Austrian GP: Friday press conference

DRIVERS: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Takuma Sato (Jordan) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams). TEAM MEMBERS: Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director), Gustav Brunner (Toyota Technical Director) and Niki Lauda (Jaguar Team Principal). Q: Takuma,...

DRIVERS: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Takuma Sato (Jordan) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams).

TEAM MEMBERS: Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director), Gustav Brunner (Toyota Technical Director) and Niki Lauda (Jaguar Team Principal).

Q: Takuma, first time here, what do you think of it?

Takuma Sato: From a racing aspect, it's the first time here. It's a great circuit, I think, up and down, very good high speed corners and tricky low speed corners and then you are using a lot of the kerbs here which is a great feeling.

Q: You've had quite a few incidents since you started in Formula One, too many?

TS: I've obviously been trying very hard, as much as possible. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to get balance in the car and then it's very very tricky plus I was doing completely maximum attack and sometimes I made a mistake, but that's the way to find the limit. For me, it's not feeling too bad.

Q: You've been linked to going back to BAR and staying with Honda. What have you got to say about that?

TS: Well I haven't heard anything about it so I really don't know what the story is about it.

Q: What about this nice way of learning Monaco next Sunday?

TS: Yes, it's very exciting for me. I will drive a Lotus 49B which is circa 1967 and Graham Hill used to win the race. I'm very excited. I'm happy to have an opportunity to drive the car and very appreciative of the sponsor for this and then I can drive Monaco. It will be the first time in Monaco for me so it's a good exercise before the Formula One race. And obviously I want to enjoy such a historical racing car.

Q: Rubens, knowing that you're staying on at Ferrari for another two years, what sort of effect does that have on your driving?

Rubens Barrichello: Not much actually. I feel that it may look this way from the outside when you're under pressure and you don't have a contract, you look like you're under pressure, but you just have to perform calmly, just stay quiet and do your job. If you're thinking 'Oh, I don't have contract, I have to do well for them to see me and sign me' that's too bad. So basically I've been quite well, I've been just nicely doing my job, not caring too much about the future so right now there's a lot of comfort knowing that I have another two years with a fantastic team like Ferrari. But it doesn't change the approach, it doesn't change the attitude, nothing.

Q: Fastest today as you have been early in the week at other Grands Prix and even on Saturday mornings as well, but when are you going to do it on Sunday?

RB: Well, obviously I've been trying the whole time, there's no question. If you end up second or third, that's a fact and that's it - you have to work better next time. Friday times don't mean much at all. You could see today, I had three sets of tyres and people were doing different types of things. What really matters is qualifying tomorrow and the race. The thing to say is that I am really happy with the car, really happy with the situation and I just have to find the optimum set-up for tomorrow afternoon, which is still not the case because we have only run on high fuel. Tomorrow is going to be a different day.

Q: Last year, you were understandably upset at having to pull over and let Michael pass for second. How would you feel if on Sunday you were asked to pull over when you were in the lead for Michael, so that he could win the Austrian Grand Prix for the first time?

RB: I don't like to read too much into the future. We wait until Sunday and then we see what's going to happen. If we get worried about too many things we are burning energy and it's not worth it so let's wait until Sunday and see.

Q: But you wouldn't discount that, then?

RB: I don't really care about the future to be honest with you. I just do my job. At the end of the day, if I can win the race I will be very happy to do it. If not, I will keep on trying and see what comes next.

Q: Ralf, why the new colour hair?

Ralf Schumacher: It was simply an accident and the only way out... it's going to be changed soon. Simply the hair cutter - I don't want to use the word - made a mistake.

Q: Are you as close today as you hoped you would be to the Ferraris?

RS: Certainly my team-mate is, which is positive. It is still going to be a very difficult race for us. We still haven't figured out what tyres to take yet and there's a bit work left to do on the car, I would say. Overall, we should be closer to Ferrari than we were in Barcelona but we will see how close.

Q: Why have we seen so many incidents at turn two, at the top of the hill?

RS: I don't know. For me it was a technical reason, that's why. I had an incident at turn one which was simply because I was on the brakes too late, but in turn two...It's always like that if you try to brake your car down from over 300km/h, it's a bit difficult sometimes, isn't it? There's a lack of grip too. There was a lot of wind, especially in the second session when it picked up a bit and there was a following wind into that second turn and that's why, I guess.

Q: Gerhard, how are you feeling about the BMW engines here where they are on full throttle for so much of the time?

Gerhard Berger: This circuit is definitely a bit better for us. At Barcelona, we couldn't use the engine in the way that we use it here. It should make a bit of a difference, it should bring us a bit closer to Ferrari, hopefully close enough to put some pressure on them but we will see tomorrow and Sunday. But as you say, this circuit has a lot of full throttle and that's good for us.

Q: How did you feel when you were being criticised as a driver?

GBe: Well, I think criticism is something good if it is correct, and if it's in the right way then nobody has a problem. I criticise drivers sometimes if something happens, if they have an accident and it's clearly the fault of somebody then I say so but I think if it's right, nobody has a problem with it.

Q: Would you just a say a word about Willi Dungl who died recently?

GBe: Obviously we've lost a big friend. I'm sure Niki can say even more than me about him. He knew him much longer than me. But I have to say that we've lost somebody who helped us a lot in our careers. I think he was the father of success of many Austrian sports people and he helped us if we had mental crisis, if we had accidents and injuries. He brought us back to winning again and he was always there when we needed him. So we really have to say that it's a pity he's not with us any more. I think still many of the physios in this paddock went through his school and I think everybody feels that we lost a strong friend.

Q: Niki, a word about Willi Dungl?

Niki Lauda: For me it's very simple. He started with me in Formula One. He saved my life a couple of times so really he was with me all through my life basically, since '76, so for me it was a very big loss and the main thing that I have to say about him is that he never did anything for himself, he only did it for other people. He didn't care much about himself, he always tried to help us and this was really his great capability and in the end, whatever he told us not to do, we had to do to help us, so this unfortunately was his life. He was an unbelievable man.

Q: The drivers are saying that it is Silverstone before things change, is that true?

NL: It is correct that we employed four new aerodynamic people out of various other teams who started to work a couple of weeks ago. So basically what we are doing now is getting a new step-by-step aero package on the car. The first step will be in Silverstone, but it doesn't mean that we expect the car now suddenly to be at the front of the grid, which is impossible. So the aero package will be changed at Silverstone in small steps, and the result I cannot tell you now because the wind tunnel test is not finished. The real answer to all your questions is that up to Silverstone on the aero package there is nothing we can do. So basically our performance will not change much, we can do better on certain circuits where aero is not so important. If aero is important, like at Barcelona, we do less good. So the first step will be introduced in Silverstone but then we have to continue to work. You cannot expect us suddenly to be much quicker.

Q: Last year you did a lot of work securing this Grand Prix for the future. How long is it secure and how secure is it, given the number of circuits wanting inclusion in the calendar?

NL: I think the latest date is up to 2006 but I would have to confirm this. It was originally 2004, but I think now it is established to 2006. But the big difference for this year's race is that the people here are organising it and they are responsible for profit and loss, which made a big difference because now the Austrians are selling the tickets here. They are using all kinds of means to sell better tickets, they have sold 20 percent more tickets this year than last year because they do it themselves and this is the real difference. You can see this from the crowd. If you work for your own Grand Prix you can succeed better than if somebody else is doing it.

Q: Gustav. Toyota's performance on one car was very good this afternoon. How much better have you felt coming here having done the dress rehearsal last year?

Gustav Brunner: We had a lucky start in the season and we had a low in Imola and Barcelona, but those circuits are very technical and you need a good car there, which we don't have yet. This is an easier circuit, more braking and acceleration, and we have a good engine. If we do a good job as a team we could do reasonably well.

Q: Generally speaking, looking at the start of Toyota's career in Formula One, how do you think you have done?

GBr: We have done better than we had expected. Our target was to finish as many races as we can and we have picked up some points so we have been lucky there. This has created some ambitions and we want some more points.

Q: How do you think the two drivers have done?

GBr: They both are experienced and they are both doing a fantastic job. Our team is very happy with them. You could say they are the solid diamonds of the team, like the engine. The engine is also in a good stage. The chassis is lacking. I must admit it, but obviously you need the structure in place to make chassis development.

Q: Niki, I wanted to ask you about your son's race this weekend.

NL: It is his first race in Valencia this weekend. I know very little because today is practice, but I try to keep out of it because basically they both started doing it behind my back. Luca's the older one, he is the manager, Matthias is doing the racing so the further I stay away I think the easier it is for these guys to establish their own way of doing it so let's wait and see.

Q: Niki. What is the situation with the drivers' contracts for next year?

NL: Eddie's contract in on the paper over at the end of the year. Pedro has another contract for next year. But it is not decided what is going to happen so we have to wait and see. First we have to improve the car which is our biggest problem and then we can think about drivers.

Q: Some time you have to start thinking about next year's car. With limited resources how do you balance that, when do you start putting more resources into next year's car than this year's?

NL: At the moment we cannot put any resources into next year's car because we have to have a good baseline this year to have a baseline where you can start developing next year's car. The basics this year is to catch up, which is the most difficult because we have had a bad start and let's say we improve the aero package for Silverstone by 5 percent, just to give you a number, and Ralf's car is three percent better and only improved by two. So what I am trying to say is everybody improves their cars. For us to catch up is very difficult because nobody stands still. If you would stop everybody else it would be a little easier so it is very difficult to say where you end up. We are working flat out, we have the wind tunnel working 16 hours a day, we are working hard to catch up.

Q: To Niki. Earlier in the year you tested the car yourself. What did you learn?

NL: The lesson I learned is I spun a couple of times, so I found out that with the new cars they are more difficult to drive. In my time they had slicks and a lot more grip. These cars are different to drive, but the only real big improvement there is is to operate the car with the automatic gearbox, the traction control, these sort of things, they are easier compared to my time because you don't have to worry about revs and gear changes and all these sort of things. To drive it on the limit with these tyres and the low grip you have was, for me, difficult, because you always have to balance it between understeer and oversteer and run it right on the limit, so that is more difficult than the old days. The old days, with a lot of grip, if you stayed a little bit below your maximum limit you could drive quick and it was easy anyway.

Q: Niki. Are you looking for a new sponsor for your cap and how much will it cost?

NL: I am looking for a new sponsor, this is clear, because I have nothing on it. But how much it costs it depends on what the sponsor wants me to do because it is not only the cap, you have to do some other things as well. So I cannot tell you a number, but I am certainly looking for a new sponsor.

Q: Ralf, in the Italian papers it was reported you wouldn't mind having a team-mate like Rubens. Can you comment?

RS: No. It is not right. Simply that.

Q: Rubens, can you tell us exactly what happened to your car before the start in Spain and why you couldn't get it re-started in the pits?

RB: Because the gear broke down, it broke the shaft. It was a misunderstanding in the gearbox. I called the first gear but it didn't go. It showed me that it was in first gear but it didn't actually go in. When I put the throttle and pressed again for the car to go, the revs went mad. It went in but it broke the shaft completely, so it was a bug in the system.

Q: Was the misunderstanding because you didn't know what the procedure was?

RB: No. It was just that the system didn't do what it should have done.

Q: For Ralf and Rubens. Jumping ahead to Montreal, what do you think of the track and the city?

RB: I love going to Canada. The circuit seems to be much more like a street circuit but I enjoy it. I have always done well there and Montreal is always a nice city and I catch up with my friends from America so it is quite nice.

RS: Except that I don't catch up with friends in America because I don't have them, it is the same.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Gerhard Berger , Niki Lauda , Graham Hill
Teams Ferrari , Williams , Jordan