Argentine GP Thursday press conference

Thursday's Argentinian GP press conference Following are the press conference of the FIA that was held on Thursday with Williams driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and ...

Thursday's Argentinian GP press conference Following are the press conference of the FIA that was held on Thursday with Williams driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and Benetton driver Alexander Wurz. Question: Alexander, how did you spend your time on holiday after Brazil? Alexander Wurz: It was a holiday mixed with training. Giancarlo [Fisichella] and I spent it together with our trainer, on an island, towards the north of Brazil, and every day we did some training. Unfortunately there was a lot of rain and cloudy weather. I stayed on beach and didn't do any wind surfing, mainly because of the weather but also because I am very scared about what might be in the water underneath. So we stayed on the beach and round the pool. Question: Mika, what did you do? Mika Hakkinen: I went to Uruguay. It was a very enjoyable time. All through my career I have been going flat out between countries, and the only thing you see is the hotel and the race track. This time I got an opportunity to go to Uruguay and get to know Punta del Este. It was very interesting and great fun: I had a good time, even though this is the beginning of winter. Question: Michael, we hear you have been working hard back in Europe. How much testing have you been able to do? Michael Schumacher: We did four days in Barcelona, Wednesday to Saturday. Originally we planned to do only three days, but as usual when you get the opportunity, we stayed on. It was reasonable work that we did. Question: Were you looking for a setup? Michael Schumacher: Well, it was the first opportunity we had at Barcelona, so naturally we did some setup work. There was a lot to learn, and on the final day we managed to make some improvements. Here and there we had a little problem, which is why we had to delay the tyre test until later, but it was nothing to do with or setup. Question: Have you had enough running on the new Goodyear front tyre? Michael Schumacher: We tested the new tyre early, so it has been straightforward for us. Obviously we will learn more about it if we have more time, and we will definitely be using it here. It is a wider tyre, but I believe the main effect [of the change comes] from the different construction. Question: Heinz Harald, how was your test with Williams? Heinz-Harald Frentzen: I was in Barcelona for two days, and I tried the [new] tyre on the second day. It was a definite improvement for us: we gained between three and five tenths per lap, and I am particularly looking forward to using it here in Argentina because it will probably make a bigger difference here [than at previous circuits]. We won't know 100 per cent until qualifying on Saturday, but my personal feeling is that this tyre will give us much greater potential. Question: Alexander, what is the advantage that McLaren has? Can it be overcome? Alexander Wurz: It is not a single factor, like the engine: it is the McLaren package which is so good. Everything contributes: engine, chassis, tyres, aerodynamics and drivers which work together better than the same things on the other cars. We have to work hard, to try to achieve the same that they have done. With such a wide gap in performance, that is very difficult to do, but everyone at Benetton is working very hard. I hope we will be able to achieve it in mid season, but it may take longer because McLaren is also working hard to improve the [existing] setup. Question: Michael, do you agree with Alexander about the superiority of the McLaren? Michael Schumacher: Yes, except that I don't agree about getting it done mid season. I definitely want to get it done earlier! I believe we can do it, too: I expect to make a step forward here which may even give us a chance to get between the McLaren guys. From Imola onwards I believe we are going to be very close to McLaren. Barcelona is the type of track which may make it difficult for us to do that, but after that we should be there again, giving the McLarens a harder time than they have had so far. Question: What is the McLaren advantage? Michael Schumacher: It is definitely the package. They have done the right job, in all areas, which we know we haven't done yet. But we know where we have to improve, and we are fairly confident we can do that. Question: Are you now waiting for new pieces to help you make the step forward? Michael Schumacher: Basically we had to take some steps back at the beginning [of the car's development], due to reliability issues like the exhaust. That cost us some performance, which we expect to get back in time for Imola. We also know that Goodyear is working hard and making improvements. We also have the parts coming through, as you mentioned, and we hope that all of these improvements together will help us to close the gap. Question: Heinz-Harald, how is Williams improving? Heinz-Harald Frentzen: First of all, we have made a big improvement thanks to the [new] tyres. That is not related to Williams, of course, but we have had some small problems with the car's behaviour which I am pretty optimistic are being handled by the Williams guys though I am still not sure when they will get things sorted out. I am not sure we will have the improvements for Imola, but I hope we will have them for Silverstone. As far as McLaren is concerned, we saw already at the end of the last season that they were improving, and now the arrival of the new people there has come together in the perfect package that they have at the moment. Question: Mika, can your package get better still? Mika Hakkinen: I don't think they can catch us! We are also going to continue working hard in all areas engine, tyres chassis, etc and the whole team will be working even harder, including David and me. They will get closer to us, for sure, though I don't know how much. But unless the regulations are changed, or something like that, it will take a little miracle to catch us.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mika Hakkinen , Alexander Wurz
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton