Peter, do you think you are going to keep your two drivers next year? Peter SAUBER: I think it's...

Present: Team principals Patrick Faure (Renault), Eddie Jordan (Jordan), Peter Sauber (Sauber), Jean Todt (Ferrari), Frank Williams (Williams).

Q: Peter, do you think you are going to keep your two drivers next year?

Peter SAUBER: I think it's too early to speak about next year and the drivers. I think we can wait until August. I'm pleased with them.

Q: How does Felipe Massa compare with Kimi Raikkonen?

PS: I think on one thing they are really similar, and that's their talent. They have big big talent and very good driving feeling, but otherwise they are completely different. One is from the north and the other one is from South America, the characters are completely different.

I think their talent is similar, and both drivers are immediately fast on different tracks.

Q: You said earlier on this year you had a smaller budget than last year. What sort of problems are you having with the budget, where would you like to see costs cut?

PS: The budget is similar, it's not big enough. I don't think it's easy to cut costs in Formula One. When you look at testing, we speak about 160 days or 120 days and we do only 100 days testing, and that's only with one car, and that's a big big disadvantage for us compared with other teams.

Q: What equipment do you not have in comparison to the big teams?

PS: I think the difference is not so big, but to handle all these things, all these driver aids like the differential or the traction control, all these things, you need a lot of software development and you need a lot of staff to develop this software. We have one man for that.

Yes, we have the basis of the software from Ferrari and from Magnetti Marelli and that helps us, of course.

Q: Something that happened today which was a little bit alarming was how quickly that wheel came off from Felipe's car; why did that happen?

PS: I don't know why the wheel came off. Normally these cables are very strong.

Q: M. Faure, what chances of challenging Ferrari this year?

Patrick FAURE: None. It's very simple, that's not our goal. It's the first year of the return of Renault as a 100 per cent team in Formula One. We have set ourselves the target of being one of the top four at the end of the year and we stick to it and we think if we do it we will have done a very good job.

Q: Is today's form possible in future races?

PF: I hope so but for the moment it's only hope, but what we need is to wait for Saturday and see what happens between one and two on Saturday afternoon. We think we have a good chance of having reasonable results here, at least on Saturday, and after that we will have to keep on improving. That's one of the advantages we have. We know how tough is Formula One and we organised for us a target over three to four years and we will try to stick to it and improve every year but this year we have absolutely no illusion on our results. If we can make some podiums we will be very happy and for next year we will have a higher target and from 2004 onwards then we will try to challenge the people on the top.

Q: This week in England it was a revealed that a number of the English teams have got together as Grand Prix Teams Ltd. What is your position being based half in England?

PF: I think that if you take the complete issue in general terms, it is probably one of the good solutions to arrive at a good Formula One in the future because what we are trying to do, when the manufacturers are trying to get together and doing something to make the future of Formula One more bright and more consistent, it's because we all love Formula One. We love Formula One for sport, but also, let's be honest, we think it's very important for the image and for the awareness of the manufacturers all around the world.

So we think now that if we want to make sure that the future of Formula One is as bright as it is today, thanks to the efforts of Bernie and of many of the people in this room and outside, we think we, the manufacturers, have a bigger part to play than in the past. The fact that some teams are also working there to try to push forward and find new ideas and we will discuss with them. I think it's up to all the community in Formula One to work together to build the future. As manufacturers we have one of the biggest parts to play there, but not the only one.

Q: What is the position and future of Sebastien Bourdais and Fernando Alonso?

PF: As far as I know, for us, Fernando Alonso is the only test driver of the Renault this year. I think his future is very brilliant, but that's all I can say today.

Sebastien Bourdais is racing in Formula 3000. We will look at him with a lot of interest because obviously he's French and that's important for us. But as we have always said, what is important for us is winning races and we can't chose somebody only because he's French. That would be a crazy thing.

Q: Frank, your team is obviously closely allied to a manufacturer like BMW; what is your position with Grand Prix Teams Ltd?

Frank WILLIAMS: Well, we are a member of that group. I should point out that we meet only several times in a year, maybe five or six times. We have no technical discussions whatsoever. We are merely intent upon presenting a united body next time around the Concorde Agreement is re-negotiated, whether that's tomorrow or not for several more years and clearly, as Mr Faure has said, we like to know and keep in contact with the GPWC and with Bernie from time to time so we are up to date with the business of Formula One.

Q: Can you envisage adopting team orders, the type of thing that happened in Austria with Ferrari?

FW: Well, Williams, like Ferrari has been criticised before in the past for using team orders to help with the championship. It is permitted and I'm sure it will be done again in the next ten or 20 years, as we have done from time to time in the last twenty years.

Q: I saw on one of the web sites today that you are making a B version of this year's car. Is that the case?

FW: I think that's jumping the gun. It's talked about. Clearly all teams try and improve their product. I can truthfully say we have not made a positive decision about that matter at the moment.

Q: How much different would that be? Does it involve making a new monocoque, for example?

FW: I think I'm one of the last people in the company to be told. It's a possibility, yes. I think it would take several months. They've done some work already but I wouldn't want to answer when it would be ready because I don't know.

Q: Jean, have you been surprised at the level of reaction after Austria?

Jean TODT: Yes, it would be wrong to say that we were expecting such a type of reaction. It was probably out of the proportion that we were thinking but anyway, it has happened and we will take that into consideration for the future.

Q: Would you do things differently next time?

JT: You know I'm not going to intend what will be the strategy for Ferrari for the future. Definitely it's a game where you need to apply strategy, at least Ferrari thinks that we need to apply strategy when we are having certain circumstances which was the case. We thought that at the moment, we cannot allow ourselves to lose four points. Whether that's a good or bad decision, it was our decision and we stand by this decision. I hear my colleagues saying how tough is Formula One. Formula One is tough, it has been tough for Ferrari. Ferrari is in Formula One for many many years. We have had good times, we have had bad times. Definitely we (inaudible) to open at the last race and if we can avoid to do that we will do so.

Q: Have Ferrari apologised to the Chancellor of Austria for what happened on the podium?

JT: No. We did not apologise. We realised that we did not follow the podium protocol 100 per cent. And I will not answer here, because I don't think it's the right place to answer, considering that we are convocated in front of the World Council on the 26th so we will answer to this question on the 26th.

Q: Eddie. Cost cutting has been talked about a lot. Are you satisfied that things are being done to try to cut costs?

Eddie JORDAN: I think that the Jordan position is relatively clear. To my knowledge, I don't recall Jordan becoming the high profile that it has got on this cost cutting. I believe in free enterprise and if I, like Peter, can test 10 days or 100 days and someone else can do 200 days, then I say good luck to them. That is my position, I will run my company to the very best, most prudent fashion with the money and the funds available and I will follow the regulations to the letter of the law. I am not interested in depriving people who may have a bigger and better budget to conform to what I am able to do.

I think it has been grossly misrepresented by a lot of the media to scare mongering fashion, that Jordan is trying to impose their position or anyone else's position on others who may be much more fortunate at this moment in time, because it is a sport and it is a game, a business, as I have mentioned many times. Our business is on two results: One the balance sheet and one the circuit at the end of the season. I'll be judged on that.

Q: Did the Grand Prix teams, Ltd, as in the group of you, know your chief executive was going to talk to the press last week?

EJ: Before I answer that directly, I must just add to Frank. Some people asked why is Flavio not here...This is very clearly the independent teams based in England, just so that we all understand what our intentions are likely to be and see if there is conformity there in that group. It appeared that, to have some semblance of order, there would be one person appointed to discuss those particular things and that person appointed has the mandate from all of the five people. It is not a militant group, it is purely informative and that is why he chose to say what he needed to say to whoever it was.

Was I informed of it? No I was not. Did I need to be? Absolutely not. It is not that kind of group. It is purely a matter, like what the original FOCA was, independent privately owned and run teams, not directly aligned by full ownership with a manufacturer, of those teams based in the UK. It is not a political system. I am staggered that the people in the press didn't know about it because to my knowledge it is 18 months old, if not longer. We meet on very informal times to discuss the state of Formula One so we can help if required.

Q: Two points at the last Grand Prix. What effect did that have on the factory?

EJ: That's a nice question for a change! I would prefer not to have destroyed another car, but having said that, full marks, I have to say. We all hate having to make these rules and regulations and changes to the chassis rules, but believe me there is no team person here who cannot thank our lucky stars and the FIA for making sure these rules change because, for sure, in years gone by I am not sure Taku Sato would be here driving. So let's, on a good point, say well done to the people involved in Formula One for making safety such a key issue. The two points...when people pointed out I was propping up the end of the Formula One field I didn't like it too long, so I thought it was time that we should change it.

A lot of people have been talking about the re-structuring of Jordan and again it became clear that people were not quite understanding my methodology about re-structuring and cost efficiency and prudence in running a business. Just because you re-structure something doesn't mean you are going out of business and I think it was a very opportune moment that Giancarlo drove a fantastic race to finish fifth and he held back a lot of people by not slowing them down but a lot of good cars and a lot of good teams. I think he did an outstanding job to finish fifth and in view of what had happened earlier in the race it was a big relief in terms of a weekend.

Q: Eddie, If this association is just an independent group, was it needed to set up a full company? What is the company?

EJ: It is a privately limited company, registered in the UK. It is bound by all the rules that limited companies are bound by, and that would mean proper public disclosure of accounts, so you can get your financial people to check up on it, but I am not sure there is an awful lot of money in there because I can't imagine how you would wheedle a lot of money from five team members that easily and if I knew the way I would be doing it. So it is a properly formed limited company.

Q: Jean. Obviously one of the memories in Austria you had was 1998, when McLaren were a long way ahead of you at the start of the season but you managed to close the gap. Do you think the performance advantage you have at this stage of the season is similar to the one McLaren had then, and therefore how necessary was it to make that switch in Austria?

JT: How necessary was it? We will never know, at least not yet, we will know later in the season. I don't think you can compare 1998 to now because if I remember well, in 1998 there was not this tyre battle, and we know very well that the tyre effect is crucial this season. We are, and I am sorry to say this in front of Eddie, but we are probably the strongest team competing with Bridgestone...

EJ: I don't think there is any doubt.

JT: We are facing some other very strong teams competing with Michelin and we know very well that if the others are making a better package then we may have a lot of cars in front of us. Saying that, we know we have a good car, saying that as well we need to improve the car, that is what we try to do every day, on the engine and on the chassis, but the tyre effect is very important and we cannot predict what it will be. And believe me, I don't think that anyone in this room can think that one or the other tyre company will give up. We don't know what can happen and it could happen that for the following races that there will be a dominance of the competitor and we must be prepared for that.

Q: Jean, now your head is more cold from Austria, would you take the same decision again considering you have such a technical and points advantage?

JT: I will try to be precise. I don't feel that after six races in the championship our advantage is so big. On the manufacturers I will say there is no difference. You will rightly say that it did not change the manufacturers' situation, which I do agree. But on the drivers' we seem to have a better advantage, but we had that in 2000, where here, I think, Michael was leading by 22 or 24 points and after three races he was behind, and I remember telling my guys before Monza, with three races to go, if we want to be champions, we need to win two of the three. Fortunately we won three of the three and we were champions. So, you know, it is a long way to go and we know this business so well that until you have it, you don't have it.

Q: To Eddie. We believe you have a two year contract with Takuma Sato at the same time that we believe there must be a situation where you can review it at the end of each year. Taking that into consideration, can you say at this point in time that he will be retained next year?

EJ: I think there is, to the best of my knowledge, there is no break in the first two years at all. The contract is a five year contract, and with options included, naturally, but the first two are a solid block, and I think that's really answered the question. I don't really want to reveal any part of the contract. That is Jordan's option.

Q: To Mr Jordan and Mr Sauber. What we saw in the last two weeks, does it reveal any crisis in Formula One or do you think it is a small event?

PS: It is too difficult for me to give you a good answer in English about this very complicated situation in Formula One. I cannot do that with two words.

EJ: I think if you are making reference to the situation with Ferrari, only once we were lucky to be in a situation where Jordan could finish one and two, and I would die to have this kind of problem that he had. Do you understand that? You know you people are making me laugh because I tell you, you are killing him (Todt), and you are killing him because he is doing such a good job. We are all deadly jealous, believe me, me particularly. Once, I had the chance.

Did I make a management decision? Yes I did. Ralf (Schumacher) will tell you he wasn't happy, but I had to make sure that Damon (Hill) and Ralf finished in the way they were racing, because I didn't need a fight and I had told them with two laps to go, that I needed them to finish like that. That was the only chance I had to finish in a one-two. Believe me, I can't wait for it to happen again, because I will do whatever I need to do to make sure, in the interest of the team, I get the best result for the team. Give this guy a break! He has done a brilliant job. You are killing him!

Q: I was asking more is there any crisis in Formula One? You were saying we have to find new ways to make it interesting.

EJ: I believe that it is very similar to a current trend in journalism and in various other aspects. We need you guys, we need you - and hopefully you need us. We can talk ourselves up or talk ourselves down, and this is particularly appropriate to the financial press, where we talk about the stock market and various other things. You can talk yourself very quickly into a recession. What I can tell you is that the reason we had such a positive meeting with Bernie (Ecclestone) in Austria was that he disclosed the TV figures from some of the last races, which were up. Some people were talking about boring Ferrari winning everything. Good luck to them. They have done a great job and they should be applauded, not hounded, in my view. I do not see a crisis because every year there is some form of crisis or other.

The fact that the audience figures are up, we all have a responsibility, the teams, and everyone participating, including the journalists, to do the best we can for our sport, that we have dedicated our lives to. This is, in my opinion the best business and the best sport in the world. We should never forget that. It has given all of us a fantastic life and opportunity that other people have not had, and I think that we should be careful before we say some of the things you read in papers because I am sure it is not productive and can be quite harmful. But of course you have an obligation to report accurately and correctly, we don't deprive you of that, but please think before you start saying some very negative things because I think it may be counterproductive.

Q: So everything is going fine?

EJ: I didn't say that! It is not fine enough for me. I have a really pathetic two points at this time of the year and he has a million points. There is a big divide and I will fight like I can never fight before to make sure that we catch up. Right now it is a big job, but I think at Jordan, in particular, we are happy, we have made a big change, and we are now in the right way. I don't see the crisis that people talk about, honestly.

Q: Frank. Patrick Faure was talking about his schedule for future years. What was your schedule when you first started with BMW and have you been able to stick to it?

FW: In the first year, 2000, we wanted to finish as many races as possible and finish amongst the top five teams. In '01 we wanted to win at least one race, and in '03 win at least three races and begin to position ourselves as a genuine championship contender.

Q: So you have done a bit better than that?

FW: Last year. But so far, because of this chap (Todt), we are way off course at the moment. This, sir, is our crisis in Formula One. The one second difference.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Eddie Jordan , Felipe Massa , Sébastien Bourdais , Peter Sauber , Frank Williams , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan