Austrian GP Thursday press conference

Drivers: David Coulthard Mika Hakkinen Eddie Irvine Team Personnel: Kazutoshi Nishizawa When the disappointment of Spain really kick in? Mika Hakkinen: It took a little while but to be honest, not straightaway: that day, after the race,...

Drivers:
David Coulthard
Mika Hakkinen
Eddie Irvine

Team Personnel:
Kazutoshi Nishizawa

When the disappointment of Spain really kick in?

Mika Hakkinen: It took a little while but to be honest, not straightaway: that day, after the race, a couple of hours after. It was a big shock afterwards.

This race last year was when you started your climb back; did you feel that you started at the last race, are you back on top of it again?

MK: That was my plan, obviously, but I have really bad 'flu at the moment as you can probably hear from my voice, so it's not a very good feeling at the moment to start this weekend, so I just have to try to do my maximum and hopefully get ten points, but it's definitely going to be really really hard.

David, there was a little bit of chat between yourself and Ron Dennis after the last race. Has that been resolved? Have you kissed and made up?

David Coulthard: There really was no reason to kiss and make up because there was no break-up and that whole issue was sorted out within ten minutes of the race being over, because they had all the information. I've been made aware of people trying to make things run through the last week and it's just that there's nothing else really to talk about at the moment in Formula One. That particular incident has passed and now we're just trying to get maximum points out of this event.

Do you feel that there's any difference in your status at the moment within the team now that you're so far ahead of your team-mate in the championship?

DC: I don't think so. I think the team has a golden rule which is to earn 16 points from every Grand Prix and then obviously from the individual drivers and the engineers working with the cars and mechanics, naturally they prefer their guy to be winning and as a driver you want to win. But from the team point of view it is to get maximum points.

Do you feel confident here, especially in terms of the new technology? Is that still a problem or are you on top of that?

DC: I don't think that, other than the software problem on the green flag lap, I don't think we've had a particular problem with the new software. As to how quick we will be around the track relative to our competitors, none of us can know until we get out onto the track but I think we can expect that we will be somewhere towards the front and it will come down to just how well the tyre works on our cars versus Ferrari and how good a job Michelin do with the BMW.

Has the problem that you had on the green flag lap in Barcelona been solved?

DC: Yes. It was a very simple thing for the team to sort out. It was - I was going to use oversight but I'm not sure if that's the right word - it was just something that will never happen again.

Mr Nishizawa, there have been some technical problems with the Honda engines, particularly with BAR, over the last three races, but it's always been referred to as a mechanical problem and yet some people have actually been showered with metal. Is there a problem with actually saying that you have had an engine failure?

Kazutoshi Nishizawa: After Jacques had such a problem in the Spanish Grand Prix, it was obviously engine failure. We admit it. But it was not a traction control-related problem.

The fact that you say it was engine failure - for instance, at Imola, Jacques was quoted as saying 'I don't know if it was gearbox or engine', can he be a little bit more precise from now on, because it makes him sound like a fool if he doesn't know the difference between one and the other?

KN: If we know the cause of the problem, we say it is engine failure. But there are many reasons for engine failures. Sometimes it takes time to investigate.

Since Spain, you also had an engine failure during testing at Silverstone. You say it wasn't to do with traction control. Is there a problem for BAR? Both failures occurred with them.

KN: No. Unfortunately Jordan has some engine failures as well. In the last Silverstone testing, we had another engine failure. But in testing, we are perhaps trying new things. It's always risky.

Eddie, the last race was I think the best of the season so far?

Eddie Irvine: I honestly don't know. None of them have been particularly good, so I haven't been monitoring them really, to be honest. We ran higher because we went longer but whether that meant we were any better or not I'm not sure. I think probably Imola was a fairly strong race to be honest, but we never quite maximised that because of strategy and a bit of engine problem.

What seems to be going wrong, because you've had development of the engine, obviously developments have come through, yet you stay about 12th and 13th in qualifying?

EI: I don't know who's told you there have been developments. The car is the same car that hit the track at the beginning of the year. To be honest, it will be exactly the same car this weekend. Cosworth have made good steps forward with the engine but the team really hasn't made steps forward with the car and that's why we are consistently are where we are. The next couple of races we have a big step coming and hopefully that will leapfrog us from where we are in amongst the next batch. We're not going to turn into a Ferrari overnight. We have a very significant step coming - well, we believe it's a very significant step and it should be interesting to see when that comes.

What about Pi and traction control, they seem to have done quite a good job?

EI: No, they've done a very good job. It was an area we were worried about. We were very short of manpower but whatever man it was that done it did a good job. I made such a good start that I had to swerve to the left to miss Panis and go down the grass for 50 yards probably. Everything worked fine, I made up three places and there was the potential to make up more, the efficiency of the car was better. We got up to certain speeds and then just stopped going forwards. I think the guys have done a fantastic job on the traction control and Cosworth have obviously history of doing it, so they got onto the job quickly and have done a fantastic job.

What about yourself? You've come in for a fair amount of flak from various quarters of the British press, various accusations about being a playboy and being unpopular with the team. What are your own feelings about these comments?

EI: Being a playboy? I like girls, I like having a nice life: guilty of all charges and I'm very happy I'm guilty of all charges as well. To be honest, journalists have pages to fill and some people fill it better than others. Sometimes, it's very easy to make a headline by writing things that aren't true and some people go down that route and some people go down the route of trying to be honest, hardworking and investigate journalists. It doesn't affect me, it's great, I love being in the newspapers, it makes me more famous.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

David, you're used to being on the sports pages because of your job, how does it feel to appear on the tabloid pages for your lifestyle?

DC: I think it upsets Eddie more than it upsets me because I steal some of his 'playboy' image. He says they're his castoffs but I don't think so! I think there's a few fresh girls in there.

David and Mika, can we expect to see any kind of team orders here?

MK: Maybe, because something can happen during the weekend but at the moment, no.

Eddie what do you feel now about Tomas Scheckter?

EI: I think he should live with me now, it's a lot cheaper - and there's a lot more selection as well! It's a shame for the boy, it's a big penalty to pay for something which, in the 21st Century is quite ridiculous really. But I think the cream always rises to the top and I think he's good enough, if you look at his record in the lower formulas he's a talented guy. He's going to make it, this is a setback but I think overall in ten years time he'll look back and have a laugh. He might be a bit upset now but in the long run it won't even be a blip.

Eddie, journalists may want to fill space but I get the feeling that some of the accusations made against you could only have come from inside the Jaguar. Does that make you feel uncomfortable?

EI: There are so many inaccuracies it's incredible. You know I've probably done more testing than Mika and David put together this winter, so it's just incredible. It may be someone within the team but I know what I'm doing within that team and some people probably don't like it but that's the only way we're going to get to the top and, you know, they either join us or they don't and it won't be me that's leaving next year, put it like that.

-FIA

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Tomas Scheckter , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Jordan