Excerpts From the Friday Five Press Conference: Drivers: Alexander Wurz (Benetton), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), Ricardo Rosset (Tyrrell), and Pedro Diniz (Arrows). Team chief: Eddie Jordan (Jordan). Q. Eddie Jordan, how are Damon Hill and Ralf ...
Excerpts From the Friday Five Press Conference: Drivers: Alexander Wurz (Benetton), Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), Ricardo Rosset (Tyrrell), and Pedro Diniz (Arrows). Team chief: Eddie Jordan (Jordan).
Q. Eddie Jordan, how are Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher getting on together? EJ: When Ralf is in front of Damon, that's OK by Ralf. I have yet to see how it will be when the situation is reversed, but at the moment it is fine. We are now coming up to the first anniversary of the incident in Argentina where our two 1997 drivers ran into each other, and that was a very sad situation for the team to experience. I can't say that a similar thing could not happen again but the relationship between our two current drivers is much more mature than in 1997. I think Damon and Ralf have already discussed it.
Q. Yesterday you agreed to remove the 'third pedal' braking system from your car. What effect has it had on your performance here?
EJ: Well, we are quicker than we have ever been with it fitted to the car, so I suppose that must prove something. As far as the protest is concerned, we read the rules and we believe that it was well within the spirit of the regulations. Having seen that McLaren used it in Australia, and then passed scrutineering without any difficulties at the end of the race, it made perfect sense for us to fit our system before this race. Yesterday we received further information, and now we have removed the system.
Q. Eddie Irvine, how does the new generation of F1 cars feel over the bumps here?
EI: The same as the old cars did. There is very little difference, in fact none at all when you look at the times we were doing in Melbourne. The engineers have found a way of getting back the lost downforce, and the grooved tyres are also holding up well. OK, we would have been much faster if we still had slicks, but all in all, the engineers have done a great job to claw back the lost performance.
Q. Is there any satisfaction in you having been faster than Michael Schumacher today?
EI: No, Michael didn't even use [a second set of] tyres which may be a warning for everyone who did! He is always up there, and he will be again tomorrow. I just have to do the best that I can, and forget about him.
Q. Ricardo, your day started with an accident. What happened? RR: On my 'out' lap I hit a bump really hard. The telemetry shows that both rear wheels came off the road and the car spun, I was just a passenger. I wasn't even going at full speed. Q. After being away from racing for virtually of last year, are you now getting back into form? RR: I am finding it quite different on the new tyres. Being away from racing in F1 for one year is bad enough, but I am still trying to find the limit with the grooved tyres at slow speeds. At high speed and under braking there doesn't seem to be much difference, but at slow speeds the car slides much more and you cannot drive as fast. I am still looking for the right way around the problem. Q. Pedro, today you are in a similar situation to Ricardo's. What are your hopes for the weekend?
PPD: It is always a pleasure for me to come home to Sao Paulo. There is a lot of pressure here for me, and for the other Brazilians in the race, because so many people want to see us do well. I am just trying to relax and forget the pressure. But it is always nice to be here.
Q. Mika Salo is your new team mate this year. How different is he from Damon Hill?
PPD: First of all, he is not English! In fact there is not much difference: Mika is also a pretty good driver, and he is a nice guy, too. Things are different on the team, because last year I never had priority for the T car, while this year we are taking it in turns. So far there have been no problems with Mika.
Q. What are the prospects for the Arrows team this year?
PPD: I believe the car has good potential. Aerodynamically and mechanically, it already seems good. We don't seem to have much power from the engine yet, but we are not yet running it at the maximum because the team hasn't tested it very much. There is still more to come. As soon as the car has some miles on it and gets reliable, I think it will be very competitive.
Q. Alexander, you were sixth fastest here today. You must be encouraged ...
AW: I am quite happy, although I made a mistake at the end. This is the first time I have ever been here and I am still trying to find the right lines. I am still finding the lines that don't work. It is much more bumpy than any circuits where I have raced in F1, so I have to get used to them, too. The car is behaving well over the bumps, as I found when I had spun off and was watching the others cars hopping all over the road. I am getting used to the circuit quite quickly and we know what we have to do to improve the car.