Barcelona Friday Five Press Conference

Grand Prix of Spain Barcelona _________________________________________________________________ Friday 8 May 1998 Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press ...

Grand Prix of Spain Barcelona _________________________________________________________________ Friday 8 May 1998 Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press conference: Drivers: Johnny Herbert (Sauber), Olivier Panis (Prost) and Mika Salo (TWR Arrows) -- Team personnel: Paul Stewart (Stewart Grand Prix) and Pat Symonds (Benetton) _________________________________________________________________ Q. Paul, we saw a good time from Rubens early in the session. Then he slipped back on the timing screens: what happened? PStewart: It was an engine problem, both for Rubens and Jan Magnussen. In Jan's case the engine actually locked up in turn 3 and forced him to run off the road. They were obviously unexpected problems and we are checking the possible cause with Cosworth. But otherwise it was encouraging to see Rubens finish in 7th place. We put a lot of work into the testing we did here last week and it was nice to see that it may have been starting to pay off. We had made it clear that we intended to try a completely new front suspension configuration this morning, and if it had worked we intended to continue with it this afternoon. Clearly it didn't work, so we reverted to the original settings and tried to find our way again. Q. The recent speculation also appears to have affected Jan Magnussen's performance. Can you go through the arguments for and against keeping him on the team? PStewart: We are obviously concerned about Jan's performances, especially after what happened in Argentina and Imola. Prior to Imola we had some discussions with Jos Verstappen, on the basis that we wanted to have an option available in case Jan didn't go quicker. But our first option has been to get Jan going faster -- there is no question about that -- and I want to see him back on the pace. We stopped the discussions with Jos last week, in favour of allowing Jan to race here. And although we will be looking at his future on a race-by-race basis, I accept that it must be difficult for him to perform well in those circumstances. Q. Olivier, this time last year you finished 2nd in this race. But the next GP was the one in Canada where you were badly hurt. How would you compare your situation then and now? OP: This year is more difficult! I have some good memories from last year's fantastic race here. But last year is last year. From the start of this season we have had many problems with the rear suspension of the car, it is very difficult to drive and very difficult to improve the car's performance. Now, although we have to wait for two more races, we can be sure of a step forward in time for Magny-Cours, a very big step. Q. Where are you looking for the development? Engine or chassis? OP: At present the engine is very strong and we are working on improvements to its driveability, especially out of slow corners. And although the chassis is very good, we have a problem in the rear suspension. There is too much movement and it makes things difficult when we step on the throttle, traction is very bad and the back end is loose. It is also bad when you touch a kerb. Q. Pat, we haven't seen a lot of development on the Benetton this year ... PSymonds: In terms of the number of new parts being tried on the car I would say that our program is very similar to last year's. The success rate is similar to last year's too. Here, for example, we are running with revised suspension geometry both at the front and rear. We have also made some minor aerodynamic modifications this year, with more to come. On the engine side you are right, yes, we have not seen a lot yet. But we are hoping for improvements late in the season and I would not agree that the pace is less than it was in 1997. Q. Are you surprised that Alexander Wurz has proved consistently faster than Giancarlo Fisichella? PSymonds: Yes, I am. I expected them to be very equal. In fact my prediction for the season was that Giancarlo would get some excellent results while Alex would have to work hard and might even have ended the season with more points. That is no criticism of Alex, who has now been working with us for a year and a half and whose abilities we know well. Looking back, I know that it is easy to make excuses but I must say that some ridiculous things have happened to Giancarlo this year. I still believe he is much quicker than his form has suggested this year. Q. So far, Johnny, what is your evaluation of your 1988 season with Sauber? JH: The two South American races were a total disaster. Returning to Europe I thought everything would be OK at Imola, but in the race there everything went bad again after the puncture and the pit stop when I was told that nothing could be done to get me back into the race. After the good start in Australia it has all been very frustrating. The car has improved, but we need to improve it more. I am also hoping for something extra from the new qualifying engine that we have been promised for Canada. Q. How are your relations with Jean Alesi? JH: We get on fine and he is easy to talk to. I heard all the stories about him [getting angry], and I have seen that occasionally, at Imola for example, where he disappeared after qualifying for about two and a half hours. But that is typical of Jean, and everybody knows it. Throwing a few things around is his way of dealing with pressure. I just happen to do things in a different way. It has been very good for me this year to have someone like Jean who can push me along, and for me to push along also. Q. Mika, you have had a change of team this year. Has the move to TWR Arrows been smooth? MS: It is a completely different team [from Tyrrell], it is much bigger and everything there is new. I knew some of the people there before but I had never worked with them. With a new engine and a new car we knew it would be difficult, but we made a big step forward at Imola and we are expecting even more changes soon.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jos Verstappen , Jean Alesi , Olivier Panis , Jan Magnussen , Alexander Wurz , Mika Salo , Paul Stewart
Teams Sauber , Benetton , Stewart Grand Prix