It's not often that Sir Frank Williams and his two drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, submit to questions together at a Grand Prix. That made today's offering by this trio extremely unusual as they prepare for the fifth United...
It's not often that Sir Frank Williams and his two drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, submit to questions together at a Grand Prix. That made today's offering by this trio extremely unusual as they prepare for the fifth United States Grand Prix to be held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Particularly after last weekend's disqualification of both cars after improper brake ducts were fitted to the BMW-Williams F1 machines in Montreal, negating good performances by both drivers.
"The style of the track was more suitable to our car's taste and the car was certainly easier to adapt to that circuit," Williams noted. "The drivers obviously drove 101% all the time and it works out well except for the error which you're dying to talk about.
"Well," he said, "the responsibility stops with me at the end of the day, but we're a large organization and there's a chain of events that has occurred, which I'm not going to dissect here. But we were very clumsy with that part and I hope you believe there's no implication whatsoever of seeking an aerodynamic advantage with that by cheating," Williams declared. "We made a mistake, we paid a heavy price and we have no quarrel with that."
Everyone on the Williams team had to be disappointed by the outcome, negating Schumacher's fine second place finish from pole position and Montoya's fifth in the contest. "I think we all were disappointed," Ralf Schumacher said, "especially the mechanics as it was a result we desperately were looking for, but that's the way it is.
"It doesn't change the fact we had a great race. I think everybody saw that. The car fitted very well to Montreal," he continued, "and we can have another good one here, but it is certainly a bit more difficult."
Williams himself feels the matter is now closed. "It's behind us as far as I'm concerned and as far as the team is concerned, they would far rather talk about this weekend, look back and learn from our mistakes and clearly we learned very heavily last weekend."
The BMW-Williams team has an updated car in the pipeline that could see the light of day "by France, by Britain, maybe the next race," Williams acknowledged. "It depends what performance is brings. It's a reasonable change, modest you might say." But the updates have to present an advantage for the team. "If it doesn't, you won't see it. And you won't see a change until we've got something really worthwhile for these boys that they can do justice to their careers."
As the winner of the 2000 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Montoya knows the circuit and its history a bit better than most. And he's hoping to have the opportunity to become the first Indy 500 and USGP winner on the famed Brickyard track. "I think we should be pretty strong here," Montoya said. "All the years we've been pretty good here and it seems the car runs down low to be quite competitive."
Montoya thinks upgrades to the current car must be made in order to compete with the Ferrari juggernaut. "Yeah, we need them really. There hasn't really been any major steps this year and we fell back a little bit. But that doesn't mean the team is not trying to find anything new to go quicker; it's just they haven't been able to find anything, but they are trying," Montoya said.
"Every car has issues and some are easier to deal with than others. We worked a lot on this car to try and improve those issues. We did a test before coming to Montreal. I did a lot of work in Silverstone and Ralf did a lot of work in Monza and it seems to have paid off," he agreed.
The problem, as it usually is with any racing car, is "just balance, really getting comfortable driving the car that's there. Sometimes it's hard to drive; sometimes it's easy to drive. It's not a matter whether it's easy or hard to drive, it's whether it goes fast or not, more than anything else," according to the Colombian.
Getting to the meat of the matter Williams intoned, "We're trying to be sufficiently quick around the parts that matter and that is to say around the corners. We have adequate horsepower; we'd always like more, always be grateful for more, but that's not our concern. We jut must focus on the car. And it's obvious (to all of you in the media) that we have failed to find improvement. We are trying and hopefully, with another slight change of direction, we'll see improvement. But we are really not competitive by our standards or by real standards at this time," the team owner declared.
With the good results in Canada -- even without the points the team would have received with the brake ducting incident -- both BMW-Williams drivers are pretty confident here in the USA.
"In Montreal everything worked perfect and now," Schumacher said, "if everything runs well, I think we'll have a good chance, even here." Montoya doesn't "know where we stand good or bad. We've got to make sure we do the best job we can with the equipment we've got. If this car is quick enough," Juan Pablo shrugged, "w'ere going to try to win and see what happens."
Williams is, at this time uncertain of his driver lineup for the 2005 season. "There's a list. I know we need drivers. We have tested Scott [Dixon] and we may or may not test Jacques [Villeneuve]. But after the end of July, things will become more clear. It will get more attention." But for this team, which intendeds to contend for the championship in 2004, "The biggest problem right now is making a winning racing car.
"Ralf hasn't decided what he has done or is going to do and, at the present time we'd rather consider -- we need to take precautions for the long-term rather than suddenly get caught short at the wrong time when there are no relevant drivers available. We're in the market at all times," Williams stated, "looking and listening."